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Crossed the Equator: Galapagos Passage day 6/7 (Friday)
05/04/2012, 00 06.967'S:86 56.016'W, en route to galapagos

We have crossed the equator. I believe that means we are all deep water sailors now. Or Shellbacks. We crossed at about 5:15am today (panama time) 10:15zulu. Amy and I cracked open our prize bottle of Port. The kids had cookies (i guess we all had a couple :)). I dressed up as King Neptune, and we told them about some of the old crossing the line traditions--but since Amy and I were first timers, we didn't think we could engage in the proper hazing...

Current position is as of 15:20zulu (from now on I will use "z" (aka zulu or UTC or greenwich mean time) time, as it will be less confusing when crossing time zones. Panama was the same as Eastern Standard or at this time of the year Central Daylight time. The Galapagos are UTC - 6, which is the same as Central Standard or presently an hour earlier. See zulu is much easier....

Current SOG is 6.8k, COG is 257Magnetic.

We expect to arrive in Academy Bay on Santa Cruz, town of Puerto Ayora, tomorrow afternoon sometime.

Galapagos Passage day 5/6 (thurs)
05/03/2012, 00 25.086'N:84 39.857'W, en route to galapagos

Another day another squid. Picked up 7 squid on deck this morning. I want to get some when they are fresh, so we can eat them. But they always seem to be a bit dried by the time I get to them.

Each night we've been attracting a small flock of gulls that fly around the boat. Apparently these gulls are unique to the galapagos area, and unique in that they are the only gulls that hunt at night. They fly around our boat and eat everything that seems to get scared up--likely squid and flying fish. They also seem to make a funny sqeaky/clicking noise. Our Galapagos book says it is believed that they use this for echolocation.

Fairly nice day today. We are sailing at 7.3 kts, COG 255Mag (essentially the rhumb line to Santa Cruz from our current position). Wind is at about 60 degrees apparent at 11-12kts true.

All is well.

Galapagos Passage day 4/5 (wed)
05/02/2012, 00 59.367'N:82 14.364'W, en route to galapagos

Its 2pm and we've just had a nice meal of Skipjack tuna seared in a cracker crust with soy and ginger. The tuna was caught at 12:30pm. MMMmmmmm.

The picture is of a little fellow who paid a visit to our fishing lines yesterday afternoon. A booby of some sort :). And not just for getting caught in our lines.

Our present cog is 257mag at 5.5kts. Very sunny and warm.

No big mahi on the lines today. But the tuna was a nice fat 10lb fellow. And so far nothing around the prop today. Knock on wood.

All is well.

05/03/2012 | Mom and Dad
Love the journaling and wonderful photos. Good sailing! Mom
Galapagos Passage day 3/4 (tues)
05/01/2012, 02 40.903'N:80 29.498'W, en route to galapagos

We have finished our third night and are starting our 4th day. Its 10am (1500 zulu) cog is 190, sog is 4.8. All is well. A bit of excitement when a big bull mahi took my homemade lure--yes the homemade one again. Fortunately he was on the big rod/reel. But as I was reeling him in, Amy noticed a line under the boat. So in the process of killing the engines and trying to figure out what the line was, the big bull shook off--not more than 10 ft from the boat. I had to dive under to remove the line which was a fragment of a long line fisherman's line. It still had a huge chunk of squid on a hook wrapped around our starboard dagger board, and a bit of 3/16' polypropylene line was wrapped around our starboard prop. Yes, the prop on the saildrive we just repaired.

Also found a couple of small squid on deck. We are now using them as bait.

Fish On: Galapagos Passage Day 2
04/30/2012, 4 32.253'N:79 44.203'W, en route to galapagos

Its just before Noon on Monday 4/30/12 COG 191dMag SOG 5.3kts Sunny, 80% cloud cover, and we are seeing rain on the radar. Wind is SW at 5kts. We are motorsailing. Hoping we'll be sailing before too long.

The photo is of a lovely 6ft sailfish that we caught at 10am this morning. He nearly stripped all the line off of one of my reels. Why do they always seem to hit the small reel? They also always seem to like my home-made lures. I made a lure out of the end of a plastic tube that another lure came in...makes lots of bubbles and they seem to love it.

Right after the big on in the picture took off with a lure, we hurried to bring in the other 3 lines. But we were not fast enough. A second sailfish hit on another line (my other small reel of course). The second one did a fantastic tail walk right up to the stern of the boat from about 40ft behind the boat. It was incredible--would have made a great video. When he got up to the stern he shook the hook--probably a good thing. The fight for the first sailfish lasted about 30 minutes and I released him after we got him up to the boat and took the hook out. Stephen shot the nice photo of one of his tail walks.

05/01/2012 | Wil
Wow, great picture. I'm right there with you but getting 7 hours of sleep each night.
05/02/2012 | Cookie Monster
Nice going! And two no less! I remember getting one sail off Hopetown but in a center console. Beautiful creatures!
05/14/2012 | George
Good for you...releasing the Billfish. Hate to hear about folks killing them...way way to gorgeous an animal to kill. Kudos on your trip so far.
To the Galapagos Day 1
04/29/2012, 06 50.19'N:79 25.61'W, en route to galapagos

We are en route to the Galapagos. We left yesterday, Saturday the 28th, at 10:40 am. It is now Sunday the 29th at 10:20 am. Our Speed over Ground (sog) is 5.3 kts. Course over Ground (cog) is 191 degrees magnetic. We are under power as there is no wind--which was expected. Our planned course is to follow a wide banana shaped course that carries us east of Malpelo Island. Our plotted course is a little over 1000nm, whereas the direct great circle route is about 875nm. We are taking this route In order to try to play the currents and winds to our favor. The wind is forecast to be fairly light, and potentially against us on the direct route. The current on the direct route would actually be fairly strong against us at time. On our planned route we will have some sideways current, and then end up with favorable current on the second half of the trip--if all goes well.

We saw our first whales yesterday -- at least 2, maybe 3. They were a little far away so we couldn't identify them clearly, but they were laying on their sides and rolling back slapping a very large side fin against the water. We will be looking in our books.... Amy noticed them because of the big splashes. They were near the Las Perlas islands, and we understand that this area is well known for whale watching--and also well known for many whale sharks. We are a bit sad to skip them, but we'd like to get west before the season progresses to much. We'll hit them on the next loop :).

San Blas/Panama Re-Cap
04/25/2012, 08 54.549'N:79 31.399'W, Panama Canal

Hmmmm So little to say, and so much space.... Panama has been very interesting and a lot of fun. Lots of mixed things though, which is in part why I have taken some time before writing.

Kuna Yala: We didn't spend a lot of time in Kuna Yala (aka the San Blas). Only a little over 2 weeks. But we did see a fair bit in that time. We had romanticized the area a bit, as it is one of few places that has a culture that has held very strongly to its traditional ways. The Kuna live mostly in thatch huts on remote islands. They live by fishing, and by doing some farming on the mainland. They are known for living very long healthy lives--enough so that some scientists have come to study the phenomenon over the years. We definitely enjoyed seeing this, and were fortunate to get some great tours by Nestor on Nalunega and by Federico from Nargana who also acted as our guide up the Rio Diablo river. However, we also noticed an awful lot of corrupting outer influence which took away from it a bit. Lots of plastic trash in and out of the water in some places (others were fairly pristine). Kuna asking to get cell phones charged, and some begging for things from crui sers. A culture of taking from cruisers whatever they can has seemed to develop--very one sided, as they for the most part don't seem willing to do anything in return without charging for it. Cruiser's patch dug out canoes with epoxy all the time, and charge cell phones etc. Yet they charge an exorbitant ransom if someones dinghy drifts off, and appear loath to do anything without a price. ...just a couple of examples. It all Left a bit of a bad taste for me--and in fair part a bad taste for the foolish way cruisers have 'trained' people how to react to them.... It was a beautiful place to visit, but the water was not very clear while we were there, so our snorkeling was somewhat limited. We did see some large grouper and a couple very large rays while snorkeling though...

After Kuna Yala, we make a pit stop off Isla Linton--where we were fortunate enough to see the endangered Black Spider Monkey. And we had dinner at a fairly sketchy hostel like place that seems to be on the backpacker road to south america. For those who don't know, you can't drive all the way to South America. There are no connecting roads between panama and Colombia. There of course are probably a few dirt tracks, but they are through place with heavily armed Guerrillas etc. So people catch boat rides out of Kuna Yala over to Colombia. However, this particular "hostel' seemed to have some side businesses ...

After Isla Linton we stopped in Portobello. This was a very interesting if brief stop. Portobello was the main port through which Spanish gold flowed out of central america. Three forts, and a customs house which held the gold, which are all very impressive. So we viewed and read a lot about the history. Notably, there is a bit a semi permanent cruiser community here so its a good place to track things down, and a good place to hang out as an alternative to Shelter Bay. We only stayed one night, and had the good fortune to be able to take the kids to a pirate party and a new bar/restaurant.

After Portobello we went into Shelter Bay marina, which is the only marina in the Canal Zone on the Caribbean side. Nice place, but very isolated. Amy took the shuttle in to some shopping areas and got all of our provisioning done. Unfortunately the only nearby town is Colon. Which is hugely dangerous. People get mugged in broad daylight all the time. One cruising boat that we met, anchored close to Colon, trying to save money on Shelter Bay rates, and locals swam out and robbed them of nearly everything on board.

We spent 3 weeks in Shelter Bay, much more than we would have liked. But getting a transit date that sticks can be a problem. But we were able to haul out and get our sail drive fixed. Hopefully it will hold up--knock on wood. Also Shelter bay is right near a National Park, and is within the old abandoned Fort Sherman, United States Base. There is nothing but jungle and wildlife surrounding the Marina--so we heard howler monkeys everyday, and saw them when we would walk out of the marina into the jungle on walks. We also saw some of the white faced Capuchin monkeys. Not to mention, birds, crocodiles, insects etc. Pretty neat place.

We are now on Panama City side of the isthmus. Panama city is much safer, and is a modern city. Skyscrapers everywhere--the skyline looks a bit like New York. We won't be spending much time here, but we will be finishing up our provisioning and enjoying a few meals out. Yesterday we went out for dim sum in the morning. Then went to the Panama Canal Museum, then went out for panamanian ice cream made in the french tradition. Very nice :). The night before we pigged out at a Lebanese restaurant. Today we are thinking pizza and cold beer--and maybe a trip to the movies at one of the mega malls ha ha.

In the next couple of days we will depart for the Galapagos.

04/26/2012 | Jenny & Wil / sv Full Monty
Really appreciate the detail on the area. Some of it we weren't aware of. Now we'll know what to expect & where to keep safe.
04/28/2012 | dad
We are really enjoying your travelogue. Keep them coming. Love, Dad
04/29/2012 | Nathalie Houston
I gave you a heads up on on the San Blas. You have one more country where the people are looking to take and then you will arrive in The Marquesas! Consider stopping at Fatu-Hiva first, you will love it. Try and leave soon as the winds between Panama and the Galapagos will be turning against you soon. It makes a big difference. You can read about my two very different legs on that passage below.
The Pacific Ocean!!
04/25/2012, 08 54.549'N:79 31.399'W, Panama Canal

We have arrived in the Pacific Ocean. We transited the Canal this past Saturday and Sunday, accompanied by Kylie from Clementine, James from Coba Libre, Graham from Nakesa, and Isabelle from Liseron. We went up through the Gatun Locks on Saturday between about 7pm and 9pm. Then we tied up to a mooring buoy in Gatun Lake and had a bit of a celebratory party joined by Kieth who was transiting on Awaroa which was tied to the same buoy. The party included such fun as climbing onto the buoy and rocking it around from about 3 am to 5 am (six were on the buoy, I won't name names, and there was room for more). I think every transit ought to have a buoy party midway. On sunday we then transited across Gatun lake, then down through the Pedro Miguel Locks, across Miraflores Lake, and then down through the Miraflores Locks. All went smoothly.

On the way up we were the Starboard boat in a raft of three (A catamaran to Port, Awaroa (mono) in the middle and us on the starboard). The raft must have been about 70' wide. Fortunately we had a good advisor on the middle boat calling out clear instructions for maneuvering the beast. Most maneuvering was done with the outermost engine on each of the two cats. On the way down, we were rafted just to one other boat--Cutty Hunk. And I did most of the maneuvering.

It really is dramatic to be in the middle of this with very large ships around, and then finally end up in the Pacific. The Pacific seemed so far away and now we are here.

04/26/2012 | Jenny & Wil / sv Full Monty
We're so excited to see you made it to the Pacific! Bummed we missed seeing you go through the locks though. We tried! As always, looking forward to your every step of the way.
Disco Buoy
04/22/2012, 09 15.590'N:79 54.752'W, Gatun Lake

What happens on the buoy, stays on the buoy.

Transit Today???
04/21/2012, Panama Canal

FYI, it is Saturday April 21, and we are presently scheduled to go through today. As we learned last weekend, this can change. Last I heard, there were six boats scheduled to go through today. But I learned that last night an advisor didn't show up (again). So one of yesterdays boats was bumped and which may lead to one of today's boats getting bumped. Plus, who knows if all of the advisors will show up. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

Our presently scheduled time to meet our advisor is 6pm. Which would put us in the Gatun Locks between 7 and 9 pm. There is a Gatun Locks web cam if you want to keep an eye out for us!

We would then go through the downward locks (Pedro Miguel Locks and then the Miraflores Locks) tomorrow.

FYI, I will do a bit more of a recap of Panama and the San Blas, with some more pictures, before too long (heh heh).

04/21/2012 | Jenny /
Yay! We'll be watching for you!
04/21/2012 | Jenny /
Awesome picture, btw.
04/22/2012 | Auntie E
Whoopee!! Saw you at Mira Flores locks!
05/05/2012 | Dave and Laurie
Wow! What an adventure. We are really enjoying following your travels. Wishing you safe travels!

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