Posted by: catamarantwooceans | May 9, 2017

Easter Island–Part 2

It was time for a late lunch and surfing the web for weather, e-mails and the like. There is a free WiFi in several location in Hanga Roa and we chose a restaurant right by one of them. Having eaten we made our way to the boat basin. One long look at the breakers in the entrance and I made up my mind to leave the dinghy in the basin and arrange a ride to Two Oceans with a fisherman. We spoke with a guy named Guanijo, who agreed to do the round for water and fuel but told us that the port was closed, showing us a black flag.

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                                  Guanijo on the right

He suggested that we take the dinghy out of the water because the surge would push it against the wall and damage it. “Go to a hotel” he said. We took the dinghy out and put it near Guanijo’s house, which is right behind the dive clubs. Together with him we went back to look at the sea. My biggest worry was the electrical system on the boat; if I was to stay ashore and wouldn’t be able to charge the batteries they might deplete severely. “Come back in an hour” Guanijo said “maybe the sea will calm a bit”. The time was 1830, we went to the WiFi area from which we could see the basin. Surfers were having fun in the breakers.

To my surprise I saw a dinghy trying to go out; it was the Norwegian family from “Explorer”. They started going out and at a certain moment, after being hit by a breaker, their outboard motor quit and they were swept towards shore. I was afraid the dinghy would capsize but a few surfers attached themselves to it and led it back to the basin. We rushed over and found all of them dripping wet, dinghy full of water, phones and laptop soaked but they were safe and the children in a good mood. Right then I saw two fishermen preparing their panga go out, I asked the skipper whether he would take me to my boat and he agreed. I hopped on board hoping that Zulu and Danny would follow later with Guanijo. The fisherman operated his panga expertly, slowing down and even backing to adapt the ride to the incoming waves. At the moment he noticed a lull, he throttled up and we flew outside and towards Two Oceans. On the way he spoke in rapid Spanish, which I understood to be a wish to be given something for his help. When he saw me reaching for my wallet, he said “No, no! I just want one lure” to make me understand they showed me one. “I will give you two” I said and reaching our boat I gladly did.

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Zulu and Danny had to go to a hotel; Guanijo thought it was too dangerous to go out.

27.4.17 – Thursday – Looking at the sea conditions in the morning was not encouraging. Pasqua Radio called to say that they are postponing the yachts checking out until coming ashore would be possible. I spoke to Thomas on Kalibu, telling him what we went through and he told me that he actually capsized in the entrance the day before last. He worked three hours to bring his motor back to life. At about ten o’clock I was relieved to see a panga coming our way; Danny was aboard with Guanijo and our four water jerry-cans (I bought two more the day before to facilitate the water delivery). We filled the water they brought, I took the ships papers and we went ashore to the Armada. We did the departure procedure and then Danny went back to the boat with another round of water, while I took our dinghy out through the surf. It was a bit frightening, the dinghy pitching up alarmingly while climbing the waves but with just me on board the motor was strong enough to take the dinghy out of the danger zone. Zulu and Danny did the shopping needed for the two weeks ahead and brought more water and fuel. Guanijo was paid nicely and we were ready to leave.

The forecast did not allow sailing immediately to Pitcairn; tomorrow a northwest to  west wind of 15-25 knots will blow and the sea state will be rough. On Saturday it would be west shifting to southwest 25 diminishing to 15 and later changing to southerly. We needed a secure anchorage on the eastern side of the island. The Armada guys recommended Vinapu while a cruiser who published an anchoring guide for the island praised the one in Hotuiti bay, opposite Tongariki, almost eight miles further up the coast. I chose to go to Vinapu, thinking that Hotuiti was too far to get to in good daylight. As we approached the Vinapu coordinates we saw some small buoys and came closer to investigate. The one we pulled out to look at was connected to a thick rope, perhaps for a fuel ship coming to replenish the big tanks on shore. I decided to tie to it and not anchor at 19 meters depth on a bottom we knew nothing about.

Slowly all the other boats arrived; Kalibu, Pakia Tea and lastly, when it was already dark – Explorer.

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                                           Pakia Tea

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                               Explorer and Kalibu in Vinapu

28.4.17 – Friday – Initially the thought was to go Hutuiti and then on Saturday, when the southwest wind would come – to Anakena., but I was so happy with the mooring we took, I preferred to stay put. All the other boats came to the same decision and nobody left. We used this waiting day for a few jobs on the boat. We finally found the time to reinstall the alternator that was maybe fixed in Oceanic garage; for a moment it seemed to work fine but after a few seconds it started emitting smoke, the engine was shut down and the alternator disabled, belts removed. Another job was sealing the leaking escape hatch in the salon floor. While we were working a good size navy ship appeared from around the headland; I was afraid they were going to use the moorings, including “ours” but that did not happen, they anchored a good distance away.

Tomorrow would be the day to decide whether we leave or go to Anakena.

Posted by: catamarantwooceans | May 9, 2017

Easter Island

24.4.17 – Monday – When we spoke to the Chilean navy on the approach to the island, we asked about the local time. We kept u.t.c minus 7 and were surprised to hear that the local time was u.t.c minus 5; we moved our watches two hours forward. I was expecting the authorities to come to the boat but Pasqua Radio operator told us to come over to their office to complete the entrance procedure. My information regarding the entrance to the Hanga Roa boat basin was that it was problematic due to  breaking waves and there was even a recommendation to arrange for a local fisherman to take you ashore. We had a sketch of the place from a publication by s/v Migrations and comparing it to what we were seeing in front of us we thought we could do it with our dinghy.

The basin had a system facilitating the tying up of the pangas belonging to the local dive clubs and also the yachts’ dinghies. A rope goes from one side of the  basin to the other and from it ropes go to the dock.

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We went ashore and looked for the Navy (Armada) facility, to which the immigrations would come to check us in. The navy people were very welcoming, gave us a lot of information plus a printout of the weather forecast. We also received a page of Rules and Limitations we were supposed to adhere to; some of them were draconian, you cannot take any garbage ashore, one of the crew should always stay on board and so on. Once all the forms were filled and the passports stamped, I had to go back to the boat to receive a visit by the customs and agriculture department representatives. After they had gone, I snorkeled to check the anchor and was dismayed to see that we anchored on coral. We anchored in line with three other yachts and the Armada man told us the place was O.K, obviously it was not but for the time we stayed put.

After more than two weeks at sea we were eager to have a restaurant dinner but looking at the wave situation in the pass to the boat basin I decided we were not going ashore at night. We could have an early dinner and go back with daylight.

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25.4.17 – Tuesday – Danny and I went ashore leaving Zulu to guard ship. The first item on the agenda was trying to repair the starboard alternator. We went to the Oceanic garage, where the alternator was dismantled and checked. Initially the electrician said the stator was burnt and that there was no replacement to be found on the island. Later he said he would try cleaning it with some paste he had; “let it dry for two hours and try it, maybe it’ll work”. I asked Ian, the manager, how much I owed them and he said it was free. Thanks Ian!

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After leaving the heavy alternator in the dinghy we continued walking through the town, reaching the small Hanga Piko fisherman port. I wanted to check whether we could come in there and get water, which we needed urgently.  Before embarking on this voyage, during the research I did, I saw a video on Youtube in which a yacht tried to enter and was thrown on the rocks by a big wave. Approaching the port, we saw a yacht lying on its side near the entrance, with a painting of a shark on the starboard topside. The name on it was “La Rose” and I am quite sure it was the one I watched the sad destruction of on the web.

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Going back to town we did some shopping and returned to the Hanga Roa boat basin. I approached the Orca diving club, hoping to arrange the delivery of water to our boat. Michel, the manager, told me we could take fresh water from their pipe for no cost but he did not have any jerry-cans to enable bringing the quantity we wanted. I’ll try and find somebody else. He gently scolded me about my anchoring point over coral and I promised to move. Once back on the boat we started up and changed position to a sandy patch with good holding; the depth was 18 meters, so I put out two anchors in tandem.

There were three more boats in the anchorage. One was “Explorer” which I met in Ecuador; they had arrived yesterday evening, which seemed very strange to me, as they left Ecuador on March 24th. I saw Morten on shore and he told me that they had an intermediate stay break two weeks after departure and that he sailed to an area with calmer seas (?) before replacing it and continuing to Easter Island. Another cat that came in a bit after us was a 16 meters long Wharram Pahi named Pakia Tea, with Tom, Sonia and five years old Keano. The fourth boat was here before we came, it was an aluminum monohull called “Kalibu” with Thomas, wife and two kids.

26.4.17 – Wednesday – Thinking about the limitations set by the local “Armada” and especially about the watch keeping man on the boat at all times I decided to apply some flexibility to make our live on the island bearable. In the morning we rented a car from Oceanic on main street (almost everything is on main street), a small Suzuki 4×4 and set out to discover the wonders of Easter Island. The explanations regarding the unique statutes – Moai – on the island, who made them, who toppled them, how were they put in position etc. are, in my humble opinion speculative and do not rely on concrete historical evidence. They are, however, very, very impressive. The first site we visited was Vinapu, which is also a recommended anchoring spot when the winds blow from the north or west. There I saw the stone-wall in the following picture.

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                                             Vinapu stone wall

Now look at the picture taken in Peru:

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                                        Inca stone wall

I think the resemblance is incredible and some of the publications we saw point at a possible contact between the two cultures.

The next and perhaps the main attraction on the island was Rano Raraku, an extinct volcano, thought to be the quarry where the Moai were made.

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                                 The small dots on the left are Moai

There are hundreds of them in the crater and on the mountain slopes, some lying broken on the ground and some in the early stage of “production”. We started by climbing to the crater, in which there is a lake surrounded by reeds, not unlike those seen in Egypt or lake Titicaca. Next we walked the slope, in awe of the many Moai.

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Next was Tongariki, situated on shore of Hutuiti bay, which is another of the north to west winds anchorages. This site was renovated with the help of the Japanese government, Moais re-erected in a long, impressive line.

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                           Tongariki detail

We continued to other sites the last of which was Anakena, a bay suitable for winds from the west counterclockwise to the south-east. This bay has a sandy beach,coconut palms and a few restaurants and bars for tourists. We had planned on going there one day, not yet specified. It was already three p.m, we decided to continue our tour next day, visit some attractions on the western part of the island.

To be continued…

Posted by: catamarantwooceans | May 9, 2017

Sailing From Ecuador To Easter Island

6.4.17 – Thursday – At 1800 I took a beer to one of the tables in the marina’s restaurant, facing the entrance in wait for my crew. Danny and Zulu landed in Quito on Wednesday and today boarded the bus for a 7.5 hour trip to Bahia. I only had one sip when I saw the guys entering the marina.

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Danny is a seasoned Two Oceans sailor having sailed with me three times in the past: Palau to Thailand, South Africa to Grenada and Panama to Florida. Zulu, whose official name is Raanan Herzl Shapiro, nicknamed Zulu due to his South Africa origin, is a very experienced seaman; he has an Amel Super Maramu yacht, on which he circumnavigated the world with his wife Miri. I had the pleasure of joining them as crew from Cape Town to Brazil in the beginning of 2010, when my boat was on the hard in French Polynesia during the hurricane season there.

7.4.17 – Friday – A shopping day. If I thought I had already did most of the non-perishables purchase we would require, the guys found more things we needed. We also bought 17 six liters water bottles, having decided that the tap water at the marina, despite my bleach purification, had a funny taste and anyway we wanted to have more than the regular 500 liters tanks quantity. In the evening our passports and international zarpe (cruising permit) came back, one more step towards departure. Zulu prepared dinner of grilled meat and potatoes.

8.4.17 – Saturday – High Water would be at 1420 so we planned to shop for the perishables this morning. Before that and before the tidal current would kick in, I went into the water to check the propellers and clean the speed transducer prop. The river water was so murky that it was impossible to see anything;  I felt the fouled props by touch and scraped whatever growth was on them. I could not clean the speed prop and was sure it was fouled too; once we were outside I could anchor for a few minutes and do it in clearer waters.

We were three boats waiting to go out, the other two were “Solace” with a Kiwi couple on board and Joanne and Garry on “Cheers” a Beneteau First 35, both going straight to the Marquesas. At 1330 the panga brought Ariosto and we set out in a convoy to negotiate the river’s bar. I knew that Solace had 1.8 meters draft and was a bit worried for them when my depth gauge showed 1.6 but we all went out with no mishap, said goodbye to our pilot and were on our way. I went down to clean the speed prop and it started showing a speed that was lower than the actual; I may have to calibrate it. People in the know may ask why I did not take the transducer out from inside the boat and the answer is that the plug I have on board is leaking and I did not fancy going under the starboard forward cabin bed and then sponging the seawater that would inescapably enter.

The forecast was for light and variable wind and I was content motoring along on a single engine, giving the house batteries a good charge. A bank of nimbus stratus clouds brought unexpected wind from the north and for four hours we ran at good speed under sail. I could even show Zulu the operation of the jib poling out and pole jibing. After dinner we started our watch system, mentally assuming the routine of long-range voyaging.

9.4.17 – Sunday – Alternating between motorsailing and pure sailing on the calm seas we logged 134 n.m in the first 24 hours. The speed instrument froze again so we had to make do with the GPS SOG values, good enough. No fish caught so Zulu made a lure using the outer cover of a 14 mm rope. “This is what worked best for me in the Pacific” he said. Danny kept recording the manufacturing process with his phone’s camera.

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The lure was in the water until sunset and had the very same success as its predecessor. I’ll try a different one tomorrow.

10.4.17 – Monday – We knew that the Trade Winds would only be reached around 5 degrees south of the Equator. Again did a lot of motoring with some sailing thrown in. A friend of Zulu’s is sending weather information via the Inreach but I also wanted to get a fuller picture through the Iridium; bad surprise as some computer glitch stopped the connection before I could get the weather grib file. 24 hours run – 140 miles. Still no joy at fishing.

11.4.17 – Tuesday – I came on watch at midnight, had a cup of coffee and started tinkering with the computer trying to fix the Iridium connection. Something I did made it work and I got the weather. It shoed south easterly wind of ten knots but during the early morning it backed to the east and blew 15 to 20 and the sea rose accordingly. When I started the starboard engine to charge the batteries, no water came out of the exhaust; looked into the the engine room and found the pump’s pulley stuck. This is a refurbished pump that I put on the engine less than two months ago! I went in there and replaced the pump.  Zulu took it apart, greased it and said it was OK. We could not figure out the reason for it becoming stuck. During my work, I inadvertently touched two of the alternator leads and got an unpleasant spark. I spent about two hours in that engine room and came out tired and very dirty. A fish took the lure but by the time Danny got to the rod the fish disappeared. At least we heard the sound of the reel which was music to our ears. With speeds of seven and eight knots I decided to give up fishing for the time.

Our 24 hours run was 146 miles. Later, as a bank of clouds moved away, the wind veered to the SE the seas calmed and the running was good. We saw a fishing boat maneuvering not far but other than that no human presence around us. In the evening I started the starboard engine to charge the batteries and saw that there was a problem with the alternator. I used the port engine and delayed the troubleshooting for the next day.

12.4.17 – Wednesday – Great sailing! wind from the beam at 15-20 knots and the sea relatively calm; boat speed around 7 knots. I went into the starboard engine room to check the alternator. I tightened the exciter wire, started the engine and immediately felt the smell of electrical fire. Shut the engine pronto understanding that there was nothing we, with our non professional knowledge, could do. I took the belts off the alternator and took out the exciter wire. Let’s hope that there is an electrician who knows alternators in Easter island. At 2000 u.t.c we saw we sailed 162 n.m in the last 24 hours; good progress.

We continued our fishing efforts (that’s sitting in the cockpit waiting for the sound of the reel) and were rewarded with a small Mahi Mahi.

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We are hoping for more as there are a lot of flying fish around us, which mean the Mahi are there too.

13.4.17 – Thursday – Morning brought two more Mahis. We now have two meals for the crew so we stopped fishing for a while. last 24 hours run – a respectable 167 nautical miles. As evening approached the wind became stronger and for the first time on this trip we put in the first reef. We already covered a third of the way, which is great, but we still have more than 1500 miles to go.                                              The highlight of the the day was the dinner Zulu prepared: oven grilled Mahi with a side of white carrot puree wrapped in cooked cabbage leaves. Yummy!

14.4.17 – Friday – At the end of my watch, just before waking Zulu up, I wanted to put the kettle on for him and found a big eyed small squid lying on the floor. How did it get there with the hatches closed? Big mystery.

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In the morning we reset our watches one hour back, to U.T.C minus 6. Had we gone by the book we should have changed it when crossing 82.5 degrees west, but we waited until the sunrise would occur at about 0600 and the sunset around 1800. The day was a calm, uneventful one ; the wind was lighter than the day before and after our pizza lunch we even started an engine – for speed and batteries charge. Our daily progress check showed 156 miles. At 1600 the wind strengthened a bit and again we were doing more than 6 knots.

After all my years at sea I should have known better; less than half an hour after I have written the words:”uneventful day” the “un” became unreal. It was not more than twenty minutes to sunset when I came up to check the mainsail trim and to my surprise and consternation saw that the lower batten came out of its leach receptacle and was in danger of parting company with the sail and the boat. We brought the traveller to the center, lowered the main to first reef and I went up to the end of the boom to see whether I could fix it. With light diminishing, the best I could do was pushing the batten back into its pocket, tie its end with a line to the mast and leave the project for next morning. With the wind becoming stronger we still did about 7 knots. Another “event” was the discovery that we had depleted our starboard water tank; we would have to be more carful about how we use fresh water. Less (or no?) showers, washing plastic crockery with sea water only etc.

15.4.17  – Saturday – In the morning the crew turned into a committee debating the right way to resolve the batten problem. It was clear we needed to make the batten longer and it was done by connecting a piece of batten material with a PVC pipe to the main batten. The difficulty lay in the fact that the sail was not stretched enough laterally so that pushing the now longer batten into the position was not easy. As I was dangling at the end of the boom, the autopilot disengaged and the boat turned into the wind giving me a bit of a jolt. Once under control I succeeded finishing the project and we took the sail all the way up. Our 24 hours distance was 157 miles, not bad considering the fact we were reefed the whole night. Fast ride continued as the trade-winds blew 17-22 knots from the beam. As night came we lowered the main to first reef position, wishing for smooth ride.

After dinner, as I started my my night watch, I did something that was long overdue and that was researching the plotter – autopilot interaction. When I bought the new Raymarine A 65 plotter years ago I downloaded its manual, all 330 pages of it. That was too long for digestion and I just printed and read the parts I considered important, namely those which dealt with waypoints and routes. A lot was learnt by trial and error and I thought I more or less mastered its operation. However, the recurring autopilot disengagements necessitated action. I remembered seeing, on one of my forays into the system settings of the plotter, something named “autopilot control” which was off, since my preference was operating the AP by its own switches. I now put it to the “on” position, advancing carefully until I had the autopilot follow our track to the Easter Island anchorage waypoint. Results: no more unintentional disengagements and no need to make corrections in order to stay on track. Do I feel stupid for not finding this from the manual earlier? Not really! Had they made the manual simpler and shorter, including just the type I have and not three types of plotter in the one manual, I would have probably made the effort.

16.4.17 – Sunday – Zulu took over the watch at midnight and at 0201 LT recorded the passing of the voyage’s mid point, 1153.5 n.m to destination.                                  In the morning another small Mahi Mahi was taken; Dr. Zulu was the one to clean and  fillet it in the cockpit, Danny standing by with the hose, a scene not unlike the one you see in an operating room (scalpel! suction!).

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Another “medical” situation arose when a sea bird dived and caught our fishing lure. Miki, AKA Dr. Doolittle, brought the squawking and terrified bird to the stern, extracted the hook and released it unharmed.

There was also a bit of maintenance. Yesterday evening Zulu discovered that the starboard hull’s bilge and shower discharge pumps were not working. Their wires are located in a very humid area and corrosion finds its way into the connections; once renewed – pumps work O.K.

24 hours check: 165 n.m. First reef for the night and still fast enough.

17.4.17  – Monday – Back to full sail in the morning and a quiet day followed. At 2000 u.t.c – 168 miles sailed in 24 hours. We had a disappointment when the autopilot – after working perfectly for two days – disengaged twice; we’ll have to be alert, especially during the night.

18.4.17 – Tuesday – Morning started with a line of dark grey clouds converging on our route and messing with the wind direction. Later, under blue skies we had good wind angle but less velocity. 24 hours run – 149 miles. As evening came, another bank of clouds sneaked on us from behind with 25 knots of wind and soon we were in first reef on both main and jib and still doing 8-9 knots. As we sat for dinner the wind went back to 15 knots from the stern, making it necessary to steer 20 degrees to port of our desired course. I decided to leave the main at first reef for the night; if the wind does not back until daylight we will change to sailing wing and wing in the right direction.

19.4.17 – Wednesday – A grey morning turned into a beautiful day but not enough wind. 24 hours run – 126 n.m. At least the sea is calm. No birds or flying fish seen and of course no fish caught.

20.4.17 – Thursday – Same as yesterday.  The forecast is for winds from ENE at 10 knots for the next two days, which means slow progress. At 2000 u.t.c, 1300 local time, we were 503 miles from Easter Island; 24 hours run 132 n.m. Reaching the island on Monday is not assured. a mild squall, 24 knots max, gives us a push for 45 minutes and then it is a combination of sailing, motoring, jib pole setting and removing. The sea is still calm so we are not complaining. I am reading “The Robber Bride” a 1993 book by Margaret Atwood; this author never ceases to amaze me with her imaginative, beautiful writing.

In the evening we have dinner of grilled pork fillet with potatoes and string beans in tomato sauce. As I stand in the galley scrubbing the steak pan I feel the boat accelerate; Zulu comes from the cockpit saying calmly:”It’s 30 knots true”. I rush out and we reef the sails. The boat is flying for a while but then goes back to the forecast values. Checking the wind instrument I find that the maximum wind velocity was 38.8 knots.

21.4.17 – Friday – During the night we had some more of those mild squalls, some calm periods where the engine is turned on and even some close-hauled sailing. As the day progresses the wind stabilizes at about 15 knots and we have nice sailing. 24 hours run was 126 n.m and we had 377 miles to destination. If we do three more days at 126 miles per – we’ll get there by Monday.

We treated a chaffed section of the main halyard by sliding the cover of a bigger diameter rope and seizing it in place; its test came when we reefed the main before starting the watch system and it had to pass through the spinlock, which was a bit difficult but doable. I had the 9 p.m to midnight watch, during which the wind backed so much, we could only sail at 45 degrees to the desired track. I jibed to the starboard tack but then lost the wind and started an engine.

22.4.17 – Saturday – At 0300, when Danny came to replace Zulu, the wind veered and became stronger, enabling the guys to shut the engine down, jibe to port and sail straight to destination. At 0400 I came for a visit, Danny pointed at the clear, starry skies and we opened full sail. The good conditions continued all day, with the exception of one short duration squall during which we kept full sails and attained some exhilarating speeds. We are perplexed by the lack of sea life on the last few days; no birds and no flying fish, is it something to do with the “El Nino” phenomenon?

The forecast, sent daily through the Delorme Inreach by Zulu’s friend, sea captain Amale Yasur, predicts the continuation of the good winds for the next two days.It now seems we may have to slow down Sunday night in order to arrive in daylight on Monday. Our 24 hours run was 137 miles. As the sun set, we could see some dark clouds heading our way and as a precaution put the main in first reef.

23.4.17 – Sunday – In the morning it was obvious that we were going a bit too fast to reach the island at daylight. We left the sails at first reef and monitored the progress continuously. Our position at 2000 u.t.c showed that we did 146 miles in the last 24 hours in spite of trying to slow down. In the afternoon we reduced sail even more, getting down to third reef.

24.4.17 – Monday – Danny woke me up at 0130, showed me that the wind changed direction, necessitating a jibe. Right after we did it the wind started playing tricks, velocity and direction unstable. At one point we even had to start an engine to get reasonable boat speed. At 0300, when I came on watch condition became better and we resumed sailing, initially with second reef and then up to first. At first light the island came into view. We approached Hanga Roa, the main settlement of the island and anchored according to the instruction of the Chilean Navy near a line of red buoys, where three other yachts were at anchor. It was just before nine o’clock Easter Island time, which is u.t.c minus 5. We had to advance our watches by two hours. On shore we could see a small line of the famous statues that Easter Island is famous for; a preview for a land trip.

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The trip took 15 days and 18 hours; we sailed 2307 miles in an average speed of 6.1 knots, not bad considering the slowdown for getting there in daylight. We were lucky to have good winds and relatively calm seas. Let’s hope the next leg, to Pitcairn Island will be similar!

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