back to Panama - Colon and the Canal log 01/31/2001-03/20/2001
Panama City to the Galapagos
Wednesday March 21st, 2001
Morning missions: I finished wiring solar panels and battery monitor. Also rewired autopilot to work off port battery bank to better balance loads. Jo and Guy went shopping for more food and cleared us out of Panama. Stacy is off to Colon to try to collect our boat registration sticker at the post office there.
Checked fuel and water levels. Diesel: tank is 2/3 full, 36 gallons in jerry jugs. Total of about 60 gallons. Water: Port tank currently in use and is about 60% full (approx. 40 gal.). Starboard tank 90% full. Four 5 gallon jugs are full. Fifteen 2 liter bottles. Total of about 110 gal.
Checked port engine. Oil is at 100% of xxxxxx. Trans fluid is at 50% of ///////. Water pump still leaking. Not a serious problem, but need to fix when there is time. Jo says that the starboard engine is fine also.
Stacy returned from Colon with our registration sticker, so we are good to go. One last quick trip into town to update the web site, buy more onions, and call Ma Hess. Then we are out of here.
Anchor was raised at 5:38pm. Motored across the channel approaching the canal. Sails were set at 6pm. We're sailing again!!!!! The Galapagos are only 840 miles away as the boobie flies and 915 miles on our planned route. -DWH
Thursday March 22nd, 2001
We had good sailing over the night, but had to keep a careful eye on all the ship traffic.
Around 3:30 am I saw something that made me nervous. Even though I was sure we were in plenty of water, there was an area ahead that looked very strange. There was a strip of water about 50 or 100 yards wide that was very light. It extended as far as I could see to the left and right, and there was no way for me to avoid it. I called for Stacy to "come up quick." As we sailed into it we discovered that it was bioluminescence like we've never seen before. The whole strip was glowing. Wow!
Checked in with the "Pacific Net" on the SSB at 7 am. There are reports of people pulling in their fishing gear because they have caught more dorado (AKA mahi-mahi or dolphin fish) than they can eat, dry, or freeze. Our lines are out, and we are waiting.
At 9 am Jo, Guy, and Stacy set the spinnaker. Jo has been talking to some people about how best to fly a spinnaker on a catamaran. It looks like he's got it figured out. We are now cruising along at a healthy 8-10 knots. The sun is shining, the sea is sparkling, and all is right in the world. On top of that Guy just saw something in the water that I will have to let him describe. -DWH
I took over the helm at 11am and around 20 minutes later I saw what looked like a small patch of shallow water ahead but I knew that it couldn't be. As we approached it, it turned from being perpendicular to us and swam slowly along our starboard side towards the stern of the boat. As soon as a realized that it was a sea creature of some sort I hit Dave on the legs to wake him up and point it out to him. It was about the length of the boat (37 feet), silver gray in colour and about a metre below the surface. I would like to say that it was a whale shark (which it wasn't because it was the wrong colour) or a whale (which it could have been) but I think it was probably a great white which is the last thing I want to see in the waters around us. It left our lines alone which is just as well as we would have lost them.
With the spinnaker flying and a following swell the boat was regularly surging up to speeds of 10 knots. I mentioned this to Dave who didn't waste any time in letting me know that the record was 12.5 knots. Around 12pm I noticed that the starboard spinnaker rope was pulling against the railing and pointed this out to Dave who went up front to investigate. He'd only been up there a few minutes when a double wave from behind and a gust of wind put the boat onto a plane. I watched the speed reach 11.4 then 12.2 and then 13.1 before dropping back down to 12.9 and then in one final surge reaching 13.45, a new speed record. When I told Jo about this later he made some comment like "So the only way we can go fast is to put Dave's weight up front". Dave's comment on achieving this speed was that I caught a lucky wave. Myself, I think it was a combination of luck and a bit of surfing skill from my wasted days at university that kept us on the face of that wave for long enough to reach that speed. According to Dave: "You'll never get a ride that good at any carnival." -GUY
As of 12 noon we have sailed 126 miles since leaving Panama. That is in 18 hours for an average speed of 7 knots. We are now 744 miles from the Galapagos, so our actual distance made good is 96 miles. (We are not sailing directly towards the Galapagos because conventional wisdom says it is better to get south and through the doldrums as quickly as possible before turning more westerly.) Our position is 06 56N, 79 54W.
At 6pm we had made 171 miles since leaving 24 hours ago. That's an average of 7.125.
This evening the wind was 18-23 knots out of the NNE. One interesting observation is that the water temp increased from 69.7 to 70.9 between 9:30 and 11:00. -DWH
Friday March 23rd, 2001
Here is what 'many miles to go' looks like.
It was a peaceful night of sailing. Checked in with the Pacific Net on SSB this morning. There are several boats with no wind about 250 miles WSW of us. We are going to try to continue south a while before turning west in an attempt to get through the doldrums as quickly as possible.
I ran the engines to charge the batteries for a little less than an hour this morning. I'm hoping that the solar panels will reduce our total charging time from two hours a day to one hour a day. So far it looks promising.
At noon we are 634 miles from the Galapagos. In the last 24 hours our distance made good was 110 miles. Our actual distance traveled was between 150 and 160 miles. Our position is 04 48N, 80 42W. We currently have light winds out of the ESE and are making about 4-5 knots with the spinnaker. The solar panels are pumping out the juice, so we cranked up the stereo and listened to some tunes - U2, Jimmy Buffet, Bare Naked Ladies, and a few others.
After taking a nap, I got up for my watch at 7 pm. As I was coming out to the cockpit I was passed by a little bird that was headed into the saloon. He flew around, and then decided that he would be happier outside. A few minutes later while we were changing from the spinnaker to the main and jib for the night, I spotted him sitting about 2 feet away on the life line. He looked pretty tired, which is not surprising since we are 175 miles from shore. It's dark now, and I haven't seen him for a while, but I hope he's perched somewhere on the boat taking a little rest. If he's still here in the morning we'll give him a little fresh water and some bread to eat.
At 8 PM we finally lost our wind. If we were in an area where we expected wind, we would consider waiting it out. That is not the case here. We are in the doldrums and might not see wind here for several days, so the best option is to motor through it. Oh well, it's a good time to put on the auto pilot and watch the night sky. The stars are fantastic and there have been several shooting stars, some quite bright and long lasting.
11pm: I have some sea observations. 1) The sea surface temperature is up a little more. It is now 72.5 deg. 2) We are in very deep water, about a mile deep, but the depth gauge is acting funny and intermittently reporting a depth of 20-23 feet. My guess is that there is a distinct thermocline at that depth. 3)We also have good bioluminescence again. I don't think we saw much last night. There are two main types of luminescence that we have seen. These could be called "glow"(a general glow to the water usually when disturbed, i.e. in the wake) and "sparkle" (little points of bright light also seen in disturbed water). Right now we have very good glow luminescence in the wake, with a little sparkle mixed in for variety. This is very cool and may also be a good sign as far as our chance of catching fish goes. After all, where there's life, there's probably more life - maybe the tasty fish variety.
11:05 PM: What I just saw was too cool for words. Stacy was just coming up to take her shift at the helm when I heard something blow like a dolphin There was a little flash of bioluminescence and then nothing for a few minutes. Then suddenly the dolphins appeared. They swam in the bow wake just like they have done so many times during the day, but in this case they glowed from the bioluminescence. It was very bright right on the surface of their bodies making every detail of their shape visible. They only swam with us for about a minute, but it was so incredible.
11:15 PM: Fun with other species is not over. Jo spotted our little bird friend on the shelf next to the saloon table. I guess he decided to spend the night after all. Stacy put out some fresh water, and I added a little bread. Good night little buddy. -DWH
Saturday March 24th, 2001
12:57 am: Not much to report...with only1.2 knots of wind. A good time for a little daydreaming (or would that be nightdreaming, but I was awake -most of the time). I saw 2 falling stars. They were both very small, hardly big enough to make a wish on but I tried. I could also see a seagull flying around our mast. Not sure if it was the reflection of our boat, but I could see his underside clearly. It was almost glowing. I know what your thinking...everything seems to glow at sea...but really it does. If only we could capture half of what we see on film, then you might believe us. -SLC
Another beautiful sunrise!
Our little bird friend came out and sat with me in the cockpit for a while early this morning. He was good company even though he didn't say much. We also had dolphins again. They were jumping in the distance. I would estimate that they were getting at least 10 feet out of the water and then crashing down with a big splash. A few passed by the boat but did not seem interested in playing. The wind had slowly been picking up during the early morning as finally reached about 9 knots at sunrise, so we set the spinnaker and are sailing again. Now Jo is cooking up a big breakfast. It looks like it's going to be another fine day.
At 12 noon we 535 miles from the Galapagos. Our distance made good for the last 24 hours is 99 miles. Our position is 03 20 N, 81 41 W. -DWH
Please identify me....
Little bird friend is back. Guy has named him Charlie. He is sitting on a cockpit cushion just next to the captains chair. Can anyone identify this chubby little critter? In both pictures he is on or next to 1 inch webbing.
I figured out why the seagulls seem to glow at night, their underside is very white - a bleached white that really shows even at night. I found these gulls in the Seabird Identification Guide book from Cheryl and Kerry (thank you very much, this is a really great book!!)..."Swallow-Tailed Gull - Unmistakable in the Galapagos Is. Nocturnal, catching squid and fish at night, often met in small parties several hundred kilometers from landfall." This describes the seagull I saw perfectly!-SLC
In the afternoon I saw what might have been a whale. It was probably 1/4 of a mile away, was larger than a dolphin, and moved more slowly than a dolphin. Unfortunately I only got a couple brief glimpses and then it was gone, so there was no opportunity for a positive ID. Later we saw large fish jumping in the distance and even caught a small fish. The answer to the question of who get's credit for catching it is still up in the air though - is it the person who put out the line, the one that noticed that we were dragging a fish behind the boat (probably for a very long time), or the one who reeled in the already dead body. Anyhow, we cleaned it, and Stacy made wonderful fish sandwiches for dinner.
11pm: We are sailing with light wind, but it's great with the spinnaker. It's smooth and peaceful, and we are doing 5 knots with 10 knots of wind from directly behind us (5 knots apparent wind). -DWH
Sunday March 25th, 2001
This morning the wind started shifting from the north east more towards the east and finally a little from the south. This is a good sign as our hope is to get into the south east trade winds that should be blowing south of the doldrums. Eventually we dropped the spinnaker and raised the main and jib. The wind is light and the sailing very peaceful. There is very little chop but a big, long swell. It all makes for a fairly pleasant motion. If the wind holds we should be in fine shape and continue to make good progress towards the Galapagos.
Charlie is gone. I hope he has good luck getting to where ever he is going.
At noon we are 405 miles from the Galapagos. Our distance made good for the last 24 hours is 130 miles. Our position is 02 19 N, 83 35 W.
No fish today, but something broke the hook on the lure attached to the hand line. The hand line is basically a 300 test pound line tied to the back of the boat. The lure was a large artificial squid with a heavy, saltwater hook on it. Nobody noticed anything hit is, but when the boys pulled it in the hook was bent and broken. Whatever did that was bigger than big. -DWH
Monday March 26th, 2001
The sailing early this morning was beautiful. We were using the spinnaker in light wind. Even though there was no moon, the starlight was enough for me to be able to see to move around the deck and watch the sail.
At noon we are 301 miles from Wreck Bay in the Galapagos. Our distance made good is 104 miles for the day. Our position is 1 17 N, 85 87 W.
The wind dropped during the afternoon and finally died about 15:00, so we are back to motoring for a while.
The water temperature has been going up steadily. It is now 77.5 degrees, 8 degrees higher than what I first started watching it after we left Panama.
No fish again today. We must be the worst fishermen in the whole Pacific. Well, at least nothing broke any of out tackle today. -DWH
Tuesday March 27th, 2001
1:10 am Just got done star gazing for 2 hours! I saw 3 falling stars, the first two were very bright and lasted pretty long. We are motoring with the autopilot on, so I was laying on the boom. My feet were pointed forward and I had a great view of the sky. I only had to lift my head to check the horizon for other boats. We haven't seen another boat in several days, but we still need to keep watch. I did not see any birds tonight. -SLC
We motored until 5:30. There seemed to be a little breeze coming up from the southwest, so I set the autopilot to steer into the wind and raised the sail. The engines were cut, and soon we were sailing along very quietly at 3.5 knots in 5 knots of wind. Very nice.
11:00: We are approaching the equator. At the current heading and speed we are about 2 hours away. The refrigerator is on chilling our champagne and beer, and Stacy is busy making party food.
At noon we are 191 miles from Wreck Bay. Our distance made good is 110 miles for the last 24 hours. Our position is 00 06 N, 86 47 W.
About 1:35: As we hit the equator, there was a big cheer. Guy popped the champagne and started to pour. Then he noticed the large dorado fighting to free itself from out hand line. It jumped completely clear of the water giving us a good look and then throwing the hook. We continued on with the champagne. Stacy pulled the pizza out of the oven. It was all very festive. We listened to music from two of the all time greats - Bob Marley and Musky Mike and the Mad Dogs from Mars (We are working on booking Musky Mike along with Square One, the great band from Barbados, to play at out circumnavigation party in Tobago. P.S. Yo Jon, play hard and keep your head low.). -DWH
It's 6:10pm and we're about to watch our first sunset in the southern hemisphere. We hope that it will be setting in the west as it did in the northern hemisphere. I still can't stop thinking about the dorado that got away. It was enormous. The cork from the champagne bottle must have hit the water next to the lures seconds before the "one that got away" struck. I'm working on the others to open more champagne. So far my theory hasn't convinced them. It is only a matter of time before I win them over. -Guy
Wednesday March 28th, 2001
1AM Jo and I just put up the sails about a half hour ago. We are moving along nicely around 6 knots. -SLC
5am: I've just finished my 2 hour "madrugada" shift. It's always a bit of a surprise when you go to sleep with the boat chugging along slowly and when you wake it's zipping along with the engines off and the sails up. We've been making good progress at between 5 and 6 knots and may well have our first sighting of the Galapagos Archipelago before sunset tomorrow. - Guy
At 12 noon we are 65 miles from Wreck Bay. Our distance made good for the last 24 hours is 126 miles. Our position is 00 31N, 88 46 W. It looks like we will not make it to Wreck Bay during day light, so we will be spending another night at sea and head in in the morning. -DWH
Dave spots land at 2:05PM a nice mountain top on the horizon. -Guy
At sunset we were about 10 miles north of Isla San Christobal. Since we do not want to enter Wreck Bay at night, we are trying to work our way slowly down the coast in that direction. We were sailing along for a while at a steady 1.5 - 2 knots with only a double reefed main. As the wind started to die, I also unfurled the jib which helped for a while. The wind finally died. I took the sails down, and we drifted with the current. Then within a time span of a few minutes we went from sitting on a calm surface to bouncing around with white caps surrounding us. But there was still no wind?!? It was the current eddy. It was also a little spooky and a little uncomfortable, so we fired up the diesels and motored slowly in the direction of Wreck Bay and into calmer water. -DWH
Thursday March 29th, 2001
Jo says that he saw a shark swim around the boat during the night.
5:30am: We've been drifting in calm water for the last couple hours. We are very near to the suggest approach to Wreck Bay. Once the sun comes up we will head in and finish our longest passage to date. -DWH
10 AM: We have arrived in Wreck Bay. We now now why it is called wreck bay... large breaking waves and a wreck!! Jiin is going to love the waves, hope she shows up soon. Anchor is down, dinghy is inflated!! Jo is ready to head to shore to check us in. We have already been greeted by several boats(including Gabby, Miles and Hannah on s/v Thor) and an energetic seal. We are very happy to be here! -SLC
How pleasant to be welcomed to the Galapagos by a seal! As we were motoring into the anchorage we spotted a seal sleeping on the transom of another catamaran. Then a second seal appeared and swam around the boat while we looked for a spot to drop the anchor. It even did a couple little jumps for us.
Jo, Stacy and Guy went to shore to do customs and immigration. I stayed on Ladybug to clean up a few things and do some post passage checks. Checked fuel and water levels. Diesel: tank is 30% full, Jerry jugs still full. We used 13 on the passage and have 47 left. Engine hours is 1509.. Water: We are still using the port tank which has about 25 gallons left, so we used about 15 gallons out of the tank during the passage. We also used a couple of the 2 liter bottles of water for bathing. It works out that we used about 1/2 gallon per person per day and about 90-95 gallons left.
The rest of the crew came back a couple hours later. They were not completely successful. One of the offices had run out of one of the forms or something like that. The paperwork will have to be finished tomorrow. Finally we all headed in for our usual post passage celebratory meal - a cheeseburger and a beer. It took us about 10 hours, and there were many other stops, but we were finally successful. The town here is very nice and very safe. We had a lot of fun.
There are seal lions everywhere. -DWH
Friday March 30th, 2001
Stacy and I inflated our kayaks and did a little exploring. We checked out the rocks on the north side of Wreck Bay and saw blue-footed boobies and more sea lions. Eventually we ended up at a little beach. There was a pretty good surf which caught us by surprise and threw us up onto the beach. We left the kayaks there and walked up to the San Cristobal Interpretation Center where we learned a little more about these interesting islands. When we got back the tide had gone out and there was an even better surf. There were a couple local kids with their boards having a great time. We got back in the water without too much difficulty but then decided to play in the surf ourselves. As a good wave would approach, I would paddle as hard as I could to try to catch the wave. The first couple times I just didn't have enough speed. The wave would push me along for a short distance and then pass. I tried again, but this time the wave broke much farther out. Suddenly I was being pushed along by the breaking wave with white water all around. I was totally out of control, going very fast, and heading right for the rocks. Then I was in the rocks, me and the kayak being pounded by the breaking wave. I stood up with no obvious injuries, but then I had the scariest moment of all. I saw Stacy's kayak by the rocks near the beach, but I didn't see Stacy. I called a couple times and heard no answer. I felt a little panic. Then I saw her on the beach. She had not intended to ride the wave, but it broke behind her, and she had no choice. We both laughed and talked about what had happened. It was great fun, quite dangerous, and I was glad I had done it......................once......................only once. -DWH
Saturday March 21st, 2001
There was a mission to the morning market in town this morning. Stacy, Jo, and Guy bought fish, fruit, and vegetables. While they were gone I looked at the leaky water pump. Guess what? It doesn't leak any more. I watched it for about an hour. Normally this would make me uncomfortable, but I think I understand what is going on.
Later in the morning we went in to drop off our laundry ($3 a load - washed, dried, and folded) and for a trip to a little natural history museum. The museum's big attraction is "Pepe" the tortuous. He is 70 or 80 years old and loves fruit.
Good morning Mr. Pepe.
In the afternoon Stacy and I went exploring by kayak. We went out the the wreck and searched the shore line for marine iguanas, but only saw sea lions. Then we went back to Ladybug and turned our new toys over to Guy and Jo. They took off and Stacy and I settled into doing some reading. We noticed a sea lion hanging around the boat. Pretty soon he jumped up and made himself at home on the transom.
Jo and Guy returned and gave the kayaks two thumbs up. They ended up playing with some local kids, and at one point had 6 people on one kayak. Jo said he was going to give the Kayak a 10, but decided he could only give it a 9 1/2. He thinks the kids had more fun than he did so he had to leave a little room for their score.
Wow! My writing was just interrupted by the sound of sea lions. They are back on the transom - two adults, on on each side, and a smaller one swimming around next to the boat. It's an entire sea lion family! -DWH
Sunday April 1st, 2001
We got up early, and by 7:15 we were motoring out of Wreck Bay headed for Academy Bay on Isla Santa Cruz.. Unfortunately there is almost now wind, so the sails remained down. We put out the fishing lines, and before long we had a hit. I jumped for the pole, but by the time I got to it the line was slack. I reeled it in and found that something with very sharp teeth had cut through the 250lb monofiliment leader and taken the lure. It must have been a shark.
A little while later I was surprised by the sound of a "blow" about 50 feet behind the boat. It was a whale. I called everyone out on deck. We saw what we believe was the same whale 4 or 5 more times but further back. Jo managed to get it on his video camera. We also saw some other whales in the distance. About a half hour later we saw another one a head of us. This one appeared to be larger. It surfaced a couple times and then disappeared.
Jo pulled out "Seawatch - A Seafarer's Guide to Marine Life" in an attempt to identify exactly what kind of whale we had seen. After reviewing the video tape, we think it was most likely a Bryde's (pronounced brewder) whale. The clues are as follows: 1) the way it surfaced - the shape of the fin, the high arch of the back, flukes not shown. (these characteristics are the same for fin and blue whales); 2) they are found in tropical waters (fin and blue whales are occationally seen in tropical waters but are usually in cold water); and 3) they are not shy and will often approach vessels.
While I had the Seawatch book open, I also looked up Seals. It turns out that what we are seeing here are California Sea Lions.
About half way to Academy Bay and passing Isla Santa Fe when we got another hit on the fishing line. I yelled to everyone else that there was a fish on and started to pull it in. I asked Jo to bring in the hand line, so it would not get tangled with the line that had the fish on it. When Jo grabbed the hand line he realized that there was lots of tension on it. There must be a fish on it also! He told Stacy to put on some gloves because he was having trouble holding the line with his bare hands. Once she had the gloves on she pulled in a nice 15 lb yellow fin tuna. Meanwhile I was pulling in 10 lb skipjack tuna. Both are excellent eating.
Guy and I cleaned the tuna, cutting them into steaks. The last cuts we made were near the head. This meat looked especially good, so Stacy took that and immediately soaked it in lemon juice. Once everything was cleaned up (tuna are very bloody fish) we had it for lunch.........raw. Well not quite raw, as the lemon juice does seem to "cook" it somewhat (fish prepared by cold "cooking" in lemon juice is commonly called Ceviche). It was delicious. Stacy, Guy and I enjoyed it very much. Jo on the other hand decided to wait until later, prefering his fished off the grill. That's a good precaution. If Stacy, Guy and I are making a big mistake, at least Jo will be able to take us to the hospital.
Around 1:30 Guy caught another skipjack tuna. Since we have plenty of fish for a huge dinner, we decided to release it.
When we pulled into Academy Bay we recognized several boats. Stacy was especially excited to see Beacon and Trojka Danmark. Her friend Natalie is on Beacon and Natalies's new love, John, is on Trojka. We also recognized Sunbow and a few other boats. It's really great to show up and find friends. At one point Peace and Aloha heard Stacy on the VHF and said hello. They are anchored over at Isla Isabela 45 miles away. They were a little broken up, but Stacy had no trouble talking to them. That is amazing. I knew that it helped when I rewired the VHF antenna, but the maximum range of a VHF is usually about 25 miles.
Ken and Judith from Sunbow stopped by to say hello. They have a Chris White designed catamaran. I've read about the design but have never seen one of the boats, so they invited me over for a look. Guy also came along for the tour. It's a beautiful boat and set up very nicely for sailing. If we had unlimited funds (Does any one know how the stock market is doing?) I would love to have a boat like Sunbow.
Well, what do you do when you run into a bunch of friends and have a huge pile of fish steaks in the fridge? Time for a party. Jo fired up the grill, Stacy whipped up some salad and rice with fresh carrots, and soon we had fourteen people in the cockpit. It was a good time, and we almost managed to eat all the fish. There is just a little left to snak on tomorrow. Stacy and Guy were conducting taste tests on the fish and have concluded that, when eaten raw, the skipjack tuna was better. When grilled the yellow fin was tastier.
As the party on Ladybug started to break up, Nat decided it was time to go to shore and go dancing. John, Natalie, Stacy, Guy, and I hit town and found a bar playing good music. We were having a good time dancing, but something just didn't seem right. It was kind of like the Twilight Zone, where the aliens are creating illusions, but they get little things wrong that tip you off that it's not real. Finally Guy pointed out what it was. There were very few men in the bar, but lots of pretty girls. -DWH
Monday April 2nd, 2001
Woke up, did post party clean up, and headed for town. We had heard some negative reports about Academy Bay, but it looks pretty good to me. There are more tourist shops than Wreck Bay, but it's nice. After cheeseburgers and milkshakes we walked to the Charles Darwin Research Center. It covers a large area with many buildings. There is also a nice beach were we saw marine iguanas and red crabs. There is an especially nice tortoise exhibit. Tortoises were an easy food source for early sailers. They could be easily captured and then kept in the hold of the ship until they were needed. Possibly even more damaging, though, was the introduction to the islands of other species that preyed on the young or competed for food. Goats were especially bad. One race of tortoises is down to one lonly male. When he dies, that's it. There are other races that have dangerously low populations. The center collects there eggs and raises the baby tortoises in a protected environment for 2 years, gradually expose them to more and more of the conditions they will be exposed to when they are released.
Marine Igaunas posing for thier photo!
Tortoises hanging out at the Charles Darwin Research Center.
After walking all over the research center in the hot sun, we had some water and juice and headed for the beach. On the outskirts of town there is the trailhead with a national park office where you need to sign in. It is then a beautiful 3km walk to the beach. And what a beach it is! The sand is white and very fine. There is a great surf, no garbage or development, and very few people. We saw lots of birds, a couple marine iguanas and rays, and possibly a shark. Just past the surfing beach there is another beach that is very protected. Guy and I went for a swim there. We enjoyed the swim but didn't see much. We did run into a woman who had seen black tipped reef sharks there yesterday. After our swim we went to the surfing beach to join Stacy and Jo in a little body surfing. It was so much fun. All things considered, I would have to say that this is the best beach I've ever seen. Refreshed and a little tired from all the time in the water, we headed back down the trail. It was a nice walk and when we got to the park office we discovered that they have showers. Most excellent. -DWH
Tuesday April 3rd, 2001
It was a pretty laid back day. We all made a trip to the internet cafe. I finally had a chance to read the article in the Madison Capital Times. It was fun to see our names in print and also pretty accurate. Jo and Guy made another trip to the beach for some body surfing. I rewired the solar panels so it is possible to choose which battery bank to power from each panel. -DWH
Wednesday April 4th, 2001
Dave has finished wiring the solar panels with the new switches. Guy and I have ordered 50 gallons of water. This is desalinated water and will cost us .35 cents per gallon. Jo has been busy on more updates for the website (movie clip and thumb nail photos previews). -SLC
We filled the main diesel tank from some of our jerry jugs. We added 24 gallons. Engine hours are at 1511. I believe that we have put on about 50 hours since we filled the tank in Colon. Most of that time was actually motoring and not just charging the batteries. We have estimated our fuel consumption at .25 gallons/ hour when charging at around 1200RPM. Based on this last fill up it looks like we use around .5 gallons/hour when motoring at 1800-2000RPM. With our 66 gallons of fuel capacity, that gives us about 130 hours at a speed of 5 knots, or a range of about 650 miles. But if we only motor to enter and leave anchorages and occationally to reef or change sails, and use the engines primarily for charging, our fuel will last much longer. With the new solar panels we should have to run the engines less than one hour a day, so we should have fuel to charge for at least 250 days.
I checked the water in the port battery. Looks good.
Stacy did some email and a little shopping and then went to the beach. It was a nice walk and the swimming was good although we did not do very well at body surfing. Afterwards we took showers at the park office and hit the town. There was a volley ball tournement on the waterfront. It was a cool local scene. We hung out and watched a couple games and then went off in search of refreshments. The prices on the main street along the water front were a little high ($2.50 for a large 600ml beer), so we moved over a couple blocks. We found a street with lots of small restaurants and bars. Each restaurant had little grills that they were starting to fire up, and the street was starting to come alive. There were some tourist, but there was also a good mix of local people. We shared a couple large beers ($1.40) and then decided to move on for dinner. We walked about 5 or 6 blocks further away from the waterfront and found a place that looked totally local. There was no English spoken at this place which was a good sign but made ordering more difficult. We ordered a large beer and soup to start. It was a fish soup and was served with a half of lime and some spicy garlic sauce. We shared the large bowl. It was fantastic. Next we ordered a plate of rice, beans, and some kind of meat. It turned out the meat was liver which Stacy tried (she is definitely not a liver fan) and I really enjoyed. All in all it was a nice meal. When we asked for the bill we were told that it was $2.25. At first we thought that they must have forgotten to charge us for the beer, but the owner assured us that the bill was correct. -DWH
Thursday April 5th, 2001
Jo checked us out so we can leave tomorrow. There is no immigration office on Isla Isebella, we needed to clear out before leaving here.
Stacy and I sent some mail and shopped for fresh fruits and vegetables. We bought 14 oranges, 5 grapefruit, 11 tomatos, a papaya, 12 heads of garlic, a stalk of bananas (about 30 or 40), a red pepper, fresh basil, and bay leaves. The total cost was $12.
I checked the engine oil. Starboard is a little overfull. Port is a little low but still acceptable. There is water in both engine bilges. Maybe the water pump on the port side is still leaking. I will look at that while we are at Isla Isebella. I'm not sure what is up with the starboard engine, but Jo says that it's pretty normal. I'll worry about the port side first.
The solar panels did a good job of charging the batteries up today.
We all went into town for one last time. We all went back to the same restaurant the Stacy and I ate at last night. We had 2 large beers, 4 bowls of chicken soup, and 4 plates of rice, beans and liver. The bill came to $6.50. From this we can determine that the beer is $1.25 and the food is $1 for the soup and plate of food combined. What a difference a couple blocks makes. On the way back to the dock we stopped off and had "Magnum" ice cream bars. Jo kept a wrapper to make a "Buck Weber Special" fishing lure.
Before going to bed we got the dingy up on the net and things cleaned up so we will be ready to leave early in the morning. It will be about 50 miles and we want to make sure to get to Isla Isabella before dark. -DWH
Friday April 6th, 2001
Everyone was up at 6am, and we were underway by 6:30. Within the first couple hours we saw two turtles, a ray that jumped clear out of the water, and lots birds. I've tried but have not been able to positively identified the birds (they look like petrals), but they are everywhere.
At 10:30 we are almost half way and doing 8 knots with the spinnaker. -DWH
1:16 Pulled in beautiful Tuna!! 29 inch in length and 18 inch girth. Dave fought it for at least 20 minutes with our lightest pole. Very exciting! -SLC
While Dave was pulling in this tuna we took down the spinnaker and then started to pull in the other lines. While pulling in the handlines there was a fairly insistent booby that kept on diving for our two lures and pulling them out of the water. This had us very worried but luckily it didn't like the rubber texture and didn't hook itself and so we didn't have to add booby to the fish for dinner. -Guy
1:53 Another Tuna!! 39 inch in length, 23 inch girth. This one was caught on the handline. Guy's early warning device alerted us. Guy and I worked on pulling it aboard while Jo steered the boat. Dave gaffed it, and we had it aboard in about 5 minutes!! Now we will be feeding the whole anchorage. Hope Beacon is there!! -SLC
I feel that I should be contributing more to the log and now I really have reason to. This morning was the first time I've every constructed (put together is probably more acurate) a lure to catch large sea game fish. Following some advice from Jo and Dave I put a steel tracer, hook, phake phish phood (aka rubber squid) and a small weight to keep it below the surface. I then let it out on the hand line and set up my early warning detection device. This I feel needs some explaining: When a fish strikes one of the rod and reel systems we know about it immediately as the ratchet screems and our heartbeats double. The handlines are attached to an elasticated bungy cord from the back of the boat. We think that we've dragged fish for minutes/hours/days before we've noticed that they're attached - okay I'm exagerrating on the days. The point of this is that we needed some method to let us know when a fish had struck on one of the handlines, so I spent some time experimenting with a few different ways of attaching straps to the handline and running them to the forward section of the cockpit. Nothing actually worked - to be more acurate we didn't have any strikes while one of my early warning detection devices was in place - until this little baby you see Stacy and I holding. The yellow fin tuna hit so hard that the detection strap hit the deck like a whip being cracked. I was busy cleaning the first fish with Dave, however I did get a chance to turn around and see Jo, who was relaxing in the drivers seat, jump about a foot in the air. - Guy
At 4pm we pulled into the anchorage and dropped "the beast". For the second time in a row we arrived loaded with fish. Once everything was ship shape Jo started firing up the grill, and I did a dingy tour meeting new people and letting them that Ladybug was having a party. We ended up having 11 guests- Ken and Judith from Sunbow, Rick and Suza from Voyager, Carl and Kathleen from Silverfin, Paul and Suzette from Altaire, and of course David, Alix, and Natalie from Beacon. We had grilled tuna, tuna ceviche (my new favorite food), and pasta with homemade pesto sause. To this our guests added rice, several different salads, and brownies. It was an excellent feast. -DWH
Saturday April 7th, 2001
This morning we did a little exploring. There are several small islands that form a natural breakwater protecting the anchorage. We had heard that there was a good spot to see sharks, so we set out in the dingy. On the way there were several sea lions that were curious and swam around and under the dingy. It's cool making eye contact from only a few feet away. We stopped at one island. It appeared to have been formed by lava that was slowly cooling while it was continuting to flow. The surface had lots of wrinkles (you might get the same affect if you baked brownies on a rocking boat). The island also had long cracks in the surface that were up to 5 feet wide and ran for as much as 100 feet. These were quite deep and filled with seawater that flows in and out with the tide. We saw marine iguanas which are easy to approach within a few feet. We also saw a bird catch a small crab. Jo got it on video. Like the iguanas it was only a few feet away. It carried the crab around in it's beek. Every once in a while it would set it down and peck at it. Eventually it just swallowed it whole which looked difficult. It reminded me of what a snake looks like when it swallows something large. We could actually see it passing down the throat.
The second island that we stopped on had a very different surface. It was also volcanic but very sharp and jagged. There was a trail that lead to another fissure with water in it. We stood and looked into the water. There were a few small fish, but suddenly we saw what we were looking for - white tipped sharks. They swam back and forth right below us. This alone would have made our day, but we were not done yet. We had also brought our skin diving gear. There was a little lagoon that was connected to the fissure with the sharks. There were mangroves on the far side of the lagoon, and this was where we headed. We saw a sting ray and then as we got near the mangroves there were suddenly sharks all around us. As far as we could tell they were all white tips and from 3 to 5 long. They swam within about 3 feet of us. Very cool!
After swimming with the sharks, we explored the island a little more. We saw sea lions, lots of marine iguanas including one that must have been 3 feet long, and several blue footed boobies. The boobies are incredible. There are so many of them, and it is amazing when they feed. They spot the fish from the air and then fold their wings and dive at high speed like a missles. It's most spectacular in the morning and evening. At these times most of them have returned from the sea, but continue feeding around the anchorage. Often there will be a hundred or more flying together, and then suddenly they all dive hitting the a small patch of water within a second.
After our exciting morning we returned to the boat to pig out on ceviche. That's all that is left of what seemed like a mountain of fish.
Since I've mentioned ceviche a couple of times lately, I should explain exactly how it's prepared. I cut the tuna into pieces that are an inch or two in diameter and a quarter of an inch thick. I put these in a container with a thinly sliced and chopped onion and a diced tomato. Then I pour lemon juice over everything and let it sit for about an hour. It's just that simple. The lemon juice seems to cook the fish somewhat so it doesn't quite seem raw. I especially like to eat it on saltine crackers.
Later: Stacy and I took a sunset tour with the kayaks. We ended up in the middle of the booby feeding frenzy. Hundreds of blue footed boobies were circling around us. Then they would spot a school of fish and dive. Sometimes they hit so close to us that we were hit by the splash. This was one of the coolist things I have ever seen.-DWH
Sunday April 8th, 2001
This morning I started in on some boat projects. Everything went pretty well. I removed the water pump from the port engine again and fixed the new leak. I'm getting good at this, but I hope I don't need to do it again soon. I also topped of the oil and cleaned the bilge. Then I turned my attention to the problem with the electrical system. Sometimes the engine does not start right away. If I wiggle the wire after the fuse mounted on the engine, then it works. At first I thought it was a problem with the connector, so I soldered it to positively eliminate that as a possibility. I then wiggled the wire to verify that it was solid and noticed something funny with the fuse. There turned out to be a bad connection in the fuse itself. This fuse block is a standard part of the engine and has four fuses built in. There is no way to change an individual fuse. Upon further inspection, it turns out that all four fuses have the same lose solder joint inside. That is why when I switched which fuse was used I still had the problem. So I pulled of the Volvo fuse block and replaced it with a block that holds a std 10 amp fuse. This problem has been a minor pain in the butt for a long time, and I'm really glad its solved.
I got my first haircut today since November. Natalie did a great job, I will be forever in debt for such a huge favor. Who ever thought I'd get my hair done in the Galapagos in the cockpit of our own boat!! -SLC
I tested the bilge pumps. The one in the cockpit is good for about 10 gal/min. The one in the saloon is not working so well. This needs to be investigated. -DWH
At around midday I took one of the (new) sea kayaks out for a paddle. My objective was to view the white tipped reef sharks from above while they were at work munching the reef fish. I entered the lagoon and tried to paddle with stealth to the place I had last seen them. A young sea lion spotted me and came up to the kayak and played around it and followed me to the shark place. As soon as the sea lion (and I) saw the sharks it started chasing them and trying to play with them. This appeared to agitate the sharks and shortly after our arrival two of them were circling the kayak. This made me very nervous as it was obvious that the sharks weren't happy with the sea lion's (or probably my) presence. Luckily they only circled twice and then swam off. I immediately felt braver and went off in search of more sharks. My sea lion friend went off and found itself another friend and when I returned I discovered that the two juvenile sea lions had chased all the sharks away. Whenever a shark returned to the spot the two young sea lions swam after it and it looked like they were trying to play with it. My marine life observations today make me draw the conclusion that sharks are not as playful as sea lions. I'm not sure if Darwin ever discovered this. -Guy
In the afternoon we went ashore to look for flamingos. After a short hike we found them. They were only about 100 - 120 feet away and very beautiful. This is much closer than we got to them in Bonaire. -DWH
Went over to say goodbye to Beacon, they will be leaving for the Marquesas in the morning. We shared a glass of wine and I gave Natalie the Tracy Chapman CD that I made for her. I hope John is sailing well, and I can't wait to see everyone in the Marquesas. -SLC
Monday April 9th, 2001
Today Jo, Stacy and I took a most excellent tour of the volcano. The day long tour included riding horses and some hiking. It was great fun and only cost $11.25 per person. To see more check out "Horses and Volcanos in the Galapagos".
Meanwhile back at the ranch (Ladybug), Guy was hanging out probably enjoying some peace and quiet (he is allergic to horses). We sent a couple cute cowgirls to tell him to kayak in and meet us for beer and dinner. He got the message and showed up a little later. We had an excellent night and then got a good night sleep. -DWH
Tuesday April 10th, 2001
Everyone is working on getting ready to leave for the Marquesas. We are planning on leaving tomorrow.
Stacy and Jo headed to shore to get laundry done and pick up some fresh produce.
I tested the manual water makers. Both produced good drinkin water. Then I pickled them and put them back into storage. I also looked into hooking the water tanks up to our SSB ground. Looks like a big job to run the wire, so I'll put that off until later. Finally I did a complete rigging inspection both from the deck and up the mast. I'm no rigger, but at least I can tell that there are no obvious problems. We are not to worried since we just had the rig replaced in September, but it's still good to do a check before a major passage.
Since the view from the mast was so good, I went up a second time with the camera.
Stacy and I took the opportunity for one more adventure before leaving the Galapagos. We loaded camping gear and dinner in the kayaks and paddled over to the island where we had seen the sharks. We found a good spot on the beach, made our bed, and then had a candle light dinner. Most excellent. The sea lions were a little noisy during the night. I'm sure they were curious about their new neighbors and a couple times came within about 15 feet of us. -DWH
forward to Passage to the Marquesas 4/11/01 - 5/2/01