With lightning season fast approaching Panama, we decided to high tail it out of there. There is one Australian boat that has been under-going repairs for the last seven months and they say about four boats a year get badly damaged or sink as a result of a strike. The wind predictions hadn’t been entirely in our favour but they hadn’t been for a while. Any passage out of the gulf of Panama was going to entail some motoring. Despite the reports we had our share of good winds – and lulls.
Luckily when the lulls were occurring we didn’t jump to start the iron wind. Instead we chose to drift until the wind arrived. One of these days had us with a positive current sending us ‘rocketing’ at 1kt towards our destination. Then the current changed and on the next two occasions of drift it had us going backwards. Fortunately, this conserved our fuel reserves for when the shroud, holding the mast up, broke. We were having ten more knots of wind than the predicted ten and we were sailing on a close reach when Thomas noticed the breakage. Frustration set in afterwards as we were forced to motor for two days while the, usually appreciated, wind whipped up seas around us.
Having given our homage to Neptune as we passed over the equator, he provided us safe passage to Galapagos with our mast intact. We sent him a cold beer and recited a poem I’d created for the occasion:
Our Plea to Neptune
Oh Neptune, Mighty Neptune,
We call you from the deep,
We apologise in advance,
for disturbing your well earned sleep.
It is we your lowly subjects –
making such a din,
From Deutshland there is Thomas,
and from New Zealand, there is Gaylyn.
We humble ourselves before you,
so your blessings you will give.
That as we cross this wide ocean and yonder,
in a hope you let us live.
We are just two wandering souls,
passing the equator on this day.
On this journey to adventure,
we happen across this way.
It is your mighty trident,
and the forces that you yield,
With that you smile upon us,
as we continue across your field.
We ask that you embrace us,
to join you as your motley crew,
That you honour us with your splendour –
It is given to just a few.
We promise to respect your kingdom,
that is wonderful and vast.
We’ll nurture her with love,
and wonder at her colourful past.
We’ll tolerate the lulls,
and endure a wistful gale.
But we’d appreciate storm avoidance tactics,
as we continue on our sail.
We ask that you enter us,
into your magnificent realm.
We will protect it,
in return for a blessing at the helm.
We are honoured by your presence,
and we hope you hear our plea.
We are your devout subjects,
at the mercy of your sea.
Our next challenge was the officialdom of Galapagos. Thank goodness Thomas and I had dived and scraped most of the barnacles off the bottom in the Las Perlas islands outside of Panama. We paid a price of being infested with small prawn type nipping creatures through our hair, crevices and through our equipment. We missed some hard to get to barnacles on top of the rudder which Thomas attended to in the deep once we realised we had to make the stop.
We welcomed our ten officials on board with much appreciated glasses of iced tea. Then a thorough inspection of cupboards and documents took place. A sigh of relief could probably be heard all the way to Oz when we were given the all clear. Most boats put on new anti-fouling or have professional cleaning done before arrival. We were taking a risk by doing it ourselves but we’d already decided to avoid this stress by not coming here in the first place. Thomas had already told them that we weren’t prepared to take Qi, in her current condition, out to the regulated 70 nautical miles to be cleaned, at a high cost, if needed. Obviously, that wasn’t required anyway and we patted ourselves on the back for the diving job we had done. It was hard work. Not only had it increased our speed by 1.5 knots but it got us into Galapagos.
Anticipation was high when we were directed to a machinist who claimed he could fix shrouds and had done so in the past. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the length and thickness of the required wire. So now the process of importing the part from the States begins. It may take up to thirty days, which is ten over our current allowance. We’ll have to deal with those formalities when the time comes.
Now we can look at enjoying this beautiful nature land. The town here on Santa Cruz is delightful. Aimed at tourism, it is neat and decked out with safari garbed tourists. They’re obviously a different breed to the run of the mill tourist. Today we will do some research into making this stay unique and worth the extremely exorbitant entry fees of $860. Now we’r
e here, we’re quite excited about it. More pics below…