Friday 27 March 2015

A New Record

We have sailed 157 Nautical Miles in the last 24 hrs.  A new record for Maggie.  At 11 AM yesterday when the captain did the daily calculation as to how far we had gone it was determined we had gone 157 nautical miles.  It had been a great 24 hours of sailing with the sails wing and wing. At one point we were zipping along at 8.3 knots and for a good part of the time we were going at more than 7 knots speed over ground.  The current I am sure helped us along as it has most of this passage.  On that day there was great excitement as the captain had just fixed the AIS and we got a call from Libby indicating we had just shown up on their AIS.  As they got closer we could see their boat and we were able to follow their mast light into the night as we slowly each went our own direction.
Today the winds have changed to be more from the east so we are going more south than we really want. The winds started out light so the captain ordered the spinnaker to be put up.  We are currently clipping along at 6 knots with variable winds from 8 to 13 knots.
Today is a very special day as we celebrate our second birthday on this passage.  We have a cake mix that we will cook and the icing is already made.
We are hoping for more constant winds in the days to come so we can break our new record of 157 nautical miles.  Wish us luck.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Guess when We will Arrive in Marquesas!

The crew on S/S Maggie have have made our predictions on when we expect to arrive in Hiva Oa, Marquesas. We have had variable winds so far. Here is our day to day progress so far:
day 1- 122 NM, day 2- 97, day 3- 108, day 4- 95, day 5- 130, day 6- 131, day 7- 137, day 8- 147, day 9- 143, day 10- 105, day 11- 87.
As of Saturday March 21 we have travelled 1159 NM (nautical miles) of the 3089 distance to Hiva Oa.
Send your guesses to Barb and she will keep track and let me know everyone's predictions.
Sunday Mar 22 during the day we had 12-14 kt winds with spinnaker up going 6-7.7 kts. Took spinnaker down at night going 5.8- 6.8 kts with 11-17 kn winds.
Get your guesses in ,date and time of arrival and lets see who is the winner!

Excitement on the High seas

Excitement on the High seas We are currently coasting along at 3.6 knots.  Our speed varies from 2.7 knots to 4.5 knots with 3.3 to 6.8 knots of wind. Throughout the day the winds started off reasonable with Maggie able to go 6 to 6.5 knots.  As evening approached the winds have died and we ghost along.
What about the excitement you might ask. We are about 2 nautical miles (NM) away from sailing vessel Mila.  Mila has been in contact with us and it is a Norwegian vessel.  The lady on board is 25 and speaks very good English. They plan to sail all the way to Australia where they plan on selling Mila. They have travelled across the Atlantic where they caught lots of fish.  They have been very disappointed with the fishing in the Pacific so far.  They caught a Marlin the afternoon but unfortunately the Marlin won and broke their line. We also have Lovesail (a member of the BPO fleet ) which is about 4 NM away.  I have been planning during this long passage to introduce you to the different sailing vessels on the Blue Planet Odyssey(BPO) so here is the perfect chance to introduce you to Lovesail. Lovesail is a catamaran (means it has 2 hulls) and I think she is 42 feet long. The couple on board I think are retired and live on the English Island of Jersey.  They have their daughter on board who is a biology professor in New Zealand I believe who did work in the Galapagos some time back at the Darwin Institute.  She was going to give a talk in Galapagos but I think those plans did not materialize. Her partner is on board.  Lovesail has sailed across the Atlantic as well. I believe Lovesail is part of the Pacific Odyssey. I'm not sure if they are going as far as the Marqueses with us or to Tahiti.

I believe there has been a contest set up to have you guess when we will arrive in the Marqueses.  Be sure to get your guesses in!!  We on board have made our predictions as well.  Let's see who will have the best guess.

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Trade winds at last...Will they last I want to start our by wishing you all a Happy St. Patrick's day. By the time this gets posted on the blog it will be a belated Happy St. Paddy's day.

Last night we had some great winds and we were sailing along between 7 and 8 knots for a good length of time.  We have a 1 to 1.5 knot current helping us along so that really helps with the SOG (Speed Over Ground)Winds at some point got up to 20 knots perhaps even higher.  I had the 3:30 AM to 7:30 AM shift and once the sun came up I took the reef out of the main sail to increase our speed as the wind was decreasing.  Later in the morning the winds dropped to below 3 knots and we were drifting in the current with little or no help from the sails.  We motored for 1/7 hours which gave the Admiral time to run the fridge without taking too much juice from the batteries.  I've come to learn that power management on a boat is a constant worry for the captain of the boat.  At least on this boat...  I think it applies to most boats.  We got back into winds and up went the sails and we have been sailing ever since.  We got the usual pickup of wind speed at 7:15 PM local time.  We had reefed the main for the night as there were some black clouds on the horizon.  For you non sailors out there...the saying is "Reef early and Reef often"  What you are asking is reef... Reef is when you reduced the amount of sail.  On most boats you have a pair of lines that go through grommets in the main sail and you lower the sail and crank in the reef lines to keep the sail tight.  Most main sails have 2 reef points which allow you to reduce the amount of sail some and then a bunch more. Lots of boats now have 3 reefing points on the main sail.  On Maggie we have a main sail that rolls into the boom.(In boom furling)  This way we have an infinite number of reef points depending on how much sail you roll into the boom.  Lots of boats have the main sail roll (furl) into the mast which also gives you infinite reef points.  A great system unless for some reason it doesn't work properly or at all.  The more complex a system the more points for failure.  You can also reef the head sail as well.  On Maggie like most boats these days the head sail furls around the wire (shroud) at the front of the boat.  So it rolls up. So once agin you have an infinite number of reef points on the head sail.  On Maggie we have a Genoa and a stay sail which both roll up or furl.

We normally reef the main so the admiral is more comfortable during her shift. 

OK OK you are saying get back to your story. So the winds picked up like normal and we were flying along at 7.6 knots.  Earlier in the day we were up to 8.8 knots of speed.  I was looking for 9.  As I mentioned earlier we have p to 1.5 knots of current so 9 knots should be easy to accomplish.

Just looked up.. we are at 19.7  knots of wind  and we hit 7.6 knots of speed. 

Enough for today except to say.  Check out the tracker by clicking to the right.  also check out Carol's blog.  I'm sure it will give you a completely different perspective to the trip.

Spinnaker is flying

We put up the spinnaker this morning and have it flying in 8 to 11 knots of wind.  We are making good speed - 5 to 6 knots.  Over night we had good winds and had a new record for this trip going 131 nautical miles toward our destination in 24 hours.  Perhaps with the spinnaker up today and good winds overnight we can set another record. 

The day started in cloud and turned sunny with blue skies.  Around 11 the clouds returned with rain or drizzle but no squalls to contend with yet.

On the fishing front we had a big one on the line and it took the hook and most of the line so fishing is done for now unless we decide to go with a very low test line. Very disappointing.

We await the arrival of the 12 to 15 knot trade winds, which will hopefully occur in a few days.

Monday 16 March 2015

Trade Winds at last

Last night about 6 PM we hit the trade winds. The crew was all smiles, especially Captain Bligh (self named I'm afraid) who was beaming from ear to ear to be sailing along at 6 to 7 knots with 12 to 16 knots of wind.  Just prior to hitting the trade winds we had a squall with winds up to 20 or more knots. 

We spent the day under a black cloud that seemed to stay over us for a good part of the day, complete with rani and drizzle. It was a very wet day. 

Over the last few days we did a fair amount of motoring as the captain wanted to first get south of 4 degrees south to perhaps find the good winds.  It then became a desire to get south of 5 degrees and finally to get south of 6.  I was able to convince the admiral that if we had the winds we should use them so the sailing began in earnest about 10 or 11 yesterday.  We had a few moments where we were slowed right down due to very light winds but they fortunately came right back and we were able to head toward 6 degrees south.

The fishing has been dismal.  The only thing I caught was the Watt and Sea (our water generator).  The line was all wound around the propeller on the Watt and Sea when I went to bring the fishing line in for the night.  A word from one who knows.  If you go dead in the water bring in your fishing line if you have a water generator in the water. If you go in a circle it is sure to get caught.

We are currently sailing in 9 to 12 knot winds traveling at 5 to 6 knots speed over ground. The crew is in good spirits and all is well.

Thursday 12 March 2015

March 12

Happy Birthday Bob/Dad!
Last night was wonderful.  We were sailing along at 5 to 6 knots in 8 to 10 knots of wind.  I caught a 5 pound fish just about sunset.  It is cleaned and will be for supper tonight.  We bought a huge bunch of hanging banana and a few got squashed. I mushed them up and made banana loaf and it turned out great.

The wind decreased this morning so we are motoring in search of wind.  Check our position - click on the link to the right.  We are headed to 5 degrees south where there will hopefully be Southeast trade winds.

Wednesday 11 March 2015

On to Marqueses

The last day and a half in Galapagos were spent provisioning.  We got our water tanks filled up and found lots of fruits, vegetables and meat at the market in town.  On Tuesday morning we all met with the officials and had our passports stamped, one boat at a time.

We had a mass start at noon.  All boats are now underway.  Check out the position report to the right and you can see where we are all located.

Soon after we started we got the spinnaker up and sailed along in 7 to 10 knot winds at 4 to 6 knots. It seemed surreal to me.  I had goose bumps and I had to pinch myself to make sure it was real.  How many people get to do this passage twice in a life time?  Overnight the winds almost died and the captain decided it was time to motor.  With less than 5 knots of winds most of the time it is past noon on Wednesday and we are still motor sailing.

Monday 9 March 2015

Excursions while on Santa Cruz

On our 2nd day on Santa Cruz Island we went on a tour of the highlands. The tour was arranged by Chris who is captain of S/V OM.

Our 1st stop was a coffee plantation were they also grew sugar cane & bananas. At 9:30 AM we were all tasting 55 proof rum made from the sugar cane.

                                                                  Sampling Rum

Eating sugar cane

 Later we had the freshly created sugar cane juice spiked with rum with lemon added.  The bananas were very good as well. We then went to a high view point where we had a great view of most of the island and the surrounding islands. Our next stop was a half mile long lava tunnel which was fascinating. Following a lunch of homemade chicken rice soup, fish rice and a salad followed by desert we were able to see more giant tortoises two of which were mating. Later that evening all the crews got together to celebrate Jess's birthday.
The next day we were on the dock at 5:45 for our trip to Isabella Island.  We travelled 2 hours by boat to get to the island. We then got on our bus for the day
                                                              Our Isabela Tour Bus

Our first stop was the Wall of Tears- a huge stone wall made by prisoners of the Isabela Penal Colony
between 1946-1959. It is about 1/4 mile long.
                                                                  Wall of  Tears- Isabela island

And then we climbed to a great view point where we could see the recent volcanic mountains of Isabella Island. We then drove to a second viewpoint where we could see the harbour and a small mangrove swamp.
                                                                  Majagua forest
                                         Largest Blue Ft.Boobie colony in Galapagos- Isabela Is.
                                                             Isabela Flamingos

Later we saw a fresh water stream and 4 different kinds of trees. We drove into town and in an old quarry we witnessed pink flamingos combing the water for shrimp. This was followed by a fabulous meal of bone soup, fish in coconut sauce, rice, vegetables and desert of fresh cut up watermelon, cantaloupe and pineapple.  Off to see some more pink flamingos followed by the highlight of the day. We were snorkelling in water that was 6 to 8 inches deep.  There was a real current rushing over this shallow zone.  If you were patient a school of silver fish about 2 inches long would swim by your mask. Then a penguin would zip into view and flit this way and that and grab a few of the fish.  The penguin would then zip back and forth this way and that to catch. More of these tender morsels. You had to be patient and the fish would return followed by the penguins zipping in and out of you field of view.  Some of the group got videos of the penguins so I will post a link once they are posted to utube. 
We then had to endure a bumpy ride back to Santa Cruz in the motor boat.

I had an opportunity to paddle board in the Puerto Ayora anchorage with James from Blue Wind.

 A great way to end a day!

Sunday 8 March 2015

Last day on San Cristobal Island

On our last day before departing San Cristobal Island we visited  La Loberia beach. On route to the beach we got a fabulous loaf of bread at a local bakery. We also saw the local aggregate pit were they dug & ground up the volcanic rock for crushed rock for roads & blacktop. Once we got to the beach we saw sea lions with their young and lots of giant sea iguanas.
                                                                    Marine Iguana
                                                                      Lava Lizard

                                                                        Sea crab

We walked past the beach and saw lots of iquanas & crabs along the rocks w here the surf was pounding. We climbed up and were looking over a cliff where we saw turtles swimming in the bay and birds nesting in the cliffs and soaring on the updrafts. We connected with people looking for the elusive land iguana and others hoping to snorkel with the turtles at the bottom of the cliff but realizing there was no way to get down there to do that. There were others like ourselves who we're just mesmerized by the beauty and remoteness of it all.  As always when I'm sitting on shore I was fascinated with the breaking waves and the crashing surf.  After a refreshing swim in the waves at the beach and some lunch we headed back to town watching the jets take off overhead. 

Santa Cruz Island

Our trip to Santa Cruz Island was filled with swarms of birds churning up the water as they dived for fish, sea turtles swimming by and sea lions floating on their backs soaking up the sun. There was very little wind so we motored the whole way. As I watch a guy on a neighbouring boat wave a mop at the frigate birds all over his working boat I realize these islands truly belong to the birds and the wildlife here.
Upon arrival here we explored the town which now has 19,000 people and is very much geared for tourists and all the activities and trips they want to make. 
There are little shops everywhere and every 3rd place is advertising this trip or that trip to scuba dive snorkel or visit another island. Restaurants and coffee shops abound and it appears there are lots of grocery store to help us provision for the 3 to 4 week journey ahead to the Marqueses Islands. 
Yesterday 12 of us took a tour to the highlands where we visited a coffee producing farm where they also made rum from sugar cane and had bananas. We moved along to one of the highest points on the island where there was a lookout so we had a birds eye view of many of the surrounding islands and the coastline of Santa Cruz. We then visited a 300 foot deep volcanic crater. Then on to walk through a 800 meter long lava tunnel that was fortunately lit so we could see all the detail of the lava as we wound our way through the tunnel having to almost squat to get through in places. We were then treated to a 5 course meal with shrimp appetizers, chicken rice soup, delicious fish with 2 wonderful sauces, 2 different salads and dessert. We then visited the giant tortoises and caught one large male groaning as he was mating.

                                                           Overlook view of Santa Cruz Island

                                                             Entrance to lava tunnel

                                                                 Galapagos Land lizard

                                                                Giant tortoises mating

We then headed back to town where I tried to catch up on my blogs. 
Last night was another birthday party complete with several rounds of Happy Birthday to You and chocolate cake with a candle on top. Another great opportunity to get to know our fellow Blue Planet Odyssey participants. We enjoyed the full moon back on the boat as we discussed our day and the journey ahead. 

School kids and schools on Santa Cruz

We all met on the dock at 9 AM and walked to the National Park office next to the Darwin Centre. We had a great Skype call with 2 classes of kids in Pennsylvania. There 7 or 8 people from different boats there and we all introduced ourselves to the kids. Then our rally control person Kathy Parson (who wrote the book "Spanish for Cruisers" ) introduced Eduardo Escador from the national park staff who did a brief overview of the Galápagos National park and explained how climate change was affecting the floral and fauna of the park. The kids all clapped when he was done and they were asked if they had any questions for Eduardo.  All their questions were for the sailors.  We all took turns answering their questions which it appeared many had prepared in advance. My hope is the session will be posted on utube so that others can hear it.  That may be a bit of a dream as it would likely require signatures from all the parents to allow it to happen.
We then went to the Darwin centre where we saw 3 different kinds of land tortoises and some land eguanna. 

                                                              outdoor classroom
Later in the day we went and visited an outdoor school in the highlands. The buildings are all made of concrete and have no windows. It is for kindergarten to grade 12. The school is attempting to have the children have 40% of their classroom time to be in English. They have teachers from all over including Canada. The English speaking lady who showed us around told us her son who was in 4th grade got much better at English when he had a teacher who could not speak Spanish and was forced to communicate in English.  Eduardo arranged this tour for us. And his oldest daughter was there.  Following the visit Kathy presented the ladies with a BPO plaque and
 Here is Tim from S/V No Regrets after presented them with a water testing kit.  
We then went to a high school in town where Eduardo's eldest daughter attends.  The kids are now off school for their break. We met with the director of the school and 3 of the teachers. Kathy translated for the director of the school and then the English teacher told us more including information about their International Bacheloriate (IB) program. She explained the process of selecting the kid to go into the program and how hard it was for the kids as they had to take the IB exams in English. Once we were done Kathy again
Presented a BPO plaque to the school. Here we save the director, Eduardo's daughter the English teacher & Kathy. 
Eduardo's daughter then walked part way back to the dock with us. Across the street there was a celebration for day for the mother's. We saw they market and lots of great stoes that will help in provisioning on Monday. 

Thursday 5 March 2015

Trips in the Galápagos

 The second day we were here we went to the tortoise sanctuary and breeding centre and walked through seeing the tortoise of San Cristobal Island. Each island has a different species of tortoise which have evolved depending on the type of vegetation that is available for them to eat.

                  Giant Tortoises in sanctuary
 Genesis "the first tortoise hatched in this hatchery" (they won't know for another 5 years whether it is a male or female)
                                            Genesis-age 10yrs "the first tortoise hatched in this hatchery"
                               (they won't know for another 5 years whether it is a male or female)

We visited a wonderful beach called Puerto Chino where we cooled off in the ocean, saw blue footed boobies and Manta rays.  We later visited a crater lake which is the only fresh water lake in the Galápagos Islands. We later visited the remains of the home of the owner of a sugar plantation who arrived in Galápagos in 1905. He was the great great grandfather of our tour guide, Sol.  He was murdered by the convicts that were given to him to help run the plantation. He was apparently a real tyrant. Another interesting thing was that the plantation had its own currency which I'm sure help keep the workers loyal to the owner as he would be the only one who would honour that currency. We also visited a tree house which was unfortunately closed. 
That evening at 5:30 we attended a birthday celebration for one of the captains of a Blue Planet Odyssey boat with a live band and dancing. Later we went for a great meal of lobster and all the trimmings

                                                             A delicious lobster meal
                                                             dancing with the mask
                                                              San Cristobal band

The same band showed up later with an additional member and just about the time we were about to leave some masks came out & we had great fun dancing around with these hot knitted masks over our heads. A great time was had by all. 

                                                                       Kicker Rock

The next morning we headed out to Kicker Rock on another tour where we circled the rock and saw all the frigate birds, blue footed boobies, sea lions and the towering cliffs of Kicker Rock.  We then snorkelled through the cracks in the rock and around it where we saw fish of all colours and shapes, sea turtles eating the sea weed on the rocks, sharks including hammer head sharks and had sea lions almost bump into us as they whizzed by underneath us.  An amazing spot for snorkelling. We later visited a beach where we saw
rays and lots more colourful fish. We later were treated to a close up look at a pelican and a blue heron. We also saw the shells that crabs had moulted which was very interesting. 

Pictures on the way

On arrival we saw blue footed Booby. 
The sea lions welcomed us to Galápagos 


Our inspection was complete by noon or perhaps a little before. We had a quick lunch and headed fo shore. After a quick briefing by rally control we were off for the Interpretation Cente.  We spent about two hours reading the information, history and statistics of the island. It was very informative.  One of the biggest industries is tourism.  The Galápagos Islands are volcanic with the oldest on the east and the active volcanic islands on the west side.  The islands are at the edge of 2 tectonic plates and as the plates move new islands were formed.  As many of you know Darwin was in the Galápagos Islands in 1835 and while here did a lot of research which later lead him to come up the the theory of evolution while in England years later.

Darwin Statue on San Cristobal

We later walked the paths behind the interpretation centre and saw the statue of Darwin and climbed Frigate Hill and saw the frigate birds soaring in the breeze enjoying the updrafts. 
The next day we spent arranging tours for the next 2 days and spent some time on the local beaches watching the sea lions and their young play in the water and on the beach
Watch this video on utube:

Arrival in Galapagos

After crossing the equator we sailed for a while with the spinnaker up but the winds and the swell did not cooperate so we soon took the spinnaker down and proceeded to motor toward Galapagos.  At 5:30 in the morning I could make out the misty shapes of what looked like mountains or hills.  As the light improved the island of San Cristobal came into view with its mountains in all their glory.  We were welcomed by sea lions, sea turtles, a huge ray leaped out of the water.  There were 100's of birds in the water and flying about.  We passed Kicker Rock

                                         Galapagos Islands as we approached in the morning

                                                        Kicker Rock near San Cristobal Island

Finally Wreck Bay came into view.  Soon after I jumped on a mooring ball to tie us up a water taxi dropped 2 divers off who checked our bottom.  We had stopped just after crossing the equator  to clean our bottom.  We passed with flying colours with a comment from the 2 divers that it "Looks good".  A boarding party of 7 people arrived shortly thereafter and we all had 2 forms to complete as well as the many forms the captain had to complete.  Our fruit and vegetables were checked and after about an hour we were cleared. As Galapagos is one of the strictest entry points we will incur we all breathed  a sigh of relief.

Crossing the equator

Carol wanted to cross the equator during daylight hours so we motored at an angle that would get us there during the day.  We crossed the equator at 4:30 PM with great pomp and ceremony.

                                                        Chart plotter near equator

King Neptune(Rob) and his first nymph(Carol)with the scotch-
a wee dram was tossed into the sea

 Bob and the nymphs(Barb & Carol)

We then all had to have a drink to celebrate our crossing.