National Geographic : 1976 Oct
IT WAS A SCENE of staggering emotion. A crowd of 15,000 people, the largest assem bly in the history of Tahiti (pages 534-5), swarmed around and even into the waters of Papeete harbor to greet the living symbol of a proud past. The sailing canoe Hokule'a had just completed, without modern navigational aids, a 3,000-mile voyage across the open Pacific. But what should have been the warmest of welcomes was shadowed by press reports and ugly rumors of racial tensions aboard the canoe, a fistfight, a radio smuggled aboard. A small transistor radio was found long after departure from Maui, but no navigational use was ever made of it. A fragmentary radio report did reach Hokule'a inadvertently en route; what it may have revealed of the canoe's location to the crew was far less precise than the navi gator's own dead reckoning. The crew itself was not composed, as it might have been in times gone by, of homogeneous members of a village or an extended family, but rather of a disparate collection of tough, durable men; few of them had had experience in deep water sailing. There were 17 people aboard a 60-foot canoe, baked by the sun of the doldrums or constantly drenched in salt spray. It seems a small miracle that only one scuffle occurred. That was a matter of three or four punches thrown by a crew member who had sampled some champagne tossed aboard (against orders) the day before Hokule'a reached Tahiti, when the success of the voyage was assured. Was it a symbol of deeper and more profound racial tensions that are building in Hawaii as haoles-non -Hawaiians-continueto pour in and the original culture feels the terminal pres sure of development? Perhaps-but on this voyage, it did not represent the fierce ethnic conflict that appeared in early press accounts. We feel that author David Lewis has fairly presented both the trials and the triumph of the voyage. Like him, we also feel that the transitory frustration of a few men who had been through an ordeal should not discredit or obscure a gen uine achievement. Did not Columbus himself, on the most famous of all voyages of discovery, experience similar difficulties with a fractious Spanish crew? His troubles have long been for gotten in the triumph that followed. I feel that history will do the same for the voyage of Hokule'a. When all is said and done, this crew did sail 3,000 miles, without instruments, in the wake of their Polynesian ancestors. "Z XY^^L^SZ<^ GEOGAPhJIC THE NATIONALGEOGRAPHICMAGAZINEVOL. 150, NO. 4 COPYRIGHT© 1976 BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY WASHINGTON,D.C. INTERNATIONALCOPYRIGHTSECURED October 1976 The Nation's River 432 Storied stream of history, beauty, and endangered bounty, the Potomac and its byways are re-explored by native son Allan C. Fisher,Jr., and photographerJames L. Stanfield. A Good Life on the Potomac 470 Carolinas Peyton, a vigorous 88, finds abundance for body and spirit in tilling 50 beloved acres beside the river's broad reaches. A picture essay by James L. Stanfield. Canada's "Now" Frontier 480 Edmonton, Alberta's capital, sends a new generation of pioneers to the far-flung oil and gas outposts and boomtowns of the frozen north. Robert PaulJordan and Lowell Georgia report. Hokule'a Follows the Stars to Tahiti 512 Like Polynesians of old, a modern-day crew guides a canoe across 3,000 miles of ocean, navigating by wind, wave, and celestial beacons. David Lewis and Nicholas deVore III share the adventure. Florida, Noah's Ark of Exotic Wildlife 538 Giant toads that poison dogs, catfish that walk, weeds that choke waterways threaten Florida's ecology. By Rick Gore and David Doubilet. Opal Capital of Australia's Outback 560 Kenny Moore and Penny Tweedie follow the hardy men and women who brave Coober Pedy's hardshipsfor a share of its gem bonanza. The Ever-changing Face of North America 572 A new Geographic book traces the shaping of our continent and its incredible procession of life-from primitive sea creatures to dinosaurs and,finally, man-over the past 4.6 billion years. COVER: Marking its transformationfrom swift mountain stream to slow-flowing estuary, the Potomac glides past Washington, D. C. Photographby James L. Stanfield.