We were off at 07:00 on November 17th as we let loose the ties of the 2 mooring balls, leaving behind Bahía de Caráquez Ecuador and heading for the grandeur of Easter Island Chile. We crossed the bar with Carlos aboard Sea Turtle as our pilot (from Puerto Amistad) and a new friend, Rob of SV Joyeux, as a substitute driver for the pilot boat. Carlos then jumped ship onto the pilot boat as we all waved goodbye with fond wishes. This was our longest passage to date. Easter Island, described by some as the remotest island in the world, is 117 square km and about 3,700 km from the South American west coast.
Carlos jumping from Sea Turtle to join Rob
We immediately picked up the SW trades, tracking west in light to medium winds under cloud cover. The seas were busy during the first couple of days with pangas, tuna trawlers, freighters, and even a southbound sailboat. After that, we were alone, spotting no other traffic for the rest of our voyage. It had become evident that we were venturing over seas much less travelled.
With Sea Turtle's lazy creaks and groans, she and Jordan and I soon settled into the rhythm of the passage. We were able to cook decent meals throughout the passage thanks to fiddles and gimbals (good name for a country & western band!) Only a couple incidents of runaway swill. We had several bananas ripen at once so Jordan made banana loaf and banana pancakes while I worked on creating the Chile flag.
Note how the sewing machine is tied to the table in the rough seas!
What did we do to pass the time? Read, boat jobs, cook, watch movies, read, write, talk, fiddle practice, read, play scrabble, clean, read...
The evening skies (when there wasn't cloud cover) were more exquisite than ever before, the purest and most complete starry exposition. Brilliant blue white sparkles and speckles penetrated the moonless inky black canopy. It was the "full meal deal", the "high def wide screen". It was so magical and unbelievable, and all the more so on moonless nights.
And with no cloud cover, we also welcomed the return of the moon at night. It was nice to be able to see the distinct horizon between the night sky and the steely sea as a relief from the preceding nights of mono obfuscation. With the waves rolling in the moon's shimmering reflection, it seemed that we were moving so much faster than we were.
We were also starting to enjoy sunny skies again, with the deep blue that the sea offers up to the sun. Very vivid blue seas, almost a deep purple.
After 2 weeks at sea, we could no longer make Ham radio contact. Just too far from towers, I guess. We both hoped our families would not worry as we said we would make contact IF possible.
One evening, we had a very blustery sail. Jordan put 2 reefs in the main sail, but by early daylight, he brought the main down altogether and couldn't let the boom out enough for the winds. Ended up sailing with just a furled headsail.
Our fish tale: We had lots of flying fish join us on deck, but only 1 squid. Jordan lost 4 fish, released 2 Skipjacks (we don't enjoy the taste), and caught a huge Dorado which fed us for several delicious meals - it was 46 inches long! Another Dorado that he tried to land actually broke the fish hook; the fish are very large way out here.
Way to go - almost 4 feet long!
About 150 NM from our destination, we started feeling the effects of the seasonal high that hangs out around the vicinity. Elusive wind, sunny skies, and the barometer creeping up. The pilot charts for this time of year puts the high just slightly southeast of Easter Island but Jordan's earlier GRIB download showed it much farther to the east with an elongation extending west.
We flew the spinnaker/drifter twice on the rare occasion when the winds deserted us. The first was for several hours, but on the second time, the wind was so poor that it couldn't even keep the spinnaker filled. So we reluctantly resorted to the purr of the Perkin's motor.
Jordan observed as he watched the waves that waves aren't just waves. They're ripples. Then there are ripples on wavelets. And wavelets on waves and waves on swells that are on even larger swells. One day as we were getting close to Easter Island, these larger weary swells were so broad, 200, maybe 250 m ridge to ridge. Regiments marching north from some distant battle fought with fierce elements in the lower treacherous southern latitudes, marching till they forget. Curiously, smaller swells rolling in the opposite direction were noticed. Young replacements.
After months of blue water sailing, Jordan was just beginning to hear what the waves were telling him. Even in the night, they would wake him as he detected a slight change in their action against the hull. He would know, for example, without lifting his head from the pillow, that we were just passing the back side of a rain cloud that was kicking up a steep chop.
Sunrise on morning of land ho!
LAND HO!! We spotted land about 50 NM off in the distance on December 6th at 10:45!
We averaged 121.5 NM per day, ran the engine 44.5 hours (using only 1/4 of our total fuel supply), and sailed the vast majority of the time, even topping over 7 knots per hour which is fast for little Sea Turtle. We reached Easter Island (Isla de Pascua in Spanish or Rapa Nui in Polynesian) after only 19.5 days at sea which seemed to fly by - we were not expecting to arrive for 24 days. We anchored at (S27°08.777' W109°26.153') after a passage of 2,369 NM at an average speed of 5.06 knots per hour.
Time to explore this place of our long-awaited dreams!