Thursday, May 27, 2004 (Day 15 at Easter Island)
Last night was a very calm night, certainly the calmest in ages; there was little wind and hardly any swell. The Pacific was truly "pacific" and it was hard to believe we were anchored out in the ocean and not in a sheltered harbor. What little wind we had was fluky, and I got up a couple of times in the night to take a look topsides. One time I saw the complicated running lights of the submarine far on the horizon, so the Simpson finally has departed, and along with them, all the hoopla of the past several days. I had a hard time seeing White Haze even though they were fairly close. They had a dim anchor light (probably like ours) and it was lost in the background clutter of shoreside lights.
After breakfast, Marcie and David went ashore to do some last-minute provisioning. There was absolutely no difficulty bringing the dinghy through the swell to the small-boat harbor. It should be like this every day! I stayed on Nine of Cups and started preparing for departure. One of the things I did was to put another blanket on my berth. It's been getting noticeably chillier, especially at night, which is hardly surprising since we are heading into winter (equivalent to late November in the Northern Hemisphere). To tell the truth, I'm a little concerned. Winter can not only bring cooler temperatures, but can also increase the likelihood of storms. And these are the big regional lows that circulate around the Roaring Forties, where winds and waves are practically unimpeded by land masses. They are some of the fiercest maritime storms on the planet as they mix temperate or even tropical air to the north with bitterly cold air from the Antarctic regions. Definitely something to be avoided. We won't be going that far south, but we can be adversely affected by the northern boundaries of the storms. In any event, it is getting colder and I regret not bringing more cold weather clothes. It's a sure way to spoil a voyage, being cold all the time.
While Marcie and David were ashore, the modest winds finally shifted around to just west of north, a favorable direction for leaving. I called David on the radio to report the wind shift (we are using the little FRS radios since the handheld VHF got dunked and stopped working). A while later, David called back and said that they had managed to get some good provisions (which had arrived on last night's flight from the mainland), and that they had visited the Port Captain's office to check out.
Once they returned to the boat, they told me more details. To do a shoreside check-out, the Armada official telephones the other officials and asks them to come over to the Armada office. While they were waiting for the officials to arrive, the Port Captain thanked Marcie and David for dressing the ship yesterday during the regatta; Marcie thanked the Port Captain for the very helpful and cordial attitude of the Armada. Once the other officials arrived the formalities were speedily completed.
There was one additional step required by the health official since we had been in Chile longer than 14 days: a mandatory boat fumigation. The health official and two assistants dinghied out with David and Marcie, plus they gave Ada a lift back to White Haze. The two assistants clambered aboard Nine of Cups with an unlabeled spray can (which we figured was a can of Raid or something similar). As usual, they had big heavy waffle-stomper boots caked with mud which got tracked all over the boat. They asked us to cover any food and wanted to know where the bathrooms were, then they sprayed and sprayed while we waited topsides. When they were done and came topsides, one of the assistants practically puked overboard from the noxious fumes; the health official stayed in the dinghy the whole time. David then had to run the three of them back to the town dock and bring the dink back. After he got back, he said the outboard motor was running poorly again. It was producing very low power, even at full throttle, and he said he had just barely made it back. So the outboard motor goes back on the fix-me list.
With shoreside formalities complete and everyone back on board, we stowed and secured the dinghy upside down on the foredeck, started the engine, and retrieved the anchor chain snubber. I was pleased to see that the new snubber looked just fine. However, David wants to make another snubber to replace this one, since the present snubber uses some of the boat's good dock lines. Before raising the anchor, David first raised the mainsail, taking in one reef. That done, we upped anchor and motorsailed away from the island.
Before we could set our nearly due east heading we had to round the point made by the southernmost volcano. Once we threaded our way between the steep volcanic cliffs and the two neighboring islets, David dialed-in our correct heading, unfurled the jib, and killed the engine. We were now clear of Easter Island and officially on-passage, bound for the Juan Fernández Archipelago, 1,530 nautical miles distant.
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