The 850 mile sail from Panama to the Galapagos is
not known as an easy sail. There can be very little wind (we motored the first
100 hours) or wind coming exactly from the direction you want to go and, more
significantly and demoralising, the ocean current runs ( up to 3 knots) against
you as well.
Having said that, we have just completed the trip
in 11 days and covered 1,157 miles. We left in the afternoon of May 11. At the
beginning there was very little wind. We motored south for the first 100 hours.
When the wind did come, the whole time we were sailing (8 days and nights) as
close into the wind and waves as possible. In sailing terms this is called
"close hauled" or "beating" or "working". Note those terms. They instantly imply
"not nice". In fact the boat is leaning over to one side about 20 degrees and
crashing through waves. For a night and a day we went through a patch of bad
current and the sea was very rough with waves coming at us from all different
directions. Inside the boat it sounded like an angry mob had surrounded us and
were hitting the boat with sledgehammers. Really! The movement of the boat was
chaotic, simply awful.
Some water was coming in through the seals around
our "windows", portlights to sailors, on the side of the hull and leaking from a
poor seal on the deck at the toe rail, just above the dining table. The water
came in and ran down the wall. The bottom of some storage lockers and the stuff
in them got wet. Oh well.
Activities on board have been limited to cooking,
eating, watching for ships, reading, sleeping (bouncy) and bodily functions. We
did manage one shower in a calmer patch. Sometimes the boat can be pounding into
the waves at 5 and a half knots but only moving across the planet at 2.5 to
3 knots. The wind has been between 10 to 20 knots and the sky mostly
overcast but no rain..
Dolphins have visited us a few times. Flying fish
have dropped in, literally. And seabirds like to fly with us through the night
and then disappear in the day.
We eventually broke out of the current and
things got better.The speed over the ground was up over 5 kts and the motion was
From Annies log :
"The days are floating by one by one - some faster
than others - we either sleep, watch, eat, read or "other". Darren manages
to find all manner of things to keep himself occupied - from basics like
navigation to engine maintenance ( an oil change underway) to instant
repairs - blocks, shackles, bolts tightened etc to extras like painting the
bench seat/fish cleaning station a fetching shade of
We tried fishing and much
swearing was heard when our brand new, never been wet, pink squid on steel
trace heavy (50lb) line was broken at the boat end by the first taker - along
with many meters of line. I managed to rig up a smaller squid lure but we had no
And then sports fans, we ourselves got caught
on a hook. We were hooked by a "long-line" fishing line. These lines are 10
miles long and have thousands of hooks and are towed by big fishing boats. Well
we got hooked by the very last hook on the line! What bad luck. The hook
literally hooked on the fitting at the bow at the waterline for the
"dolphin striker" ( length of steel cable that keeps the bow sprit
on) . The boat slowed right down. And it took a little while to see what
had happened. Luckily the fishing boat has a smaller open boat with 3 guys in it
that "mind" the line. About five minutes after we were hooked they came
over and helped us unhook. Unfortunately in the ensuing activity Annie broke the
little toe on her right foot.
We had 173 miles to go.
Again from Annies log :
"Well, we had to do some quick maneuvering to
prevent becoming entangled in the hooks again and an inadvertent placing of feet
by me resulted in the breakage. It's sore but I can still hobble around
Our diet has been interesting and varied. Breakfast
is tea and toast or a breakfast bar, chocolate chip cookies and instant
cappuccino. Lunch is sandwiches- ham and cheese, tomato, onion on bagels,
tortillas, bread, pita,taboule, falafel, hommus or something.
Dinner is weather dependent but has included
: lasagne, garlic bread, beef bourginon, chicken curry, shrimps, sausages mash
and peas, and various Rice and Pasta sides in between. We had a lovely fruit
salad for days out of Panama as we munched our way through 2 pineapples ( 25
cents each in Panama), a rockmelon ( cantaloupe) , grapes and bananas - yum.
Cheese and bikkies is a sometimes horsd'oevre, otherwise chips, chocs and snacks
fill in the hours. My staple for the dog watch (3am - 6am) is hot
cup-a-soup. Carrots and coriander a fave, or wild mushroom, chicken lemon
ginger, broccoli and cauliflower. Thanks to Best of British (a shop in the BVI)
for the selection. I can't imagine having an extra crew - it's just nice to cook
for the 2 of us for a change - and guess what, we like
At 13:41 GMT May 21 Ripple II
"crossed the line". We crossed the equator into the southern hemisphere at
longitude 87 degrees 47 minutes. It was overcast with 10 -15 kts south
wind. Our speed over the ground is 6 kts and our course over the ground is 243.
Right on target. We have up full main, genoa and staysail. We are slightly off
the wind and the seas are kinder. no crashing&bashing. Still heeled
"This morning for brunch we had bagels with smoked
salmon and cream cheese and Mimosas to celebrate our crossing of the equator. I
slept through the actual thing as it occurred at 7.41am our time and I
had just come off the 3-6 shift. But it feels great to be finally, almost
About 24 hours later we approached the northeastern
tip of Isla San Cristobal - the most populated of the Galapagos group. What
a beautiful sight for sore eyes. A beautiful sunrise and then the starkly
striking landscape of this volcanic island. The wind died off and we glided
along on a glassy surface - yes the engine is behaving itself very well. Passed
an amazing rock formation - 'Kicker Rock' and got in to Wreck Bay, the main
anchorage and town, by about noon. Phew. To be continued.....