Lehua Kamalu is a Captain, Navigator, and the Voyaging Director at the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), a non-profit and educational organization supporting the ongoing voyages of the double-hulled canoes Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia. Lehua is dedicated to perpetuating the practice of traditional Polynesian voyaging and non-instrument navigation, where wayfinders find their way across hundreds of miles of open ocean with thousands of minute observations of stars, moon, waves, clouds, and sea birds, not with compasses or GPS or any other instruments. As Lehua says, “The navigator is the instrument.”
Lehua embodies many of the values resulting from the Hawaiian cultural renaissance sparked by the first voyages of Hōkūleʻa in the 1970s. When Hōkūleʻa first sailed, fewer than 100 people spoke native Hawaiian fluently. Now the number is closer to 20,000. When Lehua started school, the Hawaiian language had become part of the curriculum, and she speaks it fluently. And while she practices traditional navigation and wayfinding, she is the daughter of a Navy nuclear submariner and graduated from the University of Hawaii with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.