Over the last couple of days we’ve had a consistent 15-20 kts of wind. That would be perfect if it weren’t for the higher gusts, which tend to make the boat corkscrew. We’ve reefed our mainsail to about half and are flying the full jib, although last night we reduced that to about half, as well, as we were seeing gusts of 25-30 kts. The seas have built over the last two days and are now 3-4 meters and quite confused, meaning we are constantly rolling from side to side. No danger, but it’s very uncomfortable and, frankly, more than a little bit annoying. On top of that it’s grey and overcast. We’re hoping the sun will come out and things will smooth out soon.

Breakfast: Tart cherry Seattle scones with butter, jam and honey, coffee

Lunch: EMFH (every man for him/her self)

Dinner: Locally sourced AMERICAN caught Mahi-mahi sashimi with a side of rice and soy/wasabi dipping sauce, miso soup

Evening entertainment: “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (what’s more American than a good road trip?!)

Current location: Lat 06 43.563S Long 113 01.159W
Distance traveled: 184 NM

It’s a beautiful sunny day in the South Pacific ocean and we are celebrating Independence Day on Gadabout like many Americans, especially in the Pacific Northwest, with good ‘ol American cuisine and boating. Later, we’ll watch for falling stars in lieu of fireworks. We hope you are enjoying your day and wake up tomorrow with all your fingers still attached. Be careful out there… Happy 4th!

Breakfast: White bread toast, AMERICAN Peanut Butter blanketed with AMERICAN jam

Lunch: AMERICAN hot dogs and AMERICAN style potato salad, chocolate chip cookies

Dinner: AMERICAN cheddar cheese plate

Evening entertainment: Sherlock, S3 Ep.3*

*Since this log runs from noon to noon, evening entertainment reflects the previous evening. Paula assures me we will be having AMERICAN themed entertainment tonight. (I’m guessing “Team America, World Police”)

Current location: Lat 06 18.937S Long 110 25.891W
Distance traveled: 189 NM

Day 7: Fish on!

Another rolly 24 hours as the wind angle has us perpendicular to the swell. We are making good progress, though. On the bright side, we finally caught a fish, a beautiful mahi-mahi. It’s our first since leaving Panama. We thanked it for its sacrifice for our sustenance and we look forward to the variety of meals ahead… mahi-mahi pancakes, mahi-mahi ice cream, mahi-mahi brownies… let us know your favorite mahi-mahi recipe!

Breakfast: All natural yogurt with fresh fruit, granola and bee poop (honey), coffee

Lunch: Line caught free-range Pacific mahi-mahi ceviche served with old-fashioned soda crackers

Dinner: Penne pasta in a imported basil puree (imported from COSTCO Panama) served with toasted artisenal bread topped with olive oil and garlic

Evening entertainment: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Current location: Lat 05 27.286S Long 107 56.567W
Distance traveled: 175 NM

We’re making good time. Unfortunately the sea state leaves a bit to be desired. For the last two days it has been lumpy and confused with quite a bit of wind chop on top of a 2-3 meter swell. Winds are 15-20 kts, gusting to 25-30 kts. We reduced our mainsail considerably to minimize the corkscrewing effect we were getting when the gusts kicked up. It has helped but it does nothing to mitigate the constant rolling from the swell… back and forth, back and forth… And with the rolling comes a cacophony of noises – squeaks, creaks, grunts, groans – from hatches, doors, floors, lines, etc. A good night’s sleep has been elusive.

Breakfast: Continental Breakfast: House Made Bread, lightly toasted, accompanied by nut butter, fresh banana, Ecuador’s finest margarine and Galapagos Highland Coffee

Lunch: Assorted chips and a trio of dipping sauces: Hummus, Ranch and French Onion

Dinner: Lumberjack Stew: Sautéed smoked sausage, in a pepper, onion and tomato reduction accompanied with homemade artisenal bread and Ecuador’s finest margarine

Evening entertainment: Veep, S3, Ep.7

Current location: Lat 04 43.897S Long 105 23.904W
Distance traveled: 190 NM

I was standing watch early this morning, engrossed in my book and tucked in neatly behind the clear plastic panel that provides wind protection in the cockpit. All of a sudden, “SMACK!” A large flying fish hurled itself directly at my head, at the last moment hitting the panel and flopping to the deck, unfortunately just out of reach for a safe rescue and release – if it’s dark outside, we don’t leave the cockpit without two people on deck, and this wasn’t an urgent enough matter to wake Wags. Later this morning another flying fish attempted his kamikaze maneuver as I sat minding my own business. This one ricocheted off the panel and into the cockpit where it came to rest on a cushion. Thankfully, Wags stepped up to the task of returning the stinky interloper to the sea before it expired, and if you know how smelly flying fish are you understand why his chivalry is so greatly appreciated.

Nothing else to report except the day’s fun facts.

Breakfast: “Sailor’s Gruel”: Oatmeal with brown sugar and apple bits, coffee Lunch: “Dog’s Breakfast”: AKA Leftovers
Dinner: Artisanal Farm to Table Lasagna with locally sourced Ecuadoran Queso Fresca Evening entertainment: Magnum, P.I.: S4 Ep 13 “No More Mr. Nice Guy”

Current location: Lat 04 37.877S Long 102 51.859W
Distance traveled: 198 NM*

*Distance from the ship’s log may include an effect from current, which can inflate the number.

The wind picked up considerably yesterday afternoon, held through the night and continues to blow 15-20 kts, giving us our best daily distance to date, although the swell direction is making the motion quite rolly. Otherwise, an uneventful 24 hours (we’ll take it!).

In anticipation of dwindling new dramas (we hope), we’ve added the categories of breakfast, lunch, dinner and evening entertainment for your amusement.

Breakfast: Banana bread, hard-boiled egg, Galapagos orange slices, coffee
Lunch: “Delta Airlines cheese snack plate” – 2 types of cheese, chorizo sausage, kalamata olives, almonds, crackers and, of course, a chocolate Dinner: “Churched-up” Ramen (w/onions, cilantro, cabbage and pepper flakes) Evening entertainment: Episode of “The Americans”

Current location: Lat 03 42.916S Long 100 22.670W
Distance traveled: 194 NM

Day 3: Swim call

After successfully dodging the fishing fleet yesterday afternoon, we ended the evening by catching a line in our prop. How, you ask? We had been trailing a line along the side of the boat all day to prevent gooseneck barnacles from attaching to the waterline (the jury’s still out on how well it worked). With sunset approaching we powered up the engine and turned into the wind to reef the mainsail – we use the engine to hold us steady when needed, which is a big help in lumpy seas. It took only a matter of one turn and one blast of power for the line, about which we had completely forgotten over the course of the day, to wrap around the prop, tight as a drum, and the engine to die. It took only a split second for both of us to realize our stupid oversight. We didn’t have time to tackle the problem before dark so this morning we got to practice “heaving to” – this is a technique whereby you turn into the wind and counterbalance the mainsail and a headsail to put the boat in a state of no (or almost no) forward motion. It is very useful for riding out a big storm or, in this case, doing repairs requiring a slow speed. Wags went over the side in 13,000 ft of water and spent over an hour under the boat being dragged at 1.5 kts in 6-foot rolly seas working with a sharp knife to separate the newfound relationship between prop and line. It was a success – all fingers are accounted for and we learned a valuable lesson. Now, let’s hope for a less eventful Day 4.

Current location: Lat 03 10.33S Long 097 50.16W
Distance traveled: 154 NM

More of the same yesterday, light and variable wind most of the day and picking up to a steady 10-12 kts overnight. The seas have been fairly benign, although we wallow a bit when the wind drops. We’re settling in to a rhythm… sleep, eat, read, repeat. And we’re starting to throw in a couple of extras, such as a show or movie during dinner – last night’s show was Brooklyn Nine Nine. One of the boats that left the Galapagos ahead of us had reported encountering a Chinese fishing fleet about 300 miles offshore. In fact, two sailboats had snagged their long lines. We tried to time our departure to get us in the general vicinity during the day so we could see any dangers (if the fleet was even still there). Well, today, we found it… at least 15 large (200+ feet long) fishing boats with accompanying smaller boats. The closest we came was about a mile from the Fu Yuan Yu and we didn’t encounter any problems. We’re amazed, however, that there are any fish left in the ocean.

Current location: Lat 02 44.647S Long 095 36.238W
Distance traveled: 167 NM

We departed the Galapagos for the Marquesas yesterday afternoon under gray skies and a light mist of rain. The wind was light and variable for the first several hours but finally shaped up last night and we made up some ground. All is well and we’re working to settle into our offshore routine and sleep cycles – in other words, getting used to sleep in intervals of 2 hours and 4 hours at night with a watch in between, and making up the rest via naps throughout the day.

Current location: Lat 01 42.236S Long 093 19.880W
Distance traveled: 142 NM

Our friend, Tom, joined us in Panama City to crew with us on our passage. After leaving the big city behind and spending several days enjoying an isolated anchorage in the Las Perlas islands, collecting wild mangoes and coconuts and trading fishermen for lobsters, we departed for the Galapagos high on life.

Our good humor was short lived, however, as once we were underway the conditions rapidly deteriorated. Rain showers, wind and waves on the bow most of the time with a strong north running current (the Humboldt, maybe you’ve heard of it) became the theme for the next eight days. In the mornings the wind would start out usable but would shift into our face as the day progressed and collude with the current to bend our course away from our destination. We tried to gain as much westing as we could before it became illogical and we were no longer aiming towards the Galapagos. Tacking wasn’t a good option as due to the wind shift during the day our new heading after a tack would have had us moving backwards. Ultimately the wind would die at sunset. This forced us to motor during the night in an attempt to regain the ground we lost while sailing. Oh, and we couldn’t motor directly towards our goal as the waves would bash us unmercifully and the current would slow our pace to under three knots. We ended up with a sawtooth pattern that still frustrates me just to look at it.

We spoke to other cruisers who endured the same conditions and they said it was the worst passage they have had since sailing through the Mediterranean, across the Atlantic, and through the Caribbean. If we had it to do over again we likely would have made for Ecuador and explored the mainland a bit then crossed with more favorable wind and current to the Galapagos. The conditions to Ecuador would have been similar but it would have shaved some distance and allowed us to visit an additional place for the same amount of suffering.

One highlight was crossing the equator. For those unfamiliar, crossing the equator for the first time in a boat is a big deal. This is Neptune’s realm and if you aren’t careful to appease him, bad things could happen. Before one has crossed the equator he is considered a lowly “pollywog”, barely worthy of Neptune’s derision, but after crossing and paying the proper respects, one is considered a “shellback” and member of Neptune’s court. It is surprising that after 24 years in the Navy and over three years of sea time, I had never actually crossed the equator aboard ship. And so it was that I, too, needed to be inducted into Neptune’s court. Costumes were made, recitations were given, and rum was offered. Tom served as Neptune’s proxy for parts of the ceremony as he had the longest (only) beard. Our “baby on board,” the Gadabout rum cask, served as a stand-in for the kissing of the Royal Baby’s belly. Unfortunately the seas were too rough to swim across the equator but we were all ceremoniously doused with the chilly equator water.

It was a fun way to break up the passage and we all walk a little taller knowing that we are now honorable shellbacks.

We finally made landfall in the Galapagos after 7 days, 21.5 hours. The direct distance from the Las Perlas to the Galapagos is 844 miles. We travelled 1083. We arrived in Wreck Bay on San Cristobal Island mid-morning and our agent came out via water taxi to meet us. He gently urged me to check the cleanliness of Gadabout’s hull before the inspector arrived. Since the Galapagos are such a unique and pristine environment the government is very strict about arriving yachts being perfectly clean with no barnacles or growth whatsoever. I dove into the cold water and made sure that we were up to code. Almost as soon as I was in, a young sea lion came to check on me and see if I needed any help. Completely fearless she swam around me, came face to face to check me out, and closely monitored my progress. With that complete the crew took a much-needed nap before the entourage of officials arrived later that afternoon. I think we counted eight officials in total if you count the fumigation guy. Using an agent is mandatory and we were glad. The amount of red tape and bureaucratic hoops is dizzying. With Bolivar leading the charge everything went very smoothly and I just signed and stamped whatever was put before me.

Our first beer ashore tasted mighty good that night and thus began our exploration of this new and exciting place.San Cristobal welcome

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