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Date: 28 Apr 2012 15:29:02
Title: Columbians on board

Lat 01:45.10N
Lon 84:20.11W

Tuesday 24th April

Tuna caught = 1.5
Armed Columbian guards on our boat = 3
Bread loaves made = 1
Cakes made = 1
Books finished = 4
Days since we left Panama = 7
Days until we reach Galapagos = 4 (???)

The wind has finally picked up and for the last 3 days since we got past Isla Malpelo we've had some good steady breeze of about 8-10 knots. Unfortunately it is coming from exactly where we want to go, so we are sailing close hauled inside of our original course, making a beeline for the Galapagos which are still 350 miles away! Still, it's great not to have to have the engine on so much, everyone is sleeping a little easier.

Isla Malpelo was the only visual point of reference for us on our route to Galapagos so we set our course to pass it close by. The island is a massive volcanic rock that looks fairly uninhabited apart from what looked like a crane on one side of the island. As we got with 5 miles of the island, we went through a big squall which was pretty Archie's fishing line suddenly whizzed out behind the boat at a speed that could only mean one thing - Tuna! It turned out to be a relatively small one, as Tuna come, but we enjoyed the fresh sushi anyway and pan fried the rest for dinner. Delicious. As soon as the line was back out in the water, we got another bite and Jamie reeled it in super fast, but not fast enough it appeared, as what emerged from the water was only the bleeding head of a larger Tuna! In the 30 seconds it had taken for the fish to bite and Jamie to reel it in, a cheeky shark must have nabbed the rest of it from the line! Quite amazing really - nature in action! Around Isla Malpelo there were loads of birds and obviously lots of fish in the water. Another afternoon of easy fishing we thought. We were just working out many more fish we could fit in the freezer, when we noticed a rubber dinghy coming out towards us from the island. As they got closer we noticed that each of the 3 men was carrying a massive automatic assault rifle - PANIC - until we realised that they were also wearing uniform navy jumpsuits and orange lifevests rather than eyepatches and wooden legs. From their limited English we understood that they worked for the Columbian coastguard and just wanted to see our papers and take photos of the boat. Turns out there is also a 25mile fishing exclusion zone around the island, which we didn't realise. With a Tuna in a bucket on the deck we could hardly claim that we hadn't been fishing, but they didn't fine us or indeed take any money off us which was surprising.

For the last 3 days we've been sailing upwind and into a 1.5kt current against us, but we have had some decent wind so we are getting there. Hopefully when we get a bit further south we'll pick up the favourable current that continues all the way across the Pacific. All signs of ocean life have ceased, bar the odd flying fish or bird, and the fishing line hasn't reaped any rewards since Malpelo. So there has been lots of reading, lots of card games and a bit of baking.

Still can't get the sat phone to work for data (blog, weather etc), but it does work for the emergency phone call that hopefully we won't ever need to make. Will try and sort it out in Galapagos, which we are currently hoping to reach on Saturday.

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