16th January, Cusco, San Martin, Peru; 17th-18th, at sea:
Cusco is a relatively small port on the coast of Peru. One dock long enough to accommodate our length. We are surrounded by sand, the desert of the Atacama. Guests return from ‘interior’ tours here, particularly Machu Picchu and fly to see the Nazca Lines, vast carvings which can only be seen from the air, their origin conjuring up theories of alien beings…
A small, pretty town lies some 40 minutes away by shuttle bus and to the west of our dock lie the Islas Ballestas, a group of almost 300 islands, some large and some just rocky outcrops, jutting out of the crystal clear sea.
They are home to an abundance of wildlife and small 30-seat speedboats take guests on a 30-minute ride to view the sea lions, penguins and birds too numerous to mention. Not only see, but also smell the islands that are covered in guano (which is harvested by the Peruvians), reeks to high-heaven when downwind of them.
On our way to the islands, we passed a massive ancient carving on the hillside of one of the larger hills; the ‘candelabra,’ as it is called, is believed to have been carved around 500 B.C., however, its purpose is lost in the mists of time.
Departing Cusco, we started our crossing of the Pacific toward Easter Island, making 18 knots in a gentle swell and low seas, the Pacific is being kind to us. We are making for a landfall off the island on Monday morning and we are studying weather charts, the island has no recognized large harbours, instead having “landing” places: Hanga Roa, the main town and one on the north coast; Anekana, which is where we had our fun and games last year after the swell and wind increased; and the final one is on the southeast coast, Caleta Hotuiti, however, this is an unknown factor.
I am in constant communication with Salvador, our agent on the island, receiving updates on expected weather. It would appear that we will arrive as a weather front comes through, rain is forecasted and we will be cutting it fine with regard to wind; 48 hours away, so I will remain optimistic, watch this space!
Jonathan Mercer is Amsterdam’s captain.