21 May 2015 | Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Isla San Cristobal, Galapagos, Ecuador
Happy to report that after 8 days, 20 hours, and 19 minutes at sea we are safely anchored in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno next to Isla San Cristobal. The sight and smell of land was a delight to our senses when we approached land after dawn this morning and sailed along the coast of this easternmost island in the unique archipelago of Galapagos, Ecuador. Shortly before reaching the harbor entrance a sea lion swam by to greet us and we saw several others lounging on the steps of catamarans at anchor.
For over a week we were out of sight of land, did not see even a single ship, sailboat, or lights on the horizon indicating there were other human beings out there with us. Jeff did check into SSB nets 3 times every day to report our location at sea, get a bit of weather information, and have a little social contact with other vessels on passages.
We did see many of the sea's varied personalities. There were wave conditions from glassy to choppy to 9 foot swells, with everything in between. The skies provided a never ending pallet of shades and colors. The day skies ran from blue with a few white cottony clouds to completely gray with sheets of rain pouring down. A rainbow provided a slash of color encompassing the whole spectrum. Beautiful sunrises and sunsets provided tones of yellow, orange, red, and purple. At night an infinite number of stars sparkled above and were sprinkled down to the horizon in the dark bowl overhead. Many nights, the water glistened and glittered as Mezzaluna sported a gleaming bioluminescent tail streaming and undulating behind the rudder.
There were daily rain showers - sometimes sprinkles, sometimes deluges. We were hit by 2 or 3 thunderstorms which had us stuffing all the electronics into the oven - it acts as a Faraday cage to protect them from getting zapped should a lightening bolt strike Mezzaluna. One of the squalls buffeted us with 30 knot winds for over an hour and one night we were becalmed. Most of the time, however, winds blew from 5 to 15 knots, although not always in a favorable direction for sailing to our destination.
Our encounters with sea life included the sighting of a small pod of whales while dolphins were swimming in the bow wake. Another day we got a quick glimpse of half a dozen dolphins surfacing 200 yards off the starboard side. There were countless schools fish, sometimes rolling and boiling marring the surface of the water and other times breaking through the waves and taking flight in the air. A few flying fish as well as a small squid ended up marooned on the deck when bigger waves dashed them aboard. I guess we could have eaten them if we'd been really hungry but Jeff recycled them as bait instead! We dragged fishing lines behind the boat everyday but only caught one dorado, which broke off the hook just before we landed him aboard - damn. We would really prefer to be on the "catch and keep" program rather than the involuntary "catch and release" program. Last night we caught a bird who liked the looks of the lure, dove into the water to catch it, and got the hook stuck in it's beak. Unfortunately, it drown while Jeff was pulling it in to unstick the hook and release it. Probably could have eaten that too, but we didn't!
Every night "ghost birds", some kind of gull I think, glided along the starboard side of the boat occasionally swooping down to snatch a fish out of the water. We never saw them on the port side thus surmised that the green side of the mast head light illuminated fish below the waves but the red side of the light did not. In addition to the exhausted little songbird that took refuge aboard, a red footed booby landed on the bow pulpit one evening and spent the night there, leaving quite a mess for Jeff to spray off the bow sprit in the morning. There were numerous other daily sightings of pelagic sea birds including frigates, gulls, petrels, possibly an albatross, and others we were unable to identify.
This passage has provided a number of memorable accomplishments. We crossed the equator at 1:49:07 Tuesday morning, shed the title of polliwog and gained the distinction of being shellbacks. After 2 years, 10 months, and 21 days in our quest to sail west around the world, we are finally west of where we departed from South Shore Yacht Club on Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, having crossed longitude 87 52.941W at 12:55 on Tuesday afternoon. We survived our longest passage yet, with both of us still aboard and speaking to each other!
This afternoon, Jeff went in the water to clean the bottom and swim with the sea lions after Bolivar, our agent for the Galapagos, came aboard to start the check in procedure which might take a day or two as it includes divers inspecting the bottom of your boat. Once all that is taken care of we're off to explore this extraordinary region that was an inspiration to Charles Darwin who came here in 1835!