Libeccio - It has been awhile!

Hi, hope you all are well.

As most of those who read this blog are also friends of ours on SV Libeccio on Facebook, you will have caught up with our time in the San Blas Islands, through the Panama Canal and to the awards night in Las Perlas (did we mention that Jane and I were the second fastest catamaran in the second leg!).

Its currently Monday the 12th at 8:30 pm (20:30 for you 24 hour clock people), we have had a tasty meal of vegetarian fajitas prepared by the internationally recognised team of Paul and Jane. Internationally recognised because Paul lives in BC, Canada and Jane lives in Kent in the UK. There is a huge bank of ominous looking clouds on the horizon and so we have gone to defcon 2 in preparation: all hatches closed, side plastics have been unfurled and tied into place and our cushions have been piled high on the table in the center of the cockpit to protect them from any potential rain.

But, I have gotten ahead of myself... lets go back to the start of this leg which is from Las Perlas Islands to the mysterious and famous Galapagos Islands. With my first degree being in marine biology I am particularly excited to get to the Galapagos. As a diver, it will be exciting to experience first hand the diversity of marine life and the access to manta rays and hammer head sharks to name a couple.

However, as a sailor, this leg is one that few look forward to- not so much because of the inclement weather, but, more because there is a consistent lack of wind as one approaches the equator. The equator, sounds pretty cool huh? But, i digress. This lack of wind often leads to a sailing strategy of: sail as far south as you can with wind and then motor to the islands. Pretty simple, and as far as we have experienced, pretty accurate as well.

Oops, digressing once more. Back to the start of this leg: the lead up to this leg was a little more fraught than normal. We had mentioned that we have been provisioning for the South Pacific since we dropped the boat in the water in December in Grenada. Food from St Lucia, wine and food from Martinique, more food from Santa Marta, even more food from Colon and food as well as fresh fruit and veg from the markets in Panama. The boat is truly the heaviest it has ever been and we have a pretty good larder to start off with. An additional bit of preparation for the Galapagos is the cleaning of your hull. Not exactly something we have had to worry about previously, but, in order to protect the ecosytem of the Galapagos, there is a zero tolerance for importing any form of wildlife, even including those that hitch a ride on the bottom of boats. When you arrive in the Galapagos, your boat will be inspected by a couple divers. If it not found to be satisfactory then you will be asked to leave the islands, go out to sea about 50nm and clean your hull before returning. Not much fun to be sure. As our boat had only been splashed (put in the water) at the beginning of December with 2-4 coats of a paint that stops this type of growth, we were pretty confident that we (I am using this in its most Royal sense-- i.e. it is me)would be able to clean the bottom pretty quickly when we reached the Las Perlas Islands.

We were a little later than expected getting to the Las Perlas islands as we had an issue with the bit that holds the pulley/block through which the halyard/bit of rope for the parasail and code zero (or, just big sails that are up front). We had contacted a rigger that was in Panama, were assured that it was an easy job, right up to the moment that that we had to go and he had not completed the job. He did finish the job and we were able to get to the Las Perlas Islands for the award ceremony (did I mention that ... oh, i did?). However, it meant that we had little time to do the final prep and so it was a bit manic on the day of departure.

So, for the first time for the first time during this World ARC- we actually made the start line on time- well, at least within 15 mins of the start. Horray!! It was a beautiful day with light-ish winds so we put up our Parasail right away. However, found that the wind angle did not support the use of the parasail and so instead we put up our Code Zero- basically, just a VERY big genoa. We went along quite happily with this and quite possibly had one of the top 10 sailing days in the past 2 -3 years. Winds were moderate, seas were comfortable and we were making good speed towards our goal. Given the direction of the wind, we elected to put up our parasail again, but, noticed what looked like a piece of rivet on the deck. Shortly after, the "bail" that we have fixed Panama failed completely and we were forced to bring the sail down. So much for the fix done by the rigger in Panamsa.

We were able to put our boat in a wing on wing formation- that being when we have the main out on one side of the boat and then the genoa out on the other side. Still pretty comfortable and quick. I now have to figure out a solution to the broken bail as we really need the ability to have a light weight sail in the front as we cross over to the Marquesas.

In any event, just as predicted, on Saturday afternoon (we left Las Perlas Friday at 11 am) we ran out of wind and had to motor. As the afternoon wore on the sky filled with squalls and soon we were surrounded and awaiting out "wash". The rain drops were huge, the volume of water was amazing and we were caught in it for over 4 hours. Thankfully, the winds associated with these squalls were surprisingly light and so we were able to motor through them easily.

We had to use out engines through the nite and all day during Monday. We are now under 400 miles to the Galapagos which is about half way. The wind forecasts for the rest of the trip to the Galapagos is for light winds with some slight improvement on Friday. We anticipate arriving at San Cristobal by the morning of Thursday and hope to be able to check in during the morning and start to tour the island by Thursday afternoon.

Not that you are concerned but we are eating like Kings and Queens- take last night for example- Lobster pasta using lobster that Jane negotiated for when we were in the San Blas islands. Very yummy!!

So I gotta go as it is my turn at the helm- it is pitch black as the moon hasn't risen yet.

All the best,

The good ship and crew of Libeccio