Slow Boat to Marquesas; Galapagos Part II. 06:01:55S 97:13:16W

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Tue 11 Mar 2008 10:40

It has been an interesting albeit, at times frustrating, 24 hours since the last Blog entry. We spent around 2 to 3 hours “playing” with the Gennaker (asymmetric, AKA Cruising Chute) after we had hoisted it at 0930 local time (1630 UTC) yesterday.  Despite our best efforts, we could not get it to settle in the fluky wind and rolling sea we were enjoying so much. Which was a shame because it is usually ideal in light winds, on a broad reach. Especially in the brilliant sunshine we were having.  So it was no real hardship to put it away and stow it below decks once the rain came along around lunchtime. So it was back to motor sailing. Until that is the next squall came thru’. We then set the Genoa and Mainsail , and with a gentle breeze, steady on the beam we have now been sailing for over 13 hours, with SOG of between 3.8 and 6.5knots.  We have now covered 537nm since leaving Puerto Ayora (same as Dartmouth to La Coruna), with 2554nm to go to our next waypoint!


Three interesting events happened over the last 24 hours. Firstly, the Navigation system has worked almost constantly, with only two drop outs of the wind pilot. “Hurray” say the crew of Zipadedoda! Having looked more closely at the Mast Head unit, it looks like the cups on the anemometer are not free flowing in these light airs and I suspect the bearings are worn. But for now they are behaving and we are enjoying the results. Next, I switched on the radio this evening, intending to listen to some music over (a wonderful ) dinner from the iPOD. (Point of order here. Dinner was provided by the crew, not the iPOD). Much to my amazement, the CD player kicked into life with Beverly Knight crooning away. That was great, especially as the CD Changer jammed last July, with Jessica’s favourite CD in it and it has not worked since! Ah, but boat life does move in mysterious ways………………..


The third incident was a little more scary. Jennie and I were doing the crew briefing prior to my going off watch for a well earned rest. I had just pointed out our course and current speed, with a view to discussing tactics overnight, when the SOG suddenly dropped from 6knots to 1.9knots. My immediate response was that the B&G Nav system had gone on the blink. But on closer inspection the BTW was 1.8 knots and we had 14knots of true wind speed on the beam with a full Main and Genoa!! So the only explanation I could come up with was that we had picked up something on the keel or rudder and this was placing so much drag on the boat we were at a virtual stand still. So a trip to the aft deck with a torch revealed my worst fears……….We were towing a structure that was about 2 metres wide and 5 metres long, of indeterminate depth. It was about 5 metres behind us, attached to a very stout cable that disappeared under the boat on the port side.  As the steering was not affected, and there was no other structure or line on the starboard side, we clearly had another object attached to this line that was around the keel. Closer inspection of the object being towed, revealed that it was in fact a large collection of solar panels, on a floating mat. There then followed a robust discussion about what to do about this dilemma. Crew wanted to wait until morning to sort it out, whereas I had other ideas. This involved a boat hook and a bread knife. Whilst this was going on the boat came to a virtual dead stop in the water when there was a temporary lull in the wind. This was followed by a faint whooshing noise, and the floating mat started to drop astern. As it did so the other end of the cable appeared, with what looked like a 1 metre round clear plastic lozenge, full of electronics. Mind you it was all a tasteful colour of Caribbean anti-foul! So I can only assume that this was an oceanic wave or metrological buoy that had been set adrift to transmit data to NOAA or the likes. Or if I was cynical, to just frightened the living daylights out of night sailing yachties…………………..After all that excitement sleep proved to be a challenge. So I and now back on watch and two cups of tea later am wide awake once again……………..


Meanwhile, back in North Seymour Island, Galapagos.


The seascapes on this craggy Island are very dramatic, with the Pacific Ocean waves pounding the Basalt boulders on the north west side.



On some of the beaches we were also treated to a view of the local surfing community. Not your wet suited variety, but surfing Sea Lions. They put up a wonderful show of skills and sometimes surf right up to beach. But never when you have a camera handy! That said it is such an entertaining spectacle, you tend to forget about the camera and just want to enjoy the moment.


The bird life on this island is truly abundant, especially in February and early March, which the prime breeding season. It is a twitches paradise!


The Galapagos is famous (for amongst other things) for the Boobies. These are Gannet  like birds, only bigger, and much more colourful. North Seymour is home to hundreds (if not much more) of the Blue Footed Variety. They are ground nesting birds, who will cheerfully scrape a shallow hole in the ground, right in the middle of a footpath and set up home………..That is after a brief courtship which involves the male “dancing” with this huge blue feet, in front of his intended partner. It looks a bit like John Cleese doing his “Ministry of Silly Walks” sketch, with very large blue webbed shoes. Quite comical….



To watch these birds fishing is breath taking, as massed ranks of them plunge unto the ocean from on high. Then  vanish under the clear blue water to depths of several feet in pursuit of their prey. Only to bob up to the surface once again, shake themselves down and then enjoy a light meal, followed by an elegant take off to climb steeply up once again ready for the next sortie.


In amongst these great fishing birds, fly the infamous Frigate Birds. Or as the locals call them . “Pirate” birds.  They never land on the water, as their plumage does not have sufficient natural oils in it to stop it becoming water logged. So they rely on scavenging and bullying other birds into dropping their catch. This they then pick up off the surface whilst in flight, by using their pointed, hooked beak. There is no question of honour amongst thieves with these creatures, Once food is about they will put on the most dazzling aerial displays to harry any other bird into dropping its catch or swag until the food is consumed.



Unlike Boobies, Frigate birds nest off the ground in low bushes and trees or scrub. The mail birds are famous for there courting displays with there inflatable red breast pouch. But you will have to wait to see those pictures from another Island.


The other “wildlife” on North Seymour are the insects. Putting aside the beautifully coloured grass hoppers (more of which from another Island) are the flies, mosquitoes , and sand flies. They are truly dreadful on this Island, and it seemed that no amounts of Deet or insect repellent or “Off” sprays would work. So in true Darwinian fashion, one member of our party quickly evolved and adapted to the environment on North Seymour………………………………..


The lesser spotted Fatima…………AKA, Crew……………………



Needless to say we all had a good laugh at this enterprise, and did not allow the nasty bitie, flying thingies to spoil the day.


So we then returned to Angelito for showers, pre-dinner drinks and another feast.


This was followed by a gentle stroll around the upper decks to marvel at the stars….The Southern Cross was spectacular. BUT, the Galapagos wild life was not yet ready for bed.  


As we gazed over the sides of the boat, the lights from the saloon and the adjacent kitchens had attracted a lot of (more) flying bugs and moths. This in turn attracted flying fish. These in turn were hunted down by the sea lions lurking under the hull of the boat. These large water mammals can move at a shockingly fast pace over a short distance from a standing start. I guess food is a great motivator. For those flying fish that escaped the Sea Lions, the omnipresent Pelicans were on hand to mop up the stragglers and they were crashing into the water all around us. Then the lights were turned off…………the show was over. So it was time for bed. Just as well because we were all “cream crackered”, and it was 9pm after all!! Whey past our bed times……………………..


Next up….Santiago