Monday 22nd February
At this exact moment, right now, I can not think of a place I’d rather be. Sitting at the bow, in the shade cast by the Genoa, my feet, over the side of the boat, being tickled by the spray from the bow wave, my skin bathed in the soft Pacific breeze. The ocean spreads out around me, a vast area of nothing, just us.
We are 500nm NE of Galapagos, 03.58.200N, 82.58.418W, we have been at sea for two days and for the past day we have seen only the sea, the sky and an occasional bird. There has been the odd AIS target on the screen but the cargo ships, heading for ports on the Equadorian coast, have all been beyond the horizon and out of sight. We have had one flying fish on the deck but none spotted at sea and what we were sure were whale blows were disappointingly too far away to spot an actual whale.
We left Panama City early in the morning and sailed for Contadora one of the Las Perlas Islands. Just as we rounded the corner into the bay we saw our friends onboard Toothless sadly disappear out to sea on their own passage to the Galapagos. They had warned us the water here was murky, due to a cool seasonal current bringing blooms of algae and so it proved to be. The green soup effect wasn’t really enticing us in, but we were there for a purpose and valiantly put on our masks and armed with cleaning implements started on cleaning of the waterline and inspection of the hull. To be honest the visibility was so bad except for the bow thrusters that Rick attacked with a brass brush, we left the water just hoping the guy in Panama had done a good enough job for the authorities in Galapagos.
We flew out of the Gulf of Panama with twenty five to thirty knots on our starboard quarter. The Pacific, so far, has been a revelation, even now with only eight to twelve knots of wind we often have over seven knots of boat speed. It all come down to the relatively smooth sea state we have a much smaller swell than in the Atlantic and a lot less chop than in the Caribbean Sea. With little roll the sails stay filled and Raya, seemingly with a smile on her face, bowls along happily.
The wind did drop completely last night forcing on the engine but we are back to ‘perfect ‘ sailing again now. We are approaching the doldrums or to use the correct terminology The Intertropical Convergent Zone . This is an approximately five degree wide band of weather that runs anywhere from just south of the equator to about 10 degrees North, here the NE trades meet the SE trades. Basically an area where the conditions become confused resulting occasionally in tropical squalls but more often than not with no winds at all. Looking at the forecast for the next couple days and our run into the Galapagos we seem to have wind arrows with 0.5 kts written on them, lets hope they have plenty of fuel to top up with when we get there.