Kawika Kapahulehua, 76, captain of the historic first voyage of the ocean sailing canoe Hokulea, has died.

Mr. Kapahulehua died Thursday at the Queens Medical Center in Honolulu, according to the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

The 62-foot voyaging canoe first set sail in 1976, the first double-hulled canoe to make the voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti in 600 years, said Nainoa Thompson, the society's president and a crew member on the return trip.

"The success of that voyage was crucial to the future of Hokulea, and Kawika was the perfect captain," Thompson said.

The canoe is currently on its 10th major voyage, which includes stops in Micronesia and Japan. - AP