This was our first Christmas at sea and our first Christmas without any kids. The special day felt a little bit empty but Cindy added a good dose of Merry by decorating a pine branch from Juan Fernandez with flickering lights.
…Our warm woolen socks were hung by the main-mast with care,
Hoping that Saint Nicholas would find them all there.
Good news! Santa stuffed our stockings with fresh fruits, candies, and pickles for John!
We sailed all day with our spinnaker pulling us nicely north and, while our log is delinquent on this detail, I’m sure Cindy prepared a wonderful Christmas feast – most probably “ojo-de-beefe” (Rib eye roast) and potatoes on the BBQ!
We finished out the year fighting our way thru light and fickle winds resulting from the large south pacific high pressure system that was riding farther north than usual. Our spinnaker did yeoman’s duty thru the nights when we often found enough northerly winds to keep us moving along. We found entertainment by practicing our man overboard drills and even tested our AIS life jacket transponders by setting John adrift in the dinghy as we sailed away. In this exercise, we discovered, much to our delight, that the VHF radio sounds a loud alarm when it detects a man-overboard signal from the AIS transponder! One more good reason to keep the VHF alive at night.
Team Pazzo rang in 2020 with 800 miles to go before reaching Easter Island (Rapa Nui). On January 3, we finally hooked into a fresh northerly wind for some fast sailing into the Vinapu anchorage on the south shore of Rapa Nui. The main town and primary anchorage on the Island is Hanga Roa, on the north shore but this anchorage was untenable with northerly wind or swell. So we made our way along the south coast of the island where we found a reasonably comfortably anchorage at 03:45 on January 6. Fun to finally share an anchorage with our good friends Jacques and Gunnar aboard the German yacht, “Moana.”
After a couple of days at anchor in Vinapu, the north wind eased and we moved Pazzo around to Hanga Roa where we awaited a large contingent of officials to come clear us into Chile … again. All the anchorages around the island are rolly – especially when the wind and swell come from different directions. In these cases, the boat lies to the wind and the swell makes life aboard uncomfortable. Because of our need to arrive in the Gambiers during our prescribed arrival window, we could spend only 4 -5 days on Easter Island. With 2 of them now consumed by weather and an inept radio controller in the Chilean Armada, we had to make the most of our remaining time. We rented a car for a day to tour the island, including visits to the amazing Moai statues and the quarry where they were built.
There is much debate amongst historians regarding the purpose and transport of these huge stone sculptures all about the island. Regardless of the truth, the accomplishments and subsequent destruction makes fascinating story. The island has a rich and interesting history but much of it is lost since the Islanders had no written language and therefore didn’t chronicle their rise and fall. Much of what we know is speculative but based on sound anthropological research. Stones and primitive tools found on the Island, however, confirm that the Island was first populated by Polynesians coming from the Marquesas or Gambeir Islands. Thor Heyerdahl’s theories about population from the east (South America) are unsupported.
For visits to the museums and additional hiking, we rented a Quad-Bike and spent another day touring various sites, shopping, and carting diesel from the fuel station to the small boat harbor. After our short but satisfying visit, we hauled anchor on the afternoon of January 10 for the next (1200 mile) leg of our journey – to the infamous Pitcairn Island.