Friday, 8 July 2016

Panama to Galapagos ... June to July 2016     845nm  

Once through the Panama canal and anchored on the Pacific side we spent a few days stocking up with supplies, topping up our fuel and water and exploring.
We took a bus into the city. One has to have a swipe card for the buses and as we didn't have one the bus driver very generously took us anyway and the connecting bus didn't have facilities for cash either so a gentleman used his card and wouldn't accept any reimbursement. We were entertained by a very talented guitarist. A nice welcome to Panama...

We had a fish meal at the fisherman's harbour overlooking the local fishing boats

then explored the Old Panama City

  Brother Ralph looking debonair in his Panama hat

We had to do the official paperwork to clear Panama which can be quite tedious!!!
A picture of the Captain says a thousand words....

On the 11th of June we set sail for Galapagos, stopping at the Las Perlas islands 34nm offshore to wait for good weather
Our first stop was Contadora island where we celebrated with Pina coladas and freshly caught tuna marinated with limes, coconut milk and red onions. The next day we carried on to Isla Del Ray for the night stopping at Mogo Mogo to clean the hull of barnacles and slime. It was here that Ralph got bitten by NoNo sand flies and his legs had more than a hundred bites which took more than a week to heal!
The next 24 hrs we celebrated his 70th birthday..Part NZ time and Panama time.

Two days later we left the Panama islands bound for Galapagos.
Our friends Peter and Cathy (SV Leto) also bound for Galapagos had been having gearbox issues since installing a new propeller so we kept in radio contact and were delighted to hear that the mechanic had given them the “thumbs up” and they were only a day behind us.
It took us 12 days to arrive. We had a difficult passage as the winds were either non existent (In the doldrums) or 15-20 knots right where we were headed so we tacked and motorsailed probably covering twice as many miles than if in a straight line.
I had to strap myself in to my Galley safety belt in the bouncy conditions and we used a lee sheet on the sofa when the conditions weren't favourable to be in the bunk.

We saw lots of dolphin circling in large schools and leaping out of the water and tail flapping as they herded fish in a team effort. One morning when we rolled out the furled sail there was a very indignant red footed booby preening itself and despite us sitting within a few metres of it, it remained for sometime before flying off after having a rest.

On the 9th day we had 4 pilot whales pass by our stern. Storm petrels followed us picking something out of the water as the boat left a churned up wake and at night terns and boobies circled us and dolphin could be heard blowing as we took our turns on watch. We had a full and waning moon for most of the voyage which was great.

On day 11 Cathy and Peter (SV Leto) caught up with us, despite having a major oil leak into the sump..A difficult job for them to clean up at sea!
We had crossed the equator during the night so the next day we celebrated with balloons tied to the rigging and a musical ensemble on deck as Leto motored past us.

It was mirror calm and we saw lots of turtle floating on the surface basking in the sun.
Now in the Humbolt current it was noticeably cold on night watch and we had to find warm clothes and bedding..A strange phenomenon being on the equator!
Rubbish accumulates very quickly and takes up a lot of space. The next picture is how we deal with it.
2 full size rubbish bags are compacted into 1 empty soda bottle by cutting plastics, tinfoil and polystyrene into tiny pieces. Organic waste goes overboard and so does non waxed paper after being shredded. Tins and bottles are sunk in deep water. The tins rusting away and the bottles probably becoming a home for a sea creature

On the 12th day..24th of June we arrived at San Cristobal Island. The officials are very strict about bringing barnacles in so Eric and Ralph went overboard in the chilly water several miles out to clean the hull. There were only goose neck barnacles which are prevalent in all oceans but to be 100% sure that we would be allowed entry they cleaned them off.

As the sun came up we saw the first sight of Galapagos

Our agent Bolivar Pesantes and the team of officials boarded for inspection and paperwork necessary for entry into Galapagos. This cost us $1515 USD! We had a representative from the police, navy, immigration, customs, quarantine and a diver. A very thorough inspection was made for pests which involved opening every cupboard, drawer and hatch. Then the boat was sprayed. We had to leave the boat for 4 hrs while the insecticide penetrated then dispersed

Water taxis were a convenient and safe way to get ashore as there was a heavy swell running into the anchorage and the seals like to cohabit the dinghies. This cost $1 USD/person/each way.. This became quite costly so we made sure our time ashore was well planned to involve most of the day

We spent 4 days in Wreck bay seeing the sights. The National Park visitors centre was a worthwhile visit with history of the Galapagos islands and Charles Darwin's research.
The foreshore was interesting with seals, iguana, crabs and birds and we swam in the surf with the seals

The seals enjoyed sleeping on our boarding platform and were most vocal if disturbed!

We walked the trails to lookouts enjoying watching the little finches of which there are 13 species evolved from one to adapt to the environment

Frigate birds were roosting in trees below the lookouts and we were able to go very close to them without them being alarmed

We refueled with diesel ($3USD/gallon ) and took on water ($3USD/20L) and with our Zarpe in hand (written permission to visit another island)
We departed the next morning being the 29th of June for Villamil, Isabela Island 82nm away to a more sheltered anchorage.

The supply ship was in the harbour offloading containers as we left

This was an overnight sail. We had to slow down near the end to arrive in daylight. Another $50USD to enter and exit!
Here we could take the dinghy ashore but we were not allowed to explore the lagoon anchorage by kayak without paying for a guided tour. Peter and Cathy had been here 15 years ago when there were no restrictions on where you could go by water or land under your own devices.

After paying so much to come to the Galapagos on our own yachts it was hard to accept the restrictions but we did find some things we could do without putting our hands deeper in our pockets.
One was a walk on the boardwalk through the wetlands where we saw flamingo and other birds and a stroll through the tortoise breeding sanctuary

Marine iguana were all over the rocks on the foreshore as well as other lizards. There were some new hatchlings too.

We enjoyed watching blue footed boobies roosting on the rocks and diving in unison for fish along with pelican as we sat in the cockpit at dawn and dusk

Another day we snorkeled in a part of the lagoon which is not restricted where there were seals, iguana, ray, turtles and penguin. Unfortunately the photos I took underwater with my GoPro got accidentally wiped!

On the 3rd of July it was our 40th wedding anniversary and we celebrated with breakfast at the Booby trap cafe. James Hinkle (USA) is the agent for the island and he runs a cafe with his wife. We hung out here a lot as he was a wealth of information and the WiFi was good.
Cathy and Peter had informed him of our anniversary and they had arranged celebrations with bubbly and cake. Thank you Cathy and Peter!

With full tummies and a desire to burn some calories we set off to see the “Wall of tears”
This was an onerous task set for prisoners from 1946- 1959 with no purpose apart from demoralizing their spirits and burning energy. Many died at the wall.

We took some side trails and walked to numerous lookouts and had a picnic lunch at the highest peak where there used to be a radar tower

Our days are now numbered as to when we leave the Galapagos for the Marqueses. So we are taking on water and food stores for the trip and plan to leave in a few days

SV Erica

SV Erica

About Me

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We met in 1971 and it was Eric's dream to build his own yacht and sail the world. This became a joint dream but it was not until 1994 that we were able to start building. "Erica" was launched in 2001 after 7yrs building her. It then took us 5 yrs to prepare her and ourselves before leaving NZ to see the world