The Canoe Is the People
Indigenous Navigation in the Pacific
The wind’s speed changes all the time, so the canoe’s speed changes too. To judge speed, a Pacific navigator watches the spray from the water on the canoe’s sides. He also feels the wind on his face and watches how it affects the sails or things hanging from them.
“… We measure the bubbles from our front iako [bow] to our rear iako [stern] … if the bubbles travel between the two points within 5 seconds, we are going about 5 knots.”
Hawaiian wayfinder Keahi Omai
From Bader, H. and McCurdy, P., eds (1999).
Note: The way that Keahi talks of knots and seconds shows that this method of measuring speed is influenced by the European system. Today, a lot of practices combine western with traditional ways.