Day 143, Year 1: First Day, Windbird’s Passage to the Galapagos
Date: Thursday, March 09, 2006
Weather and Wind: Sunny with a few clouds; variable winds 3 to 10 knots N/NW
Daytime Air Temperature: 73 degrees F
Water Temperature: 71 degrees F
Latitude: 07 degrees 20 minutes
Longitude: 079 degrees 25 minutes
Location: Passage from Panama to Galapagos

It takes a while to get into the passage groove and we definitely didn’t get there today. We are still in the frantic mode, but by tomorrow we will probably settle into the rhythm. We left Rio Cacique at 0700. Aqua Magic came behind us and Windcastle stayed behind to do some final preparations. They got underway around 1500. We had absolutely no wind this morning and the seas were glassy smooth as we left the anchorage. We have motored all day, most of the day with the headsail out, but as I write this log in the late evening, winds have built to 15 and we are finally sailing. More than likely we will have to motor most of the way to the Galapagos. Anytime you are this close to the equator, there is very little wind. We had hoped for wind today and tomorrow while we are still close to land, but that didn’t happen today. We’ll hope that tonight’s winds continue into tomorrow. We will not cross the equator until we are almost in the Galapagos so the light wind situation will probably be with us for the duration.

When we motor, we are going at 1800 rpm’s which gives us about 4.5 to 5 knots. This is slower than we usually travel, but at this speed we use about a half a gallon of fuel each hour-half as much as we would use if we went faster. We carry 180 gallons in our tanks and have 20 gallons on deck in jerry cans. If we conservatively figure that we have 140 usable gallons in our tanks, we should be able to travel 1400 miles. It is about 890 to the Galapagos, so we actually have about a 50% margin of error, not counting the cans on deck. Depending on our speed, we could arrive in the Galapagos in 7 to 11 days, sometime between March 14 and March 20. Aqua Magic is planning on staying close to us, so if either of us should run into trouble, we will have the other one to help out. We are also checking into the Panama Pacific Net each morning and talking with Windcastle once a day. There are at least 3 boats about 3 days in front of us and there are another 4 to 6 boats in the Las Perlas waiting to leave, so there will be boats coming behind us. Looks like we should have plenty of company!

The morning started out nice and slow, but then Mark and I both got into high gear cleaning and repairing. If found a few more clothes that needed to be washed and on the first morning of a passage, I always clean all of the clear plastic “windows” in the cockpit, making visibility just a bit better. Mark worked on stainless and I cleaned the bottom of the dinghy-which sits upside down on the foredeck when we are sailing.. I cleaned the inflatable part last night, but didn’t have a chance to scrub the hard bottom. It turned a lovely color of brownish-orange while we were in Panama, so it took some “miracle polish” to whiten it again. We listened to the morning Panama Pacific Net and later in the day tuned in to Southbound II to get our marching orders for the next 24 hours. Somewhere in there, the water maker started making a terrible noise, so Mark looked into that while I continued to clean the dinghy. Just about the time we should have been winding down for the day, I heard the fishing reel buzzing and went back to find we had caught a shipjack tuna.-only 17 inches long, but since it was the first fish that Mark and I have ever caught without the help of our daughter Heather, we were very excited. Mark was knee deep into the water maker, so I cleaned the fish. It is enough to convince you that we should all be vegetarians, but I was successful. By the time all of this was done, it was time for Mark to sleep for a couple hours before dinner and first watch at 2000, but we also wanted to check in at 1800 with Aqua Magic and Windcastle on the radio. And then we got just a bit more wind and decided to put up the mainsail. So instead of sending this log at 1600, it will be sent at 2200 when I go off watch and Mark comes on. So instead of Mark doing the 2000 to 2300 first shift, I came on watch at 1900 and he will come on at 2200. As always, flexibility is the name of the game.

Today we said goodbye to the pelicans of Las Perlas and had brown boobies following and playing around us much of the day. We thought we had left the red tide behind, but it is in full bloom in the Gulf of Panama and reared its ugly head in the late afternoon hours. Hopefully by tomorrow morning when we are out of the gulf, the water quality will improve.

I’m writing this log by the light of the moon. The moon will be full on March 14, so we will have the luxury of moonlight for our passage. Unfortunately, the moon is coming up early in the afternoon and will set sometime in the wee hours of the morning, so we won’t have the light all night. But some light is better than none. Let’s just hope the winds continue all through the night and into tomorrow.

060309 Day 143 First Day of Passage from Las Perlas to Galapagos