Loading Map

Friday, July 31, 2009

Day 19

129 nm made good, all sailing. 365 miles to go.

The wind has gone light and into the East-North-East so we're running dead downwind with the jib poled out to weather. I shook out all the reefs this morning, this is the first time during the trip we've sailed with a full main. Our position at 9 degrees South latitude seems to be giving us more wind then boats further North. They reported less then 10 knots of breeze this morning and sailing at only 3.5 knots, where as we had over 12 knots of breeze and were sailing at 5.5 knots.

More Frigate birds sighted and a new kind of Petrel that we didn't get a very good look at.



Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day 18

134 nm made good, all sailing. 495 miles to go.

Much wind shifting. After sunset last night the wind came into the SE I had to take the pole down and we set out on a broad reach. Then about 0300 the wind backed into the East and I had to put the pole back up.

I keep waiting for the part where we don't have to touch a thing for days on end. Before we left I read about a boat that sailed from the Galapagos to Marquesas and didn't change sail for 11 days. I think the most I've gotten is 36 hours.

Oh well, at least I have something to do...



Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 17

135 nm made good, all sailing. 628 miles to go.

The wind shifted into the East early this morning so we poled the jib out to the weather side. It's called Wing-on-Wing and is giving us a much nicer ride than having the jib poled out to leeward (turbo mode). I wish we could have done this before, but we'd have ended up going due West, instead of West South West.

We had 7 small flying fish on board this morning. All were from one to three inches in length. That's not much of a record though. Tara III an Australian boat had 33 one-inch flying fish on deck yesterday morning. I suggested they could deep fry them and eat them like French Fries but it was too late, they'd already thrown them back into the sea.



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Passage Notes

As John already wrote, it's been a little rough lately. Nothing terrible, but just enough bouncing around to make life more difficult than it already is. There are two wave/swell trains. The one from behind us is fine because it simply lifts up the stern and we go surfing down with it. But every once in awhile there's one that comes from our port side that really slews us around, and things below go bang and crash. And sometimes a wave slips up the port stern quarter and splashes into that side of the cockpit.

Two weeks of this is plenty and we're ready to finish it up. Maybe we're a little antsy knowing that we're (with any luck) down to our last week, or maybe it's hearing other boats making landfall that has us wishing we were there too. Antipodes was the first boat in our little group to drop off the radio net after arriving in Hiva Oa Friday night after a fast 20 day passage. Spica decided to stop today at an anchorage before Nuku Hiva, ending their 25 day passage (with five and seven year old children - my hat goes off to them!). Next should be Tara III this Thursday, with Mud Skipper, Chautauqua, and Nakia bringing up the rear.

The night watches lately have reminded me of one of the reasons I hated baby-sitting as a teenager - trying to stay awake late at night. Hard as I tried to stay awake, inevitably the parents would arrive home to find me asleep on their couch, and I'd wake up groggy and embarrassed to be caught napping on the job. I guess it would have helped then to be wearing a watch with a continuous 15 minute timer going off to keep me awake.

I've sure been wishing for a water maker lately. The thought of arriving in a place where water is going to be difficult to get is a downer after a long passage like this. It's going to take us a week just to get laundry hand washed and salt wiped off every surface of the boat. Makes you appreciate places like Mexico where you can pull into a marina for a day or two just to get cleaned up again. At least we've managed to keep all the dead things off the boat. Today Tara III reported a record "catch" of 33 flying fish, none of which were longer than one inch. They have been regularly cooking up their (larger) flying fish and squid deck catch, but I believe they said they were out of olive oil for this batch...

Forecast is for more of the same weather and seas so this is all for now. Oh, and as much as I am finding "The Bone People" to be a great read, I realized that I'd better warn people that the subject matter isn't for the faint of heart. By "magical" I didn't mean Tinkerbell, feel good, but more like eerie and transcendent. It's a disturbing story, but I was immediately drawn in by the characters and the unusual style of writing. As much as one hopes for a happy outcome, I'm sure it's not to be (I haven't quite finished it yet), but I'm reconciled to that. This is a rare book that I find myself thinking about often even when I'm not reading it.



Arrival should be August 2nd or 3rd.

Day 16

137 nm made good, all sailing. 764 miles to go.

It finally calmed down a little late last night and early this morning. Both Linda and I (and Ziggy too) are pretty tired. It's tough to sleep when the sea is rough. Too bad we couldn't start out with this crap and end up with the beautiful sailing we had in the middle!



Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 15

137 nm made good, all sailing. 901 miles to go.

Breezy the last 24 hours. 18-22 knots. No big seas from the South but the wind chop is pretty rough.

We've been trying to slow down so we can get in on the morning of the 22nd but have given up on that. The more we slow down, the more we roll. So now we're trying to go fast so we can get in before dark on the 21st. This way if the wind dies we'll still get there on the morning of the 22nd. Hopefully we wont end up getting there in the middle of the night. Then we have to heave-to and wait for daylight.



Sunday, July 26, 2009

Day 14

136 nm made good, all sailing. 1038 miles to go.

Not much to report.

We had some more Rough-Toothed Dolphin around the boat yesterday afternoon.

We opened the second can of the trip. Dinty Moore Beef Stew. I bought 12 cans in Panama thinking it would be good when it was too rough to cook anything else. It was, though we added rice to extend it and that made it more complicated to make (when the boat is really rolling its hard enough to open a can and dump the contents into the pan, much less measure water and rice).



Saturday, July 25, 2009

Day 13

138 nm made good, all sailing. 1174 miles to go.

A bit rough this morning, maybe 18 kts of wind. We pulled down the second reef again. Pulling down a reef is something which should normally take about 45 seconds but now because I'm so paranoid about tearing the sail again it takes me over five minutes.

We went along with the double reef main and reefed jib until around 1000 when it calmed down a little and I shook the reef our of the jib. It's just amazing what a little extra power will do. One minute we're rolling like crazy. So much so that the weather rail of the cockpit actually scooped up a wave and tossed it around, nearly soaking me (I only had to stand up to avoid the worst, only my shoes got wet). I looked around and noticed it wasn't really blowing that hard so I let out the rest of the jib. We immediately picked up speed and stopped the worst of the rolling. Go figure.

I was a little blue yesterday. One of the boats we've been keeping touch with arrived in Hiva Oa. This was the first boat to make landfall since we'd left Galapagos. Something about knowing that someone else had arrived but we still have almost half way to go got me down. That and I miss our pilot whales.



Friday, July 24, 2009

Passage Notes

I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop because so far this passage has been nothing short of spectacular. We are traveling at average speeds beyond our wildest expectations, the weather has been fine, and to top it off Mother Nature put us in our own National Geographic wildlife show at the halfway point of our ocean crossing! Not only did the surfing pilot whales accompany us for over 24 hours, but they were joined occasionally by a dolphin we identified as the rough-toothed dolphin. And the day before the pilot whales appeared, before we saw the whale right next to the boat, I also saw a huge whale going in the opposite direction some distance away. From the length between the head and the dorsal fin, which is the only part of the body I could see, I want to say it was a blue whale but I can't be sure. Whatever it was, it was impressive and probably just as well that it took no interest in us. Chippy, our pilot whale, made me nervous because she swam so close to the aft quarter of the boat that I was afraid of one wrong move and she'd knock the self-steering paddle off the wind vane. It has a safety line to keep it attached to the boat, but what a pain it would be to get that back on again. Oh, and finally, after talking to my friend, Ruth on Mud Skipper, about whales on the radio yesterday afternoon, I came up on deck just in time to have John point out a sea turtle. What are the odds of us: a) passing right by a turtle out in the middle of the ocean, and b) being up on deck at precisely the right moment in which to see it?!!

Well, it wasn't "A Fish Flew Through the Porthole" (the title of a book about a crossing from San Francisco to the Marquesas by a friend of my mother's), but it could have been titled "A Fish Flew Down the Companionway Hatch" or "Night of the Flying Fish." The same night we were accompanied by pilot whales we were still sailing dead downwind with the jib poled out to port on the whisker pole, as we'd been doing all day. John was staking out his usual star gazing spot in the cockpit when he heard a loud bang and something went whizzing right by his head. His first thought was, "Holy sh*t, what just broke? Did a line part?" But he soon realized it was a flying fish flopping around next to him, and he tossed it overboard since it was too big to give to Ziggy. Soon after I came on watch at 10 PM I was staking out my usual spot on the settee down below and listening to an old broadcast of "60 Minutes" on the iPod when I heard a loud bang and something crashed to the floor at the bottom of the companionway steps. Ziggy was immediately on the flopping fish but I too threw that one overboard before cleaning up the slimy mess of scales on the wood floor. Not much later a third flying fish landed right in the cockpit again! This is the first time we've ever had them land on the boat while sailing down wind. I suspect Chippy thought we weren't getting enough to eat at the blistering pace we'd been setting, and so she sent some snacks our way.

I don't know where the time goes but it never seems like we have enough of it to do the things we want to. I concentrate most of my off watch time catching up on sleep and getting something to eat. Then there are the daily chores like sweeping the floors and cleaning the litter box for me, and wiping down the cockpit and walking the decks checking for signs of wear and tear for John. On odd numbered days of the month ("he's an odd egg" is how I remember it) I turn the egg crates over to keep the yolks from sticking to the shells. Most mornings I try to give Ziggy a good hour of play time now that he's up to it. He's a pretty young cat (two years old) to have so few outlets for letting off steam, so we run him around down below with his toys. I noticed a few days ago that the whiskers on one side of his face have started breaking off at the ends. We don't know if that's from stress or if he's sleeping on that side so much that they're getting damaged. There's coffee/tea to be made each morning; a breakfast of granola bars or hard-boiled egg or PBJ sandwiches; John usually cooks a hot meal in the middle of the day or we have sandwiches; and fruit, cheese and crackers or sandwiches or leftovers later in the day. John still has three radio nets taking up his time: the informal morning one with the boats out in front of us, the Pacific Passage net late in the afternoon (same group of boats plus any that might join us from the Galapagos), and the formal Pacific Seafarer's HAM net in the evening.

With any luck there's time left over to read during daylight hours (it's too hard for me to read by red lights - to protect our night vision - at night anymore) and listen to podcasts (we downloaded from the internet before leaving) at night. Speaking of reading, John's reaction to practically every book he reads (Me: "What did you think of it?") is, "It was okay." For the first time in ages he said (unsolicited), "This is a great book!" regarding the D'Orso Galapagos book I mentioned in a previous post. As for me, I can't bear to tear myself away from "The Bone People" by Keri Hulme which my mother gave me years ago and which I'm finally getting around to reading. This is a magical, mysterious, and moving book. It's probably a good thing I'm being forced to savor it in small bites because otherwise I'd sit down and devour it whole. So now you know why it's taken me this long to write a blog when I'd rather be reading!


Day 12, Galapagos to Marquesas

146 nm made good, all sailing. 1312 miles to go.

No more pilot whales. We slowed down for a few hours yesterday afternoon when the wind went light and I guess they didn't like going slow.

We opened the first can of the trip yesterday; a canned ham for sandwiches to use up our store bought bread before it goes bad.

We set our clocks back too, so now we're in the same time zone as the Pacific Coast of the US. Except we don't follow daylight savings time so it's not really the same time.

An interesting note about yesterday's halfway point. You could say we were literally in the middle of nowhere:

1500 miles from the Marquesas
1600 miles from the coast of Mexico
1500 miles from the Galapagos
2800 miles from Hawaii
1300 miles to the other nearest island, Pitcairn



Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 11, Half Way!

137 nm made good, all sailing. 1462 miles to go.

We broke the half way mark early this morning. Our pilot whales are still with us, almost 36 hours non-stop. I wonder when they sleep.

We ate the last of our Galapagos Oranges yesterday. We probably threw out six or seven that had gone bad but if we'd bought more we would still be able to eat them.



Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 10, Big Tuesday

148 nm made good, all sailing. 1602 miles to go.

What was that surfer movie in the '70s? Big Wednesday? Well yesterday was Big Tuesday on NAKIA.

To start off with, a boat ahead of us reported a large swell rolling in from the South, and sure enough about 3 in the afternoon we found ourselves going up and over some pretty big waves. The weather files said they we 4.3 meters (about 17 feet) and I figure that's about right. As I said they were coming from the South, and our course of South West put us riding into/across them. They're not a big deal, just very impressive.

Then, about 5 in the afternoon I was lying in bed, I heard a whale blow. I didn't think much of it and went back to snoozing. Then about 10 minutes later Linda, who'd been sweeping the floor, went up to empty the dust pan and yelled 'Oh Sh*t, John a whale!'. I came shooting out of bed thinking this had to be something good and when I got up on deck I did what I normally do for whales, start looking out towards the horizon. I asked 'which direction?' and Linda said, 'No. Right there!' pointing down to a grey shape cruising under the surface 20 feet off the port quarter. Huh. That's close. It stayed with us 20 minutes or so, just swimming along side, the spray from it's exhalation crossing the deck in front of us. Although once it went down and under the keel, coming up right in front of the boat with it's back just a few feet from the bob-stay. Now that was close. His curiosity satisfied, he left us to find something more interesting without coming any closer. We've come to the conclusion that it was a 30 foot long Bryde's whale.

The other big thing happened this (Wednesday) morning. At about 0400 some very strange dolphin showed up. They made a huge splash when the surfaced to breath. It wasn't until the sun came up that we could see they are Pilot Whales. About a dozen. They've been with us all day and one particularly curious fellow, nicknamed 'Chip' because of the notch in his dorsal fin, has been staying very close to NAKIA. At times only 3 feet off either quarter.



Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 9

146 nm made good, all sailing. 1752 miles to go.

I have a few thoughts to share on Flying Fish. As an adaptation for evading predators the ability of these small fish to take to the air is a huge waste. After watching a thousand or so glide away from NAKIA I've come to the conclusion that if a more intelligent animal had this ability it would be far more entertaining. First lets take a look at what the fish does. As some scary menace approaches, the fish jumps out of the water at a shallow angle and spreads its wing-like fins. Depending on how much speed the fish had on departing the water it could go a few feet to as far as 30 yards. In order to keep in the air, the fish can 'tail' the water using the lower lobe of it's tail which is longer then the upper lobe. This can extend the flight another 30 yards or so. During the flight, the fish exhibits a kind of terrain following ability (probably based on ground affect) that allows the fish to pop up to avoid oncoming waves and then back down to low level flight. Now imagine what it would be like if this ability we present in a higher level animal who might do this kind of thing just for the fun of it. Like a dolphin. Since they're mammals, there's no need for them to go back into the water to breath, so they could take to the air and skim across the surface or a mile or more. Who wouldn't want to do that? Instead we have a 6 in fish who only thinks of this ability after it has been frightened out of its wits.



Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 8

143 nm made good, all sailing. 1898 miles to go. (Over 1/3 of the way there!)

We've had the pole on the jib for a couple days now. Last night when I reefed the jib for a small squall I noticed some fraying on the rope where it goes thru the pole. After looking at it this morning I came to the conclusion that something needed to be done so we spent 2 hours on deck moving lines and adding chafe protection on the rope. The problem is 2 things, 1) the pole is too long for this jib and 2) the ropes (called sheets) are old. These two things almost cut the sheet in half in two days. I'm going to change to some new sheets with better chafe protection tomorrow. One more thing to fix in Hawaii.



Sunday, July 19, 2009

Day 7

138 nm made good, all sailing. 2041 miles to go. (almost 1/3 of the way there)

Nothing new to report, a little bumpy last night again. I'm not sure why but every night without the wind increasing more then 3 knots or so it gets really choppy for a while then calms down after an hour or two. Usually this happens on my (John) off watch.



Saturday, July 18, 2009

Day 6

137 nm made good, all sailing. 2179 miles to go.

We finally shook the second reef out of the main this morning. The wind has gotten a little lighter and we're sailing further off the wind so I'm not as worried about it. The line that pulls in the second reef is pretty badly chafed, something is not set up right. Good thing I had a backup line on it incase it chafed thru.

A new record for flying fish on deck last night; 8 fish, 2 squid. Z ate one each.



Friday, July 17, 2009

Passage Notes

I'm sure it's strange to people sitting safely in a chair at home reading this, but so far (knock on wood) there's nothing about this passage that feels different from any other passage we've made. We've often been out of sight from land before (even if it's just obscured by marine layer) so we're used to not seeing anything but sky and ocean. And since John does all the navigating, I rarely look at a chart to see exactly where we are in the middle of all this blue. There really should be sea monsters or something out here to tell a person, "you're out in the middle of nowhere, you silly twit!"

In addition to forgetting to enter our position in the Google Earth link for Day 4's blog, John neglected to write in Day 5's entry that we took showers! Just like during our previous passage, John got out the salt water hose for our sea water wash down with soap on the leeward side deck, and the sun shower for a fresh water rinse off in the cockpit. John turns the boat downwind for a smoother and slower ride until we're finished. No, we don't wear harnesses when we do this, but we do spot for each other to make sure we both stay on board.

John's been cooking up some excellent meals on this passage. On our first night out we ate light snacks and sandwiches, but since then he's made a great rice pot with fresh veggies, vegetable omelets, dorado sandwiches, baked potatoes, dorado with sautéed onion and peppers, and more grilled dorado for the fridge. His goal is to only eat the fresh foods (as opposed to anything canned or frozen) before they have a chance to spoil. It makes cooking more of a challenge for him (all that slicing and dicing with things wanting to roll this way and that), but at least we have good weather for it at the moment. We'll save the Dinty Moore stew for rougher conditions!

Ziggy's finally acclimated, and conditions were calm enough, that he got a good hour of play time in this morning. He has an accumulation of toys that he likes chasing, and he had a lot of pent up energy to spazz out with. He hasn't "caught" any flying fish or squid in the past two nights but John makes up for it with dorado snacks whenever he cooks some for us.

John's been slogging through Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" and I'm almost finished with "Plundering Paradise: The Hand of Man on the Galapagos Islands" by Michael D'Orso. This is a must read for anyone who's spent time in Ecuador or the Galapagos. It's a series of portraits of the people living in the islands in 1999-2001, and it really nails Ecuadorian bureaucracy on the head. The government neglect (and abuse!) of those phenomenal islands is an absolute crime against nature and humanity. I take exception to his description of yachties as "millionaires" but other than that it's a fine book!


Day 5

154 nm made good, all sailing. 2316 miles to go.

We set the clocks back yesterday, we have to do that a few times going from the Galapagos to the Marquesas or else the sun comes up at three in the morning. It looks a little strange in the logbook, there are two entries for 1200 hrs.

We ran the engine (out of gear) for an hour yesterday just to make sure it still runs.

Not much else to report. Very nice weather the last 24 hours. We've both caught up on sleep and are feeling much better than the first couple days.



Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day 4, Galapagos to Marquesas

141 nm made good, all sailing. 2477 miles to go.

Other than a ship off in the distance and two fishing boats we haven't seen anything out here but sea and sky. One of the fishing boats came to within 1/4 mile - to get a good look at us we guess. We weren't comfortable with how close they were getting so John furled the jib and we sort of hove to. As they crossed our bow we could see every member of the crew lined up on deck to wave at us! Quite a heartwarming sight, but they still gave us an anxious moment. We've lost VHF radio contact with the other two boats closest to us, but one of them has SSB radio and we can monitor their position during the two nets. We'll be losing the Panama Pacific morning net shortly as we get out of range of most of the net controllers who are in Costa Rica, Panama, and Bahia de Caraquez. But John continues to run the Pacific Passage net every evening for the handful of boats who are still making this run. One single hander who left Panama around the beginning of May (Nick on the vessel Val) is finally about to make landfall in the Marquesas. He had a horribly slow time getting south of Panama, just drifting in the light winds and foul current. Since he wasn't making a fuel stop in the Galapagos, he wasn't motoring at all. We'll be happy to see him finally get in safely to port. John joined the roll call of the Pacific Seafarer's net last night. This is a HAM net run by land based people all over the Pacific and the U.S. to keep track of underway vessels. It allows us to talk to people who are very far away from us, and John had nice chats with Carina and South Moon.

In my last post I neglected to explain to the non-boaters out there that normally our quarter berth (and this is true of most boats we know) is used as our "garage/attic" area for storage. But our sleeping berth (a pullman style bed mid-ship on the port side) is too large and open for sleeping underway so we have to move things from the quarter berth to the pullman, and throw all our pillows in the quarter berth where we won't get tossed around as much (especially on port tack, which we are).

Ziggy seems to appreciate the difference between John's style of night watch versus mine. When John is on from 1800-2200 Ziggy knows it's open season on flying fish and squid. If it lands on deck, John usually lets him eat it. So Ziggy spends most of that watch out in the cockpit with John. When I come on at 2200 we have a little look around from the cockpit but then he knows it's time to go below and go to bed. He remains alert to the slightest noise, and I know he's not really sleeping, but he will mostly stay in bed even when I go outside for visual scans of the horizon at 15 minute intervals. If he does hear something land on deck, he's up at attention and headed for the open companionway. If it's a flying fish, I've already heard it too and can catch up to him to attach the leash to his harness. I swear he knows to wait there for the leash, and he also moves a bit more slowly when he's in the harness as it acts as a bit of a hobble. If John has already let him "catch" anything to eat, then I usually try to get the flying fish to go out the scupper. I was using the fishing gaff for this but then I had John open up a wire coat hanger for me instead. It's less cumbersome, less valuable (if I should lose it overboard), and it has a longer reach. While still tethered to the cockpit (me, as well as Z.) I can reach up the side deck with the hanger to guide the fish as the water slides it towards me, and gently slide it out the scupper. (If there's enough water on the side deck to land a fish, than there's enough water left to send it back into the ocean.) Ziggy is perplexed for awhile but eventually he accepts the fact that his fish has disappeared and I can coax him below again.

Our weather changes by the hour and regularly goes from clear and sunny to completely overcast with occasional (very) short bursts of drizzle. So we sometimes have blue sky and dark blue seas, but mostly it's been gray sky and darker gray seas. Which is nice for staying cool during the day, but I miss seeing the stars at night. We've had a couple of night time visits from dolphins, but now we only see petrels and a shearwater occasionally during the day. We have seen no more swallow tail gulls in spite of all the flying fish and squid available. We're very happy to be making excellent progress and are keeping our fingers crossed to keep this pace up most of the way.

Linda and John



Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day 3

127 nm made good, all sailing. 2618 miles to go. We changed our route, so it looks like we went much further, but in fact we're just going to sail a more direct route. Originally I thought we'd sail southwest until we got to 4S and then go west. This would take maximum advantage of a favorable current along 4S. This would also have added another 60 miles to our trip, but I figured the current would make up for it. The thing I failed to realize is that we'll be sailing in the current most of the time on the direct route anyway, so why add the distance.

We're keeping two log books, one for the hourly positions we take off the GPS, another for the more important events that we don't want to get lost in the mess of lat/long. Here's the 'important' stuff for the last couple days:

1445: AIS alarm for NW bound ship, range 8 nm*
1655: Fish boat off port bow; 1715 had to toll
up the jib to let him go by; all of their
crew lined up on the rail to wave to us
0515: John got up to furl jib, very bouncy, 95%
overcast morning; still seeing occasional
petrels and shearwater; 1415 masked booby
1200: noon position, distance made good, water
temp 74.3 degrees F
1830: Fishing boat to starboard, 8 miles
2200: Ziggy ate a flying fish
2355: Linda threw a flying fish back so Ziggy
wouldn't eat it
2440: furled jib; later John let some back out
0630: dropped staysail because it was blanketing
jib; let out some more jib
1030: Caught a 20 lb Dorado (mahi-mahi), found old
squid on deck when cleaning fish.
1200: noon position, distance made good, water
temp 75.2 degrees F

That's about it, our tomatoes are starting to go off after less then a week. We'll be eating them madly for the next few days to try to stay ahead of the rot. Oh and lots of fish too.

John and Linda

*AIS is an automated system that big ships use to announce their location. We have a receiver, I installed it last year in Ecuador, and it sets off an alarm if anything gets closer then 8 nm. The display is like a radar and shows all the ships that the device can receive. Along with the ship's position, the ship also broadcasts it's name so if you think you might be on a collision course you can call the ship on the radio and ask him if he wouldn't mind turning. We've only had to do this once. In fact the ship was already turning when we called, I don't think it was because of us, it was along the Ecuadorian coast and I think he had just arrived at a waypoint and was changing course to go to the next waypoint. In any case he answered our call and I thanked him.



Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Goodbye Galapagos!

We finished up our stay at San Cristobal with two more trips out to La Loberia, and a lot of shopping and readying for our July 12 departure.

I never thought I would find myself putting petroleum jelly on fresh eggs, but on the strong recommendations of two highly respected friends (Georgie and Ruth, who swore they will last for 2-3 months unrefrigerated!) we bought 90 eggs in paper egg crates. After covering the shells with vaseline we taped the crates shut again and stowed them in the pullman berth. Ziggy has already walked on them, but the shells are tough and I don't think he broke any. We paid .15/egg for them so John says that at $1/egg in French Polynesia we only have to eat five out of each 30 to come out ahead!

We decided to provision before the traditional Saturday market day since the supply ships had finished unloading by Thursday and nothing new would be arriving from the mainland until the next Tuesday. We were happy to have made that decision when we walked by a store on Saturday afternoon and saw that they only had one loaf of good wheat bread left. And it was also nice to have all the food on board and stowed so that we could relax and enjoy our last full day in the Galapagos.

Low tide on Saturday was at 11 AM which is exactly when we walked into the water with our snorkel gear for one final close encounter with the sea turtles at La Loberia. This time we counted at least nine of them and recognized the biggest female by the damage to the right side of her shell. She was probably struck by a boat since she has a dent behind her front flipper and a crack on the aft edge of her shell. This time there was a curious and playful sea lion which came almost nose to nose with my face mask. That's a bit closer than I would wish for with a wild animal, but at least I never saw its teeth.

The previous Sunday we walked out to La Loberia without our snorkel gear to explore the narrower path off to the right. To our surprise we discovered that this is where the majority of the marine iguanas are to be found. There were a few large groups communing in the sun on the warm lava rocks and we got some great pictures that day. John got a little too close to one group and a small iguana expelled the excess salt from its nose (like a big salty sneeze) which is what they do in preparation for running away from threats.

I made another double batch of granola and some more bran muffins because the first rounds of each were already eaten or given away to friends. We sent everything I could think of to the laundry since we won't be seeing anything as inexpensive as $1/kilo again. John went up the mast to the spreaders to fix a flag halyard that had parted. We had 100 gallons of water delivered to Nakia at $3 per five gallon jug from our agent, Bolivar. We stowed all the bits and pieces that invariably make their way out of cupboards and drawers while at anchor, and tried to anticipate and cushion the items that were most likely to bang or knock underway.

After a last pizza at Miconia with Don and Priscilla Saturday night we thought we were pretty set to go, but Sunday morning we were still busy. Sail covers came off; we moved gear from the quarter berth to the pullman berth to make our sea berth; Ziggy's litter box and the carpets got a good cleaning; John ran the Sunday SSB net; Bronwyn and the La Barca kids came over for a chat and to return the Galapagos wildlife book I had loaned them; we tied the dinghy on deck; John scrubbed the rocker stopper and the anchor chain when we jumped in the water for a final swim/bathe; I washed the breakfast dishes, and by that time we were hungry for lunch! But with a long toot on John's cow horn and CSN's "Southern Cross" playing on the stereo, we finally raised anchor, shut off the engine, and sailed out of the anchorage at 12:30 PM.

We based our departure date on being at San Cristobal for the maximum allowable 20 day stay and by total coincidence three boats arriving there after us also decided to depart for the Marquesas on the same day. We were the first boat out of the anchorage followed an hour later by Valiam (home ported in Mooloolaba, Australia). Bill and Linda soon appeared on our stern and we attempted to take some pictures as they went flying by us. I'm sure they will make landfall in less than 20 days. The next two boats to leave were Chautauqua (Don and Priscilla) and Taisho (with Bob single handing). They are the only other American boats we've seen since leaving Bahia. Amazingly enough our speeds have matched well enough to maintain VHF radio contact with them (but not visual contact) and we check in with each other a few times throughout the day and night.

We're getting bounced around quite a bit, but we're happy to be making good speed over the ground for a change. So no complaints about that! You can follow our progress at:


Linda and John

Day 2

126 nm made good, all sailing. 2806 miles to go. Weather a little bumpy, South East wind 20 kts.

Ziggy ate two of the many squid that landed on deck last night. We're not sure how he knows they are there but as soon as one arrives he's up and ready to get them. It must be the smell, all we can smell is ourselves.

John and Linda



Monday, July 13, 2009

We're off

Well it seemed like it took forever to get the boat ready. But finally around 1200 local we determined that we had no more excuses for not leaving so we hauled the anchor and sailed out of Wreck Bay in a nice sunny Sunday afternoon. The first day went fine, though we haven't seen the sun since 10 miles out of the anchorage.

Ziggy is kind of put off, but the rest of the crew is doing fine. The GPS says we have 2949 miles left to go to Atuona.

John and Linda



Saturday, July 04, 2009

More Galapagos

I meant to correct my first comment about the water taxis here at San Cristobal. The taxis aren't the fancy inflatables that we initially noticed running back and forth to the dinghy dock. Those belong to all the small cruise/tour boats. The water taxis are pangas with biminis, and have names like Sea Baby, Pio-Pio, and Petrel. We can either call "Taxi Aquatico" on VHF 14, or usually we just stand out on deck and wave one down. Sea Baby is our favorite because he's a very personable guy with a distinctive, more African, look, and Pio-Pio is the only one that has lights for running at night (but that doesn't stop the others from running until 11 PM!).

This past week we went for another snorkel at La Loberia. By the time we got there the sky was beginning to cloud up so we didn't have as much color (and it didn't feel as warm), but the turtles were all still there! We mostly hung out with them and watched one that was eating sea grass off the rocks. She got so close that John could have easily reached out and touched her (but didn't). I say "she", because we ran into Jorge (our land tour guide) and the folks off Valiam (accent over the "i"), and he told us that sea turtles are the opposite of the land tortoises regarding their size. With the sea turtles, the males are smaller than the females so as not to drown the female when they mate in the ocean. Isn't Nature thoughtful that way.

On Thursday we snorkeled in the cove below Frigatebird Hill, just off one of the trails at the Interpretive Center, so an easy walk from the anchorage. This is a little deeper water encircled by lava rock with some interesting nooks and crannies. No sea turtles there, but sea lions to swim with, and we each managed to spot an eel just before we were ready to get out of the cold water. The latter were hiding in rock crevices with only about six inches showing, and we haven't gotten the book out to try to identify them yet. There were also a couple of large schools of sardines and another small fish, and a smaller school of baby barracuda. I have to laugh when I think of how blase I've become about sharing the water with sea lions since just hearing about friends who did it years ago used to frighten me. I couldn't imagine getting in the water with anything that big, but it hasn't been scary at all. Of course we haven't been to places with alpha bulls, and the Galapagos sea lions in general seem smaller than the California sea lions. They seem to do nothing but sleep and play. I can't imagine when they find the time to go out for a meal. Maybe they do all their hunting at night, but it seems like even then all they do is blow raspberries on Nakia's hull and play with our rocker stopper (waking us up at 4 AM). Oh yes, we finally put out the rocker stopper to combat the swell that sometimes wraps in here.

Last night we went in after the 5 PM HF radio net to have a beer and watch the sun set. We ran into Peter and Ruth from Mud Skipper, invited them to join us at a balcony table at Miconia (the nicest restaurant in town, in our view), and ended up staying for dinner. Then we had a $1 soft serve ice cream cone and walked down to watch the festivities on the malecon. It looked like the whole city had turned out for music and speeches celebrating Ecuador's independence day. We're hoping they continue the activities through the weekend so we can pretend it's all for the Fourth of July in Los Estados Unidos de Norte America!

Happy Fourth everyone - have some BBQ'd salmon and strawberry shortcake for me, and cauliflower, shrimp, rice salad for John (that's tough to duplicate since it's a family recipe)!

Linda and John