Hokulea Ancient Canoe Hawaii Travels Around the World
Credit: Getty Images/Perspectives

Thanks to all our modern conveniences — GPS, Google Maps, self-driving cars, automatic pilot — traveling around the world has become easier than ever before. But what if all that went away? Would humanity still be able to figure out how to get from point A to point B?

For one group of explorers, the answer is yes: Using absolutely no modern-day technology, they navigated a Polynesian canoe all the way around the globe.

As the Associated Press reported, the ship, which started its trip in 2014, had about a dozen crewmembers onboard for each leg of the global journey. The crew used their knowledge of currents, birds, wind, and the stars to sail nearly 40,000 nautical miles, making stops in 19 countries.

The crew’s mission, according to the AP, was to spread a message of malama honua: Caring for the Earth.

“We really are sailing in their (the ancestors’) wake,” Ka’iulani Murphy, a 38-year-old apprentice navigator onboard, told the AP. “We had to re-learn what our ancestors had mastered.”

The toughest part of the trek, according to Murphy, was dealing with cloud cover and trying to maintain the proper speed.

Hawaiian canoe Hokule'a Hokulea Ancient Canoe Hawaii Travels Around the World
Credit: GREGORY BOISSY/AFP/Getty Images

Russell Amimoto, who went on the trip for two legs, said the crew slept in plywood bunks covered with waterproof canvas. To shower, they would throw a bucket attached to a rope overboard to scoop up some of their “unlimited supply of nice, ocean-temperature saltwater,” he said.

The crew was welcomed back to Honolulu with a traditional formal homecoming ceremony. Gov. David Ige and Mayor Kirk Caldwell were both on hand to welcome the weary travelers home. As Gov. Ige said, “Watching you on your epic voyage, you taught us that there is more than connects the world than divides us.”