Saturday, June 30, 2007

Friday 29th June

At Sea

5 02.067 S
109 01.670 W (at Midnight)

By the time the sun was rising it was time to do the radio schedule, I tossed the fishing lure out whilst Gerry talked to the guys. We were the only boat that had a good night; all the rest had quite a slow one. As the morning progressed we both had a sleep and suddenly the wind and swell picked right up, we were sailing along heeled well over and doing speeds of up to 9.9 knots – surfing down waves! The day was uneventful until just after lunchtime, Gerry had gone for a nap and George and I were trying to control the boat when I noticed a very large black cloud coming up behind us, the jib began to bag around which immediately brought Gerry out to the cockpit. We closed up the hatches and curtains, and reefed in the jib which still had the pole in place. The winds heralding the arrival of the rain were fierce – we saw 20 knots apparent wind and we were doing 8 – 9 knots at the time; it was a sleigh ride and a half! You can guess what happened next – the fish alarm went off! Before I could get from one side of the cockpit to the other to reel the line in the fish had managed to free itself from the hook and got away. I reset the line alarm, Gerry was struggling to keep the boat on course and I sat back down only to have the alarm go off again within 10 minutes. This time the fish was still on the line and I reeled it in, Gerry couldn’t do anything to help as he was still steering the boat at 8+ knots and trying to keep us from doing any damage. I got the fish alongside and lent over the safety line to gaff it when it gave a sudden lung and slipped off the hook – I was gutted! It was a good size Mahi Mahi and I thought we were going to have fish for dinner – back to plan B! I did throw the line back in but had no more bites for the rest of the day. During the radio schedule at 17.00hrs everyone agreed to turn back the clocks as we are now all in the same time zone again; so the fight is on as to who gets the extra hour sleep tonight! Gerry finished with the radio schedule and I made some water and prepared the dinner. I came out on deck for some fresh air prior to beginning to cook and just as I did Gerry said “what’s that?” We both saw a huge eruption in the water about 100 feet behind us (roughly where our fluro lure was) a whale then swam gracefully into view. I grabbed the camera and we watched it swim along breaking the surface twice; Gerry then began looking ahead to make sure there were no others in front of us that we might hit and as he looked away the one behind us kicked up its tail then vanished below the water, I managed to catch the tail on camera and Gerry was peeved that he had missed seeing it. We were awed to see another whale so close to us and began to speculate what we would have done if it had taken a fancy to the fluro green lure – we just weren’t quite sure who was going to hold the gaff and haul it onboard! The excitement for the day was now over, we reeled in the fishing line – hope we have better luck next time we put it in the water, though I have to say attracting a whale is something else! We ate dinner and began the night watches as the wind began to die and veer behind us. It was a slow and lumpy night after such a fast paced day, we both had trouble keeping the boat on course as we had to follow the wind to maintain any movement and to prevent the boom from banging.

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Thursday 28th June

At Sea
4 52.075 S
106 32.080 W (at Midnight)

With the jib poled out and the main reefed we sailed the entire night at an average of 4.5 knots. At 0400hrs we entered a new time zone and should have put our clocks back by an hour however as none of the other boats have yet reached the zone we are remaining on our current time until they are all in the same zone as us – it makes the radio schedule less complicated. Just prior to 06.00hrs I witnessed a phenomenon that Gerry had told me he had seen; we are both fascinated by the phosphorescence that lights up the water as we plough our way through it and Gerry had told me that he had seen dolphins causing a torpedo like effect with the phosphorescence as they swim near the surface; well I saw it for myself this morning as a pair of dolphins raced alongside the boat for a few minutes. I shone the torch on them to be sure and saw them break the surface of the water; the streak of phosphorescence that they create is quite amazing to see. Gerry did the morning radio schedule and reported that everyone had experienced a slow night so we didn’t feel quite so bad; the worst thing was that the wind was predicted to be less than 10 knots for the next 24hrs. We had a cooked breakfast as it was one of the times when you could stand upright in the galley and not get thrown from one end of it to the other. Following breakfast I got out the Margarita mixer (also known as the washing machine – it’s basically a bucket with an agitator and a motor to drive it) and proceeded to wash out our track suits which have been getting far too much use to date. Gerry went up on deck to supervise George’s handling of the 3 knots of wind that we were now wallowing around in. He threw the fishing lure in the water just for fun; we certainly weren’t going to catch anything at the speed we were moving along at. First Gerry tried to goose wing the sails to see if it would help us move along; it didn’t and the jib kept collapsing and flapping so he soon got fed up with that and furled it away. It got worse and by 10.00hrs he dropped the main sail and started the engine at low revs we did 4 knots motoring for the remainder of the daylight hours. I had almost finished the washing by the time the engine went on but who would have guessed – we ran out of water in the port tank just before I finished rinsing the clothes. Gerry was a bit mad at me – anyone would think I was the only one using the water! Anyway rather than change tanks he made some more water, we are going to have to run the water maker longer each day to keep up with the consumption – either that or stop showering!
The first week of our passage was up at 10.00hrs today; we have covered 1014 miles, which just about one third of the total – we are actually keeping good time as far as the expected length of the passage goes and hopefully only have another 2 weeks at sea before we sight land (and with luck it will be the Marquesas unless we have done some serious miss calculations!). We spent the rest of the day reading in the cockpit and lamenting the weather. 17.00hrs and the radio schedule came and went; everyone had experienced the same sort of day even though we are miles apart. When Gerry came back to the cockpit after the schedule I decided to put away the fishing line and as I reeled it in we noticed that there was a school of dolphin fish about 4 feet off the back of our transom swimming along keeping the fluro green lure company. The water was flat calm and crystal clear and we counted about 20 fish – and one fluro green lure! It was almost as if they were playing race games with it, none of them tried to eat it or show any interest in becoming our dinner. It gave us quite a laugh to watch them and we speculated as to whether there was a “teacher” fish who was saying to the rest “ this is a lure, under no circumstances eat it as you will end up dead on some one’s dinner plate”. If we had a net I could have scooped enough of them up to have dinner for the week but as we don’t have a net we just had to make do with the irony of the situation. An hour later the wind finally put in an appearance, the motor went off and we hoisted the main and polled out the jib, at last we were moving along at 5 knots under sail. Following dinner (which was not fish) I went to bed at 20.00hrs for the first watch of the night. At 20.35hrs I was woken up as Gerry needed help to get the pole off of the jib; the wind had increased dramatically and we were flying along at 6.5knots. The wind was gusting up to 20 knots and dropping to 7 knots – hard to decide what to do for the best under those conditions but we continued to sail all night, making good speed and headway.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wednesday 27th June

At Sea
4 26.075 S
104 42.007 W (at Midnight)

The good thing was that as the night continued we both managed to sleep a bit despite the fact that the boom kept banging because the wind dropped to about 6 knots and we couldn’t keep the sail full. With the sky as black as it was we expected it to rain or at least produce some wind gusts – huh who was I kidding, it did nothing; we didn’t sail we wallowed until dawn. I thought we might have hit the famous doldrums but Gerry and the book say that we are already past them – I certainly hope so as I don’t like this motion at all. Gerry did the morning radio schedule and Y Not had similar problems all night too; after a bit of discussion with the guys Gerry decided we had nothing to loose by trying to run square to the wind and pole out our jib; effectively this means that we have the jib out one way and the main sail out the other and try to use the wind directly from behind. As the wind was so light there is no certainty that we could keep either sail full and as each collapses and fills again there is even more banging, but anything was worth trying at this point. The grib chart for the next 24hrs showed that the winds were likely to be the same – oh joy! We talked about trying to run the spinnaker but despite the weather chart Gerry was very reluctant as there was so much cloud and possible gusts around. We decided to put the main away and run with just the jib poled out to one side, we ran like this for a while. Gerry went for a short sleep and then the wind began to drop even further; it was time to try something else. Out came the spinnaker, we furled the jib away and prepared to put it up; I was dreading the temper tantrum that had followed the previous deployment of the spinnaker and agreed to put it up only on the condition that we had no shouting and bad temper. For the first time it went up without a hitch, didn’t tangle, the sock didn’t get stuck and it didn’t wrap around the forestay – a minor success. However, once we had it up we very quickly realized that it wasn’t going to fly - back to plan B; whatever that was! It turned out to be the ever reliable mechanical wind! The jib went back out on the pole but couldn’t hold any shape as the wind had died down to 2 knots and less. The engine went on at very low revs and we motor sailed for the rest of the day reaching the nose bleed speed of 4.5 knots at least twice for 10 seconds! This is sailing at its worst but at least we kept moving forward and the infernal banging had stopped. Gerry did the 17.00hrs radio schedule; of the 4 boats only JJ Moon had had a good run for the day, the rest of us had struggled and resorted to motorized wind or gone around in circles chasing the wind. We discussed what we were going to do for the night as we don’t carry a great deal of fuel and can not motor indefinitely, the solution was that we would put the main back up along with the jib poled out and sail to the direction of whatever wind there was; this is fraught with danger as it means that we could be going miles out of our way. Up until this point we had been following a rhumb line course to the Marquesas, by following the wind we would be creating a cross track error which would ultimately add miles to our trip but we decided that it was better to keep moving somewhere than to wallow and bang around. Having made the decision we applied it and began to head much further south than west, the wind was now about 8 knots and we kept it on the beam to keep the sails full without the banging and slapping; I have to say it is very distressing watching the cross track error increase by the second but at least we were now moving forward at a decent pace again. The other boats are already a lot further south than we are so it will put us more in line with them but eventually we will have to make up the miles that we are pilling on by heading off course. The sea was flat as a tack and you could see for miles, it would have been a great day for whale spotting - if there had been any to spot (and we did try, all day!) We ate dinner and watched a beautiful sun set, the only thing missing was the ever elusive green flash, I am convinced it doesn’t exist, the conditions were perfect for it and it just didn’t happen. The sky changed to a picture perfect blend of blues, mauves and pinks to the east and yellow, orange and red to the west, it’s a pity that our digital camera doesn’t pick up enough of the variance to do justice to what we are seeing. The moon came out almost full and lit up the sky followed by a million stars looking like pinpricks of light – truly magnificent to see. The night watches began and we were both glad that we were moving along without the banging and rolling that we had experienced the previous night, at least we could sleep for the night.

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Tuesday 26th June

At Sea
3 53.367 S
103 03.413 W (at Midnight)

Today had to be the most boring and tedious day so far. As I mentioned yesterday the night was a very long one, the wind dropped and kept veering all over the place, including a long spell of being directly aft. Sounds great I hear you say – why can’t you sail with the wind directly behind you; well we can but it was pushing us the wrong way, we couldn’t keep the jib full so it kept flapping and we ended up furling it away, that left us with the main; unfortunately without the jib to hold us steady and give us direction we roll all over the place and this causes the main to flop and bang. When one of you is trying to sleep it makes it very difficult as you constantly have to adjust direction to stop the main flopping, invariably you miss it a few times and the person trying to sleep gets woken up and comes out on deck wondering what’s going on; I’m not only referring to Gerry trying to sleep, it was just as bad when I tried to sleep. When dawn broke we were both tired and hoped that the day would be better. The cloud cover was 95% and the wind dropped to around 10 knots. Things didn’t improve all day, the sun didn’t manage to break through the clouds, the wind remained light and coming at us from every direction, the sea did calm down and the swell became almost non existent. We spent the entire day fighting to maintain some movement forward and trying to catch up with lost sleep. Gerry threw the fishing line in the water – I think he is secretly becoming addicted, not that it did us any good the fish just laughed at our fluro green lure. We didn’t see a single dolphin or whale and for the 3rd day in a row we didn’t see a single boat. At the end of the day we had made some progress and when we did the radio schedule we were heartened to hear that none of the other boats had fared any better (not that we wish them ill, but misery does love company!). We in fact did a little better than the rest as far as mileage and average speed went but it’s of little comfort when you are sleep deprived. As night fell we continued to struggle to maintain forward motion, the night sky blackened; the moon failed to shine through and the stars just didn’t come out to play – not our best day!

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Monday 25th June

At Sea

3 31.955 S
100 54.630 W (at Midnight)

We both began the day rather grumpy, that’s what you get for having to little sleep but we both improved as the day went on. As dawn broke we had 95% cloud cover and it was pretty cold, we both wore track suits for a good deal of the morning, eventually though the sun broke through and as long as you sat directly in it then you were quite warm; it was different if you happened to sit in the shaded part of the cockpit – it was like an ice box! Gerry did the 07.00hrs radio schedule and then went back to bed to try and get some more sleep, getting back up again at 09.00hrs. After breakfast the first job was to do fish patrol around the deck; Gerry had “saved “the life of one squid during the night, he had heard it land on the deck and could reach it from the cockpit so he threw it back in the water. The patrol netted us 9 squid and 3 flying fish today; you have to wonder why they can’t avoid the only boat around for miles. Our first bit of excitement for the day was around 10.00hrs when the fish alarm went off; we had hooked a Mahi Mahi. I reeled it in, gaffed it and pithed it whilst Gerry donned his harness and climbed over the back onto the transom to clean it and carry out the fillet and release program. When he saw the fish approaching the boat he told me that he thought we should just release it as it was small; I argued that it was a reasonable size for 2 people and brought it on board; it was in fact a good size for the 2 of us and we got 2 very good size fillets from it. Gerry balanced on the transom and I went to hand him the fish but the boat was heeling over and rolling too much so we decided that it was too dangerous for him to clean it on the transom and he climbed back in the boat. I took the fish down below and cleaned and filleted it then brought the remains back up on deck for the release program; now Gerry agreed that it was the ideal size for a one meal deal. I have to say we were quite shocked to catch the fish as we are down to our last lure and it is quite lightweight compare to the ones that we have lost in the last few days, just shows you never can tell. Just as I was finishing filleting the fish Gerry decided that the wind had dropped enough to shake the reef out of the main sail. The drop in wind speed didn’t last long, it was soon back up to 14 knots and we raced along doing 7 knots for most of the day. The swell dropped a bit today thank goodness, we were getting 6 foot swell at 9 second intervals, a bit more comfortable than it has been for the last day. Our next bit of excitement was spotting a whale plume off of our port beam, it was quite a distance away but it was good to see some other sign of life. I tried to get an hour sleep early in the afternoon but was woken up with the shout of another fish on the line, by the time I reached the cockpit though it had made good it’s escape, Gerry saw it leap and said it was a very large Mahi Mahi; I’m glad it escaped as I wouldn’t have wanted to try filleting that down below. After running the water maker Gerry went for a sleep, getting up in time for me to do the 17.00hrs radio schedule. Everyone had made some progress but we seemed to have gone the fastest all day, Y Not who is nearest to us is a good 102 miles away from us having taken a slightly different course. We enjoyed the fish for dinner – there really is nothing quite as good as fresh caught fish when you are at sea. I went off for the first sleep whilst Gerry kept watch; it wasn’t a good night as we were both kept awake by the rolling and sails flapping; the wind had done a dirty and come almost behind us forcing us to go further south and off course than we wanted. We tried to sail it right on the edge but this proved to be too difficult and in the end we furled the jib away which helped a little but of course that dropped our speed. It was a very long night.

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Sunday 24th June

At Sea

2 58.254 S
98 30.082 W (at Midnight)

Gerry had just gone down to sleep and within 10 minutes the wind had increased to 20 knots, as we had the main and the jib up he got up and we furled away the jib leaving the main up with just the first reef in it. It was a mistake, we were then rolling so badly that Gerry couldn’t get to sleep so he got back up and we put the second reef in the main and turned on the engine at low revs to try and steady the boat. It worked to a degree and Gerry went back to bed. The wind was having a fine time keeping me guessing where it was going to come from in the next 10 minutes – it seemed that it blew from every possible direction and at every possible speed during my watch and I ended up hand steering for a good deal of the watch to compensate for the auto pilot that wasn’t coping with the constant change in speed and direction. For the remainder of the night we motor sailed, shaking out the second reef in the main at 06.00hrs and unfurling the jib to it’s fullest extent. Gerry hooked up for the radio schedule at 07.00hrs and then did fish patrol around the deck – 3 flying fish and 1 squid today, then he went back to bed for a while longer as he was tired. During the morning the wind speed was 15 – 17 knots apparent aft of the beam and we were flying along at 7 knots. I had a late morning sleep getting up in time to get lunch and run the water maker. The afternoon was mostly sunny but then a couple of rain clouds hit us and the wind was again all over the place making it necessary to hand steer, eventually this cleared again and we could put George back in control. The remainder of the day passed fairly quickly but the wind played follow me all night and neither of us got too much sleep as the boom banged a few times and it was often hard to keep the jib full as the wind would suddenly veer off further aft. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

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Saturday 23rd June

At Sea

2 35.354 S
95 57.635 W (at Midnight)

What a nice day, the sun rose and made it warm for the first time since we left the Galapagos. Gerry kept the radio schedule at 07.00hrs, the other 2 boats had headed further south than us but they were now on the westward heading too. I threw out the last fishing lure in the hope that we would catch something; Gerry thinks I’m overly optimistic! Whilst Gerry was below deck on the radio I spotted a large pod of dolphins off of our port beam, it wasn’t as large as the one we saw yesterday but for those of you who are familiar with Douglas Adam’s Hitch hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy they brought to mind the scene where the dolphins leave the earth saying “so long and thanks for the fish”. They were leaping and somersaulting all over the place. As the morning wore on the wind picked up to 20knots apparent necessitating putting the second reef in the main sail and reefing in the jib; at the same time the gradient swell was 10 foot on the beam and with the wind driven swell hitting us off of the beam at shortening intervals on top of that we were bouncing around quite fiercely. Although the sun continued to shine, unless you were actually sitting directly in it the wind made it quite cold and we needed to wear fleecy jackets to keep warm. Gerry did the fish patrol around the deck and we netted 10 dead squid, not bad for one night! It’s a pity they weren’t edible. Just after we had had lunch Gerry spotted a large dolphin swimming along the port side of the boat, it was unusual in that it was alone and it was huge.
It played alongside us for a while, racing and leaping, it was then that we noticed it had a different shaped head to the dolphins we had been seeing up until now; this one had no “beak”, just a bulbous head. I took a few photos but never managed to get one with it’s head in the picture. It got bored with playing alongside us much quicker than we got bored watching it and headed off in a different direction. Our most exciting “spotting for the day was at 15.30hrs, a boat on the horizon off of our port side! Gerry went for his afternoon sleep whilst I watched this boat come closer and closer to us. It was a tuna fishing boat and it got to within 4 miles of us before it headed off in a different direction. I have to confess to being a little nervous about another boat coming towards us when there is nothing else around us for miles; guess I’ve listened too much to the piracy stories! For the rest of the day it was routine stuff though I did manage to cook some brownies late in the afternoon – just to prove I could cook standing at a 45 degree angle! We watched the sun set on the water,
with no clouds to obscure our view however just at the critical moment we went into the trough between the swells and didn’t get to see if there was a green flash or not – we are guessing there wasn’t! After dinner it was time to begin the night watches with Gerry taking first watch and me going to bed.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Friday 22nd June

At Sea

2 07.923 S
93 28.686 W (at Midnight)



My watch was uneventful apart from the wind vanishing completely, Gerry took over and I went to bed only to be woken up an hour later as he wanted to put the main sail away and we don’t go out on deck without the other person being in the cockpit – even if they are grumpy and bleary eyed. When I got up at the end of my “off watch” period Gerry had unfurled the jib, he went to bed and the jib did a reasonable job of moving us along for the next couple of hours. When Gerry got up from his sleep he decided that we would try the main again, we furled the jib away, hoisted the main and then unfurled the jib again. Just one small problem, as he went to hoist the main the halyard wrapped itself around the radar reflector and took a great deal o
f persuasion, swinging and jerking accompanied by a lot of foul language to free it. Having successfully freed the halyard Gerry thought he might as well do the topping lift whilst he was on a roll – more cursing, jerking and swinging but on a different bit of line with me hanging on to the back of his shorts to prevent him from falling overboard. The operation was a success, though it may be temporary as this has happened before. The apparent wind was 11 knots and we were flying along at up to 7 knots. At 07.00hrs Gerry kept the radio schedule, Y Not was 4 miles behind us and just within line of sight; Timela was off to their port side and some way behind Y Not. Cameron reported that they were doing 2 knots at the time – no wonder they expect to be at sea for 3 months, I couldn’t do it! JJ Moon joined in to tell us they would be setting sail in the morning. Gerry was happy, we were winning (yes Dale & Lorie it IS a race; any 2 boats, same direction and all that crap!) and at the time we were surfing down waves reaching speeds of up to 8.8 knots – woohoo! As the day wore on we hooked 2 very large fish and successfully lost 2 lures (and the fish that were attached) I was beside myself as we are now down to one lure, I’m guessing that we won’t be eating much fish at all this leg of the trip. We continued to do speeds in excess of 6 knots all day, it got a bit lumpy for a time as the swell kicked up a bit quicker but that eventually settled back down to mildly irritating especially when a toilet break was required. We took turns in napping during the afternoon to try and keep up our beauty sleep, heaven knows we need it! We pulled further away from the other boats, loosing sight of them and suddenly being the only boat out here, with nothing in any direction except sea and sky. Our one “spotting” incident happened mid morning, we saw a simply enormous pod of dolphins, there were hundreds of them, leaping and jumping so much that the water boiled around them, just as fast as they had appeared they took off underwater and vanished never to be seen again. The rest of the day was uneventful; we continued to sail at a blistering pace and wondered what was going on when our speed dropped below 6 knots. The evening meal was the most difficult part of the day as we managed to hit a patch of swell that came at us beam on and every few seconds we were bounced from one side to the other making cooking a real trial. It did calm down for most of the night and we managed to sleep for short periods when we weren’t on watch.

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Thursday 21st June

At Sea
1 22.511 S
91 11.233 W (at Midnight)

Gerry was up before the sun, eager to get on with the preparations for leaving. As the swell was getting stronger he decided to stow the dingy on the foredeck without my help, trying to be kind and letting me sleep in – MISTAKE!
He managed to get the outboard motor on the stand and moved the dinghy to the front of the boat but as he was hauling it up and trying to hold it so that it cleared the lifelines before bringing it onto the deck he slipped on the dew damp deck and smashed his knee badly. He hobbled back down below where I was just surfacing and told me the tale then said he would need some help to finish the job later. Whilst he had been out on deck another Australian boat Timela had gone past him; the captain, Cameron, had called out that he was joining in our radio schedule and would talk to us on route. Timela is a small (? 30foot) ketch and the 2 adults and 1 child on board are planning on going straight through to Fiji and expect to be at sea for 3 months! And you thought we were nuts!
Anyway I got dressed and then called a water taxi as I had the last minute shopping to do; it didn’t get done last night as the new restaurant wasn’t open when we got there and we ended up going further away from the dock so consequently we didn’t get back to the supermarket before closing time. Mags and Barry caught the same taxi, they were going to be staying for another 2 days so I said our goodbyes and told them we would chat with them on the radio schedule. I rushed through the store buying eggs, bread and Pringles (well you have to have them!) and then caught a water taxi back to the boat. Getting back on board was fun as our boat was rolling dramatically from side to side and the water taxi always drops you along side the boat, with help form the driver I got back on the boat and waved him off. Gerry immediately suggested that we deal with the dinghy before the swell got any worse so with me hanging on to it (very wide stance required) Gerry finished hauling it up and we maneuvered it into place and secured it for the trip. That job over with I stowed the food away, found a knee brace and some anti inflammatory tablets for Gerry and dished out as much sympathy as I could muster, no, it wasn’t much but he’s use to that after all these years. We started to gather the life jackets, hats etc. together and as we were preparing to leave Y Not hauled their anchor and began their exit from the anchorage, they called out to Gerry that they had sacrificed their stern anchor to the anchorage – the rode had broken as they were trying to haul it in and because the swell was so bad they decided to leave it behind rather than try to retrieve it by diving. They were the second boat to have lost their stern anchor that we knew of, we were worried then that we would be the third. I was still down below when Gerry called out that he had got our stern anchor up, a cause for celebration all round. Of course with the stern anchor up the rolling was even more dramatic so we quickly finished our preparations, donned our life jackets and headsets and then it was time to haul in our bow anchor and set sail. The anchor was well set and took a while to free itself from the sea bed whilst I maneuvered the boat between the fishing vessels and cargo trawlers that surrounded us. Once the anchor was on board we rapidly departed the anchorage and were underway by 10.00hrs. Gerry had put our waypoint into the chart plotter for the Marquesas, it was a little daunting to see that we had 3017 miles to go but at least we were on our way. Between leaving and midnight we sailed for 7 hours and motor sailed for the other 7 hours, according to what the wind was doing at the time. The sea was fairly calm once we cleared the anchorage, the swell of 8 – 9 feet made comfortable by the long (14 second) interval. As dusk closed in we hadn’t caught a fish for dinner so we ate one of the precooked meals I had prepared and then began our night watches with me going to bed first. At 19.30hrs I could hear Gerry talking on the radio and went to find out if everything was OK. The Ecuadorian Coast Guard had found us and was checking our details! (Ray, if you had anything to do with this one we WILL find you and you WILL be sorry!) Anyway they were very polite and pleasant and left us alone after Gerry had answered all the questions. They didn’t go after Timela or Y Not both of whom were within 2 miles of us at the time – was it something we said? During Gerry’s watch the topping lift managed to wrap itself around the backstay, getting stuck in the join of the Y that it forms, this made him very cranky and we were going to have to free it before the radio schedule in the morning as our antennae for the radio runs up the back stay.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wfdnesday 20th June

Puerto Ayora
Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands.


0 44.914 S
90 18.417 W

Yes we are still here; I just hope that immigration isn’t too concerned about which day we leave! Gerry took off ashore with Barry to try and sort out the fuel pump problem that seems to be the reason that Barry’s generator isn’t working. I stayed on board as I wanted to make up some “instant meals” for the trip. We have found that there are times when it is good to have something that only needs to be heated up rather than cooked from scratch and I made a couple of loads of curry, a couple of loads of chicken a la king, 2 meat loaves, some potato salad and some curried egg sandwich spread. I also prepared the snack box, chopped up the pineapple and filled our water containers for the trip. We are just about ready to leave. Gerry returned and fiddled with the computer until lunch then he went for a siesta whilst I typed up the blog notes. We are going ashore for our last dinner here – at a restaurant that is opening tonight, buying some bread and eggs and fingers crossed we will be leaving here in the morning, as long as we can get the stern anchor up!

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Tuesday 19th June

Puerto Ayora
Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands.


0 44.914 S
90 18.417 W

We had planned on this being our last day here in the Galapagos Islands so the day was dedicated to the last minute things that you have to do before departing. We gathered up the sheets, towels, boat documents, computer and trash and called a taxi to take us ashore. After dumping the trash our next stop was to drop the laundry off so we could be sure to have it back by the evening. We then made our way to the port captain’s office to clear out, that took us all of 5 minutes as when we showed him our documentation he said we were good to go and didn’t need anything else. This wasn’t quite true, we had to go to the police station and get out exit visa stamps in the passports; we saw the same lady at the police station that checked us in so that was a painless 5 minutes too, then we really were free to leave. We had decided to make a “must do” visit to the Darwin research facility that exists here and to that end we hailed a cab and for $1 we rode to the entrance of the research facility. There was no entry fee and we wandered in to the visitor’s interpretive centre where there were lots of information boards about the type of research work that the facility undertakes here in the Galapagos, obviously it deals with the world famous Giant tortoises, the Iguanas, the sea lions and the little penguins but it also deals with a lot of the bird and plant species that are peculiar to the place. We were surprised and a little disappointed that there was no guided tour of the place; we wandered about until we stumbled across the pathway leading to the giant tortoise breeding pens. Here we found that the tortoises were corralled according to age and the island they originate from. The newest hatchlings were this year’s and they were quite small, all were numbered on their shells. As they get older they are moved to larger corrals which are deliberately kept like the rough terrain of the islands, this is to “toughen them up” for when they are released back to the wild which happens when they are 5 years old. The research centre is careful to keep records of where the tortoise eggs come from so that they can be certain that they are returned to the correct place when they are old enough. We had been told that they only feed the tortoises on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the rest of the time they have to fend for themselves, eating the leaves and grasses that are in the corrals. Whilst we were visiting we noticed that the tortoises in one of the corrals were being weighed and measured but there was no information as to how often this was done. We made our way around the enclosures on a 10 foot high wooden walkway and as we were going around we were stunned by the size of some of the cactus plants (trees!) that were growing there, I took a photo of Gerry between 2 of them to give some idea of how large they were.
The trunks of them were more like a normal tree than a cactus plant – they were hard and bark like, in fact we now knew what the light shades in one of the restaurants was made from – this bark from the cactus plants. We made our way to the larger corrals where a few adult females were kept for breeding purposes in one and 5 very large males were kept in another. You could walk around these corrals and touch the tortoises as long as you didn’t interfere with them. When we got to the male corral one of the largest tortoises was having a “domination moment” with one slightly smaller. Take a close look at the photo – we wondered if maybe there was a need for sex education or if the bigger tortoise was maybe coming out of the closet. We can tell you that the smaller tortoise underneath wasn’t very impressed and mad some loud honking noises as he moved out from under the bigger tortoise. We half expected to see the bigger tortoise roll off onto his back and wondered how he would right himself again but he managed to land on his feet right off so it wasn’t a problem. We saw lonesome George along with the 5 females that make up his Harem – I don’t think he’s lonesome at all! After the tortoise corrals there were a couple of corrals with Iguanas in them, orange and yellow coloured ones; they weren’t as large as the ones we had seen in Miami but they were just as ugly and one of them was shedding it’s skin which made it look even worse. All around the facility there were small finches that are specific to the island and we passed a group of ornithologists with huge cameras taking photos of them as they went around. We finished wandering around and made our way back to the entrance just as it began to spit with rain, luckily for us a taxi drew up almost as soon as we got there and we rode back into town, stopped at the bank for some cash then went to the internet café to read emails. Once we had finished with the internet stuff we walked to one of our favourtie cafes for lunch – they do a “meal of the day” and for $4 you get soup (pumpkin), a main course (chicken drumsticks in a mild curry sauce today), a dessert (orange cake) and a fruit juice (passion fruit and orange); each day the entire menu changes – it is a very cheap way to eat a decent meal. We met a couple of people there that we knew and were entertained by a story of an Australian boat that had arrived in dock “missing” the captain. As there were only the 2 people on board to begin with it sounds very suspicious, the other guy said that the captain “just vanished” somewhere on route from the Marquesas to here and he didn’t report it or put out a distress call as he didn’t know how to work the radio – does this sound likely to anyone? He did manage to get the boat the rest of the way here by himself, it all sounds very suspicious to us. The captain’s wife (who was not traveling on the boat) is reportedly a bit upset! I wondered why she wasn’t beside herself and ranting and raving, could there be any chance it was a contract job on her husband? There is an enquiry going on into it and we all want to wait around to heart the next installment. Having finished eating and gossiping we walked up to the municipal market for our last minute fruit and vegetables, I managed to buy all sorts – beans, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, melon, pears, grapes, mushrooms and zucchini to add to the rest of the stuff I bought the other day. There was almost everything available as long as you hunted and pecked through the various stalls; it wasn’t cheap though, at least double what it would cost in the States. Gerry decided he was tired and needed a sleep so we caught a cab back to the dock and made our way back out to the boat on the water taxi. Once we got to the boat Gerry surprised me by getting the dink into the water and going over to JJ Moon to help Barry try and work out what was wrong with his generator, it had quit working 2 days ago and Barry hadn’t been able to fix it yet. You would think that with all his recent experience of fixing our generator Gerry would have been able to diagnose the problem with Barry’s instantly but this wasn’t the case and they are going to take the fuel pump into the mechanic tomorrow to see it that is the problem. (Have you realized that this means we won’t be leaving as planned tomorrow?) Gerry returned to our boat with dirt dust and grease over his clothing, I wasn’t impressed as it will be 3 weeks until we see the inside of a laundry again. We went ashore to collect our sheets and towels and ate dinner along with a Kiwi couple that we had met in Panama, and then it was time to return to the boat for the night.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Monday 18th June

Puerto Ayora
Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands.


0 44.914 S
90 18.417 W

A normal routine sort of day today. After eating breakfast we spoke to Abigail, ran the generator (not a hiccough to be heard) ran the water maker and then gathered up the laundry. We called for a taxi and took ourselves, the laundry and the laptop into town. After dropping off the laundry we hooked up our computer at the internet café and did some banking – isn’t it amazing that even in a far flung place like here you can still pay the wretched bills by the touch of a few computer keys? Then it was time for a coffee rapidly followed by an early lunch. I wanted to buy a couple more bits from the craft co op so we did a quick detour there on our way back to the boat, we also stopped to chat with Barry for a while, he was eating alone as Mags had gone diving for the morning. We stopped in at the grocery store for some soft drink on the return trip, unfortunately they don’t sell cans here and we ended up buying the large plastic bottles, there was also no diet coke so we will be limiting the regular coke that we had to buy. Back on the boat Gerry emptied out the transom lockers to see if they were wet, happily they weren’t but the air in them won’t hurt. I did some mending and replace the seat covers that had been off drying out and then it was siesta time. Gerry slept whilst I did some sewing – yes I finally got the stitching out! Around 17.00hrs we went back into town to collect our laundry and from there went to a café for an early dinner. Returning to the boat we decided it was time to put another Black Adder video on. Not the most exciting day but at least it didn’t rain and we are in a safe anchorage.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Sunday 17th June

Puerto Ayora
Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands.


0 44.914 S
90 18.417 W



Gerry began the day by fiddling with the generator; it was running slower than it is supposed to causing the voltage to be less than it is supposed to. He had to speed the timing to correct the problem, the trouble is that it is not the first time that this has happened and he is now pondering the cause. Having done a temporary fix he then began to tighten bolts and the linkage which had worked loose. You know how it goes - once you touch one thing another goes wrong, the linkage suddenly wouldn’t open and when he tested it there as no voltage to it, now it was a case of finding where the connection fault was – this is a fault that wasn’t there when he started out. It turns out that the fuse had blown – the issue then being why did the fuse blow. Gerry decided to by pass the fuse to see what would happen – the result was that it blew the next fuse in the chain. Now we had to replace 2 fuses and we still had no idea what was wrong. Gerry decided to go ashore and see if he could find fuses anywhere – on Sunday?! I elected to stay on the boat and clean the floors and continue with polishing the wood work whilst he called a water taxi and took off with the hand held radio to keep in touch. After being ashore for 10 minutes he called to say that everywhere was closed (duh!) but he was going for a wander to make sure and asked when I was coming ashore, I hadn’t actually planned on going ashore but obviously I was needed so I said to give me half an hour and I would call just as I was leaving so that he could meet me at the taxi dock. I cleaned up, showered and changed clothes then called the taxi and lastly Gerry. I was informed that he was just buying the batteries that we needed and he had found somewhere open to buy the fuses, he would be on his way back to the boat before I got to the dock, as the taxi was already on it’s way out to me we agreed to meet at the internet café after he had dropped the batteries back to the boat. We actually passed each other on route but finally managed to meet up as planned. Almost everything was closed but we found somewhere to have lunch and Gerry told the tale of having a taxi driver who told him that all the hardware stores were closed but when he walked up the main street he found one open and purchased the fuses, he then went a bit further to the battery store and although the shutters were down the side door was open and they were trading so he bought the 2 batteries we needed. His stroll around town had been successful. Following lunch we took a water taxi back out to the boat as Gerry was determined to fix the generator problem and he wanted to get the new batteries installed. Fixing the generator turned out to be simple – install new fuses and it worked again, he couldn’t reproduce the problem that caused the fuses to blow so we are still none the wiser as to what actually happened there. We are keeping our fingers crossed that it was a minor hiccough and it won’t happen again though we do have spare fuses now! Next came the batteries – we removed the 4D AGM (big battery!) that was acting as our engine starter battery and put the 2 new sealed lead acid batteries in the hole that the big one came out of. Gerry connected one of the batteries up to enable us to start the engine and left the other disconnected as a spare (just in case). The 4D that we removed (and yes it did take both of us to remove it) we shifted to the cockpit where we used it to replace the dead 4D that was one of our house batteries (runs all the electrics on the boat except engine starting). This leaves us with a dead 4D battery sitting in the cockpit at present, we are going to have to find somewhere ecologically safe to dispose of it – any one need a very large, heavy, dead battery? Once we had the batteries in place and had test run them it was time to sit back and relax until dinner time which was followed by a TV movie – in English for a change so we could actually understand what was going on.

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Saturday 16th June

Puerto Ayora
Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands.


0 44.914 S
90 18.417 W

Happy birthday Carol, very best wishes for a great year ahead.

It was overcast when we woke today; it seems like almost every day here begins that way and then brightens up by mid morning. The good thing is that the rain seems to stay away, at least where we are, I’m not so sure about higher up in the hills.
Gerry thought it was time for a cooked breakfast again and did a great job of cooking it. We caught the water taxi into town and were surprised to find that it was very quiet, I had expected Saturday morning to be busy with lots of people everywhere. Gerry wanted to go and buy the batteries to replace the one that has died on us and I wanted to go to the market to buy some vegetables, as both places were in the same direction we set together. I left Gerry at the turn off for the battery store and continued on to the market, it didn’t seem to be as full as when I visited it the other day. I found almost everything I wanted plus a few bonus things – basil and coriander amongst them. Having loaded up my bags I was about to begin the return journey when Gerry suddenly appeared at my side without the batteries. The store had been closed and as far as he could make out it would be open at 09.00hrs tomorrow, though we both find this hard to believe. I was glad he had turned up as it meant I didn’t have to carry all the shopping. On the way back down into town we spotted a store selling engine oil in 5 gallon buckets – it was the oil we use and had been hard to find in a couple of places. I was worried that Gerry was going to buy a bucket but they also sold 1 gallon containers when we asked; we bought 2 of them and then it was a toss up as to who would carry what, I ended up carrying the oil as it was lighter than the shopping. We made our way to the internet café and loaded the last couple of day’s blog notes and some photos and then decided to have an early lunch. By the time we got the food it wasn’t early any more but the pizza, fresh orange juice, coffee and ice cream was worth the wait. Once we had eaten we returned to the boat and stowed the purchases. A short siesta followed then we spent the rest of the afternoon in the cockpit watching the comings and goings on the water including the antics of a couple of sea lions that decided to frolic in the water near our boat. Neither of us was particularly hungry so we just had soup for dinner and then watched a movie before going to bed.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Friday 15th June

Puerto Ayora
Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands.


0 44.914 S
90 18.417 W

Today was to be an early start as we were doing a “nature tour” of the island. Barry had arranged a mini bus and tour guide for the 6 of us and we were to depart from the center of town at 09.00hrs. We all got in the same water taxi to go ashore, ensuring that we all made it on time! We found our minibus and tour guide and bundled ourselves into the van ready for the day’s discovery tour. Our guide explained that we could only cover part of the island in the time we had but that he would do his best to find as many of the rare birds and animals in their natural habitat as possible. After filling the minibus with fuel we made our way to part of the national park where we embarked on a walking trail which took us past a couple of craters formed by the flow of lava through lava tubes undermining the surface and causing the collapse of the tube roof. The craters were huge and could not be photographed in a way that would show their size unless it was from the air. As we walked along the track we spotted several types of bird that are rare and indigenous to the Galapagos Islands, the one that got the guide most excited was the flightless bird called a rail (? Spelling) of all of us the only person to see it was Barry, the rest of us were too far away from the guide at that moment. The prettiest bird was the Vermillion fly catcher, we saw one male and one female, the male has a beautiful bright red chest, the one we saw obliged us by posing for photos, the female was camera shy! The majority of species we saw were quite dull colours, they were well camouflaged in the dry vegetation that surrounded us. When we got back to the bus our guide suggested that we go to see the lava tube next, a short ride on found us climbing out of the minivan and descending into the bowels of the earth.
The lava tube that we were visiting was immense, steps have been put in place for tourist to access the tube and you can walk all the way through it from one end to the other. We opted not to walk through it but just to see the beginning few yards, it had to be at least 25 – 30 foot high and 20 foot wide at the start, our guide said that they narrow down in a few places to crawl space size – none of us wanted to be crawling along so we stuck to the entrance. To keep it safe for visitors lighting had been installed in the tube and it reminded me of the London underground – if a train had appeared around the corner I wouldn’t have been surprised. The thing that did surprise mw was how dry it was inside the tube, I had expected it too be a lot damper. Once we had finished taking photos and leaning information about the lava tube it was time to go and seek out the giant tortoises. Our route took us through a farm where they apparently migrate to, this backs on to the national park. We made our way into the park and very quickly spotted the first of these huge tortoises, munching its way through the vegetation.
We approached it slowly and quietly and began snapping pictures; it seemed not to be distressed by our presence and carried on eating whilst we got close enough to take comparative size pictures. We left it to finish its meal in peace and walked a short distance further where we found 7 tortoises wallowing in a shallow pool, they do this to rid them selves of bugs and coat their skin in a fine layer of mud to protect themselves from mosquito bites. They stunk! Again we took a heap of photos and then left them to enjoy the peace and quite they thought they had found. We spotted one more tortoise that honked at us before retracting his head into his shell, we then made our way back to the meeting point where we had a drink and toilet stop before heading off to the highest point for a panoramic view of the islands. When we reached the view point we had to climb a further 150 feet to the very top for the view, the steps were steep and rickety with a hand rail that was questionable. Luckily we all made the climb and decent without incident. The viewpoint overlooks almost all of the islands and according to the guide we were very lucky as it is normally cloudy at this time of year and you often can’t see the islands but today was only slightly hazy and we had quite a good view all round, it wasn’t quite clear enough for good photos though but we took some all the same. It was then time to return to town and find some lunch, we had done enough wandering around. We enjoyed lunch together and then split up to do a couple of things. Gerry and I went to buy a new battery for one of our hand held radios and then we stopped at the internet café to check email. Whilst I typed Gerry took off to reload our phone card and buy some duct tape (ours has vanished but no doubt will reappear now we have some new stuff). After we had finished with the internet we had an ice cream and made our way back to the boat for the rest of the evening.

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Thursday 14th June

Puerto Ayora
Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands.


0 44.914 S
90 18.417 W

Today was going to be a bit of a mixed up day. Barry had arranged for the refuelers to come out and top up our boat along with Y Not and JJ Moon, apparently it was better to do a whole lot of boats at the same time. The time we were given was between 08.00hrs and 10.00 hrs. We got up well in time for the possible early session, which of course didn’t happen. By 09.00hrs I had decided to go into town and do some wandering around by myself, seeking out souvenirs and the market for fruit and vegetables. Just as I was ready to go Gerry vanished, I spotted him over on Y Not chatting with Ross and indicated that I wanted to get going, he obliged and returned to our boat offering to take me ashore in the dinghy so that I didn’t have to get a taxi – just as well as I had just missed one whilst waiting for him. Gerry dropped me off at the dock and then returned to our boat to await the refuelers. I met Mags on the dock, she had caught the taxi that I missed and like me was going to do a few chores by herself. I took off towards the shops, going to the furthest point first. I stopped at the fish market where the pelicans were waiting patiently for the scraps of fish that the fishermen would throw them. Alongside the pelicans this morning though there was a sea lion that appeared to have eaten his fill and was just basking in the sunshine. I had the camera out and shot a few pictures before you could blink, then I wandered down the pier that extends behind the fish market and peered into the water where there were a couple more sea lions frolicking around, chasing the fish and rolling onto their backs to float in the water. As I watched an enormous ray with a span of about 6 feet glided into the area, I have never seen such a huge ray before, I’m not sure what sort it was but I do know that the sea lions didn’t give it any grief. At about the same time a group of 3
different types of ray swam by me, these were light brown and had quite pronounced heads, I managed to get a photo of these ones as they were quite close to me, I had never seen these types of rays before – it was a morning of spotting new things! Having watched the wildlife for a while I thought I’d better get back to the shopping and continued to walk to the end of the main street where I turned back and began the serious art of browsing. I managed to find a few items to buy as I made my way back to the dock end of the street. Once I had finished with the browsing I thought I’d make my way to where the market was meant to be, no one we knew had visited the market yet and I wasn’t too sure of where I was going but followed the general map I had been given. Sure enough I found the municipal market, at the top of a long incline; it was comprised of several small stores which sold fruit and vegetables fairly cheaply. I bought a few bits and pieces, leaving the heavy stuff for when Gerry could be with me to share the carting it back. By this time my back pack and the bag I was carrying were full and getting heavier by the minute so I made my way to the internet café where I had arranged to meet Gerry at midday. I had no idea what time it was as I hadn’t worn a watch but I thought it wouldn’t matter as I could do my emails and load the blog site whilst I waited for him as it turned out it was 11.45hrs by the time I sat down to a computer and began typing. An hour later there was still no sign of Gerry and I had finished the internet stuff for the day so I packed up my bags and began to wander towards the dock, thinking I would return to the boat. A short distance before the dock I spotted Gerry walking towards me so I waited and we went off together for some lunch where he told me that the refuelers had only just finished with us (not that it took long as we only needed 40 gallons of diesel), they had refuelled Y Not first and poor Barry on JJ Moon, who had organised them in the first place, was still waiting for them to refuel his boat. Gerry had spent the time waiting to clean down one side of the boat – it was looking a bit unloved and grimy, of course now that one side was clean he was going to have to do the other side. During his cleaning a close up inspection showed that we received no damage from the side swipe we took but the trawler had left blue paint marks on our boat, along the toe rail luckily. Once we had finished lunch we caught a water taxi back out to our boat, as we passed the boats that were anchored close to the dock we saw one boat that the sea lions had taken a liking too and they had climbed onto it and were lazing all over the deck and transom of this boat. I got out the camera to take a picture and the very kind taxi driver changed course and drove me right up to the boat so that I could get a good close up shot of these cheeky sea lions.
Back at the boat it was show and tell time, luckily Gerry liked most of my purchases, not that it really mattered whether he did or not. We stashed away the fruit and vegetables and then it was time for a siesta – I tell you these people have the right idea an afternoon siesta is just the thing! Whilst we were reclining and reading we heard Barry on the radio asking when they were going to refuel his boat – this was now 15.30hrs and I have to say he sounded a lot more patient and tolerant than I would have done, as it turned out it was another couple of hours before he got his fuel but at least he did get it in the end. We radioed the other 2 boats to let them know that we were going ashore for dinner and they were welcome to join us, Sue and Ross had already got their dinner cooking on board but Barry and Mags decided to join us. We arrived ashore first and after watching a little of the volleyball which was being played on the foreshore courts we went for a pre dinner drink before walking to the restaurant where we were going to eat. We went to an Italian restaurant where Barry and Mags had eaten once before, the food was pretty good but they had no desserts except for chocolate mousse – oh well if I must! Barry told us of his frustration with the refuelling, considering he had arranged it all in the first place it seemed very unfair that he was the last to be done, still he was better humoured about it than I would have been in the same circumstance. Once the bill was paid we walked back to the dock and caught a water taxi back to our respective boats for the night.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Wednesday 13th June

Puerto Ayora
Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands.


0 44.914 S
90 18.417 W

Having put our clocks back an hour yesterday we woke up early today! At least the sun was attempting to shine this morning. We fiddled about on the boat for half the morning with Gerry resealing the bathroom joins (we noticed that the wood work on the outside of the shower was getting wet and assumed there was a leak somewhere in the joints) and me cutting Gerry’s hair and then typing up blog notes and downloading pictures from the camera. We finally managed to get Abigail on the phone and had a chat with her which was good. A little later on, whilst I was still typing Gerry was outside and called out asking if I was ready to go ashore as there was a taxi nearby. I hurriedly saved my document and closed down the computer, gathered my shoes, sun glasses, cash, laundry ticket and locked up the boat, just as the taxi pulled up alongside our boat. We docked and made our way straight to the internet café where we checked email and then I attempted to load some photos from the last 10 days, it took me 11/2 hours and at the end I’m not sure that they have loaded even though it said they have – I’ll have to check it out tomorrow and I’ll be mad if they haven’t as it would be a wasted 11/2 hours.
• note to Ray Lopez – if you really know the guys who flew over us on the 4th June 120 miles off the coast of Colombia is there any chance of getting copies of the photos they took of us? We would like them for our collection! Please email reply (and photos) to svorpailleur@hotmail.com thanks.
By now Gerry’s stomach was rumbling (I don’t think it ever stops!) and we needed to find somewhere for lunch. Just as we were leaving the café Sue and Ross turned up to do their internet stuff for the day, we said hi and then continued on our way. We decided to try the café we had seen Mags and Barry at the day before and I have to say that we had a good lunch and it was reasonably cheap. Just as we were about to leave Mags and Barry showed up – they obviously enjoyed the food there the day before. We sat and chatted with them until their lunch order arrived and then left them to go and retrieve our laundry, unfortunately by the time we got there the place was closed – we would have to collect it later in the afternoon or tomorrow. We stopped for an ice cream and ended up having it with a slice of chocolate cake – not that this will surprise anyone! As we made our way to the taxi dock I took pictures of the statues that dominate the streets – larger than life statues of and Iguana and a blue footed Booby, there is also a large tortoise but that’s at the other end of the main street – I’ll get that one tomorrow. There were several iguanas sunning themselves near the taxi dock, they are quite ugly compared to the ones we saw in Florida; these ones are entirely black and fairly small but they seem reasonably unafraid of people as they just stay put despite people walking by them.
All alone the water’s edge there are hundreds of crabs, they have quite remarkable colouring and patterns on their shells but we are warned not to eat them as there is rat poison spread all over the island that may affect them (I’m pretty certain this is a ploy to preserve the crabs for local industry!) We’ve also been able to spot quite a lot of birds though as yet I haven’t been close enough to get pictures of the blue footed Boobys to go with the red footed ones from the Aves. The birds also seem to be unafraid of humans, especially the pelicans who are cheeky enough to roam along the paths near the fish market. We got a water taxi back out to our boat, as we passed by a couple of trawlers I noticed that there were sea lions sunning themselves on the swim platforms at the back of these boats – they must be fairly athletic to get from the water up onto these platforms. As soon as we got back to our boat Gerry was outside checking to see if there was any damage from our little incident yesterday – apart from some blue paint that they had left behind on our transom edge there appears to be no damage – lucky escape! Shortly after this it began to spit with rain – it had to be time for an afternoon siesta. We resurfaced at about 17.30hrs, caught a water taxi into the dock where we found the place to be alive with people. The foreshore reminds us a bit of Townsville in that it has a
n esplanade similar to the Strand but on a smaller scale, it is complete with walkways, a children’s’ playground, fountain, bench seats, volleyball courts, skateboard ramp, tables and chairs and food vendors there were hundreds of people wandering around, playing volleyball, playing cards or dominos, watching others being energetic and just enjoying the evening. We made a quick dash to the laundry to collect our washing and then headed towards a café for dinner. Once we had eaten we took a slow stroll back to the dock and took the water taxi back out to our boat for the night.

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Tuesday 12th June

Puerto Ayora
Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands.


0 44.914 S
90 18.417 W

We slept in late: we were catching up on the sleep we had missed out on during the transit. When we surfaced it was overcast outside, we are beginning to wonder where all the sun has gone! Our morning was spent onboard. Gerry wanted to do an oil change on the generator and drain the racor filter. He also transferred the rest of the diesel from the jerry cans in to the fuel tank, surprisingly we still have about 40 gallons of fuel left, much more than we expected. Whilst he was doing these jobs I began one of my own – cleaning the woodwork inside the boat. During our 10 days at sea the boat has been closed up and there has been very little sunlight and fresh air getting below deck and because of this there is a fine patina of mould beginning to grow on all the wood surfaces. I started at the bow and began cleaning and polishing the wood, it was quite satisfying to see it restored to its normal state. I only managed to get the front cabin finished and will have to continue through the boat over the next few days to get it all done. We’ve had to open all the lockers up to get air through them and dry them out; the dampness seems to have invaded everywhere. As soon as Gerry had finished his jobs we gathered our stuff together and called a water taxi to go ashore. Once we were reached the dock we decided to drop off our laundry and then go and have lunch before anything else; we walked to the farthest end of the main street along the water front where we found a small café and ate there. Having eaten our fill we took a slow wander back the same way we had come, we found Barry and Mags just about to eat lunch at another café along the way and we stopped and chatted with them for a while, discussing plans for having the re fueling for our boats done at the same time and planning a tour guide to take the four of us plus Ross and Sue around the main tourist points of interest. Once we had sorted out these few details we took our leave and continued on to one of the internet cafes where I paid the fee for an hour ($2) and proceeded to read and answer my emails. Gerry took off for the store where he had been told he would be able to buy a new battery and to the phone store to see if he could get a card for our phone. A little over an hour later he reappeared, having found out the details for the battery he decided that he would buy 2 but it means a trip back to the store in a taxi as it is much too far to carry one battery let alone two. He had been successful with the phone and managed to get a card for our old cell phone so we can now dial out (at some enormous fee!). We bought ice creams – a special treat as we can’t keep ice cream on the boat, and made our way back to the taxi dock where we picked up a taxi and returned to our boat. A short afternoon nap followed and then we radioed our traveling companions to see if they were interested in going ashore for dinner, everyone was game for the trip so we arranged to collect everyone in a taxi at 19.00hrs. At this point we found that we needed to turn our clocks back another hour; we were an hour ahead of everyone else for the second time! Just prior to the appointed hour we heard a loud anchor chain being lifted and went out on deck to see what was moving. Out side it was dark and we could make out a large trawler behind us that was beginning to make its way out of the anchorage. For whatever reason its captain chose to motor through the anchored yachts, coming between us and our nearby neighbour, we were quite alarmed as the gap was quite tight; sure enough we were justified in being alarmed as he side swiped us with his stern despite us yelling at him that he was far too close and we had our lights on so he could see us. As soon as he hit us the crew came running to our side of the boat yelling and waving that it was alright. Alright for whom we wanted to know as they kept going and the 20 something foot motor launch that they were trailing behind them came closer to us. I yelled out to Gerry that it was going to hit us too and tried to fend it off, it still managed to bounce off our toe rail as it went by. The vessel didn’t stop, didn’t radio to see if it had caused damage or even to apologise; it just kept going and it was too dark for us to tell the extent of any damage it may have caused. As it was time to go and collect the others for dinner we gathered together our cash and a torch and jumped in the water taxi with the others and related our tale. As Mags and Barry had been hit by the a swinging fishing boat the first day they were here we joked that only Y Not is left to get hit in this anchorage – not really funny but you have to make light of the situation. We went to the Angermeyer Point restaurant which was a very nice restaurant set out on the point of the anchorage and overlooks it. The food was very good but I thought it was a little light on the vegetables but then I guess Gerry and I eat a lot of vegetables so maybe I’m being unfair. When we had finished our meal the wait staff called a water taxi for us and we returned to our respective boats for the night. And very shortly afterwards it was time for bed.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Monday 11th June

Puerto Ayora
Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands.
0 44.914 S
90 18.417 W

The sun began to rise behind us casting a reddish tinge to the clouds as we slowed down to make sure that we didn’t arrive at the anchorage in the dark. We began to see the masts of several yachts already at anchor and headed towards them. The water was very calm with some long interval swell and every now and again we could make out “things” bobbing along in the water and then vanishing – they were sea lions, Gerry hadn’t been hallucinating. The anchorage was still in sleep mode as we motored into it at 07.30hrs. We spotted Y Not almost immediately as their cockpit cover stood out, we decided to take a slow turn around the anchorage before deciding where to drop our anchor. JJ Moon was fairly easy to spot as they had told us about a fishing boat next to them that hadn’t put out a stern anchor and had drifted into them during the night; once we spotted the fishing boat it was simple to see JJ Moon. After our reconnoitering of the anchorage we picked a spot and without too much trouble dropped our anchor in 24 foot of water, it set quite quickly but as the anchorage is quite small with lots of boats at anchor and a constant swell the advice is to put out a stern anchor as well. We dropped the dink off of the foredeck and into the water, attached the outboard motor, tied our spare anchor line to the stern of the boat and then Gerry motored out with the anchor in the dinghy and dropped it about 80 foot behind us. Once the anchor was in the water we winched the excess line back into the boat, we were now held firmly between the two anchors and hopefully wouldn’t encounter any problems of drifting into other boats. By 07.50 hrs we were able to say we had arrived! We celebrated our arrival with some coffee and toast, Gerry went over to say hello to Ross and Sue on Y Not whilst I began tidying away the cockpit mess. When he returned Gerry informed me that Ross and Sue were going into Immigration to complete their formalities at about 09.30hrs, we were going to tag along to do ours at the same time. With just under an hour before we were going into town we hurriedly had showers, put on clean clothes and gathered our documentation and money together. Everyone uses the water taxis to get into town and back, they arrive after being called on channel 14 on the VHF radio and cost just 50 cents per person each way, the regulations dictate that you must wear a life jacket in the water taxi so we duly donned them – the taxis are well equipped with enough for all passengers. We were dropped at the dock and made our way to the port captain’s office to check in. At the reception we were directed to a very pleasant naval officer who spoke very little English but managed to convey everything he needed, we filled out the appropriate forms and were presented with our clearance papers (we could stay for up to 20 days but could not sail / anchor around any of the other islands here without further paper work) and the bill – it cost us $180.64 to clear in which was better than we had expected. A word to the issue of fumigation certificates here: we had been told in Panama that we were required to have a fumigation certificate from the previous port of call when we arrive and clear in at the Galapagos Islands. We didn’t bother getting one whilst a few people we met did (not that they were actually fumigated – it was just a bought certificate costing them $25 each – we wonder if this is a scam by the Panamanians to make a few more dollars). At no time were we asked for a certificate but other boats used an agent to clear in here and the agent insisted that they needed the certificate. If it is a government requirement (not actually proven) to have a fumigation certificate it doesn’t seem to be one that is enforced. We had also heard that if you arrived without one then your boat would visited by the authorities and doused in fumigation powder for a phenomenal fee – this too didn’t happen. Whilst I relate this for information purposes I caution that it is “buyer bewares” – this was our findings and may not apply to the next boat to arrive here, it may also be a different story if you check in at any of the other ports in the islands – I can not say for sure. Anyway after checking in with the port captain we were directed to attend the police station for immigration clearance, the police station was a short distance away and we had no problem finding it and getting our passports stamped with the visas – at a cost of $15 each, the visa is good for up to 90 days. The last part of clearing in was a return visit to the port captain to show our visa stamps and pick up our clearance papers, it was all painless and quick and everyone we encountered was polite, helpful and efficient. Sue and Ross also finished their clearing in details (they had arrived on the weekend and had to return to day to complete the formalities). The four of us then made our way to store where Ross was having his phone looked at – they had experienced some problems with their very expensive NARA world phone. The store seemed to deal with all things required for boats from phones to computers to fishing gear, Gerry asked about a battery to replace our failed one and was directed to another store – it was the one thing they didn’t deal with! Mags and Barry turned up whilst we were in the store as they needed to purchase a new laptop computer, theirs had had a “water accident” on the trip across and no longer worked. Once all the transactions were completed the six of us went to one other store – to sort out cell phone stuff, then we decided it was beer o’clock and availed ourselves of the services of a nearby bar and restaurant. Following lunch there, the food was good and cheap, we split up and Gerry and I headed back to our boat as the lack of sleep was rapidly catching up with us. We laid on the bed at 15.30hrs and the pair of us were fast asleep by 15.31hrs. After 2 hours we woke, a little less tired but also a little more refreshed. We spent the remainder of the evening on the boat, neither of us having the desire or energy to do anything else. We did the mundane chores like running the water maker and chilling down the fridge / freezer, typing blog notes and washing dishes. Finally it was time to hit the sack again, tomorrow was going to be a busy day organizing tours, finding a battery and generally getting our bearings.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Sunday 10th June


At sea

0 42,436 S
89 42,169 W (at Midnight)

The rest of the night passed without any significant happenings. As the night sky turned into day we were still feeling the effects of the cold night – in fact we can honestly say that we didn’t get much warmer all day. The sun came out but unless you were sitting directly in the sun it was still a cold day. Both of us were tired for a good part of the morning and Gerry went back to bed for the greater part of it whilst I sat reading and watching out for anything that might disrupt our peaceful passage. Happily the morning was uneventful; there were no dolphins, no whales, no turtles, no ships, no rain and no waves. Our sailing continued to be fabulous, the wind was only 7 knots but we were doing 5.5 knots thanks to the current. The sails needed no adjusting and George (the auto pilot) took care of the steering for us. Fish patrol netted us no flying fish or squid today and whilst I had the line in the water all day we didn’t get a single bite – I don’t think the pacific fish like the new lures. I sat typing blog notes in the afternoon and the only thing we saw was one ship, possibly a trawler heading away from the Galapagos Islands. At 16.12 hrs the cry went up – "land ho!" Gerry could see a couple of land peaks in the distance, it turned out to be about 20 miles away but there was definitely land ahead of us. This was to be the excitement for the day, we wouldn’t actually arrive at our destination today but we were so very close. By he time 19.00hrs came around I was dishing up dinner in the galley when Gerry yelled out that he had seen a sea lion – of course it was nowhere to be seen by the time I got out on deck, I’m sure he is hallucinating! We were by then just at the beginning of the land which makes up the first of the islands. As night closed in around us we continued on our journey and began the final night watches for this part of our trip. Gerry had to turn the motor on at around 22.0hrs as the wind had dropped now that we were in the lee of the islands and we motored for the rest of the night. It looked like we would arrive at around 08.00hrs according to the chart plotter.

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Saturday 9th June

At sea

0 32.459 S
87 29.125 W (at Midnight)

As the night continued and day dawned we were amazed to find that we had maintained an average speed of 6.5 knots for the entire day yesterday without the use of the motor! Good fortune was definitely smiling upon us for the time being, sailing along under these conditions is very pleasant, there is no effort involved and we are reasonably comfortable, it feels like we are ghosting along through the water. We have decided that we have definitely found the Humboldt Current as the wind speed was down to 3 knots and we were managing to maintain at least 5.5 knots SOG (speed over ground). Gerry heard nothing on the radio schedule this morning and emailed JJ Moon to let them know our position; as both they and Y Not are at anchor already the radio schedule is no longer happening but we will update them by email of our position each day. I threw the fishing line in the water – well you never know! By the time mid morning came around we had spotted just one ship on the horizon – it was headed away from us and looked like a container ship, it turned out to be the only vessel we saw all day. Gerry decided that the peace and tranquility was just too much for him to stand and rigged up the MP3 player and turned it on so that we could play ‘Guess that tune" in the cockpit". It took about 3 songs before he realized that there was no sound coming out from the starboard side cockpit speaker – this needed investigating! Out came the multi meter plus screwdrivers and wrenches (and heaven knows what else as I didn’t go below to find out!) Gerry balanced on the railings and dismantled the speaker from the stand and tested the wiring then the speaker – nothing startling showed up, next he went below to trace the wiring from the player which deviates through a locker – wiggled a few wires around and still nothing. The port speaker then had to be dismantled and exchanged with the starboard one to rule out a fault in the speaker itself – it did this, there was something screwy going on with the wiring – maybe an intermittent fault. At this point Gerry decided that it was something to look at when we arrive in the Galapagos and began to reassemble the speaker with me handing him the tools as he need them. I
was gazing out at the miles of water when suddenly I saw a huge splash a couple of miles off of our Port beam – it was so large that it had to be a whale. I told Gerry about it and once he had finished putting the speaker back together we both stared out at the water, sure enough there were more splashes and we both saw th
em. The funny thing was that the speaker was now working again – guess it must be a loose connection or something. Gerry went to put the tools away and as he came back out on deck he spotted another load of splashes ahead of us, only this time we could see the large bodies of 3 distinct whales broaching and crashing back down into the water, the plumes of water that they blow out of their water spouts
were quite spectacular, extremely large and visible for a great distance even when we could no longer see the bodies broaching we could see the plumes of water. We watched fascinated as we slowly drew closer, hoping that we might get close enough for a photo of them. We were so intent on watching them that we almost missed out on an amazing sight – our own close encounter. I happened to glance to our bow and there, just yards ahead and crossing our bow from starboard to port were 2 huge whales, one following the other. We think that they must have been mother and calf as the second one was definitely smaller than the leader. They were so close to us and moving so slowly through the water that we thought we might actually hit the second one. Getting our priorities right Gerry raced to the wheel incase we had to take evasive action and I grabbed for the camera. I was so excited that I forgot to zoom in on them and the photos aren’t spectacular but at least I got some. We didn’t hit either of them, the second whale dove below the surface and we were left watching the leader make its way gracefully onwards. They were humpback whales – I have pictures of the humps to prove it! It was an amazing moment that we could so easily have missed had we not been looking out at the time. The whale watching over we settled back to listening to our "oldies" music and reading books. At 16.00hrs we were both below deck doing dishes and preparing food, Gerry was about to go for a sleep so I went up on deck where I found the fish alarm had gone off – we had something on the line! I called Gerry up on deck to assist in getting the fish aboard, I reeled it in – a beautiful dolphin fish (Mahi Mahi or Dorado) was thrashing about on the hook. Ever helpful Gerry grabbed the camera, I wasn’t sure why as we couldn’t gaff it with the camera! He snapped off a couple of pictures and asked
what I wanted him to do next – gaff the damn thing! Too late, it was only just hooked through the very edge of its lip and as we tried to drag it alongside to gaff it, it gave a huge flip and made good its escape. This is the second dolphin fish I’ve hooked that has managed to get away – third time lucky? Still thanks to Gerry I have the photos of it to show that I almost got it! Thank goodness we weren’t relying on our fishing skills to feed us; the lamb would have to be roasted after all! Gerry had his nap, we enjoyed a delicious roast rack of lamb and then the watches started. It was a night of a million stars – the sky seemed to be just full of them, I comment on this as there has been very few starry nights these last 8 nights due to the cloud cover that has been with us constantly. Of course the starry night had a down side – the sky was crystal clear and freezing cold, we had to wear track suits, socks and employ the cockpit enclosure curtains, Gerry says he’s going to get out his beanie incase these cold nights continue. We didn’t see a single vessel all night as we continued to ghost along getting closer to our destination. We have clocked up 1018 miles since leaving Panama City and the end is in sight, we should make landfall late tomorrow afternoon but our port is another 35miles on from that (about half a day sail at the rate we are traveling) By Monday morning we should be there.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Friday 8th June


At sea

0 25.146 S
84 53.332 W (at Midnight)

Well this was to be a very uneventful day. Gerry was unable to hear the other boats on the radio schedule this morning – too much interference possibly from all the cloud cover, but we did get an email from JJ Moon giving us their position and the weather conditions there. We continued on the new tack and were delighted to find that we picked up speed without also collecting more swell or chop. We managed to sail for the entire 24hrs – unheard of until today! The wind speed varied between 5 and 8 knots and we sailed at an average speed of 6.5 knots – all pretty good. The clouds remained with us, we are beginning to wonder where the sun has gone to, we don’t see it rise and we don’t see it set but it must be out there some place as it does get lighter during the hours from 06.00 to 18.00. Gerry managed to find some mischief – well if you go looking for it you are bound to find it! He noticed that the fridge would only run for a very short time off of the inverter before the voltage dropped; he tried to charge the batteries but found that the voltage hadn’t risen appreciably after a fair amount of time on charge. We normally have both batteries on line all the time ad Gerry switched to each battery individually to measure their voltages separately; battery 1 was at 13 volts and battery 2 was at 11 volts, as they are 12 volt batteries there was obviously a problem with battery 2. Whilst we can manage with the one battery we will be changing out the second battery as soon as we can at the Galapagos Islands. Again we had a line in the water all day long – still no fish though! The only time the sea got a bit "lumpy" was when I went to cook dinner, thank goodness for the ready prepared meals I had made before taking off. It was truly another day of "nothing" – as in no fish, no sun, no rain, no stars, no moon, no dolphins, no turtles, no whales and no other boats however this all changed at the 11th hour (or to be more precise at the 23rd hour) we spotted the lights of a lone fishing boat in the middle of nowhere – it was the only sign of life we saw all day. At least it was a successful day as far as sailing went!

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