Month: May 2009


May 31, 2009

TIME: 2009/05/31 15:58
LATITUDE: 00-54.28S
LONGITUDE: 089-40.91W
SPEED: 7.4
BARO: 1013.5
COMMENT: Beach House – EN ROUTE – Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

Getting Ready for the Passage…..

May 31, 2009

Dear F&F,
May 25-30, 2009

For me this week was all about “hunting & gathering”. Even though we do not expect to be at sea even a full 3 weeks, I am provisioning as if my next shopping opportunity is in 2 months. Wednesday is the day the supply ship arrives at San Cristobal from Guayaquil, mainland Ecuador. It takes them a full day to unload and deliver orders to each “tienda” (small shop). Consequently I went to 4-5 markets over 3 days to gather everything I wanted. The most elusive, but finally obtained items were bacon, plain yogurt & flour. White flour in packages all had baking powder already mixed in. I was able to get non-rising white flour from an unlikely shop with a big burlap sack on the floor. I plead with the baker to sell me a kilo of whole wheat flour. Mike bakes bread, so I wanted to make sure we had plenty of the key ingredient.

Scott’s focus was making sure “Beach House” is ready for this long offshore passage. Sailing from the Galapagos to the Marquesas is the longest single passage we are likely to do without benefit of an “intermediate stop over”, ever. He inspected every fitting, all the lifelines, every halyard for wear & chafe. He cleaned the hulls & propellers. Changed the zincs on the saildrives, filled the fuel tanks and extra jerry cans.

May 28, Thursday: Mike was nearly the last person through customs. The poor guy was worn out after two full days of travel. The LA to Miami flight was fine, but he had a 3 hour delay departing from Miami, which made for a short night in a Guayaquil hotel. He described multiple forms to fill out & questioned many times about the swine flu scare. We saw people wearing white lab coats & makes walking around the San Cristobal airport. Seemed ridiculous, but that’s the way it was. At least he was able to take the flight directly into San Cristobal & not have to take a ferry from Baltra airport & Santa Cruz, where we originally booked him. He packed light for himself and brought things from L.A. that we need for the boat.

We could have left Saturday, May 30. But we decided to wait until Sky Dancer returned to see if Scott could retrieve his prescription sunglasses & underwater camera part. This extra day gave us a more relaxed feeling. Scott & Mike did the two electrical jobs on our checklist with success. Today we took Mike inland to see the tortoises, iguanas & coffee farm. We enjoyed this taxi driver more than the first guy Scott & I used to tour. Since he traveled all this way, we wanted to show Mike a bit of the Galapagos. We have all been fairly relaxed & are psyched to leave. We are eager to on to our next “neighborhood”.

Last night was a political fiesta in town which may seem like an oxymoron, but that was how it was explained to us. We had eaten at a restaurant & were told it started at 8:00 pm. That is late for us to stay out, so we returned to “Beach House”. Even out here at the anchorage the intermittent speeches & music were clearly heard until 2:00 a.m. We got our Zarpe (exit papers) from Bolivar (our agent) today, so we are good to go.

Mike is an easy going, generally happy person. Very pleasant to have around. Thank you to his wife Beth for letting him crew with us! It will be interesting to see how the dynamic is for the 3 of us 24/7 over the next 2 plus weeks. He has never been seasick in his life. I made it perfectly clear how awful it can be for me. Since I did so well on the dive boat preventing seasickness with stugeron taken on a schedule, I intend to start with that. I may put on a patch after a week if I feel the conditions warrant it, since I don’t like the idea of taking any medication for a long time. I am no longer eager to put on my trusty scopolamine patch since I developed a skin allergy to it & can’t tolerate wearing it more than a day which is kind of a waste.

Having said all that, I am truly, truly hoping & praying for smooth sailing. A fun, fast, easy trip with plenty of rest. I know I have plenty of food onboard but the duty of planning & preparing every meal does weigh on me a bit. I did not write out my menu plan for even the first few days. I haven’t had time or been in the mood. I did cook up a batch of chicken mole which is in the freezer in individual portion vacuum bags. As well as my first trial at pre-cooked & frozen scrambled eggs (with yellow bell pepper & onion, since at that time I could not find bacon). It would be nice if both our men could lose a few pounds on this crossing, but food is definitely a comfort item when at sea & there is not much opportunity for exercise.

I am reading a book bought here about a German family that were early settlers in the Galapagos. After finishing that, I will launch into Thor Heyerdall’s “Fatu Hiva” which is about the famous authors experience in that Marquesas Island just before WW2. We have about 8 books on Costa Rica & the Galapagos that are now old news & unwanted weight that we will contribute to the dive boats library.

This is a new experience for us to do such long of a passage & to have a third person at sea. It has been 13 years since I last crossed the Pacific & due to my inexperience & lack of knowledge, considered myself a passenger. Yet I did keep the 2:00-6:00 a.m. watch for 2 weeks straight. We are going to start out trying a rotating watch schedule, but may revert to a fixed one if I am not able to get into a sleep routine. I am the most challenged sleeper & likely to be the crankiest crew member if not rested enough. I can’t imagine a better choice of crew than Mike. I have complete confidence in his skills as a sailor, fixer of all things and someone who will “go with the flow”. He & Scott are kindred spirits, excited about the same boat & latest electronic stuff. With 2 happy guys onboard I should be in good shape. Some pre-departure anticipation feelings… I’m sure I will relax a bit more once we actually get going.

Scott & Cindy

Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos & Return “Home”…..

May 25, 2009

Dear F&F,
May 23-24, 2009

We had the opportunity to do 2 dives this morning at Gordon’s Rock off the east side of Santa Cruz Island. Most of us went on the 1st dive. And NONE of us elected to do it again. Why? Because there was no visibility, nothing to see & arduous conditions. It was very strong current & surge, so hand over hand combat crawl along the rocky reef. Scott & I are so different in our athletic abilities. He can kick with his barn door fins against the 2 knot current while I am struggling, gripping, grasping, gasping, sucking down my air. Scott keeps looking over his shoulder wondering what the heck is taking me so long. I am finally able to signal him that it is time to ascend because I am low on air. He looks surprised since he has plenty. He who gasps ups mountains whilst I skip up them! In the water with strenuous conditions we are the opposite. C’est la vie. I am finished. I am finished diving like a Navy Seal cadet. I am finished with the group travel. I am finished with twin beds. I am finished even of eating their food. Sigh. We came, we saw, we dove, we are disappointed.
The entire trip should have been at Wolf & Darwin dive sites. The rest was “filler”. Not worth the price of admission. The one opportunity we had to see the whale shark was spectacular, but when we learned that in August & September you can see 8-10 whale sharks on many dives it was hard to be content.

“Sky Dancer” motored and anchored in the main port of Santa Cruz. This is the place exactly 2 weeks ago tonight that Scott & I pulled in at 9:00 pm, searching for refuge & sleep after 2 1/2 days at sea & found no protection from the open sea & waves. A crowded, ugly anchorage.

We took their dinghy to shore before the scheduled group tour of the Charles Darwin Center. I did a flurry of shopping at the grocery store & returned to the boat with four large boxes of provisions for “Beach House”. Not the kind of souvenir shopping the rest of the crowd would be doing. I must have enough food for the 3 of us for at least a month. I had heard the grocery shopping was better here than at San Cristobal so wanted to take advantage.

We didn’t see much new or different at the Charles Darwin Center from what we’d already seen at the tortoise reserve on San Cristobal. Scott took some photos of the other divers posing with the giant tortoises. The town was ok, the usual tourist shops & some overpriced art shops. We got a pizza & still ate dinner later on “Sky Dancer”. We were eager to wake up at San Cristobal & move home.

Scott got a ride from the panga with all our dive gear & had to face the results of a week of sea lions onboard. It took him a while to hose off all the sealion poop. I meanwhile packed our clothes & got help transferring my four boxes of food to the panga & also got a ride over. In my haste I forgot Scott’s sunglasses & part of his underwater camera equipment, but we were able to retrieve those later.

Happily the solar panels and 1 hour per day auto run of the generator kept up our batteries so the fridge & freezer stayed cold. It was a bit stuffy from being closed up for a week, but so nice to be home. We quickly switched gears. Mike arrives in 4 days and we plan to set sail soon after. Lots to do to get ready for the long offshore passage.

Scott & Cindy