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.....