We were at the Balboa Yacht Club, outside Panama City for just a short stay
and other than a quick trip to buy food we didn’t really see the city. We spent
a couple of days doing odd jobs on the boat and meeting up with the friends who
had come through the canal at about the same time. The last job left to do
before setting off was to simply add antifreeze to the engine coolant. We
planned to set sail that afternoon in company with Y-Not. Well what could go
wrong with such a simple job? Noticing a slight leak Barry gave the bolt a tweak
and it sheered off in his hand. A piece was left in the hole making it
impossible to insert another bolt even if we had one. We decided to postpone the
start of our trip for a day and after an unsuccessful attempt at a repair phoned
Bill. Useful suggestions were made and finally Barry made an ingenious extension
piece and closed off the leak. We had said farewell to Y-Not explaining the
problem and hoping to catch up with them but with this quick fix we changed our
minds and set off after them. As dusk fell we could see Y-Not’s friendly
navigation lights winking to us on the horizon ahead.
Barry had estimated 7 days for the trip but had spoken about needing to avoid
the Doldrums. The Galapagos lie to the southwest of Panama but we followed the
advice of the experts and headed south initially hoping to pick up
south-easterlies or at least southerlies when we reached the Equator. The wind
actually was directly from the Galapagos to Panama so we needed to tack.
The trip was a slog. Initially the weather was grey and miserable with some
rain. Later as we neared the Equator the weather improved a little but it got
colder and we got out our fleeces, not used since the Atlantic, and a blanket.
It felt strange but was due simply to the cold Humboldt current.
Here is a rough outline of the "points of interest" on the trip.
Day 2 Boom slider broke. Barry manufactured a temporary replacement.
Day 3 Forward heads blocked. Could not be cleared.
Day 5 Mags found herself paddling in the rear heads and on investigating
found the bilges half full of water. It took 2 hours to bail out and clear up
and Barry tightened the stern gland believing this to be the source of the water
intake. This was rather embarrassing; he had checked the stern gland before
In clearing the "flood" the forward shower sump pump failed. We are highly
delighted though with a small pump we have which you attach to a standard
electric drill. It can be used to pump out water from tight and inaccessible
places or anywhere you like! A great little tool. No home should be without
Day 6 Freak dollop of water came in through the main hatch. It must have done
a double flip to get there as the seas were not that big. Just a few drips fell
onto the navigation computer. Despite the fact the lid was closed and it was
immediately wiped, an hour later it was discovered that the computer had died.
Mags’ computer, prepared only recently as a back up, smoothly took over the
Day 7 Crossed the equator at approximately 1830.
Day 10 Arrived Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, The Galapagos.
Despite the mishaps we were in fairly good heart even though the trip took
three days longer than expected. We kept in touch with Y-Not and Orpailleur who
was 2 days behind us. From about day 5 we were joined at dusk by some sort of
gull which instead of alighting as the previous night visitor had, spent the
night fishing in the light of our navigation lamps. Each subsequent night he
came back with a few extra mates. There was great luminescence in the water. Two
pairs of Stormy Petrels buzzed around us as we neared land. We were also much
encouraged by our human contact, the daily radio call with Y-Not. We got to
Santa Cruz in the Galapagos on the morning of the 10th