Galapagos to Marquesas

David & Valerie Allen
Thu 8 Apr 2010 00:19
08:43.56 S 125:35.65 W

Wednesday, April 7, 2010.

It seems very strange to announce that we have ONLY 850 NM left to go before we reach the Marquesas in French Polynesia. Before this trip we would have condidered that an interminable voyage. Now, having completed more than 2000 NM, it seems like a romp in the park.

And what an adventure it has been. Peots and authors have tried for centuries to describe the might and attraction of the sea. I honestly feel it cannot be done. You can sit for hours staring at the vast, semmingly endless expanse around you, watching the colour changes, the infinite shapes of the waves, listening to the roar as the boat pushes its way through the water. It is totally mesmerizing. You become very philosophical, thinking about your place in the universe. You spend a lot of time thinking of family and friends- especially at special times, such as Easter. You can get lost in the starlit skies for hours. You feel at peace.

We have spent countless hours reading, doing puzzles, talking and just "being". No one has complained of boredom. We are a bit anxious and excited now that we are more than 2/3 to our destination. However, I feel a little disappointed at the thought of this passage ending. It has been a wonderful learning experience. We have learned to overcome fears about our competence and have worked together to improve our skills. We have also learned how to do very mundane tasks while heeled at 15 degrees for weeks at a time. Dave remarked that if Darwin's theories hold true, we should have all developed a longer right leg in order to compensate for its always being downhill! Cooking while being thrown about is a real challenge and there have not been any true "floor meals"- picked up off of the floor, that is. Every task is more difficult and one has to learn to adapt. Right now I am typing this note while bracing myself with one foot against the wall opposite the nav station!

It seems a bit bizarre to be able to talk to fellow fleet members ob the VHF radio (short range). Although the fleet of 29 boats left the Galapagos within a three day period, for two weeks we have not seen any other boats- just lots and lots of ocean. Now we have PERIGRINA to port and we talked with SPIRIT OF NINA just a few minutes ago. Our paths have started to converge as we near our destination. We have kept track of everyone's positions via our SSB radio (ham radio) at morning roll call. Dave loves to calculate who is making the most miles made good (straight to the Marquesas). The larger boats certainly have an advantage. They sail at least half as fast again as boats, like ANGEL, who are at the smaller end of the scale. Nonetheless EVERYONE has been amazed at how much faster we can sail, even in lighter winds.

Just because the sailing has been relatively trouble free, doesn't mean there haven't been problems. LORRIGRAY turned back to Panama en route to the Galapagos because of steering pro blems and has since decided to leave the rally. AQUALUNA was delayed in Puerto Ayora with fuel difficulties. MOONSHINER and SCOT FREE, within 24 hours of leaving the Galapagos, were returning because of generator and engine breakdowns. The family from ROUNDABOUT have returned to England so that David, the father, can have tests done about his strokes. A crew has just set out from Puerto Ayora to deliver the boat to Tahiti for them. Several boats have had spinnakers, mainsails and genoas (foresails) tear or break free. Jaime, on BIONIC suffered a severe attack of kidney stones and Sheila, a doctor from MISS TIPPY managed to rendez-vous with them and transfer to BIONIC for the remainder of the voyage. That is one of the main reasons we decided to circumnavigate with a rally- there are people there to help out when you have difficulties!

ANGEL, I am happy to report, has had a very non-adventurous passage to date. Our biggest problem (and it is merely an annoyance right now, but has the potential of being dangerous) is that the transmit button on our SSB radio does not function. ASPEN, fortunately, agreed to take over my duties as net controller on Mondays. We can LISTEN to everything people say, but cannot respond, except by email. If we were in distress, this could be a BIG problem, but so far, our prayers have been answered.

A pleasant surprise is how little diesel we have used. We bought extra jerry cans at Rally Control's strong recommendations because the area known as the DOLDRUMS surrounds the Galapagos and extends to about 6 degrees South. That is an area of 360 miles to cover before finding the steady SE Trade Winds. In between there is an area of very unsettled weather, with weak weak winds coming from every point of the compass and many rainy squalls. It is essential to do a lot of motoring to break through all that. However, we found that we could sail VERY SLOWLY a lot of the time and used the fuel very judiciously. As a result we have used only about 20 gallons in total (out of out 155 gallons!) We are one of the feww boats in the rally that does not have a generator. That, however, has become an advantage. Other boats have been doctoring their jennies and find it necesary to run them daily for power. With our solar panels, wind generator and the new tow-along water generator we have been making so much electricity we have to keep turning off the wind generator and we keep using the watermaker to use up surplus power!

We have been trying to eat everything in the frezer before we leave ANGEL in Tahiti for our trip to Canada. Consequently Dave has been disinclined to fish. Other boats have had great success- a 5 foot whaoo, a large tuna, sailfish and even a SHARK! Hans, aboard NATIBOU, had a disconcerting wildlife experience. As he was leaving the Galapagos, NATIBOU became entangled with some fish line, disabling one of her propellers. Hans had to go under the boat to free the shaft after the fishermen cut their line free. They actually had three sharks in their boat at the time and Hans was leery of being in the water unprotected. While he was working on the snarl, he saw a 10 metre long slimy creature swim past him! I'm certainly glad I wasn't there!!!

All we have caught to date is a nightly haul of flying fishes and a few squid lying on deck in the mornings. I heard an enormous crash one evening while on watch; it sounded like someone hitting the dodger with a baseball bat. It was a dozen kamikaze flying fish! I quickly scooped up any still alive and tossed them back in the sea. I still can't believe the power of their impact! As for the squid, I have dubbed them as guilty of committing calimari Hari Kari!

As I said earlier , boredom has not been an issue. EVERYTHING takes longer when you live on a 15 degree angle and requires ingenuity, strength and adaptability. Add to that 3-4 metre seas and even the most mundane tasks become daunting- try sitting on the loo with your foot bracing you on the wall downhill from you while pushing back the toilet seat lid with your opposite hand to keep it from crashing into your back- while bouncing up and down!