Over the last week, we have spent a lot of time shuffling around Panama City trying to get an Internet connection.
We finally get all the settings correct and for $30 we get a connection with a local ISP called Sinfonet. The only problem is finding a phone jack that we can use for more than 20 minutes. We can use the line in the BYC, but only for short periods of time. We do manage to download around 300 emails. We sure have been getting a lot of emails, thanks everyone! We really try and answer each one, but connection time and volume is starting to hamper our ability to respond on an individual basis.
March 17, 1997
We slip the mooring line and are off to the fuel dock to fill up on the old go-go juice. We wash the deck
with the fuel dock water hose. We nearly wash Al overboard with the first gush of water. There is a ton of water pressure and we basically power wash the boat.
We leave the fuel dock and motor out into the channel that stretches about 2 miles or so out into the Pacific Ocean. Thereís a great view of Panama City as we round the small spit of peninsula that flows along the port side.
Panama to Galapagos Passage
We toss the fishing line over the side and are rewarded with a huge mahi-mahi. A good omen,
we think, for the start of our passage.
The fish is huge, over five feet long! Aldo promptly cleans and fillets it for dinner. I should mention that Alex has acquired a number of nicknames over the last six months. We call him at various times: Al, Aldo, and Aldus. As for me, JJ or Jeff will suffice. Bill gets Billiam, Wilhelm, and Billski (Sergeiís name for Bill. Sergei has Serge or Sergeiski (Billís name for Sergei).
Not really a lot of wind on the first night out.
We start well and are gliding along at around 7 knots. Then, as soon as we decide to throw up a kite (spinnaker), the wind dies. We pull the spinnaker back down and prepare for our impending mahi-mahi extravaganza. Alex serves rice and a nice salad. The grill that we got in the BVI is holding up superbly. Nary a nick or scratch and it will still BBQ at 25 knots of wind and a good amount of heel.
Today we ran through a weird tide rip about 50 miles offshore.
We spotted a slick of debris about a half mile ahead and couldnít figure out what gives. As we got closer, we saw some standing waves and eddies roaring about with seaweed, garbage, and wood swirling about. We tried to steer the boat around, but bounced off a number of small tree limbs. The rip was only about 100 feet wide. Very weird.
We nearly hit a large tree floating about 70 miles offshore.
We just saw the tip sticking out of the water and were able to steer around the tree. We hear some bumps and groans in the middle of the night and I assume that we are bouncing off the remains of a small forest that got washed out to sea.
We have had no wind now for about 2 days and the heat is very oppressive.
We are getting near the equator and we definitely can feel the difference. We stop the boat on the third day and go for a swim. We thought we saw a whale and give chase but donít find anything. While we swim, we also scrape the prop and prop shaft free of barnacles and scuze. A lot of little jelly fish populate the ocean along with some very small fish that are enjoying our shade and barnacle remnants.
The wind starts to pick up as we get down to latitude 1 north.
We are now reaching at 8.5 knots. Great sailing! We are all waiting anxiously for our equator crossing. It was an old sailing tradition that when a sailor crossed the equator for the first time, he got hazed (basically got things thrown on him and whacked about a bit). Bill wants to have Japanese Sake as we cross. I head down below and cut out some cardboard tridents to put on our boat hooks. I plan on playing the part of Poseidon, God of the Sea. At 10:17 p.m. on March 22, 1997, we hit the equator and hoot and holler for a good fifteen minutes. We get a couple pictures of the reading of 000.00 on the GPS.
On March 23rd at 3 a.m., Bill sights land. Under the full moon, we approach the Galapagos Islands. During the night, we receive a visitor on our bow pulpit. It seems a blue footed booby was a little too tired to make it back to the islands, so he hitches a ride. He also fouls the entire pulpit and anchor area. Oh well, we will just have to wash it off when we get to land.