Landfall – post by John

June 22 2013 we made landfall, on the French Polynesian island called Rapa Iti. It is a very small island. Looking at a map of the polynesian islands it is west and south, on the bottom right hand corner. The next islands over are Pitcairn and Easter. In fact, the original name for Easter Island is Rapa Nui. Nui means large and Iti means small.

This island has stone structures too. It is shaped like a letter C, with a harbour on the east side. The island is volcanic of course, and the tall mountains are carved with weather erosion, creating jagged peaks, even sharper and more dramatic than on the Napali trail in Kauai or in the western fjords of the south island of New Zealand. As you enter the harbour you see on the very tips of the jagged peaks, stone forts shaped like bee hives. Pa, they are called, and they are built on a peak for self defence. There are twelve of these, and many years ago they were built and used by each of the twelve families that lived here. Warfare was evidently common, and these forts were necessary for protection.

It is hard to believe that men fought here. The ocean is filled with fish and lobster, fresh water flows constantly, and fruit grows everywhere. We will be here for a while. The boat needs repairs after the crossing.This is the most remote of the islands in French Polynesia. Accordingly, the polynesian hospitality is still here. Deb and I were put up in a house of one of the locals. And we were invited to the celebrations and feasting they had when the President of French Polynesia came for an official visit.

By the day the official visit had arrived, I had already met the mayor and many others. I had been taken to their back yards and loaded up with fruit. At the official feast, Deb and I were taken to sit at one of the main tables, and fed lobster, poi, flying fish and taro. I had brought some burgees, club pennants, from my club, the West Vancouver Yacht Club. The evening feast was held in their main hall, where flags hung from the roof. This was a good place to donate a club burgee.

When repairs are finished, we will be sailing northwest through the Society Islands. The landfalls should come faster now.

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