Thursday, December 18, 2008

Day 14, December 16, Landfall!

We finally made it! We arrived on Tuesday afternoon, dropping anchor at about 5:30 pm. We had been running the engine almost non-stop for three days! Even with those great winds in the beginning, we still managed to use almost all of our fuel. Yikes! Yesterday, we spent all day with Customs, didn't even get the Port Captain out of the way yet. Two fellows came out to the boat and searched and asked lots of questions and took lots of pictures. They took some of our food, but I had pre-cooked
and tucked away most of the stuff they would have wanted. We did sacrifice some, just so that the customs fellows would feel like they were doing their job. We also had to take Hopper around to the vet right away, with the Customs agent. His rabies shot is good for another 2 years, and even though we have it documented that he has his 3 year shot, here, they need to have it every year. So, the Customs agent was very helpful and drove us around in his personal car to find a vet that could give
him his shot right away and issue the Health Certificate. It took three tries at different vets, but we found one. Poor Hopper, his first time off the boat for six weeks and it has to be to go get a shot! Today, we will finish up with Port Captain and get some laundry done and then maybe get Hopper in to the beach for some play time. We finished decorating the boat for Christmas, lights are up and ornaments are hung, Christmas tunes are in the CD player. We are not sure how long we will hang
out here, we may stay through Christmas and then move north for New Years, or we may leave a few days before that. We figure at least another 3-4 days here just to get a little caught up. Not many boats here, the locals are bummed. They all say that it is because of the economy in the states.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Day 12, December 14

We are still underway, but making much slower progress. We are about 170 miles south of our destination. Our winds died, and after the high of making such great mileage for the first several days, it is frustrating to now be only doing 60-70 mile days. We have been mostly motoring, but we turn off the engine whenever there is the slightest hint of a wind. The most wind that we have seen is about 25 knots and the highest seas were about 10 feet. Not so comfortable, but not scary or horrible by
any means. We still have lots of fresh food left on board, plus all of the canned food that Nancy has been hoarding for this passage. We are not sure if when we get to Mexico, they may confiscate all of our fresh meat, eggs and produce. It is a balancing game, to make it last to the end vs. using it all up ahead of time. Fletcher really wants to fish, but we told him no. We really need to eat the food that we have on board first! Hard call, but we will fish all the rest of the passages for
the next five months. We are hoping to arrive into Z-town Tuesday afternoon. Then, we will have a week to get ready for Christmas. All the presents are bought, we just need to wrap them up. Really, our Christmas present this year was the trip to the Galapagos and doing a family dive there. It is so calm today, maybe we will start decorating and putting the Christmas music on.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Day 9, December 11

Today is Nancy's birthday. Yesterday the kids and I made a cake, and the kids decorated it this morning. Our progress has slowed down a bit because of an adverse current that seems to be running at around 3 knots. We are moving fine through the water but not very fast over the sea floor. The winds are supposed to change direction later today and it should give us a better angle of attack. Yesterday afternoon we noticed that our compass and the GPS were not agreeing. I pulled out the spare GPS and
compass and compared them. Both of the GPS's agreed and both the compasses agreed but they didn't agree with each other. This was noticed around the same time that we got into this strong current that I didn't expect to see. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. When the stars came out, I steered towards the North star and the GPS said I was going West. I then figured that something had happened in the United States and the military messed up the GPS system so it could not be used for an attack.
My mind was racing and we couldn't receive any news. I went back to the old school method of navigation and disregarded what the GPS was telling me. When the morning rolled around the GPS and compass were back in agreement and everything seemed ok. Talk about a strange anomaly.

Yesterday we had our first sighting of a large pod of dolphins. We were all up on the bow, hooting and hollering. Hopper about fell off the boat and was squealing like a stuck pig. It was the highlight of our day. It was also pretty calm and we got through a day of school. For dinner, we finally had the last of that Mahi that Fletcher had caught.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Day 7, December 9th

We have passed the halfway point and are scooting along. All day yesterday we had strong winds and confused seas which made it really uncomfortable. The good thing about it is we are logging 130-145 mile days. Any task takes considerable effort. Preparing a meal requires at least two people, one to make it and the other to hold things so they don't go flying across the boat. Days like this are spent just coping (laying down, reading, or watching movies.) We are still eating the Dorado that Fletcher
caught several days ago. It looks like we still have 4-5 meals left. Luckily, Dorado is a delicious fish and we are preparing it differently each time.

Everything that wasn't completely secured down is now on the floor. It will take us several days to put this boat back in order, but not until it calms down. Some sad news, last night our cat Sia died. Nancy has been nursing her since Ecuador and it looked like she was improving but she had a relapse several days ago. Today we will have a ceremony and have a burial at sea. Hopper, our dog, is doing fine. Although I'm sure he'd rather be on land where he can have some traction and not slide across
the floor every time a wave hits us. The kids think this is pretty funny. This morning the winds have settled down a bit and the seas are a little more regular and we are still holding around 6 knots of speed. If you look at a map, we are south of Huatulco, Mexico and west of Southern Costa Rica.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Day four, December 6

We have officially entered the ITCZ (inter-tropical convergence zone,)lost our winds and had some rain. This is typical for the ITCZ, where you often have confused seas, shifty winds and squally conditions. Luckily, the squalls are usually pretty quick, but they can stir up some immediate winds, so you really need to keep your eye out for the squalls approaching and reduce sail quickly. We will probably be in this zone for the next couple of days. The temperatures are warming up, we are out of
the cold Humbolt current that bathes the west coast of South American and the Galapagos. The water temps have risen about 10 degrees. This means the air temps go up too. The first couple of nights we were bundled up a bit, but now, warm weather clothes prevail on all watches. I think that we will take the blanket off the bed tonight and put it back in deep storage. Last night, around 1930(7:30pm,)Fletcher caught a really nice size bull Dorado, almost 5 feet. You should have heard the squeals,
whoops and yipees. Guess what we will be eating for the next several meals, much to Dana's dismay as she has decided that she does not like fish, even when it is as fresh as can be! All is well on board.

Our position as of 0600, 12-07 is N 05.43, W 94.30. We are just a bit over 800 miles to our destination, not quite halfway, but getting closer. I can't wait until we are past the half way point and can start counting down the days. Yesterday, we only made 101 miles, but anything close to 100 and we are happy. The next couple of days may be a little less, since we lost our winds.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Day three, December 5

Had another great day of sailing! Winds are from the south at about 15 knots. Swells are from the south too, at about 6 feet. We are currently at N 04'22, W 093'36. We made 136 miles. This old boat is scooting across this ocean! We have just a little over 900 more miles to our destination. We are suffering from lack of sleep, but it is manifesting in silliness, not nastiness. Nancy has taken to fits of giggles, while Mike has been making silly, goofy comments. Of course one probably leads
to the other, although, at times, we are not sure which came first.

Here is how our day goes... Nancy has been on watch from early morning through the sunrise. About 8am everyone starts to move and has breakfast. Nancy and Mike then try to get some sleep to catch up from the night watches. Then it is lunch time. Yesterday, we all showered after lunch. We had warm water from running the engine a bit. We showered outside on the edge of the boat. It was a beautiful day and very pleasant. It felt great to have clean hair and bodies. We then watched a movie before
dinner. After dinner, the kids did dishes, while Mike and Nancy tried to get a bit more sleep to ramp up for the next night watches. Dana has watch from 8-10pm, Fletcher takes the 10-12. Mike usually goes from 12-4am. Nancy takes over then. During watch we read, watch a movie, play computer games, listen to music, look at the stars, look at the sunrise, snack and just try to pass the time. What are we watching for? Ships passing in the night (we are so far out that there have not been any
for a couple of days,)if the engine is on, we check the gauges for temperature, oil pressure, etc... we pump the bilge hourly, and at 6am we get our position. If the swells lay down a bit, we will try to get some school done, but the past couple of days it has not been good for that.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Day two, December 4

We had another great day of sailing and motoring. It was a bit too rolly to get any school done, so we just chilled. The kids watched lots of Gilligan's Island episodes, one of Dana's favorites. We slept better the second day/night, getting more into the swing of being underway and weird sleep patterns. In the evening, we passed the last of the Galapagos Islands, Darwin. This will be our last land sighted until Mexico, about 1070 miles away! As of 0600 we are at N 2'30.500, W 92'20.396. We
have winds from the SW 10-12 knots, swells from the SW 3-6 ft. In the night we had some swells that were probably about 8 ft. We made 122 miles in the last 24 hours. We are eating well, so we are sitting fat and happy. We are looking forward to another good day of making way.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Day one, December 3

Pulled anchor on Wednesday, December 3 at 0600, and motored first seven hours until the wind increased. Turned North West around Santa Cruz Island and sailed wing and wing at 6+ knots between Santa Cruz and Isabella. Very comfortable with calm seas. Nancy and the kids even got through a whole day of school. Winds are supposed to stay with us for the next several days. We sailed through the night with just the genoa. By 0600 Thursday, we had made 124 miles, which is great for us. Our 0600 position
is N 00'47, W 091'18. We are about 74 miles south of Darwin Island. The seas are a bit more rolly now that they are not blocked by the islands. First day out menu- fresh pumpkin spice bread with cream cheese for breakfast, chicken and cabbage sandwiches for lunch, tangerines for snack, followed by plantain chips. Dinner was fresh made pea soup. We are all fat and happy. The next several days will see us burn through our fresh food stores and then it will be on to the canned goods. It will
be interesting to see what is left in the pantry after 2-3 weeks at sea!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Leaving the Galapagos

Tomorrow we will start our passage to Mexico. We have really enjoyed our tour of the Galapagos and have had our fill of Marine Iguanas, Land Tortoises & Sea Lions. There were only two creatures that were on our to see list that we haven't spotted. One was the hammerhead shark the other was the vermilion flycatcher. It is time to move on. Our sail to Mexico should take from 2-3 weeks. Today, we do our last provisioning and check out of the country. Our visas expire tomorrow and we couldn't renew them
even if we wanted to. We have thoroughly enjoyed Ecuador and would not hesitate to return some day. We will add updates of our travels as often as possible during our passage.

Friday, November 14, 2008

11-13-08 Galapagos

We are still anchored in Wreck Bay at Isla San Cristobal. The water is very clear, and cooler than we expected, around 65-69 degrees F. So far, we have been explored close to town and are saving the big trips inland for our guests, Nancy's brother and nephew, who arrive on Sunday. Today, we lined up a family scuba dive trip for Tuesday to a place called Kicker Rock. We hope to see Hammerhead sharks there. We have had several close encounters with Sea Lions which seem to be everywhere, and some
neat encounters with Marine Iguanas & Lava Lizards. Everyday, we go for a walk to some nearby cove or beach. One day snorkeling, another day, swimming. Just looking around at all the birds and critters. Fletcher has surfed once at Canons, and today we will try Tonga Reef. This island is famous for its surfing, so he is very excited to be here.

The town here is very clean and newly renovated for the influx of tourism. Right now, we are on the edge of high season, so there aren't too many people and we are able to still work some deals on tours. Food here is less expensive than we had expected. Yesterday, we went to the mercado and got two full bags of fruits and vegetables for $10.00 . Lunch, (Almeurzo)which includes soup, fresh juice, the days selection of meat, salad and rice is $2.50. Last night, we went out for dinner and had a
shrimp plate for $4.00, and a lobster plate for $6.00. Of course there are the more expensive tourist oriented restaurants, but we try to stay away from these. On Wednesday, we are planning on sailing overnight with our guests to another island called Isabella which is even less touristy and has more critters. There we hope to see some penguins and flamingos.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

11-9-08, Anchor Down Galapagos

We are anchored safely at Isla San Cristobal, Galapagos at 0830. It took us exactly five days. It would have been shorter, but we had to slow down to arrive at sun up in the anchorage. All in all, we had a great passage and sailed 95% of the time. Had a little rain on our way into the anchorage early this morning, but the sun is now coming out. There are only three other sailboats here and after breakfast we will start exploring the island. First, we will have to complete our check in procedure.
We did get an agent to get us our permit, so hopefully, check in will be relatively painless. We may wait until tomorrow, since it is Sunday. We have gotten the boat straightened up from the passage. Everything gets a little crazy, dirty and salty underway. Now we are just relaxing and catching up on a couple of things and resting up from five days with minimum amounts of uninterrupted sleep.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saturday 11-8-08 Land Ho!!!

Day 5 - Sighted land at 1500 hrs.

Had a really nice sail yesterday with sunshine and calm seas while going 6-7 kts. Sunset was accompanied by several young humpback whales. They were breaching and spy-hopping and tail slapping. They were halfway between near and far and quite the sight to see. We had a windy night and were sailing about 5-6 kts with all of the sails reefed down. A little more rolly than earlier in the day, but we were making good time. All is well on board, we are getting into the swing of being at sea. We
just kind of hang out. It is too rolly to play cards, play games or do school. Everyone has been reading and reading, with eating in between. We will have a lot of work to do once we get to the islands, just cleaning up the boat and catching up on things that should have been done along the way. Sia, the cat, has had slight improvement. Hour by hour, we are hoping for the best or planning for the worst. We shall see if she pulls through. Dana is very excited that the last of the Wahoo has
been eaten. We had yummy fish sandwiches for lunch with the leftovers of the grilled fish from last night. We have a basil plant on board now, so there was even some diced up fresh basil in the mix. Really delicious, better by far than tuna! We should arrive at the anchorage on San Cristobal early morning Sunday.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Here we are, past the point of no return. Our coordinates as of 1400 are: 00.22 south, 086.27 west. We are about 350 miles out from the coast of Ecuador, sailing along with some great winds. Today, it has been about 12-18 knots out of the south-southwest. That puts the wind right off our beam. We have been doing a steady 6-7 knots all night and day. That is pretty spectacular for this old, fat boat! The seas are about 6 feet with wind chop on top of that. Not bad, but we are not able to get
much done either since we are heeled over pretty far. The only problems with all this, is that being heeled over so far, our generator output is too far under the water on one side and overheats because the exhaust can't push out and then our watermaker is on the uphill side and is just sucking air instead of water. Yesterday, we were joined by two red footed Boobies. They are so cute and funny. They kept us entertained for hours, especially on the night watch. Our watches have been going pretty
smoothly, Dana has from 8-10 pm, Fletcher has 10-12, Mike comes on at midnight and goes as long as he can before he wakes Nancy to take us through the night and beyond the dawn. Usually, by 8:00 everyone else is up and Nancy can go lie down.

Dana is hoping that tonight is the last of our fresh fish for dinner. That Wahoo that we caught the first day is lasting a long time. Hopefully, all of the other meats that we had bought will still be good. It would be helpful to have a freezer, but, we don't. Breakfast most days has been cereal, lunch has been PBJ's, quesadillas, mac and cheese and other easy snack food. Dinner everyday has been that fish. It is delicious, but it will be nice to have something else for dinner tomorrow!

On another note, yesterday, Sia (who has been sick with some kind of liver ailment) had some kind of convulsions, stroke, we are not sure. She was sort of paralyzed and contorted all day yesterday. Today, I did lots of massage and my version of kitty physical therapy and she seems to be responding. All of her legs push back against me now. Her head is still a bit tweaked to one side, but she does not seem to be in any pain. She still responds by wagging her tail and purring when she is pet.
We still have not given up hope, although yesterday surely tested us.

We are looking at getting to the Galapagos on Sunday morning. We can't wait to be anchored, although it has been a beautiful sail, it will be weird to have the boat sort of level under us and to be able to open cabinets without all of the contents spilling out and rolling all over the boat! Sometimes it takes all four of us to get one thing out of a cupboard. One person opens the door, one holds the person who is trying to get something out and hold everything else in and the other person grabs
whatever is meant to come out. Sort of a Laurel and Hardy routine, but it seems to be working and gets the whole family involved in even the simple tasks!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


We are in the evening of our second day. As of 7pm, we are at 00.09 south, 082.48 west. Good winds and a bit confused seas. This makes for a little more uncomfortable ride. We started the morning about 100 miles off shore with a visit by a couple of near misses with some long liners. You would picture these coming from bit factory ships or something similar, but it was just two guys to a panga, laying their line and guarding their area. Pretty amazing to see them that far out in the ocean.
Nancy first saw the panga and flag of the one to starboard, and then a couple of minutes later of the one to port. Mike was awakened to check out the situation. The panga on the port approached us first and asked for some water, which would have been fine, but we discovered that we do not have any extra water bottles on board. We gave them some of our expired water packs from our life raft (that we just had serviced). Then, the other panga approached about 15 minutes later to tell us where his
net was. One of the fellows was rubbing his belly, so we gave him some crackers along with some more of the water packs. That was our excitement for the day. Oh yea, there was also Nancy getting sick after lunch. Now that was exciting! Anyway, things are good. It seems that the seas are calming down a bit. Yesterday we made 95 miles. It should take us 6 days at this rate.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Desiderata update, 11-4-08,

Here we are, about 45 miles off the coast of Ecuador, at 00.17 South, 08.107 West. We headed out due west at about 6:30 am after being boarded and checked out by the Port Captain. Four boats left at same time. Two headed north and one south. We are the only ones going out to the Galapagos. We have had 10-12 knots out of the west southwest. We caught a four foot wahoo in the afternoon, and are currently putting on the grill and looking forward to a delicious dinner. We just had our first dolphin
sighting and it was special. There were several Risso's Dolphins mixed in with the common dolphins. They are very cute, with their rounded, light heads. Hopper was very excited. Sia is still very sick, but we are giving liquids every couple of hours and have to help her to relieve herself. This was challenging enough when we were in a calm anchorage, but we are managing. Nancy was laying down most of the day, and ended up getting a bladder infection as well as sea sick. So much fun. It was
still a pretty nice day all in all.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Papers are in hand

We have received our permit to visit the Galapagos. Thursday we made a trip into the city to pick up any final parts and to provision. Friday we tried all day to get our final paper work from the port captain but needed to go back Saturday to complete the process. Tuesday morning @0600 we will need to have a final inspection from the port captain before we can finally leave the estuary.
Getting any boat ready to do a passage is nuts with all of the last minute projects, but as usual with us we have that plus 10 fold. Nancy is dealing with a grievence with her neighbor in Santa Barbara which now has been turned over to the city and needs to be dealt with before we depart or face some fines. We still have not finalized any work to be done and are still waiting to hear back from several people. Next, Nancy's dad is not in good health and last Thursday had an accident which set him back even more. Fourteen days ago Sia Nancy's cat got very sick and yesterday we had a vet come out to put her down but decided to keep trying to bring her back. Then if that isn't enough, last week Dana got bit by something and this morning her arm really hurt so we took her to the doctor and he gave her several shots and we need to see him tomorrow.
All in all we are keeping a positive attitude and are doing our best to get everything done.
The boat and her systems are ready to go.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Waiting in Ecudor

The projects are done, the tanks are full, and we are ready to set off for the Galapagos! We are only waiting for our paperwork to arrive, and a good high tide to get out over the sand bar. The crew is ready, and anxious to set off for some new adventures. We have really loved the country of Ecuador and would not hesitate to return someday.

The Galapagos islands are about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, it should take us 6-8 days to get there. It will depend on the winds and currents. Right now, it looks like conditions will be favorable. We just hope that the conditions hold for the next week while we wait to leave. In the meantime there are provisions to procur, school to teach, wood that needs oiling, rugs to wash, engines to fine tune... the list is never ending. We will be busy right up until we leave and then we have plenty to do while we are underway also.

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