John Christensen's feature on Eddie Aikau ran on the front page of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on March 23, 1978. Aikau was last seen six days earlier, paddling away from the Hokule‘a, a replica Polynesian voyaging canoe, after it capsized at night in the Molokai Channel in heavy seas. AIkau went looking for help but was never seen again.

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The search for Eddie Aikau has ended, but for “Pops” Aikau there is still hope. The Aikau family held a news conference yesterday to announce that the hunt for the missing Hokule‘a crewman is finally over. The Coast Guard ended its part in the search Tuesday.

Aikau has been missing since Friday when he left the capsized Hokule‘a on his surfboard bound for Lanai and help for his fellow crew members. Lanai was an estimated 15 miles away when he left, 11 hours after the Tahiti-bound double-hulled canoe swamped in the Molokai Channel

The family invited the press to the family compound in Pauoa in the Chinese cemetery where Solomon Aikau is the caretaker. The grassy area in front of the two Hawaiian-style frame homes was filling with cars and coolers were being filled with ice when a newsman asked Aikau how many people lived in the two homes.

Aikau, a short, dark barefoot man in blue jeans and yellow T-shirt, answered immediately, “My five sons, my daughter, my wife and myself.”

There are, in fact, three remaining sons. Jerry died four years ago in an auto accident. “Right after Clyde won the Duke Kahanamoku surfing contest,” said David Bettencourt, a family friend.

Bettencourt, an attorney, handled the news conference for the family. TV lights and cameras had been set up in Eddie's living room, where a dozen members of the press waited uneasily. Just before entering, the family joined hands and pressed close together, sobbing, to say the Lord's Prayer.

As they entered, Clyde. 27, the youngest son who returned from Australia where he was competing in pro surfing contests, took charge. “No more glasses,“ he said to sister Myra who removed her sunglasses. “Mama," he said to his mother, Henrietta, who sat in a chair to the side, “you should be sitting in the middle.” She moved obediently to Bettencourt’s right on the couch. “Are you comfortable, Mama?”

Clyde sat on the floor to the left. “Freddy boy,” he said to his oldest brother, “you sit here,” indicating a spot on the floor to his left. When everyone was seated, Bettencourt laid down ground rules, “We ask that nobody take any photos of people breaking down, please. We don't want to see that on the air. The tears remain here.”

He also requested that questions be limited to Eddie Aikau’s background and personality, and not to the incident that led to his disappearance. Finally, Bettencourt said what everyone knew he had to say. That the search was over, that it was not a decision easily made, and that they had no reason to believe further efforts would be rewarded.

Bettencourt thanked everyone Involved in the search. He praised the Coast Guard for its extensive efforts and said, “The family is satisfied that everything that could possibly be done has been done. Searching any further would only expose the searchers to further risk.”

As he spoke, Myra fidgeted with a Kleenex, and Clyde and Freddy sat with their chins on their hands. Pops stared at the floor; his wife was expressionless. Bettencourt said the family held no “Ill will” toward the boat or crew and hoped that “Eddie's love for the Hokule‘a will not be lost. They hope it will continue to be a symbol of Hawaiian unity and will be used to educate the young.”

Answering criticism that Eddie should not have left the Hokule‘a, he said the family hopes that “all of us will re-examine our dealings with the ocean.” They hope, he said, that children will be taught “a great deal of respect” for the sea “so the same thing won't happen again.”

To ensure that it wasn't taken as a reproof for what Aikau had done, however, he said that “anyone who has ever seen Eddie in action (making rescues as a lifeguard) on the North Shore understands without question why he did what he did.”

Instead of flowers or calls, Bettencourt asked that well-wishers contribute money to pay for the costs of the search, which, he said, caused “an incredible amount of expense.”

He later estimated the cost at $5,000 to $6,000. Contributions should be sent to Brown and Bettencourt, Suite 1100, Financial Plaza, Honolulu, and some indication should be made that it’s for the Aikau search.

Bettencourt asked, finally, that no one contact the family and announced that a memorial ceremony will be held for Aikau at 9:30 AM on Saturday, April 1, at Waimea Bay.

The first question asked was whether the family thought Eddie was confident of reaching Lanai when he left. Clyde answered immediately, “My brother didn't have to take chances. He told me when we worked on the North Shore, ‘Only jump in if you know you can handle it.’ When he left the boat, I’m totally sure he thought he could make it. He didn't have to prove nothing to nobody.”

The room was silent and charged with emotion. Clyde blinked rapidly and stared at the coffee table next to him. Pops nodded and rubbed his wife’s leg.

Moments later, Clyde said, “We’d like to call off the search, but . . . ” he looked around helplessly, choked by emotion. “All I ask for,” he blurted, after a pause, “is if you're on a boat and going to Maui, just keep your eyes [open]. Just look in the ocean, that's all.”

Myra's eyes welled with tears. Freddy blinked and stared at the floor. Hokule‘a crewman John Kruse put his hand on Pops’ shoulder consolingly as Pops mopped his eyes and face with a handkerchief. Henrietta Aikau continued to sit rigidly.

Then more than 20 people crowded into Pops and Henrietta’s living room and quietly studied pictures of, and surfing trophies won by, Eddie and Clyde. Most of the pictures were black and white, neatly tacked to the walls in rows. They showed the Aikaus in clastic stances, their boards dancing across the angry faces of towering North Shore waves.

Gold trophies of surfers with their boards stood in orderly rows on a shelf. Below, was a narrow bookcase containing pictures, flowers, and leis, a memorial to Jerry Aikau.

The visitors were so quiet, so respectful, that Eddie's niece, Piilani, slept peacefully on a bed in the center of the room.

When they had left, Pops followed them outside where some of the crew members end Eddie’s friends were talking quietly. A bell rang and small children began filtering through the cemetery from the school next door, headed home.

Pops said that as far as he was concerned, Eddie, like Jerry, was not make (dead). “He’ll probably walk In from Maui or Tahiti, or somebody will call and say. ‘Hey, he’s here!’ He’s just missing, that's all.”

With that, he turned and headed for the coolers, hollering “OK, everybody here, the bar is open! I want everyone to have a canned beer in his hand.” He walked over to a bell hanging by his front door and rang it twice.

Then he got himself a beer.