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February 29th 2008
Published: February 29th 2008
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WAY POINT - navigating, WEIGH POINT - fishing, WHEY POINT - yoghurting

Booby Aboard! …..Swimming the Equator!…..Back to the Galapagos….Eau de Sea Lion (Odour Sea Lion)…….but….


..especially those big gum-booted pelicans………altho’ sometimes I can see pelicans’ feet, they tuck them back like they are holding their big, fish-filled, pot bellies in…but for all the other birds, nada……
And talking birds, last night on my watch, 4am - 6am, a couple of birds started circling the boat, very strange clackety chirruping call, just 2 of them, doing weird stuff in the light at the bow, then gone….I was wondering if they were Guacheros?

It’s full moon beautiful long distance visibility and the closest land over 160 kms away…..and/but always nice to have company. It’s surprising how often a couple of birds will appear.

Yesterday I saw a couple of little birds, like swallows, swooping and flapping away, didn’t look like no long distance types. Not like your giant albatross, that you could easily imagine soaring off in the jet stream for a million miles, like they do, these little buggers looked like they’d be lucky to fly 5
Video Game at the EquatorVideo Game at the EquatorVideo Game at the Equator

00.00.000 degrees North
miles but here they are!

We had hung out in Panama, moored off the causeway, shopping trips and eating parties ashore, watching the weather, waiting for winds and currents to get us to the Galapagos, 1,300 kms (?) We headed off first to Los Perlos, 60 kms out, islands, swimming etc.

I hadn’t caught a fish since way back, before Cartagena. I was not confident. The old faithful lure that had brought me so much joy (and fish) was looking sadly tattered, most of the little dangly bits chewed off and the big hook rusty. I decided to start anew and tried the green, wriggly new lure, big plastic beak that makes it dive 15 feet under…whoo hoo…and 2 triple hooks. Jim had brought a new rod and reel and was setting up too. Pretty soon we both had reels screaming. Two nice Spanish mackerel, beautiful greeny yellow, 2 meals. Thank you!

Sent the lure back out and a bit later something took it again. It was big and we were under sail so there was no way off slowing. Eventually it took off with the lure, bummer. I put on another lure, smaller, also with 2 triple hooks. Again the reel screamed and I fought the line in, whatever had jumped off.

As the lure got to me I lifted the rod and the line caught in the wind generator (yes, you could see it happening) the lure leaps out of the water and flies straight at me. The lower hook catches me on the underside of my arm, just up from the wrist, one shallow, one really deep, and it’s still being wound in around the generator vanes.
I ram the rod up to stop the vanes, grab the knife and cut the line….with that sickening sensation of something sharp and rusty, deep in my arm, as I move my hand the hook wiggles, it’s under the tendon.
Charley operates, cuts off the hooks just out of the skin, one he can curl around and stick it back out thru’ the skin, tough tho’, and get it free. The other is stuck deep, fortunately just missing the artery but stuck under a tendon. After some local anaesthetic and debate he twists and pushes to get the sharp end around and back to the surface, surprisingly hard to push it out thru’ the skin again and free….4 days on and no infection so I’m feeling confident!
Fishermen 2, Fish 1, Wind Generator 1.

Then the big break, wind and current detected somewhere out there so we made the early move. Left submarine beach (yes, there was a little submarine) at 7am. We are in contact with another aussie cat and they are getting weather info emailed from a mate in Oz who is scanning all available data and sending reports as to best time and course. We make the break.

Just pulling around the islands and I pulled a nice little tuna, perfect sashimi size, I was just bagging it in the galley when the line screamed out again. This was something bigger, I got M to stop the boat and even back-up a bit, this was a fighter, got it right to the boat when it charged off again, had to let it run. Jim had the net and finally we got it aboard, massive yellow fin tuna, fcuking fantastic. An hour later, another monster, we decide to pull the lines, no need to get more than we can eat.
Got some fantastic sashimi feeds off the big fish, and several meals, and some in the freezer! I am definitely, certifiably, a fan of yellow fin tuna! Going back to black fin has been a real step backwards.

sometimes the catalyst is a freight train, coming at a hundred miles an hour, sometimes just a little mouse, quietly placing it’s tiny paw into the scene…whatever and whenever, everything keeps changing and only some things remain the same….now Billy, you promised you’d stay away from the bullshit!

Ahh the night shift…..for some reason I got up, pulled on the boardies, went up, sat at the helm, checked everything, sat back, then M asks me what I’m doing, it’s just gone midnight, my next watch isn’t until 4am…..tell him he’s dreamin’….back to bed.

4am I’m back again, brilliant clear night, bit past full moon but still speccy, the sea’s like glass, well that patterned glass….still a swell but the pacific swells are soo much further apart, unlike the atlantic/carib swells that are much closer, so we do sort of rock n roll a bit but tonight it’s oily water, you could set a world record water skiing here, you could water ski off for a million miles.

And the southern cross is back…whoo hoo…you don’t know how good that makes me feel to see it again!

Last night I barbied up some lamb, roast spuds, pumpkin, mint sauce, you know, the whole bit..…the boys had gotten a whole lamb in Panama while I was away. The guy had asked if they wanted it dressed, of course they did, it arrived in 3 pieces, ‘dressed’ with a chainsaw! M and Jim spent a few hours cleaning it up into identifiable cuts. But the flavour is excellent…..I’m looking forward to lamb currying the off cuts of neck etc.

This is well out into the middle of nowhere, I saw a ship on the horizon, first and only sign of human life for days. And it was a loooong way away. Our friends in the other cat were closer to it and said it was just drifting!…too strange.

We been getting some wind, had 8 hours with big red hauling us along at 7 knots and 2 more of current made good time. The wind is erratic, we’re constantly putting the main, gib and spinnaker up and down, running the motor or not. We have enough fuel to get us to the Galapagos if needs be. From the Galapagos to the Marquesas we gotta sail a lot!

Nearly dawn, something with a big fin glides past, what the fcuk is it? Too big for a dolphin, maybe a small whale or orca, just cruises past, popping up every 20 m or so for air, the fin does look a bit crooked in orca style

My watch finished at 6am but I stayed to watch the sunrise, just unspeakably beautiful, being out here, alone on deck, slivers of cloud turning red hot, glowing like fire, then the red orb, bloody red, turning white hot, forcing it’s way off the horizon, oozing up into the sky, I can relate to that getting out of bed feeling…...

Another spotless day…what day is it?…Saturday, my watch says, but…

I’ve just been up front, hanging over the bow, lying on the tramp, the smooth, slow rows of swells sliding past, it reminds me of the sand dunes of the desert. As we rise and fall I get glimpses of other parts, hidden valleys between the swells, just like in the desert. Strange that such opposite elements should be so similar as
Can we fit?Can we fit?Can we fit?

landscape….nothing for miles and miles, nobody for ever, the horizon an unbroken line thru’ 360 degrees.

We put big red up but it was only just holding air, only a couple of knots of wind, we were dragging along at 1 - 2 knots thru’ the water so I went for a swim, pretty cool way out in the middle of nowhere, we had a couple of knots of current so we were still making time and I wasn’t going far from where I could grab a hold of something.

Out of nowhere the line screams again, another fat little tuna, fresh sashimi and cerviche again, I don’t know how I do it.

A big, awkward, red foot booby flies up, wobbly approach and perches on the front of the boat. A bit later we let out the gib again and he flies off. But then he’s back, now in a more comfortable position on the rail, and there he stays. During my watch around 3am the weird white gull was back circling in the front light. He fluttered alongside to check out booby, I don’t know if his intentions were honourable but booby didn’t seem to give a rat’s.
Now it’s 7.15am, I just popped my head up thru the hatch in time to see him head off. I wonder where? Still 150 miles to the Galapagos, even further to the mainland.

Yesterday we had to drive almost all day but at least with current. By last night we were fighting half a knot against us.

The Galapagos Islands are now on the video game, v exciting, only 120 miles or so, another 24 hours, hopefully some wind today but I’m not holding my breath, it’s as slow rolling calm as the last couple of days but wind can come up quickly.

And, we are at only 10 minutes North….we’ll be crossing the flipping Equator in the next few hours…whoo hoo.

We have enough fuel to drive the whole way so it’s no biggy, just not so much fun, and the constant noise, altho’ pretty unobtrusive, is fantastic when it stops!

Nightfall, the sun’s still above the horizon but the big thunderheads off to the side are showing the pink tints. A little of Jim’s cerviche of tuna, unbelievable, my spicy pumpkin soup, Spanish chorizo and tomato salsa pasta, Chilean red wine, Cuban cigars, Swiss chocolate, Scotch whiskey, Latino/francisca music, Ecuadorian waters, BVR registered boat, a bit of Colombian to smoke and we are truly internationals!!

Hey, we´re here!

I’m at the helm and watching the video game, 10.30am and we are very close….the lat reading is down to 10 minutes, 10 miles, at 5 knots, we are close….finally 00.00.000 degrees North…the freaking Equator…I snap off a shot and shut down the motor, as we pull up I dive off the back…then the others all plunge in…I’m thinking ‘this ain’t right…you should never ALL get off at the same time!!’ then we are swimming after the yacht, shee-it, we’d overlooked the fact that the main sail was still up, and in the puffy little wind, she was getting away……obviously we made it back onboard…
It’s all a bit surreal, to be so far out in the middle of nowhere, like nothing for hundreds of miles, the sea is so flat and calm, the slightest of swells rolls thru’ every minute or so, negligible….we are swimming around like it’s a swimming pool, except it’s over 1,000 feet deep!…the water is so clear and blue.
I’m swimming across the Equator!!

Back onboard we toasted our position with champagne M had somehow saved….then a midday breakfast of spicy omelettes, beer and a nap!

Next day(?) with dawn light we can see the first of the Galapagos islands, tres speccy, a giant volcanic peak to greet us, the island is verdant green on the slopes with bare, brown areas of more recent lava flows. Further around the island a massive rock juts out of the water, less than a mile offshore, rises up 600’ and plunges 400’ below the water, a huge rent where a slab has sheered off leaves a watery gap of 30’, the swells concentrate as the water flows thru the increasingly narrow gap and surge out the other side. Watching this makes the decision not to sail thru’ easy!

Finally we get to the little port and town at the south end of the island. Several little coastal freighters, a number of live-aboard tourist cruisers (their quality representing the differing levels of affluence of their patrons) a flock of little water taxis (the easiest way to get ashore and back) and a handful of yachts.
And there are a few nice places along the malecon, at a café for brekky yesterday I was talking with the cook about sailing. She told me she had sailed for 7 or 8 months down in Chile. She showed me a photo of the yacht, she was pregnant at the time, introduced me to her daughter, because of her birth in chile she was named Janet de la Patagonia, 17 now, a student in Chile, home for the hols, charming.
We’ve spent too long in the terraza bar but the view out over the little harbour is fabulous and the beer is good and cold. There’s a regular flow of little tramp freighters pulling up to the dock and unloading all manner of crap into dingies and barges. There is a constant swell in the harbour, quite deceptive as it all looks very tranquil. But then another set slides in, all the boats are swaying alarmingly, then huge breakers rear up and crash onto the beaches and rocks….very hairy for the guys unloading the big boats.
At night the swells are more obvious as I watch the mast head lights swaying in the harbour. The mono hulls roll to an extraordinary degree, it must be a nightmare trying to work the galley.
Then there are a couple of dozen yachts. Many of them are part of the World Ark or some such nonsense, people with more money than sense, pay 20k plus to sail around with similar minded people, sort of like some toffy country club, all v bizarre for me. Then there are several tour/cruise boats, fishing boats and a swarm of little water taxis…v cool.
There’s a pretty good break at the entrance to the harbour, in fact on each side of the entrance the rollers pound in and I’ve seen some reasonable sets….crikey, the fcuking Search lives on!!…I see a few local kids and some of the yachties are making the most of it. It maybe is too close to the rocks and reef as I saw one kid uptown yesterday disconsolately carrying his board back home….in 2 pieces!!
We get constantly visited by the sea lions, they love to get on the sugar scoops, fortunately they don’t seem to want to get any further on board….and a couple slid into the dingy first night… The ding stinks now, the sea lions shed fur and piss everywhere, worse than cat’s piss, abso grosso, now we’ve slung the ding and use water taxis. But the sea lions are cool to watch. Also seen a couple of rays drifting past. The water is pretty murky so no good for snorkelling. Might be going out for a dive around the rocks on Saturday.

So, we’ve got the paperwork done and will have a couple of weeks maybe (?) here. We are waiting on some bits for the boat being sent in, and also the weather patterns will decide our timing…..bring it on, I reckon…..Tahiti den Colombia!
So I’ll maybe take this on jumpstick to the cyber café later, they say the service is v slow so if there are no photos, that’s the reason……
There are some strange people reading these blogs……….and I love youse all…….

Chau, besos

Galapagos 1st March 2008


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