The Voyage to Rapa Nui / 1999-2000
Chad Baybayan's Journal / Leg 3: Mangareva to Rapa Nui
September 27: Our layover Friday on Pitcairn was brief. Arriving in the afternoon, we departed before midnight. It was nice to see the smiles of people who had become very dear to me. I visited with my friends, Jay Warren and his wife Tarol Christian Warren. Jay is the magistrate of the island and the descendant of a whaler shipwrecked on Ducie atoll, some 295 east-northeast of Pitcairn. Today the Warren family represents the largest clan on Pitcairn island. Tarol argues they should use the more recognized Christian name. Jay ignores her.' That evening the Pitcairn community quickly organized a dinner in the town-square for the crews of Hokule'a and Kamahele. At the end of the dinner I thanked the islanders for their hospitality, presenting the 10 school-age children of the community with a copy of Tommy Holmes' canoe book, Hawaii Canoes, and gave them 15 buckets of crackers, one for each family that resides there. It was a sad departure that night, a hard goodbye to such unselfish people. As we dashed through the surf on the aluminum launch that returned us to the canoe I looked back on this unique island silhouetted by moonlight and framed by the starlit South Pacific night sky. I will probably never return here again. An hour after departing Pitcairn, the wind and seas pick up. It is a timely departure; the anchorage at Pitcairn was poor that day.
Now, several days have passed since our departure and the canoe sails at a fast 7 knots. A weather anomaly is providing Hokule'a with winds from a favorable direction and we are making easterly progress much more rapidly than we had planned. However, we are still challenged with the daunting task of locating Rapa Nui, an island 14 miles long by 7 miles wide. We have enough food for 42 days. I quietly pray that the voyage will end well before that. Bruce Blankenfeld's wife, Lita, and her lifelong friend Mary Fern, have been responsible for putting together the menu for the voyage, purchasing the food, and packing and shipping the supplies to the distant staging points. It is a nightmarish task and we all appreciate their huge volunteer effort.
The crew is finally getting into the rhythm of a long voyage.
When the seas are steep, the most basic tasks on Hokule'a become very difficult.
Sleeping on the canoe redefines the meaning of waterbed. Water squirts in
through the canvas covers the crew sleep under. Crew member Max Yarawamai,
claims he needs a mask and snorkel to sleep in his bunk. Being the last
to show up, he ended up with the forward-most compartment on the wetside
of the canoe. Going to the bathroom is also a very wet experience. You don
a safety harness before positioning yourself on a wooden plank outside the
canoe. Whatever I perceive the difficulty to be for me, it is infinitely
more difficult for the female crew members who sail Hokule'a. At least I
get to stand up. The sea grabs at your ankles, or inundates your tush. And
as you look down at the boiling ocean, your muscles tighten. If you don't
learn how to relax you can be left standing on that wooden plank for an
awfully long time. In due time nature takes its course and you return to
the inner safety of Hokule'a's decks relieved, wet, exhilarated, or exhausted.
To Other Entries in Chad's Journal: September 20, 1999--Thoughts on Departure; September 22, 1999--Decision to Depart; September 24, 1999--Pitcairn; September 27, 1999--Getting into a Rhythm; September 29, 1999--Life at Sea; October 01, 1999--The Crew; October 04, 1999--Cherishing the Spirit; October 06, 1999--Gray Skies; October 08, 1999--Landfall!