Saturday, April 27, 2013

Seeing the sites of the Galapgos – Wildlife at it’s finest.

We have spent the past few days trying to relax and enjoy the remarkable landscape of these volcanic islands.  Kaija was in hot pursuit of the very cute blue footed boobie bird and now has photographic proof that they exist,

 Kaija and the Elusive Blue Footed Boobie

 and for the real thing!...

 the marine aguanas are singularly exclusive to these islands and of course there are the huge longer LoneSome George, he died last year and was very old...150 or older...but they are still remarkable to get up close to.  The diving can be spectacular...very much dependant on the prevailing weather conditions of the day...and when not optimum, it can be difficult to make out the large schools of hammerhead, the very large manta rays, seals and sealiions, large grouper and snapper, enough to make the hunter drool, but alas no my drooling sailor man...control yourself...these are marine parks....mmmm, I know...leave some for the next guy...I’m all for it!

these cute little guys can grow to 800lbs

Santa Cruz is a large Island with one major town being Puerto Ayora.  It is the main harbour and is quite busy.  It is unfortunately an open roadstead to the prevailing SE swell.  It demands that you ue as stern anchor to keep your boat facing into the waves.  The town is great...with newly laid brick roads, they town feels clean and new and the shops are well laid out and abundant.  There is an excellent farmers fruit and vegetable market on Saturdays, otherwise there is fresh fish on the docks daily for all.

 everybody gets fed at the fish market.

We traveled for the weekend to visit with Jim and Carol in Isabella and spent a day on the water seeing the very dramatic volcanic coast line 

 West coast Isla Isabella, Galapagos

we sawflightless cormorants, 

mini penguins, 

more blue footed boobies, sea lions, giant mantas and large sea turtles. 

Unfortunately, because of the large sea swell we were unable to enter the bay and view the dance of the blue footed boobies...this is a mating ritual dance and is said to be very entertaining. We caught three beautiful yellow fin tuna and enjoyed fresh Ceviche for lunch. 

Ceviche anyone??

Isabella has a smaller more protected anchorage but the island itself is not as developed as Santa Cruz.  We enjoyed a hike to the Wall of Tears built by islands prisoners during the Second WW.  We enjoyed seeing more Iguanas than we could count and the occasional tortoise out for a stroll.  We traversed along fine flour like sand beaches as the ocean waves curled and crashed along the shore.   

There are only 20000 residents in all of the Galapagos Islands....which is a radical increase from the 4000 of only 10 years ago...and of course the thousands of indigenous birds, mammals and sea creatures that call this isolated Island grouping home.

We are very excited about our upcoming BIG LEG...3000 miles to the Tuamotu.  

We depart Galapagos at first light and will arrive in The Tuamotos in approx 20 days.

Till then, and till we check in again....thx for being there!

The Galapagos...where do you find a Mechanic???? HELP

Now for the fun part...gettin this stuff the Galapagos????

And here’s where the news gets goods, or at least as good as it can get when you are at the mercy of a mechanic...his name is Ronnie...he’s just a kid...quiet, polite, and man is he good.

He had the transmission dismantled, off in his hands in less than a half hour....are you kidding me????

I was still struggling to remove the hi output alternator, which we discovered had seized...when you see your double pulley belts kinda melted to the pulley....good clue the bearings are shot!. it off...and away Ronnie went...muttering something about my clutch damper plate ‘no bien’.   Turns out the clutch damper plate was broken, Ronnie thought he could fix it...turns out he couldn’t...he’s what...he tried...however, what he was smart enough to do was to call mainland Ecuador and order a new one.  This was on a Friday arrived by air the next day....THE NEXT DAY!!!!...he had the alternator fixed already...and was back on Monday to install the transmission...I said something about could he look at the fuel lift pump...and working without being able to see what he was doing...he removed the pump...took it home and returned the next morning fixed like new.   Ronnie is a genius!  Much thanks to our good friends Jim and Carol on Sv Somerset for that recommendation.

Second Start - Panama to Galapagos

Luckily for us...the seas were quite soft and the winds a gentle breeze.  We weren’t making great time, but we were sailing...keeping vigilant watch for any cloud patterns that might foretell a puff of wind.

Originally when we departed Panama City we had planned for a 6 – 8 day passage.  If we had sailed with our weather window, that is what we would have done.  However, with the light winds come slower speeds and we found ourselves drifting along at 3kts for a period of 18 hrs with the winds dying.  This was on Monday April 8 and so I decided to start the engine and do a little motor sailing.  The engine started as it had each time I asked it too after my early morning vigil with it’s parts.  I put her in gear...and joy...WHAT DO YOU MEAN!!!! transmission????? You gotta be kidding me...!!! I have reverse...but no forward :o)

Now your little motor can run just as good as can be, but if you gotta no a transmission...I’m a gonna tella ya a go a no place!.

Well after a hastily called crew meeting to discuss our options...hahahah what options??? We could drive backward 200 miles...we could paint a pointy end on the stern and pretend we were going forward.... No wait a minute...we got options...we’re a sail boat right??? (uhuh....when there’s wind).

So we did what sailors do...we sailed...

We were joined early on by a very attractive little sparrow who took great delight in playing with his friend 'in the mirror'...he spent hours hopping along the front of the mirror trying to figure out how that other bird was so smart.

Panama bird and his buddy in the mirror

And there’s dolphins’.....did i mention the dolphins...everyday...very large pods of small, very playful, flipper tricks et al, and they were very well a terrific lift to the spirit of our passage.

We finally reached that magical mark in every sailors path...the is's a milestone...tatoo or no tatoo...earing or piercing....I think not...we gave to Neptune what was his due...we rejoiced in making this far and bravely sailed over the line into the South Pacific.

 at 6:36pm on April 9 2013 KaijaSong and Crew crossed the Equator.

and we sailed somemore....until the next night when we found ourselves 40 miles from the Galapagos and NO WIND!....SO what do you do? turn off Auto( autopilot) put away the sails and go to bed....and hopefully when you wake will have drifted closer to your destination...and that’s exactly what happened...we woke up with 32 miles to go...a little breeze...we raised the spinnaker and with a light breeze gently filling the spinnaker we had ten miles to go by 2pm....and the wind died...

 the X's were rumline waypoints...the somewhat squiggly line is where the wind took us.

Now for those of you who tuned in late...our dinghy motor was we bought a new one...and guess who’d been ridin along do nothing for almost 900 miles???? You guessed we dropped the dinghy in the water and tied her along side and started up the little Yamaha 15hp outboard and putted our way into Santa Cruz...

 dinghy tied alongside KS puttin the last 10 miles to Galapagos...hey ya use what ya got!

I will say we were ever so grateful when our new friends Pete and Raewyn Sv Saliandar sailed up alongside and offered assistance as did good friends Karen and Cheryl on Sv Interlude when they came out in a launcha to assist us with anchoring...what a be in safe..Thank you Lord, and thanks to all the friends along the way who helped.

We made it ....the Galapagos!

A Word or Two regarding Mal de Mar!

For those who are not sailors I will try to explain a little of the process of ‘getting your sea legs’...which really means getting your body system in sync with the motion of your new world.  This can be a gentle process aided mostly by prevailing wind and wave action causing the somewhat erratic movements your body is exposed to.  Sometimes, however, with bigger winds comes bigger seas and this can cause conditions that can be uncomfortable at best and life altering at worst.  Mal de Mar (motion sickness) affects different ways and can be quite debilitating to the poor victim.  There are different remedy fixes...including the ‘patch’ which Kaija wore years ago and had bad side effects affecting her vision.  Other’s subscribe to a diet of non greasy foods and others still are convinced if they just focus on the horizon, from my experience, I can tell whatever you can to avoid it...once you start down the slippery slope of the cold sweats...a lot of swallowing....closing your eyes and going one who has experienced this side of’s not fun...however, thankfully for us...Kaija & I have developed our sea legs sufficiently that we are not affected by the motion unless it is severe...then all bets are off.