It’s our first morning back in Hall Quarry, Maine on the pier at J.W. Boat Co. We wake up to find that Rick, our enthusiastic escort captain is eager to share that he has a two hour tour of parts of the island that includes breakfast at the local cafe. While Hokule’a has been sailing around the world, her crews has shared the importance of learning local knowledge not only from indigenous people, but also from mariners who have been sailing and motoring all over the places we visit. Rick, with his lobster boat, the Quinipet, has been traversing these East Coast waters for decades and, fortunately for us, has an oven that’s been baking us blueberry muffins along the way. Quinipet has been a companion for Hokulea for our Leg 22 visit from Maine to Yarmouth, Canada and back. Rick has been extremely helpful in giving advice, knowing where to avoid and best routes for our journey. We are thankful for his willingness to help with this journey and be a part of the crew, like many other friends we’ve met these past three years.
Our first stop is to Brandon & Laura’s cafe, where the sign says “Eat where the locals eat.” There are random humorous signs that hang everywhere which include “Fish stories told here - ‘some true’” and “Business hours subject to change during fishing season.” Even though we’re off watch, the voyage continues on land. No matter where we go, people are interested in why we sail and so discussions soon started with the locals of the place with us strangers who were clearly not from around these parts. A man even gave us a magic show where he made one dollar bills turn into 100 dollar bills; we adults were actually quite impressed. After a breakfast full of homemade oatmeal, cinnamon bread, and blue berry pancakes with real maple syrup, we set out on a mobile tour guided by captain Rick.
Down the rocks of Bass Harbor head, we visited the light house where we learned that this was the location where Captain Rick proposed to his wife. We passed Beech Hill farm that looks so beautiful with all kinds of fresh food growing. We saw rows and rows of kale and it looked like they were harvesting beets in the field. Rick swears by their tomatoes as well. We had a choice to go ma uka or ma kai, towards the mountains or towards the sea. We chose ma uka. Climbing up the smooth rocks, some of the crew naturally took off their slippers to hike. We learned how to tell the difference between fur and spruce trees; “flat flexible fur, sharp spiky spruce.” Barefooted we reached the top of Beech Hill where an old fire watch station still stands. There once was a time where people use to be paid to look for forest fires and direct the firefighters on where to go. Now it is a boarded up relic that has some of the best views of the area. From the top we are able to see the entire ahupuaa; what we call everything from the mountain to the sea at home. Rick stands pointing to every lake, hill and mountain by name because he is connected to this place.
I encourage you to go on a hike and look around just like how we did today. Can you name every mountain or river? Do you know the stories of your place? Draw a map and if you don’t know the answers, go find them. Mālama honua, taking care of the world begins with deeply knowing and taking care of the places we call home.
Kumu Kaʻai previously taught at Kānehūnāmoku Voyaging Academy and Hawaiian Studies at Wilson Elementary School to K-5 students.