[061012; 1606 UTC,
[Passage to Islas Galápagos, Ecuador
S 00 degrees 55.3 / W 088 degrees 10.6’]
Saturday October 7, 2006: With the anxiety one normally feels when beginning a new passage and a feeling of sadness for leaving some friends behind who we may never meet up with again, we departed Bahía de Caráquez on mainland Ecuador, crossed the convoluted Rio Chone bar on a full moon spring tide, and turned our bow almost due west, bound for Darwin's enchanted islands - The Galápagos. It seems unbelievable really; years of reading suggested to us that cruising boats were discouraged from visiting and that obtaining a permit was almost impossible. Whether this was true in the past we are uncertain, but today this isn't so. We have a permit in hand allowing us a whole month of visiting, though Carina will be confined to inhabited anchorages and we will be required to visit park areas with tour groups. Still there's much exploring and hiking we can do on our own - even swimming with sea lions (who reportedly like to play catch) and horseback riding to the active crater on Sierra Negra on Isla Isabela!
Our 600 mile passage has had us sailing to weather (the very descriptive sailing term is "beating"); very bouncy and is a bit difficult on the crew since Carina heals 15-20% to starboard as we rise and plunge with big ocean swells. Hanging on at all times and never setting down a bowl of soup or cup of tea is a given. We'll leave to your imagination the joys of using the head (toilet) in such conditions. Jake has his sea legs and it's funny to watch him navigate across the cabin sole as he leans to the weather side of the boat.
Weatherfaxes each day suggested we'd begin to get winds more abeam or abaft the beam but they have never materialized. Still, we've been sailing under mostly benign conditions (with the occasional brief misty squall) for four days and are beginning the process of planning our landfall to try to coincide with daylight. Carina's recently tuned standing rigging has resulted in significant improvement in her performance under sail and it's been a great passage so far.
There has been surprisingly little wildlife out here; a few boobies, a few sea birds (terns?), storm petrels, a pod of dolphins and tan-green blooms of tiny shrimp. Leslie thought she saw an albatross visiting one night but Philip isn't convinced. Except for the very first day of passage we have seen no other boats other than a companion boat, Isla Encanto. She is a similarly sized boat and one with which we are easily keeping pace. When the weather is clear the sea is an intense indigo blue and the stars - when we can see them through the Humboldt current-induced cloud cover - fill the sky in constellations foreign to our northern hemisphere memories. The Milky Way is a braided celestial river coursing across the sky. When storm cells threaten, the sea is a flinty, charcoal gray color with gun-metal skies spitting rain.
We wish you all good health and safe passages.
Sus amigos del velero Carina,
Leslie and Philip with Jake the salty cat
on passage to the Galápagos Islands
October 12, 2006