Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Mon 20 May 2013 12:00
We Leave Isabela and the Galapagos Islands Behind
The Skipper nipped into town for the final time to take our rubbish and buy two lettuces, I tasked myself with final stowage and journey prep work. The water taxi driver asked Bear if he minded taking a detour to see some baby pecalins. Of course he didn’t mind. So our final picture (we thought) of wildlife on the Galapagos is a cute one showing Sally light-foot crabs, baby pecalins, a couple of blue-footed boobies and a penguin. What a memory.
As luck would have it our leaving committee was similar to our welcoming one (not seen in between times). The whole herd of blue-foots hunting, not batting an eyelid as a water taxi comes round them.
At noon the anchor came up and we used the now correctly placed buoys (the ones tied together on our arrival) to see us on our way into deep water. We had anticipated no wind for the first couple of days – so no disappointment at the five knots we got. After motoring for the first two hours, we fell into the silence of sailing, albeit at a speed of two point eight knots. It was fun to watch a couple of dozen Elliott’s Storm petrels play in the water around the two fishing lines, hoping to grab anything small exiting stage left.
A Nazca booby spent an hour dive bombing beside the fluffy lure on the right, we are sure he was practicing his aim, again and again he flew to about thirty feet and plopped. He somehow knew the green plastic frill was not for real. He had no interest in the metallic gold and green pretend mackerel on the left line. Exhausted he had to rest quietly for a while.
It usually takes Bear three days to fall into the pattern of life at sea, so I was very pleased when offering him chicken salad for supper - his face lit up and asked for a dollop of mash too. Hmmmmmm. Well I did beat him at backgammon and took more than a few dollars off him at Rummikub. For some reason he prefers not to go below for his first rest period but to set up the cushions and stay outside with me.
After a gentle sunset the captain snored softly in his cockpit nest from twenty to twenty two hundred, which saw my shift end and bedtime. I don’t normally sleep, just rest in this first break, but I suppose the anticipation and chores saw me soundo within minutes, only to be woken at twenty three twenty when I was slightly airborne on a rogue wave. I then dozed until my shift at two. Bear slept solidly in bed until six this morning.
I had a wonderful shift, the stars were incredible. To my left the Southern Cross to the right the Plough (upside-down is still hard to get my head round), above me the milky way. At four I saw a shooting star and wished family and friends well. Beautiful. A half moon bright and clear. I listened to Stephen Fry’s Book of English and laughed as experts described the cliché Bees Knees. Then it was Il Divo to keep me alert. The wind gradually picked up to a whole eleven knots, Beez slid along at just over five knots and I completed a full twenty one miles in my shift. Wow, we may even make over a hundred miles in our first day, a real bonus.
Bear came to the bottom of the stairs as he always does with my compliance (daily tablets) and I noted he only had his tee-shirt on, not the best look before bedtime, but out of politeness I said “Good Morning Johnson”. With that he turned to show a bottom shot. Whilst Bear finished his ablutions I put our the ships lure line and side line on a hand reel - must catch soon as I have had such an arid time lately. The land of nod for me at a quarter past six.
During the night I had the unique experience of it raining yellow onto the back cushion. The last of our ripening fruits were leaving the stalk, I gathered them and put them indoors in a basket. The captain was in charge of ceremoniously taking down Beez temporary decoration. I have eaten my share of the one hundred and fifty four fruits. One for breakfast, two in a fat sandwich for lunch, one for supper and two during last nights watch. In all honesty when they have finally gone I may not eat one again until Christmas. Thank heavens the hard, green tomatoes I picked at the farm are still green in their wrapped state in a basket under the lounge table. When they do go red they may become our new eating habit. We’ll see.
This is my best shot at a factoid. The Rhumb Line is an imaginary line on the earth’s surface cutting all meridians at the same angle. So if you drew a plot from pole to pole on a globe it would follow a neat spiral.
To portray the earth on our flat sailing charts and chart plotter, a Mercator projection is used. A good way to think of a Mercator projection is to imagine the earth as a balloon sitting in a glass cylinder, touching the glass at the equator, continue to pump air into the balloon, more and more of the surface of the balloon will press against the glass cylinder, with high latitudes being stretched more than those at the equator. The result is a Mercator map.
The famous cartographer Gerhard Mercator found this solution in 1569 arriving at his results by trial and error. The mathematical formula describing the spacing of parallels was relatively complex for those times, and was only determined thirty years later by the British mathematician Edward Wright. The conservation of angles implies that the scales for latitude and longitude must be identical locally. In the simplified case the earth is treated as a perfect sphere, if the meridians are to be parallel on the chart, the latitude scale must vary.
The Mercator projection was a fundamental discovery for navigators, permitting as it does, the conservation of angles. Not only does it allow us to read headings directly from our chart / chart plotter, but the angles measured with a bearing compass can also be transferred directly. As a result the local scale is the same in all directions; it does vary with latitude, however.
The shortest distance between two points on the earth is a segment of a “great circle,” and these do not intersect all meridians at the same angle. Sailing along a straight line on a Mercator chart is therefore not the shortest route, but the difference with a great circle route is negligible for distances under a thousand miles. Clearly I have to get a round dinner plate and put the crosses above in a better arc.
Although almost all nautical charts are based on Mercator projections, this is not true of aeronautical charts, as pilots do not normally navigate by compass but go point to point, following radio beacons. Since radio waves follow great circles on earth, flight chart use a special conic projection – a Lambert Projection, which is also conformal, but where the meridians are not parallel to each other and the great circles are indicated as straight lines.
Enough of this, I’m off to make mischief, or try and continue my backgammon success.
Not if I have anything to do with it.
Yes dear, we’ll see dear.
Midday Position: 02:01.26 South and 92:26.26 West.
Miles covered: 107.4 – YeeeeHaaaa, just 2876.6 miles to go. Well if the journey continues like this – fantastic.
We leave you with this mornings sunrise and anticipate weekly blogs unless anything interesting happens. Note interesting - not White-Knuckle..............
ALL IN ALL A GREAT START
A SOFT START TO AN EXCITING JOURNEY