Captain's log. In Rapa Nui, December 18, 2023
In the first part of the navigation from Quintero to Rapa Nui, the challenge consisted in acquiring the rhythm of ocean navigation. From the most complex to the most everyday things, such as the activities that we take for granted when we are on land, like moving around the cabin with a rocking motion, cooking, using the bathroom, require the development of certain skills that are gradually acquired with practice. We would like to have eight legs like octopuses to hold on to the seat, to hold a bowl of soup with one hand and, when we bring the spoon to our mouth, to be able to interrupt the trajectory of the glass of juice that crosses in front of us towards the floor. In addition, as it is a small boat, the discomfort increases, the movements are more abrupt, there is less space, etc.
The second leg was more focused on the concern for the advance. We had San Felix and San Ambrosio Islands off the bow. For almost a week, they are used as a reference until you just want to stop having them on the screen. The problem is that there is no other visible physical reference in the area, so that when they are finally left behind, you can't help but feel a kind of liberation.
Already freed from the old Desventuradas, we took a more direct route to the west, by our track to Rapa Nui Island.
We were now in the northern part of the high pressure system. The challenge in this part is to keep the right distance from the center of the high pressure, not too far and not too close, to make sure we keep the wind at the right magnitude and component to sail in good conditions. That is, receiving the wind from behind but slightly open on the left side (wind on a port tack). This is the best wind for most sailboats. By the way, here's a "huiro pildorita". Don't use the expression ...things are going "downwind" anymore, it is understood what is meant, but it is not correct. You should say, for example, "...Juanita, I wish you a long wind in your studies". That sounds more seafaring and Juanita is sure to be titled faster.
Along with the change in the coloring of the waters and sky, the air became in this part, clearly more temperate and humid. Simple contemplation of the surroundings or a conversation on deck is much more pleasant in a warmer, less clothing-laden environment.
An important challenge is to keep the spirit and the head centered, this is not easy. The routine, the discomfort, not having enough space to "rest from the others", sooner or later takes its toll if one does not have the experience. Coexistence becomes more important as the days go by and it becomes critical sooner or later on long sails. The simple exercise of lowering the sails and just floating for a while in the middle of nowhere, where there is only water, can be very illustrative. Just as in life, it is important to have a purpose, to be able to dream and to transform those dreams into a project. On long voyages, it is essential to be aware of where you are coming from, where you want to go, what is the path you have to follow and the milestones you have to reach to get there. If as a crew member you do not have direct responsibility for the voyage and navigation, you must nevertheless be aware and, like every member of the team, stay involved and committed to the objectives, challenges and progress of the project.
On this leg we made a great effort to gain time and take advantage of the good winds to bring our landfall to Rapa Nui forward. However, what we managed to gain during the day, we partly lost during the nights. Nevertheless, we were able to bring forward our arrival a few hours, which allowed us to land in daylight hours and at a convenient time.
The expected visit to Motu Motiro Hiva (Salas y Gómez) was very disappointing. The islet was completely covered by a cloud bank and could not be seen until it dissipated around noon. In addition, there was no wind, so at that time, I was more worried about what we still had to do to reach Rapa Nui. We did not even get close enough to see the birds and sharks we had planned to see. This time Motu Motiro Hiva did not want to show himself and only showed himself to say goodbye.
We set bow to our final destination and, due to the rush, we had to use the engine. Fortunately, our engine, which, if you remember, was freshly tuned, ran like clockwork as it purred happily. Many thanks to Raul Valencia, specialist mechanic, friend and member of the ASIMAR S.A. team, "Bravo Zulu Raul".
Our landfall on the island was approaching the northwest side of the island and sailing in its vicinity until we reached Hanga Roa. The Easter Radio station contacted us by VHF to welcome us and to coordinate the anchorage site in front of Hanga Roa. This site did not work for us due to its depth, and the attempt to anchor in that place ended in an unexpected situation that caused the Navy to come to our aid. Due to its weight, we could not recover the seventy meters of chain that we were hanging (pendulum). The solution was to escort us to a shallow area so that we could recover the chain while most of it rested on the bottom. We finally decided to anchor in the same place. This was the end of an important stage of the project and we were already in Rapa Nui, the starting point of our international voyage.
point of departure for our international voyage.
Personally, I feel at home and surrounded by friends. Together with them, we will plan how to make our stay on the island as profitable as possible and we will work on the next stage, which will be to travel the tentacles of the octopus from Taputapuatea to the island of Raiatea.
A new crew member comes on board, a dear friend will join the project. Maharenga Ika Melin (Hoko), will join as of this moment as crew member.
With Hoko I had the privilege of sailing in 2019 when we brought Lynn Rapu Tuki's Kuini Analola to the island.
Hoko will not only contribute with his knowledge and solvency when it comes to sailing, but will also contribute to highlight the role of the Rapa Nui people in this beautiful project that brings us together and unites us behind the objectives that are common to us.