Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Dodging lightening in the doldrums

It is 6:15 am but it is still jet black outside, apart from the
occasional flashes of lightening which are lighting up the whole sky.
They are coming from a huge thunderstorm cloud to our right which is
clearly visible on the radar screen and appears to be a couple of
miles wide. Using the radar we have managed to find our way through the
squall clouds over the last couple of hours and it is quite
reassuring to see the dark blobs on the screen moving behind us as we
put more distance between them and us. It is raining and the decks have
had a good rinse; the wind freshened a few hours ago and has veered 180
degrees in the last half hour, and Tintin's motion is a bit more rocky
than it has been for days in the lumpy seas produced by the squall.

Yesterday evening we were treated to a beautiful calm sunset, with two
shearwater seabirds flying in perfect formation around us for almost an
hour. We saw a couple of anvil topped towering clouds in the
distance and wondered if we might encounter our first doldrum squalls

After the sun had gone down, out of nowhere we suddenly found ourselves
passing through a band of drifting branches and logs, coconuts and a
small amount of rubbish. Rob went to the bow to point out the
ones to miss... Looking around it was clear that the currents of the
ocean were at work - the water looked smooth in some places and
ruffled in others (with no wind to speak of). Maybe it was some sort of
eddy produced between the south equatorial current (taking us west)and
the eastbound equatorial counter current to the north. It is easy to
see how a tortoise might have made it from the mainland to the
Galapagos Islands all those years ago, clinging to a log. What tenacity!

Monday, 18 February 2019

Bobbing towards the Galapagos

All is very gentle in this part of the Pacific as we slowly make our
way towards the Galapagos.

After a good sail on Saturday the wind died overnight,and yesterday we
had enough wind to help us along for a few hours in the afternoon. This
morning when I took over from Rob at 6am there was just enough of a
breeze to use the sails again. Turning the throbbing engine off is
wonderful. Then you can hear the gentle slap and ripple of the water on
the hull.
But as the wind drops, then so does the lovely sound of the water
slipping by. It is replaced by the snap of idle rigging as Tintin rolls
gently in the small swell, and an annoying rattle from within the boom.

Rob's head pops up the companionway and he suggests it is time to use
the engine again. And our speed in the right direction leaps from 3 to
6 knots.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Preparing to visit the Galapagos Islands

You can't just rock up in a boat to the Galapagos Islands. The
Ecuadorians work very hard to look after this unique archipelago and to
protect it as far as possible from the impact of humans, balancing this
need with allowing visitors to come and see its wonders.
The World ARC team have taken on the administration of our visit to
make it as simple as possible for us. But it still feels like preparing
for a test!
Crew lists have to be submitted months in advance, with 5 paper copies
(at least one in colour) of each crew member's passport. The ARC team
apply for cruising permits which allow us to visit 3 designated
anchorages within the island group.
We have been extensively briefed about the rules and regulations that
apply to visiting yachts. We have to make sure that the hull of the
boat is squeaky clean, and it will be inspected by divers on our arrival
to check that nothing is growing there. If it fails inspection we have
to turn around immediately and leave Galapagos waters (50 miles
offshore) to clean the hull and then return. Best avoided.

This photo shows Tintin being fumigated to make sure there are no bugs
on board. Every visiting yacht needs to show a recent certificate of

We also need to make sure we carry no prohibited food items on board, to
protect the ecosystem there. Most fresh fruit and veg is banned, no
fresh milk or cheese, no eggs or meat, and the list goes on... no
bovine sperm either!
We are expected to use only ecologically friendly detergents, fair
enough. Buy shares in Ecover.
On board we are expected to use 3 rubbish bins, each labeled
appropriately, for organic/recycling/non recyclable. We have been given
signs to stick by our oil stores (Contaminated items!), by the heads
(do not discharge the holding tank within 3 miles of shore!), and in the
cockpit (do not throw rubbish overboard!).
It is great to see that protection of the environment is taken so
Upon arrival, we need to hoist the quarantine flag under our Ecuador
courtesy flag. We have to stay on board and await inspection by a team
of 5-6 officials. They are:

The Galapagos Agent
Port Captain & Navy
SICGAL - The Galapagos Inspection and Quarantine System
Health and Narcotics (!)
Galapagos National Park

And when all is done, we can go ahead and explore! Can't wait...

Settle down now...

After the ups and downs of the last couple of weeks, it may disappoint
some of our readers if things get somewhat more samey for the next week
or so. I'm afraid that I'm rather looking forward to some plain sailing
for a few days.

We started stage 3 from Las Perlas to the Galapagos islands
yesterday. 850NM direct, but we will probably have to do more miles in
order to keep the wind for as long as possible. The tactics are to head
slightly west of south from the start, using the last breathes of the
Atlantic trade winds that make it over the Panama Darien Gap in the
Pacific. These will peter out within a couple of hundred miles of the
coast and from there on we will be in the doldrums (or the ITCZ as it's
proper;y known). This is the area between the NE trades in the north
and the SE trades in the southern hemisphere where winds are light.
From then on it will be a motor or drift SW to the islands,

It's now about 4:00am and we are just about clearing the shipping lanes
leading to the Panama Canal. The wind and sea are very gentle and
we're bopping along at 6 knots SOG, helped by some current, I think.
The moon has just set and I now need to start to orientate myself with
the changing night sky. The Pole Star isjust above the horizon still,
but not identifiable and the sky to my south is all new to me.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Richard’s recovery in Christchurch NZ

Richard's recovery programme is starting with a chocolate ice cream!

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Nicki Murray <nickolamurray@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2019, 11:08 pm
Subject: Richard's recovery
To: <dorothy.benalla@gmail.com>, Christine Martin <christine.martin@talktalk.net>, Matthew Shaw <matthewzshaw@gmail.com>, <susanhepworth7@gmail.com>, Dave Hepworth Yahoo <d_hepworth63@yahoo.co.uk>
Cc: Matthew Welch <stephaniewelch_2005@hotmail.com>, <peter.murray.ca@gmail.com>, Annie Le Pine <napenape@windowslive.com>, Richard Shaw <drichard.shaw@gmail.com>, Rob and Jo Withers <jo@redholme.com>

... starts with chocolate ice cream on a hot afternoon!
All being well he should be discharged tomorrow around lunchtime

Sent from my iPad

Tintin wins....

Prize news

The WARC has a number for prizes for each leg including:
1st, 2nd,3rd for each class of boat
accurately estimating your finish time
a fun prize - this time guessing the total age of all crews crossing the start line
We weren’t mentioned in the ETA competition results,which was a shame because we thought we were only 10 mins off and  the winner was over an hour off! We was robbed... but felt it would be churlish to complain so we took the honour quietly ourselves instead.
Next, the total age competition. The answer was 5000 and we were runners up with our guess of 4986. Yay!
Then after the position results ( you’ve guessed it, no prizes for Tintin there) Hans and Astrid from Zwerver took the floor. They are leaving the ARC as they sail direct to the Marquesas next, and they wanted to thank the yellow shirts and say goodbye. They had also got together with George and Bobby on Cabana to work out a fitting goodbye to the fleet, and to do this they decided to award a perpetual trophy, like you have in other sporting events. It is to be awarded at the end of each leg by the previous winner to the most deserving boat, overcoming adversity or being heroic or really any reason you care to invent.

They produced a smart blue blazer with “ Good luck jacket” embroidered on the top pocket. The shortlist was Aurora B for the steering problem, Hope for their engine troubles, and Tintin for Richards injury and the anti fouling debacle.

And the winner was.....
a little tight across the shoulders....

We are honoured to be the first recipients of this, and will give careful consideration to how, and to whom we pass it on in the Galapagos.

Incidentally, it was really sad that 'Hope' a Hylas 49 with a a lovely US couple on-board, have had to retire from the ARC.  They have had water in their oil of their engine for a few weeks now and thought they had fixed it while in Shelter Bay.  However, the problem has returned and the diagnosis is a cracked engine block - which is about as terminal for an engine as it's possible to get.  So they remain in Panama, downhearted, while the caravan moves on....

Wednesday, 13 February 2019