Passage to the Marquesas Day 3 - fishing nets, no wind
Yo and Dan Hellier
March 28, 2011, 6:55 am, On passage to the Marquesas
We continue with next to no wind, though we know others are catching it round 5 degrees south so we continue in that direction.
Just had a bit of fun getting caught up in a net out here. All good now. it was a fluke that we'd just set sail and turned the engine off as we got tangled up. Didn't notice the net at first but realised we couldn't gain speed. No wonder, reckon it was pretty big. We were able to cut it away. We'd seen 3 vertical markers to our port side, and a final to our starboard. They covered a distance of about 3 miles! The nearest marker was over 1/2 mile away from us. We figured they were marking pots or something as the gaps were enormous and not marked in any way (poachers??). Anyway the top nylon line was just below the surface the bastards.... just deep enough to not be able to avoid it and we must have snagged it on our rudder. For those following the coords are 3 degrees 50S to 3 degrees 59 S. approx long 91 degrees 28 -29 W watch out. Advice if you see vertical stick with black flag, go right below it by at least 5 miles.
Keeping a keen watch in these waters. Yachties have recorded a few very unfriendly encounters in the last 3 years up to 300 miles out from Galapagos. So far we have only had to avoid one fishing vessel, a mother ship towing a number of tenders. Think we're all clear by now.
Still in the rain, but it's starting to clear and we're hoping for the trades to start kicking in.
Passage to the Marquesas Day 1 - Storm petrels, turtles and tuna
Yo and Dan Hellier
March 26, 2011, 7:15 am, On passage to the Marquesas
We're on our way to the Marquesas. This will be our longest passage since setting off on the circumnavigation, over 3,000 miles. Expect at least 25 days or more. Predictably the wind has been elusive, but we did get 5 hours break on the motoring. Hoping for more as we get south. Galapagos gave us a fine sendoff. The first few hours we passed a couple of dozen turtle....all drifting around on the surface, surprised by our sudden presence and splashing down and away from us. Elliot's storm petrels accompanied us most of the day. Remarkable birds, small and fluttering, tip tapping with their feet on the water to rustle up their prey and then off swooping again. Nazca boobies maintained a circular watch in the sky above. And then to top of nature's amazing capacity to reward those of us that care.....a lovely tuna just the right size for the fridge offered itself up to supplement our fresh food provisions.
Tuna and crispy potato top pie ... very nice thank you. Presently sailing in company with Falbala, Mike and Catherine (we'll have to skite about the tuna on the next radio sked!) So from now on daily position updates on sailblogs and yotreps, our email will only be VLV4077@sailmail.com
Birds we saw in the Galapagos
Yo and Dan Hellier
March 20, 2011, 6:05 pm, Wreck Bay, San Christobal, Galapagos
Cactus Darwin Finch
Chatham mocking bird (endemic)
Vegetarian Darwin Finch
Woodpecker Darwin finch
Cactus Darwin finch
Small ground Darwin finch
Warbler Darwin finch
Tree Darwin finch
White cheeked pintail (endemic)
Common Galinule gallinulla chloropus (endemic)
Smooth billed arni (introdu ced)
Galapagos storm petrel
Galapagos or lava heron
Great blue heron
Yellow crowned night heron
Nazca booby (now recognized as a different species to the masked booby)
Blue footed booby
Red footed booby
Magnificent frigate bird
Great frigate bird
Semi palmated plover
Red billed tropic bird
Elliots storm petrel
We had a day with a local guide called Wilson Roja, who took us to the bird locations. This tour was organized by Sharksky especially for ourselves and was excellent.
We saw most of the Darwin finches that live on San Christobal, and many endemic species. The land tortoise rehab centre was good for these species.
A highlight was viewing the frigate birds washing in the fresh water volcano lake (El Junco).
We had been under the impression that as the frigate bird finds it so difficult to launch into flight, it does not land in water. Not true. They in fact, come to the fresh water lake to clean the salt from their plumage.
They drop into the water for some seconds, take off and soar to a great height, then go into freefall, violently shaking their wings and feathers as they plummet.
They pull out of their fall as they get nearer to the ground.
At Los Loberia, a beach on the south coast, we saw a surprising number of seabirds.
The Darwin finches are another story. Now they have been identified as tanagers. Every type of finch relates back to a pair of blue black type quits, but they have all adapted differently.
While many all eat the same food in the good years, when everything dries up they have adapted to survive in their own unique way.
The vampire finch has adapted to suck blood from red or blue footed boobies, the wood pecker finch uses a stick as a tool to extract lavae from the trunks of dead trees, yet another has learnt to survive on the lice from the giant land tortoises and iguanas.
Adaptability is the key, and it is the beaks that have primarily adapted in varying ways to suit the conditions of their particular terrain..
Galapagos - Changing Times
Yo and Dan Hellier
March 17, 2011, 6:53 pm, Wreck Bay, San Cristobal, Galapagos
Sea Lions surround us, making guttural cattle-like sounds. Golden cowrays and mantarays visit, flapping the water with their wings.
The tuna surround the bait fish, expertly herding them into a tightening circle, then massacring the fish boil right next to our boat. Then they all join in, sea lions, puffer fish, frigates, laughing gulls, noddies and pelicans.
Marine iguanas dot the rocks
Interspersed with daubs of vermillion Sally Lightfoot crabs
The harbor of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is peaceful and comfy.
The Galapagos are laid back.
Everyone has their favourite sleeping spot, even Guy from Endorfin.
The sealion pups are playfull, while the grown ups are lazy sleeping shitting mounds of fur and fat.
Some of the local pro fishermen have a unique way of ensuring that their boat is not picked as the bedroom or dunny. They surround the topsides with rolls of barbed wire. Most effective but not really within the spirit of the Galapagos.
This old fellow may well be a reli of the land tortoises we chummed up with in Saint Helena, a couple of oceans before.
He gives a knowing blink of the eye to ward off the flies. Yep, flies.
This is the closest thing to Oz we have come across, yet the local human inhabitants here have yet to develop our own effective and unique Aussi salute.
But... the fight for survival goes on....meal by meal.
Note for Yachties: Provisioning at Galapagos
Supplies are much much better than any of the literature lets on.
The municipal fresh market is splendid- tomatoes, basil, parsley, potatoes, onions, broccoli, cauliflowers, spring onions, sweet potatoes, lettuce, eggs, beetroots, cucumber, snake beans, capsicums, chillies, apples, pears, bananas, watermelons, cabbages, melons, shallots, pumpkins, beef, pork, chicken, prawns, avocados etc. Prices are dirt cheap.
The choice at the market is much better on the days that the ship comes in (once a week usually Tues or Wednesday). Sat and Wed mornings are apparently the best - more stalls and more choice, but the mercardo is open every day.
There is a fish monger, and a number of butchers.
There are a number of laundries. Sebastian's seems to get the nod from the locals. Good equipment and $1 a kilo. Open 7 days a week.
Other small tiendas dot the town selling bacon, yoghurt, cheese etc. Each seems to have its own little niche.
There are two smallish supermarkets with a surprisingly wide selection. Chemists abound.
Pasta, rice, flour and all the basics eg vinegar, tinned tomatoes are sold in most of the tiendas.
Bread flour is available in one supermarket and from the panaderia (in bulk).
While wine is available here, it is 200% to 250% more expensive than Panama and the choice is limited. So stock up on wine before you come.
So in other words, except for wine, there is no need to overstock in Panama.
Also if you go to Sharsky, one of the tour operators on the foreshore, for a fee they will refill your propane bottles. If they don't have the fittings for your bottle they'll send it over by ferry to Santa Cruz to get it filled.
Tsunami no problemo para Jacana
March 12, 2011, 2:19 pm, Wreck Bay, San Cristobal
Tsunami #2 for Jacana
Yo and Dan Hellier
March 10, 2011, 9:59 am, anchored in Wreck Bay, San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands
The tsuanmi was a bit of an event here.
A 7ft wave eventually entered the harbour with no damage ashore or afloat.
Initially the authorities got it arse about, denying any vessel the right to leave harbour. Within 30 minutes sense prevailed and a presidential decree ( no less) ordered every boat to leave, and to rendevous in a zone 5 miles offshore and greater than 200 metres deep. Bit of an overkill. We were all anchored in water deeper than 10 metres anyway.
We held off leaving for 5 hrs, but after the navy left and we were on our pat malone with a visibly nervous port captain huffing about, we put to sea ie, just outside the entrance and joggled up n down until we were all allowed in at 1900 hrs. Understandable but extremely tiring when we'd just got in the day before, had been onboard for about 2 weeks without going to shore, and were stir crazy.
For another hr or so the depth rose by up to 1.5 metres every 20 mins or so as minor surges followed. Though it only caused flooding and inconvenience, about a 7 foot rise in water.
Anyway started exploring today, walking plans tomorrow. Unfortunately, free onboard internet not working at the moment, so we're using sailmail via the sat phone (expensive) or internet cafe (very slow). so use VLV sailmail address to find us these days.