Valparaíso - Fiji (combination voyage)
Spend three months in the Pacific Ocean and discover the many highlights
Valparaíso - Fiji
Sat. 18 - 04 - '20
Thu. 02 - 07 - '20
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After a long time of dreaming, preparing and arranging, Valparaíso (Chile) will be the start of our Pacific adventure. In about three months’ time we will cross the largest ocean on earth, extending from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south and covering nearly one-third of the earth’s surface and almost half of its water surface. Leaving South America behind us, we will head our bow westward to the endless waters of the largest and deepest ocean on earth: the Pacific. The more pronounced Pacific Easterly trade winds originating in the south east Pacific are perfect for sailing a square-rigged vessel like Bark EUROPA and promise a comfortable sail onto the endless Pacific blue. Learn all about setting and taking away the sails, by hauling and easing lines. Climb in the rigging to furl or unfurl the sails. The crew will learn you how to trim the sails to the direction of the wind. They will ask you to help with the maintenance of the ship, by assisting in woodworking, sail making, rope work etc. Step on board and join us for this epic adventure! NB. Please be advised that for those that combine multiple voyages it is possible to stay on board in Easter Island on the 8th of May 2020 on a B&B basis. This is included in the fare. On Tahiti, there is no possibility to sleep on board. We kindly ask you to arrange an overnight stay on the island yourself for the 6th and 7th of June 2020. For guests that only booked one voyage, there is no possibility to stay longer.
We will depart our voyage from Valparaíso, a bohemian and colourful world heritage city that has long inspired poets and writers. The hills of the city are fully packed with small and colourful houses, where you can take endless staircases or historic funicular elevators to stroll through the maze of narrow streets or enjoy the views of the Pacific Ocean in front of you.
Valparaíso is located about 120 kilometers northwest of Santiago and is one of the South Pacific’s most important seaports. It played an important geopolitical role in the second half of the 19th century, when it served as a major stopover for ships traveling between the Atlantic and the Pacific, after crossing the Strait of Magellan. The city was blooming and was known by many sailors as ‘the Jewel of the Pacific’.
During the second half of the 20th century, and especially after the opening of the Panama Canal, the city dealt with a serious blow. However, the last years twenty years the city reached its recovery, attracting artists, writers and tourists to the historic districts of the beautiful city and evolving into a major educational center with multiple universities and colleges. The port of Valparaíso continues to be a major distribution center for marine traffic and cruise ships and will also be our gateway into the Pacific!
Easter Island is world famous and for a good reason! This interesting and remote island is known for its Moai Statues. The stone blocks, carved into head-and-torso figures, 4 meters tall at average and weigh about 14 tons. These impressive and intriguing statues where carved and moved by the first settlers of the Island. The people who carved these giants somehow navigated a fleet of wooden outrigger canoes to this tiny speck in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. Here, about 3,700 kilometers west of South America and 1,770 kilometers from the nearest neighboring island, the Rapa Nui carved and erected some 900 Moai across the island during the 10th till the 16th century reflecting the history of the dramatic rise and fall of the most isolated Polynesian culture.
The Polynesians arrived from the west rather than the east, and the people of Easter Island are believed to be descendants of intrepid voyagers who set out from Taiwan thousands of years ago. Legend says that the people left for Easter Island because their own island was slowly being swallowed by the sea.
Many of the Pacific Islands where discovered by Polynesians because they used rigged canoes rather than the square rigged vessels that were used by the Europeans to wander the oceans. These canoes where not able to sail before the wind like the square riggers could. This meant that the canoes had to tack a lot making their tracks across the Pacific unique. Where the European vessels sailed in relative straight lines, missing most of the islands the Polynesians came across many of the islands in this vast ocean.
Next to the mysterious Moari statues this paradise Island also has some truly pristine beaches. Who doesn’t love swimming in lapis lazuli coloured water or walking along beaches of soft white sand? Easter Island has many breathtakingly beautiful beaches. Anakena beach is a perfect example of paradise. This wonderful beach surrounded by an impressive coconut tree forest is something extra special. It is the place where Hotu Matua disembarked. Some people say that one of the many caves along the beach was this king’s home.
After sailing more than 10 days on the mighty Pacific Ocean the first sightings of Pitcairn Island can be made. As soon as the people on Pitcairn have sighted EUROPA they will ring the bells all over the island to let the approximately 50 inhabitants know that visitors are coming. The people are very welcoming and will be happy to show you their Pacific paradise.
They craft impressive souvenirs from the islands trees using axes, knife and hammers. Some women on the island will show you the baskets they weave from palm leaves. Not many people come to visit and EUROPA’s visit will be as special for you as for the people living on Pitcairn. Be sure to see the model carvings they make of their great ancestors ship the HMAV Bounty when you walk underneath the impressive tree covered gravel roads on the island.
The beaches you will make landfall on are black sand and rocks between the many shells. On some parts of the Islands you will be able to see the ancient paintings on the rock walls made by the first settlers some 700 years before the Bounty mutineers arrived.
The Pitcairn Islands group has a rich history but Pitcairn itself is best known for the place where the mutineers of HMAV Bounty, together with 12 Polynesian women and six Polynesian men settled on Pitcairn Island in January 1790 and set fire to the Bounty. The wreck is still visible underwater in Bounty Bay. Today there are approximately 50 permanent inhabitants, originating from four main families, this history is still apparent in the surnames of many of the islanders. When these men and woman discovered the islands, they were uninhabited although archaeologist believe that Polynesians were living on Pitcairn until the 15th century.
Pitcairn Island was sighted and named on 3 July 1767 by the crew of the British sloop HMS Swallow. The island was named after midshipman Robert Pitcairn, a fifteen-year-old sailor who was the first to sight the island. Not only is this Island special because of it’s unique history it also has some very special animal inhabitants. Between 1937 and 1951, Irving Johnson, skipper of the 29-metre brigantine Yankee Five, introduced five Galápagos giant tortoises to Pitcairn. Turpen, also known as Mr. T, is the sole survivor. Turpen usually lives at Tedside by Western Harbour.
The birds of Pitcairn fall into several groups. These include seabirds, wading birds and a small number of resident land-bird species. Birds breeding on Pitcairn include the fairy tern, common noddy and red-tailed tropicbird. The Pitcairn reed warbler, known by Pitcairners as a ‘sparrow’, is endemic to Pitcairn Island; formerly common, it was added to the endangered species list in 2008. A small population of humpback whales annually migrate to the islands to winter and breed.
The untouched reefs around the island are home to uncountable fish in many shapes and colours that swim through crystal clear water and feed their young among the colourful and impressive coral. Pitcairn also has some plants that are native to the island and grow nowhere else on our planet. You can visit a nursery that is propagating Pitcairns native plants to save them from extinction.
A small dot on the horizon will be the first announcement of the next part of your voyage. The tiny dot will slowly grow into an impressive and proud mountain, here so far away from everything and everyone, surrounded by countless miles of ocean lays Mangareva. Standing on Bark EUROPA’s decks, looking at this remarkable, green mountain you will understand why the original Polynesian explorers named the island Mangareva, ‘the floating mountain’. Polynesian mythology tells many stories, one of them tells the story of Mangareva being hauled from the ocean floor by the demigod Maui. He created the Island and tied the sundown with strands of hair to provide long enough days for the people to fish and work in the light of the sun. When you see the bright sunlight touching the tall rugged mountain peak of this island you can only feel wonder in excitement and maybe thank the divine Maui for hauling this beautiful island from the bottom of the sea for you to explore.
The breathtaking lagoon, surrounding the entire archipelago, will be one of the most beautiful waters you will ever swim in. Both transparent and sandy, turquoise and dotted with coral heads, it displays a range of blues marvelously contrasting with the surrounding lush green mountains.
This island has a diverse and interesting history. Mangareva was settled as part of a wave of Polynesian migration about 1200 years ago, but by 1834 their traditional society was destroyed by the arrival of Father Honore Laval. Dubbed the ‘mad priest of Mangareva’, Laval vowed to replace every traditional stone marae with a church, a project that brought hardship and the loss of many lives. The unique Mangarevan system for counting, a combination of a decimal and a binary system, used by these extraordinary people centuries before Gottfried Leibniz ‘invented’ the modern binary number system, was also extinguished. The history of this island is complicated and diverse, it is said that the priest Honore Laval is remembered as someone who did ‘some good and some bad’ by the people who lived in the time he was there. The priest was removed from the island and brought to Tahiti after the great numbers of lives lost on Mangareva became known.
Gambier now features hundreds of religious buildings built between 1834-1870. These include churches, presbyteries, convents, schools and observation towers. You can visit them in Rikitea, ‘Akamaru, ‘Aukena and Taravai. Some of them are remarkably preserved while others are in ruins. The largest and oldest monument of the whole of French Polynesia stands in Rikitea, Cathedral Saint Michel (1848). The Cathedral is beautiful and shows the rich corals and pearls found around the islands. The decorated altars are one of a kind and you can see the many pearls and pearl shells used to make this magnificent cathedral.
The Gambier archipelago is well off the beaten track. Sailors visiting this area will feel a sense of privilege as they’re greeted warmly by locals. The islands are still secluded and offer natural and cultural treasures, a visit to a black pearl farm is possible as is climbing the highest mountain in the island chain, it will take you about 90 min and the views across the entire archipelago are stunning.
There are no cafés or restaurants on the island, there are also no ATM’s or banks so bringing some French Polynesian Francs is advisable as the locals only take cash. The islanders speak French or Tahitian, very few speak English. Approximately 1300 people live on the Gambier Islands and most of them live on Mangareva, in her capital Rikitea.
When you read about Tahiti there is one most consistent word used, in the first European recordings as well as the stories told today, Paradise. It is not hard to see why. It is maybe the most complete way to describe these wonderful islands in the South Pacific. The lush rain forests, the white beaches, the countless waterfalls, the untouched mountains covered in rain forest. The people and their warm welcoming customs, their traditional dances and crafts. The colour of the water, the colour of the fish in the reefs, the song of the birds, the lakes and lagoons. All of Tahiti is paradise, and it will be yours to explore.
After a sail of more than 2300 nautical miles you will arrive at Tahiti. These islands form a group of 118 islands. The biggest Island is simply called Tahiti and is home to the capital city of Papeete. Papeete, meaning ‘water basket’, was once a gathering place where Tahitians came to fill their calabashes with fresh water. Now, Papeete, is where most of the island’s population resides near the shore, leaving the interior of the island feeling almost untouched and ancient with its majestic peaks, mystical valleys, crystal clear streams, thundering waterfalls and endless rain forest. You can find black sand beaches on the East coast, white sand beaches on the West coast but either black or white, these beaches are breathtakingly striking with the palm trees and the azure coloured seas rolling gently onto them. Beneath this pallets of blue and green water, tropical-coloured fish of many different shapes and sizes can be seen in the coral gardens that thrive in the warm temperatures, these coral reefs are home to some 800 different fish species. You may spot a giant manta ray glide past, enjoy the curious play of the many dolphins and ancient sea turtles can be seen in these waters. Every year, from August to October, Polynesian waters also welcomes many humpback whales coming to mate and give birth in the deep and safe bays before returning to the South pole. You might be able to see these whales by themselves or with their young offspring around Tahiti by the time Bark EUROPA drops her anchor.
The interior of the Island is a heaven for birds, with so many fruit trees, flowers, over a thousand different plant species and many streams and rivers, lots of migrating birds take rest on the Islands. Many of them will nest and raise their young in the safe and sheltered uninhabited islets of the islands. Among others you can see Blue- footed boobies, frigates, salanganes, hunting martins, pacific swallow, Tahiti kingfisher and small herons. While walking under a cover of many banana, coconut and breadfruit trees, you may find yourself surrounded by butterflies and bumble bees, some gecko’s in different colours can be spotted in between the tropical tiare flower bushes, the proud emblem of Tahiti. The first Tahitians arrived from Western Polynesia sometime around 1000 CE, after a long migration from South East Asia or Indonesia, via the Fijian, Samoan and Tongan Archipelagos.
A lot of history is alive today and many stories can be told about these incredible people. The stories can be illustrated with traditional dance, craft, war and navigation manuscripts and traditional fishing customs and dishes. There were many different tribes on the islands over the years and many exchanged trade and customs in peace and war times. From the 17th century onwards the islands were sighted and visited by European explorers. Portuguese navigator Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, serving the Spanish Crown in an expedition to Terra Australis, was perhaps the first European to set eyes on the island of Tahiti. He sighted an inhabited island on 10 February 1606.The first European to have visited Tahiti according to existing records was Captain Samuel Wallis, who was circumnavigating the globe in HMS Dolphin, sighting the island on 18 June 1767, and eventually harbouring in Matavai Bay. On 2 April 1768, it was the turn of Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, aboard Boudeuse and Etoile on the first French circumnavigation. In July 1768, Captain James Cook was commissioned by the Royal Society and on orders from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to observe the transit of Venus across the sun, a phenomenon that would be visible from Tahiti on 3 June 1769. He arrived in Tahiti’s Matavai Bay, commanding HMS Endeavour on 12 April 1769. There are many stories to be told about these European visitors, you can visit museums, historic sites and read about the fascinating maritime history of these islands.
After 1500 nautical miles of sailing, we will reach the Kingdom of Tonga, also known as the Friendly Islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The kingdom consists of about 170 islands that are divided into four main island groups. Tongatapu in the south, Ha’apai in the center, Vavaú in the north and ‘Eua in the east.
Tonga is the only remaining constitutional monarchy in the South Pacific and is known by its pristine sandy beaches, fascinating coral reefs and rich Polynesian culture. Unspoiled by big resorts or modern houses, Tonga remains as authentic as possible. Life here ticks at its own pace and the Tongan rituals and art forms are still very much alive.
The first settlers in Tonga arrived somewhere around 3000 years ago, when the Polynesians started to explore the Pacific waters South East from Southeast Asia. The first Europeans that arrived in (Northern) Tonga were the Dutch explorers Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire in 1616, in their search for a new route to the east. They were followed by the next Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1643 and James Cook in 1773. Shortly after, European missionaries came to the island.
In 1845 the scattered islands became united as the Kingdom of Tonga, and 30 years later officially became a constitutional monarchy and British Protectorate. In 1970 Tonga joined the Commonwealth of Nations and regained full control of domestic and foreign affairs, holding its unique position as the only monarchy in Polynesia.
Not only settlers, explorers or tourists come to visit Tonga’s shores. After a long journey from the krill laden depths of Antarctica, the humpback whales come to the reef-protected waters of Tonga to give birth to their young and feed them. With some luck we will see many of these beautiful creatures slowly making their way through Pacific waters.
Sailing further, Fiji will be the end of this voyage, best known of all stops so far. With its myriad greens in the landscapes, the yellows of the palm trees, the orange colours of the ripe mangos and papayas and blue and greens of the sea, Fiji is a colourful destination. Below the surface an even colourful pallet presents itself, with thriving corals and tropical fish all around.
Fiji is an archipelago of more than 300 islands and more than 500 islets, stretching the Fijians territory about 18.300 square kilometers. The two major islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, accounting for more than 80% of the population.
The first settlers of Fiji are known to be the Austronesian people who reached Fiji about 3500 to 1000 BC, followed by the Melanesian people around 1000 BC. It is believed that with the great Lapita migration into the Pacific, the Polynesians settled in Fiji as well, which is clearly shown from archeological evidence, showing a strong connection to the Polynesian culture.
Fiji’s history is one of mobility, and while exploring the region with large elegant watercrafts with rigged sails, a unique Fijian culture developed. The watercraft was called a drua, which was originally from Micronesia, spreading to Fiji and from there to Tonga and Samoa.
The first known contact with Europeans is dated in 1643, when Abel Tasman explored Vanua Levu and Taveuni. British explorers followed in the late 18th century. After a period as an independent kingdom, the British established the colony of Fiji in 1874, which went on until 1970, when Fiji gained its independence again as the Dominion of Fiji.
Fiji, the islands of pristine turquoise waters, white sandy beaches and jungle rivers has a very tight-knit society, mostly village based, but at the same time Fijians are very friendly and welcoming to visitors. On the tropical islands of Fiji more than 800 unique plant species and animals can be found, such as the orange fruit dove, the Fiji petrel or the Gau Iguana, a native lizard.