Crew Profile

Blog | Kula Barbieto: Sailing is Like Flying

Kula Barbieto
This post was written by Kula Barbieto.

There’s something to be said about a group of people from different backgrounds and ages, cultures and beliefs who are voyaging to a destination together.

Someone once told me sailing is like flying: wind, air, and magic. The magic begins when a fluid flows past the surface of something–or in this case, a sailing canoe–that exerts a force on it. “Lift” is the component of this force that is perpendicular to the oncoming flow direction, acting against the drag force.  If the fluid is air, the force is called aerodynamic force.

In simple terms, lift = flying.

Lift is the force generated by wings of an aircraft and it’s what keeps it in the air.  Lift is also what keeps our sails full and the waʻa on the move. Birds, fish, and plant seeds have used lift for millions of years; sailing canoes for thousands of years, airplanes for decades. This makes me realize, there’s always something we can learn from the past.

Being a crew member in the sky and in the ocean is my everyday life.  I like looking up at clouds and stars from the sea just as much as I like soaring through them, studying and observing, watching the ocean below.

We have positions in the sky and kuleana in the ocean. Captains, crew members, galleys, and weather are a part of everyday lingo. Adapting to ever changing situations, emergencies or not, crew members become pretty amazing at navigating their way through change. Whether it’s greeting one another with a hug or a kiss, or sharing our food, ‘ohana is natural to all crew members.

There’s something to be said about a group of people from different backgrounds and ages, cultures and beliefs who are voyaging to a destination together.

In this case, the difference between flying to a destination and voyaging is this: four women navigating to Olohega (Swains). We are currently six miles out of Swains with 90 miles to Tokelau – a navigator’s “guesstimation.”  We are trying to decide which time zone to use; we lost a day sailing from Tutuila to Apia and we just now gained an hour….time travel confusion.

Dinner: mahimahi three ways: sashimi, fried and poisson cru (oka in Samoa).
Dinner: mahimahi three ways: sashimi, fried and poisson cru (oka in Samoa).

My last meal consisted of fresh Oka (Samoan poke with coconut milk) made with a Mahimahi caught by Timi onboard Hōkūle’a. He sent it over to Hikianalia via empty water bottle ocean transfer in the waters off of Swains.

Thanks to Hawaiian Airlines my mind can handle the 10-2 watch that I am on, but my body strength is playing catch up for which no swimming or surfing can train me.

My time at sea takes me to my first memories of Apia, flying there for surfing 10 years ago. Since then Apia has been my favorite place. I have always wished to return, never in my wildest dreams had I imagined it would be by wa’a. Our time in Samoa was nothing short of a fairy-tale. Here I was sitting under a talie tree watching a taupou princess return home to her ‘āina, Faleapuna. This princess voyaged home to her people, a wish granted by her grandfather chief. And then there was lunch with the king. We exchanged gifts and had kawa, ate some lunch. We talked stories, sang songs, laughed and shared stories of hope. The King later came for our departure and left us with this quote: “People will forget what you say, people will forget what you do, but people will never forget how you make them feel.” -Maya Angelou.

A princess and a king, a dream and a wish. Time travel. Fairy tales do come true.  The way I see it, sailing is like flying.  Wind, air, and magic.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Send this to friend