Visiting Easter Island (Boat-Based)

Sailing To Hotu Iti

The western flank of Rano Kau, the major volcano that forms the southwest corner of Easter Island.  

A closer view showing layers of lava flows.   Taller cliffs of the same volcano, approximately under Orongo, which is atop the cliff.

Another view of the cliffs, this time as we were passing through a rain shower. At the left side of the picture you can see Marcie's hair blowing in the wind.  

Thursday, May 20, 2004 (Day 8 at Easter Island)

It was a rolly and uncomfortable night, and I got very little sleep. In the morning, the wind came up, and there was a boisterous chop on top of the big swell. The wind was onshore, too, so it was not a good day to be at Hanga Roa. And after yesterday's debacle, forget about trying to dinghy ashore. To tell the truth, if I need to go ashore again in rolly conditions, I am seriously thinking about hiring a panga to shuttle me back and forth. The larger and more powerful boat would be able to handle even today's rougher conditions without too much difficulty. I haven't spent much money on this trip, and if I can spend a little to buy me relative safety and peace of mind, so much the better.

David worked on the outboard motor again this morning, managing to rebuild the carburetor even with the motor mounted on the bucking and bouncing dinghy. When he was done rebuilding the carburetor, to our great pleasure and relief the motor started up and ran great. David took a short cruise to test it and run it in. Yay, David, way to go!

We decided to move the boat to the anchorage at Hotu Iti on the southeast side of the island. With north-ish winds, that would put us in the lee of the island, and perhaps the swell wouldn't be so bad. As an added plus, Hotu Iti is very close to the moai quarry and this is something we all wanted to see. However, we didn't have any idea whether we would be able to land the dinghy. Although the anchorage chart shows two landing places at Hotu Iti, sea conditions can make or break any landing, and we didn't know what conditions would be like.

We spoke to the Armada to get permission to move, then prepped the boat for departure. It was now so bouncy that the bow was plunging and rearing and threatening to take green water over the bow. With some difficulty, we raised the anchor, then motored all the way to Hotu Iti. The weather was quite unsettled today, and we encountered several gusty rain showers in addition to the swell and moderate chop from the brisk wind. The wind also made it feel chilly, although the temperatures were moderate.

On our way around the island, we passed the huge cliff and small rocky islets at Orongo that were involved in the Birdman culture (which followed the moai-building culture). One annual ceremony in the Birdman culture involved climbing down the precipitous cliff, swimming to an islet, obtaining an egg from a tern's nest, then swimming back and climbing the cliff without breaking the fragile egg—the first person to succeed became the new chief. We hadn't seen the southeast coast of the island yet, and it was the typical lush green rolling hills dotted with old dormant volcano cones. We saw a tank farm for fuel storage at Vinapu, near the far end of the airport's giant runway (which was out of view). Thankfully, the weather improved and this side of the island was mostly sunny, however we could see masses of thick clouds above other parts of the island.

You can see the fuel storage tank farm near Vinapu. Out of view behind the low point in the terrain is the end of the runway for Mataveri Airport.   The southern coast of Easter Island on a day of unsettled weather. The right-most volcano is Maunga Te Miro Oone; just to the left and slightly behind it is Maunga Ori. About a third of the way from the left side you can see the twin lopsided cones of Maunga O Tu U.

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