With the strong south swell and the big northeast winds, our only option was to return to Hanga Roa ourselves. The wind was slowly backing and we would have about twenty four hours to clear out and leave before it cleared the island and started blowing us ashore.
We had a marvelous sail. After tacking a few times to clear the eastern side of the island, we released the sheets and had a flat downwind sail past all of the spots we had worked so hard to walk to a few days earlier. We arrived at Hanga Roa, where we dropped anchor in our old spot in a swell that would have seemed large had we not spent the last week in Hotuiti.
One Last Day
More Moai! So Easter Island
As we left Begonia in the morning to make our trip ashore for exit formalities, the wind was just backing to where it was no longer being blocked by the island. The swell was increasing quickly and getting into the dinghy required careful timing and a jump.
The Armada had told us by radio to present ourselves at ten o’clock, which gave us a couple of hours to take a walk to Ahu Tahai.
Ahu Tahai is not a single Ahu, but rather a complex of three separate Ahu platforms, several stone buildings, thought to be for storage, and many stone foundations for houses, called Hare Paenga, into which reeds were inserted to make the walls and roof, resulting in a structure that resembles an overturned boat.
The Ahu Tahai complex has been dated as one of the earliest structures on the island at around 690AD. Along the way, there were also lots of petroglyphs carved into the stones along the waterfront. At the very far end is Ko Te Riku, the only Moai on the island with eyes in place. It is now believed that each Moai on the island had a set of eyes, with the whites made of coral and pupils of obsidian. These were kept by priests and inserted into the Moai for events.
We had also hoped to stop at what is supposed to be an excellent museum, detailing all of this rich history but, alas, it turned out to be closed on Mondays. We would have stayed another day to see it, but the weather was not supposed to be good then, so we had to give it a miss.
Once we left the Armada, we couldn’t quite bring ourselves to rushing right back to Begonia, so we spent a last few hours roaming around this place that we had both loved so much. As we were walking back to the harbor, we found a nice looking sandwich place and were happy to have an excuse to sneak another hour.
The sandwiches were “sandwiches”. There was no way anybody could pick one up and eat it without losing half of it on their shirt and needing a shower afterwards. We tucked into them with a knife and fork.
Stuffed and not less than a little bit aware that we had pushed the schedule too far, we made the rough trip through the surf back to Begonia. Maryanne prepped her for departure while I trailed astern in the bucking dinghy trying to get it into lifeboat mode without being pitched over the side. At the last stage, putting a cover over the whole affair, I gave up and performed the task from the water outside the dinghy.
To get back aboard Begonia, I had to dodge the swim ladder as it stabbed at me from above and then grab it when it hit bottom so that it would fling me upward into the stern steps. Then it was a mad rush to get the wildly bucking dinghy into the davits before it yanked out a fitting.
The wind was forecast to get slightly worse during the night and we had planned to leave before it got too bad. The whole day had been pretty exhausting, though, so we decided to try to tough it out. We got Begonia ready to leave at the drop of a hat, just in case, and retired for a last fitful night together.