29 May – Underway to the Marquesas 02 22S / 092 37 W
A large swell started curving into the anchorage off the tiny town of Puerto Villamil, Galapagos. The small anchorage, inside the broken rim of a small volcano top, was fairly crowded. The fringing volcanic rock broke the swell when exposed, but at high tide the waves came right over the rocks and we rolled worse than at sea. Of course, high tide came in the middle of the night and we slept fitfully, spread eagle and hanging onto our pillows to keep from rolling out of bed. We tolerated these conditions, waiting for the weekly supply ship to bring fresh vegetables. Thankfully the ship arrived on schedule, and Monday was spent shopping and storing. Noon Tuesday we escaped the anchorage for the relatively calm of the open ocean.
Clearing an island. With the surrounding reefs and rocks, keeps all of us on deck. The helm area is cluttered with a chart, dividers, triangles and a hand bearing compass. We carefully plot our course and shoot bearings on obvious landmarks. GPS is accurate to a handful of meters these days but the charts haven’t all been corrected yet – especially the old, out-of-date charts most cruisers carry. It does little good to know exactly where you are if the island is a mile from where it’s charted. The winds were light and the sea calm so we had great conditions for spotting sea life around the Galapagos. Over a period of a couple of hours we saw numerous turtles, a couple of sharks including a small hammerhead. Near the current line we spied the usual collection of plastic bottles, sticks and a large black plastic tarp. We noticed a few more tarps as we motored and worried about wrapping one around the prop. As we neared a group of three, one raised a wing revealing a white underbody. Just as we realized these were huge Manta Rays the wing slapped on the water splashing the boat and us. It was wonderful watching the rays swim as we passed.
It’s now Wednesday morning. S/V Enchante’ is moving along nicely in perfect sailing conditions – cool breeze of 12-15 knots, clear skies, broad reaching in a long gentle swell with a knot of favorable current, making 7 – 7.5 knots over the ground. Our favorite lure is trolling behind us but no fish yet. Thank goodness since the ice box and freezer are full of prepared meals for the first few days.
We meet twice daily on a SSB radio net with boats in the area. Several of them departed days ahead of us, one on the same day and more to follow. The spread of boats will share weather information, lie about the fish they’ve caught and offer help should someone have a problem. It’s also nice to know others are sitting in their cockpits at 4 AM going through the same struggle to stay awake.
Our sleep periods will soon adjust to the two hour watch schedules and even I will fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. The daily routine continues and Rebecca still has school five days a week. This is a long, 20-25 day voyage that we’ve dreamed about for years. Making this trip is a dream come true!
[In a conversation wit Carl about his current sail, he had some words of advice for some mutual friends planning on joining the cruising life in the next year as well as for Ann and me] you could fly to the Society Islands (think Bora Bora) and charter a boat for a week or so. It would give all of you a taste of the South Pacific and motivate you to not fool around too long in the US, Bahamas or Caribbean. I know this sounds odd coming from us [remember Carl spent 3 years in the Bonaire and Venezuela region of the Caribbean]. Thank goodness we’re finally here!
Sailing conditions couldn’t be better – broad reaching with 12-15 knots and a gentle swell. We’re hundreds of miles from any significant land mass and the winds have really settled into a consistent pattern undisturbed by thermals, mountains and so forth.
Three days out and on schedule for a 20 day passage – 25 is more likely when it’s all over with.