Sailing to Easter Island

Arriving at Easter Island (continued)

 
David at the bow, preparing for arrival.   Marcie on the coachroof, watching and waiting.

 
I'm on the side deck, also watching and waiting. (Photo by Marcie Connelly-Lynn.)   The volcanic terrain and inhospitable coastline of Easter Island.

As we approached the coastline in front of Hanga Roa, we hailed the Armada on the radio and received permission to anchor; there was a French sailboat in the anchorage and we were instructed to anchor nearby. Farther from shore, a supply ship was anchored. Before we anchored, we opened the chain locker and untangled the pile of chain, which had become snarled from the vigorous pitching and rolling en-route. David picked out a good spot to anchor, Marcie tipped up the shank of the anchor, and the anchor slid off the bow roller pulling the rattling chain after it. The water was clear enough to see the bottom and we anchored without difficulty.

According to the Armada, they will come out to visit us to check us in, so we don't need to go ashore right away. While we waited, we had a breakfast of pancakes then David went on the aft deck and repaired one of the balky wind generators. He also emptied the four on-deck jugs of fuel into the main tank, hoping that we would be able to purchase fuel ashore.

As I tarried on-deck, I saw a big Lan Chile jet descend and land at the island's airport. Supposedly there are two flights weekly that connect to Tahiti in the central Pacific and Santiago, Chile, on the South American mainland. Considering the exotic and primitive landscape, such a high-tech machine as a jumbo jet seemed out of place; arriving by sailing ship after a lengthy voyage seemed much more appropriate. Believe it or not, the airport on Easter Island had been constructed with an extra-long runway to act as an emergency landing strip for the Space Shuttle. Can you imagine the Space Shuttle landing on Easter Island? They couldn't land in a more remote place, a spaceship landing on Easter Island—little green men demanding "Take me to your leader!"

From the boat we could see much of the town of Hanga Roa, including a shorefront park that had several moai (you'll hear lots more about moai later, they are the large carved-stone human-like statues for which the island is famous). Around town, there were many lush palm trees and other tall trees, though much of the island was treeless but covered with green grass. It's definitely not an arid and sere island like the Galápagos. Most of the shoreline was inhospitable rough basalt including some low cliffs; small waves crashed ashore abruptly. Off to the right at the south end of the island, a broad volcano sloped towards the shoreline and ended in a high cliff where the ocean was relentlessly eroding into the volcano's flank. Shortly after we arrived the clouds broke up and the sun came out, causing a visual transformation as the landscape brightened into a rich tapestry of colors, shapes, and textures, all exotic-looking and appealing after 19 days on-passage.


 
The big Lan Chile jet on final approach for landing.  

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