September 22, 1999 / Rikitea

prepared by Sam Low, Documentor

At 1:45 HST September 21, with pu (conch shells) blowing ashore and on Kama Hele, Hokule'a began moving out of Rikitea Harbor under tow. The two vessels left under a leaden sky, but by the time we passed through the reef the clouds begin to dissapate.

4:05 pm Hokule'a broke the tow and took its position ahead of Kama Hele. The escort boat will follow the lead of the navigators on Hokule'a for the rest of the voyage. Its GPS unit has been turned off.

5:30 pm--Crew member Max Yarawamai arrived at sea, shuttled out by a local fishing boat from the airport. He completes the crew of 12 that will attempt to find Rapa Nui.

About 8:30 pm--We passed Temoe island - islands really - abeam to port. The wind is generally from the N or NNW at about 15 knots, heavy swells, isolated squalls.

Nainoa Thought Just before Leaving:

"The weather will be difficult. The pattern that has established itself in this area is a day of good weather, then the approach of a low and a couple of days of rain. Today is in-between good weather and rain. Tomorrow (Wednesday) may be good weather and then Thursday, I bet it will go bad again; Friday I think we will get rain. I want to leave now (Tuesday early afternoon); otherwise we will have to wait until sunrise tomorrow to get through the reefs and that would mean another eighteen hours of delay. So in eighteen hours we will go eighty mile toward Rapa Nui and the farther we sail east, the longer we will stay with the good weather.

"I'm excited. In a lot of ways I think that we have been preparing for this voyage all our lives, we just didn't know it. All the academic stuff that we have been studying is really just the foundation for what is inside, the other ways that we understand the world. My thoughts are back with my family when I was a young kid, all the time that I have spent in the ocean. All of this has prepared me for thinking about the ocean and the heavens and the environment, learning about our culture and our history and our heritage, learning about being at sea, learning about the canoes and about each other; I believe that we are on the eve of tremendous growth as a crew. So I'm both pretty excited about it all that, but also pretty apprehensive about the difficulty of the trip ahead of us. This trip is going to be very hard navigationally because of where we are trying to go and the weather. The weather is now becomng a real factor but we cannot afford to wait another five days because it sets everything back and it puts us in the wrong phase of the moon. [The moon is used for navigation, when it rises and sets at different times of the day; also the cut of the moon is used to find north and south; see below.]

"I did not expect tropical lows forming and then dissipating [around Mangareva]. I expected subtropical lows forming to the south of us and moving to the east. They are there but that is not what is affecting us now--we are getting tropical lows from the north and that brings100 percent cloud cover, rain, changing winds, squalls.

"I think that we will be able to use some swells to navigate, probably from the south, it depends on where the lows are situated to the south of us. They are the only weather systems that will build waves. The swells will come from low pressure areas at thirty five or forty degrees south. As long as the fetch [area over which the wind blows] is long enough, the lows will generate swells that we can use. It's not like we are going to go out there and there will be no swells, but are we going to have the ability to read them. That's what we have to go out to sea to find out.

"The moon is big now [waxing; full moon on Sept. 25], and that will be a help. I think the skies are going to stay overcast, about 70 - 80 percent, but if it stays like this or improve we can navigate. We have a big moon that will rise about 2 pm. The sun goes down, then we will have Jupiter and Venus. The moon has a cut to it, an edge, so we can know where north is--the horns of the moon, tip to tip, they point to north. Especially on the equinox. So the cut of the moon will help tell us where north is when the moon gets high. We can navigate with the moon as long as we can see the edges, until it sets. And I am hoping that tomorrow the visibility will improve because that is the weather pattern we are in. The weather was bad yesterday, so hopefully it will be better tomorrow, but we don't know. But at least we will be 100 miles along on our voyage."

For back reports on the leg to Rapa Nui, go to Rapa Nui Back Reports

For more information on the leg to Rapa Nui, go to The Mangareva-to-Rapa Nui Page

For more information on the quest for Rapa Nui, go to the PVS Homepage