Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Only 50 miles til we spot the first island

It's gray outside. Really gray. The sea is gray, the sky is gray. Even the birds that land on the boat are gray. Except for their beaks. The beaks are bright blue, and their feet are bright red. We've seen the blue-footed boobies, and these sure look like boobies, but in true Galapagos fashion, they seem to evolved into some other colour scheme. Perhaps it's the scheme for 2015.

By our reckoning, we should be the very first boat to arrive in the Galapagos in 2015. We only have 75 miles left to go, (50 miles before we should spot the first island to the east, called San Cristobal) but we have a policy of never entering an unfamiliar harbour (and frankly, we don't even like to do it to places we know) at nighttime. So, we'll limp along, and get to Puerto Baquerizo at daybreak on January 1, 2015. That'll make the game "where were we....?" a lot easier.

Ron has done something kind of cool for our chartplotter, which sits up in our cockpit. We use this to chart our progress, see where we are in relation to anything around us, and view the radar. A few months ago, he was able to hook up the chartplotter to our onboard router, which also has a built in hard drive. This hard drive we can load with movies, shows, or videos which we can then watch in the cockpit while underway. Talk about a godsend for staying awake at 3am. Last night I watched a few comedy specials...just me and the birds cackling away.

It's hard to believe but 300 miles away from anything, yesterday afternoon I had to disconnect our windvane and actually take the wheel, in order to steer away from a large fishing boat heading straight for us. Gives actual meaning to "two ships passing". The ocean is huge and empty, so why do two random boats decide to meet up at the same place, at the same time?

Fingers crossed, next blog posting will be at anchor.

Time: 8:30am, December 31, 2014
Position: 00 43'.0205S, 088 23'082W
Skies: cloudy
Winds: 7-13 knots
Speed: 4.3 knots
COG: 268 degrees
Ground Trip Log: 495.4 nm

Over and out

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Day 3 has come and gone...

What does one talk about when the days are pretty much the same? A little reading, a little game playing, a little sleeping, a little eating. Fortunately, and here I could be waking the no-goodnik gods, but the boat is performing swimmingly. Nothing has broken, nothing is a problem, all is well on board. And after 42 hours, we've put 406 miles under the keel with only another ~160 to go.

We've been playing with our newest crew member - Monty. You've heard me talk about all the men that are onboard. John Deere, the engine, Ken More, the sewing machine, Ron Quire, the captain, and we can't forget Ray....Ray Marine, the chartplotter. The brotherhood has been expanded with an additional member of the boys club. Monty, the Monitor Windvane. He's a bit finicky (aren't all boys?!) but with the right amount of patience applied from the rest of the crew, we think he's going to be a keeper. He wants nothing for sustenence, just a bit of wind to make him happy. He's particular about how his lines are run, and how tight they are, and he's a stickler for making sure that the rest of the crew makes sure the sails are properly trimmed, but slowly, slowly, we are working him into regular service.

Aside from a midnight panic on the first night out, when we were faced with fishing lines and buoys and pangas coming at us from all points, the engine has remained off. We like saving all that diesel! We're going to need every drop in the months to come, so not using it now is working in our favour. Unlike in Mexico, and frankly down the entire coast of Central America, the winds have been consistently wonderful. It's great to be using the boat as it was sail.

Time: 14:40, December 30, 2014
Position: 00 32'.187S, 086 50'.522W
Skies: partly cloudy
Winds: 11-15 knots
Speed: 5.0 knots
COG: 272 degrees
Ground Trip Log: 405.7 nm

Over and out

Monday, December 29, 2014

Day 2 has come and gone

It's taking a bit of time to settle into the routine...a 3 hour sleep schedule, and learning how to walk pitched over at 20 degrees. The winds have been fantastic - so fantastic we had to take the main sail in, and are now just using the genoa and the mizzen. The ride is much better and we are going just as fast. Last night, the winds got up to 34knots, and sleep was impossible. Today it has calmed down some, and we're back in happy sailing mode.

As I was contemplating life up in the dark cockpit last night around 4pm, I was applauding William Garden, the naval architect that created the design for the Vagabond. Imagine this....with a 15 knot breeze, we are able to move a 40,000 pound boat, outfitted with 250 gallons of diesel, 300 gallons of water, 50 gallons of gasoline, and provisions for 6 months for 2 people. At this speed, our journey to the Galapagos should take 5 and 1/2 days, a distance of ~600nm. Not bad. It's times like these that make me question how we as a society seem to forgo the freebies that Mother Nature gives us. Solar, wind....they are all there for the taking, you just need to reach out and grab them.

When I came up for my watch last night, Ron said..."check this out", and shone a flashlight into the dark ocean beside the boat. Thousands and thousands of little eyes peered back. The birds were having a feeding frenzy, and the fish were furiously jumping out of harm's way, some of them even making it to the relative safety of our deck. Safe for us, but not for little fishes. At night with windy conditions (actually in all conditions), we all stay within the safe confines of our pilothouse. I have 3 fears...1) not being able to find my boat in a crowded anchorage after a night boozing on the town (this happened to someone we were with in Cabo), 2) not having an autopilot (we now have 2, plus a mechanical windvane) and 3) coming up to take over my watch, and finding the cockpit empty (this, thank goodness, has never happened). I don't "impose my will" too often over Ron, but he is REQUIRED to take a leak in the head, not over the edge of the boat. Too many sailors have been found with their flys undone.

Time: 11:00am, December 29, 2014
Position: 00 12'.089S, 084 25'631W
Skies: cloudy
Winds: 16-20 knots
Speed: 5.5 knots
COG: 263 degrees
Ground Trip Log: 251.5 nm

Over and out.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Finally on our way

Dcecember 28th - First report while underway to the Galapagos.
We were met by the trusty piloto, Pedro, who guided us across the bar at 7am, December 27th. An awfully grey day to begin with, but by noon the sun had come out, and so had our sails. Within two hours of making it into blue water again, 2 trusty dolphins sped us on our way. The winds continued to ramp up, and by evening it was down right uncomfortable, but we were sailing once again, and happy about it. The first couple of days of a passage are always the most annoying....getting back into a 3 hour sleep pattern, having to think about everything you want to do, twice, so that there are no unnecessary movements, trying to position yourself so that the hard bits of the boat aren't too annoying against the soft bits of your body. For me, the hardest part is keeping both Ron and I fed while underway at a 15 degree heel. Consequently, there are a lot of missed meals, which our bodies could use.

When the skies finally started to lighten this morning, the winds were still at 18-22knots, and we were blazing along at 6.5 knots. They've settled down a bit, and we're now moving along nicely at 4.8 knots, in 18 knots of winds, but even better, directly to where we want to go, Puerto Baquerizo, on Isla Cristobal, Galapagos.

Time: 12:40pm, December 28, 2014
Position: 00 05'.839S, 082 41'434W
Skies: sunny
Winds: 16-20 knots
Speed: 4-4.8 knots
COG: 273 degrees
Ground Trip Log: 145 nm

Broken pieces of the boat: Hose came off of forward bilge, and pump was cycing furiously to keep the water going the right way....OUT of the boat, rather than in. Our aft head has always seems to want to back up, when we are underway. A nasty job is ahead of me. All systems are working!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Christmas Day Checklist

Christmas Day Status Update:

Passports: check
French Polynesia long stay visa: check
Water tanks topped up: check
Diesel tanks topped up: check
Gasoline for dinghy topped up: check
Dinghy cleaned and on deck: check
Spinnaker on deck and ready for deployment: check
Bikes cleaned and stored: check
Salon cleaned and crap put away: check
New music loaded: check
Health Inspection: check
Transmission and oil inspected: check
Paperwork for departure: check


Are we the only ones that shower with their Christmas bird?

T-minus 19 hours and counting.....liftoff for the Galapagos at 6:30am tomorrow morning.

Daily blog updates via the miracle of SSB.

Merry Christmas to one and all, and may the upcoming year bring you as many adventures as we are sure to have. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Getting bored...

I'm tired of waiting.  Most cruisers are frantic prior to leaving for a sail, getting provisioned, doing last minute improvements or repairs.  We're done.  And ready.  And as much as we've enjoyed being here, we want to go, now. 

But can't.  No passports. 

More waiting.....

Monday, November 17, 2014

Home Improvement Projects

We are rapidly crossing off items on our to-do list.  We hope to have them all finished by the time we leave for the Galapagos, but if you've ever lived on a boat, it seems that every time one thing gets completed, there are a few more that have been added.

For once, we had a really fun project to do, not like cleaning the hoses for the head, or changing the oil in the engine, or repairing a sail cover by hand.  This one had me gleefully rubbing my hands together with visions of happy hours dancing around in my head.

A few years ago, I happened to notice that when reaching for a can of club soda, or a coke, or anything that was fizzy and in an aluminum can, I had a 50/50 chance of actually pulling out a can that had something in it.  The combination of salty air, and an ever decreasing thickness of aluminum in making the cans, caused pinholes to develop, allowing the liquid inside to seep out.  Not so bad with club soda, but anything that might have a syrup base was a royal mess, as I had to clean up the goozing remnants.  The cleaning pissed me off, but even more so was the thought of the money wasted, and all the squandered effort it took to get cans of tonic, sprite, and soda onto the boat.  "There has to be a solution...", I said to Ron.  "I hate cleaning to begin with, but combining it with a reduction in my fun during happy hour.....NOT GONNA HAPPEN."

I began researching Soda Streams, but the proprietary gas bottles and fittings made them an option not worth considering, due to us not being in the states.  I needed something that I could use around the world and that could be adapted to wherever we happened to find ourselves.  A bit of googling came up with this link.... and we were away.

Now it is a bit technical, but if you are relatively savvy, you can decipher what you need and adapt.  I wasn't too interested in some of the more homemade aspects of this build, and as long as we were going to do it, we'd do it right.  Nothing worse than going to all the effort and then not having it last (seems this happens constantly on a boat, tho).

The regulator, on/off switch and carbonater cap fittings were purchased from Amazon months ago and I brought them back with me during a parts run to the states.  A couple bottles of tonic and lemon/lime syrup also found their way into my suitcase.  The tank, being so heavy and bulky, we thought we'd just buy in Panama while we were there.  Think again!  Heading to Ecuador months later, didn't fill us with hope either.  In the end, we solved it when another cruising friend had to go to the states for a bit of business, and offered to bring a new 5 pound tank back with him.  The critical factor in getting it back here, was to convince TSA that it was empty, and this was only possible with the valve not being attached.  After 2 weeks of fighting, I finally got a great company to provide me with the valve separate from the tank, and a month later, I was cradling my shiny new aluminum tank like a baby.  The process was about as difficult as childbirth, and it did in fact last for 9 months from conception to fruition.   

The location we chose to store the tank was in a cupboard used by the trashcan.  Ron was able to fashion a cutout from the existing shelf, which he then fiberglassed onto the hull, making for a level stand.  The strap will always be in place, due to heeling or swells.  

The process:

The "Ingredients"
Mmm, looking a bit rough
White paint fixes EVERYTHIING
Ready to roll - cocktails anyone?
With tank in hand we walked to the local fire department, told them what we needed, and $25 later, we had it filled with CO2.

Who wants a white wine spritzer?  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Don't live on a boat, if you don't like to work

Just because we are ready to head off to the Galapagos, doesn't mean that we don't still work on the boat.  This 'living on a boat' business is a lot of work, as it seems something is always breaking.  A friend of ours, on another boat here in Bahia, had an unexpected trip back to the states, so all of his fellow boaters took the opportunity to have a Christmas Run.  He stood back and proceeded to watch package after package after package arrive from all points around "the land of plenty" (also known as the US of A).  His only job was to unpackage everything, put it all in Salvation Army type suitcases, and make it through customs without getting dinged too bad.  He was able, through sheer charm, to make it through only having to pay $260 (on over $8000 worth of goods).  We are all dancing the happy dance, although what the goodies mean is that the work begins.  Thanks to Kim on're a lifesaver!

I had safety gear ordered, in the form of new parts for our stove and oven.  Flames had been shooting out of holes not intended for fire, and I was sure that this wasn't safe.  Three new burners for the stovetop, and one for the oven, in addition to a new liner for the inner door arrived in our shipment.  When rust has eaten away bits of the door, and insulation stuffing begins to be seen, it can't be good.  With everything put back to together again, and working perfectly, I felt compelled to clean the rest of the unit.  Babysteps, babysteps, people.

Pretty and shiny new burners
My life is reduced to blogging about oven door liners - pathetic!
Our freezer has also gotten a facelift with new fibreglass in the corners (after 2 months of not being used, it finally stopped weeping water, so there was obviously a leak somewhere), and a new bright, white, glossy paintjob.  The better to see the "yuck" that is sure to bleed out of meat packages in the upcoming months.

Ron got a new alternator, and yes....MORE generator parts.  By now, after close to 5 years of replacing parts, we must have a new generator.  It actually HAS been working well these last few weeks, so we hate to jinx it, but the oily smoke that discolours the hull has got to go.  I'm tired of cleaning that too.

What else....?  Thanks to my mum, I can now cook meals again with some flavour and spice.  Ecuador (and Panama for that matter) don't ascribe to the spicy food movement.  There isn't a bottle of chili powder anywhere in this country, although I have found cayenne.  A fragrant bag full of 5 different chile powders, plus fennel, and celery in North America spoils one for "stuff".  There is so much stuff there, that it's hard to erase the ability to buy what you want from your memory, let alone just sufficing for what you need.

Ron has been promising to make me a knock-off Soda Stream system.  The last time I came back from the states I brought everything with me to make carbonated drinks with the exception of the canister that holds the CO2 gas.  Try buying one here!!!!  Not a chance.  So when Kim delivered a 5-lb tank and it was handed over to me, I cradled it like a baby.  I can now have white wine spritzers again, without paying $1 for a small can of club soda.  It's the small things that make me happy. Yes, I know it'll take a while to have it pay for itself, but nowadays, the aluminum is so thin in making cans, that with the constant movement of the boat and the salt air, pin holes are worn into the cans and you end up with lockers full of sticky syrup from soft drinks, not to mention the waste of money.  A couple of bottles of lemon lime and tonic syrup, and we are back in the cocktail hour business again.

I've sent a few emails to the French Embassy, but the visas are not back yet.  In 2 weeks, it'll have been 8 weeks since we applied, so bummer, it looks like we've time for more projects.

Now, about that wine spritzer.....

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Week in the Life...

So we are waiting....waiting for our French Polynesia long-stay visa to come back from Papeete.  In the meantime, we wait some more and find projects to tear up the boat so that we can live in disorganization.  It's so much fun.  

Ron decided that I needed to have more storage room, so that I could stock the boat with more provisions.  I think he's afraid that I'm going to run out of all you gluten haters out there, unless you have Celiac's, its a myth.  Don't buy into it!  People have been eating grains forever (okay, maybe only the last 5000 years or so, but that seems like a long time for our systems to adapt to incorporating grains into a purely protein based diet).  Pretty soon, I think there is going to be a movement that says that fruits and vegies are no longer good for you either (oh, wait, I believe that that has been covered by the anti-GMO folks).  So we are left with eating dirt.  Tho I'm sure the only "good" dirt for you will come from some completely out of the way place on earth, where no man has ever walked, and where it will end up costing us way more money than your everyday, ordinary sort of dirt that you might find in, say, your own backyard.  This special dirt will come in a beautifully designed package, which will also add to the cost.  Because the label will be of handmade paper, we of course will willingly turn over obscene amounts of money, because someone will have written a New York Times bestseller or 20, and will tell us why this is the perfect dirt to eat.  And all those dirt eaters will then turn around and make all of the non-dirt eaters feel bad, because we haven't yet bought into the propaganda.  Then, after 5-7 years, a new study will come out that will in fact enable us to incorporate a MASSIVE STEAK, yet again into our pathetic diets. And so evolution will trundle on.....(I've been reading a lot about Darwin).

My own evolution continued a few days ago, with learning a bit more HTML code, and to figure out how to include a map of all the places that we have traveled these last 4 1/2 years, both on the boat, and on land.  I at first decided I wanted to do it all by memory, and I was fairly successful for the first 6 months or so, but then all the bays and anchorages began to muddle together.  I pulled out our Yacht Log for some help in bringing the rest of the memories alive, with Latitudes and Longitudes, including subsequent comments.  In Mexico, there was a lot of "we motored".  In Costa Rica, there were quite a few exclamation marks in the comment section, and apparently it was really hot in Panama and El Salvador.  Because we've inland traveled quite a bit while anchored here Ecuador, and it's the most recent past, my memories are sharp of how much money we've spent, but also of the really great cultures we've experienced.  

The Inca culture is reasserting itself, not only here in South America, but also all over the world.  That very expensive GRAIN you can buy now and is being served to you in rather posh restaurants called Quinoa......been around these parts for 2000 or so years.  It's a grain, but it doesn't contain gluten, so it might make it onto your gluten-hating plates.  The Bolivians are laughing all the way to the bank, as westerners are buying it in droves, it being the "new" thing.  It's really old, actually, but new converts have a way of blowing it all out of proportion....a bit like born-agains.  

I'm not sure if it'll make it onto the good ship Sundancer.  I'd have to leave a bag of flour behind.  

In the meantime, we wait.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Priming the pump

Ron is in charge of so many things on our boat.  One of his most important jobs, however, is to provide us with nightly entertainment in the way of downloaded television shows, movies, etc.  Last week, in light of the fact that we were immersed in all things south Pacific, he got a 6 part series from the BBC, entitled South Pacific (not very imaginative, but it does get the point across). Last night, we started in on Part 1 to prepare us for the next leg of our sailing journey.

I won't bore you with descriptions of azure seas, crystalline waters, dramatic music and photo angles, (okay, just had to throw that in there) but there were some interesting lessons to be learned.  One island, described as being very remote (duh) was highlighted due to their many ways of fishing.  Jigging while lying prone on the waters' surface, enabled these islanders to still obtain the daily meal when the seas were too rough to take their boats out.  Apparently, they have some of the greatest numbers of ways to fish than many of their neighbors.  I'd say that they were keeping up with Darwin's iguanas, in discovering many methods of adaptability and evolution.

A segment detailing the beginnings of the "bungee jump" on Pentacost Island in Vanuatu, showed that the men there have been throwing themselves off high platforms for ages. Although the Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club claims to have been the first to participate in this "sport" in 1979, in reality these islanders have been doing so for hundreds of years, but they call it Bislama nanggol (or the more easily pronounced "land diving").  Although the Kiwis in New Zealand claim to have been the first to do it commercially, in reality they are just pussies, using giant rubber bands rather than the more traditional vines, the way the real men of Pentacost do it. 

On our list of things to buy prior to our Pacific crossing is a machete.  I know, you would imagine that we would already have one on board, but as the boat tends to go where there aren't jungles and vines needing to be whacked through, we've bypassed this boat tool.  We either buy one, or we take aboard a Robber, or Coconut, Crab to help us with shucking coconuts.  They are so big that should we take on this extra crew member, I'll need to do something about clearing out the vberth.  A meter-wide leg span, and strength to drill through coconuts, means these guys are not messing around.  Perhaps I could even teach it to clean the barnacles off the bottom of the dinghy. 

One item of note was the mentality of the community of Atuna Island, when hunting for birds to supplement their mostly marine meals.  They know that they could hunt these birds to extinction, but they net them in numbers which ensure their sustainability.  Their "at oneness" with their environment showed a rhythm with nature which is commendable.

Not so with those now-extinct Rapa Nui, of Easter Island.  This at one time lush and diverse island, was completely denuded of massive palm trees due to tribal competitions in one-up-manship. The building of the massive Moai heads, led to their ultimate destruction of the very habitat they needed for survival.

While the interesting facts we learned last night were presented in such spectacular photographic fashion by the BBC, most importantly the lessons learned were those of survival.  While the peoples of the south Pacific islands have been around for 2-3000 years, I'd suggest that perhaps they go on a road trip to educate the rest of the world.  Sustainability, living in harmony with nature, value of community versus competition, these are age old lessons that apparently still haven't been learned in the world at large.  What is concerning is that the populations of these islands are newer than those in North and South America, and in Europe and the Middle East - is the evolution that is still to come there going to follow the rest of the world's example?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

And then there was Darwin

I'm now in Galapagos mode.  We are aiming to get out of here mid-November, to start our long awaited journey west, and the first stop is ....the Galapagos.  It's on everyone's bucket list, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  We've read other boat blogs, and seen photos of the wildlife, but in order to do it ourselves, we get to do more paperwork.

The fees have put some cruisers off, as it's not a free anchorage situation that we're talking about here.  Cruisers, for some reason, are known for being cheap.  Perhaps not even cheap, but miserly.  We rely on the free sunshine for power, and after the initial cost, we can make our own water.  With no rent on throwing out an anchor, no mortgage fees for a paid off boat, no car or car insurance, and all the accompanying fuel and toll fees and oil changes eliminated, we can live on a much reduced monthly allowance than we did while on land.  When someone asks us to pay ANYTHING, it can be a shock, so a price tag of close to $1000 (for us, $1085 to be exact) to throw out our anchor in waters deemed to be available to anyone with a visa, is an adjustment.  However, we simply can't imagine anyone sailing close by these islands that have so captured the imaginations of generations of scientists, and given rise to so many world-wide arguments about Darwin's "Theory of Evolution", without stopping.  In the whole scheme of things, the "pay to play" bill we have been handed is a pittance, and we are happy to pay.

What do we get for $1085?  We get to spend 3 months in this pristine natural environment, interacting on an "up close and personal" level with iguanas, sea lions and penguins.  Yes, we've been "up close and personal" with all of those in the past, but surely you can see that being able to count yourself among the lucky few that have been to THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, has some bragging rights' merit.  We get to visit three separate islands, and the fees include various agencies, gov't officials, the picking up of trash, the inspection of our boat to make sure there is no contraband, the services of our agent Sr. Bolivar Pesantes who will submit all fees and paperwork to the appropriate officials (and for anyone that has been to Latin America this alone is worth it's weight in gold) and our national park fees.....(we paid $105 each when we went to visit Peru's archaeological sites, too) so in reality, it's understandable, and we are willingly handing over the cash.

In preparation, we have to stop some 40 miles offshore and do an additional scrub of our boat bottom to make sure we are not importing strange 3 headed-pests, we need to separate our trash (we do that in Canada, so no problem there) but other than that, we're pretty well set.

Our reading lists for the next few months include Kurt Vonnegut's Galapagos, Eric Simon's Darwin Slept Here, and a dipping of the proverbial toe into The Origin of Species.  Of course, tales of the Kontiki and Thor Heyerdahl, and anything having to do with The Bounty and James Cook are to be followed soon after.  Books open up my world, and have lead us to visit many places in Mexico and South America that we wouldn't have known to visit.

For those of you reading this blog who have no intention of exploring the world in a sailboat (it really is NOT for everyone), good authors can give everyone a glimpse of this fantastic world we live in, whether we are "up close and personal" with it, or whether our imaginations are fired from the cozy confines of an armchair.  The only thing I know is that watching the grass grow, (and then having to mow it) and keeping a fastidiously clean house, is not the way I want to live my life.  In the words of Irma Bombeck, I will NOT have on my headstone "ah, but she kept a clean house". 

To all you non-housekeepers out there, the world is a wild and wonderful place! 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The application process for French Polynesia

Last week was all about paperwork.  We are in the process of applying for a French Polynesia long-stay visa.  This will allow us, as North Americans, to stay in FP for up to a year, rather than the typical 3 months usually granted for people just rocking up.  As FP includes the Marquesas, the Tuamotus, the Gambiers, the Society Islands (which include the famed Tahiti and Bora Bora) and the Australs, we knew, given our cruising style, that 3 months just wasn't going to be enough time.  We had a hard time getting out of Mexico, and we were there for 2 years.  In true, planning ahead style, we decided that the paperwork would be worth the effort.

After making our appointments with the French embassy in Quito, we were sent a full list of requirements we needed to provide.  Applications, one in English and one in French, photos for the visas, copies of our passports, world-wide certification for health care, copies of our boats' registration, a letter in both English and French that explained our reasons for wanting to come for such a long period of time, and.....6 months of bank statements, showing that we had enough money to be there for that long.  Hahahaha, after hearing stories of the costs of provisions in the islands, we doubt seriously whether we can afford to be there, but whatever...

The interview process was pretty straightforward, and I am happy to report that the woman that helped us was incredibly friendly, encouraging and helpful.  She remembered friends of ours from last year that applied, and inquired as to their whereabouts now, and cheerfully told Ron that he was staying behind, while she took his place.  There was only one glitch, and that was when we needed to give our fingerprints.  The machine didn't find it funny that there were only nine fingerprints on Ron's application.

One of these is not like the other...

I am in the process of once again lowering our waterline, with cheaply procured items from here in Ecuador.  Not that there is much to buy, but knowing that where we are going, there will be even less, has me looking with new found interest at Nutella, packaged soups, and canned palm hearts.  We've been testing various products here to see which ones we find adequate, and are discarding items that just aren't cutting it, like oatmeal that is more dust than oats. You wouldn't believe it, but canned tomates are like gold.  Not a single one here in our little community of Bahia, so when we were in Quito, we took our traveling backpacks and filled them with cheese, canned tomatoes and more cheese.

We've been told that this process should take from 4-8 weeks, so until then, we wait, and provision, and wait some more.  Every day, we try to get at least one little thing we reinstalled a few turn buttons that had snapped off about 2 years ago (actually, we don't know the names of them) for the removable side panels on the pilothouse.  And we read....lots of stuff about clear French Polynesian water, reefs to dive on, coral heads (bommies) to avoid, and reef entrances to stress over.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

The list is piling up...

....for us to leave this continent.  Now that I write it down, its a reality.  After all, anytime you see anything in print, it's true, right?!

We have decided to head west, and then south, and then west again.  Any guesses?

Our goal, should all of the paperwork come through in a timely manner, is to head to the Galapagos in mid-November, or whenever our French Polynesia long-stay visa comes back from Papeete with a stamped approval.  New regulations are now enabling cruisers to spend up to 3 months in the Galapagos, so rather than hang out here much longer, we'll set up shop over in the Galapagos, and go swimming with the sea lions.  We find that we have much in common with the Galapagos turtles, as we seem to move about as fast as they do, so life should be good.  In order to go for any length of time, we have to apply for an Autografo which will enable us to visit 3 different islands, and stay past the usual 20 days.  Of course, this comes at a price and for a boat our size, it's going to come in around $1400, but we figure that while that amount is tough to take for 4 weeks, spread it out over 3 months and the cost/day ratio improves.  That is true creative accounting.

After the Galapagos, we'll see what the weather says, and if it's favourable, we'll head south/southwest to Easter Island.  Those of you that know us, know that we have been fighting about this for months, and months, and months.....Ron has worn me down and I'm tired of fighting.  Do I want to sail for 25 days to go to an island that we may have stay on board the boat for the entire time....nope.  Do I want to sail for 25 days to go to an island that we may have to leave after a day for the next island (Pitcairn), 10 days away....not so much.  Do I want to sail for 25 days to go to an island that we may have to move locations every day, due to weather and swell.....ya, no again.  But, it looks like we're going to try.  Unless, we don't.  The gribs will tell us, once we decide the time is right to make a break for it, whether we head to Easter Island, or whether we hitch a ride on the Coconut Milk Run and make a break for French Polynesia, and the Marquesas.

In the meantime, I am going to be provisioning like we'll never see land again.  Rumours of $10/pound of ground beef, $12 bags of Doritos, $4 beers.....we are in serious trouble if we think we can afford to buy food once we leave the shores of south America.  That being said, a fellow cruiser, Patty on Armaugh, and I have been commiserating with the less-than-satisfactory provisioning options here in Ecuador.  Where can we buy 8-packs of canned tomatoes.....where are the 12 roll bundles of papertowels....where are those jars of $6 (that's cheap!!!) peanut butter?  They are up in Panama, that's where, and since we came from there 6 months ago, we've run out of food stashes.  No pickled jalapenos, no cocoa powder, no $2.80 liters of wine.  It has been tossed around to "run up" to Panama to provision, but Ron rightly pointed out that I might have too much of a love affair with PriceSmart (a Costco affiliate) and that traveling for a week might be too much of an effort to be able to purchase 6 cans of chicken.  He did have a moment when I asked whether it was still too much effort to head up there for $12 cases (yes, that's right, a case, 24 cans, 4 sixers) of beer, but in the end, figured I'd make some sort of a plan to keep him hydrated.  I do...and it's called water, made from the sea.

I've been camped on the internet for days.  The anchorage here has improved their wifi signal, so I can now, in the comfort of my own boat, do as much research as I need.  I've downloaded sv Soggy Paws' Compendiums for the Tuamotus and the Marquesas.  I've made provisioning lists that include 12 cans of tomatoes, and 20 bags of tortilla chips.  I've filled out paperwork; more paperwork than I've done in years, for our French Polynesia long-stay visa.  I've been in touch with banks, and healthcare providers.....and after the internet signal dropped me for the 4th time while telling my financial advisor why I needed an infusion of cash.....I raised my eyes to the heavens and said aloud that it had better be worth it.

Ron has his own traumas, but that's for another post.

Meanwhile, the usual stuff continues to break, and we continue to fix it.  We have started looking around the boat for little things we can add to make our lives better, or at least keep our lives alive, like adding lines to our parachute anchor that somehow had been neglected.  And to once and for all, start adding stuff to our ditch bag for emergencies. In my moments of weakness, I reread John Vigor's black box theory, to motivate me.

In the end, we'll leave when we leave, and we'll leave things behind.  But unlike a lot of people, our dock lines were cut long ago, and we know that if we don't have it aboard, it won't kill us.  Mmmmm, about that black box.....