New RGS Circumnavigation Vessel Launched on Easter Island

Новое судно кругосветки РГО. Фото участников экспедиции

On the distant Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean, on April 21, a new vessel of the circumnavigation expedition of the Tomsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society was launched. The crew of brave travelers, which was joined by two more participants, intends to go to sea in the coming days and continue their voyage. They have been preparing for the start for almost a month.

After the loss of the trimaran, on which the circumnavigators had already sailed almost half of the globe, Evgeny Kovalevsky and Stanislav Berezkin, together with the head of the expedition's coastal headquarters, Yulia Kalyuzhnaya, spent the whole of April on Rapanui (as the locals call Easter Island), preparing for the continuation of the project. The crew will continue their voyage on a catamaran. It was provided to the Siberians by the Russian traveler Dmitry Trubitsin and the “Tion” company. The vessel was named “Tion-Russian Ocean Way”.

The catamaran was stored on the island for about eight years in a humid tropical climate, which could not but affect its condition. The Russian circumnavigators had to work hard to put the new vessel in order, improve the design, replace some parts. The process was complicated by the lack of necessary spare parts on Rapanui and technical difficulties.

The missing equipment and parts were delivered to Easter Island by a new member of the team  mining engineer Andrey Cherepanov from the city of Verkhnyaya Pyshma in the Sverdlovsk Region. He planned to take part in the circumnavigation even before its start. Andrey has been engaged in sailing tourism since 2013, was in the global expedition "Siberia – Antarctica – Siberia" in 2019-2020.

Fourth in the crew on the upcoming crossing will be a lifeguard and underwater photographer from Chile Caleb Jara Garate. Since 2013, he has been living on Easter Island. His love of diving and sailing in the Pacific Ocean led him here. On Rapanui, Caleb became a freediving instructor.

Local residents who showed great interest in circumnavigating the world took part in the preparation of the catamaran for the voyage with great enthusiasm. This was facilitated by meetings with the Russian crew within the framework of the "peace mission", which became one of the main goals of the expedition of the Tomsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society.

An old friend, Norberto Luna from Buenos Aires, a specialist in the creation of inflatable speedboats, also provided great help. He had become interested in the project and developed a close bond the crew during the voyage of the circumnavigators along the coast of Argentina, and now he flew to Easter Island to provide them with maximum assistance.


Экипаж кругосветки у нового катамарана на фоне полинезийского ваке. Фото участников экспедиции

“We assembled our catamaran right under the Polynesian canoe, built of wood without nails in the ancient Polynesian style. On this canoe, or waka, Lynn Tuki Rapu, a cultural leader and an active promoter of the traditions of the peoples of Easter Island, with the crew sailed the ocean. For him and other residents of the island, the visit of our expedition to Rapanui and the continuation of the voyage through Polynesia is part of history. They treat us with respect," Kovalevsky said.

Before the upcoming departure to the sea, the Russians, together with Linn Tuki Rapu, gave an interview on local radio. They invited everyone to the departure ceremony. Now the whole island knows about the expedition on the inflatable "Russian waka".


Евгений Ковалевский и Линн Туки Рапу на местном радио. Фото участников экспедиции

The crew will take with them 100kg of food, 500 liters of water, and 300 liters of gasoline. A lot of goodies for the road – fruit, pastries, and other food – were collected by the islanders.

“They give us a ride in cars when they see that we are walking. All local residents, authorities, military, and the police give us attention, respect, and assistance. The residents of Rapanui perceive our visit to the island as a historic event," Evgeny Kovalevsky stressed.

It was originally planned to go to sea on April 23. However, capricious weather made its own adjustments.

“Due to the fact that the forecast is bad for the next two days, we tied the catamaran with ropes between the pier and the buoy. It is expected to rain all day tomorrow. It’s already picked up today, and it turned to downpour a couple of times. On Tuesday, April 25, we will set off for Nuku Hiva in the archipelago of the Marquesas Islands," Kovalevsky said.


Вскоре кругосветчики РГО оставят за кормой гостеприимный остров Пасхи. Фото участников экспедиции

On July 1, 2021, Siberian travelers Evgeny Kovalevsky and Stanislav Berezkin set off along the route of the first Russian round-the-world expeditions of the 19th century: Ivan Kruzenshtern’s (1803-1806), Yuri Lisyansky’s (1803-1806), Otto Kotzebue’s (1815-1818, 1823-1826), Vasily Golovnin’s (1817-1819), Fedor Litke’s (1826-1829), Faddey Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev’s (1819-1921). The international project of the Tomsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society "Following the paths of Russian explorers" is dedicated to the 250th birthday anniversary of Krusenstern and the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica by Russian sailors. These events for a long time determined Russia's leadership in the development of the oceans and the discovery of new lands. You can learn more about the project and provide all possible assistance in its implementation on the website of the expedition.

Alexander Zhirnov