Sept 26, p.m. HST / Sam Low Aboard Kama Hele
At sunset on Saturday, September 25, a dark golden moon breaks the horizon and rises above a tumultuous ocean. The moon is a perfect circle. Hokule'a is framed within it, heading east in front of Kamahele. The image of canoe and moon is as perfect as the voyage has been so far. As Hokule'a and Kama Hele breast heavy swells, taking spreay over their decks, Rapa Nui lies about 1000 miles dead ahead; we appear to be averaging about 130 miles a day. Kama Hele is following Hokule'a as a second canoe might have on an anceint voyage of exploration and discovery.
All of Kama Hele's electronic navigation instruments are turned off, and our compass, which has not been properly adjusted for the vessel's own magnetic field, is sufficiently inaccuarate so as to be useless.
We are sailing a course that two whale ships sailed a few months and almost a century and a half earlier. Dr. Ben Finney studied the logs of the two ships and noted they were able to make the passage from Pitcairn to Rapa Nui in 8.5 days and 7.5 days, respectively. Both voyages occured in late July. The first whaler departed Pticairn on July, 19, 1850, and arrived off Rapa Nui on July 28 . The second left Pitcairn on July 20, 1851, and saw Easter Island on July 28. Both vessels experienced winds that circled the compass during their passages, beginning to blow out of the NW and veering counterclockwise (probably with the passage of a low), first to the West, then South, then East, then back again to North and NE, but during both voyages the wind prevailed from the northern quadrant, and today almost 150 years later, we sail the same route, riding the same northerly winds as we make our way east.
During the night on the 10 p.m.-2 a.m.watch aboard Kama Hele, Kamaki, Tim, Makanani, and Kealoha were inundated three times by large swells, breaking into the cockpit. Makanani interpreted the swells to be "our aumakua [ancestral spirits] guiding us, as if by magic, to Rapa Nui."
Hokule'a changed jibs twice in the last 24 hours, to adjust to fluctuating wind speeds.
At sunset on Sunday, the navigators studied the cloud formations for clues to weather. There are high layers of cumulus, statocumulus and cirrus clouds, and a low layer of cumulus. Winds from the north, swells from the SW, and increasing humidity indicated by moisture condensing on the deck are all signs of a front to the south. Chad Baybayan believes the winds will continue from the N until the front passes to the south of the canoe, and then trades may fill back in, which will require tacking. Meanwhile the steering sweep has been manned aboard Hokule'a 24 hours a day and sails are constantly trimmed to keep the canoe at an optimal angle to the wind. "Our crew of veteran sailors are doing an excellent job of steering," reports Baybayan. "We have been blessed with fair winds so far and we are praying that they stay with us a while longer."
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