THE JOURNEY (part II) Photos 中文

Mar 26 2014 2330 UTC
00°57.943'S, 90°57.700#39W
Isla Isabela, Galapagos

As I write this I sit at Booby Trap cafe, a very cool place at the west end of the Puerto Villamil. Jim is married to a local lady and they both run this place for number of years. He makes an awesome chicken soup. The place is very popular among boaters - they say it's the fastest internet here! And I am here waiting to fill my propane tank. Gravity fill is a very precise and tedious procedure. I tried it yesterday and it didn't work. Today I get up from time to time from my table and walk over to the yard where high on a improvised structure stands upside down the gas bottle that JC lent to me (and sold some of its contents). I had to buy a local fixture and jury rigged the connection between the tanks.
We went on a great tour today. The place is called Tunnels because of the many natural bridges that lava made over the sea. A lot of nature around, hard to describe. See the photos! We snorkeled quite a bit and as i was the last in the group I spotted a giant turtle resting on the bottom. I dove and it of course moved away, but I followed it for quite some time. The pictures from the underwater part are from my Garmin video camera in underwater housing. The highlight of the day were two big orcas that were trying to eat a giant turtle. I don't know whether they succeeded or not (hope they were not able to crack turtle's shell). But it was a great sceene.
Our Aussie friends Dan, Ken and Dach on Brahmini sailed today. Our plan is to sail tomorrow so this may be the last update in PART II. The weather is still not favorable for sailing, but we'll go anyway. We have fuel, water and even propane now.

Mar 23 2014 2330 UTC
00°57.943'S, 90°57.700#39W
Isla Isabela, Galapagos

Still at the anchor in Villamil anchorage. We found a new restaurant which we frequent, it is on the beach and has a nice breeze blowing in. There are all kinds of flags hung around the walls, from the countries that I don't think ever sailed here, like Poland, Libya - but also two Croatian once, which we of course couldn't stand and offered Slovenian for display. Which went promptly up with the boat name on it!
It was a dive day today and we went to the island called Tortuga (remember Pirates of the Caribbean?) for two dives. From both I brought back some pictures of tropical fish and several videos - of tropical fish, of course. The visibility was quite poor so the few sharks that I saw were like silhouettes in the distance and the big big fish (that nobody else saw) might have been whale shark. All in all, I'd like to go again and I just might...
No fuel for foreigners I wrote below. Except on the black market. You meet a guy who knows a guy and you end up with two twenty and one five gallon jugs of diesel in a dinghy that ties up to your boat. Yours is to get the jugs up on the deck and then siphon the diesel into the tank. And luckily my mind worked quick and I went to the first aid kit to make a filter for the funnel that went into the fuel opening on the deck. I caught quite an amount of dirt in that fuel. I think that everyone, including officials, knows about what is going on and they let local people make some money on the side - the price was 5 dollars per gallon. But since you cannot get it in regular way everyone is happy to get it at all and gladly pays the price.

Mar 20 2014 2330 UTC
00°57.943'S, 90°57.700#39W
Isla Isabela, Galapagos

We rented bicycles yesterday and went on a tour. The destination was Campo Duro, a camp up on the hill, some 14 kilometers away. And uphill. And on a rough, black lava pavement that radiated heat accumulated from the sun. And tomorrow the sun will cross the equator on its way to the north. Anyway, we were biting our knees on the way up, but it was well worth it. Peaceful surroundings, gardens like from a fairy tale, lawn ringed with coconut palm trees and a number of hammocks to rest our tired legs. On the way up we also stopped at the giant tortoise breeding station. They only have four adult males and four adult females in the station, and hordes and hordes of baby tortoises. Soon they'll be able to bring them back into the environment.
There is no fuel for foreigners. The distribution of fuel to yachts is in the hand of the port captain and all he will do is give you "zarpe" to go and get fuel at Santa Cruz, 60 Nm back from the direction we want to go. Levana still has around 100 gallons and I think we'll continue the journey with that. At the end, she is a sailboat, isn't she?

Nothing like right sized bottle of cold beer after a day of hard work!

We got the shaft out. Marko worked all morning, disassembled the steering column and laid it down so the shaft could come out at the bottom of it. Tomorrow we'll take it to the shop to replace the bearing. The old one is in a really very bad shape and was calling for replacement. Good thing that we decided to call en emergency to replace it!

Mar 17 2014 2350 UTC
00°57.943'S, 90°57.700#39W
Isla Isabela, Galapagos

We spent two days in quarantine and today we finally went ashore. As it turns out, it is very hard to go to Galapagos with the sailboat unless you arrange all the formalities ahead of time - which I of course didn't. So we had to claim an emergency landing. Port captain send an inspection of three people to look at our emergency - it was the steering system which I knew I'd have to fix at some point, but with some exageration it seemed quite critical. After the deliberation they agreed that it needs to be fixed, but now, how long a time do I need to fix it? They will send a mechanic to evaluate the repair but we all agreed that it could take up to two weeks. We will replace the lower bearing on the steering shaft and it is not an easy job to do since we need to disassemble the whole steering column. But we did half of that in Panama where we replaced the top bearing, so we know how to do it. The hard part is to cut one weld and after replacing the bearing weld it again - and you need the right tools for that.
Meanwhile we'll plan some tours...

Mar 15 2014 2150 UTC
00°57.943'S, 90°57.700#39W
Isla Isabela, Galapagos

So we arrived. After 4 hours less than 9 days we anchored in port of Villamil on the island of Isabela. We stopped the boat yesterday morning on the ocean and cleaned the bottom of Levana. I've never seen such strange growth on a ship. Like elongated drops half an inch long, almost clear with purple tint were hanging down from the hull even on a part above water. Luckily only on and around the stern. They were hard to get of, I had to scrape with the knife. It took us about two hours to get the hull in shape. The fact is that the Galapagos National Park authorities send boats with growth on their hulls 40 Nm out to sea to clean it there. The fact is also that on Isabela they don't check the hull since their equipment isn't working :-). But that I found out only later.
In the evening we saw a strange animals in the water all around us - strange since we couldn't tell and agree on what it was. There is a picture of how they looked like - but only today, after I explained the sight to JC, our agent here, I learned they were manta rays with the tips of their wings out of the water to cool of. Animals are abundant, even here in the anchorage. Pelicans are not afraid of people, seals mingle with people on the beach and cute little penguins swim through the water. I wonder what else this place has in store for us.

Mar 13 2014 1835 UTC
00°16.168'S, 87°03.700#39W

All zeros on the lattitude dial

For many people it has no meaning - most will never do it, some do it often, but for some it is the first time. Yes, crossing the equator, passing from the north to the south hemisphere. With all my travels around the world I've never been on any southern lattitude. So it is very significant, enough to bring out the ice maker and make drinks to toast the occasion. And so we did - Marko and I finished the bottle of scotch and Taozi started her bottle of port. All tasted better with ice cubes in glasses. Later we had a nice sail straight into the sunset under our butterfly.
Some say that a definition of a sail race is two boats in sight of each other. So we saw a sail on the horizon and started working on our gennaker - and we are catching up. It is the first sail we saw on the whole journey. Since it is still some 2 Nm away we can nicely follow our progress on the radar screen. We may catch up by tonight.

Mar 11 2014 2045 UTC
00°50.400'N, 83°53.643#39W

All the canvas is up (actually it is dacron}

Our local time is still Panama time which is the same as US Eastern Daylight Saving time (UTC-5).
Out of three NO one is gone - now we have wind, not much, some 9 to 10 knots, but steady and from the right direction. I was promising this wind to Marko since he was wondering why we sail so far south instead of direct route to Galapagos. So this morning at 2:30 AM, half an hour before my regular watch time, he woke me up 'Wind has changed, wind has changed!'. And yes, there it was, nice southerly which we still sail on. Looks like this will be the first day of leaving the engine alone. Although you get used to the noise that it makes, life onboard is much nicer without it. We are making Galapagos direction with the wind on 60 degrees from port side, wide enough to use the staysail as well. It is the first time on this journey that we use all three sails together.
And another exciting event is just around the corner - all three of us will cross the equator for the first time. There is a christening ritual for such occasion but we don't have anyone to perform it. We'll have to celebrate the occasion in some other way :-).

Mar 10 2014 1520 UTC
01°45.326'N, 81°59.29'W

Still dealing with variable winds. Variable in sense of strength, direction is mainly from 10 to 20 degrees, so we are flying our gennaker with Araschnia Levana painted on it. Just too bad nobody is around to see it.
Two morning ago we must have been passing some shipping lane (Panama Canal to Australia or New Zealand, maybe) since there was a traffic jam and Marko got a little confused and started running almost back. Granted, it takes on water experience and knowing the signal lights to determine where ships go at night.
We went south far enough that by now we rightfully expect to see some trade winds from South. They may show up soon since it was this morning that we hoisted gennaker on the starboard side, for the first time on this leg. But for now we are still doing only around 4 knots. We are joking about three NO we have onboard - NO wind, NO ships, NO fish (the last one was mahi mahi). But yesterday I saw for the first time that beautiful scene of marlin on a hook jumping out of the water. Both fishing lines run at the same time, and both fish got away and I was too late for the picture. Next time - if it'll ever be one.

Mar 8 2014 1430 UTC
05°23.406'N, 79°40.384'W

Far from land a tired dragonfly comes to rest on Levana

Beginning was so so! Very little wind as we were heading towards Islas Perlas. The plan was to maybe anchor there for the night and in the morning check the hull since we got warning for our agent in Galapagos that it must be clean. As we approached the Pearl Islands it was already dark and wind diminished to a light breeze. I cranked the engine and as we never found any sign of masthead lights in some anchorage we motored through and continued on an almost south course. But even against forecast on the morning of the next day the wind came up and we hoisted the spinnaker and were making over eight knots. It lasted for a good portion of the day (which helped us log 110 Nm the first 24 hours) but in the afternoon it started diminishing and we finally gave up sailing and cranked the engine. 18 hours later we are still motoring on a course of about 195, hoping to get into the area of northerly winds that would allow us to sail to Galapagos on a broad reach.
Marko caught our first Pacific fish - it was a delicious mahi mahi. It was changing its color from yellow to bluish white as it died. The dinner was really good. And this morning we had a traveling companion for a while. A dragonfly came to rest on Levana. I knew that butterflies can fly long distances (some cross Atlantic) but never heard of dragonflies doing that too. As I write this it already left on its way...

Mar 6 2014 2000 UTC
08°52.611'N, 79°27.706'W
Just left Panama City behind

An hour ago we hosted our sails and left Flamenco marina where we topped of our fuel and water tanks. We are barely moving at 2.5 kts as there is no wind in the hot, lazy afternoon time. We have 890 Nm on our schedule and sure hope that wind forecasts are not all correct and that we'll find some local deviations that will push us along. But right now we are making way through the canal parking lot and watching big tankers and container ship waiting for canal transit. The plan is to go south on find favorable winds there. As I read books of sailing from previous times, sometimes it took a month to make this passage - no engines, of course - and sometimes a week. We'll be in a different category with our Yanmar diesel helping us through the water.