17 March 2014

Daddy Day

My dads birthday was on the best sunday ever. We started the day by taking a sail from one galapagos island to another galapagos island. On our way there we were playing our favorite game when suddenly we heard we heard a zip sound my dad jumped up and ran over to the fishing line it was going crrrrraaaaazzzzzyyyyyyy he took in down and and reeled in the fish. When it was finally on board I saw that it was a tuna and oh was it beautiful it had colars that I had never seen before on a fish. 
Its a bit gray-ish

Yellow around the fins and neon green on the body blue spikes and one big eye. But after a few minutes it started to go gray. It didn’t fight us very much only a few jerks. First we bled it then my dad got the book for  cutting and made all the precise little cuts here and there after he had some nice fillets of tuna I asked if I could see the tunas brain so me dad cut out the brain. When I saw it I almost threw up. All these little slimy tubes of well it wasn’t very big that explains why we cought it in the first place.

13 March 2014

San Cristobal

We arrived in San Cristobal, the first island in the Galapagos, late in the afternoon two days ago and anchored in a small anchorage by a humble little town. The Galapagos has such a fragile and unique ecosystem that measures need to be taken to protect it. When we came into the harbor a crew of men came onto our boat to check if we were carrying anything dangerous to the islands.  One guy actually dived to see if the bottom was clean!  

After that episode, during wich we had to clean the boat again, because of all the dirty footprints, we explored the town. Exploring a town, in my parents world, apparently meant, finding a place with wifi.  So we went around asking if anybody new where there was an internet cafe or ciber place.  Eventually we found a couple and settled down for school and work.

When we got here we didn't have very high expectations for San Cristobal, but turns out there are tons of things to do!  Of course we haven't done any of them ourselves but we have friends who have been here a long time already and they tell us about the different tours and excursions they have done, it all sounds pretty cool and I hope to do at least some of the activities before we move onto the next island.

San Cristobal is sea-lion paradise.  As soon as we pulled in we saw an abandond boat simply covered in sea-lions, there were sea-lions sunbathing on the deck, sea-lions sitting proudly on the transom and sea-lions lying in clumps in the cockpit.  We pile our fenders and jerry cans in our sugar-scoops so that the sea-lions don’t climb up and get our boat all smelly.  We don’t use our dingy because we don’t want the sea lions climbing in and piping it.  We have to step over them when we get onto land because they’re just laying all over the stairs.

Our Longest Passage Yet

After we crossed the Panama Canal, we set out on our longest passage yet, to the Galapagos Islands.  It was going to be around 10 days long even though we did 100 miles a day and the islands were 600 miles away.  The reason it was going to be that long was because we were sailing through the Duldrums, an area around the equator where the winds from each side meet, it is dead calm in the Duldrums.

We spent our days doing school work, playing games, sleeping, and watching the horizon for the familiar cloud shrouded gray lump that meant land.  With all the time in the world we explored new games and watched dolphins perform for us, doing flips and jumping sometimes 5 feet in the air!  We also noticed that the dolphins were somewhat smaller than the ones we observed in the atlantic.

One night my dad woke me for the equator crossing on his watch, I went up on deck and my dad showed me a light he had seen and told me to click into it on the AIS screen. I did and saw, to my surprise the name of the boat we had spotted was Field Trip! My dad smiled and told me that just a few seconds ago he had talked to Mark, the dad onboard Field Trip, they were going 1 knot, waiting until morning for Sarah, the mom, to wake up so they could go across the equator.  

We dismissed the idea of dumping salt water or going for a swim to celebrate equator crossing because we had just taken showers, instead we celebrated with ginger-ale and chocolate, Yum!

Casco Vieho

In panama there's a little old town called Casco Vieho. I've only been there a couple times but those times I had good experiences. We've walked around shopped got ice cream and then sat outside for a drink. It's wonderful. They have little stands set up every were with souvenirs. There's this kind of woven fabric with designs there called molas (mow-las.) There's also little parks were you can sit in the shade. The first dinner we had there was wonderful but we should've sat outside but it was still good.
I got pasta with red Sal's yummy.
Its the most beautiful place in panama.

Lots of souvenirs .

A lot of street musicians. 

Even more suvineers.

 A few days later we came to Casco Vieho again we walked around  and shopped a bit. There's this little park with stands that sell souvenirs and stuff like that we sat a wile in the park again then went and looked in stores for hats. My grandmother needed a new hat so I put a bright pink one on her head we laughed. When we finally decided were to eat I sat down tired from all the walking. We sat outside in a little park. Tonight there was a chilly breeze so I asked if I could use Stella's sweater she said I could I felt a  little better after I had a few bights of my pasta again with red Sal's we also had pizza then we went home and I passed out fully dressed on my bed. Casco Vieho is tiring.    

12 March 2014

Sea Lions Ahoy

When we came into the galapagos we were greeted by a stench that almost nocked me over. I looked around and saw an abandoned boat with gray lumps all over it. When I looked closer I saw they had snouts tails and little flippers I squealed Seeeeeeea Lions. I ran back to my dad and just cought him saying were gonna have to put fenders on our sugar scoops (sugar scoops are the back of the boat) or else the will jump up and get there stink every were. I begged him to let the sea lions come and stay on our boat and they said not for the night, but in the morning so we could just push them off if they got to far on our boat.
There almost like puppy's.
There favorite way to sit.
Just some brown lumps.
The best place to sit.

The next dat I woke up to the sound of Sea Lions barking. I ran out but they had already gon away. A little bit later i was helping my mom do work on the boat when we heard a splash I was over to the side of the boat before you could blink then we saw it splash under our boat I fallowed it around for a long time then finally I stoped when it swam away, I’m sure there going to become a nuisance some time or other but for now there wonderful.

04 March 2014

Panama Canal Transit

Finally, several small mountains of paperwork behind us, we set off for our much-anticipated transit of the Panama Canal. The protocol is pretty simple for pleasure boats. We muster in an anchorage called "the flats" just outside the Atlantic entrance to the canal to await an advisor, who is an official representative of the Canal and who joins us for the transit. From there it's a 2-day event: passing through the Gatun locks on the first evening and into Lake Gatun; then a 27-mile motor across the lake on day 2 to exit through the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks into the Pacific.

Three locks up, three locks down. No worries, as long as you don't mind being cheek to jowl with enormous freighters and steering through some tight spaces. Luckily, Lani was our skipper and we had four line handlers on board. So, my job was just to drink beer and eat popcorn.

Lani at the helm in the first lock

Our overly cautious agent advised us to anchor on the flats at 1 pm, even though our transit time wasn't until 5 pm. We did as we were told; but our advisor didn't even show until 8:30. We entered the first lock at 10 pm.

There are two options for transiting the locks. One is to create a raft with 1 or 2 other yachts, and then tie the four corners of the raft up to the walls with massive ropes, keeping the raft in the center of the lock. This is what we did when we crewed on Remi De, a friend's boat, a week prior in order to gain experience. It's a bit tricky to keep the raft together.

Option 2 is to tie up to a larger boat, like a ferry, which itself just snugs alongside one side of the lock. This is a far easier option. Lucky for us, this is how it played out on day one when a 100-year-old wooden tour boat called the Islamorada that was supposedly once owned by Al Capone and Andrew Carnegie (not at the same time) entered the locks. They pulled up to the side, our friends on Tehani-Li, a fifty-foot monohull, pulled alongside, and we tied up to Tehani Li.

Doors closing in the second lock

View from the second Gatun lock, showing how these form "steps" up into Lake Gatun

We finally exited out of the third lock into Lake Gatun at close to midnight. We tied up to a mooring near the locks and collapsed into bed. 5 hrs later, a rapping on the hull and our advisor for the second day, Ivan, came aboard. Get rolling, he said. We had an early exit on the other side.

Lake Gatun sits much higher than the Atlantic or Pacific, requiring a series of locks to step up and down on the transit.

Our motor through the lake was relatively uneventful—hot and lazy, with one crocodile spotted and numerous huge ships passing by. The passage is 27 nautical miles, about half of which is in the lake and half is in a narrow canal cut over a hundred years ago through the mountains that sit in the middle of the Isthmus.
The Canal is a constant work in process. Here's some dredging work, and a huge ship.

To transit the canal you have to have four adults on board, plus a fifth designated as skipper. Lani, who normally steers when we anchor or come into a dock, took the helm for the entire transit. We were nervous that the male advisors wouldn't take her seriously, but we lucked out with two great advisors who were very supportive, smart, and capable.

We were also lucky that one of our line handlers was Bruce Neville from Remi De, who brought along his daughter Remi. The girls broke up the monotony of it all with a marionette show on the deck in the middle of the Pedro Miguel lock.

This is a good description of the kind of activity we encountered throughout the canal. This is just before the last two locks, called the Miraflores locks. We had to drift close to the edge of the canal while this large freighter came out with tugs and sidled up to a fueling station. Then, we slipped into the lock behind it.

Nervewracking at first, you eventually get accustomed to it.

The last lock is the most dangerous, as a pretty serious current is always whipping out of it into the Pacific. Here, Lani had to put on display her awesome prowess at the helm, gunning Dafne out into the Pacific and into the next stage of our adventures. Well done.