Saturday, April 30, 2022

Communication at Sea

Being in the middle of the world's largest ocean makes communication both difficult and necessary. In the days of yore sailors could go months without any news from the outside world. Now in our world of modern connectivity there is the expectation of instant communication, even 1000's of miles at sea. We now use a variation of a satellite phone called the Iridium Go. The Iridium Go is a small, digital, black box attached to an external antenna and we communicate with it through our tablets. It is through this setup that we get regular weather updates (very important) and communicate with the world.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Code Zero Saga

Hearing a loud sound on a sailboat is rarely a good thing, and this time was no exception. The winds have been inconsistent, and causing the sails to "flog" or whip back and forth against themselves making a loud "thwapping" noise (particularly annoying during a night watch). The sound we heard was louder than the normal thwap. Bob looked up and our large Code Zero sail was no longer flying proud. Had it gone overboard? Was it wrapped around anything? Had it broken free? It didn't take long to see it trailing alongside Rhapsody, fully in the water.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Another night watch

The funny thing about night watch is the feeling of being in Backwards Land. A place where we need to maintain alternate times on watch and therefore wind up living in a rhythm opposed to our normal schedule of waking and sleeping. We are trying to get to our destination, yet we purposely slow down a little at night, for safety reasons. We can't easily see what might be coming our way, be it squalls or waves , boats or floating objects. Going slower also makes for a more comfortable ride and less wear and tear on the equipment.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Sights and sounds of Night Watch

3 AM The golden sliver of the moon is rising on the horizon behind Rhapsody. I can see the handle of the Big Dipper sticking up from the horizon off the starboard side of the boat, the bowl of the dipper is below the horizon. The Southern Cross is visible off the port side of the boat. Bob woke me at 2:30 to begin my watch. I was in a deep sleep and it took him a while to rouse me. This is unusual for me, usually on passage I wake easily, but I was deep in a very strange dream.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Well, that was odd!

Suddenly I hear a strange sound. Living on a boat makes you very tuned into sounds, anything new could be potential trouble. This was definitely a mechanical sound, an engine of some sort. I look around, trying to pinpoint the sound, and I look up. It is a helicopter. I think it is just flying by, but it is very low. Then it began circling Rhapsody, once, twice, three times around. I wave at them, they wave back. Bob comes up and waves, they wave back. Bob gives the OK signal, they give the OK signal back, and then they fly off. There was no communication on the radio, and I did not recognize the markings on the helicopter as any government or agency that I was aware of. You are never quite as alone as you think you are, even in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!
2700 nm to go.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Day three, 8AM

Lousy last 23 hours. Wind died to nearly nothing. Still motoring when fouled fuel returned causing engine shutdown, and four filter changes later, no relief. Decided to wait for light to try again. Funky, rolling night with 2-4 knot gasps of wind. Mostly on the nose, sails flapping, even trimmed tight, so we headed 60 degrees south of our rhumb line to SSW, just to smooth things out a bit and ease abuse on our gear.

3:15 AM Lying in the cockpit, cussing dirty fuel again, it occurs to me it could be worse, it could be raining sideways on me. Two minutes later it begins to rain. Murphy's Law laughs again. Steady drizzle becomes light showers. At least the rain brings 5-7 knots of intermittent baby gusts and we return halfway back on course.

6:30 AM Wind reduces to 3-5 knots, no rain on us now, but dawn brought total overcast with very low clouds and visible showers all around us. Turned SSW again just to stay underway.

7:30 AM and we finally feel 10 knots of actual breeze since leaving. Back on course with scattered wetness. Generator charging, because so far, solar has the day off. Good to be moving over mellow, if gray, seas.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Setting off to the Marquesas

After the usual prep frenzy and "what have we forgot" concerns, we hauled anchor and began motoring out of Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island at 7:05 AM. With last glances back to the dark green shore, we weaved between the many live aboard charter boats, around the many shallows and out into open water. Sarah set up the new waypoints on our recently updated chartplotter, and announced only 3019 nm to go.

We saw the bottom few hundred feet of the island slipping away in our wake as the typically overcast morning sky obscured 90 percent of the volcanic peaks. Course set, WSW at 6-7 knots. Wind on the nose, of course. We will bear a bit south of our rhumb line in hopes of picking up the very favorable trade winds sooner. Good to be underway. You can't begin to get there until you leave.

Motor sailed until 4:30 PM with 7-9 knots. Winds now shifted to 140 degrees behind us. Brought out the genoa as winds picked up to 10..11 plus until 9PM. The winds calmed, and were very inconsistent, and the sails flapped a lot, so... rolled up the genoa and began motor sailing again. Sarah's up after some, unusual for her, early evening sleep. First try at off watch sleep-on-demand for me a dismal failure, so I read and write.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Moving on

 The time has come to move to another place. There is still so much to share about the Galapagos, stories and pictures, but it will have to wait. I will post them when we return to the world of the internet. We are on our way to French Polynesia, specifically the Marquesas. This will be our longest passage yet, by far, 3000 nautical miles from the Galapagos to our next landfall in Nuku Hiva. 

That's a lot of blue! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Just hold still


Holding still has benefits here on Isla Isabela, the largest of the Galápagos Islands. It has the smallest population of people, but the greatest feel of expansive space. One's sense of scale is tweaked by the many volcanic cones scattered about the landscape, the largest of which extend into cloud cover every day so we've yet to see their crests. Same as the other isles here about, opportunities to see and even interact with the wildlife are plentiful. Birds, lizards, insects, tortoises, penguins and sea lions let you approach considerably closer than normal.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

A Tale of Three Islands

 When arriving in the Galapagos by a private vessel such as Rhapsody, there are only three islands at which we are allowed to anchor, San Cristobal,  Santa Cruz and Isla Isabela. All other islands are off limits to protect the wildlife.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Exploring San Cristobal

 San Cristobal is the first of three islands that Rhapsody is allowed to visit, and coincidentally the first island that Darwin visited. We are allowed to venture onto other islands (with guides), but Rhapsody has to stay put in the three designated anchorages.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Diving Kicker Rock

 Kicker Rock, Leon Dormido, Sleeping Lion, Roca Pateadora.  Most places in the Galapagos have at least two names, the English name and the Spanish name, and then sometimes the translation of each of those! It can get a little confusing at first until you figure it out. Friends who are in front of us were messaging us about sailing past Kicker Rock on their entry to the Galapagos, but all our chartplotter identified was  Roca Pateadora.

Kicker Rock was our welcome to Galapagos spot and so it was nice to be able to return to dive it. It has a reputation of being the best dive spot around San Cristobal.

Kicker Rock is about 500 feet tall with many birds calling it home, Blue footed boobies, pelicans, frigate birds and tropicbirds among others. We had an approximately 2 hour boat ride to get to Kicker Rock because our motor catamaran had one of its two engines at the shop. It was a pleasant ride and we had a chance to talk with the other passengers.  There were 10 of us, 5 were diving and 5 were snorkeling.