Getting to The Galapagos Islands

Getting to The Galapagos Islands

February 2009

"Adios" to the land of tortillas and tamales. We loved Mexico, but look what happens to boats that don't overcome inertia! It was time to move on.

Dolphin escorting us out from Zihuatanejo

Never a dull moment during the 17-day passage from Zihuatanejo, Mexico, usually with wind and current on the nose trying to slow us down and push us off course. A persistent NE swell kept us rolling from side to side. Constant changes in wind direction and speed required vigilant monitoring of the boat and many sail changes. Soon after leaving Mexico behind, we were pounding into wind and waves hard enough to spring a couple minor leaks. We went through the stormy and unpredictable ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone) not once, but three times, because it shifted north and south overhead as we slowly progressed southeast. We've dubbed the ITCZ the WSTBW, the Wind Sucking Traveling Boat Wash. Nearby squalls often "sucked up" our wind and left us bobbing, and frequent rain kept our decks temporarily free of guano. We had to abandon our attempts to focus on the journey instead of the destination, because the journey became endlessly tedious. The midnight on-watch mantra became, "This suffering is worth it. We're going to swim with penguins and sea iguanas." We were less motivated to see the blue- and red-footed boobie birds, since they constantly strafed us with their guano-rifles and one night scored a direct hit on Erin.

A few times we hove to (a trick of stopping and bobbing in the beeeze) so we could have more comfortable motion for a couple hours to shower and cook a meal without being strapped into the galley. Lunches like tortellini with red peppers, portabello mushrooms, and gorgonzola sauce went a long way in keeping the crew happy.

Schools of flying fish take off at our bow, tilting their "wings" to soar away from the boat. They can actually negotiate waves and stay airborne for 5-10 seconds at a time, flying over the water for hundreds of feet. We managed not to catch one single fish during the entire passage, unless you count squid and flying fish that landed on deck at night. On quiet nights, dolphins would pay us a visit, leaving phosphorescent trails in the dark water as they wove in and out of our bow wave in pairs. One day what we assumed were large dolphins turned out to be Melon-headed Whales. They swam with the boat a number of times through the night, their squeaks and clicks reverberating through the hull.
Three days out from Mexico, melon-headed whales surround the boat at night

GPS showing us at the equator, Latitude 0 degrees 0 minutes

Few things are more lonely than turning on the HF radio in the middle of the night and hearing only Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, and Russian, plus one strident American voice proclaiming that, "Now is the time to find your Maker, because our country is currently occupied. You'll soon be in an internment camp when you thought you were just going in to pay a bill. You won't make it without the Lord. Your choices are suicide or Jesus."

Sigh...we sure miss Sirius radio.

"King Neptune" assists Erin the Polliwog in her rites of passage to become a Shellback (anyone who crosses the Equator in a sailing vessel), including giving the real Neptune his obligatory shot of rum at the Equator. Then the crew had theirs.

"Buenos dias" to the fabled Galapagos Islands
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