822 miles travelled, 8 days 11 hours.
Now for a meal and good nigh's sleep.
822 miles travelled, 8 days 11 hours.
Now for a meal and good nigh's sleep.
Since we cannot stay in the Galapagos for our planned 40 days, we need to stall somewhere. So we're going to go to Bahia de Caraquez and say 'hi' to our friends there for a week or two. Fill up on fuel and water then off to the Galapagos.
Distance to Bahia: 217 miles.
It was pretty rough last night, though it's calmed down now, so we're not sure if we will be able to make it in before Monday. We'll see.
24 Hour Stats For Day 5 (0800-0800)
Miles traveled: 112 nm
Distance made good towards our destination: 50 nm
Surface Water Temp: 79.2 to 82.9 degrees F
3 hours, 35 minutes motoring
20 hours, 25 minutes sailing
Wednesday started out with heavy dark gray overcast, gradually became mostly clear by afternoon, and then became overcast by nightfall. The night sky was pitch black and I barely caught a glimpse of the moon and a couple of stars before sunrise.
We passed Isla Malpelo in the early afternoon and had a great show of masked boobies flying in small flocks and forming bird piles along the way.
Here's John writing to a friend:
I just went on deck to check our heading, we're using the autopilot because the maintenance technician put the wind vane back together wrong and it won't steer, so we have to be very attentive to how the boat is sailing lest the autopilot get confused and heave us to. Anyway, I was thinking: 'Wow, what a beautiful day. I wish I were sailing downwind, it would be great!'.
Ziggy ate another (bigger) fish last night on John's watch with none of the hesitation and growling this time. I threw two more over the side before he could get to them.
Linda and John
Well, as I suspected I forgot to update the Google Earth link to the Day Three position when I copied and pasted the link in yesterday's blog. So I hope you saw the real position on Yotreps.
24 Hour Stats For Day 3 (0800-0800)
Miles traveled: 95 nm
Distance made good towards our destination: 54 nm
Surface Water Temp: 82.4 to 84.6 degrees F
3 hours motoring
21 hours sailing
Tuesday started out nice and clear, but gradually became mostly overcast by afternoon. We never had any rain but could see some off in the distance. The sky cleared enough during the night to see some stars and the waning moon.
We had a great blast from the past Tuesday evening when John decided to get on the Pacific Passage net to see if anyone wanted to check in. We're sort of a one boat show on this evening net which was created by several boats who have since arrived in the Marquesas. We can't hear them even if they wanted to continue to run the net, which they really shouldn't since it's at 1 PM their time and it would cut into their daytime activities. Anyway, John came up on the usual frequency and put out a call, and who should answer him but our good friend Stan, formerly of SolMate. They switched to 12C so John could hear him better, and John had a nice chat with Stan, who was holding his Skype phone up to his mic so MJ (who is cat-sitting near Guadalajara) could hear John too. It really brightened our spirits to hear his voice on the radio again!
Here's a story from John: The biggest news from last night is Ziggy ate his first flying fish. The last time we did this passage we quickly tossed any fish or squid overboard so he wouldn't get them and make a mess (or worse, get sick). But about 0200 last night Ziggy came up on deck and looked down the starboard side deck. Now, we're on port tack, sailing closed hauled in about 15 kts of wind. So it's bouncy and there's a little water on the deck from the bow dipping every once in a while. The fish is barely staying alive in the water swimming around in the scupper and Ziggy was not really sure he wanted to go out there for it. Finally after about five minutes he climbed out on the side deck and walked up to the fish. I guess you would call this stalking, but really he just sat there and stared at it for about 20 minutes. I'm sure he was all for getting a fish, but didn't want to have to get wet to do it.
Finally he picked the fish up in his mouth and carried it back to the cockpit. Of course his initial impulse was to run below with it, but I brought him up short on his tether and told him if he wanted to eat it he was going to have to do it on deck. He was none too pleased with this, and let me know it by growling at me, constantly, for the next 15 minutes. He eventually figured out he could get down into the cockpit well and be alone with his prize and that's where he settled. I took my eyes off Ziggy for a couple of minutes to clean up some lines and when I looked back there was nothing left of the fish. Nothing. He'd eaten everything except one scale and a piece of a fin. I was so amazed I had to clear out the entire cockpit just to make sure he'd actually eaten it. Later he had a look on his face like 'I'm not sure that was a good idea,' but he managed to keep it down so now we can be sure that we won't have to worry about cat food on passages any more.
Our last few meals have consisted of ramen soup with the leftover veggies from our happy hour with Mystic Moon (thanks for leaving those with us, Kathy, but the Oaxaca nuts didn't last past the first night!); tuna melt (w/o cheese) on tortillas, and baked potatoes that John cooked during his post midnight watch (I ate mine at 6 AM). We eat whatever's at hand and/or easy to prepare since it's kind of bumpy.
This is not an upwind sailing boat and we are on an upwind passage the whole way. That's why it's a lot of work and not a whole lot of fun, but even though it may not be the most pleasant way to get somewhere, our mantra is, "We can do it!" We are short tacking close to the wind when we can sail, and slow motoring at 1700 RPM (our top cruising throttle is 2000 RPM). Of course we are also heading into the 2-3 foot swell which another disadvantage.
We saw one tropic bird (at sunset) and one swallow tailed gull (at sunrise, though these mostly follow the boat at night hoping to catch whatever jumps out in our wake). And two unidentified whales.
Linda and John
We're posting this a little late today because I slept all morning. Neither of us got any sleep yesterday with all the rain, so we had to make up for it last night and today. We talked about not doing day watches, but then no one really gets a break. So we're back to our usual watch schedule again:
We vary it by an hour here and there depending on who needs more sleep and/or is sleeping well on their off-watch.
24 Hour Stats For Day 3 (0800-0800)
Miles traveled: 91 nm
Distance made good towards our destination: 64 nm
Surface Water Temp: 83.3 to 83.8 degrees F
9 hours, 35 minutes motoring
14 hours, 25 minutes sailing
Monday was heavily overcast and mostly raining by mid-morning and through the afternoon. This would explain the low sea surface water temps. We lost the fishing gaff overboard momentarily when John was using it to bring up the Cape Horn wind vane paddle. We picked up the gaff, and then noticed that the paddle had come off its mount (but was still tethered to the boat by its safety line). John managed to bring it up to the boat and tied it off until later in the afternoon when it stopped raining long enough to re-attach it. He didn't have to get in the water since he could reach it from the pushpit. Whew!
We saw one ship, one masked booby, and two tropic birds.
Linda and John
We ate our last pineapple a week ago today, the last mango on Thursday, the last green pepper on Saturday, and most of the oranges we have left aren't looking very good. I cut up the last watermelon yesterday and we'll eat that today and tomorrow. But we still have some carrots, cabbage, potatoes, and plenty of onions to keep us healthy. John made a vegetable curry over rice for our first night's dinner and last night we had a "stew" of cabbage, onion, diced tomatoes, and sausage. Before we left I hard boiled a dozen eggs and made four sandwiches to have on hand. We have granola bars for breakfast and crackers and cheese for a snack.
You know there's not much wind to sail when you can count the jelly fish going by the boat. The water was mostly glassy yesterday so we could see all the small jelly fish going by in the brilliant green-blue water. That must have been what was attracting all the turtles to the area (see below).
You know there's not much wind to sail when you can take showers on the side deck. Before dinner last night John hooked up a length of hose to the salt water wash down pump in the cockpit and ran it out to the side deck where we normally bathe. So we had plenty of (warm!) salt water to soap up with and rinse off, and he hung the sun shower up for a final fresh water rinse. It felt great, but we're probably not going to be able to do that in any kind of good sailing weather.
24 hour stats for Day 2:
Nautical miles traveled: 91
Surface Water Temp: 82.6 to 87.4 degrees F
11 hours motoring, 13 hours sailing
Yesterday was mostly clear with most of the cloud cover on the horizon. Today is almost all overcast, like it was on Saturday, with a lot of it threatening rain. So far we've kept clear of all the rain and lightning.
We saw seven turtles, one log, a couple of ships, lots of small flying fish, our first masked booby, and some dolphins (at night).
I've added the Yotreps link below which is another way to track our progress.
Linda and John
Friday night after a delicious Bon Voyage dinner on M/V Mystic Moon with new friends, John and Kathy, Linda noted that the holding tank was draining slowly (we have a system where the tank drains under gravity, we hold waste during the day and then dump it at night when it will have a chance to depart before anyone sees it). It has completely clogged in the past, requiring major haz-mat conditions to clean up. There's no way we were going to take off on a 900 mile ocean voyage without making sure the head was usable. So the morning of our departure started at 0415 for me (John). I dismantled the hoses and cleared the clog in a little under an hour. Not bad for an old guy. I thanked Linda over and over for telling me about it the night before. Doing that job is much less trouble when the holding tank is empty!
We departed the Punta Cocos anchorage at the southern tip of Isla del Rey in Panama's Perlas islands at 0830 Saturday morning. After clearing the point and checking into the Panama Pacific net we managed to sail a whopping 35 minutes before our speed dropped below 2 knots and we turned on the motor. We didn't get to sail again until mid-afternoon and had a nice slow ride until after dinner. We were actually making good speed through the water but with the counter-current we weren't making much headway over the ground. Tao 8, a Canadian boat, also departed on Saturday for Ecuador and are likely behind us as they will try to sail as much as possible.
This morning the water is glassy with a low swell coming from two directions making it a bit of a bouncy ride but not bad. I took 18 mg of Stugeron (cinnarazine) yesterday morning, but it's been so calm that I don't think I really needed it. Also, we've let Ziggy stay off harness and leash, this in spite of the sad news that Gary and Lois of Hurrah! lost their 11 year old Mommy kitty in a flat calm anchorage recently. It was only 45 minutes between when Lois last saw her and when they realized she was gone, and even after searching they couldn't find her. No doubt we'll put Ziggy in his harness when conditions warrant it, but for now he's happier (as happy as he can be with the engine making everyone on board deaf) without it, and we keep a close eye on him.
24 hour stats for Day 1:
Nautical miles traveled: 94
Water Temp: 82.2 to 84.6 degrees F
20 hours motoring, 4 hours sailing
Saw two turtles, dolphins, a sport fishing boat, a few ships (including the Crown Opal - AIS is great!), fishing boats (which John had to dodge on his watch), lots of logs and debris Saturday morning, rays jumping, and a tuna boat helicopter. Had a few rain showers but nothing heavy; saw lightning in the distance.
Managed to put a small tear in the main sail within the first 15 miles, but John patched it with sticky sail tape. And lost the plastic juicer overboard but turned around and picked it up.
Linda and John
Thanks to everyone who sent us Bon Voyage messages!
Linda and John
Today we moved to the southern end of Isla del Rey. We were originally going into the Rio Cacique anchorage, but the SSW swell changed our minds. It's still a little rolly here and John just put out the rocker stopper, but it will be good for acclimating to the ocean swell again. We've been in too many flat anchorages since leaving Panama City and have lost our sea legs.
Barring any unforeseen adverse weather conditions (like too much local convection) we plan to depart for the Galapagos on Saturday. That will give us 10 days to arrive in the Galapagos by May 25 (and maybe if we arrive on Sunday, the 24th, they won't mind).
Linda and John
In the meantime we try to keep busy with boat chores, reading, naps, and eating our copious supply of fruit. Yesterday I found two live weevils in the pantry storage area. We thought we'd found the source in a container of rice from Ecuador a few weeks ago. To solve that problem John soaked a cotton ball in alcohol and threw it in overnight to kill them. Then I spent the next morning picking out the dead and barely kicking ones. But here they were again and running around loose this time. So out came the entire contents of two lockers, mostly canned goods, jars, vacuum packed bags of rice, boxes of pasta stored in new ziploc bags, and - ah ha! - dried peas from Columbia stored in an old ziploc bag with tiny holes in it. The weevils had done a thorough job of perforating the peas so the entire contents of the bag went overboard and we'll never know what Columbian dried peas taste like.
In addition to cleaning out lockers, John's put three coats of varnish on the wheel (the only piece of varnished teak on the exterior of the boat), and it has a lovely golden glow. He's also cleaned and lubricated the Cape Horn wind vane, a self-steering device that we hope to rely on during the sailing portions of our passages. I do the daily sweeping and cleaning of the litter box, and yesterday we bought 10 gallons of non-potable water from the local workers so we can do some laundry. We sort through our fruit almost daily and pick out the ripest pieces to eat before any of it can rot. Needless to say an entire pineapple, orange juice, and two mangos apiece almost every day is keeping us regular!
Linda and John
When we visited in January we anchored off the smaller beach to the NW where someone had been clearing the mangroves. Now we see what looks like a small construction site mobile unit and two square canopy tents. And the small shack we could see over on the big beach is gone, with only short foundation stumps marking the spot. Marcel, the panga driver ferrying the workers to and from the village around the point, says a hotel is going up. Whatever is going on, this continues to be the most pristine bay we've seen in Panama, completely free of garbage.
After a cloudy day threatening rain yesterday we woke to clear skies this morning. Thunderheads build during the day over the mainland and drift through the sky giving us occasional breaks of shade, but otherwise it's very hot (mid 80s in the cabin, so it's broiling outside in the sun). The water is 79 degrees but I felt some chilly spots when I cleaned the waterline yesterday. The no-see-ums are active here, but we're taking all the usual steps to try and keep them out of the boat - mosquito coils, fine mesh netting for screens, and long sleeves, light pants, and socks when we can stand it (this morning I decided I'd rather be bitten in a bathing suit than sweat in all that clothing - and that was at 7:30 AM!). Ziggy sleeps hard during the heat of the day, and comes out to chase bugs when the sun is setting. We left the anchor light off last night (as did the other boats) since it's a big bug attractor.
So far we are very happy to hang here and wait for our weather window to the Galapagos in a week or so.
Linda and John
The wind was beginning to die by 2 PM when we were 25 nm out of Panama City with another 15 nm to go. I had been keeping an eye on a panga in the distance without paying close attention to it. It was unusual in that it appeared to be full of figures wearing yellow and neon orange. I imagined it might be a group of tourists or marine researchers because it seemed to stop or drift now and then. It slowly crossed our bow, but still at some distance away. As we drew closer to pass it on our starboard side, I got the binoculars out for a better look. Uh oh - the panga was stopped, the people were all wearing life jackets, the outboard motor cover was off (always a bad sign), and two guys were leaning over the motor trying to get it going again. A minute later I could see a man waving at us, and I called John up on deck for a look.
To divert to the panga we started the engine, rolled up the jib, and dropped the staysail. When we got close enough to speak to them, they signalled for a screwdriver. "Cruce?" (cross) John asked. No, "Plano" (flat) was the reply. I circled the panga while John dug out his toolbox to find what they needed. He searched for the cheap screwdrivers that we planned to use as trade items in the South Pacific, forgetting that we'd already stowed those in the "trade bag" deep in a locker under our berth. He came back on deck with a good one, handed it off to me, and directed me to the bow. "Which side?" I asked. "The END of the bow!" So I squeezed in front of the jib furler to get to the very front of the bow pulpit and John aimed for the stern of the panga. When he got close enough I leaned out as far as I could and a man in the panga grabbed the tool. But instead of drifting apart in the breeze like John thought we would, there was a brief moment when we continued making way towards the panga. I shouted "Push!", then remembered "Empuje" on every shop door, and two guys managed to give us a shove as John got Nakia back under control.
We indicated to them that we would wait while they made the repair, and John kept Nakia close by. The panga was a local taxi service loaded down with 10-15 men, women, and children, with one person using a bucket to bail water that had sloshed in over the low stern. It didn't take long for the driver to get the motor started, and it was then that I noticed a woman crying from fear or maybe with relief. They waved for us to come get the screw driver but John thought, "Now there's a guy who really needs a screw driver," and told them to keep it as a gift. There were smiles, thumbs up, and waves at this, and then they roared off towards the village of Pedro Gonzalez. With not another boat in sight for miles around we were happy to have been passing by that way!
We motored the rest of the afternoon to Isla Bayoneta, arrived half an hour before sunset, jumped in for a refreshing swim, ate dinner, went to bed, and were promptly attacked by hungry no-see-ums. This morning we moved farther out into the channel (away from the mangrove lined shore) to try to escape them. The weather has been completely overcast, with rain, lightning, and thunder over the mainland in the distance. I think the wet season has started right on time.
Linda and John
Last Friday while John did a sail repair for another boat I went to the U.S. Embassy to get Ziggy's Import Permit for Hawaii notarized. That round trip took me four buses, one collectivo taxi, and three hours because the embassy has moved and is no longer at the conveniently located building we've passed several times that says "U.S. Embassy" right on it. I left a note in the suggestion box at the fancy new embassy building way out in the boonies asking that they post a sign similar to one of those "We've moved! Our new location is..." signs that businesses put up for their customer's convenience. The good part was that I had to go via one of the nice malls here so I did some shopping and found a couple of $7 swimsuits, $3 "crocs," and a $13 pair of Joan & David sandals. You can't beat the clothing prices in Panama City.
On Saturday I did boat chores while John made four new Sunbrella hatch covers for another boat. We still can't quite figure out why we volunteered him for the job since he hates to sew (especially when there's no benefit to our boat!), but they had admired ours and the person they originally signed up for the work wasn't doing a good job. So now he has a case of beer (his "payment") stowed away for future refreshment.
Monday I took some borrowed charts to a copy center, stopped by the local (English speaking) clinic to make dentist appointments, got my hair cut, took the charts back to the boat, went to the vet's to pick up Ziggy's FAVN blood test results, had a quick bite on the boat, went to the swap meet that John had organized (to try and get rid of some of our junk), and finished the day at the book swap/dinner at the Balboa Yacht Club. That day I took six buses and two taxis and did a lot of walking in between.
Tuesday morning we got the much anticipated call from FedEx saying that our life raft was waiting for us at the airport cargo terminal, and did we want it delivered. Thinking that delivery would be very expensive we decided to pick it up ourselves. We then spent all day (literally five hours) getting our life raft from the FedEx office at the airport. The taxi alone cost us $60, plus the road tolls, plus lunch for the driver (and us - during one of the long waits), plus the FedEx and Customs fees. We were sitting around waiting for most of that time (the drive out there is about 45 minutes each way), so it was pretty tense knowing that we had a cab driver sitting outside wondering how much he was going to get out of it. But the raft is in a beautiful new Pelican case (hard plastic and watertight) which even comes with rollers like a carry on suitcase, so it's much easier to handle than our old one.
You'd think we'd be all ready to go once we had the long awaited life raft on board, but we've been scrambling to finish last minute things. Wednesday we took a taxi to drop off our laundry, then took a bus out to the mall "for one more thing," then a bus to the dentist for cleanings, x-rays, and exams ($68 per person and $63 for one filling, in case you're wondering), ate a gyro at Niko's for lunch, bussed back into Centro for last minute perishables (bread, eggs, tortillas, meat, etc.) from the grocery store, and taxied back to the anchorage with all our stuff.
Yesterday morning we went to the nearby marina for fuel and water, re-anchored, and then I shared a taxi to the big wholesale produce market with two other women. But before we got there the clouds opened up and it started pouring rain. We exited the cab and ducked under a roof overhang but there was no sign of it stopping. The thunder and lightning were right across the street at one point. We made a break for it and waded in ankle deep water to get past the entrance to the market area where we found an indoor area we could start shopping in. None of us had been there before but I'd heard about it from other cruisers. We hired ourselves a guy with a big hand truck and loaded it up with three 25 lb bags of oranges ($3.50 each), a 40 lb sack of potatoes ($20), a 25 lb sack of onions ($13), a 25 lb sack of mangoes ($3), and most of our individual purchases of pineapples (3 small for $1), watermelon (small ones for .50 to $1 each), tomatoes (.50/lb), green peppers (.50/lb), carrots (.50/lb), garlic (.50 for 10), and cabbage ($1.80 for two). Except for the oranges, we split the big bags of stuff three ways (or two ways in the case of the onions). When we were finished shopping our "porter" wheeled the cart out to the street where he unloaded everything to the sidewalk and we paid him $5 (poor guy, he earned every penny of that with three gringo ladies going off in all different directions!). It was tough finding an available cab but finally a guy agreed to take us and our stuff back to Amador for $6. He opened his trunk so we could start loading and there was a big tool box taking up a lot of the available space! We managed to get all the big sacks in the trunk (literally, we had to load it ourselves - the drivers don't usually help you), but everything else had to fit in the cab with us. The rain had stopped by then so we split the bags and stowed everything back on the boats, then John and I caught a bus to town for "one last thing" at the grocery store, took another bus to pick up the laundry, and a taxi back to the boat (seven loads of wash and dry including two sets of sheets, a blanket, mattress cover, pillow covers, towels, etc. for $25; total including cabs was $35).
Today we've been stowing things and cleaning in preparation for tomorrow's departure. There's quite a bit of convection forecast over Central America for the next couple of days, so we're going to take it in little hops waiting for the weather to clear a bit before we actually get to the Western islands of Panama up by the Costa Rican border.
Linda and John