Mahalo M/V IMUA Crew, Aloha Kure!

What an amazing journey this has been already, and we’re just getting started! Life out at sea is truly a different kind of lifestyle, we’re literally living with the ocean. Each second is breathtaking out here. The waves glisten on the horizon with a heartwarming sparkle as the sun rises and sets. Every now and then, we receive the joyous company of seabirds as they glide over the deep blue sea and soar gently above our heads, speaking to us every so often. The closer we sail to our destination the more birds we see.
The sun had made sure to remind me how strong it can be the second day onboard, but I didn’t mind. I was happy to feel true sunshine again on the water. I strum to my ukulele under a clear sky full of stars as I listen to the waves express their power against the IMUA. As I look over the edge of the ship, I can spot a source of bioluminescence in the water, gently lighting up the waves occasionally. It is beautiful here; it feels good to be able to reconnect with nature again. Also, I’ve never lived out of such objects before, but now I can say that nine buckets and a pelican case are holding my life together, literally!
Our crew of five spent about 6 days traveling across the blue heart of the world, passing a handful of sacred places throughout the Papahānaumokuākea National Marine Monument. Although our team wouldn’t have been able to be where we are now if it wasn’t for the M/V IMUA crew! I was able to get to know some of the kindest souls on my way to Kure and we couldn’t thank them enough for getting us here safe and sound. The world needs more people like them. Until we meet again, my very first ship Ohana. Safe sailing!

Our first day was incredible, and yes, it did leave me quite speechless. There were so many thoughts and emotions spinning through my head that I had even forgotten to put it down on a piece of paper in my journal! We were welcomed by 4 others, otherwise known as the summer season team on Kure. We would’ve liked more time with them, but we are grateful for all their hard work and for taking care of the island before it was our turn.

Now that we’re here, I cannot help but think that there is so much to learn and see! I love everything about this place (yes, I’ve only been here for slightly over a week). The white sandy beach always welcomes our presence as we haul wheelbarrows full of buckets and totes to the bunk and main house. The blue heart spits up marine debris left and right, anywhere from microscopic to life-sized pieces. It’s a tough pill to swallow to see how man-made products can travel so far, even to the shores of small atolls like Kure. I believe that with time and the right mindset, we can do better! Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the unbelievable amount of wildlife that calls Hōlanikū home. They welcomed us as if it was our home, too. To show our respect, we tread lightly on this island in good spirit with the best intentions. We are learning to become more mindful with each step that we take, as our goal is to conserve and enrich the nature and wildlife that was once created on this island. Life is simple here, it’s just us and the forces of nature. Learning by day and night how the sky connects with the earth, land connects with the sea, and how we as humans have the opportunity to be in touch with all of it.
After we are finished with dinner and our kuleanas (chores) we climb up to the top of the roof to gaze at the sunset, creeping just beyond the horizon to then fade away under the blue heart. The stars are shining clear and bright as an extraordinary number of birds fly in every which direction under the crisp moonlight. They just cruise, whether it is thirty plus feet above or as close to a foot over our heads. It’s an incredible experience, astonishing actually.

On Sunday and my Kure Ohana and I took a few hours out of the day to spend some time at the beach and explore the ocean. Snorkels on, minds open. I was in complete awe, floating along the shoreline, just over a few feet out from the white sandy beach dunes accompanied by man-made plastics here and there. As I made my way to the pier, I bobbed my head up and checked my surroundings every so often, to keep myself in check and be mindful of the fact that we are in someone else’s home.

Before I knew it, I was swimming with a school of fish, what seemed to be a mixture of the threadfin butterflyfish, yellowstripe goatfish, lowfin chub, spotted knifejaw, and barred/island jack. I am no expert but I enjoy observing what goes on in the sea when I have the opportunity. The fish were curious but comfortable with me being present with them in their habitat. It is always interesting to see how wildlife chooses to interact with humans. The life here is indescribable, it is truly something to appreciate.

I tried to make myself insignificant to the life that was moving through the Hawaiian waters. Slowing my heartrate, letting the ocean gently drift me ashore, floating effortlessly over the numerous fish that were doing their thing. It reminded me how insignificant we are in this world. We cannot live without it, but it can carry on without us. It gave me a sense of happiness to be humbled by such a place like this. I like to think of my team and I as visitors, curious ones, observing the island’s every day moves. How it speaks, protects, provides, and carries on blissfully each day. This place is full of life everywhere I look. I can see it, hear it, feel it. I think that we will fall in love quickly with this version of life soon, if not already.

My sweet family and friends, oh how I miss you! My only wish is for everyone to be able to experience this incredible journey alongside of me and my amazing crew. I will be sure to soak in every second for you and make the most of this opportunity. Thank you for making it possible for me to be here. It all still feels surreal. I guess that is all for now, I’ll be back with more updates soon.

HUGE shoutout to the Kure support back on the MHI. This wouldn’t have been close to possible for us to be here if it weren’t for the ample amount of time and consideration that you guys have put into prepping us for this season!

With love, myka lahela, W21 team, and Kure