UPDATE August 3rd, 2016….
We’re still in Tahiti, the new engines go in (we hope) on Thursday and Friday, our steering and boom vang to be fixed then as well. We’re over six weeks behind schedule and are anxious to head west.
Enjoy the combination Ship’s Blog and Photo Gallery of our 18 day passage across the Pacific from the Galapagos Islands to the Marquesian Island of Fatu Hiva.
Our sail was from April 26th – May 14th, 2016….. we’re catching up!
– Nikki strikes the Ecuadorian colors. – We had been waiting for the trade winds to get closer and about 125 miles to our Southwest was about as close as they would get for the next week, so we decided to head off in virtually no wind.
The day we headed out, there were three other boats that left with us. Two had left the day before and 6 would leave at the next weather window in about 4 days.
Goodbye Isabela! Our last look at the Galapagos as we set sail for our 3100 mile crossing of the Pacific. Typically, this trip takes the average boat 23 days. As we’re a lot faster than most, I was hoping for 18 days which would average just around 175-180 miles/day. In 2009, we did it in 16 1/2 day, but had more stable wind as we left a month later in June of that year.
As in 2009, we ended up seeing one ship and one sailboat on the entire crossing. We saw this car carrier on our second day out of the Galapagos. It’s a very lonely route as there are no real commercial shipping routes along our proposed path. There were however at least 25 other sailboats out there with us scattered over 1500 miles. Typically, about 200 boats make this trip each year. We say this vessel on our AIS (automatic identification system), but you can see, despite being in the middle of NOWHERE, you must keep your eyes out on watch!
– Engine Woes again! – Here was our make shift “pressure relief” system for the engines. We took the oil filler cap off and vented the crank case. As such, we stopped leaking oil out the crank shaft seal where it met the transmission. We wouldn’t get a true resolution of all this (by way of NEW ENGINES) until we reached Tahiti. Fortunately, we only had to motor about 30 total hours the entire trip, most of which was in the first day. Just as we would arrive in Fatu Hiva, the port engine began overheating for reasons which to this day, we don’t know.
The morning of the second day we were still motoring, but the wind soon came up. We are in daily contact with other boats via HF radio and email and this gave us a feel for what was ahead of us. We can also download weather files and if in a real pinch, make a satellite telephone call. One boat, “Kristiana”, our Panama Canal transit mate had broken a headstay and we’d receive daily reports about their progress. All turned out well in the end – repairs successful when they reached Tahiti..
– The Wind Arrives! Genoa set to starboard (port tack). We did 198 miles the first full day of wind. – About 22 hours after we left Isabela, we found the trade winds which started to build. It turns out the first day would be the best day for wind the entire trip!
Taking photos of Sunsets and particularly on my sunrise watch – sunrises, became a daily feature.
The trades filled in and the wind went to the South East. We were able to set our genoa to port and really started stretching our legs. An unusual feature of taking photos as sea is that the ocean always looks MUCH CALMER than it is. It’s not rough in this shot, but we were moving along quite nicely. NOTE: CRAP SHOOT on the bow pulpit.
The winds started to lighten as we went along, so we were able to fly our spinnaker. This is the big power sail, but ours is really small compared to what we could fly. As we’re a crew of only two, we don’t want to have so much sail up that we can’t control it. There is a “spinnaker sock” at the top of the sail which we pull down when we want to put it away. The pole is usually stored parallel to the two headsails you see in the photo (rolled up). We never have to remove the inboard end from the mast. It’s carbon fiber and as such, extremely light and easy to handle, yet very strong.
What do we do all day? We are often asked what we do while on long passages. Frankly, we’re pretty busy most of the time with radio communications, meal preparations, navigation, weather, emails, sail handling, maintenance and there’s always a good book!…:-)
Sunrise at Sea…. and how I just MISSED the AMADON LIGHT!
Amadon Light. According to friends Biil Healy and Gary Walls (whose boat is named “Amadon Light”), this is the morning version of the green flash. Now I’ve seen lots of green flashes out here at sunset over the years, but never one in the morning. This photo was taken 1-2 seconds before I DID INDEED see the morning “Green Flash”. It popped up like an inverted “U” and went up about as high as the brightest part of the color you see below th e cloud. As usual, it was there for less than a 1/2 second. Now when I’ve looked on the internet for “Amadon Light”, all I ever find is Gary an Bill’s boat BLOG! However, a “morning green flash” does indeed exist. It may even be called ‘ The Amadon Light”…..-)
“CRAP SHOOT” arrives! This red footed boobie bird seemed tired and we’re quite used to seeing birds far from shore land on the deck for awhile to have a rest. This guy however stayed for three days! He would always return to the same port bow pulpit and was oblivious to the sails and lines wiggling all around him.
If you want to know where he got the name “CRAP SHOOT”, just look at the deck below the bird. He’d go fishing in the morning and I’d go up to try and scrub off the poop. Twice, he almost landed on my head upon his return and gave me the look. That look said, “He pal, go find your own floating island, this one’s mine!”…..:-)
I could never tell if he was just laughing at me or what? On the third day, a squall came in and we were in very low visibility conditions. He went fishing and never returned.
“CRAP SHOOT” would put with the lines from the spinnaker and even our putting it up and down. There he is on his perch. Good Luck CS!
Genneker on the pole! (Also known as a Code Zero or a Screecher). This sail is 50% bigger than our genoa, (the front of the two rolled up), but 50% smaller than our spinnaker. In theory, it’s easy to control and done so by the furling drum at the bottom of the sail. It’s too big to fly from the middle, so we have it “out to weather” on our floating tack line.
Here you can see the “free luff furler line” (Blue line on the right) that rolls up this sail. It must be kept taught to roll it back up and it’ s best to blanket it behind the mainsail. After flying this for 36 straight hours, our steering failed (hydraulic issue) and oh boy what a mess!
Nikki pulling the Genneker out of the starboard hatch. We had no idea, but just as the sun had set the night before, our steering started to slip. After lots of miles, our “check valves” were worn out on the balancing system of the hydraulic steering. They keep the two rudders aligned and turns out aren’t even necessary! Well, the boat just started to round up. We got it stabilized and went to roll up the genneker. The boat rounded up again and all heck broke loose! We had the sail half way in and then the wind caught the back of it and I was afraid it would rip to pieces. We couldn’t roll it anymore so we lowered it and it went in the water. After it was down it was only connected at the bottom to the front of the boat and it was blanketed from the downwind side of the boat. We were able to get in on deck and back into the hatch. Then I went and reset the steering. This would remain an ISSUE all the way to Tahiti. In Tahiti, we’d remove the check valves and just by pass them. They’ve always been an issue and never solved the rudder alignment problem.
Scott fixes the free luff furler unit. The Harken Code Zero furler unit has two “wings” which are very vulnerable to getting bent. In the melee, one got bent. New parts arrived in Tahiti for the fix. A few days later, we were able to set the sail in light wind and roll it back up properly. Here you can see it’s half rolled up and half open like it was when we lowered it in the big building wind as the steering failed. Every 2-6 hours all the rest of the way on all the way the next 1000 miles to Tahiti, I had to re-set the steering rams in the engine rooms. A MAJOR PAIN in the rear.
Squalls a commin’…. We had two bad squall experiences. The first one was the steering issue, but the second one, I just got lazy. Nikki asked me if we should shorten sail for a large but benign looking one astern. I thought it just a bunch of rain! NOT! 40 KNOTS for 10 minutes and it stayed for 30 minutes with winds always at 24 knots or more! We had a full main up and the furling line was damaged. We “ran before” till it calmed down. It was a big expected wind shift and I learned my lesson – yet again. It’s probably one of the 2 or 3 biggest squalls we’ve seen all the way around the world in 9 years.
Sail HO! Just like 2009, we saw one ship and one sailboat. This was Pascal Imbert’s “Watermusic”. Pascal is in the music business and hence the name. This thing was the fastest boat out there. He was doing 15 knots when I took this photo. We spoke on our VHF radio and stayed in touch finally meeting in the Tuamotu Islands at Fakarava. Pascal is a lot of fun! His boat is a rocket ship. 52 foot catamaran, all carbon fiber, 22 meter mast (carbon) and weighs only 6 tons! “Beach House” is 51 feet long, vinyl ester with a 19 meter mast and weighs 17 tons (with all the gear, food, fuel spares, etc.). It’s a very exciting ride. .Think surfboard at sea. We hope to do 200 miles in a day, Pascal NEVER DOES LESS THAN 200 miles in a day and averages around 270. He sailed from Costa Rica (west coast of the America’s) to Fatu Hiva in 18 days, that’s an extra 900 miles he did in the same time it took us from the Galapagos.
Nikki studying the stars! Nikki is fascinated by Celestial Navigation, especially using the stars. She takes a star shot every now and again to keep in practice. She did running fixes with the Sun all across our Indian Ocean passage in 2012.
The ocean’s “sea scape” and moods change constantly.
We made lots of sail changes depending on the strength of the wind and what we anticipated. Though an asymmetric spinnaker, designed to fly from the bowsprit, we can sail much “deeper”, or said another way, with the wind much further behind us with the spinnaker on the pole.
Squall on the horizon. We have to watch out for these as the winds often build or shift significantly, not to mention rain. This one has past from our port to starboard and if there are lots about and at night, we can use our radar to see where they’re headed.
Rainbows are a frequent sight on long ocean passages.
More Rainbows, no Unicorns, just the moods of the ocean. We also watch to see how high these cumulous clouds develop. These aren’t severe and are well spaced. Often, big squalls in a line are the harbinger of a major persistent wind shift.
LAND HO! After 18 days at sea, we spotted Fatu HIva! This island was made famous by Thor Heyerdahl in the book of the same name. Here is the Wikipedia entry on Heyerdahl’ book, “Fatu Hiva – Back to Paradise”
Our last sunset of the voyage. We would actually enter Hanavave Bay (The Bay of VIrgins) this night. I’d been there before and knew it would be safe to enter with no obstructions. As well, our friends on “Blowin’ Bubbles” had arrived the day before and would be up to help guide us in.
Nikki liked to blow the conch shell every evening at Sundown. Our last night of the voyage.
Fatu Hiva! – Sails down and motoring in as the wind died. Just about this time the port engine started overheating. We”d end up removing the thermostat for the next month before we arrived in Tahiti, but it was just one more straw in the major engine caper.
Dawn at Hanavave Bay, the Bay of Virgins. The locals originally called this the Bay of Phalluses for which I’m sure you can see why. The Missionary’s were offended by this and re-named the bay to it’s name today. The previous evening, several of the crusing boats here knew we were coming via email and radio communications and turned on their lights for us. The boat on the left is “Blowin’ Bubbles”, Kyle and Shelley from Canada. We were in daily radio/email communications all the way across. They took 23 days, we took 18. Cats are cool!…:-) I was last here with Cindy in 2009.
Nikki hoists the colors! We would not be checking in here, but wanted to come here first as it can be a difficult sail to get back from the check in island at Hiva Oa.
The spires here are breathtaking and note the family of goats precariously walking on the side of the almost vertical cliff. You could here them bleating from the anchorage.
Ashore for a bit of internet and a day hike. Yes, even this remote corner of the world has wireless!
Fatu Hiva is simply a gorgeous island with dense jungles…..
We did the 4 mile round trip hike up what is an incredibly steep road.
The view back to Hanavave Bay is spectacular. Beach House is the boat, second from the left.
The flora is spectacular. This is a Ginger Lilly.
The cumulous clouds pushed by the trade winds hit the mountain range and get cold. This causes the leeward (downwind) side of the island to often get rain.
Departing Hanavave Bay to check in at Hiva Oa.
Friends on “Ta-b” headed out with us for the day sail to Hiva Oa.
Last time….This was my second trip to this magically beautiful island and I’m sure my last. I had great memories from both times and of course I often thought of my time here with Cindy six years ago. Stand by, our next blog will be about our time in the Marquesas and Tuamotu Islands and our trip into Tahiti, the main island of French Polynesia with all it’s romance and intrigue from Captain Cook to Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian of the Bounty Mutiny. Scott and Nikki
We’re catching up on Ship’s Blog’s and Photo Galleries while we are awaiting the installation of our NEW ENGINES which arrived from Australia yesterday. Hopefully they will clear customs and be installed by the end of next week! We’ll be updating the main blog and photo galleries while we’re here! Enjoy!
Arrival at Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos
We got right to work removing the port engine which had developed an oil leak at the crankshaft and was performing horribly since it’s rebuild in Panama. I had to fashion a block and tackle to haul the engine out of the engine room using the boom as our “crane”.
Using two hard points we’d installed before leaving Los Angeles in 2007, we were able to use the ceiling in the engine room to move the engine into the opening of the hatch where we removed it and put into a water taxi to take ashore to have it inspected and crankcase seal replaced. We hoped for nothing more! – (eventually we would replace both engines due to the faulty rebuild when we arrived in Tahiti).
While in Santa Cruz (The main island of the Galapagos), we did two day tours. This one was to a private tortoise reserve.
The species of tortoise on the island of Santa Cruz are much bigger than the ones on San Cristobal that we had seen the week before.
It’s pretty cool being able to come quite close to the animals and really get an up close view. I’m 6’4″ tall, so you can see this is a pretty good size tortoise. He was estimated to be about 30 years old and they live to be well over a 100 in many cases.
Nik in the thick of it.
Here’s the inside story of what a tortoise shell looks like without the tortoise. This and several other shells are in their museum.
A rather unique perspective into a large tortoise shell.
While we were at the tortoise reserve, we also stopped along the way to walk through a 1 km long lava tube formed by the islands volcano (which is now extinct). Nikki wasn’t to keen on going the entire way when we had to crawl on hands and knees for about 10 feet, so I continued on alone and met her the on the other side.
Welcome to the wild side. Note the size of the spider in the middle of it’s web. The web was about 3 feet or (1 meter) across!
The next day we walked from the boat to the Charles Darwin Center which is the main public viewing area for Santa Cruz Island’s tortoises.
These guys are in a huge pen but have quite a great deal of freedom to move around. This was the home of “Lonesome George” who was believed to be the last of his specie when he died last year. However, rumor has it that a big announcement may be made within the next year and more “George’s” may have been found on the island of Isabella? Stand by, if so, it will make the “eco news”.
Just in case you thought these guys couldn’t be a bit foreboding? We weren’t even close by the way.
Long necks. This tortoise was curious about the people and came in for a look.
Yes indeed it was the Galapagos Tortoise that was the inspiration for the character “ET” in the film of the same name. I’m sure you can easily see the family resemblance.
On yet another day, we went to the island of Baltra. This is an uninhabited bird, sea lion and iguana sanctuary. Interestingly, it takes a 30 minute boat ride to get to and is in sight of the main airport on Santa Cruz Island.
It’s mating season and the male frigate birds pump up to attract a female. Talk about strutting your stuff….:-)
The happy couples. Two mating pairs of frigate birds – Balta Island.
Baltra is also home to the Blue Footed Boobie Bird.
Another happy couple. Kiss Kiss.
The males protect the nests and if you get too close, they are quite aggressive.
We also saw lots of both land and marine iguanas. The land guys are like this one. the marine iguanas are black.
Land Iguana, Baltra Island, The Galapagos Islands.
As we were departing the island, several Galapagos Sharks came to see if we had anything interesting to give them. They’re used to cleaning up after the fisherman. This shark was about 6 feet long.
After we left Baltra, our boat took us to a nice remote beach on the north side of Santa Cruz for lunch. Here Nikki fun watching the “Sally Lightfoot” crabs.
Sally Lightfoot Crabs are this distinctive color and are all over the islands. The name “Sally Lightfoot” comes from their ability to escape expert trappers and author John Steinbeck commented on them while in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.
Upon our return to Puerto Ayora, Nikki spotted this open air fish market where the Pelicans were waiting for scraps from the fishermen cleaning the fish.
Needless to say, Nikki saw fresh Yellow Fin tuna and for 5.00 USD, we bought half the fish. As many of you know, I don’t like fish, but I will eat fresh tuna. Why? It doesn’t smell at all and that’s what I don’t like about fish!
Nelson Mandela – Well, that’s what our main water taxi driver kiddingly called himself to all the boaters and tourists. He was a good guy and spoke English. Note Nikki’s fresh cleaned fish in hand.
Last Night on Santa Cruz. I have tremendously mixed feelings about this island as the anchorage is usually very uncomfortable and the tour boat operators are down right dangerous. I’ll have lots more to say about all of this in the blog, but we hope you got a feel for Santa Cruz Island – the main island of the Galapagos in this gallery.