Kumu Crew: On To Virginia

April 22, 2016

In from Starr Johnson ‘98

Aloha y'all!

(We have gotten pretty accustomed to the use of "y'all" and its plural form: "all y'all")

This morning, with the rigging prepared to sail, we left the quaint Coinjock Marina, our last resting place in North Carolina, to continue north into the large ports of Virginia. On the way, we befriended Captain Daniel and his crew on their tug and barge, as we overtook each other a couple times and ended up side by side in our first and last lock for this leg of the voyage.

Communicating across the 15-yard gap as we were waiting for the lock to do its magic, our two captains chatted and asked questions about each other's vessel – each impressed by the other. We learned that they were heading north with an empty barge to pick up hundreds of tons of scrap metal to then return south. In their southern accents they shared that they had seen us on the news. One deck hand said he texted a photo of us to his friend from Hawai‘i who "was just tickled pink!" It was another one of those moments on this journey where you touch someone's life for a flicker of time, yet will likely leave an imprint and remain in our memories far into the future. As they headed off into the industrial area we continued heading north towards the Chesapeake.

Along the way we did a handful of online chats with school classrooms back home such as Maryknoll and Anuenue. We were also thrilled to open our sails, even if just for a short period of time, before we hit another area with its narrow twists and turns of the ICW that have made it nearly impossible to sail. We took the chance to get photos but also rejoice to finally become "sailors" once again!

The first major port we travelled through was Norfolk, VA – the prime meridian of the ICW with "mile marker 0" for the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway; we had officially travelled more than 700 miles! While traveling through, we saw incredibly large vessels docked, in transit and being built. These are largest vessels I have ever seen: enormous military destroyers, ships carrying thousands of shipping containers and even a Red Cross hospital ship. The ingenuity and engineering to create such enormous vessels was jaw dropping and reminded me of the feelings I had staring up in the mega-sized structure at NASA where the space shuttles are built.

As we headed into the Chesapeake, thunder started to roll and we each scrambled to get into our foul-weather gear. As the clock struck 2, my watch was on, and I started on the steering sweep. As the winds picked up and the rain came down, I noticed that I felt different than the last time we had encountered foul weather – peace of mind, comfort and confidence. It was the first time that I truly felt capable of handling the steering sweep, by myself in such weather – it was an indication of where I personally had come with the guidance of our captain, support of our crew and mana of Māmā Hōkūle‘a. We have travelled for weeks together, for hundreds of miles, yet grown in ways which are immeasurable. Traveling into Newport News we are all aware of how far we have come together. As we pulled into port, our kane kani ka pū, and as we announced our arrival through our oli kāhea, we caught whiffs of the sweet scent of tuberose. In Newport News we were welcomed with warm hugs and tuberose/orchid lei. It is exciting to know we will again get to connect to the peoples of this place. This place whose history runs deep, and generosity has already humbled us. We look forward to our time in the Chesapeake, to learn from those who call this place home.

Aloha nō.