Multihulls World Destinations: Easter Island, where the Gods contemplate the stars...

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This isolated Pacific outpost, at the southern tip of the Polynesian triangle, only welcomes a handful of intrepid sailors to its shores. Those who make it are find that their long journey was well worth it. But be careful, as with Polynesia to the west, and Hawaii to the north, it has exceptional powers of seduction! Its magnetism, well known to airline pilots, doesn't just cast a spell on compasses and Sat Nav systems. It all starts with the spectre of almost nine hundred colossal stone heads (known as "Moais") on the seafront, perched on three hundred stone terraces (the "Ahu"). These giants have their backs turned to the ocean, and since the dawn of time they have surveyed the long horizons and starry skies. We know that the stones were hewn out of the basalt from the Rano Raraku volcano, situated in the east of the island, and this is another treat for anyone who sets foot on the island. The summit has gone, leaving a crater which houses a lake. Ochre landscapes, with dense, green vegetation, lakes which change color and the blue of the sea and the sky all come together to offer a magnificent spectacle. In another style, but just as spectacular, Rano Kau at the south-western tip of the island houses a crater with a flat base which is covered by several small lakes and is home to the Pascuan village of Orongo at the summit of the cliffs. Head a little higher to the sacred site of Orongo, a ceremonial village built on the ridge of the volcano. Every year, the most important of all the island's religious festivals Tangata Manu (The Birdman) would take place here. The choice of this site is explained by its proximity to the three small islands of Moto Nui, Moto Iti and Moto Kao Kao, a protected area where the sea swallows would come to lay their eggs. It was a proper competition to find the first egg laid by the sea swallows on the islet of Moto Nui. It's still a remarkable place and well worth the climb. And maybe during your wanderings you might find one of the many, precious tablets which have disappeared. These recounted the history of the natives, which is still a mystery to us. One local myth tells us that they are carefully hidden somewhere on the island...

Destination: Easter Island

A meeting of two divine creations: a Moai and a multihull!

Whilst immersed in this dreamlike destination, don't forget that boats need to be ready to set off at a moment's notice if the wind changes direction. Which is a frequent occurrence! In fact there is no serviceable all-weather shelter. Having said that though, there are several reasonable moorings around the island but they aren't necessarily very practical as they are some distance from the village and its shops. The open mooring in front of the small main town of Hanga Roa offers an acceptable level of protection from the south east trade winds. This is the island's only port, and whilst entry is not recommended for monohulls, it is simply forbidden for catamarans, which thankfully are more stable at anchor. If the wind shifts, you have three alternative moorings: Vinapu on the south-west coast; Hotuitu on the east coast near the Rano Raraku volcano (accessible with a dinghy in settled weather) and Anakena Bay on the island's north coast. Unfortunately the swell can be a problem in all of these anchorages. You need to count the wave systems to choose the right moment to set off in a dinghy if you don't want to finish in the water! The south west Trade Winds prevail from October through April, and are quite strong. During the summer, from mid-November through mid-February, the winds are lighter and the sea calm. In the rainy season from May to September, the west wind prevails. Sudden squalls can blow up from different directions.

Destination: Easter Island

The village of Hanga Roa from the air. To the right is the small port which is not practicable!

What about the routes to get there? Historically it was a logical stopover on the route from South America to Tahiti via Cape Horn. Today, most sailors who go there, including those on multihulls, take a detour between Panama and Tahiti. And why head directly to the Marquesas when just a few degrees to the south one of the most beautiful wonders of the world is to be found? On top of that, this part of the eastern south Pacific is not affected by cyclones, which means that you can sail there at just about any time of year. To ensure favorable winds, sailing from east to west from Panama, The Galapagos or from South America is highly recommended. Going in the other direction, only a very southerly route from New Zealand and then Cape Horn would avoid coming up against winds and currents in the wrong direction. But extreme conditions and continual depressions are enough to discourage even the most foolhardy among us.

Destination: Easter Island

The horse is the go-to transport method on the island and is the ideal companion for your journey.

As this area is under the influence of the south east Trade Winds, the weather can be very different from one year to the next. However, if you avoid the rough stuff, the weather will be good. The best time is between April and August, when the Trade Winds blow regularly from the east and south east and when the favorable current which moves westwards is at its maximum (1 to 1.5 knots). However, some people are tempted to make the crossing earlier in the year to get a good start for their sailing season in the south pacific, arriving in the Marquesas before the end of March. As Easter Island is in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are inversed, and the weather in winter is similar to Fall in Brittany: windy and around 15°C. In summer, the temperature can reach 35°C and the clarity of the water makes it a paradise for divers (there are 4 clubs in situ) or just for swimmers: whales; caves and drop offs which are quite simply staggering! When night falls, look up to the skies. The pure air and the almost non-existence of artificial light give the sky an ethereal quality. It's not by chance that the Gods chose this land to observe the stars!

Destination: Easter Island

The monumental Moai statues look out over the immenseness.

The magic and mysteries of these landscapes are just waiting for your visit. But hurry up as the island is changing rapidly. The increase in the number of air and sea arrivals over the last five years means more tourism and building. There are already 90,000 tourist visits every year, for only 6,000 inhabitants. Twenty years ago, there were only 10 cars on the island. The supply ship stopped by once a year as opposed to once or twice a month now. Houses were still built using earth, without water or electricity. Tourism has brought changes: a synthetic grass soccer pitch was inaugurated by Pele! Some houses in the main street have dared to add another level, while the hospital, donated by an American sponsor who loves the island, has stuck with the traditional ground floor design. This ancestral style is like an upturned hull made from branches and reeds. However, a strong independent, family, clan-like culture remains, even managing to claw back its own Rapa Nui assembly from Chilean administration. This limited autonomy is no doubt somewhat symbolic, but it does show the force of character of the islanders, and their independent spirit. It's a solidarity which lends them strength when times are hard. There are no welfare benefits on the island, so everybody works together in a genuine community spirit. There's no division between the generations either. Each year the large families hold a "Corento" (Polynesian oven) for 2-3,000 guests! And all just to! The family clan, fishing, sculpture and agriculture are the four cardinal values for these genuinely different people. Just from their physique they are recognizable. Like their Polynesian or Hawaiian "brothers", they are the Rapa Nui. Yet the Queen of the island, who is elected each year in mid-February isn't simply the most beautiful. She also needs to know how to bring people together, to sculpt, cook, dance and show that she represents strength and resistance. On Easter Island, the inhabitants ensure the upkeep of the Moai. Incredibly, they do this benevolently and spontaneously. The islanders are not so closely attached to money. In their opinion, their freedom of expression is far more important. The number of artists on the island is testament to this situation. This freedom of expression is perhaps to be found in the battle for the environment, a way of expressing a common identity. There's a monthly newsletter (The Moai), a local TV station and social media. All the modern means of communication are used to preserve their way of life. It's the topsy-turvy nature of modern life.

Destination: Easter Island

The jagged rocks of the coastline are a reminder that anchoring is something to take very seriously in this part of the world.

You really should go to Easter Island. Open your eyes and take in this open air museum, and open your heart to its wonderful inhabitants. It's one of the few places on earth which, despite everything, is still preserved. The human values which haven't yet been watered down by the modern world and the openness of the inhabitants are a real wake up call. But you must approach Easter Island with humility. Be on your best behavior. Blend into your surroundings. Leave your camera on board. Then, when you have greeted the Moais, introduced yourself and told them where you come from and who your ancestors are, you will then encounter the force of the earth and the spirit of peace that is "Te Pito Ote Henua": the belly button of the world. It will be a renaissance.

Destination: Easter Island

Sculpture is invariably one of the islanders' favorite artistic activities.

Easter Island: Useful info or ...2 or 3 things I know about her.

Official Language: Spanish
Government: Chile
Currency: Chilian Peso. US Dollar and the Pacific Franc are sometimes accepted. There are ATMs in the town.
Health: Very well-equipped hospital with competent staff.
Maximum Stay: 3 months
Ideal time to visit: from November to March. Sometimes until May when the Trade Winds stretch further south. It's worth mentioning to your insurer that Easter Island is not in a cyclone zone.
Entrance through the port of Hanga Roa / VHF Channel 16
Fuel: use a jerry jug at the gas station.
In case of major boat problems: State Maintenance Workshop.
Local Transport: Car rental is possible, bikes too. However the best way to discover the island is on horseback, like the island's rather hippy-like cowboys. This way you get a sense of their freedom and you can really appreciate fully the true magnificence of the place.
Airline: LAN Airlines (Chile)
From Panama: 2,971 NM
From The Galapagos: 2,028 NM
From Callao (Peru): 2,027 NM
From Valparaiso (Chile): 1,999 NM
To the Gambiers: 1,413 NM
To Cape Horn: 2,576 NM

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