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photo of Kalepa with lei

Meet: Chad Kälepa Baybayan
Captain and Navigator of
Hawaiian deep-sea voyaging canoes

Chad Kälepa Baybayan holds a masters in education degree, is a fluent Hawaiian language speaker, and is captain and navigator of the Hawaiian deep-sea voyaging canoes Höküle'a, Hawai'iloa, and Höküalaka'i. He has been an active participant in the Polynesian voyaging renaissance since 1975 and has sailed on all the major voyages of Höküle'a throughout the South Pacific, west coast, and Japan.

Kälepa serves as Site Director and educator for Honuakai, a community based experiential learning center of 'Aha Pünana Leo Inc., a nonprofit organization responsible for revitalizing the Hawaiian language, which utilizes an all Hawaiian language speaking crew aboard Höküalaka'i, the newest of a growing fleet of voyaging canoes that are symbolic of the intense interest among local communities in learning about the voyaging arts and traditional models of navigation and exploration. His most recent voyage as captain and navigator was in 2006 on a voyage from the southern Japanese island of Okinawa to Yamaguchi prefecture on the southwest tip of the Honshu peninsula.

photo of Kalepa in canoe

When not voyaging, Kälepa serves as Navigator in Residence at the 'Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo, Hawai'i, developing wayfinding activities, curriculum, and ancillary education materials that engage learners and educators of all ages to explore their universe, excite their imaginations, realize opportunities, build healthy relationships among community, and make connections between tradition and technology.

Called by his Hawaiian name “Kälepa” (The Ruffling Sails), he resides in Kona with his wife, Audrey.


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Editor: Linda Conrad
NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated: October 2008