Night watch Day 2:
I just got up to do a 10 minutely watch, it’s night time and I’m alone! Yay I was so needing some alone time. I have been very grumpy and grouchy the last few days, granted we just started sailing again and we’re motoring upwind into seas (which is only arounds 1.5 m swell, so could be worse) but the point is I have been feeling sick and incredibly tired (lethargy is the first stage of sea sickness). We started at 2200, so started off tired then combine that with sea sickness, and you get a grumpy Nat! So as I have discovered many times before and still do it to myself that it’s also about balance (not the sea sickness but the needing alone time), also taking sea sick tabs on time is a very good idea, which I am very good at! I find myself now getting used to the conditions and I can operate more now. Stu has been great and let me sleep a lot and taken on jobs like making bread as I have felt yucko half way through. But it’s also about balance, and me getting time to spend with God and be alone is one I tend to miss out on and my head thoughts suffer for it, and so does the family!!! So I have read some of my Joyce Meyer book (alone at 0300) called ‘Living Beyond Your Feelings’ and I feel way better and I have got some much needed sleep before that, thanks to Stu, feeling excited about this sail now.
It never ceases to amaze Stu and I, we haven’t seen another boat in hours, I can’t see a boat but after looking at the AIS I see a Cargo ship on a collision course with us, granted he is 30 nm away and collision time would be in 2 hours, but still we are in a big ocean with no one around and the only other ship near us will collide if we do nothing and stay on our current courses!!! We have met numerous single handers (solo sailors) who sleep most of the time and do half hourly watches or longer, I certainly hope they have AIS with working alarms as it seems a collision in the middle of the ocean is something that is quite possible! Another thing that amazes us is the bugs we get out at sea (and at anchor too, we get loads of mozzies and no see ums), but here we are 80 nm from the nearest land and we have 4 moths that have flown in making a mess of my newly demolded roof! It’s really amazing.
While I was semi sleeping today the kids and Stu were having a ball with this tame booby bird who landed on the solar panels and proceeded to go for a walk around the boat and then came back to the solar panels allowing Jake to pat it! A wild bird out a sea being patted by a child! Spin out, the kids and Stu were stoked. It reminds me of a post I read of Greer’s (this was when we first decided to do the same thing they are doing, ie cruising), on ‘Tika travels’ where they were out at sea leaving Panama on the Atlantic side and a bird came to nest in Greer’s lovely thick curly hair! – so cool.
While I do my watches I take a look at our bow wave at the ‘God sparkles’ in the water, which is what I like to call the phosphoresce in the water. It reminds me of Gods care and love for us, his presence and his amazing creation we have been blessed to be immersed in with this sailing adventure. Right now I feel like I need to enjoy and savour every moment of it as it will be over in a blink!
We are all excited to be heading towards Galapagos, as you know it is renowned for its abundance of unique wildlife. It surprises me that a lot of cruisers going to Marquesas and crossing this massive west Pacific Ocean choose not to make landfall and explore the Galapagos Archipelago. Instead, they go straight through making it a longer passage of around a 4-5wks at sea. The reason they choose this is that it is so so expensive to visit Galapagos as a cruising yacht, it will cost us around $1600 to just pull into the one allowed anchorage. We are not applying for the Autographo, which is a cruising permit allowing us to stay up to 30 days with a possible 30 day extension and stay in 3 ports with a time of having a guide aboard to cruise around National park areas of which you can go ashore at 40 places, this is expensive at $200 per person per day.
When we arrive there will be numerous officials boarding our boat, as well as our agent who is supposed to help us with these processes (though he doesn’t speak English and we don’t speak Spanish, oh well, google translate again). When we arrive we inform the harbour master official (wanting to know about our boat safety asking questions about our liferaft, flares, life jackets etc) , National Park Officials (4-6 people who examine the boat in detail) and ministry of environment officials (fumigation and sanitation) all who board the boat, I think.
We have agent fees , national park fees ($100 pp, which I am fine with), clearance fees (anchoring, lights and buoys fee, charged per foot of gross tonnage, immigration fee, etc), garbage fee and an environmental risk assessment (hull inspection for any barnacles or algea, so that means a clean hull!!!!). Many people haul and redo the bottom paint antifoul before coming here, we haven’t. So we will have to do a final clean before we arrive, that means floating and snorkelling in deep, cold waters, as they can refuse entry and make you go out 40 nm out to sea to clean your hull if they deem it unclean. They will also fumigate our boat, so I am guessing we go ashore for this. We didn’t fumigate the boat in Panama, so don’t have a fumigation certificate.
I have read that the National parks officials go right through the boat opening cupboards, drawers, bilges, shower, engine room, etc, where they inspect and take photographs. They check your fresh food, they want to know how much alcohol we have, they check the bilges are clean etc, etc. Black water system is checked (toilets), and through hulls closed and a sign saying so! Bins labelled for plastic and cardboard. I need to also make up a notice saying ‘do not throw garbage over board’! Also need absorbent towels for fuel spillages (check) and biodegradable soap (check). Also questions about the boat maintenance and a log of such, which Stu has.
Then there is a medical inspection where a doctor boards and confirms all are fit and healthy apparently at no cost to us. I’m not sure if that’s all, it’s all a bit of a brain fry, the regulations involved are immense. I understand why they are so pedantic with the amazing ecosystem they have, but they certainly are not cruiser friendly. That is why many now choose to bypass it. In addition, when you get there you can’t use your dingy (forbidden and also sea lions invade it) but there are water taxis on hand at $1USD each person. As well there are only a few places that you are allowed to visit for free, all the other places you have to visit with tour guide. Apparently there are loads of tourists on cruises which it seems the islands are catering for and the tours are jam packed with people. Many an article is written stating there are too many people and too many restrictions with a massive cost involved, so you can see why people bypass it. I really think it will be amazing and fully intend on enjoying Galapagos, I think it will be awesome. So our plan is to do the few free things available and a few tours which seem to be between $60-200 per person. The island we are going to anchor off is San Cristobel. We watched some more of David Attenborough’s Galapagos island documentary yesterday – how exciting. How do we go back to normal life? “It’ll be the money honey”, is Stu and my reply!
Night watch day 3:
I just went outside and got a fright, there is a bright light low in the sky it is much brighter than a star, though it is coming up from the east, so I thought it may be a boat, and this type of boat would be a fishing boat rather than a cargo ship which are more lit up. I saw it briefly lower in the sky, last watch. At first I thought it was a fishing vessel, which are the ones we need to look out for in respect to pirates, in these waters there have been pirates and they tend to attach dingies to a main fishing boat and dingy out to yachts (we are going past Isle Malpelo, which is Columbian owned). Though the thought has struck me if that was their aim they would not have a light on. This one is too high in the sky now. Nothing on radar. It must be a plane. Phew, my overactive imagination has struck again. Though we do have mace (brought in a hardware store in Panama city which was sitting next to guns much to our surprise, but they were secured behind a glass case! -sarcasm). We have heard some stories from other cruisers about drug runs, sailing past parcels in the ocean that they were sure were drugs as they were just off Columbia and some Columbian officials trying to board a boat off Melpelo island but the cruising boat refused them entry as their boat was not within 12nm from the island. So these stories are good to be prepared for what may come.
So our pirate plan is to not let them aboard at all costs! Apparently they usually come up to you in a small wooden fishing boat (typical around here) asking for fuel/food. If they try to board we full throttle the engines and swerve the boat, we hurl cans or our newly acquired 20 coconuts or whatever at them. But don’t let them board. This is unlikely to happen but we need to be wary and mindful, so don’t worry mums/dad we aren’t near the ivory coast where they really are bad!
Just had another look and confirmed the light is a plane. We have loads of stars out with clear skies about which has been a rarity since San Blas (as Panama is close to or in the ITCZ, or doldrums). There are two birds flying around our bow and no moon, well its covered by cloud. Calm calm winds of 2 knots! The sunset was calming with glassy seas yesterday. More God sparkles on the water J I am fully buzzing as Stu let me sleep a lot again (naughty) and now I have 1 hour till the kids are up and I’m loving this time.
Yesterday I actually spent some time with the kids, I read them some of a story called ‘Who am I and what am I doing here’. Much to their delight I suggested we make Brownies (as we are motoring which has fully charged the batteries and the seas are much calmer). Just before we ate them, all three were on their knees worshipping me and so I thought I would take advantage of the situation and stuck my feet out and said “kiss it” so they did – funny little kiddie winks! Jake made me laugh today when he came out with a nutty comment about Alex saying “I was just seeking the wisdom of the cheeks”, he thinks Alex’s cheeks are soft and squishy, cheeks on his face that is! Sienna is so sweet she just woke during an orange glassy sea sun rise at 0545 and said “Mum I’m sad because I miss my friends and I just had a dream about Livi, but I am also excited because we are going to Galapagos.”
Night watch Day 4:
We are around half way, yay. The conditions have changed dramatically, we went from becalmed and motoring for 3 days to us now having our second reef in (reduced sail size) and around 19-22 knots on the nose! Not a recipe for a nice smooth ride, poor Neverland is being banged and bashed through the swells, the bridge slap of the water between the hulls is full on, the whole table vibrates and floor shudders, it’s such a loud noise. I had a shower which is in the bow of the boat which has a glass escape hatch in it, which is great to see the boat bouncing about with the water smashing everywhere. There is so much force on the boat, we are paranoid about breaking something and are really trying not not push her too much, if something breaks we aren’t a short sail away from an island!
We had a little problem this am, we were in the process of reefing with one engine on when Stu realized the fishing line was wrapped around the prop!!!!! This is something we are very aware of and usually are very good at bringing line in before we do anything like tack/reef etc. But as we haven’t sailed in so long we stuffed up and after some very loud superlatives (of the negative kind) from Stu ;), he dove in and unwrapped the line from the prop with no problems-phew!!!! It could have been much much worse than it was. WHAT A MAN – Lesson learnt!!
I am so stoked that I don’t feel sea sick!!!! Yeeeee ha grandma! I have even stopped taken my pills! Jake was feeling a little off today, but he managed fine really, got out of dishes which Alex did for him. He said this evening that he is more used to the rockiness now which is great. Tonight it’s a weird feeling being so far out to sea I guess it’s because of the rockiness, wind strength, and noise of the water hitting the bridge deck under us and it feels wild – but it’s all good and going well. We have not seen another vessel today, except early in the am we saw a fishing trawler. Jake is very upset to find mould on his new pillow and pillow case! A weird thing happened today, the boat is on windvane auto pilot, and while I was doing a watch the boat just turned quite sharply downwind about 90 degrees before we rescued it from an accidental gybe! Glad I was there and Stu was up in a flash when he heard me yelling out.
We will cross the equator maybe tomorrow, far out. I have some ideas Stu and I can do to entertain us and torment the kids!!! All in fun of course J as in parental fun! He he
Stu and I dressed up in the kids Pirate costumes and tied them to the pole (with promises of M&Ms), of which we then sacrificed the M&Ms to King Neptune (though in reality it was only about 8 M&Ms!). Then…. I realized that there was mutiny aboard the fair Neverland! Some stinky no good maggots had stolen the treasure to me ‘eart…… after some tickle torture techniques the petty pirates Sienna and Alex were the culprits (I had 2 pretty pill containers and squished some treasure maps inside for the kids to find the hidden party food). These pill containers were found on the mutinous pirate captives (planted secretly by myself), and they were dutifully reprimanded (made to find the treasure).
So then we pumped the music and ate gleefully, Sienna was in form dancing her little heart away, dressed up as a pirate. Thanks S/V Tika Captain and crew for some ideas we stole from your equator crossing, I liked your blog.
Arriving at Galapagos was totally awesome. We were greeted by playful Sea Lions and were just stoked to be by the land again with time to recover.
Thanks a tonne for reading, it’s just a snippet of our experiences and thoughts but we appreciate you reading them.