I can’t explain how good it felt to finally be in the Pacific. Our plan was to be on our way as soon as possible … That plan kind of backfired, because we ended up spending over 2 weeks getting ready, provisioning and doing small jobs on the boat. La Playita isn’t a bad spot to get ready, if you look aside from the fact that the water is filthy, so you can’t dive in to cool down and you have to pay $5 per day to use the dinghy dock there.
I also discovered that dropping something over the side was a poor idea … as it is impossible to find anything there once it sinks below the waves. This little mishap delayed us a week, when we had to wait for a replacement part … highly irritating. It did give us an extra week to buy things and get properly ready.
The first thing on our shopping list was actually free-diving gear and at Abernathy in La Playita our buddy Mario hooked us up with a 30% discount and we went all in. We all bought new masks and fins. Martin and I also invested in spearguns. We will now take the fight to the fish, instead of just sitting passively at the surface hoping that they will bite on a hook. Having said that we also invested in new fishing gear for the boat. The new fishing gear has already been paid off with the 4 amazing tunas we’ve caught and one … other type of fish that we didn’t know what was, but it tasted nice.
Before we left La Playita we managed to stock up on everything we needed, in terms of canned food, fruits and vegetables and pretty much anything else you can think of.
While waiting for the part to arrive, we motored over to Taboga to chill out there for a couple of days. We were hoping for awesome clean water and pristine beaches and though we found neither, we still really enjoyed it there. The rest of the crew headed ashore to explore, while I sat and wrote an article for a sailing magazine. In the evenings we played RoboRally and drank copious amounts of rum and coke. Life was good. I got free wi-fi from the boat, so when I saw that the package had arrived we hoisted anchor and shot back to Panama City and picked it up. We installed the part and headed off to Las Perlas after we did a bit more provisioning. Basically you can never have too much food, well … you can, but hey … we eat a lot.
On our way to Las Perlas we got to test our newly purchased fishing gear and like I mentioned earlier, it didn’t disappoint. The BBQ we inherited from Simon on Woolloomooloo (or something like that) also rocked.
We sailed straight to the island Contadora, where we dropped anchor and proceeded to enjoy the diving, surfing and beautiful water. It was difficult to fathom that this place was also Panama, because it was so different from both Taboga and the mainland. Martin and I also got to test out our new spearguns. I’ve named mine Mjølner and he lives up to his name.
We didn’t know how long we would stay in the Perlas, because while we enjoyed it there, we really wanted to get on our way to Galapagos. We were hoping for a good weather window and wouldn’t you know it … a good window appeared the day after we had moved down to the southernmost island.
We were actually on our way to what looked like a small town to search for an internet connection to get the latest weather (GRIB file), when we passed another catamaran (Alexis). I hailed them on the VHF and after they had informed me that the village didn’t have Internet, I asked them about the weather outlook and when they said it looked good, I made a snap decision and turned the boat around 180 degrees and headed out to sea after them. I figured this was as good as it could get. So eventhough we didn’t have any way to get weather updates while we were at sea, I figured we would do the 830 nm passage old school: By sailing where the winds would take us. As chance would have it they took us to Galapagos … We actually had a really good first 24 hours, where we did 170 nm at an average speed of 7 knots. I was superbly happy with this considering African Innovation has never been heavier: Tons of food, evem more beer and booze, 5 people with our personal crap, 200 extra liters of diesel and 200 extra liters of water. We sit very deep in the water.
All in all the passage took us 6 days and 18 hours, which by many was considered a fast passage, especially considering that we only used about 70 liters of diesel, whereas most boats had used around 200 liters. Let’s just say that going through the duldrums has a price and the price is motoring.
The actual passage was a true joy. We had calm seas, there was a bit of a swell, but the waves here are spread so far apart that you hardly feel them. The wildlife was also incredible, we saw a lot of dolphins, both in the daytime and at night, we saw killer whales, turtles and a number of different kinds of birds.
The shift system also worked well, with each person having one 4 hour shift at night and one 6 hour shift in the daytime. Well, one person gets two nigh shifts, but then he has no day shifts on the following day, so it feels like a day off.
Despite everything working really well on the passage we were all really happy when we sighted Galapagos on the horizon. Finally we were walking in Darwin’s footsteps.