Friday, 31 March 2017
It's just after midnight now and I'm on till three. We have found the trade winds! Yayyyy! Finally 20+ knot winds which is making us go super fast )well...9knts) Tin Tin seems very happy and it's lifted all of our spirits, I think!
We even caught a Dorado which wasn't very big but enough to feed 4 of us for supper, a welcome treat! Again, I prayed for the poor soul and filleted it wasting nothing. We've had more bites on the lines all day but lost the one on the rod as it was too strong to pull in and then something very big snapped the wire off the other! Evidence there are beasts lurking in the deep blue!
One thing that makes me smile when I flush the heads is that you get all this glowing phosphorescence sparkling up the loo bowl! Haha! It still amuses me every time! The little things...
We caught another Dorado today- quite a big fella, this time Justin reeled it in and it really fought against him and was a nightmare to kill. Actually, I couldn't watch this time, as I hated seeing it struggle, poor thing. More prayers were said by me and he was enjoyed for supper. A delicious marinade of lemon butter and dill, a beautiful creation made by Papa Paul! I think we are going the perfect speed for fishing now so it looks like we'll be eating the freshest of fish most days- must not take it for granted!
Today there were lots of flying fish meeting their unfortunate end as they miscalculated the waves and land with a crash on Tin Tin. We'll be eating them soon enough if food stores diminish ; ) I think they might be very bony though which is a risky business for me with my recent history!
The clouds are tall and fluffy today which is said to be typical of the ITCZ where the two trades meet. We seem to have left the mushrooms behind and with it the fluky wind. We averaged 8.5 knots today and top speed 10.5 on my watch! We're flying waheyy!
I had the most eventful shower this evening, the swell is pretty big at the moment and I was being swung around all over the place, shampoo foam flying everywhere and it felt like I'd been to power yoga from all the balancing ! Because the shower is right at the bow- you get the full force of the crashing waves!
So, all the electrics failed last night and Papa and Uncle Mark have been down below trying to fix the problem all morning. Something to do with bypassing the alternator?? I think they have solved the problem temporarily but need some new parts which hopefully mummy can bring out with her. I'm sure Papa will give a more detailed account of the electrics on his blog (occasional problem solving page!)
It's my turn to cook today and we still have half a side of Dorado left...
After some deliberating.... for the menu du jour, I ended up marinating the Dorado in fresh ginger, lime zest, two special chillis, soy sauce and sesame oil and then making a little roomy parcel out of baking paper for it to steam in the oven (en papillote) accompanied by vegetable egg noodle stir fry and tiny little limes (with bizarrely bright orange flesh but green skins, If that's confusing enough, the oranges have green skins and yellow flesh! I feel tricked) Again, talking endlessly about food.. sorry I can't help myself!
It's been the perfect day of sun and blustery trade winds and I've felt alive with wonderful energy like every breath makes me smile. We saw spinner dolphins in the distance today.. I do wish they'd come and play!!
Not much to report on my day so far. It's been a lovely morning starting at 6 for my watch to see the awakening sunrise lighting up the peculiar shaped clouds, one which distinctly looked like a big humpback whale... maybe that was a sign of what is to come? I hope so : D
The wind is a little gentler today but that's no hindrance on our speed as the current is nicely with us. But it's slowly making its way east behind us which is making us steer off course a little to keep up the pace. We're not as keeled over as we have been the past few days which meant that I had a beautiful yoga practice on the aft before the sun became too powerful.
I thought I'd use this quiet afternoon to try and master the ukulele once more but I really don't think this is where my talents lie. I've ended up after an hour or so becoming increasingly frustrated with my ineptitude! You know when you get a little feeling that you might have hidden talents that you haven't discovered yet..? Well, this was one of them- I thought the ukulele and I would be at one with each other and beautiful music would float out over the ocean ; ) It so turns out that my dreams are shattered and I've made the crew endure more than is fair... Woe is me!
I'm just sitting at the bow now watching the flying fish skilfully take flight long distances skimming the waves and planning where their next entry into the water will be. They're quite mesmerising!
The sea is a deep teal colour today with little white horses breaking on the crests. I've seen two birds circling an area of water and taking a decisive plunge to catch its prize. It's quite something to see them so far away from land and I wonder when they can give the tired wings a rest? Sometimes the birds are a sign that a whale is below so I've been keeping a watchful eye.
Mark and I smelt a very strong and distinctive marine smell at night what could only be described as a very warm and musky/fishy/seaweady aroma which we believe was the breath of a whale nearby. It certainly smelled somewhat of mammalian sea life. You could almost feel it's presence.
I still think I'm in a dream sometimes... this boat life seems so surreal being a tiny speck in the middle of such a vast ocean accompanied by wild waves and wondrous sea life and with only the wind to carry us.
This is the only way I'm keeping track of what day it is by writing this blog otherwise the days all seem to merge together in a wondrous expanse of sunrises, sea, sunsets.... this breezy boat life : )
Monday, 27 March 2017
We have a long voyage ahead of us - 3000m across the Pacific and I can't quite get it into my head that we won't see land for at least another 21 days! We have painstakingly little wind and so reluctantly we have to motor if we're to get to Hiva Oa in time for Uncle Mark to fly back for Cousin Matt and Elisa's wedding!
That night on my watch, the moon is just a slither. This leaves the sky dark enough to see the never ending mass of stars that feel close enough to touch. Some lie so low on the horizon that I keep mistaking them for mast lights which is somewhat disconcerting at times. I see three shooting stars that night, one of which fell half way through the sky!
24th March - Day 1
As it's Marks birthday that coming day, I blew up loads of balloons to decorate the boat and decorated the table with shells before he came up on watch at 6. I almost lost a few balloons as they tried to escape into the Pacific with the breeze but I managed to rescue them from the deck in the dark. One or two popped giving me such a fright! Anyway, I think the birthday boy was happy to see the effort made (I hope) as he came up on deck to see the sun rising.
Later, I baked a chocolate cake whilst Mark was snoozing but I'm surprised the delicious smells coming from the oven didn't wake him! After a spot of dolphin watching, afternoon tea was followed by blindfolded piñata smashing on the aft deck which I had acquired in Santa Cruz especially for the occasion. Mark then enjoyed setting the broken piñata on fire into the sea and sending a cardboard boat on fire sailing off into the moonlight. What more could a birthday boy want.... chocolate cake, piñata and now pyrotechnics! Haha!
25th March - Day 2
No wind at present, but last night on my watch, the wind picked up enough to justify switching off the engine which allowed us wonderful peace for most of the night. Sadly it's died down since this morning but with the occasional squall which brings heavy rain and strong gusts which pass fleetingly. Apparently, this is quite normal behaviour for the doldrums. Lightning threatens in the distance as i finish my night watch. The stars have kept me company once again. Sirius always takes me by surprise as he's so bright and pretty I the sky twinkling multi colours.
26th March - Day 3
It's still gentle seas but forecast looks as though we might pick up some trade winds on 29th...fingers crossed!
I saw big whale splashes in the distance today but no other eyewitnesses as they were all lounging below deck. I think it could have been a humpback considering the size of a the splash and I think I saw it's tale end but it was a bit to far away to determine.
We've just been feasting on a Lebanese supper which I spent most of the afternoon creating down in the galley whilst lovely sounds of the ukulele floated down from the cockpit from the three man band. All vegetarian with falafels, hummus ( NB chickpeas take ages to crush with a fork!) Harissa courgettes and home(boat)made beetroot, cabbage and chilli pickles.
Another apricot sky as the sun goes down.
26th March - Day 4
It's always a great watch to come up on deck to see the sun rising and how it instantly warms the air with its first few fiery rays. I'm already peckish and it's only 6am, so I make my way to the aft where our long stem of Galapagos bananas are hanging and I pull off a ripened one that has yellowed before the rest. They are delicious yet tiny but enough to satisfy my early morning munchies! They are all going to ripen in quick succession, so it looks like we'll be feasting on bananas over the next few days! The pineapples and big papaya all ripened far too quickly in this heat and we struggled to eat them all before they went too fizzy.
We spotted pilot whales today not too far from Tin Tin and we beckoned them to come closer and play but they had other ideas and travelled in the opposite direction!
We've had the fishing lines out pretty much since leaving the Galapagos but we are yet to have any joy. Justin stands at the aft as I write, tweaking at the lines with hopeful optimism as the sun is soon to go down.
I can see rain clouds in the distance as the lowering sun streams through them. There are lovely smells coming from the galley as Uncle Mark prepares what I can already tell is going to be a delicious supper...
I realise that I talk a lot about food on here but it is somehow what we revolve around to create a certain structure to our drifting days out in the middle of the Ocean... Also, it shouldn't surprise anyone that food is usually on my mind most of the time anyway!
I hope you enjoyed reading...
Sending love from the big blue seas.
Ps I've now found out how to post blogs whilst out at sea using Tin Tin's very slow satellite connection so I can now send more regular updates rather than bogging you all down with a huge entry that quite truthfully drags on far too long, don't you think?!
Whilst we were waiting for clearance I went for my first paddle on Dora in Galapagos and there are sea lions everywhere! They're quite inquisitive and certainly not shy and were happily splashing around me and basking on their backs in the sun. They have gorgeous little faces with whiskers and ears and then a huge blubbery body! A lot of the boats around us especially the fishing boats have been overrun by them as they bask on the decks... it's only a matter of time before we had a keen visitor astern who snuck up onto the aft steps of Tin Tin! We've also seen two spotted eagle rays mating!
When we go ashore (finally!) the whole pier and steps are covered with sea lions, occupying even the benches! After our meal out we take the water taxi back to find Dora had two sea lions sleeping on her, I really thought they would struggle to balance on her but they seemed very comfortable...Oh poor Dora!
The next day we ventured to Playa de las iguanas which was very dramatic with huge boulders made from volcanic lava bubbling into the sea and large dragon-like iguanas soaking up the sun.
There was big surf crashing against the rocks but further in, sheltered by the breakwater was a calm bit of sea where there were more sea lions and two turtles poking their heads out so scrambled across the rocks and dove in with my go pro to film them . They were pretty large and just gorgeous! They're really docile and swim along so gently. I think they are wonderful creatures! It makes me sad that so many were eaten in Darwins day. Actually mainly tortoises who could go without water for a whole year were piled into whaling ships alive and there they would stay confined until they were killed for the ships supper. Reportedly thousands were slaughtered each year. Even Darwin ate them when he visited!
If we're not looking at the human impact on the land. It doesn't feel yet as if much has changed from Darwin's time, having read his account of the Galapagos. I still don't think the animals of the island have learned or yet evolved to be afraid of humans as they really don't give a monkeys if you get close, quite surprisingly the birds.
When we started to walk back from the bay, the heavens opened and it chucked it down! I don't know what it is about me and water but it felt sooo good and I relished in this torrential rain, washing away the salt from my skin. That is what was making this whole island so lush. I think Charles must have come at a dryer time of year (must reread to establish his dates here) as what he described was an arid and unforgiving landscape that he couldn't quite believe that anything thrived here. He does say though towards the end of his stay here, the rains came and suddenly the dead looking fauna came to life and flourished very quickly..
Here on San Cristóbal we visit a huge volcanic crater bowl called El Junco perfectly round and filled as a lake. The panoramic view of the island is stunning and I try to imagine to the time it was formed all those millions of years ago as an erupting volcano.
One of the most incredible experiences I had those first few days in the Galapagos was my snorkelling adventure to León Dormido (aka Kicker Rock) I went along with some ecology students who were all equipped with diving gear to study he wall. I wasn't diving this time as I needed to have a refresher dive as it's been so long since PADI. As soon as I was in the water looking down through my mask I spotted 2 sharks, learning from my guide that they were black tip sharks. They were very long and wonderfully graceful as they snaked menacingly into the depths. We swam the circumference of the rock studying the abundance of life along the steep wall which plummeted vertically 50m below, beautiful star fish, colourful coral, striped endemic Galapagos fish, parrot fish and turtles. We entered one entrance of the cave which cut right through the rock. As we entered the darkness, below I could see sharks gliding in the depths. They were smaller than the black tips and I was informed they were the great Galapagos sharks. The fish didn't seem to be too bothered by them so I free-dived down to get a closer look at them and some footage on my go pro! Whilst we were in the cave, the waves came crashing in with a whole load of playful sea lions who had fun dancing around us and diving for fish. They were huge and it could've been quite intimidating but I just thought it was the most wonderful experience playing with these creatures and they made me laugh so much into my snorkel!
We had a a gentle night sail over to the next island Santa Cruz but we received a Mayday as dawn broke over little Santa Fe island en route to Santa Cruz. Dad contacted a small local cruise boat who came out to search, although they had not received it. It kept being repeated and finally the position was that of a boat at anchor in a bay. The cruise boat went to investigate, but after about two hours we reckon it was an error in their AIS system (or ours perhaps). The Santa Fe gremlins also stopped our speed working, then our GPS. Very eery!
Arriving in Puerto Ayero, Santa Cruz poor Papa had to deal with yet more formalities which seem to take up so much of his time. We do however, get round to exploring some of he island where we walked through huge lava tunnels which were formed when the outer layer of molten lava flow solidified. The tunnels seemed to me quite vulnerable to collapse as there were huge chunks of fallen lava partially blocking the tunnel. They were over a km long and at one point we had to crawl under on our bellies! We also walked through the lush green forest around the tunnels and saw more giant tortoises eating guavas in the torrential rain!
I decided that I couldn't miss out on a proper dive experience here in the Galapagos, where the marine life is some of the best in the world so I booked a dive and told them I would need a refresher too! Papa and Justin joined the trip to snorkel. So we set of on our boat trip with our guides and two other divers at the crack of dawn. Once reminded of the ropes by my wonderful instructor Luis, I soon relaxed and remembered how much I love the underwater world! It's so peaceful down there and magical. We swam with about 15 hammerheads and a group of about 10 white tip sharks really close to us we could almost touch them! They didn't seem bothered by our presence and they glided around very gracefully with a slight menacing glare. We also saw a family of spotted eagle rays and it's amazing to just float there whilst they go about their daily life around you, I was so entranced by them that I followed them temporarily losing my dive group! It's ok, our guide had a bell and I was shortly reunited with them. I wanted to stay down a lot longer in this dream world but our tanks were getting low so we had to surface and there was a strong undercurrent so we were having to hang onto rocks below. There were huuuuge parrot fish and puffer fish and rainbow fish and zebra fish and hundreds of Galapagos striped fish and amazing azur starfish!
Thank you Galapagos for sharing your beautiful nature with us. I hope you are protected and conserved enough to sustain your magical life and rare beauty.
I'm sad to leave these magical islands so aptly named as "Las Islas Encantada" but onwards we must sail South across the Pacific towards the Marquesas Islands.... a long voyage that should take us around 21 days or more..
Hasta lluego mis amigos!