Tim and Cath's most excellent adventure

Panama to the Galapagos: day 45

23 March 2013
Well, OK its only day 5 but some times it feels a lot longer!
We're sailing through the bay of Panama towards the Galapagos in the area well known for the calm, windless days (basically the infamous Doldrums) and we have never seen a sea like it. It's totally flat, more like a marina and considerably more comfortable than many anchorages we've been in. The trip itself is about 900 miles which would normally take us around 7 days but in our first 5 days we have only covered 300 which equates to about a 15 day passage....excellent. We've got all the fuel we can carry but that only amounts to about 300 miles of motoring so we have to wait for the wind. I say "wind" it's more like someone using a hairdryer in the next room.....We're using our "ghoster" (for our non- sailing reader that's a bit like a spinnaker which is made of very light sail cloth for light airs) which helps a lot and is very pretty with blue and white stripes.......I digress..
We spend our time reading, trying to tease an extra half a knot out of the sails and Tim valiantly pursuing fish. He's even had his flashing light lures (I'm not joking) out at night but to no avail. We caught loads of fish in Las Perlas and Panama but I think here we're just going too slowly to interest any. They swim by Tim's lures and give a derisory laugh ...
We have seen lots of rays and they give us a daily exhibition of their ability to jump right out of the water, which is very dramatic to see. We've no idea why they do it but it must be down to "relationship issues" of some sort or another, or maybe they're just having a laugh.
We need to run the engine for a few hours every day as we've got the fridge and freezer on, the autopilot (not enough wind to steer using our wind steering one) and we have to make water etc etc which are all energy hungry. The solar panels make lots of power in the sun but some days it has been quite hazy so they don't produce quite so many amps. Running the engine itself uses diesel so it's a fine balance between running the engine to charge the batteries and at the same time preserving all the fuel we can to allow us to motor in tick-over just to put some miles under our keel. It improves crew morale when we have been completely stationary for a few hours just to move a little bit! However, I have to say that we're really enjoying this trip (even me!)
The night sky is just awesome. We had a BBQ last night and we sat in the cockpit surrounded by deafening silence, a flat, flat sea and a sky full of so many stars and the moon that it was quite overwhelmingly beautiful. A real treat to see.
Meanwhile we dawdle along. At night we've taken to sleeping for a bit longer at a time. Tim will fish for a bit (it's an illness you know this fishing obsession.....) and then we put the alarms on which will tell us if any boats came within 10 miles of us, and then snooze. We generally sail, or should I say drift, about 5-10 miles over night if we're lucky as it gets even calmer (if that's possible!) at nighttime. Most of the mileage is current, for which we are grateful and is why we are taking this particular route. We're nearly at the point when we "turn right" towards the Galapagos proper as the next current takes us there (Tim explained all the technical current stuff on the last blog...I hope you were concentrating.....) we turn right just past a rock called Malpelo which is just visible on google earth I think and we are currently about 30 miles away from it.
In a couple of days we'll cross the equator ...a big moment. No doubt a small tipple will celebrate this event! As we are so close to the equator the air is, not surprisingly, very hot and humid, but at about 4.30pm we can watch the decks getting damp and wet as the hot air cools over the cool water (the sea is considerably colder here than in the Caribbean and even produced some thick fog on the morning we left Las Perlas ) By the morning everything on deck is really wet but our teak deck certainly appreciates a refreshing drink each day as it gets too hot to walk on during the day.
So there you have it. A bit frustrating being so slow, but a real treat to be so comfortable on a passage. We're hoping to arrive the first week of April but we're in the hands of the wind gods. I just hope I don't finish all the books on my kindle before we arrive....
TTFN xxxx
Vessel Name: Helena May
Vessel Make/Model: Bavaria 38
We completed an Atlantic circuit in our yacht "Ragamuffin of Gosport", a Nicholson 31, in 1987/8. Since then, we have sailed together with our children along both sides of the Channel coast. We bought our current boat, "Helena May", a Bavaria 38, in 2003. We have spent the last couple of years [...]
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