SV Accomplice Blog week 16 6/2/20 to 12/2/20

Mon 17 Feb 2020 08:57
SV Accomplice Blog week 16 6/2/20 to 12/2/20

The lads have arrived....settled them in then we were off for a welcoming evening meal and beer. Battered them up for the work we had planned for them!

The plan was to spend 2 days provisioning , topping up with fuel and a trip up the mast with a file then leave for Las Perlas Islands on early Saturday morning.

We had some funny experiences with raccoons at the marina. The first time we encountered them was watching them go from bin to bin as a little family group and raiding them for scraps. They were actually really cute for scavengers. Then one night I heard a bottle of water being knocked over on board, just thought it was one of the lads getting a drink...didn’t think any more of it. It wasn’t until daylight that it was clear a raccoon had got through an open port light and whipped a banana out of the fruit basket. His calling card was the foot prints down the side of the headlining material beneath the port light. Cheeky bugger!

Next night I thought I would fix him by putting a screen over the port light. That didn’t work he just peeled it back and got in and nicked another banana!! The last night we just had to close the port lights! Not something we wanted to do in the heat.

Provisioning, fuel and boat jobs done we were ready. Just had to wait for our passports to be returned from the clearing process. We were checking out of Panama bound for the Galapagos (Ecuador) via Las Perlas Islands (Panama).

We set sail Saturday morning as planned, a day sail to the island of Contadora. The wind was light first thing then strengthened to make a lovely sail over. Our excitement on the way was catching 2 tuna fish, one a whopper and the other pretty good. The fish meal that evening was very tasty very dark red tuna steaks that melted in your mouth. Delicious!

We approached the island’s anchorage, found our spot and dropped anchor. This would be our berth for the next 3 1/2 days. And pretty it was. The Las Perlas Islands are a small group laying in the Gulf of Panama, some inhabited some not. Contadora was said to be the most populated and commercial but was actually a beautifully chilled place to be. We ventured ashore on one of the days, hitched a ride to the town on an ATV, picked up some fellow sailors who jumped in the tail gate. Went a few hundred yards and arrived at the town, the town being a corner shop and a fuel pump! A short walk further on we arrived at the island’s airstrip and beach bar which we just had to experience!

Numero uno job was to clean the bottom of the boat of all growth so that we could get admitted into Galapagos waters. The regulations are very strict and divers inspect your hull on arrival. If any growth is found you will be required to sail 20 miles off shore to clean it...not a nice prospect.

First thing we all got into the water, scrappers at the ready, well credit cards really (make good scrappers) and started.....using a mask and snorkel we dived down and scrapped at the calcified workings of worms, plus the occasional barnacle. This wasn’t going to be as easy as we thought, we hadn’t factored in strong currents and jelly fish! We persevered and did the best we could, it was exhausting diving down and I could see that this was going to be a bridge too far. We did a further 2 stints and couldn’t really get down to the bottom of the keel to remove all the growth that was there. Matthew sustained quite a sting from a jelly and all of us got a graze or two.

On one dinghy trip ashore we walked along the pristine sandy beach with rock outcrops looking out to the anchorage, very pretty. It was on these rock outcrops that Josh decided to take flight from a wave crashing in and duly slipped and fell, hitting the back of his head as he did so.
We gathered him up and went to the beach bar, gave him a drink and hoped we was ok. He said he was fine but after a while he complained of a headache and thoughts of concussion concerned us. Anyhow he turned out fine but caused a bit of a stir involving a few sailor doctor, an island doctor, bar staff and the local police!

One evening we attended the World Cruising Club arranged sailing leg prize giving and beach bbq, lovely evening was had been all.

Back to the hull scrapping....we were starting the next leg to the Galapagos on Wednesday, on Tuesday we decided we were beaten. A fellow sailor gave us a hand using his diving gear but still more work was needed. Luckily we found a diving instructor on the island who was willing to help at short notice. Tuesday afternoon he came and spent nearly 2 hours finishing the bottom off to much relief. We just hope now that it is thorough enough to get us through the inspection, if not we will give the Galapagos a miss and just keep sailing.

Wednesday had arrived and we all set sail for the Galapagos at 11am. This time we had a good start and think we were either first over the start line or very close...our best performance yet!! Mike would have been impressed. I am getting the hang of this racing just luck!!

The weather forecast for the sail down to the Galápagos Islands, a passage of some 875 miles, said there was going to be wind for the first day or so then probably not a lot meaning we would be motoring through the doldrums.....not that appealing. We will be going over the equator and the weather is very unpredictable but generally squally and not much wind.....we will see.

It was a good start with a gentle breeze let’s hope it lasts.

Andrew, Matthew, Janet and Josh
Las Perlas Islands, Panama