Day 148, Year 1: Sixth Day, Windbird’s Passage to the Galapagos
Date: Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Weather and Wind: Clear skies and calm seas; winds 1 to 6 knots SSW
Daytime Air Temperature: 81 degrees F daytime
Water Temperature: 79 degrees F and dropping
Latitude: 00 degrees 14 minutes
Longitude: 088 degrees 40 minutes
Location: Panama to Galapagos Passage, Day 6
Miles to 00 degrees 00 minutes:

Tonight is the night. We will reach the equator about 2030 and should be anchored in Puerto Ayoro in the Galapagos by mid-afternoon tomorrow. The excitement is building!

Today was a very quiet day. As the full moon set in the West around 0630 this morning, we had a subtle, but beautiful, sunrise in the East. During the night, Mark wrote another installment of Captain’s Ramblings. That is copied below. Our next log will come to you from the Galapagos. And for those reading this, don’t forget to celebrate with us tonight at about 8:30 PM EST.

Captain’s Ramblings II:

Maybe this is the way sailing is for my multi-hull friends (Is this right Ron & Suzie?). I can set a drink down and not worry about it spilling. Well, actually I worry because I am a mono-hull sailor and everything falls off the table when we sail – usually. But now everything is staying put. We are not heeled over. And yet we are doing six to seven knots. We are on a broad reach with light winds and no waves, just the large, gentle Pacific swell. The swell is so large that it hides the boat traveling with us up to above the boom – probably eight feet or so. But the distance between swells must be several hundred yards so we hardly feel them. Instead of rocking over the waves like a hobby horse, we gently rise with the swell and slide softly down the other side. The effect is mesmerizing. I can understand why Balboa (it was Balboa, wasn’t it) called it the “Pacific.” It is so peaceful.

Of course, we are not always sailing. This is the Doldrums after all. We have probably motored about half the time on the trip from Panama to the Galapagos. Because we want to conserve on fuel we have gone slow. Motoring at 1800 RPM’s we use about half a gallon of diesel per hour. At 2400 RPM’s we use a little more than a gallon per hour. But while fuel consumption is doubled, speed is only increased about 20 percent: from about 5 knots to 6 knots. We are in no hurry, so the extra speed is just not worth it. Besides, we have had a positive current with us of about one and a half to two knots for almost the entire passage. So our five knots turns into almost seven knots over the bottom. Motoring at 1800 is also a lot quieter. The hum of the engine is always with us, but it is not loud so that we don’t even notice it and feel almost as though we were sailing.

Since our computer stopped working a couple days ago we have decided to buy a new one. My immediate thought was that I needed to talk to someone who knew what the best computers for the money were. So I used the satellite phone to call Steve Bothwick who is the computer guru for New Hampshire Public Radio. Doreen Kilby answered the phone at the office and I was suddenly back home again and feeling very much among friends. We bought our satellite phone from Doreen, whose husband had it when he was stationed in Afghanistan. She got Steve on the phone and, sure enough, he had the answers I needed. Then he transferred me to Maureen Anderson because I so wanted to talk to everyone on the staff and I knew that Maureen would convey my feelings to them. It was a short call (satellite phone calls are expensive), but I was reminded of just how much I miss all the crew at NHPR, the staff and the board. I spent a lot of time in the hours after that call thinking of each and every friend I have back there.

When I think of all our friends, I want to write them each a personal letter. But then, it doesn’t get done. I just can’t seem to find time. You would think that we would have lots of time in this lifestyle. After all, we are retired (at least for now) and we are sailing, which is supposed to be a relaxing activity. And it is relaxing. But it is also demanding. We get up every day with a list of things that need to be done. Judy writes about some of them in our log. The ocean is a harsh environment. Metals rust, salt builds up on everything exposed, and the constant movement of the boat causes chafe and wear on all sorts of things. The sun deteriorates any finish so that varnishing of wood is a never-ending job. Canvas covers and shades need water-proofing. Stitching deteriorates in the hot tropical sun and needs to be re-sewn. And computers and cameras stop working because of the humid environment. We patch torn sails, sew webbing on areas of the dodger and bimini prone to chafe, sand and varnish woodwork, clean scum off the bottom of the dingy and off the waterline of the boat, change the engine oil and filters, replace a broken bolt on the alternator, grease the pump mechanism on the head, and put grease in the gear box of the water-maker. And the list goes on and on. But I am not complaining. After all, the definition of cruising is “working on your boat in exotic locations.” How else could I get to these exotic locations! And once there, we have to tear ourselves away from boat work to enjoy the place we visit. For those of you who know us, Judy and I have always drunk life from a fire hose. We don’t know how to do anything half way. We are constantly trying to fit ten activities into the time that any sane person would only attempt one or two. And we love it that way. So, if we don’t write, at least we hope our friends will read our logs (which are our letters home, after all) and keep us in their thoughts as they are in ours.

Mark

060314 Day 148 Crossing the Equator
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Day 149, Year 1: Crossing the Equator and Arriving in the Galapagos
Day 147, Year 1: Fifth Day, Windbird's Passage to the Galapagos