Logbook Entry 6 - Galapagos to Easter Island

 

TOTAL MILES TRAVELED ON SAIL to SEE EXPEDITION: 5,692 NM (Nautical Miles)

 

THE LAST PASSAGE:

Miles traveled using SAILS-WIND POWER ONLY: 1,969 NM

 

Miles traveled using both SAILS & ENGINES together: 18 NM

 

Miles traveled using ENGINES – FOSSIL FUELS ONLY: 110 NM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Average Water Temperature: 82 f/27.6 c

Average Air Temperature: 76 f/24.5 c

Strongest Wind: 34.3 Knots (knots are a wind measurement of Nautical Miles per hour)

 

Ship Sightings: 0

 

Animal Sightings:

Frigatebird, Flying Fish, Long-tailed Tropicbirds, Squid, Green Sea Turtles, Brown Booby

 

Plastics Collection:

At last, we had the sea conditions suitable to do our first plastics collecting trawl in the South Pacific. We were approximately 100 miles north of Easter Island in fairly calm seas. The photos below show the trawl being towed behind Elcie and how we collect and count the samples. 

 

We were surprised to see how much plastic we picked up in just a half hour of towing the trawl. These are plastics you cannot see when you are looking out at the ocean but they are small enough for fish and birds to eat. Most likely they have come from larger pieces of plastic that have broken down over time. It is a good reason to cut down on the amount of plastics we use and to make sure it is disposed of properly.   For more information about the threat of plastics in the Earth's ocean, and this citizen science project, check out Trawlshare.

 

VOS Reports Filed:

8 VOS weather reports were filed with NOAA on this passage through our satellite communications. The photos below show how we collect the weather data and enter it into the computer. 

 

PASSAGE NOTES:

 

We departed the Galapagos Islands with very calm seas and winds so we had to use the engines for about 15 hours trying to find enough wind to sail. We passed some very desolate looking islands in the south part of the Galapagos.

 

Once we started sailing and turned off the engines we did not turn them back on for almost 6 days. This kept us from having to use a lot of our diesel fuel. We are happiest when we can use the wind to take us where we want to go. It is the "cleanest" way to travel. 

 

On many nights, flying fish landed on Elcie’s decks and in the netting at the front of the boat. We saved a few by quickly throwing them back overboard but unfortunately, at night, many of them die before we find them. One morning we had 46 flying fish on deck – and one squid! We throw them back in the ocean where they will be food for larger sea animals.  

 

We often trail a fishing line while sailing.  At one point, a frigatebird thought our fishing lures were real fish and tried to swoop down and eat one. We had to pull in the fishing lines so that we didn’t catch a bird!  Unfortunately no fresh fish for us that day!

 

Science Side Note: The frigatebird is a type of seabird with long, pointed wings that can span up to 7.5 ft (2.3 metres), the largest wing area to body weight ratio of any bird.  To learn more about the science of "wing loading" (this area to weight ratio) and how it informed human's technological development of airplanes, check out this fun interactive webpage.

 

Challenge Questions: 

 

1) (True or False) A frigatebird can soar for weeks on wind currents at sea.

 

2) How big is your wingspan?  (stretch your arms out sideways and measure finger tip to finger tip).  Click here to compare your wingspan to other birds.

 

One day for fun, we had a sailboat building contest using a watermelon and biodegradable materials to build the masts and sails. The boats sadly did not go very far before they capsized.  Rough seas for such small boats, but we had fun creating, observing, and testing our ideas.  

 

 

We arrived at Easter Island after 11 days at sea. Land looks very good when you have not seen any for so long. We flew the Chilean flag and also the “Q” flag to show that we had just arrived. After we anchored, the officials came to do all of the paperwork required for us to stay a while and to go ashore. There is not a protected anchorage at Easter Island so we had to anchor in the ocean. There were five other boats anchored with us at one point. 

 

Challenge Questions:

1- What is the name of Easter Island in the traditional Polynesian language?

 

2- What color is the "Q" flag and why do ships display it upon arrival?

 

 

 

 

 

 The most exciting thing about Easter Island is exploring the giant stone head statues called “moai" (pronounced mo-eye)  It is not exactly understood why the moai were carved and placed all around the island. Some experts believe that they were meant to provide protection to the people that occupied the islands. Others believe they were a form of idol worship. It is also a mystery how they were moved around the island to different locations. They are very large and extremely heavy. We visited at least ten sites where moai were located. Some had been toppled over but some are still standing.  We also saw one that was abandoned before it was finished so it is still a part of the rock cliff behind it. Seeing this moai gives one an idea of how they were carved from the rock. 

 

In addition to the moai statues, there are also sites of ancient villages and the altars that the moai were placed upon. 

We saw some other cool sites around Easter Island. We hiked up to a large volcano crater (Rano Kao on map above). The volcano is now dormant and the crater contains a bog that contains much animal life. We saw a replica of a traditional house, called a hare paenga or "boat-house" because it is shaped like a boat turned upside down on land. We looked over the cliffs to some small islands or motu.  One was extremely pointy. 

Historical Side Note:

There are hundreds of "boat houses" all over Easter Island. Their average length is approximately 15 m (50 ft), but the biggest one (in Tepeu area) is a whole 45 m long (147 ft).  It's aerodynamic shape helps against the strong winds across the island. The French missionary Eugenio Eyraud, the first foreigner to live with the Rapa Nui people, slept in a "boat house" during his 1864 visit. In Eugenio's long letter about his stay he describes them like this:

 

"The furniture is very simple: the kitchenware consists of a gourd to contain water and a straw woven sack to keep the sweet potatoes... Imagine an upside down, half opened boat resting on the slit of its base, and you will get an idea about the shape of this cabin. Some sticks wrapped up with a straw give shape to the frame and the roof. A doorway shaped like an oven mouth allows its inhabitants and visitors to enter, crawling, not on their knees but on their stomach. This doorway is situated in the middle of the cabin and allows just enough light to pass through to be able to see one another after a few moments inside."

 

 

During our stay at Easter Island there was a cultural festival called Tapati. It celebrates the Polynesian music, dance and art of the people of Rapa Nui. There was a parade with floats of very detailed wooden carvings. The artists spend a whole year making the carvings. They have to be new every year. Some of them were so tall that the electrical wires had to be lifted over them. It made the parade move quite slowly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of Elcie’s crew decided to join in the parade and was painted in mud and white paint to look like a member of one of the tribes.

 

Can you figure out who the crew member is? 

 

Our time in Easter Island was amazing for many reasons and we are sorry to leave, but we have lots more islands and countries to explore. 

 

We practiced a little Polynesian language during our visit. 

 

“Iorana" (pronounced ee-or-ron-a) to say Hello to our new Rapa Nui friends and “Maururu” (pronounced ma-ru-ru) to say Thank You for sharing your island culture with us!

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a video of some of our Easter Island adventures! We hope you enjoy it. 

 

COUNTRY FACTS

Official Name:   Easter Island [Rapa Nui = Polynesian Name] [Isla de Pascua = Spanish Name]

Population:   4,200

Area:    45 sq. miles (117 km2)

Capital:   Hanga Roa

Type of Government: Governed by a Local Mayor however it is a dependency of Chile

Currency: 

 Chilean Peso

Language:   Polynesian, Spanish

Highest Point:   Maunga Terevaka 1,163 Feet / 507 Meters

Climate:   tropical marine

Natural Hazards:    fires, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, and floods

 

Country Flags: Easter Island and Chile

 

Interesting Facts:

1- Origin of the name Easter Island

The first contact with Europeans occurred on Easter Sunday in 1722 when it was discovered by the Dutch Explorer, Jacob Roggeveen. This is why the island is most commonly known as Easter Island.

 

2- The huge heads have 'huger' bodies!

Archaeologists have known since the earliest excavations in 1914 that the Easter Island moai have bodies. The public, however, widely referred to them as Easter Island 'heads’ because the most commonly photographed moai were those buried up to their shoulders.

 

3- No one knows how the statues were moved

The transportation of the island’s moai is considered remarkable given that they were moved 18km (11mi) across the island without the use of wheels, cranes or large animals.  Scientists have tested several theories, most commonly concluding that islanders used a combination of log rollers, ropes and wooden sledges. In 2011, however, Terry Hunt of the University of Hawaii and Carl Lipo of California State University Long Beach worked with National Geographic to prove that a mere 18 people could move a 3m (10ft) moai replica weighing 5 tons a few hundred metres with just three strong ropes and some practice.  Check out this video of the demonstration.

 

 

 

 

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