Day 186, Year 1: Ready for the Big One

Day 186, Year 1: Ready for the Big One
Date: Friday, April 21, 2006
Weather: Fall in the Tropics
Location: Academy Bay, Puerto Ayoro, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

Tomorrow morning we will leave here for the Marquesas-3,000 miles that will take us 25 to 30 days. Mark went over the engine room with a fine tooth comb this morning. He found a couple of loose bolts and one connection on the prop shaft that needed adjustment. Otherwise, it looks to him as if we are ready to depart. We spent the rest of today sending pictures to our son for the website, getting diesel to top off the fuel tanks, getting water to top off the water tanks, buying last minute food provisions, and stopping at the panaderia to get a few more buns and sweet rolls. We got back to the boat just in time to get the water delivery and then head back to Club Nautico for a barbeque with fellow cruisers. We checked in with the new Pacific net this morning to let them know to expect us as a new in-transit boat tomorrow.

We think we are ready, so we will check in with you tomorrow once we are underway.

060421 Day 186 Galapapos Isabella–Galapagos Penguin Courtship

Day 185, Year 1: So Far, So Good

Day 185, Year 1: So Far, So Good
Date: Thursday, April 20, 2006
Weather: Like Late Summer Days in Maine
Location: Puerto Villamil, Isabella Island, Galapagos

We made it. Our run to Isabella went smoothly, so we are very happy. So far, so good.

Yesterday was a good day, And the “good day” syndrome continued into today. We got up at 0600 and started preparing to leave Puerto Ayoro, our home base since Wednesday, March 15. The five weeks that we have spent here have been phenomenal, but we were ready to depart this morning. Johnny Romero came out to bring our international zarpe at 0630 and shortly before 0800 we departed. When Johnny was on the boat this morning he commented that the season is over. As we looked around the harbor, only one sailboat was left other than ourselves. He had been out delivering departure papers to other clients since 0530. Even the birds knew it was time to move on. The noddy terns and pelicans were everywhere around the boat. They seemed to be pushing us on so they could have their fishing grounds to themselves.

We ran the motor all the way to Isabella-48 miles from Puerto Ayora to here. Everything seems fine and all we can do is continually check to make sure all connections are tight. It will take some time for us to regain confidence again. All we can do for now is hope that all will be fine. When we arrived here in Isabella, we saw some old friends and some new ones. Cam and Arnie on Jade arrived a couple of hours before us. Quantum Leap is here and they are leaving on Saturday evening. Procyon is here and they are leaving mid to late next week. Evidently five boats left here yesterday and a couple of others left this morning, so it does look like we are going to have company out there on the way to the Marquesas. The boats that left yesterday have set up a new radio net that should reach those of us leaving in the next week. Tomorrow we will recheck every bolt in the engine room to make sure all connections are tight and then we will be ready to depart. It looks like Saturday morning will be our departure time. The stretch of 3,000 miles from here to Fata Hiva in the Marqueses is a long one, but we are ready.

As we motored out of Academy Bay, I reflected on the wonders we experienced there . . . the “whoosh” of the pelicans and boobies dive-bombing into the water from high in the sky right beside our boat, the Galapagos shark that visited us from time to time, the huge numbers of noddy terns that continually circled our boat looking for a free fish from a friendly pelican, the sea lions lazing on nearby work boats, the bright orange blossoms on the Acacia trees in town, the black lava rock and white sand beaches, the graceful Parkinsonia trees that drape the landscape like willow trees, the bright red Sally Lightfoot crabs that decorate the black lava rock everywhere, and that always present blue, blue sky. Until the last couple of days, the anchorage in Academy Bay had been crowded, but the number of boats didn’t seem to detract from the wonders of nature all around us. I have been enchanted by these isles and will carry these memories with me always.

Day 184, Year 1: Looking Good

Day 184, Year 1: Looking Good
Date: Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Weather: Beautiful Sunny Day
Location: Academy Bay, Puerto Ayoro, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

It was a good day. Early this morning, one of the mechanics that had helped us remove the broken parts that once held our transmission to our engine reappeared. Ronnie worked with Mark for less than three hours and then he looked up and smiled. That was the indication that he had been successful. We held our breath and started the engine. Everything seemed fine. We then put the transmission in forward, and still all seemed fine. When Mark put the transmission in reverse, I thought I heard a little crunching sound, but we tried it a second time and all seemed fine. We were certainly relieved, but we will know more once we take the trial run to Isabella tomorrow. If that works, then we are on our way to the Marquesas.

As soon as we got up this morning, Procyon was leaving the anchorage. Then Rama, the sailboat that had been anchored right behind us, sailed away. Then Mia II left for Chile. And then Valtair, the boat anchored beside us left. Other than the mega-sailboats, that left only Jade, Sail la Vie, and Windbird. Unbelievable. Just a week ago, there were 30 sailboats in the anchorage here. It really is time to move on, so we are very hopeful that all will be fine and that we will be able to move on. In order to get ready to do that, I went to town to buy the last fresh vegetables and bread. Normally we make all our own bread, but we do like the bread from the local panaderia (bakery), so I got enough to get us out to sea where I will hopefully have time to bake again. I went in on the water taxi with Cam, the young woman from Jade. She and her husband Arnie have two absolutely beautiful little girls. Cam was running into town to get laundry and buy the last meat and veggies she could find. She had not shopped here before, so we went together for the shopping trip. Jade will be leaving for Isabella in the morning, so this was her last chance to stock up as well. We had asked our agent Johnny to have drinks delivered to the boat this afternoon and we had already topped off the water tanks yesterday. We think we have what we need to get us through the long passage ahead. Let’s hope so.

I spent the rest of the day getting pictures sent to our son Justin to put on the website. Because of the terribly slow connection here, it took three hours to send the pictures, and still not all went through. I might try again from Isabella, but the pictures I did send should give the general feel for our travels and discoveries here in the Galapagos. Mark came in and met me and we bought more things at the American style super market. We took things out to the boat and then Mark returned at 6:00 to get the laundry. I will miss the Lava Flash lavenderia.

Our agent, Johnny Romero, is coming out tomorrow by 0630, so it is time to turn in and get some rest. Johnny will have our international zarpe which is our ticket. We have really enjoyed getting to know Johnny and will miss hearing every boat in the anchorage calling constantly for Johnny Romero. He’s quite a popular guy here. Even though almost all of the sailboats are gone, he is kept very busy by the mega-yacht crowd.

Wish us luck in our trial run to Isabella. We’ll let you know tomorrow evening how that goes.

060419 Day 184 Galapagos Santa Cruz–Last Days

Day 183, Year 1: Ahead of Schedule

Day 183, Year 1: Ahead of Schedule
Date: Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Weather: Beautiful, Sunny Days
Location: Academy Bay, Puerto Ayoro, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

Hurray! The repairs parts arrived today and are aboard. We will start the installation tomorrow morning and see how things go from there.

Today was spent putting a second coat of teak oil on the deck, continuing to label and organize pictures for the website, and doing a bit a reorganizing in the boat. The boat bottom cleaning that was supposed to happen tomorrow happened today and at this very moment, our water tanks are being filled.

If all goes well with the installation of the repair parts tomorrow, it is possible that we will be leaving as early as Thursday. That means that I will need to take the laundry in early tomorrow morning and do the final food shopping. Since there is no way to know how the repairs will go, we will just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, we continue to really enjoy our time here. The lava gulls were in full force today as well as the dynamite diving Blue-footed Boobies. As Manola was cleaning the bottom of the boat this afternoon, Galapagos sharks joined him. They are small and non-threatening, but then they are sharks. Just being at anchorage here is a fantastic experience.

We had dinner with Tom, Bette Lee, and Katherine of Quantum Leap last night and are getting ready to go in and have dinner with Randy and Sherri of Procyon tonight. Quantum Leap left for Isabella this morning and Procyon is leaving for Isabella tomorrow. We shall see when Windbird is leaving.

Day 182, Year 1: If . . . Then

Day 182, Year 1: If . . . Then
Date: Monday, April 17, 2006
Weather: Cloudy Mornings and Evenings; Beautiful, Sunny Days
Location: Academy Bay, Puerto Ayoro, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

It is evening and the sun is sinking down behind the island highlands. At anchor here, we face due east and the sun sets behind us. The last few days we have had cloudy skies at sunrise and sunset, but by mid-morning the clouds dissipate and we have those beautiful blue skies until around 1600.

Today I continued to work on the Galapagos tour logs and pictures and I applied teak oil to the deck and cockpit floor. We are getting ready to go out to dinner with Tom and Betty Lee of Quantum Leap. Quantum Leap is a catamaran out of Mobile, Alabama, and Katherine from New Zealand is crew for them. Tom also has a college classmate, Bob, who has joined them for the trip to the Marquesas. They are headed to Isabella tomorrow and will be leaving for the Marquesas early next week. We hope to be transiting at the same time and want to keep in touch as we make the crossing. We will discuss those plans over dinner tonight.

The big news of the day is that our needed parts have finally departed Panama City. They arrived there last Wednesday at 6:30 PM local time and did not move until today. Evidently in Panama, everything closes on Holy Thursday and Good Friday AND the entire Easter weekend. So despite the efforts of Mack Boring and the fact that we paid Fed Ex $300 for priority shipping, we will not receive the parts until later this week.

IF the parts arrive on Wednesday evening as our agent, Johnny Romero, thinks they will . . . THEN we will install them on Thursday.

And IF the parts do the trick . . . THEN we will be ready to leave here on Friday.

But since I refuse to start a transit on a Friday, supposedly bad luck of which we do not need any more, THEN we will go to Floreana on Friday and begin our transit on Saturday.

We will keep you posted on progress.

Day 181, Year 1: Easter Sunday

Day 181, Year 1: Easter Sunday
Date: Sunday, April 16, 2006
Weather: Still Cooler with Clear Blue Skies
Location: Academy Bay, Puerto Ayoro, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

What better way to start a beautiful Easter Sunday morning than to get up at 0615 to clean the teak deck. Although we had cleaned the deck with New Dawn a couple of days ago, we weren’t satisfied with the results. So we used the last of the West Marine non-acid teak cleaner we have with us. You have to apply the crystals to a wet deck and keep the area wet for five minutes. Then you scrub with a brush and wash down. We used salt water for the wash down and it seemed to work just fine. In order to keep the crystals wet while you wait five minutes, you have to do one small section at a time. Even with the wait time, by 0930 we had cleaned the deck, and then we started on the cockpit floor and we washed down the deck with fresh water. About that time, Margaret and Patrick called on the VHF and invited us to lunch. After lunch, they were going to a concert we had seen advertised and we said we would love to go along. One thing led to another, and all of a sudden in was 1300 and time to head to town.

We had lunch at Patrick’s favorite local restaurant and then headed to the Coliseum for the concert. The signs advertising the concert were in Spanish so none of us were really sure what we were going to see. Randy and Sherri from Procyon were also there, but they had no more information that we did. From what we had read, we thought it was going to be a Salsa orchestra and that the starting time was 1400, but four hours after we arrived for a 1400 concert the equivalent of a Spanish rock concert began. Talk about island time! We couldn’t believe how long we had to wait. The audience waited unbelievably patiently, and once in while the organizer would take the microphone and explain something in Spanish that we couldn’t understand. People would cheer and then we would go back to waiting. When the “orchestra” arrived, it was 14 musicians playing electric everything and a lead singer that was obviously someone very popular with the younger crowd. We didn’t stay long since it was now after dark and the music was so very loud. We were most definitely the oldest people in the coliseum and we showed our age by leaving early.

On the way back to the boat, Mark and I stopped at one of the local international telephone calling centers. We called Heather and Justin to wish them a happy Easter, and I called my sister Patsy. I was going to call my brother Dickie to wish him a happy birthday, but when I went to dial his phone number, I realized that he has moved and that don’t have a new number. So . . . Happy Birthday, Dickel!

Before heading back to Windbird, we said our goodbyes to Patrick and Margaret. Their Galapagos permit expires tomorrow and they must leave. They plan to make a stop at another close-by island tomorrow night and go back to Isabella for a couple of days. They are going to try and stay around as long as they can so that we will be making our crossing to the Marquesas at about the same time. We are hoping that tomorrow will bring good news about the arrival of the needed parts for repair, but we just have to wait and see.

I’ll be posting more of our tour logs tomorrow and will attempt to send some pictures. The internet connection here can be very, very slow and pictures are almost impossible to send. I will at least try to send our “top ten” favorites from here. My friend Linda from Concord, New Hampshire, e-mailed today to wish us a happy Easter. She also wanted us to choose our one favorite plant and animal from here. Not sure that is possible, but we will work on getting our “top ten” favorites to you.

060416 Day 181 Galapagos Santa Cruz–Easter Sunday Salsa Concert