This are my scribbles from 2007 and 2008, my wife and I retired from work and flew to St Lucia in the Caribbean, there we bought our sailing catamaran and sailed her back to Australia. This was on another blog, but unfortunately that went off the air. Those planning to sail the same passage this information is 10 years old, things do change.
Note !! Dates on the index will only relate to when I posted the notes not the dates of event, each page will have the date it occurred.
Sailing from Panama to Galapagos and Galapagos Islands 2007
We left Panama on Tuesday 10 July 2007, at
around 0400 hours in the morning it is now Saturday night. We had a good sail
from Panama to Las Perlas a little lumpy with a tail swell but allowed Nancy to
have a bit of a rest laying on the trampoline.
(Fishing boat we passed as leaving Panama, we have seen a few of these)
As we got
to Las Perlas the pomie boat Creighton’s was just leaving, we could not raise
them on the radio they were not monitoring the same frequency or they did not
have the radio switched on. As we got closer the weather started to change with
a bit of a blow and the swell crept up to three metres. So we decided to go to a bay marked on the chart
closer to where we would leave for the Galapagos Islands.
Once amongst the islands the wind dropped and we had to go under motor, we
arrived at the bay we had selected and it was not looking too good, very rocky.
Next thing we know is I get this terrible noise from the starboard engine
gearbox. It sounded as though a bearing had collapsed. At the very same moment
the radio squawked and it was a German fellow on the island name of Deter, he
warned us off anchoring in the area as the bottom does not hold. I thanked him
and we moved on.
I said to
Nancy we have to make the choice do we sail back to Panama and may be spend
another two weeks waiting for parts do the repairs and head back here or do we
move on. We still have the port engine and hopefully we will be sailing most of
the time. We opted to keep going, we figured that we were better of than any
monohull yacht, we had two engines and one good gearbox they only have one of
each. The other problem we had at the moment was that it was getting dark which
made it too late to find another anchorage, we had both been up since 0330
hours that morning as we thought we would be getting a full night sleep at
anchor neither of us had a real rest. Nancy
cooked a quick tea and went for a rest to take the shift at .
(Chart showing the planned course)
were rough through the night but the wind was in the right place and we were
sailing straight on the rhumb line for the Galapagos if this keeps up we will
be there in no time. We continued to do well.
morning and I notice at first light this storm forming off the port quarter
next thing this front forms the lead clouds hanging very low and dark, I called
Nancy to close hatches and to help reduce sail, we reduced down to the main at
second reef as the first part of the storm hit I turned the boat straight into
it, the winds were in excess of 35 to 40 knots and the rain poured down, I got
the buckets out quickly to catch some rain water. Nancy stayed in the dry in the saloon giving
me moral support and she said she was getting a little frightened, she wasn’t
the only one I can assure you, I was there with it. I figured if I kept heading
into the storm under motor the sail would help me keep it straight and
hopefully it would take me through the other end of the storm and we can get
back on course. I did wonder at times whether I should have gone to bare pole
and have no sails at all or just a small headsail, but what I did worked.
(This is not pretty, storm front approaches)
(I think Nancy said "Ok Beam me up Scotty")
When you are
in these situations lots of things start going through your mind, the first
thing was how will Nancy come out of this, will she say right I’ve had enough I
want to go home? Then I thought of the sailor we spoke to in Vanuatu a few
years back when he had just come in his dinghy from his yacht when we
questioned him about yachting. He said that this sailing is not for everyone it
is a different way of life and it is not always fun it can be bloody hard work.
So we both knew after eight years of research that it was not going to always
be glamorous having cocktails in different ports. We have definitely seen both
sides on this trip so far.
a statement the night before we left Panama when we told him the costs
in clearing out of customs and the port authority after having to pay overtime
rates due to when they saw us was after normal working hours. He said the
problem is that these people think because we own a boat that we are
millionaires when the fact is that if we did not own a boat we probably would
be. Onya Leigh.
storm blew itself out and we started to get back to normal, I asked Nancy how she was she
said a little frightened but OK. I said you still OK with this sailing life,
she said yes we have to take the bad with the good. I said to her this is a
huge thing that we are doing and we are learning along the way. Being
frightened is healthy; we must
keep the respect for the sea and not get complaisant about it.
we have now is the wind has changed direction it is coming straight from where
we want to go, it’s right on our nose, we need the wind at least 45 – 50 degrees
off the bow to get some speed out of the sails, to do this we have to head
north or south, we chose south which meant that we would be heading in a south
easterly direction because of the wind and the added factor of the Peru Current
that is also going against us by about 2 knots. Well we have been slogging away
beating against wind and current ever since.
Nancy had been a little quiet since the
storm and I kept checking that she was OK. She said to me this afternoon, “What
we would be doing if we were not doing this, we would probably be wondering
around the house being bored and playing with the computer, so it is good that
we are doing this”.
about sailing the trip so far and what we have to do before we get back to Oz.
She said that the part she does not like is the night shift, she does the 0001
to 0400 hours shift, I do the other two night hour shifts, 2000 to 2359 hours
and 0400 to 0800 hours, so unfortunately she has to do one of them and she
accepts that, but does not like it, although she prefers the midnight watch
because she states that she would have trouble staying awake between 2200 hours
shifts have been worse lately because of the rough seas and the very dark
nights, cloudy all the time so no moonlight, this means you cannot see the sea,
you cannot judge when the next big wave is going to hit. You get several waves
around the 3 metre mark then you will get two or three that are 4 metre high.
You certainly hope that you do not get any other surprises. Night shifts and
rough weather days we wear our safety harness and inflatable lifejackets whilst
on shift or in the cockpit. This is the rules that we made ourselves. You are
in the cockpit on shift for four hours, if you slip and go overboard in the
first hour you would not know where to look for your mate when the other person
woke up. So safety is our high priority.
I have not
long come on shift 0400 to 0800 shifts. The last four hours off shift has been
the longest I have slept in my four hours off for the whole trip so far. I was
dog tired and I was pleased that Nancy
did not have any problems so she did not have to call me early. Nancy has done
well for someone who has not been out on the open oceans before this trip she
had only done coastal. We have had to chuckle because whilst sailing the
Caribbean and Nancy being on midnight watch something always happened during
her watch, such as bad storm or a strange action of another ship and it was
0230 hours when it happened. We always laughed about that.
still beating against the 3-4 metre waves on the fifth day/night. Most sailors
doing the Pacific crossing usually leave Panama Feb-April, they complain about
the Doldrums, no wind at all and flat seas they have to motor all the way. We
are now having to motor sail with the Peru Current and the wind we have both
sails and one motor and progressing at a rate of 2.5 to 4 knots. Now I understand
what Nisa was saying back at the Panama, Nisa is a German lady, solo sailor in
a monohull in her late 50’s I would say as a guess. She said she had left for
the Galapagos Islands two weeks prior and she said she gave up because all the
wind wanted to do was blow her back to the Panama so in the end she let it and
she will try again around December. Well we have to keep going.
We have a
bird that has been with us through the night hours, he/she has solved one
problem for us. We have had the depth gauge playing up during the night, we are
in excess of 2000 metre deep water, and the depth gauge starts reading anything
from to 34 metres
continuously in the dark hours. What it is, is a school of small squid about
100 mm long, they are attracted by the starboard (green) light; the squid
actually jump out of the water. The bird flies along near the green light and
when the squid jumps out of the water it pounces on it. I have to go around the
foredeck each morning collecting the squid that jump onto the boat. By that
time they are on the nose, talk about stink.
already changed course on the other tack heading 275 degrees magnetic, we were
starting to head too close to the Columbian Coast and starting to move further
away from Galapagos. If the wind does not change we will actually have to go
passed Galapagos and then tack back to them. We have contacted our dear friend
Rick Moore of Fraser Island Rent-A-Yacht for weather reports, advice and to
track down spare parts for the gearbox problem. As we cannot raise any of the other
boats on the HF radio, we are going to keep a sched going with Rick each day
via Sat/phone. This at least lets someone know that we are alright out here in
the blue yonder. Rick informed us that there is a cyclone to the north of us
and that is what is influencing the weather that we are experiencing.
radio has been next to useless at this stage, we set up a sched with Leigh but
have not been able to contact him since we left. The incredible part is that I
can listen to the Aussie weather from the two marine radio stations at WilunaWA
and Charliville QLD and the other night I listened to the Met in Adelaide.
appears that most yachts travel these waters between Feb and April so the
volunteer networks for weather reports such as Herb in Canada and Russell Radio
etc close down during this period of the year as there only a few idiots
sailing out here this time of year, Jenks has to be one of those idiots. The
only volunteer net I pick up is Chris in the Caribbean;
there are still a lot of people travelling around San Blass and Trinidad outside the hurricane belt. None of these
forecasts are any good to me in this location.
I had to
transfer fuel out of some jerry cans this morning I went and had my birdbath,
yes birdbath, we have to save water, full shower day is every three days. We
fill the hand basin with water and sponge down with soap and rinse off. This
uses a quarter of the water you would when we shower. When we shower you put
water in the hand basin, wet yourself down in the shower then soap up using
water in the hand basin, and then rinse off in the shower. One tank holds 380
litres and that lasted us 10 days. We have two tanks plus another 180 litres we
carry in containers. Our next leg can be up to 28 days. I also had a dad and Dave
(shave) this morning, 5 days of old grey beard gone and feeling better.
dawning of another day, you may have guessed I jot down these notes whilst on
watch under torch light, I use a small torch so it does not affect my night
vision, not that I have needed it we are in total open seas and have not seen
another ship for days now, but you never know. So I am typing this from those
notes exactly how I wrote them but trying to fix up any spelling mistakes or
bad language. We have had an intensive 24 hours with wind and seas but we are
making some headway. We are totally under sail, the only problem with that is
the engine noise used to drown out the noise of the waves hitting hard against
the hulls it can be quite loud at times.
We run the
engine to charge the batteries at night so that we can each get some sleep with
the droning of the engine that lessens the noise of the waves hitting the
getting closer to Galapagos but instead of the 900 Nms straight run we will be
in excess of 1,100 Nms.
Nancy and I
are well into the sea mode now, we are used to the routines of keep watch, it
takes a few days for the body to get used to sleep patterns which is whenever
you get a chance to get the head down you do. Unfortunately we do have other
duties besides being on watch that take up some of those sleeping hours. An
example of this is transferring fuel; it has been too rough to fuel at the fuel
points on the upper deck so I have transferred the fuel direct into the tank
through the fuel tank meter float switch which means removing the switch and siphoning
the fuel into the tank and then replacing the fuel sensor and make sure it is
One of the
benefits of this sailing you are on the move all the time and I am losing
rough day, this is our eighth day of battering rough seas, I don’t think we
expected this of the Pacific, I know we can always have a rough day period but
I don’t think I experienced eight days straight during my naval days, three to
four days perhaps. We did expect it in the Caribbean,
but I think this has been rougher than what we had there. Nancy does not like it one bit, but she says
we had to expect it when we made the decision to do this trip.
we have had rain squalls; this plays havoc with the wind directions. However,
we have made some ground cover. We have got 20 plus knot winds on the port bow,
we are sailing close to the wind as possible so not to steer too far away from
our target, this means we have to run the engine occasionally because with the
4 metre waves hitting us on the side it rocks the boat and knocks the wind out
of the sails so the engine keeps moving us forward through these times. We have
had a slight wind shift in our favour from the 240 to the 220 degrees; this
allows us to steer closer towards the Galapagos Islands.
We have had a rough ride all the way through, to give you an idea sitting at
the helm is like sitting on the back of a bucking bull at a rodeo.
I said to Nancy this morning I don’t know what would be
worse this or the doldrums, she answered very quickly I would prefer the
doldrums. (The doldrums is when the water is dead flat like glass, no wind
whatsoever and you have to motor to get anywhere). I think I would agree with
her. I think Nancy
will always remember the Peru Current.
vast open sea and great depths we only had a small scale chart that covers a
very large area from the Panama
to the Marquesas this was fine until you needed to plot your hourly readings,
on this chart it would show as two pencil dots side by side.
So what we
did to check our progress was use the larger scale chart using the PanamaGulf
chart that had now become redundant and remarked the lat/longs to suit the area
that we are sailing. This was an idea I got from Leigh who said that he sailed
the Great Australian Bite by a road map after viewing a chart that showed as
long as he kept away from the coast line there was only deep water. He said you
can use any chart to plot your progress. It works well, we plotted each hour
this way, and once or twice a day on the smaller scale chart. The chart that we
used had to be changed a few times as we kept running off the chart so it now
looks like ant tracks all over it. (See photos).
(Above the makeshift chart used a number of times by changing the Lat/Longs)
(Below is the Large area chart showing the track we took, not exactly a straight line)
full electronic charts but has an interesting collection of photo copied
charts, notes and mud maps, as he says when you get close land and shallower waters
the eyes and depth gauge are your best source of information. Quite a character
our friend Leigh.
transferred more fuel today we have used 10 of the 14 jerry cans, I still have
the starboard tank near full as we cannot use that engine so I can transfer out
of that if need be. This was followed by a beautiful shower and shave. But I
did have a moment, when I opened the cabinet to get the shaving cream out other
items fell out with it, some angry words I said, then when putting them back in
the boat jerked with a wave and a container of cotton buds fell out and out of
the container, some more angry words said and a voice comes from above (Nancy)
are you having fun yet. You got to love her.
actually wonderful; she cannot do a lot of the heavy work so she makes sure she
does all the light chores so that I do not have to do both. She has been
totally scared at times with the weather that has been thrown at us, (she has
not been by herself there I can tell you), but she hangs in there, gets over
the fright and bounces back and says we have to do this and we will do it.
Today we have
achieved some good sailing having traveled over 120 Nms in the day, we have
only been able to go 90 to 100 Nms most days which is not a good result, we
would like to be covering about 150 Nms per day. We clocked up 800 Nms since Panama at
sunrise this morning.
Orders for Alana Rose
Officer: Officer of the watch
the day: Track suit or similar (It’s bloody cold).
Forenoon 0800 – 1200 First Mate (Nancy)
Afternoon 1200 – 1600 Captain (John)
First Dog 1600 – 1800 Supply Officer (Nancy)
Last Dog 1800 – 2000 Galley Hand (Nancy)
Night 2000 – 2359 Engineer (John)
0001 – 0400 Deck
Morning 0400 – 0800 Electrician (John)
Duties: Captains Cook (Nancy)
Ships Maintenance (John)
naval tradition alive you may notice the shift times we do not use 2400 hours
we use 2359 and 0001. The navy reckons that the two minutes are your free time
to do with what you want, so I will keep to that standard.
under sail only and we are travelling between 5 and 7 knots, our average for
this leg has been 4.1 knots we need to raise that. Occasionally the bows dig in
to a large 4 m wave and it slows us down to 5 knots then we speed up to 7 knots
until we hit the next one.
As the bows
dig in the green water comes flying over the top and you have to duck for cover
behind the bimini screen. We have both been caught unawares at times and got
We are on
our 10th day, some optimistically minded mongrel reckoned we could do
this 900 Nm stretch in 7 – 8 days. Sorry I have always been an optimist.
hours this morning we clocked up 1,000 Nms since Panama and we still have a
long way to go the Peru Current is keeping us from getting there any faster
than what we are doing. If anyone is ever planning to do this leg of the trip
do it between February and April during the doldrums, pack plenty of fuel, and
go for it.
We are now
set up with the wind and the current to on a port tack close reach to get to
the area north of Galapagos if the wind stays the same we will pass the Isle De
Pelo one of the most northern isles, change to a starboard tack and that should
take us straight to San Cristobal.. (WRONG!!!!!). The wind changed from the 220
– 240 to 190 – 195 degrees magnetic we changed the direction to try and favour
where we wanted to go not knowing what the force of the current would have.
Once near and within the Galapagos Islands
there are currents going different ways.
cooked breakfast and on completion we did a tack change, we are now heading for
the Galapagos Islands but not the one we wanted to go to, so once we get closer
we will have to change tack once twice who knows to get to San Cristobal. This
is making the 120 Nms we thought we had left to go into a 200 Nms trip. That’s
sailing. We are doing well speed wise we are around the 7.9 knots. We have the
main at second reef and the Genoa
at first reef; the winds are in excess of 25 knots with 2-3 metre waves hitting
us on the port bow at 45 degrees angle. The wind is howling through the
rigging, it would border on being a little dangerous to have any more rags up
the mast with short handed sailing. Safety comes first and we are still
learning about how this boat handles and how well we can perform.
I had to
sneak below whilst Nancy
was having a sleep to type and print up a crossing the line certificate for
crosses over the equator for the first time by sea. I think the dry ship rule
will be put aside for the crossing. This will be my sixth or seventh crossing,
I can’t remember.
It is 1400
hours and I am wearing a track suit, it is bloody cold, the Peru Current comes
all the way from the Antarctica and I think it
has brought some ice with it. Nancy
is wearing her Musto outfit that I bought for her 50th at the Sydney
Boat Show before we flew to Vanuatu.
She says it is comfortable; it should be for the price I paid. I just wear my
daggy trackies. Actually I do have a Musto jacket that Nancy found in a second hand shop in Dubbo,
cost $20, obviously they did not know what they were selling it retails around
the $500 for jacket alone.
hopefully tomorrow night we will be at anchor at San Cristobal. I might get to sleep with one
of the crew, (Captains privileges). May be the First Mate she’s a bit of alright.
spotted land it is the Isle De Pelo, we are directly north of it, and heading
towards it, it is 1530 hours. We now have another problem. There are strict
Ecuadorian rules about sailing in the Galapagos Islands;
you have to have a cruising permit which costs more than an arm and a leg. If
you enter the islands and pass through them before clearing in it is considered
as cruising without a permit which can result in fines that I could not afford
and impounding our boat. So we decide to change tack and sail along the north
coast line of the islands heading east, new problem wind shift, so to now go on
a starboard tack will take us north-east which will take us in the direction
that we have just come from. To drop the sails and motor against the current we
would be steaming between 1 to 1.5 knots due to only having the one engine. I
said to Nancy this area is controlled by the navy, they should realise if I go
through those islands which we can under sail, that we are only doing it
because of basic seamanship and not because we are cruising without a permit,
it will also be dark so we are not sight seeing. So I made the decision to go
ahead, which is also going to be a challenge, we are going to have to regularly
plot our course through, it will be dark there are no lights on these two
islands that we will be passing between and it is a dark night, no moon, we are
not sure what wind or current affects will have on us. (No I did not tell Nancy this in full
detail, do you think I am silly? She was going to be passing the second island
on her shift, and I just gave her the info to do the job). We calculated that
we had to stay between 35 and 40 degrees latitude, if we steered between there
we would get through to the other side without any bumps in the night. On my
shift we passed the first island, the wind and current was pushing me towards
the island and I had to keep correcting through steer. Nancy came on shift at
midnight, we were slightly north of the second island, Nancy started having
problems late in her shift, the wind had changed and so had the current and it
was pushing her closer to the island, the other factor was the wind had dropped
and she was not making enough headway to counteract the affects of the current.
Then George (auto pilot) started to play up, he went on strike because we were not
making enough headway to steer. Nancy was trying to hang in there without
calling me but by 0330 hours half hour prior to my shift she got frightened
because she could not control the situation also in the running between
plotting and steering she had jammed her thumb in the door. She came and got me
which is the very first time this leg of the trip, so she has done bloody well
on her shifts.
(Chart showing the track we had to take around the Galapagos Islands)
I got up
there and took over and got us back on track we had a cuppa together before she
went off to bed. I thought to myself after that I could have handled the
situation a lot better. I should have not just taken over, I should have just
explained to Nancy
what to do and let her do it. I did apologise to her the next day, she said she
was pleased I just took over she was at her end she was tired and had a sore
thumb. After passing the islands there was no wind but plenty of current,
motoring was down to 1.5 knots, we motor sailed not making much progress. It
does not look like I will be sleeping with the first mate tonight; I think we
will be doing another shift. After a few hours the wind picked up and we had to
carry out a series of tacks to get towards our final destination, we now
figured it would be mid afternoon tomorrow before we drop anchor.
going to have a high today with crossing the line, the equator, where the water
going down the sink changes direction from anti-clockwise to clockwise, and
that is a fact.
the line 1319 hours, we did not go through the full ceremony because we were
both stuffed, we did it quietly, we had just finished lunch and Nancy took the
helm to steer across the line, once across she took five Aussie dollar coins to
pay her way across the line and pay respect to King Neptune, she was no longer
a Pollywog. We poured a healthy glass of Pina Colada each and drank to the
health of us and King Neptune and I awarded Nancy her certificate of crossing the line.
That Pina Colada has some hit in it, Nancy
said she was glad that she was off shift and slept very well. It is 14.5% alcohol
and we had not had any other drink in ten days so it went straight to the head.
We’ll finish the bottle off when we anchor if we ever get there. I said to Rick
on one of our scheds I don’t think the Galapagos Islands
want us to visit them.
(Nancy steering across the line)
( All the zeros as we cross the Equator)
(Nancy pays King Neptune)
(Nancy with the crossing the line certificate)
the crossing was over we got into the sailing mode and we tacked east as the
wind picked up we were making about 4.5 knots, not great but better than what
we have done earlier. The wind started to change direction so I elected to take
a port tack which would send us south-west towards the channel near Santa Cruz,
we picked up speed we reached the mouth of the channel within less than three
hours and I was able to change tack again before the end of my shift and set it
up for Nancy to head towards San Cristobal. I woke Nancy early for her shift, I had earlier
passed a cruise boat or ferry and they report any new boats in the area to
authorities, I saw a boat shortly after come from the direction of the channel
and heading straight for us. We were aware that the naval coast guard patrols
and will board your boat to see what we were up to. It was 25 minutes early for
Nancy, but I
thought we should have our whits about us if we are going to be boarded at . As the boat got closer I
shone the torch in the sails as though I was inspecting something, I just
wanted to make sure he knew we were a sailing vessel. It appeared to work as he
pulled up and just kept station on us, I maintained course in an attempt to
show I was unconcerned about him being there, they stood on station until we were
a light in the distance. Nancy and I had a cup of Milo
before I turned in for a sleep.
(The end of another day)
When I came
back on shift at 0400 hours we were doing well, the current was turning us
slightly to starboard which was creating a curve in our course to the exact
location we wanted to go. Through the morning and until we arrived at Wreck
Bay, San Cristobal we had the calmest seas we had experienced the entire trip,
to the point of it being like the doldrums, we downed sails and motored. It was
a pleasant way to end the leg of this trip. Not sure whether Nancy’s wishes to King Neptune was
responsible for this but if it was, thank you Nancy and King Neptune.
(Five Finger Rock)
(Wreck Bay, San Cristabol ahead)
As we got
close to the port Nancy
called the Port Captain and requested permission to enter his port in which he gave,
Creighton’s the Pomie boat was anchored in the port. The guide book states that
before your anchor gets wet the authorities will be alongside to board and inspect
your boat. We anchored and waited and no one came so we radioed and asked the Port Captain about clearing in he
said to do it in the morning at 1000 hours at his office and we could go ashore
if we wanted to. I went over to Creighton’s to say g’day and find out what they
had been up to and what the local routine was with officials etc. Nick, the
skipper, said that the authorities had gone right through their boat taken some
food items and spices, he said they tried to charge them double the amount in
clearing in and they want him to fumigate his boat at his own expense. I
thought of what he said and worried what tomorrow would bring.
(Creightons, 60 foot racing yacht)
(Our first visitor)
got in three days ago, where we had made the decision to go south not north
they had done the reverse. I don’t think it made that much difference, if we
had gone the same way they would have still been here three days before us.
They have seven crew aboard some experienced some not and it is a Maxi racing
yacht, it has a 4 metre keel on it. Armed with all the info I went back to our
boat and passed all the info onto Nancy, we had a very nice dinner, finished
off the Pina Colada after a couple of beers and had to get up and take some
panadol early hours of the morning.
We had actually
sailed 1,237 Nms between here and the Panama. We have now sailed over
2.600 Nms since we picked up this boat.
spend the next 7 to 10 days here before the next big leg of 3,000 Nms.
Fernando last night on Creighton’s, he is the fix it get it man. He will
deliver food, fuel, water, organise tours, you name it he will fix at a
reasonable price. His family has been doing this since 1987. He has numerous
books with photos of yachts they have served. He is quite the character,
but you still have to have your whits about you to make sure he is not taking
too much advantage of you.
(Good man Fernando)
His mother used to run a top restaurant until the rent got
too expensive, she still cooks for the people that go on tours that Fernando
organises. They have land which is about the standard urban house block. The
difference is they have two buildings one divided in three, two downstairs
apartments and one upstairs, the second building is divided into two apartments
and that are where the families live, mother, sisters and brothers families. It
is the way they survive and appear to be very happy. Their homes are very
modest with simple furniture. They are working towards building their own
restaurant basically in the driveway of their house, they own the land and they
are allowed to do that. Anyway we have contracted him to get all our provisions
and he is organising a tour for us.
This morning we went to the Port Captain to clear in, when
we arrived at the office the Port Captain asked if he could help us, I told him
we were here to clear in that we are from the catamaran that came in yesterday
and I apologised as I could not speak Spanish only English he was rather
pleasant, he called a young naval person Quinton spoke English which made life
very easy he allowed us 10 day stay after a little persuading from Nancy, it was only going
to be 7 days so we got the extra days if we need them. The Port Captain himself
came in the office whilst we were there and listened to what was being said, he
then bent down opened a draw in his desk pulled out a cap and put it on my head
and saluted, I saluted him back which I think surprised him, I said I was Navy
to he smiled and left, Quinton then told me the cap would cost $20 it was one
of his official caps gold braid the works, but he wanted me to have it. I
thought at first this is how he may make a little on the side but the other
Captains of the other yachts did not get offered the same. So now I am trying
to figure out if he thought I was special or I was the only one that looked a
sucker to buy the cap. I prefer not to think the latter one is correct. It is a
very nice cap; the real thing not an imitation has the real gold braid.
It was a little expensive clearing in as they have two
charges, one for you and the boat size and another for the weight of the boat.
A total cost $185.00 US. Quinton also told us because we had not pre organised
a visa, (which takes months) prior to arriving we cannot sail to other islands,
if we wish to visit we have to use the water taxi. If you do organise a visa
prior to arrival, which took friends of ours three months to finalise, to
travel the islands you have to pay for a guide the whole time.
I am starting to believe though it is your attitude when
dealing with these officials, we have had a run around at times but when we
have actually dealt face to face with the officials we really have not had
anything to complain about.
Creighton’s skipper had arguments with them about the charges,
he said to me watch them they will try and over charge you. This has not
happened to us. Nick is a little arrogant and he comes across that way, in this
port they have water taxis that cost $1 US one way per boat, the authorities
wish for us to use that service for two reasons, one it creates some wealth to
locals and two they only have a small dock that is busy with boats coming to
and from the other islands. You give a call on Ch 16 VHF radio and the taxi
comes straight away.
After the Port Captain went to the Policia for immigration,
that was also painless, by the time we did this and had a walk around the town
it was time for lunch so we went to a café and through the language barrier and
the help of a young girl that assisted in translation we ordered two health
orange juices and a burger, which I might say was rather nice good solid meat
and a hunk of cheese that was as thick as the meat.
We then came back on board, we were pretty tired, Nancy went for a sunbathe
and I started to type up my notes from the bits of paper.
The town here is unique, there are buildings that are
partially finished but are lived in. It appears to me that they build as they
get the money to do it. They may start with a modest two or three room ground
floor, paint it inside and out then later they start building the second floor.
There are quite a number in this condition.
(This building people are living in the lower floor)
(Streets of Wreck Bay)
(It seems the norm for three floors)
Wreck Bay or San Cristobal has a population of 5,000, there
does not appear to be much traffic but there are two sets of traffic lights, A
lot of the locals use motor scooters or motor bikes as transport, that is not
seen as a problem with a family of four, one child in front Dad or Mum next
driving, another child behind then the Mum or Dad behind at the back.
Occupation Health and Safety has not hit here as one can see with the way
buildings are constructed.
(Four on each, can you imagine doing this in Sydney)
The people here appear to have an uncomplicated life, they
are quite friendly, although one does get the impression that some officials
prefer we were not here and that is some of the naval personnel that patrol the
We had dinner on board, had a couple of Pina calada’s, I
quite like that stuff and we were off to bed TOGETHER, I woke up at 0200 hours
we were rocking a bit I thought I might just put a little more cable down just
in case. I did have the alarm on the GPS set for anchor drag.
We went on a tour around the island that we organised
through Fernando, our guide for the day was Carlos, spoke very little English
but got his message through as we travelled the country side. We went to the
national park where the large tortoises were. The Galapagos
Islands have different breeds of the tortoise in different islands
they are not the same in any one place. This island does not have the giants;
we have bigger at the Dubbo Zoo. However it is a great place to visit and see,
we went to the communities that farm, they grow anything from tomatoes to
oranges; oranges and mandarins just about grow wild alongside the roads. Our
guide stopped and picked mandarins, oranges and avocados for us to take back on
(Small farming village)
He told us that he had been in the navy, Ecuador Navy,
he spent six years on the Bolero, and this is the Ecuadorian Tall Ship. This
ship was one of the tall ships that visited Sydney in 1970 for the re-enactment of Cook’s
We also went and saw some iguanas near the waterfront and
rock beach. This was followed by Fernando’s mother cooking us a very nice lunch
at their home. The best part of these tours is the meeting of the local people
and seeing the way they live and survive. It is nice to see the tortoises and
iguanas, but I find the people more interesting, probably because we have
visited many zoos in our time have seen most types of animals and mammals. The
day was a good one the weather could have been a little better but that’s life.
(San Christabol Tortoise)
(We visited a teenage boys tree house, he charges 50 cents a visit it has a swing bridge up to it or a staircase)
(The fenders stopped them getting on board for a while but they worked it out)
Leigh invited us over to Mi Querida for sundowners and
dinner if the chook thawed out in time, we grabbed a few tinnies and went over,
and he said the chook has not thawed so we are making a pasta dish. Leigh had
his newest crew member aboard, Joe he is Irish, a retired doctor and a
character. Leigh had met him in England
when he was sailing there and they struck up a friendship. Joe wanted to come
to Galapagos so he flew into Panama
and sailed with Leigh and Jenny, first night out he had a small fall and
cracked a rib. He is only doing this leg and flies back to Ireland on
Monday. Joe reckons that if you want to get on with Australians you have to be
able to insult them as well as they can you. We had a very nice night and quite
a few laughs. He has quite a crew, Jenny from South Africa, Joe from Ireland and
Leigh the Aussie. We left about 2100 hours everyone was getting a little tired.
(Leigh at the BBQ on Mi Querida)
(Nancy, Joe and Leigh aboard Mi Querida)
(Jenny being the galley slave)
Tuesday we worked on the boat cleaning, bringing on fuel and
drinking water, so it was all work and no play, our friendly sea lions that
keep jumping aboard to lie in the sun make a lot of mess to clean. I have tried
putting fenders up as barricades but they seem to get around that.
(Alana Rose at anchor in Wreck Bay)
(One of the small island ferries)
(Fisherman with lots of friends)
(Gannets in flight)
We had a quiet dinner and early to bed for a good sleep. We
have to get up early in the morning to catch a boat to Santa Cruz; we are going to visit the Darwin
We got a water taxi into the jetty to catch the boat across
to Santa Cruz 0630 hours, the boat had about 15 people and 3 crew and that was
all the boat could seat, so its not very big, it is powered by three 100 hp
Yamaha Outboards, the swell out there was between 2 and 3 metres, talk about a
rough wet ride, the trip takes just over 2 hours. There were locals aboard next
to me was a lady with three children, one in her arms and two trying to hang on
so they did not go over the side, I indicated to the mother that I could steady
the two children she nodded ok, so I put my arm behind them so they were
secure, Nancy was doing the same to a very old lady. We were sitting right at
the back of the boat as it is more comfortable, Joe with his cracked rib was
further in so I indicated to him to get down the back, after a while he said
this is why you picked this seat, it is more comfortable.
We arrive and soon find out where the Darwin Centre is, a
short taxi ride and we are all there. There was the five of us, Leigh, Jenny,
Joe, Nancy and myself. We get to the Darwin Centre gate and the guard asks
where our guide is, that’s what we worked out he was asking, after a few shrugs
of the shoulders and dumb looks say no understand Spanish he let us in without
We headed for the visitors centre that had a display of all
the Galapagos Islands and the information all
about them. A young man introduced himself as one of the volunteer staff and
then showed us a video. He spoke very good English and was helpful in directing
us to the different areas to see.
(The Darwin Centre)
(Jenny among the tortoise)
( Me by Lonesome George, he got his name because the officials thought that a female that had been killed on a north western island was the last tortoise on the island, three years later they found Lonesome George and bought him here and put him with two females hoping he will breed with them. I can now say two years after this photo George fathered some offspring's, some years later George died)
(Plaque outside the Darwin Centre)
It was very interesting what they are doing there by
breeding the tortoises and letting them grow to a good size before releasing
them in their natural habitat. We walked around for about two hours looking at
the different types of tortoise and iguanas. There are different breeds of
tortoise from the different islands in the Galapagos.
(The different breeds of tortoise)
(Joe next to a giant cactus)
(Sea Iguanas having siesta time)
Once we were done there we started to walk back to Santa CruzTownship about a 25 minute walk, it was
taking its toll on poor Joe, he is not a young man, and he has been retired for
16 years so he would have to be in his 70’s. We found a café and stopped for
lunch had a good lunch with quite a few stories and lots of laughs. Then off we
went again to get the boat back to San
Cristobal. This was a different boat, smaller, powered
by two 200 HP outboards, it did not make for a comfortable ride, we were
slamming into the swell at 27 knots. As soon as we got back on board our boat
we had to get ready for the Mi Querida crew to come over for dinner.
(The streets of Santa Cruz)
(Unique shop front)
(Santa Cruz harbour is shallow and not well protected regard weather)
(Large ships have to stay out and small boats and barges unload the goods)
We had a nice dinner a few laughs we were all bushed from
the day and turned in at 2130 hours. All in all it was a good day, but none of
us would do that boat ride again.
morning was spent checking the HF Radio, it appears that I am receiving but not
transmitting to well. I started by checking all the connections between the
tuner and the radio with the multi-meter, they were good. Then I checked the
antenna cable between the radio and tuner and found it not to be that crash
hot. I re-soldered the joints and tested the radio and it still did not give
any indication of transmitting. I then pulled out all the 15 metres of 75mm
copper strip that I had installed for the ground plain and relocated it across
the back inside the transom, two layers side by side. It still did not give me
the results people were telling me I should on the transmitting indicator.
Leigh looked at it last night when he was over and said that I should get four
bars or better.
(This became our watering hole and a place where you get good meals)
(This fellow was showing us how to drink the bottles of beer, I think he was showing off in front of the young ladies below that were chatting to us)
(These young ladies were interested in our travels, everybody knows who we are with only three yachts in the harbour)
So I gave
up for a while, went ashore had some lunch, updated the blog on the net, did a
little shopping and came back on board to check the manual out and see if I had
missed anything. It did not appear that I had. I turned the radio on and I
appeared to be getting better reception from the weather reports, (not for this
area, north in the hurricane belt), so I changed to frequency 8107, known as
the Panama to Galapagos Net, in the February to April season I think it has
been dead quiet because not many sailing. I did a test transmission and the
signal strength out was showing very strong. Leigh was just going on board his
boat so I yelled out for him to call me on VHF71 a frequency we call each other
on if one of us has any info or require assistance. When he called I got him to
give me a call on 8107 HF and it came out clear I transmitted back and he got
the same result. After testing a few more frequencies in the higher and lower
ranges we were both quite readable although we both only had one bar flickering
when transmitting. So hopefully we will be able to keep in touch when we head
off on Monday. So it is possible that I had been transmitting alright all the
time, but I think I did improve it by fixing the solder joint.
ashore we saw the young couple that went with Creighton’s back at Panama they asked
us if our offer to have them still stands as it is costing $500 a month to be
on board Creighton’s, we were offering free passage for work. They still have
to think about it because of the fact that they have signed up in good faith
with the other boat and they feel a certain responsibility. I think the main
problem is the crew is not getting along to well on that boat.
We are not
too concerned although it would be nice to have more sleep at night. We will
leave on Monday whichever the outcome.
has a big celebration today with the 75 anniversary of the Armada here in San Cristobal. They will
be having a large function at the Naval Base so we hear. We are supposed to be
going to Fernando’s tonight for his mother to cook us a lobster dinner. He was
going to confirm it was on today but we may have missed him when we went
ashore. We will go into the jetty if he is not there we will go elsewhere and
have a bite. It is cheap to eat here, we had a meal of chicken, chips etc and
for that, and drinks came to $9 for the both of us.
shopping today I bought three Stanley
sockets, 24, 15, 13 mm, 24mm open end/ring spanner, 3 metres of 8mm chain and a
few fittings and plumbers tape. Total cost $29. A bottle of beer at the bar
cost $2; the size of it is in between a stubby and a long neck. There are two
brands here Brahma and Pilsener, both are a good drop. In fact the different
brands that we have tried in the entire trip I have not found a bad one. We
have had Piton, Heineken, Polar,
plus the two I just mentioned.
here typing this on board in a word document to take into the internet shop
tomorrow, I looked up just as two sets of big brown eyes were just coming over
into the cockpit. Two young sea lions looking for a place to sleep. When we got
back from Santa Cruz yesterday we had four on board, did they make a mess,
there was s—t all over the transom. They work their way around the barriers I
put to stop them coming on board. Anyway I chased these youngsters off quickly.
Local boat have barbed wire or planks of wood with nails sticking up to stop
them going on their boats that are moored.
amazing the amount of smaller type tourist passenger ships visit these islands,
each day there appears to be at least two new ones coming and going, they stay
for a day or two and move on to the next island. There is no jetty for boats
our size or larger to go alongside, all boats have to anchor, and everything
has to be taken in and out by dinghy or taxi. Some of the larger boats will
have 20 man rubber dinghies (2-6) and they ferry the passengers in and out. The
small dock is very busy most of the time. They usually leave and sometimes
arrive at night; they sail between the islands during sleep hours arriving
ready for the tours each day.
the types of tourists the authorities prefer, they come in large numbers they
are only here a very short time but the do spend money; they have tours organised
with guides looking and watching over them. Where us grotty yachties spend
money on necessities and stay for longer times and do not use guides the whole
time we are here and we take up space at the jetty when using the dinghy.
about it for another day, see what tomorrow brings.
today, Fernando is bringing me 180 gallons (681 litres) of water for the main tanks;
unfortunately this is not good quality water and will only be used to wash in.
We have 50 gallons (189 litres) of drinking bottled water on board. I have added
a couple of cups of bleach to the tanks washing water to kill any bugs that may
be in it. This water has come from the lake in the dormant volcano. This water
is piped to the town for use of washing but is not treated.
We have not
trusted any of the water that we have brought on board for drinking, with the
only exception being Bonaire. Bonaire has the purest water because it is processed
through the salt industry. They desalinise the sea water to make the salt and because it
is such a large industry supplying the world with salt they have plenty of good
We are now
on water rations until we get to Marquesas, more bird baths less showers and
use sea water where we can, there is plenty of that between here and Marquesas.
that we had a lazy day, had a look around town, updated the blog, and pulled
the Genoa sail
down when it was calm last night to check out some threads that looked as
though they were coming adrift. It was the edge of the sail material itself
that was frayed but not the stitching itself. We cleaned the edges up and
hoisted the sail and furled it back up.
the internet shop I checked the weather patterns, seas are a little rough below
10 degrees south so we will stay north of that to go to Marquesas. I have
plotted the course today and naturally this is a guide only it will depend on
wind and weather allowing us to follow it as plotted. I used the weather
information plus a computer program I have titled Visual Passage. This program
identifies the percentages of wind and current direction per each month. Once
we are at Marquesas we will have to study the weather patterns a little more
and decide where we go from there. If the harsh weather continues we may have
to stay on a northerly route which means we will not get to Tahiti
or the Cook Islands.
The above shows the wave height
and wave direction the green yellow is 6-7 metres the dark blue is around one metre,
naturally we would like to stay in the dark to light blue range giving a height
of 1 – 4 metres and to keep the waves flowing from behind helping push us
Nancy and I were both saying today
that we will be pleased to get underway again even though we are both feeling a
little nervous of the distance and what Mother Nature is going to throw at us
whilst we are out there. The ideal is SE winds around 15 knots abaft the port
beam with the current from behind. Of course that’s in the perfect world, if we
had this we would be in Marquesas within 22 days, if we get what we have had so
far it may be 30 days. With a span of days like this we are bound to get some
nasty weather along the way and it is that thought that makes us a little
nervous. As you can see by the chart photo attached, the distance from here to
Marquesas compared to the distance that we did between Panama and
here. This next leg is the longest for the whole journey. We still only have
one engine to use, one engine flat out in good conditions we get 5 to 5.5
knots, if we had both engines we would be able to go 7.5 to 8.1 knots, it makes
a big difference when you have a head wind or current.
We would also like to get some
better weather, most the time we have been here it has been grey skies, drizzle
rain now and again and it is cool. I have to wear long pants if we venture out
in the evening. I know some of you are saying poor bugger you, when it is
freezing back at Dubbo. But we are near the equator and you expect better
weather. But this is what makes the Galapagos Islands
unique, they have areas of cold waters and tropical waters and that is why they
have the variety of animals.
Well that’s it for another day.
morning we went in to clear out, we had to do this 24 hours before leaving. It
was quite painless, went to the Port Captains Office he signed and stamped our
papers and wished us well. Then to immigration at the Police Station (Policia),
it was the same person we cleared in with, he was good no problems. So we are
right to leave tomorrow morning.
leaving we shall pop ashore and place this blog, then back on board weigh
anchor and off. Leigh will be following but he wants to go and swim with the
hammer head sharks first. We declined the offer.
early hours of the morning on one of those fast boats like we took to Santa Cruz; he is not
looking forward to it. Who could blame him? It is a shame to see the trio break
up on Leigh’s boat. Joe is such a nice fellow, he is 76 years young.
We did a
little more shopping today and then we had lunch on Leigh’s yacht, we both
supplied a chook each which Leigh cooked on his BBQ with his self built
made the potato salad
and grabbed a bottle of wine and away we went. Spent the whole afternoon with
them and came back on board about 1630 hours.
We will be
away from civilization for at least three weeks and could stretch to more than
four depending on what mother nature throws at us. We will keep a sched with
Rick as he is a great help to us and I am sure he will keep you all informed of
our progress. Thanks Rick and Lu.
We have set
up a radio sched with Leigh for twice a day 0800 and 2000 hours on HF 8107,
6243 or 12353.
is also leaving tomorrow but we do not get much communication with them and
when we do they usually change their minds and it does not eventuate. Leigh was
supposed to go diving with them this morning, he waited and waited and they did
not show, it was the same for going out for dinner last night, they appear to
change their mind at the last minute.
We will be
sailing by ourselves still no crew, the young couple had a talk with us, we
told them that the boat will not be in Oz this year due to the duty that has to
be paid, we will have to wait until January when I will have the money.
Creighton will be going through to Oz and holding up there for the cyclone
season and that is where Daniel and Veronique want to be.
We are fine
with that and we quite expected to be going it alone. We can keep our dress
standards if the weather gets warmer.
So tomorrow is it. Thanks to those that have
emailed or made comments on this blog we really appreciate it, also thanks for
your good wishes on our next leg. We think once we get
south of these islands we will have seas and wind on our port abaft the beam
which should push us along nicely. Let us hope that this is the case.
all the best, will be back on the key board in a few weeks, will probably do
more skippers ramblings along the way.