Thursday, March 25, 2010

Unsettled Weather Chases Us from Easter Island Prematurely

Sunday we were supposed to have rented a car to go do a self-tour at the other end of the island. But while we were waiting for the surf to subside after our dinghy disaster, I walked up and canceled the rental--the surfers and the dive shops said the surf would stay bad tomorrow too. And we saw from the GRIB files that a weather change was coming.

The next 36 hours were pretty bad as the swell built from NE, and the wind swung to the NE--a direction that isn't a good one anywhere on Easter Island.

3 of the 7 boats opted to go ahead and leave for Pitcairn/Gambiers that evening, and the Chilean Armada guys were so helpful in coming out to the boats to clear them out of Chile.

Infini Beating to Windard On the South Coast

After the 2nd really rolly awful squally night at Hanga Roa, with the wind backing more toward the north, and a huge swell building, we left at dawn for an anchorage on the south side of the island. It was Soggy Paws and Visions and Infini in a parade out of the anchorage, and then beating our way east against 20-25 kt winds.

When standing off the Hotu Iti anchorage, which we had waypoints for, I could not believe there would be any protected anchorage there. But Visions, much faster than us, had arrived ahead and assured us that it was better than Hanga Roa, at least.

The Rugged Coast and the Hotu Iti Anchorage

If you look closely in this picture, you can see 2 masts at the foot of the black cliff. Infini is on the left, rolling, and Soggy Paws is on the right. Visions is tucked further back in the cove, and is hidden by the headland.

We spent the next 2 nights rolling our guts out at Hotu Iti. It is a pretty place, but we had gusty winds from NE and an 8 foot swell rolling in around the headland, from the SE. We were often exactly sideways to the swell. Very difficult conditions.

Sitting in the anchorage, we wondered where we were going to land a dinghy. It turned out that there is a small man-made 'dinghy harbor' hidden along the shore.

The Dinghy Harbor at Hotu Iti

After we got the anchors down, checked the weather forecast, and assessed the situation, Visions decided they were going to clear out for Gambiers. Officially, you are supposed to bring your boat to Hanga Roa (where we just left, where anchoring is now untenable, and where landing a dinghy would be impossible) So they called the Armada on VHF and asked if they'd come out with their paperwork to this remote anchorage, 10 miles out of town.

Though we hadn't really had as much fun as we planned at Easter Island, faced with a forecast that showed more of the same difficult conditions for about another week, we decided to go to. Dave and Mike hitched back to town with the Armada guys, rented a car, and we spent all day running errands (filling diesel jugs, shopping, last minute internet, etc). We only took a few minutes to snap a photo of the "14 Heads", the big ahu called Ahu Tongariki.

Ahu Tongariki,
as Restored

After another rolly night, the wind was finally starting to switch around to the N and NW, the sun came out, and the swell was calming down. We had hoped to spend the morning exploring the Ranu Raku Volcano, where all the moai were carved. It is only a half hour hike from the Hotu Iti. But the Armada called us on the VHF and said more bad weather was coming, and we should leave. We had enough 'getting ready' to do that we decided not to take time to see Ranu Raku.

So yesterday, Visions left Easter Island in the morning, and Infini and Soggy Paws left just after noon. The forecast shows west winds all across the direct route from Easter to Pitcairn and the Gambiers. So we are doing a tricky 'dive south' maneuver to try to pick up winds off a high pressure area south of here. We'll see how that works out.

We are sad that we didn't get to see all major sites on the island, and didn't get to go diving. Another 2 or 3 days of settled weather would have done it, but that was not to be.

We have a total of 1400 miles to go to our end destination--the town of Rikitea on Mangareva in the Gambier Islands of French Polynesia (approx 23S 135W). We hope to make an intermediate stop at Pitcairn Island, if the weather permits.
At 3/24/2010 11:14 PM (utc) our position was 29°01.40'S 110°45.23'W

No comments:

Post a Comment