Visiting Easter Island (Boat-Based)

Sailing To Hanga Roa

Marcie and David dinghy ashore at Anakena.

A Cessna Skymaster circling over the anchorage at Anakena.  

Wednesday, May 19, 2004 (Day 7 at Easter Island)

Today the wind finally shifted; it's now from a north-ish direction making Anakena a lee shore. The holding was never that great here and today I think we've been dragging little by little all day. When the wind was blowing us offshore this wasn't a problem, but now that the wind is blowing us onshore, the poor holding could become a problem. The solution is to change anchorages, and David decided to move the boat back to Hanga Roa. Marcie called the Armada on the radio, and with much difficulty due to poor reception at each end, managed to get a weather forecast and tell them we were moving the boat.

Marcie and David then went ashore for a while to ramble while I stayed on the boat and worked on my journal. The shifting winds continued to swing Nine of Cups around its anchor, and we wound up having scant room aft of the boat before the waves crashed on to the jagged basaltic shoreline. It made me a little nervous since the anchor was probably still dragging and there hadn't been much swinging room to start with.

While I was tending the boat, an airplane came zooming up the coastline from Hanga Roa, low over the water. As it neared Anakena it pulled up and did two low circles around Nine of Cups. The airplane was a Cessna Skymaster with some international orange markings that made me think it was a military patrol plane. I waved at them as they circled, so in case they were looking, they could see that the boat was attended and not in difficulty.

In the afternoon, with everyone aboard, we finally got underway, all of us looking forward to a change of scenery with new and interesting things to do. The trip was pleasant and mostly uneventful and we motored the entire time. The one bit of trouble was when we spotted a fishing float, then another float, then a few more. It looked like we were approaching a drift net, which we certainly had to avoid. I climbed on the coachroof and scanned ahead for more floats, but it was windy and choppy and the small floats were hard to see. Suddenly I noticed a float dead ahead and called to David to steer right. Then I saw another float to the right, and shouted "Left, left, turn left!" He turned sharply left and we saw the two floats pass close to our starboard side. Just below the surface, I could clearly see the dreaded green polypropylene line that the fishermen used for their net rigging. This was the same awful stuff that fouled the propeller in the Galápagos, and now we ran into more of it 2,000 miles away at Easter Island. You just can't get away from the stuff; it follows you around like a bad dream. Luckily, the drift net ended at the float so we didn't cross over the green line, but for the rest of the trip I kept watching for floats. It's annoying having to watch for these things—the nets are not just fish traps, they are also boat traps. It reminded me of sailing in Chesapeake Bay, where you always have to watch for crab pot floats.

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