Sunday, April 15, 2012

On our way to Galápagos

We finally got underway from Isla Robinson Crusoe once the strong blow settled down to a comfortable south wind that then pushed us northward on our passage to Galápagos. We quickly settled into the passage routine that we have become familiar with, and for the first week, it was pretty much uneventful.

About 600 nautical miles off the coast of southern Peru, and about 12,000 feet off the sea bed, on Jordan's watch during the day he was surprised to see us passing a numbered float. Then looking around he saw a few that seemed to be in a line that we crossed. His first concern was a net strung between the floats but there was no indication of such and it didn't seem feasible that they were tethered to the sea bed at that depth. So we came to no conclusion as to what they were.

Late one night, again on Jordan's watch, under an almost full moon that was far to the west, he was startled to see a distinct white semi-circle arc that rose off the dark east horizon. He had never seen anything like it in his life but soon figured out that it was of course a moon rainbow! He woke me up so I could see it too. What a fascinating sight!

On about the 8th day, the winds died to almost nothing so we started the Perkins purr and let out the fishing line and soon caught a nice little Dorado fish that gave us 4 good meals. We have not been putting out the line while sailing under a wind as the seas are usually rocking us around so landing a fish on a rolling deck is not too comfortable. Also while motoring, we usually turn on the watermaker because the motor makes more than enough amps to power it. By now we only have seen one ship, a southbound freighter about 8 NM off our port side.

Where is everyone?

On the night of the full moon, again on Jordan's watch, we were visited by a lone pilot whale. Jordan pulled back on the power and it came right up beside us as if to say hello briefly before cruising off on his solo whale passage.

One day away from Galápagos landfall. Lots of motoring in the last few days. We are evidently into the ITCZ (InterTropical Convergence Zone) that disseminates the northern hemisphere atmospheres from their southern relatives (also called the Doldrums by sailors). This is a zone of calms and unsettled weather, lots of big cumulus clouds that can give you some gusts and rain showers. This is a zone that circles the world's seas at or around the area of the equator, but around here it typically extends from the equator to about 5 degrees north, so it has dropped down to the south by about 300 miles. However we did pick up a nice light tail wind for the last day and we cruised along nicely under a billowing spinnaker before the winds died for our last night.

Bright spinnaker poled in very light wind

When we started the motor just before sunset, it died shortly after (ran out of fuel on the port tank). It's a bit of a pain when that happens because the Perkins gets cranky and needs to have the lines bled - about a 20-minute job. While Jordan was doing that, he did a visual around the engine compartment and noticed the fan belt was in the advanced stages of wear. So he dug out a new spare. It was the right length, but it was too thick and it wouldn't stay on the narrower gauge pulleys so we continued on with the old one. Now this old belt was the same one we left Victoria with.

It worried Jordan because this fan belt runs the water pump and, if it broke, the engine would overheat. We don't have an alarm for an overheated engine, just a temperature gauge. So we adjusted our usual 20-minute watch check, which includes checking the gauges, down to every 10 minutes. When Jordan woke up the next morning, he said it came to him in his waking consciousness that he could cut down the width of the replacement belt by hacksawing off about 3/16" which he did and tidied up the edge with a super sharp knife. He quickly replaced it and it worked perfectly!

Also during the last night, Jordan, on his watch, heard a thump and thought we ran over something. He jumped up but of course couldn't see anything but heard a splash close by. He thought we might have ran over a whale, but then saw streaks of phosphorescence around the boat and knew it was dolphins playing with Sea Turtle. One no doubt got too close to the bowsprit support. Boy, Jordan sure has had eventful watches on this passage!

After 17th day, Land Ho! Always an exciting sight.

We dropped anchor at about 02:00 local time on April 15th in Academy Bay (Port of Ayora) on the main island of Santa Cruz in the Galápagos (S00°44.876' W090°18.509'). Jordan got the outside of the boat organized (dinghy inflated, washed down the deck in the light freshwater rain, put up the bimini, etc.) while I got the interior reorganized for normal life again. Just as we finished, a panga full of officials came aboard and we got all the check-in process done. Very efficient but expensive - $658 US. That included the agent's fee, park fees, non-toxic boat fumigation, immigration, and clearance when we are ready to go. They gave us 25 days for our length of stay. But we are not allowed to take Sea Turtle to any of the other islands. We would have had to pay about double and I think we also would have had to let them know ahead of time that we were coming, which we did not do.

We then finally relaxed in the cockpit with margaritas in hand, anchored amongst about 25 other transient sailboats that have made this their stop also on their way west to the South Pacific. The surrounding waters were so green, not the usual blue. Indeed, a very beautiful anchorage.

1 comment:

White Shell II said...

We are so pleased and happy for you!!!! Your adventures continue to inspire us............we are back in Comox and scheduled to return to El Salvador Nov 8-21

Fair winds and calm seas you two.