Easter Island also known as Rapa Nui, Chile
Date: Easter Sunday!!
We had some exciting times getting here, surviving a whale attack and seeing the entire Pacific become completely flat and mirror-like. Easter Island is more mysterious after visiting than before. It is also interesting to learn about the history of the Rapa Nui people, a story not often told.
The whale attack was obviously the most interesting and frightening event along the way. It started early in the morning just before dawn. Big Lou and Tom were on watch, sailing a broad reach in 14kts of breeze. They noticed a group of three whales, what we now believe to be pilot whales, surfing along on the stern wake. We're not sure what happen next, either the boat hit one of the whales or one of the whales ran into the boat. They left and returned five minutes later, swimming in the stern wake again. One whale then swam out and purposefully swam into the boat, hitting it about amidships. Big Lou and Tom then started the generator, which makes a small rumbling noise, and that seemed to scare them off once again. In another five minutes they appeared once again on the stern but now numbering around ten to fifteen. At this point I was sleeping, just forward of amidships. To me, the previous hits seemed like large waves hitting the boat at odd angles, I had heard that before. Now the high pitched squeaking whales use to communicate sounded throughout our fiberglass hull. From above, Big Lou and Tom saw the whales break into what looked like an "attack formation" splitting into two or three groups and then swimming and ramming into the side of the boat, about in the middle again. This immediately awoke me, upon poking my head out of the hatch, was informed that we were under attack! I told everyone to get on their life jackets and standby. After about two minutes of trying to "lose" them by changing course, slowing down and speeding up, the whales continued ramming the boat. Big Lou then fired up the main engine and slid the throttle to maximum R.P.M.'s This makes a heck of a noise and that did it. They left, not to return again. In hindsight we found out a few things about whale attacks and what to do.
Pilot whales have been known to attack other whales, possibly for entering their territory or feeding ground. In the area that our attack occurred, three other boats have been attacked, all of which subsequently sunk! (The most famous being the story about recorded in the book "Pacific Rescue." We felt lucky after finding this out and thanked our lucky stars for the strong hull. We also found that another way to get rid of pesky whales is to pour a small amount of diesel fuel into the water around the boat. As whales breath air, some of the fuel film from the surface gets into their blowholes. Nobody likes getting fuel in their noses so in theory, they leave. It has been know to work on killer whales.
The next day the wind died and by the afternoon the ocean was glass. This is a most amazing sight and unbelievable for me, even to this day. No wind, no waves, just a perfectly flat mirror-like surface all-round. The water is so blue, its hard to describe, the visibility must have been several hundred feet. This doesn't make for great sailing weather but it can be a welcome change after rolling around for weeks!
Easter Island is a mysterious place. It pops up at you out of nowhere in the ocean, rising to 500 meters in places. There are no protected anchorages at Easter Island so we needed to leave an anchor watch on board at all times. The weather doesn't change that much but when it does, you need to move quickly or risk loosing your boat. The only anchorage on the island is in Hanga Roa. All the action happens from here and is the only town on the island. We rented a car and traveled to all the sites. I could give a complete history here but hey, your on the web, search, search, search!! The moai are astonishing, the time it must have taken to carve them, to transport them and to position them on the Ahu!! Check out Ahu Vaihu, Ahu Akahanga and the quarry, Rano Raraku in a www search.
We met Futuro and Aventura III from our fleet here and had a beach barbecue at Anakena Beach with all the fish we had caught along the way. We stayed for three days and then left for the tiny island of Pitcairn, famous for the settlement of the mutineer's of the Bounty.