NAVEGAR É PRECISO
We finally arrived after 23 days. The passage was fast with the help of the current that pushed us along. We dropped anchor at 14:00 hours local time. The weather was overcast and rainy, so we decided to take the afternoon and just relax watching a movie and then going to bed to catch up all the lost sleep. We will pump up the dinghy and check in tomorrow morning. More on our trip with the next posting.
We are still doing fine, just a very long passage. Dinis enjoys the solitude and the tranquility of the passage much more than me. I much prefer coastal cruising and shorter passages. This is our longest passage in our planned circumnavigation. We saw dolphins twice, saw lots of flying fish, some birds and 1 fishing vessel, other than that a pretty quite and uneventful trip.
The weather is good with light winds (8 to 15 knots) most of the time. We had a few more squalls, but all in all great weather. The days are mostly overcast with the temperature from 27 to 31 degrees Celsius. This is much cooler than we had in Galapagos and Central America.
The south sub-tropical current is in our favour with 1 to 2 knots per hour. This adds 20 to 40 nm per day to our distance traveled. Our best 24 hr run is 160 nm.
We are still sailing with our twin head sail configuration. We have our staysail poled out to the windward with the spinnaker pole and the genoa to leeward with the sheet supported by the end of the boom. This works great as we only have to furl the genoa when the winds increase.
The Marquises Islands are French Territory and consist of 12 volcanic islands. 3 of the Islands have facilities for checking in and out. We are heading for Hiva-Oa island. This island is on the southern part of the group of islands. The city name is Atuona.
All the 'Rock and Roll' motion of the boat had a positive impact on our waistlines. Both Dinis and myself are a little bit more toned since we left the Galapagos.
Our position is 08 degrees 20 minutes south and 113 degrees 57 minutes west, we are halfway !! Took us 12 and a half days to reached the halfway point, 1500 nm to go. For a couple of days after we left Galapagos on Sunday April 3, we had to motor to get through the doldrums. There was no wind, the seas calm with the daily squall or sometimes a series of squalls. We did not mind the squalls as with it came rain that washed all the salt off the boat. Only 3 times, and always on my watch in the early morning hours, had the squalls cause us to reduce sails. Monitoring the squalls on the radar you had a pretty good idea if it is going to be a big one or not, the thing that surprised me most was that the squalls hit within seconds and did not give you much time for reducing sails. By the third morning still getting drenched we had the sails reduced in no time. The squalls are more active close to the equator and since we passed latitude 06 degrees south we had no more squalls.
We are sailing on a twin head sail configuration, and this will most probably be for the rest of the way unless the wind changes direction. This sail configuration is great as it is self correcting, not much pressure on the wind wane and not much for us to do. It can be rolly, especially when the sea swell gets a bit bigger.
We have settled into a routine of sleep, eat, read, radio talk, check the weather and the boat etc. We had 3 sightings of commercial ships since we left, not much traffic, although we are 1 of 6 sailboats within 400 nm miles of each other on route to the Marquesas from Galapagos. We have a radio schedule twice daily with the group of boats. This is also reassuring for me to know that we are not entirely alone.
We consumed all the fresh vegetables and fruit except for some potatoes, onions and a watermelon. We still have lots of frozen vegetables and fruit, so we should be OK until close to the end of our passage. Then the tin vegetables and fruit will have to do.
One of Dinis ham radio friends arranged for us to get a phone patch via the ham radio and we spoke to Morgan. This was our highlight of the trip so far. Both Dinis and myself were quite overwhelmed when we first heard Morgan's voice booming loud and clear over the radio. It was so nice to speak to him. We will do this again before he leaves on his next assignment.
We were very sad when we raised anchor on Sunday 3 April for our long passage to the Marquesas. Galapagos was the one place that we both loved. Wildlife, nature and its people live in harmony and this piecefullness engulfs a person. We say farewell with the fondest memories.
We would like to say thank you to our agent Bolivar Pesantes Palma and his family. Bolivar did not only do all our paperwork clearing us into and out of San Cristobal, but also introduce us to his family and friends, organized an island tour, gave us advice on good restaurants and steer us in the correct direction for sightseeing. For anyone interested in contacting Bolivar or his wife Grace, the agency name is Naugala Galapagos Marine Company. Bolivar cell number is 593-094-205-158 and Grace cell number is 593-091-479-295. They can also be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Another person we would like to thanks is Martin Delgado (Dive Master). We did our snorkeling tour with his company and what a great experience is was. His website is www.tranquilodivers.com and he can be reached via email email@example.com
We will surely miss this unique place on earth and its people.
In the Galapagos we met Don Guido Rossio and I believe the only Ham (HC8GR) in the archipelago at the moment. Four American aficionados supplied the materials and the towers were build in Finca Chelito II, El Junco, Don Guido's farm.
The antenna farm consists of four towers of 50 meters high each, installed in a square of 60 meters by 60 meters, orientated in a north east direction.
The radio shack is behind and in the middle of towers #1 and #4.
Tower #1 is a 20 meters band with 4 yagis, which are pointed in different directions. Tower #2 is a 10 meters band with 5 yagis, which are pointed in different directions. Tower #3 is a 15 meters band with 5 yagis, which are pointed in different directions. Tower #4 is a 40,12 and 17 meters bands with 2 yagis, which are pointed in different directions.
At 50 meters height, between towers #4 and #1 and towers #1 and #2 are 2 dipoles for 80 meters bands. Also between towers #2 and #3 and towers #3 and #4 are 2 dipoles for 40 meters bands. From tower #2 to the ground there is a dipole for 160 meters band and one as well from tower #3. There are also 2 listening antennas at 3 meters height from the ground of 250 meters each.
Tower #5 is Don Guido's personal antenna and at 18 meters height he has 1 tribander for 20, 15,and 10 meters bands and 1 VHF Marine.
The building at ground level has an open plan kitchen, eating area, a small office and private accommodation. Next floor up are the sleeping rooms. Each room has its own shower/toilet. On the last floor is the radio room, with an outside patio. This is an all business room with lots of equipment, cables, computer keyboards, 7 Ameritrom Al-1200 amplifiers, workshop with all sorts of tools and 7 radios inside their own private storage containers. On the walls all around have awards plates with the majority of them world records.
Don Guido was very active with sailors crossing from Panama to Galapagos and to the Marquesas. After we met, he invited us to spend some time at his farm and for me to play radio. My working conditions at the farm was a Kenwood TS-930S with 100 watts. To move around the different bands, one simply turned a switch. I called CQ, my call sign in the Galapagos was VA7DIN/HC8. The pile up was almost instantaneous and nothing prepared me for the amount and intensity of the calls that came into the air. I worked all over Europe, USA, Canada, South America and even a Romania Maritime Mobil going around Cape Horn. After 2 hours I threw my towel into the ring defeated. I made 134 contacts, a good ham operator will do that in a half hour, but I pure and simply did not have the experience to control a pile up of that magnitude.
For anyone that wishes to see the station you can contact Guido Rossio on 593-5-2520414 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
"Thank you very much Don Guido for your invitation and allowing me to work from your station, your hospitality and to your wife for the lovely supper she had prepared for us"
'Isla Puna', I believe is a medium size tanker, 1,000,000 gallons of fuel, captained by Alejandro Soto, that services the fuel needs of Galapagos Islands. We had the opportunity to meet him and enjoy his company for half a day. Captain Alejandro is one of those people that one likes at first glance, warm, polite, well receiving and a proud Ecuadorian. Before joining the Merchant Navy, he was Capitan De Mar e Guerra in the Ecuadorian Navy.
He came aboard 'Vida Nova' and showed genuine interest how the boat was equipped and laid out. Afterwards he invited us to tour Motor tanker 'Isla Puna'. He was a great host, showing us the whole ship, from bow to stern, the deployment of the abandon ship, the machine room, the galley, the mess, Captain's quarters and the command bridge.
The first impression was light and cleanness. As a matter of fact the whole ship was very clean and tidy. As one came into the command bridge the feeling was of light, space and organization. The working stations were spacious and very well laid out. In the center of the bridge was the wheel station and to port side were two individual radar stations, that the Captain monitored, and the Captain's chair. From the wheel to starboard were the engine controls, the AIS etc. On the port side aft was a full size chart table with 4 chart drawers underneath. The ship's course was plotted on the charts every time it changes course, time, and speed. Above the chart table was the depth sounder, GPS and various instruments related to navigation. On the starboard aft side was the radio station, with VHF, HF and emergency frequencies monitored.
Captain Alejandro invited us to watch the ship being moved from one crowed side of the bay to a more clear side as the departure was set for 02:00 hours local time. The whole affair was so calm, orders being given and acknowledgements from the two bridge officers, one at the wheel station and the other at the engine controls. At the right time the port anchor was weight, the stern lines released and finally the main anchor came up. We left at 3.5 knots of speed (we hardly felt it) with the Captain constantly monitoring the radar, bearings and depth. After anchoring we were led to the starboard pilot ladder, said our good byes and best wishes and boarded the ships huge inflatable service dinghy.
It was a pity that we could not accept the invitation to sail overnight to Isla Isabella with 'Isla Puna', but time is running out and we must make headway. When we returned to our boat one day later, I was surprised by a very well tied plastic bag with two ship's golf shirts and a personalized, stamped and signed note by Captain Alejandro Soto.
"Thank you Captain Alejandro for your warm welcome, as well your crew. I would like to use the opportunity to apologize to the two bridge officers for not remembering their names. Please forgive an old man's memory. Capitan Alejandro, los desejanos buenna suerto para usted su tripulation numa mission importante e peligroza servindo Galapagos. Sinceramente Dinis e Veronica S/V Vida Nova"