Friday, February 24, 2017

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 midnight.
(Chart showing the planned course)

The seas 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.

Thursday 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.

Leigh made 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.

Anyway the 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.

The problem 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”.

We talked 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 and midnight..

The night 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.

Sunday morning.
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.

We are 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 00:00 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.

We have 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.

The HF 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 Wiluna WA and Charliville QLD and the other night I listened to the Met in Adelaide.

It also 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.


Another 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 hulls.

We are 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 sealed.

One of the benefits of this sailing you are on the move all the time and I am losing weight


Another 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.

All morning 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.

Plotting the course:
With the 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 Panama Gulf 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)

Leigh has 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.

I 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.

She is 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.


Daily Orders for Alana Rose
Duty Officer:              Officer of the watch
Dress of the day: Track suit or similar (It’s bloody cold).

Watch keepers:
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)
Midnight         0001 – 0400                Deck Hand                  (Nancy)
Morning          0400 – 0800                Electrician                   (John)

Duties:             Captains Cook            (Nancy)
                        Ships Maintenance      (John)
Keeping the 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.

We are 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 wet.


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.

At 0655 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.

Nancy 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 when Nancy 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.  

Well 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.

We have 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.

We were 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.

We crossed 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)

Anyway once 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 midnight. 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)
 (Land ahead)
(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)

They had 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.

We will spend the next 7 to 10 days here before the next big leg of 3,000 Nms.


We met 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 waterfront.

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.

Monday 23/07/07

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 board.
(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 landing.

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.

 (Mocking birds)

 (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 Centre.


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 a guide.

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)
 (Land Iguana)
(Sea Iguanas having siesta time)

Once we were done there we started to walk back to Santa Cruz Township 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)
 (Stores arrive)

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.


This 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.

Whilst 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.

The Navy 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.

The 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, Panama, Balboa, plus the two I just mentioned.

Sitting 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.

It is 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.

These are 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.

Well that’s about it for another day, see what tomorrow brings.


Friday 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 quality water.

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.

Other than 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.

Whilst in 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 along.

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.

29/07/07 Sunday

This 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.

Before 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.

Joe leaves 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 rotisserie. Nancy 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.

Creighton’s 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.

Well people all the best, will be back on the key board in a few weeks, will probably do more skippers ramblings along the way.


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