On the Way to the Galapagos

This is day two of the passage between Isla Cocos and the Galapagos. And unfortunately but not unexpectedly there is no wind. We’ve been motoring for 24 hours and likely will the rest of the way south.

The good news is there was a huge pleasure boat at Cocos that was selling fuel to the sport fishing boats and when we asked to buy fuel the crew member said they were selling it for $6 a gallon. We figured out the minimum we needed to motor all the way and asked for that much. They gave us much more than that in one of their containers and just said they would “take care of it”. When Rob bought the containers back the owner said it was free! Apparently he had some sympathy for the little sailboat in an area with no wind. So we’ll get there just fine now.

And the better news is (actually I shouldn’t say this and jinx us) that I think we’re through the ITCZ now. I need to download the weather forecast this morning, but it was really far north when we left and hopefully it’ll stay there. We motored around a bunch of rain squalls yesterday, but when I woke Rob up at 8:00 for his watch last night we were leaving the last cloud behind and motoring into a starry sky. This morning there are scattered puffy clouds around (I should know what kind of clouds those are!), but no indication of huge thunderheads.

The sad news is I have two ear infections. But I guess the good news is they didn’t get infected until after we were done diving. And I have drops onboard and one is feeling better already. Needless to say, it sucks to be sick while on passage.

The worst news, though, is that Rob didn’t get to bring his camera on our last dive Tuesday morning. We went out and dove on a site called Dirty Rock, which is a rock about 1/2 mile off the north side of the island that we had dove on Monday morning. The dive guides from the liveaboard boats call it “the reason divers return year after year to Cocos”. And for very good reason. It was a spectacular dive and I’ll describe it more in detail when we get to the Galapagos and I have time to write a more detailed log. But our darling little kitten hasn’t quite learned what she can and cannot chew on and one of his cords for a flash had a short in it. Suffice it to say that when the eight to ten foot long hammerhead swam within five feet of us Rob & I both were very very sad that only Axel’s camera was flashing.



First and most important – Happy Birthday Leslie! OK, now an update. We arrived at San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos mid day on the 21st. We got checked in and are allowed to keep our boat here only 20 days, so we have much to do and as always not enough time. There aren’t too many boat chores, but a few important ones like refueling and changing the engine oil.

Sadly we motored the entire trip down from Costa Rica, so today Rob & Axel are going around finding enough jerry cans to borrow to get the refueling done in a reasonable amount of time. We have a permit that allows us to buy fuel tomorrow for $2.00 a gallon. If we have our agent provide the fuel he’ll charge $3.45 and won’t refuel us until the day before we leave. So Brit & I will spend a day shuttling the boys and jugs back and forth and collectively we’ll save about $400 refueling Yohelah and Hello World.

Rob & I returned late yesterday from a 4 day boat tour around to the other islands. Why we get off our boat and take a boat tour I’m not sure, but that’s just how it happens. We were part of a group of 15 on a tour that included a guide, all transportation, hotels and meals. For 4 days it was $440 each, which in our opinion was worth it completely. The group consisted of one additional pair of yachties and 11 other folks that all knew each other. There were 7 young people from a volunteer bio-reserve station that were here doing work to help clean out invasive plant species that have been introduced to the Galapagos from other areas, along with some relatives of one of the volunteers. They were all really nice and we enjoyed the group as much as the tour.


The first day we left early in the morning and made a bird watching and snorkeling stop at a couple of small uninhabited islands on the way to Floreana Island. Then at Floreana we had lunch at the home of a local family and took a truck up to the highlands to a tortoise reserve and some springs and caves. Then back onto the boat for a quick passage to Isla Isabella where we spent the night. The next morning we went to a tortoise breeding center and then up to Volcan Sierra Negra, where we had a 5 hour hike in the hot Galapagos sun. We hiked up to the edge of the volcano, which has the second largest caldera in the world, nearly 10 kilometers across. We went around the caldera a bit and down across some volcanic formations to a fissure where I think you could see right into the middle of the earth. Then back up to the caldera rim for lunch and a 1.5 hour hike back down to the bus after lunch. Needless to say, we were completely exhausted. But after the hike we went back out to see marine iguanas and snorkel with penguins. We saw lots of the swimming iguanas, which are endemic to the Galapagos (meaning they only exist here in the Galapagos and nowhere else on the planet). Sadly, the only penguins we saw were ashore and they weren’t in the mood to snorkel with us, which was unfortunate because Rob was dying to see what their little snorkels looked like.

Day three took us back to the boat for a a snorkeling stop and then to Isla Santa Cruz, the island with the biggest town. There we had an awesome lunch, a tour of some lava caves and then to the park to see the giant tortoises “in the wild”. That was followed by a stop at the Charles Darwin Research Center where we saw Lonesome George. George is lonesome because he’s the very last of his species and was rescued and brought to Santa Cruz many years ago. Given that these tortoises live well over 100 years he’s been lonesome for a long time and his species will be extinct once he’s gone. Attempts to produce offspring have been unsuccesful as different species are not fertile together. Three species of tortoise are extinct from three islands because of a volcano on one, invasive introduced species like rats and cats eating eggs on the other islands, and primarily from sailing ships taking live tortoises for meat.


Day four was a trip to a beach that Rob & I skipped so we could get some shopping done. I had accidentally dropped my scuba weight belt off the back of the dinghy in Cocos and needed to find a new belt and weights, along with some other miscellaneous and very difficult to find items. After one last lunch it was back on the boat and back to Isla San Cristobal. Neither Rob nor I have ever done multi day guided tours before and we have to say we totally enjoyed it. Anyone coming this way should look up Manolo at Sharksky Tours for a very busy but fun four days.

We’ve been keeping an eye on the winds between here and the Marquesas and it’s been pretty ugly. Before we left on our trip we heard about a boat that had been 5 days from the Marquesas for 10 days. There are just huge holes out there with nearly no wind. The forecast file I got today looks much better and is showing about 10 knots of wind just 300 miles south of here. Hopefully it’ll keep filling in between now and the 9th when we have to leave. With good tradewinds it’s a 20+ day passage for us. With really light and flaky winds it’ll be a lot longer than that.

Hopefully before then we’ll get all the pictures and videos uploaded from our stop here and at Cocos. We’re busy with chores and friends and scrambling to find some insurance since the broker we’ve been working with completely screwed up and dropped the ball and has left us uninsured at the very last minute. Anyone considering Anchor Marine in Seattle should find another broker.

Today on Yohelah we are a combined 100 years old and still recovering from our volcano hike 3 days ago…..

Getting Ready For The Big Passage

Many cruisers here in the Galapagos are, like ourselves, preparing for their longest voyage to date, and the activity in the harbor is apparent all around. Jugs of water and fuel are being delivered and sitting on side decks waiting to be emptied into the awaiting tanks. Awnings are coming down, dinghys are being hoisted and stored on deck, and windvanes are being prepared for the upcoming 3,000 mile passage. Our to-do list has been finalized and at a glance it doesn’t seem that long, but it just always feels like there are so many things to do.

The southeast tradewinds have not quite settled in yet and we’re a little too far north for them anyway, so we’ll have to make our way south pretty quick to find some wind for our passage to the southwest. A rhumbline course from here to the Marquesas will keep us in light air longer than we have fuel to motor and will take us into a huge hole that’s about half way between us and the Marquesas. Everyone is watching the weather charts and forecasts closely and comparing notes at the end of the day when we get together after finishing the day’s chores. When we arrived the anchorage was quite crowded and now it’s nearly empty. Boat are still trickling in but more have left to go south than have arrived.

We have a planned departure date of Wednesday morning, and will be leaving with our friends on Hello World and Carina. Hokus Pokus, a Swedish boat we’ve been anchored next to is leaving tomorrow morning on Mats’ (the skipper) birthday. The only fly in our ointment will be if we can’t get our new insurance finalized tomorrow. We’re insuring through a German company and the logistics of the time difference are causing some difficulties. But hopefully that’ll get ironed out tomorrow and we can check that off the list. There’s a morning and evening net where the boats enroute check in on the high frequency sideband radio and we’d like to start out with friends we’re traveling with so we can chat and compare weather and routes and things that are happening along the way.

The Galapagos have been a very interesting stop and we’re glad we got to go on our little four day tour and see the sights. Of course there was more here we could have done, but we’ll weigh anchor on Wednesday and as always be thankful we got to experience what we did. We’re anxious to get this 20+ day passage started and see how the winds will be. Landfall in the Marquesas will be very exciting for us and we’re ready to be on our way. French Polynesia is a highlight for many sailors and we’re happy to be joining that crowd this year.

Today on Yohelah we’re nearly ready to go and very excited for our upcoming 3,000 mile voyage…..

Wreck Bay, Galapagos is here