Panama to Galapagos

In Voyages on 23/06/2010 at 07:58

Tuesday, June 22

We’re in sight of Galapagos!!! Today was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine and a very large school of dolphins that were jumping out of the water, meters high up into the air. Great stuff!

The wind died on us today so we took a bit longer than expected. Right now the wind is almost completely gone, so we will be slowly motoring our last 50 miles to the bay. We hope to drop the anchor right after daybreak. No fish today, but that doesn’t matter that much.

This day was a perfect one.

Monday, June 21

We’re across the equator!!! That is reason for a small celebration. We were so happy that even the fish were jealous and decided they wanted to be with us. One in particular was very, very persistent and wanted to keep up with us so badly that he tied himself to one of our hooks and dragged himself on board. His name was Mahimahi and we liked him so much that we decided to have dinner with him. Yes!!! We have caught our first fish!!! :)) And even better, we caught him while we were crossing the equator! That meant that we were having happy hour with Mahimahi sashimi.

Next to that we are still sailing very happily towards Galapagos. The wind is doing great and we’ve been doing a steady 8 knots this afternoon. Sadly however, we’re not going to make it to Galapagos in daylight. But that’s tomorrow so we’ll not worry about that now.

Sunday, June 20

We’re finally sailing! We’re very happy about this and we’re enjoying it while fighting seasickness and tiredness. Whoever invented this stuff was obviously not very good at sitting still. We are having a 2 knots current from the south and with southerly winds. This means that we’re still going against the waves and close hauled. Not the optimum for comfort, but doing good for speed and sailing.

The way it looks now is that we will arrive in Galapagos 2 days from now. We are planning to go to San Christobal and we should arrive there in the evening as long as everything keeps going as it does now.

Saturday, June 19

Rough days are over and the saga continues. We have all recovered from the sleepless nights of waves and wind and have now finally set course to Galapagos! Last night the swell died down as did the wind, so the rest of the morning most of us were able to sleep in and awaken to a calm sea. We are still motorsailing, but we expect the wind to shift further south during the night. Right now we can *almost* sail, but we want to keep our course to prevent more motorsailing against rougher weather when we get closer to Galapagos. Things look optimistic though.

I can also tell you that Arent and Matty have dramatically improved their fishing skills. They are coming up from level 1 (simply fishing) to level 2 (getting stuff on the hook). However, they still need to work on keeping the prey on the hook. That should be level 3 and getting it in level 4. Still a long way to go apparently. A bit of a scary note is that we’ve still been using the krakenline. (please refer to the updates from the Carib) Using the line is not that scary, but as you might recall, the stuff that we might catch is. Apparently we had something on and the hook was bitten off… (play the “Jaws” tune in your head now) Hellraisers as they are, Matty and Arent have fitted a massive contraption on this line now with at least 50 hooks and extra lines to snatch whatever it is down there on this line. We probably should have included the tazer as well. Really, if you don’t hear from us anymore after this message, you’ll know that we probably caught something. Or that something has caught us, depending on the way you look at it.

Friday, June 18

Again a rough day in the office over here, so I’ll keep it short again. The wind and the swell make it very hard to get any sleep, so throughout the day and night we are getting as much as we can. The way it looks now is that we can change course to Galapagos by tomorrow night and that means after that about half a day more motoring if we’re a little bit lucky. Today we did have a very small fishing boat following us around. This was completely innocent and harmless, no piracy in any way, but it was very strange to see a small open boat more than 150 miles out of any coast. They stayed in our neighborhood for more than an hour. Anyway, we’ll keep hanging in here until tomorrow night and then we hope to send some good news about actual sailing. We’re just hoping that we’ll be able to remember how that worked… 🙂

Thursday, June 17

Sorry, but apparently the story has ended… No followup. We had to leave the island since it became out of range for a daylight approach due to an increase in wind from the wrong direction. Right now we’re fighting the waves and the wind, trying to get far enough south, but it probably is going to take 2 more days before we can set a good course to Galapagos. It’s a bumpy ride! I’m keeping it short this time because sitting in front of a computer is not the most comfortable thing to do right now. I hope to send a longer update tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 16

We are officially in the doldrums now. The doldrums is an area on either side of the equator where the winds are very calm and where there is a lot of rainfall. It is also an area of many unexplained phenomena… (you should imagine exiting music building up now) Tonight I will take you into the twilight z… ehh the doldrums.

Sailing a southern course, the motorship Helena is completely oblivious of what lies ahead. After some excitement in Central America, the crew believes that they are on their way to some islands that they like to call Galapagos. Why? Nobody knows for sure… They just call it that way. However… along the way the compass suddenly goes weird. It appears that there is a magnetic anomaly somewhere near. The charts seem to confirm this, so the crew decides that it is nothing to worry about and continue on their course. After the boredom hits, the crew investigates the electronic plotter and discovers an island that just popped into the screen. Yeah, spooky don’t you think? They decide to call this island “Isla Malpelo” and immediately donate this island to Colombia. After some discussion they decide to set a course to this strange island to investigate. However, along the way some television screens start floating by as if they are trying to warn the crew of what was coming ahead. What could that be? Maybe a soccer game playing somewhere that didn’t turn out well for whoever was watching it? Or maybe a mass suicide of tv screens? We may never know. In the meantime on board Helena, the sun is setting. Outside Helena, the sun is setting too. On Helena however, this seems to cause some confusion because what is happening on the east side of the ship? There seems to be another sun rising!!! The crew is starting to get scared now. What are they seeing on the horizon? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it something else? The phenomenon is lighting up the entire sky with very bright white light and seems to be much to bright for any man-made light. Theories evolve and conversations stop. It seems to be staying in the same place. The brightness of the light is almost blinding. The crew decides that they rather not know anything and they pretend to ignore it. In the mean time the ship is still on course towards the mystery island Malpelo but………………

Tuesday, June 15

After an amazing journey on the Panama Canal we have been at anchor in front of Panama City for provisioning, last maintenance and some pleasure. This afternoon we left the anchorage to get the necessary fuel and we managed to give the fuel attendant a heart attack. Arent had a special covert mission this weekend to find some big jerrycans to carry a little bit of extra fuel. And he succeeded with grace. We have now 8 beautiful white big cans on deck with a capacity of 60 liters each. Next to that we have managed to use up pretty much all our fuel, so we took around 1000 litres from that poor attendant. Normally this ship holds a maximum of 600 litres, but now we are carrying a total of 1200! I think we should be able to reach Galapagos now… Maybe even Australia which is now only a few cans of diesel away now.

By now you guys at home probably have realized that we are really not a sailing ship. We are easily motoring our way to Galapagos by now. Since the wind is still not in our favour (we’re a couple of months too late here…) we cannot set a direct course to Galapagos. So we will keep on going south towards Equador and over there we will pick up the southwesterly winds to set a course directly west to Galapagos. It looks like we’re going to do that on Friday or Saturday.

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