Las Perlos Islands
I had to move off a big mooring which I'd picked up once the owner came down. The crew spoke not a word, just pointed at the mooring...I got it.......so moved to another. There I was looked after by Eric and Lynne, he's an Aussie ex Navy, shipwright from Yamba and she's a Pom, I think. They're on a massive 60 foot catamaran "Amarula"which he designed and built. They spent quite some time in Tanganyika and as I spent 2 years in Kenya we have lots to talk about.They have 2 Jack Russell's who have grown up on the boat plus a young lady from Wales who is crewing with them.
On Costa "Lotta", I was able to complete and send my latest blog which you should all have. Please feel free to forward it to whoever you like ....or don't like, or who you think may be interested.
In the anchorage there were 4 yachts from Aus. including a 38 foot steel Van der Stadt from Townsville where I bought ELIANA. The poor skipper, David, had to take the ferry back to Balboa to buy another outboard after his 3 yo Honda carked it !
I got a weather routing plan from Bob McDavitt who is a weather guru in NZ and whom I met at the ICA rally to Tonga in '07 when he came up to talk to us about likely weather heading up there. Unfortunately, I don't have my Satellite phone going which is a long story for some other time, so I can't get updates from Bob. However, much of what he sent me is useful .
Yesterday, when the SE kicked in I thought we'd passed through the Doldrums or ITCZ as they are now know .( Intra Tropical Convergence Zone).... an area of no or little wind on the equator where the NE trades meet the SE Trades and pretty much fizzle out.( break here for breakfast).....I make a big container of muesli with its of dried fruit which I have with yoghurt and at present passion fruit which are huge and full of fruit. Anyway, more trivia.😁
I have a couple of drinks after 5 pm which are consumed sitting on my Captain's seat on deck and usually listen to my play list faves. I've been trying to cook enough for 2 meals so I just have to reheat on the second day. It's hard for me to come up with much variety but I'm not starving that's for sure The Watermaker is a boon, and I've been having 2 showers a day as it's been very hot and likely to continue. The Galapagos are under equator.
At the moment we are 2 degrees 43 minutes north and about 85 west.
David from the Aussie boat "Sahula" as mentioned, has 4 on board a boat smaller than mine.
One is leaving at Gal. and he's throwing another off there. The young Danish guy asked if I wanted crew and have given it much thought but think I will push on as I am, solo. When the weather is ok it is very peaceful out here. You are the only visible thing for 360 degrees. The only real worry other than bad weather is the possibility of encountering Asian fishing vessels which can be up to 300 tonnes and still not required to carry and AIS.( automatic identification system)
As we are approaching Easter and Equinox the moon is waxing so it's quite bright for half the night. I go to bed about 8 pm and just sleep,getting up several times to check course, sails, drink some water and so on. Last night we had an escort if some large seabirds who flew ahead and around the boat all night. The bow red and green navigation lights seemed to attract them.
They are welcome and may be pleased to know that I don't carry a crossbow !
In the mornings after breakfast I've been doing some boat maintenance. Yesterday, I had to get my porta potti ( still unused) from the back of the "cave" and have it set up ready to impress the bureaucrats at Galapagos. I'm hoping my bottom is clean enough 😳. They will be checking it .
It's very expensive there I know but the thought of sailing almost 4000 miles non stop to the Marquases was overwhelming , besides, I'd like to visit the place. My preference would have been to sail down to Easter Island and Pitcairn after Gal. but you need competent crew who can manage the boat as there is no safe harbour in either island. A boat cannot be left unattended lest the wind changes and it ends up on the rocks in a very remote part of the world.
Maybe next time !
I think that's enough drivel for the moment so will sign off for now.....cheers...
I did a major shop up as mentioned, before leaving Balboa. This was at a Cosco or equivalent which is great but you end up getting too much of some items...eg huge container of Parmesan cheese which would last for 10 years. I bought a big pack of capsicums, red and green which have started going off, even in the fridge .....what to do ? Ah, stuffed peppers ! So I got out my trusty PWA cookbook ( a gift from David and Shelley Moon in 1983) and followed the recipe.....not bad but will 'rev them up ' a but more next time.
I had the escort of sea birds ahead of me again last night. They swoop around in front of my red and green now navigation lights changing colour as they pass the lights. I guess they are sea bird flavour though will not try 😛.
At present we have about 230 n. Miles to go but our boat speed has now dropped to 2.5 knots so I will need to start the motor again shortly.
That's enough verbal diarrhoea for the moment.
Have been motoring all night again so will need to top up fuel which is always quite a bit of faffing around but essential. At sea we talk in "nautical miles" which are slightly longer than land miles. * the way they are derived is.....the circumference of the earth can be divided into 360 degrees and there are 60 minutes in one degree . That gives the distance around the earth at the equator 360 x60=21600 nautical miles. Now if you subtend the angle of one minute of latitude out to the earth's surface, that is one nautical mile. All the marine charts are expressed in Nautical miles and that's what we use to measure distance, the latitude scale. I learnt all this in 1982 when I did the navigation classes at RMIT with a really great ex-British submariner Colin Fiford as our teacher .....If you find that bit boring, don't read it !
At about 2 am last night I had a major panic. I woke up and thought I could smell rubber burning.
In the rear starboard quarter cabin which I am currently sleeping in at sea there
is a little electric fan which often smells of melting plastic. So I woke up, could smell burning and raced outside to the cockpit, looked at the engine temperature gauge and thought it showed 'H' (Hot) so turned the engine off, cleared the dirty dishes from the sink and opened the engine cover. First thought was a broken alternator belt, which was ok. Next thought was a disintegrated impeller for the water cooling and third was a stuffed water pump. By now I'd woken up through stress and anxiety and decided to check the engine temp. again. Got torch this time. Started the engine, all looked normal. Waited, nothing, all ok......panic over arghhhh😀. Back to bed to resume more weird dreams.
Day 8 0700hrs
Had a seabird hitchhike for about 14 hours. It perched on my pulpit....at the bow of the boat.
It was a largish bird with a long blue beak with a hook on the end ( not a fish hook!) once it settled down and fought off a couple of attacks from other birds perhaps seeking a lift on THAT spot too it started preening itself and surprisingly stayed whilst I furled the genoa at 2 am.
It was quite funny as it was sitting over the LED port (red) bow navigation light which illuminated all of its underside red. Anyway, I was very pleased to allow it some rest aboard the good ship ELIANA. Cooler this morning with a bit of cloud cover although it's still early.
When I got up at just before midnight I noticed that we were quickly (well, at 5 knots, jogging pace 😉) ...... about to depart the northern hemisphere and enter the southern. I watched our position tick over and just after midnight we crossed the equator ! How about that ? Very cool I thought !
Settled on Jules Verne's "Around the world in 80 days" which I found quite compelling ! What a genius Jules Verne was. Anyway, I'd better attend to boat business ...especially trying to eradicate the little fruit flies which are hard to eliminate. Quarantine and entry here is very strict and I'm worried that the boat bottom will not be clean enough inspite being antifouled 7 weeks ago. I dived on it on Isla Contra Dora last week but could only get down about 3 feet. Apart from along the waterline it looked pretty good, just a light layer of slime in places. They may make me take it offshore and get it cleaned at my ( great ) expense . Also, I have to ring my agent who is organising my "autografo" or permit but I don't have a local SIM card yet....how could I ?
I've had to put up signs attached to bins( plastic rubbish bags) separating organic, solid, plastic,cardboard waste ! I hope they approve of my Porta Potti as a "holding tank". Finally, I don't have evidence of current insurance although it was paid prior to leaving Balboa the paperwork didn't reach me prior to leaving. So......watch this space for updates.
It's been very pleasant inspite of the almost constant motoring. Weather has been light,warm and seas very gentle with just a swell from the south east mostly. The moon has been waxing and is now nearly full so the seas have been illuminated with the skies clear so the stars were all visible. The changing sky scape at night is fascinating.....watching the moon rise, then set. The Southern Cross early in the night a near vertical cross then tilts later in the evening.
Followed waypoints in, trying to locate the west cardinal Mark or buoy which indicates clear water on that side, ie west.....couldn't see it but all looked ok on a bearing of 165 degrees true. Had to go behind a tanker ship delivering fuel. Harbour very crowded, see Sahula who left 2 days before me and Swedish yacht Freewheel who left just behind me. Go slowly close alongside Sahula and say Gidday ! What luck, the agent is onboard checking them in. He is also my agent, Bolivia Pesantes. Find a spot near them and drop anchor in about 10 meters of water. Conditions are very still although we had some rain earlier on. The island looks green.
Eventually, Bolivia comes over in one of the local ferries which take you from your boat to the wharf for $1-. He takes my passport,copy of ships papers, fumigation certificate ( for which I paid $80- to my Panama agent for) and says he'll be back in an hour. Good, that gives me time to check the bottom,well at least the waterline. There's weed along it and a few little barnacles appearing...not good. Undaunted, I get my trusty boat broom with course hairs and go along leaning over the side cleaning off the weed. Must check the stern from the swim platform at the rear...not good, barnacles... So lean over and start knocking them off and scrubbing as best as possible .Starting to look good. Bloody hell ! All the officials ,police, immigration, customs, port Captain plus the agent and Heading for Sahula, in front of me. Hope they didn't see me ! Think it unlikely as I was leaning down low over the transom with the broom under water.
Some time later....here they all come !
All the officials crowd into Eliana's cockpit and are a friendly, happy bunch. What a contrast to the Caribbean Officials. Nothing is said about me cleaning the bottom just before they arrived...phew ! I suck up by handing out mini toy koalas which I save for special guests....these grown men all want one 😄.
The paper work is completed while 2 burly divers with goggles and snorkels check below the waterline. Once they appear they say, " very clean bottom ". Hooray ! If it wasn't you have to take the boat 40 miles offshore and have it cleaned at your expense.
Then a guy with what looks like a huge rocket launching anti tank weapon arrives....they say AH here's Rambo ! That means he's going to fumigate the boat....this is seriously nasty stuff.😁
Before that I am taken down into the cabin where the agent extracts $1103 USD from me which allows entry with my boat to the 3 main ports, Cristobal where we are, Santa Cruz, and Isabella and gives a visa for 60 days.
Rambo says we must leave the boat,he puts on a mask and starts fumigating. As I leave on the water taxi there are billows of smoke coming out of the cabin, it looks like my beloved boat is on fire. The wharf has a low, protected landing with seals sprawled out on the concrete steps. Two young seals are play fighting and others are barking nearby. Later at anchor it sounds like it's an old single men's home on a Saturday night with coughing, wheezing and hawking going on until slumber gets me.
Back at the wharf I look for wifi which happens to be a little bar with seating outside. On the way I am accosted by a friendly Aussie and his Ecuadorian girlfriend who kindly invite me to their boat for drinks and dinner later. At the bar are the skipper and crew of Sahula who are all busy and focussed on the modern disease...internetting. I decide on one of the two local beer options and join them, being also addicted to communicating which is fortunate or you wouldn't be receiving this. ( perhaps unfortunate ?😩)
Resting and starting to look at some of the sights.This place, Isla Cristobal is known for seals.
Today we are planning to share a taxi and have a look around. As this blog post is already far too long I'll stop here. Trust all's well
Puerto Basqeuerzo Moreno
Isla San Cristobal
23 March 2016.
Full moon ☺️