San Cristóbal, Galapagos

Sunday March 1, 2009

OH My Goodness, March already. We had a down day today, read books, drank coffee, drank wine, watched a green turtle slowly make his way past the boat in crystal clear water. Michelle made pizza dough and then two large pizzas which Robin cooked on the BBQ. If only there were a few more days like this.

Monday March 2, 2009

Robin did a wee bit of work on one of our spinnaker poles today. He figures we can probably use that for a whisker pole even though it weighs 50lbs. At least it wonīt bend. We have been calling them our torpedo launchers and figured weīd probably never use them as weīd like to go with an asymetrical spinnaker when we ever do get around to flying one. Well as it turns out if we get used to using the spinnaker pole we may as well take the next step and try out a spinnaker at some point. Guess weīre ready for the next step in our sailmanship capabilities. We thought we would go ashore today and upload all the website material but the connections are so slow we are putting it off till tomorrow. At least February is all written and ready to go. Impressed?

Tuesday March 3, 2009

The anchorage is really starting to fill up here. Another 4 boats arrived over the last two days. We almost feel like running away. We helped guide Lauren Grace into the anchorage this morning. Weīre wondering whether he would have ended up on the reef as it was certainly looking that way. Finally got ashore around 11am to upload the webpage. It was certainly way speedier than the other day although it wasnīt breaking any records. Still took over an hour to upload everything and download email.

Late this afternoon we organized the ferry to Santa Cruz. We will leave around 7am in the morning for a 2hr ride. From there we will organize either to head to Isla Isabella, take a cruise around the islands or head to Isla Floriana and/or Espanola. We wonīt know till we arrive and work the tourist agencies.

Isla Isabella, Galapagos

Wednesday March 4, 2009

First up we should clarify the word ferry. It is just a 25 to 30 foot sports fishing boat that has the capacity to seat about 16 people. There are three massive 200 hp engines on the back. The noise is phenomenal. The half cabin is enclosed enough to give you no fresh air. Underway the boat goes airborn off any kind of ripple with the resultant bone jarring thud as it connects with the water once again. This you endure for two hours and you pay for the privelege of having every bone in your body rearranged. People own these sports fishing boats for fun. /boggle. Of course we had a family on board and the 12month old baby threw up violently all over the mother causing various passengers to flee to the back of the boat in search of fresh air.

We finally arrived at Santa Cruz and found a bar open which served pretty decent cappucino so we of course indulged in some caffeine. Next up we worked the tourist strip looking for deals to various islands and comparing the packages available. You really need to know where you want to go and what you want to do as every tourist operator has a permit to only go to certain places, some land based tours, some diving and snorkelling only, a few have mixed packages, and only the live aboard cruises get to do some of the more outlying islands. We finally settled on diving off Floriana and doing land based exploration of Isla Isabella. That problem solved we wandered through the town, checked out the supermarket, tossed down a quick bite to eat and it was subsequently time to catch the next bone jarring ferry ride across to Isabella. This one left at 2pm and arrived at 4pm and we were so looking forward to taking a nap since weīd started this morning at 6:00am. Alas, this was not to be. We arrived at the dock and our tour guide from the hotel decided we needed to see more tortoises, the wetlands and flamingoes. We both looked at each other and said now? Ugh ok ok letīs go.

Blue Heron and a glimpse of Puerto Ayora Isla Santa Cruz

As it turns out the Galapaguera was kind of interesting. We gleaned a few more facts, one of which was the sex of a tortoise is determined by the heat of the ground as the eggs are being hatched. So the hatchery is controlling the sex of these animals, producing more females for obvious reasons. Isabella is actually home to five of the twelve species of giant tortoise that survive world wide. The hatchery is breeding two of these species from the south end of the island which are the most endangered. The stats on tortoises surviving a birth in the wild? Nil! Wild goats, cats, rats, cattle, horses, you name it either take out the eggs or hatchlings. A sad state of affairs indeed.

We also learned that the tortoises usually mate during the hot season, January to May. And as we had witnessed on Cristobal, the females usually try to escape the mating but the males capture them and pin them down. The males even make avid noises when they mate. The tortoises we saw on San Cristobal were a hybrid of the saddle back shape but the ones here on Isabella seemed to be way more dome shaped with very little saddle back. The other species at the center was very different again. Known as the Cinco Cerros species, they have a very flat shell compared to the others. There were only 70 of these in existence before they began breeding them. They took 16 into the hatchery and since 1998 they have produced over 200 offspring.

Cinco Cerros Tortoises

The highlight was when one of the workers decided to show us an egg, and then a hatchling just a couple of weeks old. Very cute indeed. Wandering around the premises we came to the conclusion that the hatchery over on Isabella is very productive. There were babies everywhere.

Tortoise Egg, 2 week old baby, What do you call a group of Tortoises?

We left the Galapaguera and made our way through dry scrub to the marshy wetlands paralleling the shoreline. First up was Baltazar Lagoon. There was a wee bit of bird life, we saw a Black Necked Stilt, and some White-Cheeked Pintails but very little else. We walked on and came to Puerta del Jelí Lagoon which used to be home to the Caribbean Flamingoes. Apparently civilization is taking its toll on the flamingo population, however when we looked it appeared to be more a fact that there was so little water. No self respecting flamingo would bother with it. We hiked back along the beach and ended up at a small lagoon right on the edge of town itself, Laguna Salinas. And amazingly, despite civilization which supports our theory of lack of water = lack of flamingoes, we find a dozen or so of the graceful pink waders, their heads busily sweeping back and forth through the water. We sat watching them in the setting sun. It was definitely worth missing out on our nap.

Thursday March 5, 2009

We dragged ourselves out of bed at 6:30am, tossed down a quick breakfast, made ourselves some sandwiches to take with us, and were in the minivan by 7:00am. We were off to visit Volcan Sierra Negra. We were instructed to wear hiking boots, long pants, a hat, sunscreen, bring a jacket, carry at least 2 bottles of water, and bring a camera. We managed to fulfill the last three of these requirements. When we left the boat we didnīt realize weīd be hiking a Volcano. We drove through what began as very dry country but soon became quite verdant landscape. Farms dotted the way and we realized there were more people living on Isla Isabella than we at first realized. When they tell you the population they are really only speaking of the Township of Puerto Villamil. The farmsteads would follow us all the way to almost 3/4 of the way to the summit. At this point the minivan pulled over instructed us that from here on out it would be via horseback.

Well the horseback ride to the ridge would have been fine if theyīd let the horses walk but hell no, there are schedules you know, so every few minutes when the horses decided to slow to a nice sedate walk they egged them on again into this boob-jiggling, backbone-jostling, knee-gripping, white-knuckled trot. Robin swore heīs too old to be riding horses and wonīt be sorry to never ride a horse again. He would have been perfectly happy hiking up the hillside and no doubt would have arrived before the horses.

We arrived at the ridge, dismounted and then hiked out across the old lava flows to a massive crater, measuring 7km across and second only in size to Ngorongoro in Africa. Along the way we witnessed collapsed lava tunnels, some uncollapsed lava tunnels, old flows of brownish lava rock, new flows of black lava rock and a few very deep fissures which one definitely didnīt want to fall into. They warned us that it would be quite cool on top but actually the jackets only remained on for about 10 minutes. It was a beautiful day, and the sun beat down on us mercilessly although the haze was still with us. We havenīt escaped far enough into the Southern Hemisphere yet to leave the Northern Hemisphere smog behind.

Views of Volcan Sierra Negra. We even happened upon a Yellow Warbler

We climbed our way back over the lava and sat under a tree for 20 mintues to eat our packed lunch and then it was back on the horses for another hour of well I donīt need to describe it again except to say the horses knew they were going home and were eager to get there. Well all except Robinīs horse which decided this time it didnīt want to trot and he couldnīt get it to go. It must have stopped on him about 8 times during the ride. He is still muttering incomprehenisble insults about that horse.

We arrived back at the hotel around 2pm and were told 15 mimutes to change, grab your swimming gear and a towel, we are off to see some penguins. Well it took them almost an hour to get themselves organized but finally we headed off down to the dock area, jumped in a panga and headed out onto the blue wobbly thing. Now this is more like it. We cruised over the top of a massive stingray which must have measured at least 8 feet at the wingspan. He was in no hurry whatsoever as we watched him majestically glide on by. We drifted past some sea lions and then we caught sight of the peguins and all else paled in significance. These were another must see on our list and they didnīt disappoint us. Dotted in amongst them were the famous Blue Footed Boobies which is one of the major icons of the Gallapagos along with the white tipped shark.

Sea Lions, Penguins and Blue Footed Boobies

We sat around ooohing and ahhhing over the penguins for about 20 minutes then cruised on over to an offshore islet where we disembarked for a 2km hike along the Tintoreras Trail. Our legs by this stage were definitely protesting and if theyīd had a choice it would have been instant divorce. It was an island of lava rock just above the waterline with mangroves and a few small lagoons trapped by offlying submerged rocky reefs. We were warned to be careful treading on the edges of holes as they were iguana nests and theyīd collapse if you put too much weight on them. We had hardly walked any distance when the first crop of iguanas were sitting there posing for pictures. Some of these guys grow in excess of 1.5 meters and weigh in at 13kg. We wandered further around and then stumbled upon the kindergarten where babies were all piled up on each other. Often times one can find them in clusters several animals deep.

A little further along the path we came upon a shark resting area with at least 40 white tipped sharks mostly taking a nap. These guys were about 1.5 meters long and are considered not dangerous. We walked on and came to the most amazing sight of all. At least 1000 female iguanas all staking out a piece of sandy beach to lay their eggs. There wasnīt a male in sight and we figured the Marine Iguana population was definitely not on the endangered species list. And true to form when you get so many women in one room, there were even arguments and bad tempered cat fights.

Wonder what Iguana tastes like?

You would think that would be the end to the day but no, now they wanted to go snorkelling. It was now 5pm and the sun had definitely decided to close up shop. We figured this was going to be a cold cold ordeal and we werenīt wrong. Robin jumped in and lasted 4 minutes. Michelle lasted about 7. The fish were gorgeous, we saw a couple of varieties we hadnīt seen before, noteably the supermale Mexican Hog Fish which has an interesting bump on its forehead and turns a gorgeous shade of pink. We finally called it quits and headed back to shore and hoofed it back to the hotel. Every bone in our body now wanted to divorce us, not just our legs. A warm shower, followed by a couple of beers and food and we were in a coma by 8pm.

Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos

Friday March 6, 2009

Groan 5am start. Robin grumbles something about finding the Ibuprophen. We pack up our stuff and head on down to the docks to catch the ferry back to Santa Cruz. We didnīt find it any rougher than the last two trips and although we hadnīt had anything more than a mouthful of water we are very acclimated to being on the water. Not so for two unlucky souls who threw up on and off during the 2 hour journey. They kept popping more chewing gum and peppermints after each session which in turned just made their stomach queesy and 10 minutes later they would throw up again. We wanted to yell at them just water, stick to water. There were 18 passengers and the boat was so packed you couldnīt have squeezed one more person on board. Robin looked at Michelle and whispered why are we doing this again? We arrived in Santa Cruz to another stunningly beautiful sunny day, found a cafe and grabbed some breakfast and more importantly, coffee. Next stop was the dive shop where we organized all the dive gear, wet suits, BCDs etc for tomorrowīs trip to Floriana. Then we made our way to our Bed and Breakfast and took a nap for a couple of hours. Michelle opened one eyeball around midday and said should we do something while we are here and Robin says mmmm maybe. We dragged ourselves off the bed, every muscle groaning and hiked over to the Charles Darwin Research Station.

We wandered through the site which houses laboratories, workshops, library, lecture hall, the Van Straalen visitor center, and incubators. Lonesome George lives here, the last surviving tortoise from Pinta Island. He is enclosed with some females taken from Wolf Volcano on Isabella but apparently he has zero interest in breeding with them. We decided to skip the rest of the tortoise breeding area and wandered through the grounds, stopping at the visitor center. It had self explanatory panels discribing geology, climate, natural history and conservation efforts. The latter is a mixed bag as far as we can tell. Efforts to eradicate wild goats, rats, donkeys and pigs are still ongoing. This has been successfully carried out on the smaller islands of Santa Fe, Espanola, Rabida and Pinta. However they are still struggling with the larger islands, especially Isabella. In addition to the animals creating havoc, they share a little bit of information about both locals and visitors upsetting the fragile ecology of the archipelago. The funny part is they focus on tourists but the locals are having a far greater impact on the environment with their farming, their refusal to give up their dogs, pigs, cats, cattle, donkeys and horses. They have a hard battle ahead of them sustaining the national park while allowing viable agricultural development.

Charles Darwin Research Station information panels

Around 3pm we gave up and headed back through town to the docks and caught a water taxi out to Angermeyer Point where there is a restaurant overlooking the water. It was closed but the chef said come in come in take a seat and have some beers, sit relax and read your books. They made us feel quite at home, we had the entire place to ourselves and spent the next three hours sitting there doing just what they recommended.

Angermeyer Point

Isla Floriana and environs, Galapagos

Saturday March 7, 2009

First order of business - find coffee which proved quite difficult at 6:45am in the morning but we werenīt budging without coffee. We finally got underway around 7:15 and it was a surprisingly smooth ride down to Floriana, the 6th largest island of the archipelago. There were only three of us on board and two crew so we had a ton of space all to ourselves. We were entertained by stories of Floreanaīs sordid past from an Austrian Baroness with three lovers, an eccentric doctor who had all his teeth removed before arriving to avoid dental decay, tales of murders, and the time it was an Ecuadorian penal colony. We were a wee bit sorry we had decided not to go ashore after hearing all these yarns. However diving and snorkelling was the order of the day and we were looking forward to getting in the water. We werenīt disappointed. We did two dives and snorkelled around Devilīs Crown while the tanks were being refilled. First dive was at Punta Cormorant where we saw numerous white tipped sharks, a Galapagos Shark, massive parrot fish, all the usual King Angelfish, Butterflyfish, great schools of Razor Surgeonfish and Burrito Grunts, Flag Cabrillas and a ton of other fish too numerous to mention. We caught sight of a Tiger Snake Eel, a couple of Marbled Rays, a Diamond Stingray, Reef Cornetfish and Michelle had a Trumpetfish come up and say gīday. Robin spotted a Stone Scorpionfish.

Devilīs Crown is only a few hundred meters from Punta Cormorant and pretty spaticular in outlook. It is a sunken cinder cone, filled by the sea, the water inside is quite shallow with very steep and deep dropoffs around the outside. All the reef fish you could imagine could be seen here and we saw a huge school of Palometas mixed with Creole Fish on the outside. You swim in the middle of literally hundreds of fish. Currents through this area were fairly strong. We stopped for lunch, took a 20 min nap and then headed over to another islet,Champion, for the second dive. Champion was a wall drift dive and you drop down and let the current carry you along. You begin the dive on the north east corner of the island heading down a steep bolder slope that gives way to a terrace-ledged vertical wall. Black coral covers the eastern and southeastern walls where sea turtles could be found resting. On one of the ledges Robin spied what he thought was a lump of wood, which turned out to be a rayīs tail as thick as his leg and as long as Robin is tall. Then he spied the rest of the ray and nearly had a heart attack. That was one enormous ray. There were numerous undercuts and overhangs where fish hung out he spied both the long nosed hawkfish and the coral hawkfish. There was an enormous colony of sea lions which accompanied you in the water as you swam along doing complicated somersaults all around us. The funniest fish in this area was the Large Banded Blenny which perched itself on rocks and waited till you went past then followed along behind. The dives were cold. You need good wetsuits at least 7mm and preferably a couple of layers. Excellent diving and highly recommended. The snorkelling in the area was just as good and you didnīt need to go scuba diving to enjoy the sea life.

Isla San Cristobal, Galapagos

Sunday March 8, 2009

The ferry back to San Cristobal wasn't until 2pm today so we figured we would have a relaxing lay in, read books, walk down and find coffee and a bite of lunch and do some last minute shopping at the well stocked supermarket. Well of course the best laid plans always go awry. We woke up to find the electricity was off throughout the township. That equated to no breakfast at the Bed and Breakfast, no coffee, we missed the supermarket but we did catch the ferry back to our boat. We had just settled down to have a quiet evening when the crew of Camelot arrived to tell us that another boat had plowed into ours while we were gone, the only damaging being bent rails on the starboard side. They managed to miss both the solar panel and shrouds. We figured it could only be one boat who were anchored way to close to us. Robin went over and spoke to them and they denied having hit us. We will resolve it in the morning. Itīs definitely time to catch up on some zzzzzīs

Bent Rails

Monday March 9, 2009

Michelle got hold of Carla on Esperanza this morning on the early morning net and she confirmed that it was indeed Black Pearl that had hit us several times. So we went back and spoke to Hans and Sabine and pointed out that several boats had seen this and the crew off Milo One had actually called in to the lanchas and they came out and pulled their boat off ours. Then we pointed out the damage that was obvious on their bow sprit. They were happy to own up at that point and began working on getting the insurance to reimburse us. Next we headed into town and fortunately one of the hardware stores here in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno had stainless steel tubing. Not the same thickness that we used originally but Robin figured that if he slid 7/8" inside the 1" tubing it would actually be slightly stronger than we originally had. So $300 later we headed back to Warrior and began work. By sunset Robin had the first rail replaced.

Michelle began work on the very very exceedingly dirty water line and hull. She was cursing herself that she had left it so long because now it was a lot of work.

Tuesday March 10, 2009

Robin managed to repair the second damaged rail today. It was a little more fiddly as the solar panel needed to be removed and the strut for the bimini also connects to this rail. Anyway he had it all completed this afternoon then decided to add an extra piece of pipe inside the rail on the port side to reinforce it at the join. He finally got done just on dark. Michelle managed to finish the port side of the hull. Just the starboard side to go. Ugh°! 7 hours in the water so far. Can we save NEVER LEAVE IT THAT LONG AGAIN!

Wednesday March 11, 2009

We finished the water line today, tidied up the deck, Michelle was net control for the evening net this evening and then we headed ashore for some authentic Ecuadorian Parillada. We were truly surprised when it arrived containing a huge lobster, 30 prawns, octopus, squid, enough fish to feed 4 people, some Galapagos type conch, salad chips etc. It was presented on a platter kept warm by hot coals underneath. We certainly werenīt expecting lobster for dinner.

Thursday March 12, 2009

We had a bit of a slow day today. Michelle worked on the website. Robin did a wee bit of work on one of the spinnaker poles. Mostly we read books as we are currently sitting side on to the incumbent swell and it is causing the boat to rock mercilessly. Not a good environment for working and thus we opted not to since we really didnīt have to. Robin stuffed and cooked a massive chicken for dinner. It was enormous and came complete with neck and feet which we always enjoy. It was nice to have familiar home cooked food for a change. You really can only eat so much beans and rice which is the standard fare throughout Central and South America.

Friday March 13, 2009

We are on the countdown now for getting out of here early next week. Michelle spent the morning getting the computer updated with new versions of Airmail, organizing a better system for position reports while underway, checking on which stations will provide more reliable connections and getting the website updated. We still want to do a dive on Kicker Rock which hopefully we can organize for the weekend and we need to provision, this time for a three week jump. A few more ordinary chores like washing and precooking and we should be set to checkout either Monday or Tuesday. We are actually looking forward to getting underway again.

Sunday March 15, 2009

We finally got to do the dive on Kicker Rock today although the weather was really not all that good. We have had rough seas into the anchorage the last few days and this churned up the water considerably. The other minor detail to share is that it was unbelievably cold. I donīt mean just cool, I mean bone seering teeth chattering cold! Robin had two wetsuits on and had to add an extra four weights just to be able to sink. First stop was Punta Lobos where we snorkelled and although the bottom was like a dessert, there was a rocky wall which proved interesting. There were numerous fish and we got to be up close and personal with a hawkfish who had wedged himself into a rocky crevice. He was quite content to sit there with us swimming within three feet of him. The other notable sight was the marine iguanas feeding on the plankton. We really wished weīd thought of buying an underwater camera as that was a particular amazing sight.

Next stop was Kicker Rock itself, and this turned out to be disappointing. Robin actually didnīt get to see a shark, although Michelle did get to see five whitetipped and one galapaogs shark. She was above looking down and he was below at the 60feet mark and didnīt look up. They were inbetween. Other than the sharks there really wasnīt all that much to see unless you swam within 2 feet of the sheer rock wall that decended down into the depths.

Monday March 16, 2009

We had a visit from the Port Capitain this morning who arrived to advise us weīd used up our 20 days and it was time to move on. We begged for a few more days and as it turns out, because of the damage we received to the boat he granted us an extra four days. Of course two of those weīve already used so we have to be out of here by Wednesday. The only sad part about all this is there is absolutely no wind at the moment to get beyond the Galapagos so we will have to either motor or drift. We have definitely decided we will not motor so guess we are opting for option number two.

There were only 3 boats when we arrived, now thereīs 40 in the anchorage!
No wonder they want us to leave.

Tuesday March 17, 2009

Philip and Leslie on Carina arrived early this morning just in time to farewell us. We ran around like silly chooks all day organizing provisions for the next three weeks at sea. We need green fruits and vegies, as well as ripe ones, six dozen eggs and since Robin needs meat or he thinks his throat is cut, weīve had to work out how to keep enough protein in the tiny freezer and small amount of fridge space to last him the duration. Michelle decided to cook another steak and kidney pie which he loves and which lasts three meals. The we decided on chicken cacciatore, rissoles, curry, jamabalya, sausages, etc etc. He will eat like a king as always!

We spent an hour with Philip and Leslie on their boat and then headed in to say goodbye to Galavant, an aussie boat we met in Panama City. Did some last minute internet to make sure all our weather reports were in order and then hit the hay. Tomorrow will be a big day.

Wednesday March 18, 2009

We got done with the last minute provisioning. Fernando our agent here in the Galapagos organized an entire bunch of green bananas, and some other green fruits and vegies.

Organization plus!

We got the washing done which we wonīt need to do for the next few weeks as clothes are banned while on passage! Well except sarongs. We got everything stowed away, tied down, sorted out the inside of the boat to make sure everything was secure and had a wee rest this afternoon. Then after Michelle got done with the evening net (she was net control this evening) we weighed anchor around 6pm local time, not being able to delay any longer and slowly drifted out of the bay. Just as we predicted there is almost no wind. We are surprised we can move at all but we are slowly ghosting along at 2 knots.

It was so calm not even the flag gave a flutter

Passage to Easter Island

Thursday March 19, 2009

Day 1. Only a couple of thousand miles to go! Well we have had a very very slow start. There is virtually no wind so we are drifting. Since leaving last night we have managed 21nm. If we keep up this pace we will eventually make it out of the Galapagos National Park Area. Position as at 22:00 UTC 01.10S 089.55W. Wind SE 2-3knots, Seas calm.

Thereīs been birdlife today and a mega ton of Jelly Bubbles as we call them but not much else. We did have a small school of fish under our boat for a few miles but they got bored and headed off to get their kicks elsewhere. It was calmer than being in an anchorage today, so Michelle cooked some meals in preparation and then we put the deck chairs out and sat enjoying the vista while becalmed. Deck chairs while sailing!!

Friday March 20, 2009

Day 2. We have had a bit more wind this last 24 hours although there have been no earth shattering records broken. Wind picked up to 5 knots around 5am this morning and itīs stayed that way for most of the day. Seas pretty calm with a long low period swell.

Position at 22:00utc Friday March 20 was 02.17S 090.10W. Wind 4 knots SE. Travelling at 3.5 knots on a course of 180degrees. We have decided to make as much southing as possible to avoid an area of zero wind which occurs between 90W and 95W and 2N and 8N. The gribs are certainly giving us confirmation of this no wind zone. All is well onboard.

Saturday March 21, 2009

Day Three weeeee. Only another 20 to go! We have had some decent winds the last 24 hours although the last hour they have died right down to almost nothing. We are currently having trouble with the autopilot so are having to hand steer most of the time until we pull everything out from under the cockpit and check out whatīs going on. Otherwise we are all happy, healthy and well.

Pos 04.02S 090.06W Speed 3.5 Wind NW 6 knots Course 208 degrees although we might change this very soonish. Grib files still show no wind to the west of us so we are having to work south to around 8 degrees before we begin to make any westward progress.

Sunday March 22, 2009

Been a frustrating 24 hours of no wind. We are tacking back and forth down the 90th parallel trying desperately to reach 6 degrees south and finally find some wind. At least the grib files are showing there is some wind down there. We actually got the spinnaker pole up and working today and managed to keep moving at about 1.5 knots. Last night we took down the sails and drifted to get some relief from slatting sails. Of course that meant we actually lost ground but the peace for a few hours was more than worth it. We have also had messy lumpy seas, a 3 foot swell at 8 seconds from the SSE and wind waves from the NE making for a nice rolly ride. Someone please turn the fans on now?

Using the spinnaker pole as a whisker pole

Wildlife report: We saw a shark today and a Nasca Booby who circled us twice to say hi and kept on going.

Current Position 04.25.6S 089.52.697W Wind speed E 1-3 knots Course of Ground 180 degrees. Speed over ground 1.5 knots. If we can keep heading south tonight we should arrive at 5 degrees south this time tomorrow. It is definitely slow going.

Monday March 23, 2009

Day 5 and weīre still alive! A Blustery Wet Rainy day. Visibility 4nm. Wind from all over the place and fickleness was the only constant. We will be glad to bust through this area of the doldrems.

Yes that would be rain you are looking at on the radar

Only thing of note is we saw was one lonely long line fishing boat last night about 11pm. Thatīs it for the wildlife report. Posiion 05.52S 090.21W COG 180 degrees SOG 4 knots Distance to Easter Island 1676NM.

Sleep deprivation for the win!

Tuesday March 24, 2009

Day numero six! We have had a kind of trying few days. The autopilot decided to throw a tantrum three days back and weīve been hand steering in 4 hour alternating shifts ever since. Let me tell you hand steering for fun when you can press that little button on the auto pilot and walk away whenever you please is a completely different concept to hand steering for 4 solid hours without a break. At the end of each shift we are both fried and then you still have to find time to cook etc.

Last night there was so little wind and the sails began their slat slat slatting routine, so we decided to take down the sails and drift to get some peace. We figured weīd probably lose some hard-won ground but surprisingly, considering we should be under the effects of the Humbolt Current, we drifted south 10nm overnight. That was a nice bonus. We both got some rest and some sleep even though the boat was like a bucking bronco in the messy seas. The seas arenīt big, just disturbed from wind squalls and rain with the major swell being about 4 to 6 feet from the southeast. Around 3am the wind picked up but it was pouring rain and we both looked at each other and said, you know weīre not out to break any records, letīs wait till daylight. Good decision as by daylight the rain had almost dissipated and the wind finally arrived to stay.

The latter was the best part as by this afternoon, when we realized we finally had some consistent winds, we got the wind monitor up and running which is another steering mecanism off the back of the boat and completely power consumption free. Only drawback is it usually needs a good 10knots of wind to stay on course although some people with smaller boats can get them to work in lighter air. Anyway we now have been freed from the tyranny of hand steering. Robin has fallen into a coma. Michelle is half comatosed but hanging in there for a few hours while Robin gets some rest.

Wildlife sightings: One seagull type bird, white with black tipped wings and forked tail. Maybe not a seagull but itīs the best we could come up with. One flying fish, and one exceptionally bedraggled brown booby which looked like he had just escaped being a sharks dinner.

Position as at 4pm this afternoon 07.03S 090.46W SOG 6.5knots Course 212 degrees. Distance to Destination 1616nm.

Wednesday March 25, 2009

Day 7 started off quite benign with 12knots of wind gusting to 15knots on occasion. The wind monitor, our enforced steering slave, is holding up well and doing a mighty fine job. By midnight last night the seas were still bumpy but not too bad. 8am saw the wind abate slightly to 10 knots and the ride was quite comfortable, Warrior settling nicely into the swell and wind chop with not too much discomfort. Then by 1pm the rain squalls returned and weīve been riding them ever since. The wind died for about 30 minutes to return with a vengence of 30 knots, the seas a confused mess. Warrior is getting tossed about a bit and we are hunkered down trying to remind ourselves weīre doing this for fun!

We just realized we are traversing all the way down to the latitude of Brisbane, (Easter Island at 27 degrees S) only to return all the way back to the Cape York (Marquesas at 4 degrees.) Maybe we have lost a few marbles somewhere.

Wildlife sightings: We have had great schools of flying fish fleeing before the bow in great silvery waves. Robinīs wildlife sighting was a huge blue bucket bobbing on by to places unknown. He also declared this morning after his 4th visit to the loo that this sailing business was a very moving experience!

Position as at 2300 zulu or 5pm somwhere in the middle of the Pacific time was 08.54S 098.37W Huge Rain Squall, Wind SSE 25 gusting to 30, seas 8 feet at 6 seconds, with 3 feet wind waves on top. Distance to Destination: Way too far!

Thursday March 26, 2009

Day 8. March is marching right along! We started off late yesterday afternoon with a doozy of a rain squall. For 30minutes before hand there was a period of calm weather then within seconds we hit 30 knots of wind which lasted for over an hour. The resultant seas were crazy until around 5am when finally the seas gained a more consistent trade wind pattern. Guess our little area wasnīt the only squall taking place. The ride all day has been rough and very tiring. You canīt move around the boat carrying a thing as you need both hands just to hold on. In the middle of all this craziness Michelle decides she canīt put off cooking any longer and so wedges herself into the kitchen and makes a banana chutney and a curry. Robin canīt work out how she pulled it off since it took him over an hour this morning just to make coffee and cook two omlettes. Everything you do just takes an eternity of time and lots of forethought so that you donīt get hurt or spill anything.

Wildlife sightings today: Robin woke up to find 8 flying fish who had committed hari kari on the deck of the boat and in the cockpit. He grabbed one and we took up close and personal photos of the poor guy. One fishing trawler sighting today by radar only. That about sums up the last 24 hours.

Note the odd tail with the larger bottom fin

Position as at 23:00 zulu (5:00pm) somewhere in the middle of the bluewobbly thing time zone was 10.39S 094.28W Wind speed 16knots Seas 8 feet at 6 seconds with 3 foot wind waves from the South. COG over ground 220 degrees. Speed over ground 7.5 knots. Robin calculated we did a 170nm day yesterday even with the few hours of downtime of calms between the storms.

Friday March 27, 2009

Day 9. Not much news today. We are still hurtling along at 8knots although part of the last 24hrs was spent at 7 to 7.5 knots. The waves have abated somewhatly but itīs still a bit of a wild ride. Michelle has had her nose stuck in Harry Potter all day so nothing much has been achieved. We did see one more vessel on the radar but it was too far to get a visual on it so no idea what it was.

Position as at 22:00z Friday March 27, was 12.44S 096.35W, COG 216 degrees, SOG 7.5 to 8 knots DTD 1202NM

Warrior climbing the swell

Saturday March 28, 2009

Day 10 welcomed us this morning to rain. At least the boat is getting a much needed rinse. It was beginning to look like a salt castle complete with salt icicles forming along the rails. By mid afternoon the rain had stopped but there is still a lot of heavy convection keeping us company. We also hit the halfway mark this afternoon.

At 05:30 UTC or 11:33pm tonight we have just 17.88nm until we make a course change to 206°, which we follow all the way to Easter Island. We bypassed an area which the pilot charts mentioned had a 2% chance of having a gale in March. We know thatīs a slim figure but even so we decided not to tempt fate. Seas are still extraordinarily lumpy with an eight-foot swell that is supposed to be arriving from the SW although we canīt see it at all, and six foot wind waves marching at us from the east south-east. We presume the swell and wind waves are colliding to make the seas a mess. Position as at 23:00 UTC was 14°07S093°26W. COG 217°. SOG 7 knots.

Sunday March 29, 2009

Day 11. We have both become quite good at getting around inside the boat, throwing a leg out here and a hand grasp there. These are becoming so automatic we figure we will make an awesome sight once we are ashore. We can just imagine walking along, and suddenly there will be a lurching of a leg in one direction and an arm shooting out to grasp at thin air. Wildlife sightings today: a massive school of infant flying fish only 3" long fleeing before the Warriorīs bow and a beautiful white sea eagle. Position at 23:00 UTC 16°55S 100°46W. COG 206° SOG 6.5 knots. DTD 780nm.

We finally took a look at the autopilot late this afternoon and it appeared to be out of transmission oil or something very similiar. So we topped it up, turned it on for a test run and it seems to be working fine. That was certainly a nice solution if it holds. The next option was to replace the brushes, a far more burdemsome task and hopefully to be avoided for now. Anyway Otto our ever faithful slave is now ready and waiting to be used and abused once more. At the moment however our wind steering vane, Monica, has taken over as she requires no electricity to run and she has absolutely no complaints. Only problem is she can be a little flaky at times.

Monica hard at work

Monday March 30, 2009

Day 12. We have begun ordering the weather files for Easter Island. There are no safe anchorages here, only what are deemed roadsteads and often itīs necessary to move the boat everyday according to the prevailing weather conditions. We are hoping for a big fat high pressure system to sit just below Easter Island which will create a nice no wind zone and give us three days of perfect weather. Well we can dream! Actually we are dreaming, but of a nice cold beer and a fine glass or red!

The daylight hours have definitely begun to shift. It is no longer dark at 7pm and there is no sign of daylight now at 6am. We are to remain on our current time however until we leave Easter Island. Thankfully we mainly work on UTC time or weīd not know where we were. The wind died down overnight to about eight knots and remained so throughout the morning, so we had a more sedate run only averaging around 6.5 knots. We even managed to have an hour of lazing in the sun on deck, a rare treat of late as itīs been too rough and too wet to venture on deck. What bliss! Our wildlife sighting today was a flock of tropic birds which followed the boat for hours, circling and flying low then up and around between the sails as if to say look at me, look at me. Occasionally theyīd take a rest on the surface of the waves and then theyīd be back at it again keeping us amused. By 4:30 this afternoon the wind had steadily increased back to 12 knots still from the SE. Our position at 23:00 UTC was 19°01S 102° 21W. COG 206°. DTD 626nm.

Tuesday March 31, 2009

Day 13. The wind increased this morning back to 14knots and we immediately took off at 8 knots and have stayed there almost the entire day. We took a hot shower on deck this afternoon, courtesy of our solar showerbag, which was a little perilous but would have been moreso on the slippery wooden slats in the bow of our tossing boat. Bliss is a warm shower while standing stark naked in a very cool breeze with nine-foot waves and whitecaps as your backdrop!

Thatīs it for March