Monday, April 29, 2013

0,5°S 90°W

a rough position 
this is where i will dream myself to on these "grey days" to come - maybe for the rest of my life.
so when you see me dreamy eyed you will know where i galapagos

some sailors are disappointed by what they find - i fell in love with these islands the morning i was waiting for the sun to rise and could only smell the land ahead of us - the moment two sealions came to greet us in the dark - when the first light of the day woke up the blue footed boobies, the nasca boobies and the frigate birds on león dormido (i.e. kicker rock) - when we drifted for 2h in complete calm waters and listened to the songs of the birds and the waves in crashing in the distance, saw the biggest turtles breathing next to maloo and finally anchored in the sea lion pool of san cristobal.

every day these islands offer a new amazement.
the marine iguanas (finally i discovered why the japanese godzilla, coming out from the sea looks like is does!) that lie in the sun to warm up -  the giant tortoises that have seen the years pass in fast motion and the lava streams of the sierra negra changing their world around them - the manta rays flying just under the water's surface....

in no other place have i heard you can play with wild sea lions in the water, when they come to nibble your fins and sniff your diving goggles, or swim with a penguin, snorkel past a couple white tip reef sharks and get up so close to resting turtles under water - all in one day.
when diving i was in a cloud of fish so thick i could not see my dive-buddy just 2m away from me.

I could now write about all the trips we've done and what the anchorages are like....but i reckon its better to stop talking and post more photos!

a blue footed boobie

boobie and sea lion
a second later - boobie and turtle

care takers cuddle sea lion

men vs. sea lion vs. pelican


los túnneles on isabela

one of the famous giant tortoises

the carpenter bee - only likes yellow flowers
(guess which colour most of the flowers have on galapagos)

fresh water lake in the old crater on san cristobal

one of the darwin finches

Sierra Negra / Isabela

Volcan Chico /Isabela

old lava flow (light brown) - new lava flow form 1979 (black)

land iguana

on wednesday the 1st of may we will head off for the longest sail we've ever done - the 3000nm to the marquesas.
we hope to do it in around 21 days (taking into account how fast we've done the last trips and therefore changing our old estimate of 26 days)
we will try to update our position every day lunch time marking our "position at noon" and write short notes on how maloo and us are doing.
for us life out at sea meanwhile feels quite normal - so we have little ideas what to tell you what you would not know already.
however, if you have any questions on how life is out in the big blue, things we haven't written about yet -  or just want to send us a little (and most welcomed) note then write to us! please use  and we will try to answer via blog!
(please note that this email address is text only)

have a great couple of weeks! thanks for following us and bye for now....see you in the marquesas!

on the beagle's route

the geographical position of the galapagos archipelago means one has to cross the inter tropical convergence zone - ITCZ in short. also called the doldrums, this area has a reputation for mostly no winds, or fast changing bouts of wind accompanied by rain or thunder.
together with strong currents that can potentially work against you with 2kn, many sailors have taken more than 10 days to do those 900nm. a slow and very frustrating trip if you can't store enough diesel as with no wind, you get pushed back to where you came from.
our regular tank holds 210l of diesel - enough for approximately 420nm. not only for this trip - also for the remote areas to come we stocked up on jerry-cans before we left, extending our "volvo-penta-range" to 800nm.
we knew before leaving that we definitely needed at least 48h of wind to get us there.

and so we left when the weather looked right....and what a wonderful sail we had for the first 20h!
a current pushing us with 1,5kn - gentle wind of 15kn from 110°....maloo lifted of the ground doing 9kn speed over ground.
the pacific was well and truely "pacified" with a loooooong soft swell, so hardly any boat movement - simply wonderful!

slowly but surely the wind died (as expected) and we went under motor. 1500rpm got us sometimes 6kn sometime 4,5kn...depending on the current that started to turn against us.

night 2 and 3 were absolutely still with lots of phosphorescence, at some point with glowing torpedos heading for us, that when closer turned out to be a dodgy airbrush-painting we saw the glowing outlines of them playing around our boat.
the stars reflected in the mirror like sea surface.
on day 4 the wind came back - but not gentle from the side. right on the nose we had it and we were in for a rather uncomfortable 2,5 days heeling over to almost 30° with maloo slamming into the short and choppy sea the wind had built up.
but even though we had current against us, we were very fast....too fast in fact, so that we decided to "heave to" for a few hours to cook a nice dinner and relax a little.

no matter how rough the conditions were though, 3 red footed boobies decided to rest on maloo for the night...again leaving a mess. that so much pooh can come out of such a sized bird!?

the closer we got to galapagos, the more the wind turned into a favorable direction for us - more on the beam.
but we also did not want to get into san cristobal's port, wreck bay (!) in the dark. so we had to slow down more and more to a point we only had enough main out to give the autopilot some steerage.
with the wind on maloo's sweet spot (between 60° and 120° apparent) it is quite hard to slow her. with 6kn of wind she still did 5,5kn of speed.
but then the morning of our arrival came.
i had the last shift from 4.00am to 8.00am waiting for daylight off the coast. i got up and the smell of land was just overwhelming. just a few moments later a couple of sea lions came to greet us and going past the rocks of "leon dormide" we saw the first frigate birds and blue footed boobies.
we saw manta rays jumping up and doing somersaults in the air, lots of fish and turtles.

when we got into wreck bay i could not believe my eyes with all the sea lions sleeping in the sun, on boats, on rocks ....where ever they could get comfortable.
it took one of them just 30 min after we anchored to figure out, that there is "a new bed in town" - and he stayed with us till the sun went down.
what a welcome!
the next 2 weeks we will explore the islands and find a sea lion who will want to cuddle! ;)

"Ves Pos" stands for "vessel's position"....g'day southern hemisphere!

león dormido (kicker rock)

Las Perlas

I honestly admit, that before we got to the south caribbean and started planing our trip after the panama canal, i had no idea this archipelago existed....just approximately 50 miles off panama city.
and it seems like i am not the only one lacking this knowledge - so the islands are rather quiet....and stunningly beautiful.
with their coconut palms and beaches it was just the right place to gain a bit of stamina before heading off for our 7 nighter to galapagos and get into the groove again after a rather stressed out time in panama.

mark refined his skills in opening coconuts, i refined my skills in drinking coconut see, we simply complete each other ;)

on our first miles on the pacific to the archipelago we saw wales, dolphins, caught a few fish and had a hitch-hicker all the way there.
unfortunately he left quite a mess as he is not familiar with pump-toilets.

our first hitchhiker - a red footed boobie

after a short lunch he swapped sides

hard yakka!

keep practicing.....

.....get that "eye" out....

....and finally - i get a drink!

golden cow nose rays

"Pacifica" - the calm one

Monday, April 1, 2013

the Panama Canal

staying in the shelter bay marina in colon was all about stocking up and servicing several bits and pieces on maloo.
while mark did an engine and generator service, cleaned and polished i went several times to the supermarkets to buy food that would feed us to australia.
as things are said to be rather expensive (if available) in the southern pacific, this seems a good thing to do, but how much f.e. pasta does one need for 7 months- how many bottles of shampoo? - how many cans of peaches? how much uht milk? and most much beer?
well, we are not sure if we answered these questions right, but I'm pretty sure we will have too much of some and not enough of other.

then the big day came! the transit through the canal. we had already done some line handling on lazy bones a week earlier, to get a feeling of whats going on - still, doing it on and with your own boat is truly special!

just a few facts: the panama canal starts with the three Gatun Locks on the atlantic side, then little boats like us get to stay one night in Lake Gatun, a beautiful fresh water lake surrounded by forrest and howler monkeys. it is also said that there is crocodiles in the lake - we haven't seen them though - at that stage, the ships are lifted a total of 26m (which sounds much more impressive when you say 84feet) from atlantic sea level. the next morning you start at 6:00am going about 30nm through the lake and through the Gaillard Cut to the Pedro Miguel Lock and then further onto the two Miraflores Locks - so 3 Locks down again, before finally entering the pacific - and here you might be lowered a total of 31m, as there is a 5m tide on the pacific side.
all in all the transit cost us 1300US: 800US for the canal itself, the rest for extra fenders and lines and the agent and and and. the big container ships pay up to 350,000US -so we got away cheap, hey?

so on the 25th of march at 1.30pm an adviser came to our boat and off we went to the first locks. we rafted up with a little french yacht - being the bigger boat with the stronger engine mark had to do all the maneuvering - not sooo easy if you are in two monohulls and especially challenging if the captain on the french boat does not want to give up his wheel and starts steering too...but mark managed just fine.
and how good he was he got to prove just in the first lock, when the line thrower up on the lock wall missed the stern of the french boat. it took him forever to get his throw line sorted again. with nothing holding the raft, we drifted towards the wall (you will see a little bit of it on the video) and with only a meter left to the wall and to the big container ship in front of us, finally the stern line got put on and the raft was pulled to the middle. only the bow thruster and mark using our prop walk held our maloo off the wall.

after that though, everything went fine! a lovely night in the lake with great people - our line handlers mike, bob and cale - and an early start the next day. sure enough at 6:00 sharp two new advisers came on board to do the rest of the transit with us.

so enjoy our little video....and see if you can spot the "full moon"! thanks mike!

better to be watched on youtube though:

Mark, the adviser and Bob focusing on the job

one last look back!

Panamax = bloody huge

relaxing ON the buoy for the night at lake gatun

just as we came in to panama city -  a surprise visitor: Steve Job's yacht Venus

have to admit she's quite stunning seen live  

the (unexpected) skyline of panama city

one of the few 2-finger sloths that live near our anchorage

and they do move quite fast i have to say

we are currently in panama city - stocking up on a few more things (like new fishing gear and a spear gun) and will head off to the las perlas islands soon. there we will wait for a bit of wind to go to galapagos...or flat enough seas to motor there, as the doldrums go straight through that passage and not a whole lot of wind is to be expected.
nevertheless...galapagos, here we come!