Tag Archives: 5. Panama to Tahiti

Arrived in Galapagos

We made it — just before dark. Anchored in Baquerizo Moreno and made a grand dinner. We deal with the customs/immigrations authorities in the morning.

Five and a half days is excellent time; we were lucky with the wind — we motored just one night, and we had no squalls. Relative to other boats we made better time than the boats that left Panama before us. But two boats that left the same day we did arrived about six hours before us. We think they motored a lot, but we don’t really know… I like that they, more than we, are looked at as the fast boats, setting an expectation that they will arrive first on future legs.

We had our first Galapagos wildlife(?) experience already, as we were relaxing in the cockpit waiting for dinner to cook. Tim heard a sound behind him, and turned around to find himself face to face with a sea lion! Apparently the sea lion had climbed up our transom steps and boarded without asking permission.

It’s hard to believe we are in the Galapagos. The actual experience so far does not match the romantic notions. We’re in a relatively busy harbor with too many lights and too much noisy nighttime activity. But to think we are in the Pacific Ocean, that we have crossed the equator, and we are now in the fabled islands of incredible animals and Darwin’s inspiration — wow!

Sailing Southwest

Light winds, no clouds, intense sun. We are at 3 degrees north latitude, so less than 200 miles from the equator. A major daytime activity aboard is finding comfortable places to sit in the shade. The sun is wicked hot by 8am. It is a welcome relief when it sets, and I can enjoy the sliver of setting moon, brilliant Jupiter, uncountable stars, and the occasional satellite or shooting star.

Last night we sailed very close to the Columbian island of Malpelo — a huge steep rock in the middle of nowhere. Some authority hailed us on the radio, asking who we were and where we are headed; I’m sure we violated Columbian territorial waters. “Mal pelo” translates to “bad hair.” I wondered about the name. But during the day we saw many sea birds that must nest on the island (there being no other place for many, many miles). I imagine that the island is covered with birds/nests, and that gets me wondering if the name comes from someone having a bad experience with birds flying overhead…

In the afternoon we saw several bits of trash in the water, all within 20 minutes or so. Not sure why we saw this concentration. My hope (I guess) is that someone dumped a pile of trash in one spot, rather than this being representative of the state of the whole ocean!

And then we saw a pod of whales. They were small (pilot whales?), but one put on quite a show by repeatedly jumping nearly clear of the water! There were maybe five in the pod. Naturally by the time I got my camera the jumper had ended his show, but still I got some pictures of them surfacing and blowing.

Here’s a reminder that you can see where we are in almost real time, and see the track we are following, on the Blue Planet Odyssey web site. (Look for “track the boats” or something akin to that.) Also, if you are interested in the winds and currents that we are experiencing, check out http://www.earth.nullschool.net. This site provides a wonderful visual representation of both wind and current anywhere on the planet. I wish we could access it when we’re at sea! For the past 2+ days we have had a 1 knot current in our favor, which is a treat, and which stems in part from us looking at the web site and planning our course accordingly.

Cruising in San Blas

Thursday: We headed east to the more classic sandy cay anchorages behind the reefs. But first came engine issues. The starboard alternator is putting out low amps, like 10 instead of 80. We spent some time investigating this, but to no avail. Then the starboard engine failed to generate much thrust, when we needed it to clear another boat, in the process of raising the anchor. For some long seconds we were seriously thinking we might have another collision, or end up on the reef to leeward. (We’ve seen four boats on reefs since we arrived, and we’re told they are all recent…) And then the engine started running okay. Bad injector…? It remains a mystery, as does the alternator output.

These travails are nearly forgotten, as we are now anchored in a fabulously beautiful spot, the sound of distant surf on the reefs as a backdrop. A sandy palm-covered cay a short distance away; an unimpeded wind keeping things cool. We all had the feeling today that we have finally ‘arrived.’ Bread is baking; chicken is thawing; sprouts are ready to eat. As we have traditionally said on my boats, “This hardly sucks at all!”

Friday: Some work on the wind generator (successful), some snorkeling, some troubleshooting of the alternator (unsuccessful), and a lively social gathering aboard Chapter Two (big catamaran; easily accommodated all of us) of the four crews that left from Key West.

Saturday: A lively social gathering on BBQ Cay of (almost) all the BPO and Pacific Odyssey crews. So many names to learn, and who is on which boat!

As a small flotilla of dinghies pulled up on the beach of the tiny island we were greeted by a welcoming committee of two locals who demanded $3 per person to visit the island. This was unexpected; no one had money with them. Some thought it was fair, like a park fee (the island was nicely groomed). Others thought it was crazy and we should go elsewhere. Others thought it was reasonable, but questioned who the two were, and what right they had to ask for money. I went back to the boat (ours was one of the closest), and got money to pay for everyone, and suddenly everyone was “amigos” and we had a good time.

Sunday: We had plans to move on to cays to the east, but instead the entire day was spent learning about alternators and voltage regulators. Not an unpleasant day though. Wondering how the Patriots did in the Superbowl…

Monday: Sailed 10 miles southeast to another section of the San Blas islands. Took the dinghy up the Rio Diablo, which provided jungle-like scenery. Several dugout canoes on the river, paddling upstream to get water to bring back to the Guna island just offshore. We towed a very friendly young guy a mile or so up the river, and on our way back we towed two canoes a mile or so downstream. Another paddler laughed about how the others must be too tired to paddle. Everyone seemed to be very friendly. There were lots of birds, and it was nice to hear their calls in the tall trees. The island here is much more developed than the others we’ve been to. We bought some provisions at a store and we went to dinner at a ‘restaurant’ (where we were the only customers).

I know y’all want photos. We expect to be in Colon within a week, and hopefully a good wifi connection there will bring photos shortly thereafter.