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Boarding the Esmeralda the Hard Way – Easter Island Journal Moment, August 2006

Mar 5, 2020

This Rapa Nui project moment is something of a way-back moment. At this point I was still shooting film, awaiting delivery of my Canon 5D. So I carried Nan's little Fuji Finepix point and shoot – netting 1.5 to 2mb (Nan may have actually snapped a couple of the on-board images). Nice little images but hardly meant for this. The point here is to create a B&W posting as if that's what these were taken for. At the time I simply uploaded a couple of them as they were, and in color. They work here, just not as well as large as I would like.

We heard that the Esmeralda was docked downtown – on Easter Island that means anchored pretty far offshore, all traffic accomplished by small motor boats. They had set up a couple of volunteer fishermen to ferry groups out to the ship. This was August, 2006  – and the weather hardly looked conducive to all this.  Sp we weren't surprised to find ourselves loading aboard the small fishing craft with only islanders. Even at that, the fishermen turned away people right and left for being too young or old for the effort.

The water was choppy, not to mention the hurdle over the waves washing ashore. Nan, who hates water and boats was holding onto the Rapanui next to her for dear life. Me, I was framing a shot. In it you can see the other boat at the ship with its passengers coming down the ship's ladder – looking close it seems that someone had to be helped to get back down. By the time we got there they had left and were on the way back.

Climbing the rope ladder to the deck wasn't all that hard – simply grab hold on an up-swell and let the boat disappear beneath your feet. Your first realization is that the climb is a lot further than it looked, and that you are totally on your own, Later, getting down was a hell of a lot trickier – letting go of the ladder and making oneself steady in the boat again, as it constantly moved every which way, took some help from the Rapanui fisherman, especially for Nan. Kind of a scary moment.

The Esmeralda is a four master – I would later photograph it for the project, one of my more popular Island images – shows up occasionally at the island. At least two of our friends served on her when they were younger – it's a Chilean Navy training vessel. Here's my folio/print/book shot – Tall Ship Esmeralda: