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Encounter with a typhoon

During the third passage of the “Chile, Moana Nui A Kiva” project and being to the south of the Tuamotus, French Polynesia, the crew of the Beau Geste repeatedly faced with extreme weather conditions not foreseen in the forecasts and weather models being used.

Approximately 400 miles off Pitcairn Island, the vessel had to negotiate four days of sustained winds of around 40 knots and gusts of more than 50 knots in "mountainous" seas. These conditions correspond to a typhoon, which advanced to the longitude we were on, further east of Tahiti. This phenomenon is normal at this time of the year, but to the west of French Polynesia.


After raffling off the headsail, with the boat exposed to extreme conditions and with the crew already clearly worn out, I made the very difficult decision to return to safe port, Rapa Nui being the most accessible given the prevailing conditions and the remote location in which we were. It should be noted that the conditions that made it advisable to take the decision to turn around and return remained in place for another 48 hours.



The reason why it was a "difficult" decision has nothing to do only with the consequences of one or the other option but rather with the fact that turning around meant giving up a project that we had been pushing and carrying out with a lot of effort and commitment for a long time, a project in which very dear people,  institutions and companies believed. To get to that point, we had already overcome many inconveniences. Thus, the commitment, the desire to fight and move forward, the determination and fighting spirit, qualities that had led us to that distant and lonely point in the middle of nowhere, were opposed to a decision that I had to make when I clearly perceived that my friend Hoko's life and my own were seriously threatened.


That was exactly the same dilemma that, keeping the proportions, one of my great heroes, Sir Ernest Shackleton, had to face when during his expedition to cross Antarctica on foot and before even reaching the frozen continent, he realized that his project was becoming unfeasible since his boat had been trapped by ice in the Wedell Sea. It was his clarity that allowed him, after great sacrifices and efforts, to scrap his project and change his goal to saving his 27 colleagues under his responsibility. After two long years, and after reaching the South Georgia Islands to ask for help, all its people were rescued by the Chilean scuttle Yelcho, under the command of its Captain Luis Pardo Villalón.


A sinking in those conditions would have made it difficult to board the life raft and if we had managed to get on it, surviving the typhoon for several days in an area so remote and far from the shipping lanes would have been impossible.


We were 700 miles from the island of Rapa Nui, a comparable distance from Mangareva and 400 miles from Pitcairn, where there is no support of any kind, not even a safe anchorage. Our return to the island took us 12 days of great effort because, as I mentioned, the first two days were extremely demanding due to the wind and sea conditions, after that to face irregular winds and then finish upwind (sailing almost "against the wind")

On the near future, the Beau geste, which is currently at anchor in the Bay of Hanga Roa on Rapa Nui, will begin sailing back to Valdivia.


The conditions encountered are to be expected and attributable to periods under the influence of "El Niño", a phenomenon that is currently at its peak in this part of the world. Considering the facts presented, the “Chile, Moana Nui A Kiva” team has decided to postpone its realization indefinitely pending better global weather conditions.


Thank you very much to all of you for believing in our project and sailing with us aboard the Beau Geste. I will keep you posted on any news and hope you will join us on the navigation back to Valdivia (ETD 231800). A big hug, Raul

 

 

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