Finally (we heard you, Dave ;-), some new photos from the Panama - Galapagos passage. As the Sailblogs photo manager is pretty clumsy we will post the photos on Picasa from now on (the old ones will stay in the Sailblogs Gallery, see link to the right). Click here for the new album.
09 - Pacific Crossing
We had two very nice days here yesterday and today, finally exploring a bit of the plant and wild life that the Galapagos are famous for. After some school and boat work in the morning we went up to Cristobal's Interpretative Center yesterday afternoon. The center has a good exihibit on the history of the Galapagos Islands, with a focus on the development over the last ~300 years. One striking exhibit was about how little of all the money spent on high-end tourism in the Galapagos actually stays in the islands (we'll get a photo one of these days).
Our fifth day in the Galapagos - an interesting one as it turned out... The bottom here here is a mix of sand, some small gravel and patches of bigger rocks in about 6 meters of depth at low tide, 8 meters at high tide. Our anchor is well set in a sandy patch (which we found on Saturday after a few attempts that ended on rock). However, with 40m of chain out and boats turning in all directions with wind and tides it seems almost inevitable that part of the chain ends up on top of some rocks.
We dropped the hook off Cristobal in the Galapagos at 1500 local time (UTC-6) yesterday (Fri, 09MAR) after a beautiful 9 1/4 day passage from Panama City. We had a little excitement on the way in when the wind died 15 nm out from Cristobal and we wanted to start the engine. After doing its usual faithful start-up it shut off again 30 sec. later with all symptoms of getting no fuel. With the tank still more than half full we started investigating from the tank downstream for any blockage in the fuel system.
We crossed the equator this morning at 7am local time (EST) and Namani is now officially in the South Pacific. We had the proper initiation procedures that turned all us Polywogs into Shellbacks. The role of Neptune was played by Nicky's stuffed monkey Frodi (manufactured in SE Asia and therefore the only one aboard wh o had crossed the equator before by boat), assisted by Mr. H (Nicky's other stuffed monkey).
.. until we hope to reach the Galapagos. We're currently (2200 local time on 07MAR) 20nm north of the Equator and about 150nm from Cristobal, our destination in the Galapagos. Sailing has been beautifully relaxed again today, close reaching in light but steady winds at about 4kn under blus skies. The Intratropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) which had sat stubbornly sout of the Equator for a few days has now gone out of the way and moved north of us, probably accounting for the splendid conditions yesterday and today.
After fully overcast skies yesterday (Monday 05MAR) and the night before, things cleared up this morning and we continued our slow sail at a slow jog's pace under blue skies with a few tradewind clouds (even though there aren't much tradewinds around). Beautifully relaxed sailing on a close reach from midnight last night until about 2200 tonight. Now motorsailing under a nearly full moon and starry skies. Nana went up the mast to take some pictures earlier today and Nicky had his turn up the stick as well (properly harnessed and belayed of course).
At about 0630 yesterday (Mon, 05MAR) morning some steady wind out of S...SE set in at 7-12kn. We had a beautiful sail, close reaching at ~5kn over the entire day with the Hydrovane steering happily and Namani clocking away the miles. The wind died again in the evening but around midnight a light breeze has set in again, allowing us to resume our slow drift at 2.5kn. We've now dropped below 2Â°N and will soon break the "300nm to go" mark. We now have a steady cloud cover during the day, but with very little vertical development.
While we had light winds suffcient for slowly sailing on a close reach from midnight last night to about 1500h this afternoon, the air hasn't moved around us since then. An opportunity for Nana to inflate the kayak and paddle around Namani in the open Pacific. For the rest of us the chance for a little swim call to cool off. The water temparature is significantly warmer than it was close to Panama and there is increasingly more moisture in the air as we move SW - so things start to feel truly tropical again.
After slowly motoring through a dead calm through most of the day and the first part of the night we pulled the genoa back out at midnight when a hint of a breeze picked back up out of the SE. We are now sailing very slowly on a close reach under full main and barber hauled genoa over a moonlit Pacific that looks like a duck pond - absolutely beautiful! Otherwise, we had a relaxing day. Got checked out by a US Customs and Border Protection aircraft (see picture), giving us two low passes before deciding that we weren't Colombian drug lords and dissapearing in the distance.