Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 19

our wind has finally dropped! It's down to 15kn, sea is moderating, swell has evened out, the sun is shining. It's still just the sky, the ocean and us, but it's a different ocean today. It glistens. The last week was not really so bad, but it felt bad. The motion was like a grumpy monster flicking us a bit. Now it's like we are rolling on a laughing belly, a joyous sea. We've changed sail, dropping main and arranging twin headsails and are running straight for Fatu Hiva, 600 miles to go.
I saw something today I've been wondering about. There are so many flying fish in the air I guessed they must occasionally have mid-air collisions, and sure enough, today I saw the awful smack of a flying fish head-on. I do hope they are OK! There are always some on deck, even little tiny one inch ones, and they leave a bit of slime and scale, so we are slowly developing the smell of a fishing boat.
I read that the Pacific is the part of the crust that the moon broke away from, that is why there are no continents out here. So we are sailing across the absence of moon.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 15

In Grade 5 our class performed a poem, and no doubt recognising my future potential I was given the solo role of the Captain, I don't remember his name, perhaps Columbus?, which consisted of something like "Sail on, sail on, sail on and on and on" at the end of each verse. And sail on we do. It's been a dull few days, too much wind and wave, so every now and then there is a big enough roll to spill your cup of coffee. Now that really is not acceptable is it?
I should never complain about our wonderful wind though. The sun shines on the equator and makes the air hot, so what does it do? Then, nature abhorring a vacuum, some other air rushes in to replace it. In our case, in the southern hemisphere, that is the south-east trades, which carry us day and night, and will eventually bring us almost all the way to Australia.
Buckets of rain last night, some of which found their way into the cockpit so the cushions smell like washing left in the machine for 2 days.
On a brighter note, this is a landmark day. We have only another 1,000 miles to go and at recent speeds that will only take one more week! To put it in a local perspective, this Galapagos to Marquesas is like going from Hobart, as the crow flies, which you wouldn't, to Cairns. Then turning around and coming back as far as Launceston. Also unlikely. A long way! The Marquesas are reputed extremely beautiful but even Launceston would look pretty good after this much ocean. A glass of wine is going to look pretty special too. We usually avoid alcohol at sea, especially now there are just two of us. Things can get exciting at the drop of a hat and you want every remaining brain cell working for you!
You are probably wondering how this blog is getting updated from the middle of the ocean?
Poor Matthew Flinders, like me, thought he would be able to secret his Ann away on his ship for a long voyage, but the powers that be thwarted both of us. In his case the Admiralty, in mine the Anne. They, spent the next ten years sending each other a letter whenever the postman was going past Matthew, which can't have been too often nor too quickly. We modern tragically seperateds however, write at least once a day, using the HF radio, computer and Russel's Pactor modem which he so generously lent me. I know what she is cooking for dinner and whether she's had coffee yet,even what Sabine is playing on the piano, so don't feel sorry for me way out here in the ocean. I send blog text to Anne, she puts it up on the net, and I'll add a few photos when I find internet again.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 12

I've had some complaints about the lack of numbers...... One from a librarian and one from a serial complainer. I really want to make them happy, so when Anne complained as well it was settled.
We're at 7 deg zero minutes S, 114.32W, doing 6.4kn, 252 degrees which is pretty much exactly where we should be heading. It's actually a great day for numbers. Last night we passed the half way mark from Galapagos to Marquesas, so less than 1500 miles to go. Marquesas are about half way from Panama to Australia so we've covered more than a quarter of that distance too. The Pacific is quite large, as we are noticing! It covers one third of the earth's surface and is bigger than all the land masses put together. Watching it go by bucketful by bucketful is really an experience I won't forget. This 3000 miles is the biggest single hop any sane yachts-person makes, there is no choice. The eastern half of the Pacific is more or less empty. You have Galapagos,then further south there are Easter, Pitcairn, Robinson Crusoe's islands or north, Cocos and a shoal we noticed on the chart a days sail from us coming out to Galapagos, but the rest of it is just water. Once we reach Marquesas it becomes a pleasant island hop all the way home. Two, three, seven days sail and another country.
The last 24 hours have been a bit tough, we should have taken the reacher down but.... The reacher is a great sail, it's our light wind trade wind cruising headsail and gives at least one knot over the normal genoa. One knot equals 24 miles in a day, so over these 3 or so weeks around 500 miles or more than 3 days saved. So we don't like to take it down unless the wind is going over 20. Trouble is, it's a bit longer than it's allotted space, from mast top to the bow, so it's furling device only works if there is not enough wind. Getting the reacher down in too much wind is like taking down a spinnaker, you can end up with it in the water for example. Since we do not want to injure ourselves or the boat way out here we tend to leave it up. So last night the wind came up to 25-30, seas were 3 m and a 3-4 m swell which combined with too much sail up front made a most unrelaxing night. No idle dozing, or gazing at falling stars! Wind is back down to 20 kn now, sea is starting to relax and autopilot is coping.

This morning I spotted a glint on the sea and headed for a little bundle of net floats. Anything that floats out here attracts fish. Sure enough a fish took the lure, the Ellida Mini Special, but it spent the next few minutes mostly in the air and managed to shake the hook. I did have Steve's prototype YockBait on that line, but it was showing 'tendencies' (mixing my Tolstoys here) and liked so swim around and around the other line creating a nasty tangle that I tended to find after dark. I tried to adjust the said tendencies, but failed, so ProtoYock was retired and the nearest thing to hand was the Ellida Mini Special. This is a small but very red triple hook on a light wire trace with a few strips of wine cask. (De Bortoli, Premium Reserve Chardonnay, 2001, 2 litre, a very shiny year) I really just wanted to see such a basic lure catch a fish, but since it lost the fish it is also retired in disgrace and a gracefully feathered pink leadhead is out in place.
We do have flying fish to eat most days, they are very delicious, a bit like whiting.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 11

Still a day to go till half the distance, but must be half the time up by now. Unless things go slow later. A flying fish landed next to Marcel last night while I was cooking, he didn't have to leave the wheel, just picked it up and handed it to me through the gangway! Another big one smacked into the cockpit cover at my back, lucky it was zipped up, while eating dinner. Just had to unzip and grab him.

Phew! just got squalled for the first time in days, 30kn, navboy squealing, leaning a bit and rain, but it was all over in about 3 mins. Unfortunately looks like the squall has left us with less wind than before, but I'm sure it will come back.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 10

I know from bitter experience that for almost all readers of this blog, a list of wind speeds, sea states, boat speed and direction, would read insufferably dull, however for us out here it is the daily headlines, the big news. It rules our lives, we live and breathe it. And really, not all that much else happens! A couple of days ago we went at half speed (note, no numbers there!) for half a day, and were feeling a little piqued, when listening in to the HF radio we found boats behind and above us had zero wind, and the one behind was lolling in three metre seas and had broken a steering chain! Meanwhile, below a few hundred miles they were complaining of too much wind and complete cloud cover, 24 hours of rain. So our half speed in bright sun suddenly seemed idyllic. Since then we've had wonderful wind and speed, almost as fast as the boat can go (numbers skillfully avoided again!), some very grey days and now it's sunny. Flying fish are omnipresent and we've been eating a few.
Marcel and I are both reading Tolstoy, well I'm actually being read to by a wonderful englishwoman on the ipod. Anna Karenina, it's a silly aristo-soap but extremely long which is just the thing for these ocean nights. There is not really much to look out for but we must in case. One of the sixteen yachts on our local HF radio net saw a ship the other night, it's so unusual we all heard about it! Marcel is reduced to Tolstoy as it's the last book in Ellidas rather limited French Library. He even read "L'Electricite a bord" from cover to cover but now it's down to "Des Grandes Poissons e Des Hommes" by Sasha Tolstoy. It's a solid hard cover brimming with photographs of the smiling Sasha with his smiling friends and their smiling wine-guts standing under the corpses of the biggest fish that once swam in the ocean. There is no chapter on cooking techniques or tips for cleaning and preserving. I think it's appalling. For me fishing is harvesting and those who treat it as blood sport should be thrown to the lions. Imagine if they were hunting the biggest tree? What-ho, there's a large on Jean-Paul! Looks bigger than Claude's of 08? Do you think the Pioneer or the Stihl? Have the boy bring the Pioneer, I think we'll have a world record. Crash. Tape measure!
We have actually had some fish excitement, or rather no-fish excitement. Our crash lines consist of a solid lure with a solid hook of 3mm steel, some 300lb mono and a shock absorber. A few weeks back something broke half of one of those hooks off and yesterday something snapped the 300lb mono, so there are big things out there! It would be a terrible nuisance if we actually had to deal with one, just getting one off the hook and away is pretty risky, so a shame to lose gear but probably for the best.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Going for a week now...

Good morning..
here I am, bleary and too hot after the afternoon nap. We are plodding along between 3 & 4kn today, however... boats north and east of us have no wind at all, and boats south have 20-30 and are all complaining that they can't sleep. Many had rain all night. So... we should be pleased that we are moving, it is sunny and calm. Going too slowly for fish, so probably have eggs tonight...
We've been going a week now, and are over quarter the way... fresh vegies are getting fewer, fruit is almost done. There wasn't such good shopping in Galapagos. Ecuador is a bit like Eastern Europe. I looked in all the shops and there was only ever the one brand of chili sauce. Only one type of cheese and so on. Another odd thing, there were endless pharmacies, rows of them. They also sold drinks and ice cream.
Finished my book and don't know what to do now...

The Squall - day 5

After days of gliding over molten mirror, unzipped by flying fish our wind has arrived. I won't miss the noise of the motor, but do miss the magical seascapes. I came up for my sunrise shift to the sight of a massive cloud. No really, it was an awesome sight, bigger, heavier and just different! One minute we were motor sailing with 3kn breeze, the next we were sailing at hull speed, 8kn, through a wall of rain. It would have been nice to take our reacher down before the 20kn winds, but they didn't get stronger and it certainly was exciting. Visibility was thirty metres on one side and ten on the other, sea surface white from the rain's impact, lovely fresh water streaming all over Ellida. We had half an hour of full volume rain and another half as it faded, leaving just a nice breeze. We've been averaging over 6kn since then, an easy comfortable reach, we are on our way!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Galapagos to Marquesas
We had planned to break more rules and try to stop at Isla Isabella, but the tsunami meant that all harbours were closed and boats had to stay at sea, so we just kept going. A slightly difficult beginning, light wind on the nose, and strong currents between the islands but by daybreak we were clear and on our way.
Sperm Whale!
Other boats are doing the standard recommended course and heading south to find the trade winds, but we are feeling cocky after ignoring standard advice on the last leg to our great advantage, and are heading straight for our destination. We have also had some light winds that keep us choosing either due south, or towards Marquesas and since the forecast shows no trades for the next days we may have nothing to lose and we might even get luckyů.I'm sure it's a smart gamble, if the trades do come up to us they will be lighter than further south, but we will have a better angle of sail, so faster and more comfortable. Stay tuned!
And we did get lucky on the nature front! We stopped for a couple of hours to watch a sperm whale. He (I'm sure it's a he, it was HUGE!) spends a few minutes taking massive breathes in succession to recharge his blood, then up comes the tail and we wait for 30 or 40 mins searching all around. We saw him three times. Marcel climbed the mast and did some repairs while we waited and it was nice to have the motor off for a bit.
Turkish Coffee
Has run out!!!! What am I going to doů in the middle of the ocean. What was I thinking in the turkish supermarket? Why, why, why didn't I get more?????

It's day four, still motoring, but we have a tiny wind helping add a knot to our speed. It has been very beautiful though, glassy seas, stunning sun ups and downs, magnificent clouds. We didn't catch a fish yesterday, so when I spotted a FFFAD (free floating fish attracting device :-)), actually a lost bamboo and netting raft float, I detoured and passed it by. Mahi mahi were all around, jumping a bit, and a school of them swam with the boat for a minute which answered the question about the fish that swam with us for a day in the Atlantic. Soon had one on the deck, lines back on board and we will eat for a few more days!
More good news from the GRIB file, wind is on it's way. (this is weather info downloaded via email and the HF radio, then loaded onto the computer chart. Yesterday I heard a slav on the radio say "I don't trust that GRIB file", he sounded like the martian in Space Patrol, I've been repeating it all day in my head..)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Goodbye Galapagos

Well a few surprises this morning. A bull seal finally decided it really was his jetty and made a few runs at me.... finally a small rock changed his mind. We came ashore to get our diesel... the paperwork took the agent 45 mins, you need three signatures from the navy. Next there were no taxis as the president has spoken and the town is being evacutated. Luckily the airport is also closed for the tsunami, so our agent, Tuomo couldn't leave and offered to take me in their ute to get our fuel. It's a big party, no-one has to work or go to school and all are off the the highlands for a picnic. Boats have to leave the harbours by... well actually we are a bit late leaving, but tsunami isn't due for another seven hours. Steve must be having fun, his plane won't be going either!


Nous avons quitte Panama City, ses bus barioles a l effigie de Rambo, du Christ ou de bien d autres animaux encore, ses tours de verres assez insipides et ses quartiers delabres, peu fréquentables de nuit, mais tant animes de jour, d une chaleur humaine cosmopolite et ou les gens ont garde a l esprit le "temps de vivre",ou la vie n est pas facile pour tous, ou l on gagne quelques dollars en vendant des pinces a linge, ou l on sait rire des différences que chacun porte en soi. Nous l avons laisse en emportant des fruits insoupçonnés, au gout soupçonnable pour certain, en tout cas pas au gout de tous; mamey, toronja, marra cuja…et en acquérant une bonne machette pour ouvrir les cocos jeunes récoltées sur la rive caraïbe. Nous avons appareille par un beau jour équatorial et vente.
L ancre et la chaine salies par la vase, nous avons fait route au bon plein travers, puis, dans le sud de l ile Taronguilla, une splendide raie manta est remonte des profondeurs pour nous offrir son spectacle aérien: bouches bées!
En vingt ans (c est pas pour nous vanter, mais juste pour dire la chance que l on a eue), de mémoire d hommes, on avait pas vu de vents constants comme ceux la dans cette région de pot au noir….(je n enfle pas la situation a la marseillaise, non, non, non, putaing…). Portee, emportée, Ellida était ravie! Nord-Est puis Sud-Est, alizes sur alizes,ils ont souffles de force 3 a 5 et les courants furent joviaux, venants de Panama et du Chili, 2 a 3 noeuds de bon jus….On s est offert une journée de spinnaker, pas de tout repos, mais enfin du sport! Ellida, chargée a bloc (400 l. de diesel et autant d eau douce) s est vue propulsée a 10 noeuds, vitesse fond, record pour l équipage. Affalage en trainant un peu de toile dans l eau, mais rien de dommageable. Tiens bon la barre, capitaine courage; c est comme ca que j appelle Rob.
Un thon et une dorade coryphene au premier jour, un gros thon devant les Galapagos, les estomacs se sont reluis…Un requin nous a bouffe un petit thon; il ne restait plus que la tete en remontant la ligne. Marlins (sorte d espadon), attires par un gros leurre dépourvu d hameçon, ont pointe leur épée. Les oiseaux, pétrels tempete, fous… démontrèrent toute leur grâce au ras des flots et l un d eux s est repose une nuit a bord. Pour clore cette aventure a la voile, deux mantas immergèrent d un bond joyeux. Tellement ils sont communs aux navigateurs que j oubliais de vous les conter. D ailleurs, ils ne sont pas tous communs; nous avons vu des grands.Ils nous ont emerveilles et ont su nous communiquer toute leur joie de vivre: nos frères marins, fusées fosforescentes la nuit, infatigables beaux parleurs, imprévisibles acrobates, narcissiques mais tellement communicatifs pour appeler l humain a respecter la vie, je leur rend un paisible hommage et que vibre leur poésie!
Les iles darwiniennes proposent un contraste fort entre les vies animales et humaines. Il est vrai que 93% de Santa Cruz, par exemple, constitue un territoire protege, mais il y aurait beaucoup a faire pour que les équatoriens prennent réellement conscience de ce que signifie harmonie avec la Nature…car il semble que manger le plus possible de poissons et consommer des boissons sucrées reste la priorité…..?

A bientôt, aux Marquises, j entends deja Jacques Brel.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

more Galapagos

A few last images from Galapagos.
The last one is my new day tank for the generator, so hopefully it will actually work while sailing now! That would be a big relief! I used the petrol container Boray gave us in Turkey, thanks Boray!!
You can't see in the photos, but around the anchorage there are schools of small tuna cutting up the water, that's why those birds are diving.

Galapagos info for cruisers.

Don't be put off by cost and hassle, we have had a wonderful time here!
We came to Santa Cruz, Admiralty Bay. Heaps of room to anchor. Most monohulls use a stern anchor, wind drops at night and a slight roll sets in.
You have to use an agent, we used Galapagos Ocean Services, Toumo@gos.ec
He is Finnish, very straight and clear. They provide in addition to the agent services, free use of their dinghy jetty, laundry, shower, wi-fi, and a lot of great advice. They have de-sal water on tap, you can fill containers at the jetty and pay them for what you use. They also provide containers for diesel. Total cost was not as bad as we expected. Navy fees are based on weight, so Ellida shed a few pounds. National Park fees are usually collected at airport, so if you don't try to pay it you save $100 per person. Of course it would be better if your money went to National Parks and not to the Navy… We were visited by only one Navy guy, very sweet. No inspection of fruits and didn't ask about fumigation certificate so that saved another $60 or so. In the end our total cost will be about $250, and we could have stayed 3 weeks if desired. Transport around town is by taxi. All town rides are $1, no matter how many people you pile in the back of the ute. Cheap restaurants are a few streets back and lunch is $3.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Steve's Farewell

It's dawn here in Santa Cruz, the dawn of my fifty-eighth and final day as crew of Ellida. Let her name sit alongside the Endeavour, the Endurance, the Sea of Cortez, the Dawntreader and even the Bounty, for in our own small way we on board Ellida have experienced a little of what the crews of these legendary ships have.

We've felt the rush of arriving in new lands, endured a few minor hardships and deprivations, had great mateship and wonder of the sea around us, been enchanted, and even staged a mutiny ("We demand a swim. Right now!") Our trip means nothing to the universe but for us on board, it's an exclusive, all-consuming world, requiring attention to detail, forbearance and for each to play his part to the best of our ability.

Pulling into a new place by boat bears no comparison to doing so by plane. No "Passengers from rows 32 to 64, please embark by the rear door.", no baggage carousels, no boom gate in the carpark. You approach the land slowly, the dock even more so ("Come to the dock at the speed you'd like to hit it" says Rob every time.) You step ashore and Hey Presto! you're in Curacao. People are genuinely impressed. "You sailed here?? Wow, that is so cool." And you wobble off up the main street trying to regain some land-legs, drooling at the cafes, agog at the sight of a pizza, envious of a child with an ice-cream.

And what of the Ralph Lauren/Tommy Hifiger/DKNY stores that occupy the box seat in most ports? We scoff at them, for we, barefoot in our grimy shorts, have been kings in crested castles, to paraphrase Patsy Durack. And what the hell is DKNY anyway?

And what sort of magic is it to sit alone in the cockpit at two in the morning, the moonless sky ablaze with stars, the sea on fire with phosphorescence, ten thousand feet of black water below you? Crawl to the stern and peer into the abyss, but beware, oblivion is only a slip away. No, back to the cockpit, make chai, hasten the dawn!


Marcel, you nomad, you are as well adapted to life at sea as the prion. Thanks for the sailing lessons, the French lessons, the Spanish lessons, for great times at sea and hilarious fun ashore. Cayocho Carnival in Santa Cruz, oh hombre, what a crazy night.

Rob, in another world, they say two things are certain, but here, the eternals are chilli and coffee. It's always been my dream to take a sea voyage; you've provided the opportunity and done so in great style. I'll be forever grateful. Above all thanks for 3000 miles of great physical and metaphysical travel. The world will never look quite the same again because these are no longer the eyes that left Tasmania a few months ago.

Now, the sun is up on another perfect morning in Galapagos. Sails are unfurling, the little harbour is coming to life and the smell of coffee is in the air. All that remains for me is to load my bag full of belongings and a treasure trove of booty for those at home, say goodbye to the big red boat, and take that final trip in the dinghy ashore. So I wish safe and speedy travel to Rob, Marcel and Ellida - tight sails, as my son says.

See you in Hobart.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Galapagos is a lovely place to be. People are beautiful, happy and well fed. Whole families travel on one small motorbike. You can still ride in the back of utes, and driving is calm and slow, so it feels ok.
It used to be a wonderful cruising destination, but it's popularity has seen big changes, and access is now severely restricted no matter how you visit. The choice is to go on standard tourist trips, or you can hire a guide at $120 per day if you want to walk anywhere in the park. We are able to stay up to three weeks, but the boat has to stay in the one anchorage the whole time.
Coming ashore is always fun. There are usually seals blocking the jetty, sometimes six of them! Then there are the marine iguanas on the black volcanic shore, some bright red crabs and huge chitons.
We spent a day looking at the giant tortoises, first at the Darwin Institute where they breed for reintroduction to the wild. Some species are extinct, some almost, and others have been rescued from the brink.

Under a large sign explaining that one shouldn't feed the animals, fishermen are cleaning and selling their catch. They remain amazingly calm as pelicans and seals try to steal their fish! One image I loved.. the guy is whacking a seal with the flat of his knife to get it away from the tuna fillets, at the same time another seal is lying across his feet under the bench. And then, of course, they feed all the skin and other scraps to the seals and pelicans!
Since we can't walk in the parks and can't visit other islands with our own boat we'll probably leave in another day or two and head for the Marquesas, over 3000 miles away, three or four weeks at sea, but wind should be perfect for most of the passage.
Our jetty continues to reward… Steve headed off on his own today, so Marcel and I went to the restaurant for lunch, of course. We had two manta rays at the jetty. Later a Blue Footed Booby plummeted down to a fish a mere 2 metres from me! Great jetty.
Aforementioned lunch is a fantastic vegetable and cheese soup, with beans and stuff, very hearty, followed by a big plate of rice, chicken in sauce and salad, with a big glass of guava juice. $3
Lovely walk today to Tortuga Bay (Turtle Bay). Cactus forest, birds are not scared. Marine Iguanas, turtles (really!) Marcel swam in the dangerous rip through scary rocks and waves and saw lots of turtles in the water.

There is a photo of a giant tortoise poo...... and the special E'lida chili sauce, specially made for us.... tee hee. The bird coming towards me was... it hit me with beak and claw...
Note the group of Homo Cruise-Boatensis, gathered to admire the giant tortoise!!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Panama to Galapagos

Manta Day
What a great start to the Pacific time! We had a wonderful sail out across the Panama Gulf doing 7-8kn. A big manta ray practising for the olympics did a somersault for us, and all three were watching the right spot at the right moment! A row of boobies (I think they were boobies) sitting on a floating log, acrobatic dolphins, lots of seabirds. A mackerel tuna, cooked slowly and in olive oil in the fridge, and yet another mahi-mahi for dinner. Four hours of motoring in the evening, then some mighty lighting heralded the next nice breeze and we scooted along all night.
Second day, the first real Pacific day we averaged over 8.5kn all morning! Obviously we are in the correct current! There are some counter currents we could have found, so we are lucky, or skilful navigators. On a slight sea, enough cloud to keep it from getting too hot. Actually at night with 25kn breeze and a sprinkle of rain the wind chill became so severe I actually had to put a t-shirt on!

We have seen a Humbolt squid, eaten a mahi-mahi, 4 tuna and caught a tuna head, a reminder that some of our neighbours out here have functional teeth.
The Pacific loves Ellida, and is giving us an incredibly fast ride.This leg usually takes from 6 - 15 days on average as the ITCZ or doldrums are found here. However for us, the ITCZ has gone away, and we have perfect winds and a strong current, so are sailing mostly over 8kn, which is the hull speed of the boat! We even clocked 10.2kn a few times with the spinnaker. Usually we are happy to see anything over 6kn, so it's been a fantastic welcome to OUR ocean.

We have been given an award from the informal HF radio net of yachts going to Galapagos. Our award is for using the spinnaker and enjoying it, so we win a toy kite, now we can enjoy flying one safely! Most of the other boats with awards had them taken away again as some arbitary penalty, so we were one of the lucky ones! Thanks Piewacket for the presentation ceremony!

Well we just crossed the equator, so it's all downhill to home now!
We had a passable noodle lunch, but the setting is first class. About 40% cloud cover so it's not too hot. Little storm petrels all around. Can't say they soar, they're too small, and they don't flit, too dignified, so not sure how to describe their flight. Every now and then we pass a raft of boobies which up and fly, usually off in front to sit again and wait for us to disturb them. We have two crash lines out the back and catch about one fish a day, which is just perfect. We're also towing a marlin lure. As I'm the captain and my word is all (occasionally) Steve is not permitted to catch any fish over 15kg since to catch without eating is cruel torture. We can deal with about 10kg with fridge, freezer, salting and drying, but more would be wasted. Steve has accepted this with surprising grace, and the marlin lure has no hook. This makes wonderful entertainment as every now and then a marlin grabs it and we rush to watch. They seem to hold on for a bit wondering what they have in their mouth, then swim around in a predator fashion before having another bite or two. This is a win win win situation, the marlin merely wastes a few minutes, and may even learn that lures are not good to eat, knowledge which could stand him in good stead later in life. There are always flying fish around. At night there is no moon but starlight is nice. Usually plenty of phosphorescence, sometimes it really glows, massive balls of light exploding off the hull. Night visits by dolphins are great, a dolphin sized tube of phosphorescence. They often jump and breathe next to the cockpit at night. It's nice to think they are jumping up to look at me, but more likely they jump all over the place and I only see them when they jump next to the cockpit.

Arriving at Galapagos was another joy. Lots of new little seabirds and a few manta rays did their somersaults so we ended this section as we started it!

There is Marcel suggesting some Spanish Anise to celebrate the equator, an illegal tuna, we didn't see the sign saying 'no fishing within 40 miles of Galapagos'. The actual equator! Can you see the line? Some boobies, a bird who came for a sleep, a very strange fruit, Mame I think, Marcel got it in a market in Panama city and a shot of Panama city from our anchorage.