Hōkūleʻa crew makes first stop on Alaska Heritage Sail

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Hōkūle‘a sails from Juneau to Yakutat. (Photo credit: Polynesian Voyaging Society)

After a nearly 30-hour sail from Juneau and into the Gulf of Alaska, voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa arrived at her first stop on the Alaska Heritage Sail, Yakutat, the northernmost Southeast Alaska community, and the furthest north the canoe has ever voyaged.

The Tlingit name for Yakutat is Yaakwdáat meaning: “where canoes rest.” With a population of 600 people, Yakutat maintains traditional Tlingit culture with influences from the original Eyak Athabascans. Following Yakutat, Hōkūleʻa will sail to other villages in Southeast Alaska including Hoonah and Haines before returning to Juneau on June 10, 2023.

The Polynesian Voyaging Society chose Yakutat to be the first stop on the Alaska Heritage Sail to honor the late Byron Mallott who was born and raised in this town. In 1990 under Mallott’s leadership, Sealaska, a corporation owned by the Tlingit, Haida and Tshimshian tribes of Southeast Alaska, gifted two 200-foot Sitka spruce logs to Hawai‘i to help construct the voyaging canoe Hawai‘iloa. This gesture, which came at a time of decline for koa, sparked reforestation efforts in Keauhou, Ka‘ū on Hawai‘i Island, and started the special bond between the native peoples of Southeastern Alaska and Hawai’i. Mallott later joined the society’s Board of Directors.

Members of Byron Mallott’s family joined the Hōkūle‘a crew on their sail to Yakutat to honor him. (Photo credit: Polynesian Voyaging Society)

Members of Mallott’s family including sons, daughter, and granddaughters, joined the sail from Juneau to Yakutat where the crew moored Hōkūleʻa in Yakutat Bay in front of his home to honor and remember him, and to spiritually bring Mallott onboard. Other members of Mallott’s family joined them on the canoe at Yakutat for this special moment, including his wife Toni Mallott.

After honoring Mallott, the canoe was greeted at shore by members of the Yakutat community. Depending on weather, Hōkūleʻa will be docked in Yakutat for approximately eight days while the crew engages with the community and the local school students.

The Alaska Heritage Sail is a pre-voyage through the Southeast region of Alaska before the Global Launch of the Moananuiākea Voyage circumnavigation of the Pacific on June 15, 2023. The sail pays homage to Alaska Natives and the places that played a part in the 30-year history and friendship between Hawaiʻi’s voyaging community and Alaska.


Hōkūleʻa arrived in Juneau, Alaska on May 9 via an Alaska Marine Lines barge that transported her from Seattle. She was docked at Auke Bay harbor where the crew worked on preparing the canoe for the upcoming journey.

Public engagements with Hōkūleʻa and the crew will begin on June 10, when Hōkūleʻa returns to Juneau after the Alaska Heritage Sail and is welcomed with a tribal ceremony.

Further details on the sail plan and public engagement schedule for the Moananuiākea Voyage will be announced soon. For the latest updates, follow @hokuleacrew on social media or visit

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