Valparaíso - Tahiti (Combination voyage)
Enjoy the highlights of the Pacific Ocean.
Valparaíso - Tahiti
Sat. 18 - 04 - '20
Sat. 06 - 06 - '20
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Combine two legs and explore multiple islands in the Pacific on board Bark EUROPA. In about one and a half month we will sail from Valparaíso to Tahiti, where we will visit Easter Island, Pitcairn and Mangareva on our way. Step on board and experience this epic adventure across the Pacific! NB. Please be advised that during the overnight stay on Easter Island, it is possible to stay on board on a B&B basis. This is included in the fare. Sailors that have booked one voyage only instead of a combination voyage, can't stay any additional nights on board.
Valparaíso: our gateway to the Pacific
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!
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, nearly 64 million square miles in size and covering about half of the Earth’s water surface, with the deepest point of 10.911 meters.
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. The upcoming 20 days after setting sail in Valparaíso will be all about sailing these great waters to Hanga Roa, Easter Island.
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 for example woodworking, sail making or ropework.
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, are 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 colored 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 island 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 of 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 cristal 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 sun down 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 cathedral magnificent.
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. Its 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 rainforest. 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 ours to explore.
After a sail of more than 2300 nautical miles we 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 rainforest. 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 these 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, these waters also welcome 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 wales 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 kingfishers 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.