Passage to the Galapagos – Part 1

Sunday, 12 March, we picked up anchor at 10 am – later than planned because of a refrigeration problem that needed to be solved first which, thankfully, was an easy fix. Would you believe it as we got underway it started to rain! First time for a long time….. We think Morphie was being baptised by Neptune for her first long Pacific passage. There was very light airs so we pulled out the mainsail and motored – at 1500 rpm to minimise fuel usage – into the gloom away from Isla del Ray. Even when the rain stopped it was so grey and hazy it was hard to tell the difference between the sea and the sky or even where the horizon was.
It remained dull all day and the seas were like glass. We loved watching the birds who were hanging around on driftwood that floated by. About 20 miles out we picked up a favourable current and we’re moving along at six knots in five knots of breeze! We had a beautiful sunset at sea. And finally we put the sail away because it was doing nothing apart from banging….but we still enjoyed a favourable current. Richard was fishing and caught a small mahi which he threw back and then a monster came along and stole his favourite lure…oh dear….
Just before we went into our shift pattern at six the wind and sea started building and we went into a crazy half hour – sails up, engine off – then quickly reefing down again as the wind became brisk at 20 knots with gusts to 26 knots.
The sea conditions worsened and we were getting growlers behind us and breaking onto us – lifting us onto the top of the wave to throw us down the other side. And we then found out what hadn’t been stowed properly down below as things started flying about so we needed to sort that out. These rough conditions continued for most of the night – it was uncomfortable but at least it was warm and dry and the night was lit by a beautiful moon.
By 6am on Monday the wind and waves were easing as we were treated to a pretty sunrise. And here come the ships…..heading to and from Panama….and we changed course and gybed for a few of them. The depth sounder kept giving us the wobbles with hundreds of feet of water beneath us it shot up to five feet…back down off the scale…back up to twelve feet…down twenty five feet…back off the scale….continuously. What do you reckon? Shoal of fish, whale, submarine LOL?!? Whatever it is please go play elsewhere…..
At 9am the ship frequency was increasing and we continued to sail in reasonable 10-15 knot winds, which had now swung northerly. Overall we had covered 129 miles in our first 24 hours so pretty happy with that. At noon Richard had a hit on his lucky pink lure and caught our first yellowfin tuna. Woo hoo… It was quite small but enough for four huge fillets – which were in the freezer within half an hour of the catch.
By 3pm the winds had eased even more so we poled out the genoa for the first time this season – when the usual shouts of pole up, pole down, ease the sheet coming from Richard took me back in time to our yacht racing days. It was pretty rolly by the time I cooked dinner down below – we always eat just before we start our evening shifts.
At 6pm there was a beautiful sunset – unfortunately coupled with a complete drop in the wind – so we started motor sailing. At midnight we picked up speed as we found another current heading our way.
By 3am this morning, Tuesday, there was no wind and the current had petered out. So we just motored…..slowly……but at least we could head back towards our rhumb line. At 6am the wind picked up forward of the beam so we deployed all three sails in 8 knots of breeze. Come 9 am the wind had swung WSW – weird when all forecasts say NE – so we tacked across our rhumb line. This direction isn’t really helpful though so we have just tacked back across and the engine is on again because the wind has dropped to 4 knots. We have just checked our diesel and we have used 10 gallons in total since we left Balbao Yacht Club so consumption is looking fine at this stage (we started with 125 gallons in total). The second twenty-four hour period was slower at a disappointing 105 miles only. Oh yes and while we are motor sailing we take the opportunity to make water to keep our tanks topped up.
As it is really flat calm right now (just gone 12) we have just had a large brunch of sausages, bacon, scrambled eggs and tinned tomatoes – we even sat at the cockpit table to eat together. Now that’s a first and it means no cooking for me tonight – yay!!!
Bye for now Jan