04 March 2012 | 0 44.7'S:90 18.4'W, Puerto Ayora, Bahia Academy, Isla Santa Cruz Galapagos Ecuador
We arrived in Puerto Aroya Santa Cruz on 2/29 after sailing through a volcano. That is right. (see the photo gallery). Many of the World Arc members are calling it a bustling metropolis and compared to the other islands of the Galapagos, it does appear that way. I was convinced of this when I ordered a vino blanco (white wine) at the restaurant for lunch and the waiter asked me if I wanted chardonnay or pinot grigio. I have not had a choice of white wines since the British Virgin Islands and many times in the Galapagos you could only get beer, no wine.
We spent the next several days working the to-do list to get ready for the three week passage to the Marquesas. Mark and I are doing the passage on our own as are a few other World Arc boats. We have discussed strategies for successfully managing the long trip with other double handers. Again, I have precooked all of our dinners for the trip and they are in the freezer. We spent the next three days getting fuel, LPG gas for cooking, gas for the dinghy, and some miscellaneous supplies. We handed in our laundry and it was done in one day with all items accounted for. We made a trip to the rather small and pricey grocery store. I went to a farmers market on Saturday morning at 6:00 am which was very interesting. I wish I took pictures of the fresh meats and fish sitting out in the sun and covered with flies. But there was a good supply of many items and I was able to get fresh local fruits and vegetables including apples, cilantro, basil and pineapples.
Refueling here is quite an experience for boaters. Fuel is closely regulated so the World ARC needed to secure a permit from the Navy to purchase the fuel for all of the boats. Then the World ARC hired an agent who contracts with a local to buy the fuel from the fuel depot and deliver it to your boat. They do not have a fuel dock here so the fuel is delivered to your boats on a launch in plastic jerry cans (one is 35 gallons, one 25 and the rest are about 10-15 gallons). It is syphoned out of the plastic jugs from the launch that is tied to your boat. Did we mention how rocky/rolly the anchorage is? It is difficult it to get the fuel into the tank without spilling it on the deck.
Like most other schedules here, the fuel deliveries are always later than planned; lots of waiting around. Because of the lack of wind on the last passage, many of the boats used all of their fuel and now about 30 boats need on average 100 gallons each. It took three days for all of the boats to refuel. We were the last of the boats that got fuel. You prepay for the fuel you think you need to just fill you tanks. If you buy too much, you cannot get your money back and launch drivers sell it a second time to another boater (under the radar). There is no gauge to measure how much fuel you are getting. You have trust the guys on the launch to honestly represent that the jugs are full and that the volume of each jug is accurate. We paid for 140 gallons of fuel @ $5.91/gal. I believe we received about 20 gallons less than what we paid for but cannot prove it. This is consistent with almost all of the other boaters. The World ARC staff worked hard to monitor the agents and fuel delivery guys. But moments like this happen on the trip and one has to learn to accept them as part of the experience. We are guests in a foreign country with little recourse. Can't imagine what it would have been like without the help of the World ARC staff.
On Friday night there was a rally party at the hotel Sol Y Mar with prizes awarded for the leg to the Galapagos. s/v Glamorous Galah won a prize for sailing one of the faster times. When they accepted the award they read a funny poem they wrote about the fleet. Click on this link to their blog to read the poem, it is worth a look.
We have been without internet access for two weeks and finally found some reliable hot spots here in Santa Cruz. So we updated the blog, uploaded most of the photos and called most of our family members using Skype on Saturday. We had to check out of customs this morning so Mark planned to finish the blog, upload more pictures and call his daughter, Grace, when he went into town. He was able to check out of customs as planned but he could not use the internet to call his daughter or finish the blog and uploading pictures. The power in the city was out. This is a typical example of things that foul up one's plans, especially with internet access. Even worse, I asked him to pick up some diet coke because we are out and I forgot to buy some at the store. He looked all over town and there is no Diet Coke on the island. I am going to go through withdrawals.
We left today, Sunday 3/4/12, at noon local time (same as central time) for our three week trip to the Marquesas. It is more than a 2980 nm trip to Hiva-Oa Marquesas French Polynesia following the route suggested by Jimmy Cornell (the author of the book World Cruising Routes). Assuming a 10% deviation from the route due to human/weather factors and the planned distance is about 3300 nm. We have enough fuel to motor about 1/3 the distance (wish we had that additional 20 gallons). Based on our boat going about 6 knots on average for the trip, our expected arrival time in French Polynesia is 3/27/12. (23 days). Based on the forecasts, we plan to motor west/southwest for 3-4 days in light winds until we hit the trade winds and then should be able to sail most of the remainder of the passage. We will blog along the way to let everyone know how we are doing. I am actually excited about the passage and anxious to get sailing again.
Though it was a long 2 weeks without internet access it was great to see the emails and comments on the blog when we finally connected. Thanks for keeping in touch. All of our photos, well most of them, are posted to the gallery and we hope the pictures do this exotic place justice. We will have to invest in that underwater camera. Supposedly the internet access in French Polynesia is good. We will see.