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Anthem Adrift
The Long and the Short of it
04/08/2010, Wreck Bay, Galapagos

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

April 7

Friends provided bad influence, forcing late dinner, then two desserts at different places. Surprised at level of evening activity. For a small town (whole island has six thousand residents) businesses have a long night. This place now on record as new favorite place on the planet, displacing old NFPP.

Day went close to planned including standard over-optimistic expectation - didn't snorkel, didn't quite finish second varnish coat and rum became beer, but not bad. May, he said confidently, finish second coat and sand for final tomorrow. Hoping to snorkel midday.

Two juvenile sea lions have adopted the boat as their proprietary playground. Hope their rubbing against hull is removing soft growth. The cavorting often splashes water on brightwork for which they display no apparent remorse. Like with teenagers everywhere, efforts at reason have proven futile. Also typically, youngsters frolic and oldsters grumble - all night.

Pretty bland, but long day, short night. Tah.

Jac

Simple Excercise
04/06/2010, Wreck Bay, Galapagos

San Cristobal Tortoise

April 6

Toured some of San Cristobal today. Most interesting thing at El Progresso, small settlement with plantation ruins of a hated rich guy, was a hotel room up in what must be the largest tree in all Galapagos (upscale Tarzan). Reasonable rates. Cool! El Junco, fresh water lake in a volcano crater, was a long walk in the clouds. Giant tortoise breeding facility (No, Cal, the turtles were very discrete) was a long walk with a number of the fairly fleet(relative term)-footed beasts. Puerto Chino was a long walk to a white sand beach surrounded by volcanic rock. Lunch, at an isolated restaurant was excellent and required minimal ambulation. Based on some reading and "Master and Commander", expected less vegetation and more moonscape, but this is oldest of archipelago.

Began taping to varnish brightwork this afternoon. With last coat nearly six months old, don't want to wait possible additional two to Nuku Hiva (next smooth anchorage at far end of Marquesas). Considering just cap rail and scroll boards first, then see. Trying to remember reason for buying a teak encrusted boat. Expecting epiphany any moment. Wait, wait - because it looks good?... Naaaah, that's ridiculous.

Tomorrow should be simple in seven steps: Tape, sand, varnish, snorkel, shop, varnish, rum.

Jack

Getting Southern Crossed
04/05/2010, Wreck Bay, Galapagos

April 5

Hombre por el fumigacion was a no show. NBD. (Just guessed at that meaning. If wrong, hope no one is offended and, of course, explaining all this pretty much negates entire point of abbreviation.) Will be touring tomorrow, so he'll have a heck of a time getting it done. Am fairly sanguine about a roach infestation of Galapagos from Anthem. Agriculture guy seems fairly blase (sorry, purists, diacritical marks are unavailable) as well.

Wonder if many have remarked on the irony of a heavily Catholic country being stewards of an island group critically responsible for originating the science of evolution? For those curious souls (no pun intended), Chuck lived most of his life as a Unitarian and died agnostic.

Resurgent shower sump pump sucks. This is a good thing. Suspect resistance in wire has kept performance well below optimum for eleven years and probably burned out a couple pumps. Fondness for each little piggy now prompts care in placement as switch is activated.

During passage to Marquesas, three and a half weeks minimum, do not be alarmed if boat leaps northward 120 to 1200 miles in a day. At least one time, expect an 'N' entry instead of 'S' for latitude. It just doesn't look right when it's always been the other way. Passing International Date Line could be a schizophrenic event. For some, this will be no surprise due to belief that a close association with reality has already fled.

Jack

Seal of Approval
04/04/2010, Wreck Bay, Galapagos

April 4

Galapagos not quite as expected, but have only seen Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal since arrival at 1500 (2100 UTC). It's a quaint (pardon me for saying so, Sue) little town with very friendly people, an ATM, and ice cream, which Inspiration Lady, as first of local group to arrive, were buying - blackberry and coconut. Accomplished port entry and immigration today, fumigation and refueling tomorrow. Considering island tour on Tuesday. Expect extended period of unconsciousness tonight subsequent to indulgence in a tasty adult beverage or two.

Seals are everywhere near the water - on docks, on boats and in your dinghy, leaving presents of fish that, by passing through them, have been somewhat modified. This revision of molecular structure is not generally considered an upgrade. Like all the fauna here, they are unintimidated by humans and, when disturbed, express vocal displeasure before returning to sleep. Bet they'd pay attention if you painted yourself white on black and squeaked. Inspiration Lady are considering a contest to name their swim platform buddy.

Have not had sleep-deprived hallucinations, but after removing top of skull, discovered brain had actually turned to mush, so should stop now and get sleep before saying something crazy.

Jack

Crossing the Line
04/03/2010, Day Seven

The Equator

April 3

Grey water is the stuff that's not drinkable and not poop. An example is shower run-off, which contains hair, dead skin, oil and all the goo your body created and adhered to over the last day (or week depending on your level of hygiene). If collected, you would find it ugly, smelly and disgusting. "Fine", Cal, my non-sailing exemplar, may ask, "but what's the point"? Boat showers are below sea level so this mess is collected then pumped over. Today was spent discovering why the electro-hydraulic system on this boat, designed for just that purpose, lost its way. Good volts. Switch, of necessity destroyed in removal, not problem. Pump OK. Finally found ground wire, in highly inaccessible bilge location, had been spliced by twisting ends together and taping. Smokies! Peace, tranquility and cleanliness have returned, but it took all day.

Central and South American entrepreneurs are now using submarines to fight their side of the war on drugs - no radar return. Saw a sub hunter aircraft two days ago and heard one flying low today. Hmmm? Protecting seals and land tortoises from ravages of Colombian coke? Saving the chastity of female penguins feeding their habit? Thought those planes were only used around Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Must be wrong as I'm not in Florida, am I?

Speaking of which, transitioned from pollywog to shellback around 0900 this morning and did not break out into a rendition of "Bali Hai". As it turns out, South Pacific looks somewhat similar to North and strangely, the line is not nearly as distinct as on globes, so confirmed with GPS. Had a wee dram of the Isle of Skye's best to celebrate. Word is that Neptune wants his share poured into the sea, but figured, hey, this guy's a god, he can get his own freaking scotch.

Jack

PS Does centrifugal force make one lighter at the equator than at a pole?

Resumption of Tale
04/02/2010, Day Six

April 1

Replacing 27 chunks of tuner related hardware was somewhat more difficult than removing. This manifests cruising rule #12 which is amplified by corollaries relating to either too many or too few pieces remaining at completion. Uncluttered cockpit may now be crossed without need for expenditure of potentially precious minutes and prodigious agility of boat handler. Aft lazarette exhibits organizational improvement, while port compartment has inexplicably declined in that regard.

Saw a pod of whales this morning. Biggest one, maybe 30 feet, came up for air about a hundred feet to port going east. Just happened to be looking that way. Watched as long as they were in sight. Eight or so that I observed included a few calves. Glad mamas didn't take offense.

Have begun to see more boobies, possibly doing Galapagos run with cruising boats. An attractive bird, they don't deserve an appellation with such negative connotations. On the other hand, have no real evidence that they're anything but stupid. As gannets, they could have access to some of the publishing fortune, but, on reflection, that seems doubtful.

April 2

Surprisingly, wind began to pick up just after 2300 UTC (1800 EST) yesterday and continued to increase all night. Forecast of 5 - 10 maximum was somewhat in error (will desist from gratuitous, snide weatherman observation). Finally eased to 15 late morning for excellent sailing all day toward Sunday opportunity to be charged $500 for staying at a single Galapagos anchorage. Additional hundreds are demanded for pleasure of being trapped on your boat, unless accompanied by a guide, in three other locations.

GRIB (Grudgingly Reported Inaccurate Bullflop - that may not be completely correct) file of forecast wind and sea conditions now indicates continued good weather through arrival. This information will be taken under advisement. Fool me 1001 times shame on you. Fool me the 1002nd time shame on me.

Not sure this information has been widely disseminated, but expect to cross the equator tomorrow if wind doesn't veer too much and arrive in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (Wreck Bay - hey, that doesn't sound good) on San Cristobal, Galapagos, Ecuador around midday on Easter Sunday (as far as you know).

Jack

Delete After Reading
04/01/2010, Day Five

Schooner Wharf Bar

April 1

This last six months has been best April Fool's joke ever. After Trinidad, sailed back up via Jamaica and Yucatan (really enjoyed Isla Mujeres in 2005 and this time - highly recommended) to Key West. Have been keeping the boat on a mooring east of Fleming Key and renting a house off Caroline St. for about four months now. It started out as a joke for a few weeks, then sort of took on a life of its own. Initially thought to pretend crossing the Atlantic to the Med, but figured the current story would make more sense. When Liz supposedly went to India, she actually flew down on the puddle jumper for a visit, but doesn't really care much for the Keys. Weather here has been better than St. Pete, but she prefers some chillier temps in winter, plus there's not much for her to do. I mostly play with the boat and hit the bars at night. Irish Kevin's has become a hangout in the evening after usually spending some of the afternoon at Schooner Wharf Bar. Michael McCloud is still a favorite. This should be the end of it, but you just know somebody won't get the message, so I'll keep it going for awhile. Please don't say anything when someone mentions me in the Pacific. This thing could take some sort of record. It could get in Guinness.

Jack

The World Rejoices
03/31/2010, Day Four

Happy SSB

March 31

Again, opportunity to make bread didn't rise. Spent most of day up close and personal with assorted bits of single side band radio. Began by checking and cleaning connections to radio, then tuner. Latter involved filling cockpit with contents of aft lazarette then mashing svelte 169 pound form into resultant hole to gain access. De-mounted unit and opened it up, during which 27 individual pieces of hardware were removed (difficulty of ingress is probably a message), to see what's what (key phrase of naughty joke that will not be divulged) and to increase likelihood of irreparable damage. Discovered lots of pretty lights that changed pattern when tiny switch was exercised. It's OK, I'm sure it's OK, it looks OK, it's probably OK, you think it's OK?. Won't have chance to check ops until 1645, but email still works.

- Later

SSB has regained its former radiant elan. The pure euphonious sound of my voice again graces the marine and ham radio bands over a significant percentage of the inhabited universe, creating euphoria and rejoicing in even the smallest hamlet and in all the ships at sea (*Warning* preceding may contain a smattering of subjective judgment and/or hyperbole - some of reaction may be accounted to Easter).

At 0200 local, wind sprang up from south at useable velocity. Cool! Sailed from then, with blue sky, lower humidity and easy sea, until 1600. Had gone below for necessary duty when rain shower that had been gaining all day got close enough to switch wind 180 degrees. Obedient Voyager followed it around, aiming toward Equador (the big part) with an alacrity that was gratifying, if somewhat misguided and inconvenient. After return to more agreeable course, subsequent broad starboard tack lasted a few minutes until arrival of complete calm. Furled the one non-self-tacking sail and trimmed the others to await pleasure of conditions from approaching clear sky aft. Clear sky was pleased to offer more of same and then more. Now motoring SE to find wind. Forecast from weather guy not reassuring. Have kept bad news from horses, but, knowing something is amiss, they are becoming restive.

Jack

It Was This Big
03/30/2010, Day Three

March 30

Tortilla sandwich for lunch. That's right, no bread making today. Maybe tomorrow. Had "The Tailor of Panama" by John le Carre to attend to plus a few other odds and ends.

After doing a little sleuthing of poor SSB transmissions with Whoosh, discovered poor sound on all bands except 12 meg. Hmmmmm. Robert on Bristol Rose suggested it sounded like tuner trouble. Hmmmmm. It's pure arrogance to explain a technical problem for which there is no knowledge, so here goes. (Warning!!! Simplistic and likely incorrect technological bullsh... ummm, information to follow). Frequency is a function of antenna length. For example, 10 MHz is the 30 meter band so those waves are 90 odd feet wide and ideally would require a 90 odd foot antenna. Anthem's insulated backstay comes up short, so to speak, so a tuner is lashed into the system to fool all those little electron thingies (little used scientific term) into seeing the correct size (in other words size only matters if you don't lie). Shut down all noisy stuff to listen and... no tuning! Hark, I thought I heard a pistol shot... No wait, that's part of a naughty joke. Anyway, may have found problem. Will begin, tomorrow, with two favorite repair techniques, hammer method and bigger hammer method.

Mostly had decent wind helped by rain showers west. Boat speed varied from 7 knots to zero. Higher end of range preferable, although a quarter ton of provisions should hold off emaciation until west flowing current would eventually float the boat close enough to motor in, probably.

Jack

Water, Water Everywhere
03/29/2010, Day Two

Spiffy New VHF

March 29

Hello doldrums. Wind began exhibiting signs of ennui just before daybreak, but, of course, didn't vanish entirely until after drifter went up. Began motoring SSW at 6 kts, accompanied toward Isla Mapelo by slower breeze and faster swell. Course is south of rhumb for quicker passage through to southeast trades (possibly by tomorrow midday) before fuel runs out and horses go over the side. Just for the record, I have always spoken fondly of albatrosses. Headway-induced zephyr is providing limited relief from water saturated atmosphere.

Oddly enough, meal preparation has occurred and frig is jammed with pre-cooked, edible (open to interpretation) food. Exhaustion of last few slices of four-week old bread (should have bought more of it because preservative that good could keep you spry to a hundred and twenty) will soon require attempt at baking. Expectations are low; tortillas standing for backup.

Little luck contacting amigos 150 odd miles ahead. Propagation blows, plus radio isn't transmitting properly on 8 meg. VHF, which had worked well enough since hiccups in Bonaire, finally crapped out and has been replaced by spiffy new unit. Otherwise, except for a surprising number of passing ships, slide through oil- smooth sea has been uneventful.

Jack

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