Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Chilling Out On Island Time

Position 09 54S 139 06W  It has been brought to my attention that where we arrived and where I said we had arrived were not in fact the same place, whoops!!  So this is just a short update to fix our position on the map and put us in Ane Moe Noa Bay on Tahuata in the Marquesas 
We have been here over a week now, there is nothing here, a lovely sandy beach ashore (bit of a tricky dinghy landing in the swell though), just two cousins live here in a couple of basic shacks, no phone coverage, definatley no internet or shops, just 5 yachts bobbing about at anchor, chilling out keeping ourselves amused
Tomorrow we intend to make the big hop 9 miles across to Atuona on Hiva Oa, the winds and swell should be settling down so we hope the anchorage wont be too rolly, we will see 

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

We're Having A Party ~ Arrival in the Marquesas, 19 days 4 hours

10 August 2015  ~  Position 09 24S 139 06W at  noon Marquesas time we dropped anchor in Hane Moe Noa Bay on the island of Tahuata, looks abolutely lovely, but first priorty is sleep until further notice.  We have arrived!!

Monday, 10 August 2015

One More Night ~ Day 19 to the Marquesas

09 August 2015  ~  Position 09 48S 136 25W at 1730 UTC, 0930 Boat Time (Alaska Time)  0530 tomorrow NZ Time.
Course Over Ground 265dT, Speed Over Ground 5.1 knots,  24 hour run just 112 miles sailed for net gain of 105 miles.  Clear skies and starry night but total cloud cover early morning now cleared.  Wind dropped out entirely yesterday afternoon so we dropped all sails and bobbed about going nowhere until about midnight when we drifted off under poled out headsail  Not putting main back up, going fine like this with staysail sheeted in to leeward, even more rolly but easy 
Absolutely no news, life in voluntary solitary confinement is nearing the end, we are sure we can see the silhouette of the Marquesas on the horizon if we look hard enough!   This has been such a long haul and our admiration goes out to those that have done this before us, and those still to follow in our footsteps.  You can have no understanding of the enormity of this ocean until you undertake this voyage, there is nothingness forever.
Our very special thanks go out to John on Osprey, currently land based in England, who has sent us daily updates on all manner of current affairs, sport and especially weather, don't know how many hours you have spent of it John but you have done and amazing job and we thankyou greatly, still awaiting the arrival of the steamroller though, you've let me down on that one!  John did this trip single handed some years ago, we take our hats off to him
Huge thanks go also to fellow cruisers David and Brenda on Bandit who did this trip last year, Bandit is now home in Picton, New Zealand and David and Brenda are in the UK enjoying summer.  They have sent us lenghty daily emails that have entertained us immensely detailing their daily grind of walks along canals, through National Parks, visiting National Trust manors and castles, museums, farmers markets, cosy pubs, trendy cafes ..... maybe there is life after cruising after all.
Still no more fish, not at all impressed.  
And now to the big question ...... ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET?   Well, it's 4.30pm Balvenie time now (3pm Marquesas time) and the GPS tells us we have 120 miles to go and we have fair winds from behind forecast for our final push, we will be in before dark tomorrow, so the all important answer is YES ~ WE ARE NEARLY
THERE, just one more night!!! tick tock, tick tock. 
You can see our progress  on a map on our mailasail blog.  
Position at 0100UTC when sent via satphone 09 55.08S  137 05.48W 

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Turn The Page ~ Day 18 to the Marquesas

08 August 2015  ~  Position 09 27S 134 39W at 1730 UTC, 0930 Boat Time (Alaska Time)  0530 tomorrow NZ Time.
Course Over Ground 285dT, Speed Over Ground 5.1 knots,  24 hour run 138 miles again.  Clear skies and starry night again, wind dropped out to around 10kts and gone to the NE.  Sails up, down, in, out, course this way, that way, this way again, gype, gybe back as the wind and swell changes, hard work. 
Todays big news is that skipper is very happy with the English Cricket Team and thanks to those with updates, made his day.  And that basically is all the news, nothing is happening out here. 
We can now hear the Polynesian sector of our radio Magnet and are listening to boats that came through much earlier than us check in enroute to Samoa, Cook Islands, Tonga and other South West Pacific treasures.  At last we do actually feel that we have turned the page and arrived at the final chapter of our circumnavigation.  The Caribbean and Americas are far behind us, Polynesia awaits.
Yet another fish free 24 hours, mind you we are going so slow now that our lure does not look so appealing.  I found another "passage meal" in the freezer earlier, think it is surely the last.  While cooking dinners in the Galapagos I would cook for four and freeze a meal, I didn't label any of them so it has been quite nice not knowing what was for dinner until it was time to tip it in a pot and heat it up.   
For those of you querying our change of arrival from Fatu Hiva to Tahuata (and there have been a few of you!) as we are staying in the Marquesas for some time we have decided to do our check in first and then we can pick a quiet day to get south to Fatu Hiva and then we can happily stay as long as we want, so thats the reasoning, but thanks for the reminders that we should not miss Fatu Hiva.
ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET?   Well, it's 5.15pm local time now and the GPS tells us we now have 229 miles to go, we have had the wind drop out this afternoon, as low as 4 knots and currently just 6 knots, we have dropped the main as it was banging around too much in the swell, and running with headsail poled to windwind and staysail on leeward, we are managing 3 knots, could be a long 229 miles!!!! tick tock, tick tock. 
You can see our progress  on a map on our mailasail blog.  
Position at 0130UTC when sent via satphone 09 34.07S  135 10.76W 

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Stairway to Heaven ~ Day 17 to the Marquesas

07 August 2015  ~  Position 08 28S 132 39W at 1730 UTC, 0930 Boat Time (Alaska Time)  0530 tomorrow NZ Time.
Course Over Ground 245dT, Speed Over Ground 6.6 knots,  24 hour run 163 miles again.  Fabulous weather couldn't ask for any better.  Clear skies, starry night, back to a Mezzaluna (halfmoon) which comes up after midnight now. Wind now ENE and eased 12 - 15.  Still flying double reefed main, (probably should put it all up really) jib poled out to windward, staysail out to leeward, broad reaching to keep boat comfortable over the swell which just wont go away. 
Todays big news is that Wapiti, one of the four of us out here just had 36 miles to run this morning into Hiva Oa, they left directly from Panama City so have been 27 days at sea, a mammoth effort.  We are closing in on Ole who left 36 hours before us but unlikely we will catch them, Mezzaluna are now about 130 miles behind us.
Another fish free 24 hours, the others aren't catching any now either so we don't feel so bad, just a couple before we arrive would be good though.  
So we are slowly climbing the stairway to heaven, must almost be on the top floor surely.  All reports of the Marquesas are that they are absolutely magical so we are definately looking forward to our arrival, and not leaving for a very long time.
ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET?   It's 3pm local time now and the GPS tells us we now have 354 miles to go, hoping for a Monday arrival before dark, but winds easing all the time.  GETTING THERE!!!, tick tock, tick tock. 
You can see our progress  on a map on our mailasail blog.  
Position at 2300UTC when sent via satphone 08 42.47S  133 11.17W 

Friday, 7 August 2015

As Time Goes By ~ Day 16 to the Marquesas

06 August 2015  ~  Position 07 25S 130 08W at 1730 UTC, 0930 Boat Time (We have moved to Alaska Time!!)  0530 tomorrow NZ Time.
Course Over Ground 255dT, Speed Over Ground 6.5 knots,  24 hour run 163 miles.  Good weather is still holding, clear skies all yesterday afternoon and into the night, clouded over after midnight with a few squalls just before dawn to interupt our sleep rations.  Wind E 15 - 20 now but 10 - 18 overnight, up and down and all around with the squalls.  The squalls weren't bad but hard to tell on radar, just see the line of black marching towards us and prepare ourselves just in case, then wind drops out and we put sails all back out, then along comes the next one, sails reefed in again.  At least we are not bored!!  Still flying double reefed main, jib poled out to windward, got lots of southing in yesterday.
Big news is that today has got 26 hours.  Daybreak wasn't until 0820 this morning, getting a tad late really so we have decided just to do one time change now of two hours and will do the remainder of one and half hours on arrival.  So this morning at 9am we had the morning radio net, then we had breakfast and then I changed the clock, watches, tablet, smart phones and computer to Alaska Time!!  Feels quite warm for Alaska and it hasn't encouraged any mountains to appear on the horizon but makes for a change.  It will get dark very early tonight though, but the upside for me is that tomorrow morning when I come on for my second shift at 0530 I will only have to wait a little while before it gets light.
Still no more fish, not impressed at all, was hoping to fill the freezer up.
So the ongoing question ......  ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET?   Well, as I finish this skipper is hand steering down the waves having fun and I am holding on whilst trying to type.  We are just about to click over the 500 miles to go, getting there, tick tock, tick tock. 
Current planned landfall is the island of Tahuata, just to the southwest of Hiva Oa where we can check in.
You can see our progress  on a map on our mailasail blog.  
Position at 2350UTC when sent via satphone 07 39.09S  130 52.56W 

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Slip Sliding Away ~ Day 15 to the Marquesas

05 August 2015  ~  Position 06 37S 127 33W at 1730 UTC, 1130 Boat Time (Still on Galapagos Local)  0530 tomorrow NZ Time.
Course Over Ground 255dT, Speed Over Ground 7.0 knots,  24 hour run 166 miles.  Good weather is holding, clear skies with just a few trade wind clouds around that bring just a little extra wind. Wind ESE 15 - 20, easing and backing all the time, seas still very lumpy tough.  Still flying double reefed main, jib poled back out to windward, finally managing to get some southing in and almost lay our course.
Very little to report, had a ship pass by from North West to South East overnight on change of shifts so we both got to see that there is other life out there.  A handful of birds pass by but none seem intereted in stopping for a rest, no fish for dinner.  These should be the conditions we now get for the rest of the trip, with hopefully some easing in the sea state.
Striken or should that be striking Ray the autopilot is still resting, thanks to all for feedback on his symptoms, skipper still working on him.  Thanks again for all the incoming emails, it makes our day.
So ......  ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET?   Well, the miles are slip sliding away and we are now under 700 left to run, tick tock, tick tock.    
You can see our progress  on a map on our mailasail blog.  
Position at 2215UTC when sent via satphone 06 48.72S  128 01.30W 

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

So Far Away ~ Day 13 to the Marquesas

03 August 2015  ~  Position 05 41S 122 10W at 1730 UTC, 1130 Boat Time (Still on Galapagos Local)  0530 tomorrow NZ Time.
Course Over Ground 270dT, Speed Over Ground 7.1 knots,  24 hour run 166 miles.  Not a bad 24 hours with the weather, quite clear skies with about 30 % puffy clouds that just hold a little more wind.  Wind SE 18 - 22, swell running about 3 metres now, not quite from behind and with a beam slap way more frequent than we would like. Still flying double reefed main, jib poled to windward has been furled in and out that many times on this trip, not quite a set and forget passage, that is for sure.
Skipper is doing more work on Ray our autopilot that has gone on strike, so hard to do much in these conditions, everything rolls everywhere, meanwhile Arnie is doing a fine job of steering in somewhat tiresome conditions.
The Galapagos are so far away now but we are still operating on their timezone so it doesn't get dark till 8pm and then light just before 8am, so we have extended our sleep rations and are having from 7pm to 9am, thereby getting two 3 1/2 hour shifts each which is a little better plus we have had no reason for sail adjustments mid shift for 2 nights now.
You can see our progress  on a map on our mailasail blog.  
Position at 2230UTC when sent via satphone 05 44.64S  122 45.34W 

Monday, 3 August 2015

Surfs Up ~ Day 12 to the Marquesas

02 August 2015  ~  Position 05 39S 119 24W at 1730 UTC, 1130 Boat Time (Still on Galapagos Local)  0530 tomorrow NZ Time.
Course Over Ground 255dT, Speed Over Ground 7.3 knots,  24 hour run 164 miles.  Lovely afternoon yesterday with not a cloud in the sky.  Clouded over some at sunset but had a good night with no squalls so we both got sleep rations.  Winds to 25 knots on and off swell running about 3 - 4 metres now, skipper has been steering and had Balvenie surfing down the waves, Admiral not so impressed!  Still flying double reefed main, reefed jib poled to windward, wish the swell would drop some.
Really not much to report except mundane things like sugar bowl flying across galley while being refilled, can of  Ginger Ale going into orbit all over galley and saloon ~ mixed nicely with remains of sugar, and if that wasn't a big enough mess down here the only fish we got yesterday was a flying fish that landed below at 2am and I stood on it before I realised what the noise was, so many fish scale have added to the mess.  Believe me these are not the conditions you want to be doing housework in!!
Are we nearly there yet??????  Absolutely not!!!!!
You can see our progress  on a map on our mailasail blog.  
Position at 2215UTC when sent via satphone 05 40.33S  119 57.34W  Another clear afternoon, bit windy though, 18 - 25 knots, hoping for an ease

Sunday, 2 August 2015

In The Middle of Nowhere ~ Day 11 to the Marquesas

01 Augusut 2015  ~  Position 05 19S 117 00W at 1730 UTC, 1130 Boat Time (Still on Galapagos Local)  0530 tomorrow NZ Time.
Course Over Ground 255dT, Speed Over Ground 7.3 knots,  24 hour run 169 miles 1 mile less than yesterday.  Another cloudy night with more squalls overnight and this morning, winds to 28 knots and a little rain, seas increased and swell running about 3 metres, tiring 24 hours but skies now clearing and looking promising.  Still flying double reefed main, reefed jib poled to windward.
Passed the half way point overnight, hard to believe we have already been out here so long and we have only just made halfway.  I read on friends blogs and looking at the atlas seems to confirm that this is the furthermost point on earth you can be from land, not something our Mums probably want to know!!! 
Bit of a set back overnight, our Ray Marine Autopilot has decided that 1500 miles in one go is all he is prepared to steer for and has developed a "Drivestop Error" and turns himself off.  Mark has spent the day bouncing up and down checking wiring, connections, reading manuals etc but as yet Ray is still on strike, we have had this problem about 1 year ago and Mark fixed it but the same solution hasn't worked this time.  We do have two autopilots so Arnie is now steering (actually right now Mark is steering) but we still have a long way to go so want our backup working.
A huge thanks to all of you that are emailing us regulary with weather, news, sports news, family and friends news and general chit chat, it truly makes our day and no matter how brief we appreicate them immensely.  So sorry we are not emailing many personal ones out, maybe when (if) the sea flattens some more, we live in hope.
You can see our progress  on a map on our mailasail blog.  
Position at 2300UTC when sent via satphone 05 21.69S  117 20.67W  Not a cloud in the sky, 18 - 23 knots, hoping for a better night

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Alone Again, Naturally ~ Day 10 to the Marquesas

31 July 2015  ~  Position 05 02S 113 579W at 1730UTC, 1130 Boat Time (Galapagos Local)  0530 tomorrow NZ Time.
Course Over Ground 265dT, Speed Over Ground 7.5 knots,  24 hour run 170 miles best yet, cleared this morning after cloudy night, winds constant though and great 24 hours sailing.   Still flying double reefed main, full jib poled to windward, wind has shifted more arund to the stern so quite comfortable.  Swell about 2m.
Romeo and Juliet the Wilsons Stormpetrals have slipped away from us, they must have finally worked out we were going the wrong way for them.  Good 24 hours, lovely conditions currently although Mezzaluna are reporting squalls so maybe coming our way too.  Big news tonight will be reaching the half way point, whew!!! 
Nothing else to report.
You can see our progress  on a map on our mailasail blog.  
Position at 2240UTC when sent via satphone 05 08.43S  114 30.64W  Squalls started about 30 minutes ago

Friday, 31 July 2015

Call Me ~ Day 9 to the Marquesas

30 July 2015  ~  Position 04 41S 111 09W at 1730UTC, 1130 Boat Time (Galapagos Local)  0530 tomorrow NZ Time.
Course Over Ground 270dT, Speed Over Ground 7.5 knots,  24 hour run 163 miles, squally night and morning, wind up and down from about 10 - 26 knots, constant change in direction, some drizzly rain.  Still flying double reefed main, current half furled jib poled to windward but wind coming up close to beam.  Swell about 2 - 2.5, we all had a hard night.
We do 3 hour shifts at night, its not enough sleep but it seems to work the best for us, but its always a "call me if you need me" sleep ~ not a long, quiet, uninterrupted one.  Last night we were constantly on call, this morning not much better, sleep has been in short supply, the seas are very confused and lumpy, the wind still up and down.  The weather may be clearing, it is hard to tell as the squalls seem to appear from nowhere. 
Mahi Mahi for dinner last nigt was excellent, got 4 supersized meals from it.
Nothing else to report.
You can see our progress  on a map on our mailasail blog.  
Position at 2210UTC when sent via satphone 04 42.64S  111 41.59W

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Chain Reaction ~ Day 8 to the Marquesas

29 July 2015  ~  Position 04 23S 108 29W at 1730UTC, 1130 Boat Time (Galapagos Local)  0530 tomorrow NZ Time.
Course Over Ground 265dT, Speed Over Ground 7.5 knots,  24 hour run 150 miles, similar wind conditions about 12-14knots from SSE, on the beam, still flying double reefed main, full jib, two sail reaching.  Swell about 1.5 - 2 metres, still a little lumpy at times but really conditions are still good although clouded over yesterday afternoon, pretty dark night and only a couple of hours of sunshine today. 
We're in the middle of a chain reaction, in the lead are Wapiti who left from Panama so they are really doing a long trip and are a couple of days ahead of us.  Ole are still ahead about 200 miles, they left Isabela about 40 hours before us and Mezzaluna are around 50 behind us now, doing well as they are smaller than us.
Wilsons Stormpetrals Romeo and Juliet only visited fleetingly this morning, hope they are not lost but the big news is we have hooked two Mahi Mahi this afternoon, the first escaped just before we got it to the back but we landed the second, such a lovely looking fish until we stuck the knife in, free food is great but gosh it makes one hell of a mess across the stern of the boat.
Nothing else to report, all well on board and thanks again to everyone sending through emails and news
You can see our progress  on a map on our mailasail blog.  
Position at 2250UTC when sent via satphone 04 28.37S  109 04.59W

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

It's Just A Perfect Day ~ Day 7 to the Marquesas

28 July 2015  ~  Position 03 34S 105 58W at 1730UTC, 1130 Boat Time (Galapagos Local)  0530 tomorrow NZ Time.
Course Over Ground 260dT, Speed Over Ground 7 knots,  24 hour run 150 miles, (how consistant is that!) same wind conditions about 12-14knots from SSE, on the beam, still flying double reefed main, full jib, two sail reaching.  Swell about 1.5 - 2 metres, still a little lumpy at times but really conditions are lovely and about as good as we could hope for. 
A stunning clear night with the moon getting bigger and bigger then when it set thousands of stars lit our way, the winds were light overnight and it was really pleasant and getting warmer.
Wilsons Stormpetrals Romeo and Juliet are still here, checked our bird book and they are ocean rovers, just going to land to nest (in Antartica or South America) so guess they are used to the miles, it says they often follow off shore vessels, so they must have adopted us. 
No fish yesterday and just had a sea monster break our line today, Skipper currently making another one, hopeful for Mahi Mahi for dinner tonight. 
Nothing else to report,
You can see our progress on a map on our mailasail blog.  
Position at 2145UTC when sent via satphone 03 42.42S  106 26.34W

Nothing But Blue Skies Do I See ~ Day 6 to the Marquesas

Position 02 58S 103 34W at 1730UTC, 1130 Boat Time (Galapagos Local)  0530 NZ Time
Course Over Ground 260dT, Speed Over Ground 6 knots,  24 hour run 150 miles, a little slower but with less wind about 12-14knots from SSE, on the beam, Double reefed main, full jib, two sail reaching.  Swell about 2-2.5 metres, still a little lumpy but I guess thats ocean sailing and with lighter wind we are sailing with it on the beam to keep moving.  Could take the reefs out of the main but happy with this and Balvenie is comfortable jogging along.  Mezzaluna around 30 miles behind us now.
Another cloudy night but with enough breaks for reasonable light to come through.  Cloud cleared mid morning and a stunner of a day now, not a cloud to be seen and warming up even more.  All the bananas have ripened already together, so much for them being 10 - 20 days, its going to be banana everything for the foreseeable future.  Fired up the espresso machine this morning and whipped up two double strength lattes, not the easiest maneuover ever but first we have had and boy did they taste good, sometimes it's just the simple things.a little   However never of us have managed an afternoon nap, maybe should do decaf next time!
Those little stormpetrals Romeo and Juliet just aren't giving up, unless of course it's different ones we see each day.  Ruby the Red footed Booby swings by occassionally, the only other visitors were 4 dried out flying fish on the deck this morning.  Fishing line out today but no fish yet. We have ticked over past the quarter way mark, tick tick tick!!
Thats all for today,
You can see our progress on a map on our mailasail blog.   Current position at 2245 UTC 03 08.12S  104 03.90W

Monday, 27 July 2015

Ruby ~ Day 5 to the Marquesas

Position 02 33S 101 06W at 1730UTC, 1130 Boat Time (Galapagos Local)  0530 NZ Time
Course Over Ground 272d, Speed Over Ground 6.7 knots,  24 hour run 160 miles, one more than yesterday!  Wind 15-18knots from SSE, on the beam, Double reefed main, reefed jib, two sail reaching.  Swell about 2-3 metres, pretty lumpy but trying to keep this westward course with wind right on or just in front of beam to stay above stronger winds further south.  Would really like the wind to back to somewhere east so we can get wind behind beam.
Skies clouded over before sunset last night and it was a dark night with little moon breaking through and we had a few hours of drizzle.  Cleared away just before dawn and it as been a beautfiful day with hardly a cloud, even starting to warm up some at last.  Passed one boat going the other way last night, first traffic we have seen apart from the fishing boat fleet on the 2nd night.
Romeo and Juliet Wilson are still here, we dont know when they rest, their poor little wings flap constantly, I hope they have worked out that we are not stationery and they are getting further from home.  At midnight I had quite a commotion above the cockpit as a red footed booby tried to land, christened Ruby the Booby she hung on to the wire life line until dawn and left rather a smelly calling card just by the cockpit!  Just how they hold onto and balance while we bounce up and down is behind me.
Mezzaluna are just 20 miles behind us, doing well and we are gaining on Ole 180 miles in front of us a little each day, Wapiti is in the lead and doing about the same speed as us over 300 miles away.  We talk with them all at 1505Z and 0105Z on 6510 for those that are trying to listen, the two front boats can't hear us on 8173, but us and Mezzaluna have a quick chat at 1500 and 0100 on 8173.  We can't yet hear the net going on in the Marquesas but are getting closer each day so should soon.  
Thats all for today, still struggling with our sleep, must get into a pattern soon we hope.
You can see our progress on a map on our mailasail blog.   Current position at 2215 UTC 02 36.31S  101 36.46W

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Romeo & Juliet ~ Day 4 to the Marquesas

Position 02 38S 98 11W at 1730UTC, 1130 Boat Time (Galapagos Local)  0530 NZ Time
Course Over Ground 270, Speed Over Ground 7 knots,  24 hour run 159 miles.  Wind 12-18knots from SSE, downwind, Double reefed main to leeward, jib poled out to windward but changing backwards and forwards to two sail reaching as the wind and swell changes.  Swell about 2 metres, reasonably comfortable now when poled out but a bit lumpy when reaching.  Trying not to sail north but there is a lot of south in the wind.
Skies clearing after a cloudy night from midnight and light drizzle early morning.  A wonderful starry night for the early part and a comfortable night with lighter winds.  The Wilsons (aka Romeo and Juliet) were back at dawn and have stayed with us all morning, just the two of them now, they fly around tirelessly, such tiny wee birds, hardly bigger than flying fish.  There was a lone red footed booby around earlier but it has now disappearred, headed back to the Galapagos before it gets too lost.
Still cool overnight and wind during the day certainly not that warm.  Otherwise all good, all incoming mail hugely appreciated will get more into emails soon once sleep patterns sorted.
You can see our progress on a map on our mailasail blog.   Current position at 2125 UTC 02 36.59S  98 55.21W

Tequila Sunrise ~ Day 3 to the Marquesas

Position 02 12S 95 53W at 1730UTC, 1130 Boat Time (Galapagos Local)  0530 NZ Time
Course Over Ground 270, Speed Over Ground 7 knots,  24 hour run 154 miles.  Wind 15knots from SE, downwind, Double reefed main to leeward, jib poled out to windward.  Swell about 2 metres, reasonably comfortable now after a bumpy night.
Clear skies, a stunner of a sunrise and a real treat to see blue everywhere after the volcano shroudred islands of the Galapagos. Still cold at night with fleeces on but should get back into warmer waters soon.  All going well, got a little more sleep last night, no fishing fleet to contend with, just an uncomfortable messy swell.  No fish, well 1 flying fish and 2 dried up squid on deck this morning - lovely.
Still  got some Wilsons Stormpetrals with us feeding in our waves, the odd shark swims by and 2 albatross passed over earlier.  Mezzaluna is about 8 miles away, all good in the South Pacific. 
You can see our progress on a map on our mailasail blog.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

On The Road Again ~ Day 2

Position 01 34S 93 25W at 1730UTC, 1130 Boat Time (Galapagos Local)  0530 NZ Time
Course Over Ground 265, Speed Over Ground 6.7knots  24 hour run 156 miles.  Wind 15knots from SSE, on the beam.
Sunny skies and a lovely starry night last night with Mezzaluna sailing in company with us and a mezzaluna (half moon) above.  Wove our way through a fishing fleet of over 18 boats at midnight, the two yachts in front of us, Ole and Wapiti report fishing fleets each night so far.
Mezzaluna are within sight just behind us, we have a double reefed main and slightly furled jib and they have out full sail and it is making us about the same speed which is great.  All well on board.




Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Sad Farewell to All Our Galapagos Animals ..... July 2016

14 – 20 July 2013 – Puerto Villami, Isabela  ~ TO FOLLOW

21 July – Last Day in Isabela


The time has come to move on from these magical group of islands.  Two boats left yesterday, that leaves just us and Mezzaluna here and as far as we know there are no other yachts in Santa Cruz or San Cristobal that are coming this way, we shall turn the lights off tomorrow when we leave.

We have filled the fridge and cool spots onboard with a great range of fresh produce after taking an afternoon excursion up into the highlands to an organic farm.P7200179

So we have prepared ourselves and Balvenie for the longest passage we will do on our circumnavigation, from here to our next anchorage in the Marquesas Island Group of French Polynesia is around 2,940 nautical miles and should take us just under 3 weeks.  The weather forecast for the first 10 days is looking as good as we can hope for.

We will try to update this blog daily with a short position report of our progress on the way, some days we may miss if its a bit wobbly out there but will do our best.  We have had several contenders for a pet to take with us to keep us company, think Sneezy the Sealion would be the best option cos he just jumps overboard to do his business, takes himself for a walk and can also get his own dinner!


P7200188 P7203439

In the words of Christopher Columbus .....

You Can Never Cross the Ocean until you have the Courage to Lose Sight of the Shore

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Isabela – Gem of the Galapagos ..... July 2015

7 – 13 July: Puerto Villami, Isabela ~ 00 57S  90 57W

Where Will We End Up?

After being rolled and blown out of Academy Bay on Santa Cruz our day sail was very fast and very sporty.  Clearing the shoals at the bottom of Santa Cruz took forever before we could bear away a little and make Balvenie more comfortable.  The swell was big and confused, the winds were up to 25 knots in front of the beam and the current made the ride similar to taking on rapids in a river, we compared it to being in the Gulf Stream with strong winds and tide against us, not one of our better days.


The approach to the anchorage at Puerto Villami on Isabela is totally exposed to the south, the winds and swell were from the south and the silence between us was deafening as we both contemplated our options.  P7090018 If on final approach we felt it unsafe to enter the harbour with the current conditions then we had two options ~ either return 100 miles overnight to the closest safe anchorage at Wreck Bay on San Cristobal or continue 3,000 miles to French Polynesia, we truly didn’t like those two alternatives.

Then, with about 2 miles to go, the sun came out, the winds reduced to a manageable 15 knots and the tide changed ~ all within about 5 minutes.  The seas flattened some and as we headed to shore we both finally breathed again, we could do this.  We radioed Danish Blue and Mezzaluna who were behind us and gave them the good news, we could hear the collective sigh of relief! P7100053

The Galapagos We Had Been Looking ForP7100030

The beauty of the anchorage exceeded our expectations.  Between us and the ocean lie several groups of black volcanic rocks and also mangrove islands, at high tide the water comes over a little but at low tide we have good protection.  

There are also several rocks inside the anchorage so it is not frequented by as many tour boats as our other two anchorages were so the harbour is mainly peaceful and flat.  The blue footed boobies, pelicans and penguins rule the roost here, the tiny penguins play in the waters with the sea lions, the boobies and pelicans fish together for the catch of the day.  Meanwhile we sit and watch in awe as nature unfolds around us.

A Bombardment of Boobies

P7120147We watched an exceptional display of a mass feeding frenzy at dawn, with hundreds of blue footed boobies blackening the sky behind Balvenie, vying for position over the shoals, then bombs away as they dove at speed into the bubbling waters to collect their breakfast, absolutely incredible and all over within a few minutes. P7120148 Photos can never do these displays justice but I tried my best. P7120149 On a dinghy excursion around the anchorage we got up close to the little penguins, just a foot tall, congregating on rocks only a couple of hundred metres from Balvenie.  Photographing them while swimming has been a challenge, they are pocket rockets and not nearly as inquisitive as the sea lions.  The Great Blue Herons perch on top of the mangroves, changing disguise from compact and dumpy to tall and elegant in the blink of an eye, a stunning transformation.

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Time To Be TouristsP7110002

In company with Jeff and Katie on Mezzaluna, and 7 other holidaymakers we joined a Rosedelco Tours 6 hour boat trip along Isabela’s southern coast to Cabo Rosa and the Tuneles de Lava (Lava Tunnels).  We headed at speed along the coast, making a short stop for photos at a rocky offshore outcrop, battered by wind and waves but home to nesting Nazca Boobies.

Then it was in through a break in the surf into a protected mangrove area. GOPR2328 This was our first snorkel stop and quite frankly for those of us that do a lot of snorkelling jumping overboard into cool murky waters and swimming through mangrove root systems was really not at all appealing.  For the first 10 minutes we barely saw even a fish but then we were rewarded with a seahorse, much larger than I expected (everything here is super-sized!) and coiled around a mangrove root, not an outstanding specimen but our first seahorse. 

Away from the mangroves and on through the murky depths and I turned to find myself face to face with the most enormous turtles I have seen, two of them just going about their business while we looked on in awe.  These giants were everywhere, enough for all us tourists to adopt one each and spend time with them, it was breathtaking to be so close and not have them swim away.



All turtled out it was time to turn our attention to less welcoming snorkelling partners, the Tintoreras or White Tipped Sharks.  We found them  snoozing under a lava rock tunnel, even in their sleepy state they looked menacing.


Surfing In A Speedboat

P7110135 Back on board it was time to move further along the coast to the Lava Tunnels and Bridges.  This involved going back out through the surf, speeding along about another 20 minutes then heading back into shore and the rocks, but this time there didn’t actually look to be a break in the surf.  Us four sailors hunkered down under the cabin thinking this could be very messy, while the holidaymakers looked out and enjoyed the real life Disney ride, this was not something to be attempted in Balvenie!!! GOPR2463

Once into sheltered waters there was another stop for snorkelling, I lasted only a couple of minutes before the chill penetrated my bones, skipper did better and managed to see another sea horse and chased several camera shy penguins.

Our last stop was into the lava tunnels, the Venice of the Galapagos.  An incredible area formed over the centuries from explosions of lava rock that have cascaded down to the oceans edge where erosion from water and wind has removed great chunks of rock and natural tunnels,P7110137 caves and bridges have been formed.  Little vegetation survives, mainly some hardy cactus but the bird and sea life have moved in and made this unique setting their home. P7110130


Each Day Is A New Adventure In These Amazing Islands

Monday, 20 July 2015

Time To Meet The Tortoises ..... July 2015

04 – 07 July:  San Cristobal to Academy Bay, Santa Cruz ~ 00 44S  90 18W


Heading Further Afield

P7030679We had seen everything we could by foot from the anchorage in San Cristobal so decided to hire a taxi for the afternoon to see the rest of the island. Most of the island is uninhabited, without even roads, but there is one newly paved road that climbs up to the volcano and over to the south eastern beach of Puerto Chino, all the taxi drivers do a “tour” driving along this route, pointing out the areas of interest and waiting while we did our sightseeing.P7030671

P7030673First stop was El Progreso, the oldest and largest tree on the island, in its high branches a tree house has been built, deep down in the root system there is a room dug out and it was previously home to early settlers here.  An added bonus was they did a passable coffee to set us up for the rest of our tour! 

Next it was a slow climb into the highlands and into the cloud cover.  Since arriving in San Cristobal we had not seen the top of the volcano, each day it is shrouded in cloud, bringing rain to the hills to support this fragile ecosystem.  Today we escaped the rain, just a fine mist settled around us as we hiked to the top of El Junco.


At the top there is a small freshwater lake where we were lucky enough to see Magnificent Frigatebirds diving low and dipping their wings to clean out the salt, they also looked to be feeding on insects just above but they are generally scavengers stealing food caught by other birds so maybe this was just an illusion.  We circumnavigated the crater rim, snippets of the view across the island came but quickly disappeared in the mist.


Finally the Tortoises

P7030701Next it was on to the Jacinto Gordillo Tortoise Centre, we were very lucky to have a large group of school children leaving just as we arrived so we virtually had the centre to ourselves during our visit.

We took our time with these prehistoric giants, watching them lumber about with such difficulty under their on weight.  Their movements are slower than slow motion and they only undertake a few steps at a time.  Still we should take into account many of these specimens are over 100 years old!

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P7030727  Most of the Galapagos Islands have a tortoise species endemic individually to them as they have all had to evolve separately to survive in their unique environments.  Some have longer necks to reach higher vegetation, some lower shells so they can fit into smaller spaces ~ they all have their own special story and it is fascinating to see them breeding and surviving in these remote volcanic outcrops in the South Pacific.


We had a final stop at Puerto Chino, a pretty bay with white sand surrounded again by black volcanic rocks ~ just how they end up with such beautiful white the sand is to do with the sediment at sea, but it is just so unexpected.  The beach was deserted, we watched more turtles swim, sea lions and pelicans dual for space on rocks, bright yellow Maria canaries whizz by at speed, and finches pose by breaking waves while we took their photos. 

P7060019 Short Stop in Santa Cruz

We were content that we had seen all San Cristobal had to offer us and had very much enjoyed our time there.  With a 50 mile trip to Santa Cruz we did a dawn departure accompanied by bobbies and albatross and headed west.  Guess what? - the wind was STILL in front of the beam, however we kept Balvenie comfortable and the miles quickly ticked away. 

By mid afternoon we had arrived in Academy Bay, Santa Cruz and all our reservations about the suitability of the anchorage came to fruition.  It is the only anchorage on Santa Cruz we are permitted to visit, it is on a lee shore (so the tradewinds blow straight in) and there is very little, if any, protection from the swell which was running at just under 2 metres.  P7060023 The best spots for anchoring were jam packed and the harbour was very busy with tour boats ferrying their guests back and forth (ghastly ride!!), water taxis, local fishing boats and barges unloading a coastal freighter.  As if the swell wasn’t bad enough the wash from all the passing traffic just kept the water churned up, all day and night.  We immediately decided this was not a place we wanted to be, but officialdom can not be ignored in the Galapagos and we needed to complete the check in and out processes before we could leave. 

P7060030 We spent a day seeing the sights close by.  A visit to the fish market could not be missed where I had to fight for position with the cheeky pelicans and sea lions (did you notice the sea lion under the counter in the shadows!!).  We spent a couple of hours in the Charles Darwin Centre learning more about the islands and their unique inhabitants and we saw many many more tortoises of all age and size from teeny weeny to giants.

We received our exit papers late on the second day and endured another night at anchor, by dawn the wind was gusting to 25 knots and life jackets were donned before we even lifted anchor.  These were not conditions we would ever chose to leave harbour in, but they were certainly not conditions to be riding at anchor at either.  The entrance to our last permitted stopover on Isla Isabela was on another lee shore, although the anchorage sits more protected behind rocks, it was another 55 miles away ......

If We Couldn’t Get Into Isabela Next Stop Was French Polynesia! 


Monday, 13 July 2015

The Giants of The Galapagos ..... July 2015

01 – 03 July 2015:  Exploring San Cristobal, Galapagos


Enjoying Natures Best

We spent our time in San Cristobal seeing as much of the spectacular wildlife the Galapagos is home to as possible.  P7010588 Although the harbour was busy with day boats, water taxis, large tour boats and coastal traders it did not deter the presence of sea and bird life around Balvenie

The sea bubbled with playful sea lions and schools of baitfish while above tropic birds, frigate birds, pelicans, bobbies and storm petrels hovered effortlessly, waiting patiently before handpicking their dinner from an extensive menu swimming below. 


Swimming with the Turtles & Sea Lions
We did the hike out to La Loberia beach, “the place to swim with sea lions and turtles”.  We arrived at the ocean after a long walk along the road, black volcanic rocks completely covered the shoreline but a path leads to the left along to a golden sand beach area that is somewhat sheltered from the pounding surf by a natural breakwater of rocks.  Enroute we saw dozens of marine iguanas heavily camouflaged on the rocks, they lie so still you need to be careful not to step on them.  They were everywhere, during our walk we would have seen about a hundred of them, lounging about soaking up the sun.
When we got to the lovely small beach a tour group were just leaving so we shared the waters with just 4 humans, dozens of playful sea lions and a handful of giant turtles.  We have swam with turtles before, but never have we had them swim right up to us, almost pushing us out of their way ~ they were amazing and just so comfortable in their natural environment and in the knowledge we meant them no harm.  The sea lions fly by like torpedoes, twist and turn then head straight back, changing direction with such ease just when you think you are about to have a head on collision.
It all seems a fun game to them, they played with us, each other and the turtles.  The water was cloudy as the large swell sent waves crashing over the small protective rocky reef so at times we would have a white out only to have it clear and find ourselves face to face with one of the residents!  

Picking Our Way Through The Marine Iguanas


We spent about an hour in the water until we were worn out playing, then dried ourselves off and headed for the far end of the beach where there is a small marker indicating a walk that friends had recommended.  And what a treat it was ~ about 30 minutes over the rocky shoreline taking care not to squash a lazing iguana, then a short climb up on to the top of the cliff.  You can see from the photos that they are just everywhere!


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Sitting in Heaven

It was just us and the birds picnicking on this remote cliff top, and what a majestic spot it was.P7010641  We were above the nests clinging to the rocky precipices below us and watched an amazing display of flying manoeuvres as the adults left the nests, dived into the surf fishing then returned on to the rocky ledges to provide food for their young.  It was an awesome display of aerial acrobatics and amazing to be able to watch it all from above.  There were Blue Footed and Nazca Boobies, Red Billed Tropicbirds, Magnificent Frigatebirds and Swallow Tailed Gulls, all out there bringing home food for their families. 

Surfing Turtles ~ It’s True!


Then as if the flying display wasn’t enough to entertain us we realised that far below down in the surf there were several giant turtles, playing in the surf and riding the waves ashore. 

We have never seen this before and haven’t heard of turtles playing in the surf but that is certainly what they were doing.  They would ride the wave in heading straight for the rocks, disappear for a couple of minutes and then we would see them pop up again further out to sea and off they would go again, just incredible.

This was just a daytrip out but we saw so much and enjoyed the remoteness and ruggedness of this southern coast, and all just a walk from the anchorage.  We are very restricted with what we are allowed to do here in the Galapagos Island group as individual travellers, but so far we have seen some fantastic sights, with many more to come.

This Is Surely Nature At It’s Purest

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