Sunday, October 3, 1999, p.m.
Report from Nainoa Thompson, via Sat Phone 2:30 p.m. HST: The southeasterly winds increased in speed to a solid 15 knots at dawn this morning, and the canoe traveled ENE at about 5 knots until early afternoon. Then the wind gradually shifted more easterly, forcing the canoe to head first Noio Ko'olau (NE by E), then Manu Ko'olau (NE), away from Rapa Nui. Navigator Thompson decided that they could not go any farther north, so the canoe changed its tack and headed due south at about 2 p.m. HST (4 p.m. canoe time). This tack will take the canoe down around 27 degrees 09 minutes S, where the crew will begin tacking east in a zigzag search pattern to find Rapa Nui. How confident is Nainoa of his latitude readings now that the moon is waning? "It's a real drag...any clouds on the horizon and it's impossible to see exactly where the horizon is...but I estimate we're at about 24° 45' S." It will take about a day to sail from this latitude down to 27° S (about 144 miles away), where the canoe will start tacking east in the easterly trades. At 7 a.m today, the canoe was at 24° 32' S, 114° 04' W...about 250 miles east of Rapa Nui
Sunday, October 3, 1999, p.m.
Report from Sam Low, on board Hokule'a
Yesterday evening Nainoa measured the altitude of seven latitude stars--Deneb, Aldebaran and Miaplacidus indicated a latitude of 25 degrees South; Caph and Shedir gave 26 degrees; and Ruchbah and Navi split the two at 25.5 degrees South.
"Bloody ugly," said Nainoa of the reuslt, "but it makes sense. We've not only been moving east, but also north."
The navigators analyze the northerly component of the courses steered during the three watches between sunset and sunrise, arriving at a figure of about ten miles north. One nautical mile equals one minute of latiude, so they subtract ten minutes from the estimate at sunset. The problem is that to get to Rapa Nui at 27 degrees S, we want to be adding to, not substracting from, our latitude figure.
"Bloody ugly. We are moving east okay, but we are also going north. We have got to start getting south pretty soon," repeats Nainoa.
Here's the problem: Our calculated position places us 78 miles west of the beginning point of our search area, but also 119 miles to the north of it. To steer directly to the beginning point we would like to turn southeast, but that's the direction the wind is coming from. The best Hokulea can sail is sixty degrees off the wind, so if we tacks south, we would go west of south, which means going back toward Mangareva.
Nainoa decides on compromise--to continue on the NE heading for twelve hours, then turn south and sail down to 27 degrees S to begin the search pattern in a day or so. "As we get closer the need for accuracy increases. We've got to be on it, really on it," Nainoa tells the crew. "That has been true throughout the voyage, but it's even more important now. I want to begin our search as near as possible to that point we drew on our map 300 miles due west of Rapa Nui, at the latitude of 27 degrees 09 minutes S. So we've all got to focus really hard and steer the canoe really accurately and make good estimates of speed because our ability to know where we are depends on it."
During the morning the crew experiments with changing the ballast of the canoe by carefully trimming the sail and moving weight forward of the mizzen mast so that the canoe will sail as close to the wind as possible. Up front goes the captain box, most of the galley, the water jugs, the spare sails, and even the crew who now sit during our watches huddled in the shelter of the weather hull.
Hokule'a responds by taking a really efficient heading
of about 60 degrees off the wind. The steering paddle is lifted out of the
water and lashed down. The canoe now steers itself without need of guidance
by human hands.
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