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Fri Jan 30 12:32:00 EST 2015, 36 18'S:101 30'W,

While Rapa Nui was interesting, after we had seen the sights, taken on water, bought fresh food and done some maintenance, it was time to go. It was a month past the summer solstice, and we needed to keep moving.

Maggie left Rapa Nui by plane to return to her job in New York.

The rain was sometimes heavy but only intermittent last Saturday, when Max and I left the anchorage at VInapu. The Armada (one reports all vessel movements to them) was surprised we were leaving that day, as there was another weak cold front (bringing wind and rain) coming the next day. But I'd been watching the forecasts and there was nothing in them of concern to a boat like Issuma. We motored for a couple of hours to be clear of the wind shadow of the mountains of Rapa Nui, and have been sailing since then.

It's great to be back at sea! The heat that we've gotten used to over the last few months in the tropics is gone. I'm writing this while sitting in the cockpit on night watch, wearing long pants, a fleece, a wool hat and a jacket, enjoying the pleasant, cool weather.

As we went south, the winds have generally been getting stronger, so moving us along faster.

Tonight, the skies are clear, the stars are out , and a bright moon lights up the sails, the deck and the sea. A group of flying fish skim swiftly over the moonlit waves, to disappear back into the sea after several seconds of flight. The visibility is very good, and it is a treat to watch the horizon, the waves and the stars, as we slide across the seas.

Sat Jan 31 8:36:42 EST 2015 | Ralitsa
Very well written...Thanks for sharing!
Hanga Roa Market
Fri Jan 30 0:27:00 EST 2015, 27 08'S:109 25'W, Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui

Hanga Roa is the town on Rapa Nui. In the mornings, people sell fresh produce from the backs of trucks. Its a pleasant way to buy fresh food.

The Moai and the Tourists
Wed Jan 28 15:58:00 EST 2015, 27 08'S:109 19'W, Rano Raraku, Rapa Nui

The tourists in the background give an idea of the size of the moai.

Thu Jan 29 15:26:54 EST 2015 | Ralitsa
It is amazing, with their dimensions, how these were "properly" carved by the small human beings!
Tue Jan 27 0:43:00 EST 2015, 27 08'S:109 19'W, Rano Raraku, Rapa Nui

The extinct volcano where the moai of Rapa Nui were carved has a large number of moai, in various stages of carving and being transported. The moai here do not have their red stone "topknot" which goes atop the head of a finished statue.

This area, Rano Raraku, is now a national park.

Tue Jan 27 6:42:56 EST 2015 | Ralitsa
None looks friendly... No even a hint of a smile. All look like dedicated warriors guarding the exit to the sea...Sentinels?
Tue Jan 27 23:25:52 EST 2015 | Victor
Well, you made your first mile stone. Exemplary. Hope those sleeping giants will not hunt you except for the sea swells and unsecured anchors. It must be unforgettable experience. Sending you a new RIB with 200HP motor to get fast ashore by FAX (LOL). Enjoy
Mon Jan 26 0:50:00 EST 2015, 27 08'S:109 19'W, Rano Raraku, Rapa Nui

This is what Rapa Nui is famous for. The isolated, remote island in the Pacific with the mysterious history. Who carved, transported and placed the large, heavy stone statues (moai), and where those people came from, is controversial.

At sea, en route to Rapa Nui, I read Thor Heyerdahl's interesting book about the island, Aku Aku. While he is better known for sailing a balsa raft across the Pacific to show how some Pacific Islands could have been colonized from South America, Thor Heyerdahl made excavations of the moai in 1956 and developed a theory of the history of Rapa Nui, and its colonization from both South America and Polynesia. I understand that these theories are not well accepted by many archaeologists, but don't know why.

Whatever the history, the moai are fascinating to look at.

Mon Jan 26 14:36:22 EST 2015 | will
bravo . . . great pic. what's the town Hanga roa look like?
Mon Jan 26 16:15:48 EST 2015 | george ray
just noticed that you have been updating your "Notes on Sailing Small Schooners" on issuma_dot_com in the Rosemary Ruth section, GREAT! , thanks much for sharing your knowledge/experience.
Tue Jan 27 1:52:00 EST 2015 | Dan B
Fantastic! It's great following your journey and visit to this landmark.
Landing at Vinapu
Sat Jan 24 21:19:00 EST 2015, 27 10'S:109 24'W, Vinapu, Rapa Nui

As Maggie mentioned in the last post, landing at Rapa Nui is usually difficult, and often not possible. There are a few places to anchor at Rapa Nui--we moved between anchorages four times as the wind and wave conditions changed. This is the landing at Vinapu.

There is a small swell running in the picture--only 1m (3'). Usually the swell is 1.5m or more (beyond that, we don't attempt landing here). The swell comes in every 7-10 seconds, and along with the swell is a swift inflow of water, followed by an equally swift outflow. One needs to get the dinghy manouvered in line with the ladder, pull ahead until alongside the ladder, put one oar away, grab the ladder with one hand and keep the boat in position with the other oar. It's good exercise!

After landing at Vinapu and climbing the hill, it is about a 1.5 hour walk to town (Hanga Roa). Usually one can get a lift most of the way, if not, its a pleasant walk, often with cows grazing at the side of the road, past the airport and into town.

The Edge
Fri Jan 23 19:24:46 EST 2015, Rapa Nui, Chile

Transition zones can harbor tremendous forces and challenges, as with the coast of Rapa Nui, where the wide ocean meets the remote land. The island's volcanos have rendered a rocky, craggy, and mostly steep shoreline. Lacking a protective reef, sea swells crest and crash right on shore. No wonder the only living things who make their home right here have shells! The many crabs, urchins, snails, barnacles, and corals we see at the shore testify to the harsh nature of the place. Landing a small boat from our ship at anchor uses all of Richard's rowing experience!

In a larger sense, this challenging zone of transition represents much more about Rapa Nui. The island remains one of the most remote inhabited places on earth. It takes real effort to get to Rapa Nui, and it takes more effort to get ashore when you do. Those living with native culture are self reliant, and keep lush gardens and fish for subsistence. Rain water is collected, or water is siphoned from the lake in the crater of the extinct volcano. People help each other out, as there are fewer services. And pride in family and cultural life is everywhere! The exact history of the island remains a theory, as recorded western visits started in the 1700's and were very rare through the 1800's. Little is known about the cultures who rose and fell and who carved the stone statues in the distant past. But the island's identity is still as fiercely independent and strong as those crabs crawling in the crashing surf.

For the past few decades, airline service has opened tourism and consumerism on the island. Technology has helped to minimize that harsh edge. But spend any time opening yourself to the ecosystem and culture of Rapa Nui, and you will find that the rugged coastline is mirrored in a way of life that harmonizes with the challenges and riches of nature.

Fri Jan 23 21:12:29 EST 2015 | Steve
That's some serious exercise rowing from anchor to the shore !!!
Fri Jan 23 22:47:03 EST 2015 | George Conk
Is there no harbor?
What is the holding ground like where you anchored?
Sat Jan 24 8:59:37 EST 2015 | George Ray
Thanks for sharing your journey to 'The Edge' of the possible. Great stuff!
Thu Jan 15 12:17:54 EST 2015

After four weeks of sailing closehauled (all but one day on port tack), the wind shifted north, and we had a beautiful tailwind. If you look closely under the spinnaker (colorful sail), you can see Rapa Nui (also known as Easter Island and Isla de Pascua).

We did not have time to anchor at Rapa Nui before dark, so we spent a leisurely night sailing slowly under the stars, with little sail set, to time our arrival for dawn.

On this leg of the trip, we went farther west than the direct route from Mexico to Rapa Nui because the weatherfaxes showed a lot of light headwinds north of the equator on the direct route. That probably helped avoid motoring (I like sailing, not motoring), as we motored about 75 miles out of about 3100 miles logged. It also made for a somewhat longer (~400 miles) distance and therefore longer time at sea.

How is Rapa Nui? More later.

Sat Jan 17 10:56:04 EST 2015 | Jocelyn
Wow, Bravo.
Port Tack
Mon Jan 12 14:58:00 EST 2015, 26 00'S:110 16'W,

I mistakenly attributed Maggie's post yesterday, "Morning of Misery", to me. I'll fix that when we get into port.

We spent 27 days in a row close-hauled (sailing as close to the wind as we can) on the port tack (the wind coming over the port side, the boat leaning over to the starboard side). Usually with a little less wind than in the picture, sometimes with more. A few days ago we got a welcome wind shift and went on the starboard tack, which was a really nice change--all the things you get used to leaning one way are now leaning the other--the sink draine quickly instead of needing pumping and we adapted to sleeping against the other side of our beds.

After a day, we were back, close-hauled, on the port tack again, making good progress. And then, late yesterday (to be continued)...

Morning of Misery
Sun Jan 11 12:45:00 EST 2015, 25 44'S:110 37'W,

Just in case you thought it's all fine food and sunny sailing on an ocean voyage, let me tell you about a particularly miserable morning, that ended up with me grumppy and drying my sea soaked clothes...

I was up for the pre-dawn watch after a short and very poor sleep. Sailing close on the wind in high seas the ship sometimes moved violently, and we were constantly well heeled over. Imagine your bed against the wall, and then the whole room lifting and tilting so much that you were actually sleeping on, and sometimes pounded against, the wall! In all that I was cold and aching, having used my jacket as a pillow for extra support at the weird angle. Getting up to seek a blanket in the dark and bouncing boat seemed even more uncomfortable at the time. I was so sore, cold and tired.

Once on deck I found the cockpit wet with spray and the wind fitful. It's speed and direction wavered, and getting tossed around on the waves made it even more difficult to manage. Carry sail and white knuckle through the gusts? Shorten sail and become more suseptible to the seas? I didn't have much time to think on it before the conditions briefly caught us head to wind, then a thunderous slap, and all the sails were aback! (A sudden change in direction put the wind on the wrong side of the boat for the way the sails were set.) Quickly and desperately I tried the tiller over hard hoping a wave would help knock us back on heading, but no such luck. I had a lot of work to strike some sail, gybe to change direction, and set the sails again in the tossing seas! I was so frustrated and fatigued.

Finally back on course, I contemplated if the conditions would hold long enough for me to dash below and start the kettle for a comforting cup of tea. Stepping to the high side to better check, in the dark I heard that roaring whoosh-slap-splatter of a great wave crashing into the cockpit! I only had time to turn my back before me and everything around me was soaked, making me even colder. The force of the wave was great enough to knock coils of line apart and across the ship. I was dripping wet in a heaving mess! I had a good jacket on, but I had such a good dousing that water ran inside the jacket and down my back and arms, and soaked my legs. With the salt water, these clothes would remain sticky and never fully dry. I straightened the deck while I dripped off a bit, then used that dash below to change the worst of the soaked garments. I was so cold and wet.

A pretty sunrise finally came, but not enough to lift my mood. My watch relief Max arrived, and finding me shivering and sad, was very comforting and kind. But it took most of the day for me to get over that cold, aching, tired, pounding, frustrated, fatigued, wet, sticky, miserable morning!

Mon Jan 12 7:37:38 EST 2015 | George ray
This wonderfully written vignette could be the first paragraph on the the first page of the book we think you should write. Then perhaps 300+ pages later the closing paragraph of the last page would its antithesis ... Something comforting, warm and cozy in a voyaging way.
Mon Jan 12 12:26:03 EST 2015 | Ralitsa
Yes, it is only one of those few miserable mornings that have the aim to make all the rest even more "comforting, warm and cozy"...:)
Tue Jan 20 8:42:41 EST 2015 | Janice Howard
Wonder how my sea legs will fair in a few day's time. Fly to Argentina on Jan. 24. Will be blogging from the comforts of my berth aboard National Geographic's Orion. We all enjoy different degrees of adventure. Be safe and enjoy your sail of a lifetime!
Thu Jan 29 0:05:58 EST 2015 | Victor
Maggie, You have written it the most beautiful way and precise. There was someone who has described it better before you. "Ships are alright - it's the men in them
Joseph Conrad "

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