Bill and Caroline
Sat 9 Mar 2013 19:07
Debating weather windows over sun downers, perusing GRIB files for 5-day forecasts, looking at the clouds for any sign of 'the right wind' becomes the focus of our boat and many others as we wondered and waited in the lovely Las Perlas. Finally, all agreed, the weather window was here and last minute essentials such as rum (as well as eggs and fresh vegetables) were purchased from anywhere that had anything. All final preparations were prepared, to be stowed items were stowed and grab (panic) bags were packed, checked and placed under the table (along with emergency supplies of inspiration, i.e. late night snacks - peanuts, snickers, chocolate, biscuits….).
The weather window did as it said it would and blew us out of the Gulf of Panama, towards the rocky Colombian island of Malpelo, with good currents and clear winds. Perfect for departing Central America.
Fishing lines were dispatched (first catch 20 minutes after departing) so fresh fish was on the menu once again. Cruising in company was a good start to the journey and inspired a little healthy competition in some of the skippers…. which is obviously hard work, all the sail trimming, winching, decisions to make… and then a much needed rest before the peaceful night. Night time highlights the difference between the sexes - he has T-shirt, shorts and sometimes no T-shirt, she has all in one fleece dungarees (very fetching), fleece jacket, and offshore jacket (but no gloves as a concession to equatorial climate). A new watch system is tried out with 6 hours on and 6 hours off but first decisions must be made about when the 12 hours of night start. The clocks are adjusted to Galapagos time and12 hours of dark night time follows. Snacks are consumed (the chocolate was not a good buy and snickers bring their own problems, apparently) but they seem to be reducing in quantity none the less.
Dawn arrives and fishing lines are once more despatched, with little evidence of the prolific Pacific. However, two false alarms with escapee fish results in creativity and ingenuity. A fish alarm is installed from local ecologically sound products and works surprisingly well (Patent Pending). Sails change with regular frequency as the winds change and are tweaked, trimmed and cajoled - lots of sail, not much sail. Once in the doldrums the winds come and go, coming with huge rain squalls and going just as quickly so we head south searching for the elusive wind and to avoid the black and thundery clouds. Water catching equipment is set out, and put away, set out…
Winds are back with more regularity and progress is made towards the Galapagos instead of the south pole, crossing the equator shortly after dark. Yes, it does show our latitude as 00 00'.00S. First sights of land are the navigation lights blinking in the dark, and then at day break the unexpectedly green island (obviously we didn't watch enough Attenborough programmes) of Galapagos.
The Galapagos welcome committee was enthusiastic and extremely nimble. Multiple devices are now being trialled to keep the boat free of lobos marino (sea lions).
The hoped for success with strategically place fenders has been thwarted by the persistence of the locals and our focus of attention has now officially shifted from weather windows to sea lion defence systems.