It’s the night before our departure for Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Chile, one of the most remote inhabited islands on earth, and the almost complete absence of anxiety about this passage—which has characterized the past months for me—has evaporated. In the stead of my exuberance is an almost suffocating sense of fear.
Are we ready to sail over 2,000 nautical miles of open ocean?
The past two weeks have rattled us with last-minute repairs, some of which are not insignificant. The wind generator is once again braking and producing a loud BONK sound when more than an amp is being produced, and despite a full day of Neil’s undivided attention, we are not sure that it has been repaired. This will reduce our power production at sea and will be felt most heavily during the inevitable overcast days when our solar production will plummet. A bilge pump fitting broke, but thankfully we had access to a plumbing store in Puerto Ayora on Isla Santa Cruz, as we didn’t have that particular spare. Neil fixed that right up. Despite extensive research and practice, our in-boom mainsail continues to give us grief when we try to reef, though we’ve figured out a system that works well enough. Unfortunately, it requires Neil to crank it down by hand from the mast, while I manage the halyard and furling line from the cockpit. Just today we disassembled and serviced headsail furler because reefing that sail, too, has required more brute strength than it should lately. Fortunately, as it turns out, our halyard was simply too taut…whew! Of greatest concern, however, is an issue with our starter. After a few instances of our motor failing to start, we tore apart our engine’s starter motor on Isla Isabela and sanded some pitting off the contacts. By cleaning up the connections, we have hopefully resolved that issue.
We find ourselves asking…Can we trust our boat to take us safely across thousands of miles and weeks of ocean to one of the earth’s most remote islands…and then thousands of miles farther?
As my emotions intensify, my mind is running away with catastrophic thoughts. I cannot help but wonder if when we leave the shores of Isla Isabela if the soles of our feet will be experiencing the sensation of the earth below them for the last time. Has my own ambitious excitement dissuaded me from respecting the life-giving and life-taking force of the ocean? Shouldn’t I have been feeling some sort of anxiety about this passage before now?