S/V Adventure

Follow the O'Neil family, sailing in their Catalina 42, on their 2-year sabbatical to see the Pacific coast of the US, Mexico, and Central America, Galapagos, the South Pacific, and New Zealand.

08 June 2012 | Home
05 June 2012 | 100 miles to the Farallons!
02 June 2012 | 475 miles off the coast
31 May 2012 | 579 miles to go
30 May 2012 | 694 miles to go
30 May 2012 | 800 miles to go
29 May 2012 | 915 miles off California
28 May 2012 | Past halfway between Hawaii and SF
27 May 2012 | Past halfway between Hawaii and SF
26 May 2012 | Halfway between Hawaii and SF
24 May 2012 | Middle of the Pacific Ocean
23 May 2012 | Middle of the Pacific Ocean
22 May 2012 | Middle of the Pacific Ocean
21 May 2012 | Middle of the Pacific Ocean
20 May 2012 | Pacific Gyre
16 May 2012 | Pacific Gyre
16 May 2012 | Pacific
18 September 2011 | Home
07 September 2011 | Crossing the southern tip of the big island
05 September 2011 | Pacific

Galapagos Day One

23 April 2008 | Isla Santa Cruz

I was on watch as we finished our 940-mile journey over sea, entering the warm, 86-degree waters of the Galapagos Islands. I'd first been introduced to The Islands while watching TV nature shows like Jacque Custeau and reading about them in National Geographic. The giant tortoises, land and sea iguanas, penguins, and other sea life found only on these islands made this part of our sailing journey especially exciting for me.

Even at 6 am, I was high on life as I sighted the first land I'd seen in 9 days. Humming Disney's "It's a Small World" song, I was slightly disappointed that a dolphin and sea turtle greeting party had not yet arrived to see us into this ecological paradise.

To preserve The Islands, they were all but closed to cruising yachts in the recent past, but are now navigable with adherence to severe restrictions and the payment of high fees (we paid about $1,400 to anchor our boat in one harbor for 20 days and must take guided tours to other islands). We anchored at Isla Santa Cruz, in Academy Bay, among approximately 25 sailboats and 25 local boats. I was surprised to see so many sailboats because of the distance from the mainland and 20-day stay restriction.

The anchorage is open to the South, which is where the swell and prevailing wind comes from. Once the anchor was set, we were at a loss of what to do next. Normally, we would launch our dinghy and visit other boats to see what the VHF channel is for cruisers, where to get Internet, laundry services, food, water, fuel, etc. But here in Galapagos, all must use the water taxis to go ashore, so we didn't want to launch the dinghy.

After unsuccessfully hailing Cop Out, a boat close to us, on channel 16, I got their attention by yelling to them. They said that some boats were bow and stern anchored to make the anchorage more comfortable. Sean immediately determined that we didn't need a stern anchor.

Sean stood on deck and waived at a guy going by on a ponga with an attached sunshade. The guy altered course and indicated that we put up or fenders so he could approach our boat. We ran below to dig out the finders and Sean tied them to the side. How nice, I thought, that this man would come to greet us and tell us what newcomers needed to know. The guy looked at us. We looked at him. It was a bit uncomfortable. "Habla Ingles?" I asked. "No," he said. I noticed the taxi sign on the side of the boat and asked, "Cuanto cuesta?" "Seisenta per persona," he answered (60 cents per person). A little more silence followed as the four of us stared at him. Finally, he rolled his eyes and made a "shesh" sound as he drove away.

We thought it was a little strange until later, when we realized that the guy had misinterpreted Sean's good-natured wave was a beckon to come pick us up.

We were anchored in 20 feet of clear water and saw many fishes and small white-tipped sharks. I decided that I wouldn't take salt-water baths here, but opt for the salt-water bucket shower instead.

After Sean and I took a nap, he hailed a water taxi so we could go to town. The taxi waited as the girls and I scrambled to find our flip-flops because we'd been barefoot for 9 days. Sean, of course, had no problem locating his tennis because he sleeps in them.

Puerto Ayora is called a village, but it's really a town with a small grocery store, multiple hardware stores ad 2-story hotels and lots of small restaurants. The prices seemed similar to those in the USA. Tour agencies line both sides of the streets, selling the same tours to nearby islands for slightly different prices. Most day tours are $80 to $100 for each person and a 4-hour local tour is $30. The town has about 5,000 residents that live off ecotourism money.

After dinner, we took a taxi back to our boat. I heard people on another boat yelling and whistling and waving their hands to a water taxi as it sped past. They added the honking of their boat horn when another passed. After several tries, they finally caught the attention of one.

The girls and I went below as Sean checked a few things on deck. The girls and I heard a boat motoring past and then slowing before coming closer to Adventure. We giggled, as Sean, who apparently couldn't control his friendliness and had waved at another taxi driver, yelled in Spanish, "No! No necissito! Lo siento..." ("No! I don't need! I'm Sorry...")

If you need a water taxi, Sean's your man.

That night, we rolled uncomfortably as the south wind died and Adventure swung sideways to the swell. Although Sean tried to convince me that we'd get use to it, I threatened a mutiny. We put out our stern anchor the next morning and all is well.

Vessel Name: Adventure
Vessel Make/Model: Catalina 42
Hailing Port: Marina Bay, Richmond CA
Crew: The O'Neil Family
About: Sean (Captain and Line Man) Kathy (Helmswoman and Cook) Tara - 12 years old at trip start, Casey - 11 years old at trip start (Crew and Students)
Extra: We're on a three-year sabbatical from the daily grind to see the Pacific coast of the US, Mexico, Central America and the South Pacific and stopping at New Zealand.

S/V Adventure

Who: The O'Neil Family
Port: Marina Bay, Richmond CA