Fantastic Voyage

The Hokule’a’s visit provided international visibility for Longwood’s research and sustainability efforts.

The Hokule’a’s visit provided international visibility for Longwood’s research and sustainability efforts.

Traditional Polynesian sailing vessel drops anchor at Hull Springs, draws a crowd

A Polynesian voyaging canoe in the middle of a three-year trek around the world without modern technology stopped at Longwood’s Hull Springs Farm in May, drawing about 500 visitors for two days of activities.

Dr. Mark Fink, chair of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, described the visit by the Hokule’a and its crew as “a fantastic opportunity to connect visitors and school groups to some of the fascinating and important work we are doing at Hull Springs Farm.”

Fink, who has led numerous research projects at the property, was on hand with some of his students to share their findings with visitors, who included state officials; Longwood alumni, staff, faculty, students and donors; and more than 150 schoolchildren from Westmoreland County, where Hull Springs is located.

Also during the event, crewmembers led tours of the double-hulled canoe, shared stories of their journey and provided a few pointers on “navigation by the heavens,” which they rely on instead of modern instruments. The crew also made a presentation at nearby Cople Elementary School.

The Hokule’a began its voyage in Hawaii in 2014 to spread a message of global sustainability. When the three-year journey is complete, the vessel will have circumnavigated the globe, making hundreds of stops along the way.

Hull Springs Executive Director Sherry Swinson ’77 noted that the Hokule’a’s mission mirrors what Hull Springs has set as its goals in preserving our natural and cultural assets and becoming a model of sustainability.”

“Being selected as one of their ports of call presented an opportunity to shine an international light on Hull Springs and the many research projects in which our faculty and students are engaged,” she said.

The Hokule’a—which translates as “Star of Gladness”—was constructed in the mid- 1970s. It was modeled after traditional double-hulled sailing vessels used thousands of years ago by Polynesians to push exploration beyond coastlines and has logged more than 150,000 miles since its maiden voyage. The vessel’s current mission is its most ambitious and lengthy to date.

Hull Springs Farm comprises 662 acres on Virginia’s Northern Neck and was bequeathed to Longwood by Mary Farley Ames Lee ’38. The property is bordered on the north by a tributary of the Potomac River and is a short distance from the Chesapeake Bay. With more than 8,400 feet of tidal shoreline and numerous archaeological sites, the farm offers Longwood students a unique opportunity to engage in environmental studies and anthropological research.

—Kent Booty