Thursday, September 16 / Rikitea
Prepared by Documentor Sam Low
In the last two days, the crew has been busy checking and packing gear and going over safety proceedures aboard the canoe and the escort boat, preparing for possible heavy weather. Star maps have been laid out and the navigators - Shantell, Nainoa, Bruce and Chad - have been rehearsing the star alignments they will use for determining the lattitude of Rapa Nui.
Today, Hokule'a was brought in alongside the pier so that gear could be loaded and Kama Hele took on water and fuel. Tonight, most of the crews will sleep aboard Kama Hele and Hokule'a, readyng themselves for departure at short notice.
Today was also "Hokule'a Day" for the students of the Centre d'Education au Developpement - a vocational/technical school established by The Brothers of the Sacred Heart, a religious order from Canada. Chad conducted class for the sixty students at the school, after which Tava Taupu led a tour of the canoe. The students, 18 from Rikitea and the rest from the outer islands, learned the basics of steering by the stars and what life would be like aboard the canoe on the voyage to Rapa Nui. The most frequently asked questions: "Where do you sleep?" "Where do you go to the bathroom?" "How do you steer the canoe?" And, "how does the man overboard beacon work?"
For the last two days, Nainoa, Chad and Bruce have been making regular trips up to the weather station to analyze the daily weather maps. We have exprienced fairly steady southern winds, heavy clouds and occasional torrential rain. The prediction for yesterday is that the rain will stop today ( which seems to be happening) and the wind will begin to back around to the east, then northeast - beginning its journey around the compass to the west - just what we want - perhaps by Friday or Saturday. But no one can be sure. It is also possible that a high pressure system to the east may join with a stationary high over Rapa Nui, establishng trade winds over the entire route to the island -which will mean constant tacking. And there is a weak low pressure system forming to the east, in the path of the front, which may cause it to stall over Mangareva. This might delay the wind shift which we need to sail to Rapa Nui without tacking. The situation remains uncertain.
"So, what else is new," says Nainoa, who has seen this kind of uncertainty dozens of times before.