Three weeks at sea – this is the longest passage of the whole circumnavigation, 2980 nautical miles in a straight line.
But you can’t go in a straight line because you need to go south to pick up the Trade Winds. How far south? Good question.
In our case, we missed the official start because we couldn’t raise the anchor. The chain was snagged on something but it magically freed itself an hour later. Once we were on our way we went a little further west and a little less south than most of the fleet. It still took three days of motoring to find the wind, and even then the wind was less strong and more variable than we’d experienced in the Atlantic.
Some of the hightlights of the 21-day passage: a midnight rescue of Raindancer, a non-ARC boat which hit a whale and sank within 15 minutes. Eight ARC boats diverted to the last known position of the liferaft but another non-ARC boat, Rolling Stones, got there first and effected the rescue. Fishing: we threw three fish back which we decided were too small to eat, but landed a tuna and a small mahi mahi. Sun shots: Patrick was keen to use the sextant so between us we took quite a lot of sun shots. Our fixes were usually within 5-10 nm of our GPS position – good enough! Fixing the boat (not really a highlight): the generator played up on this leg. By trial and error and some advice from other boats, I narrowed the problem down to the fuel feed, so we eventually found a way to keep the genny running. Losing the generator means we have to charge the batteries by running the engine, but it also means we can’t run the water-maker.
As we finally anchored in the small bay of Hiva Oa, I recorded our total distance as 3080 nm. Here’s to some shorter passages over the next few weeks!
It’s quite a place. We had 11 inspectors going over the boat on arrival, and a pair of divers who inspected the hull for contaminants (e.g. barnacles). We were OK, but one boat in the fleet failed the hull inspection and had to go 25 nm off-shore, pay for hull cleaning and pay a fine. Bad luck.
Once cleared in you are only allowed to visit three islands and not permitted to snorkel, dive, hike, use your tender or any way explore without a tour guide. One wonders if they really want us there.
Having said that, the sights are unique. San Cristobal is the island where it’s impossible not to trip over sea lions in the street. Isabela has major colonies of the blue-footed booby, and Santa Cruz has it all – iguanas, sea turtles, boobies, sea lions, dolphins, the lot.
Since it’s our second time in Galapagos (the first was in 2018), it was great to see it from our own boat. Will we return? Probably not…
855 nautical miles, 5 days, but unfortunately, after the first day, there was no wind. We motored at reduced speed so we had a better chance of catching fish (not many fish that you want on board can swim at 8 kt).
At least, motoring, you don’t have to worry about a night-time squall requiring a sail-plan change, but we used 670 litres of fuel which won’t be cheap in Galapagos.
At midnight on the 12th of February we crossed the equator. I woke up the crew (fast asleep, as usual) and Karen came on deck with a bottle of champagne and an “Equator Cake”. After a suitable celebration I retired in order to be compos mentis for the Galapagos arrival.
We’re now on San Cristobal island, Galapagos, preparing for inspection so we can continue to stay. Fingers crossed they don’t find my stack of Cheesey Puffs!