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2009 Logs

April 2009

March 31, 2009 - San Cristobal Island, Galapagos, Ecuador

Land Ho, again! After 6 ½ days in the Pacific Ocean the crew of Imagine landed in the Galapagos. Except for the drone of the engine, which we needed to run often, the passage was peaceful and calm. The Pacific Ocean lived up to the its name. In fact, most of the trip the ocean looked more like a very calm lake where you could water ski instead of the big blue. Unfortunately, the calm winds forced us to motor sail much more than we would’ve liked. But after many rough passages in the Caribbean, the crew of Imagine was happy to at least have calm seas.

The kids were able to get into a very nice routine during the trip. We completed much school work, art projects, played games, and baked. It was even calm enough for Jane and Caroline to make Grandma’s apple dumplings as a treat. Jane and Marc also got into a nice routine for watch. During a passage like this someone needs to stay on watch 24 hours a day. During watch you must look out for other boats, watch the wind speed and direction, and assure that the boat stays on course. During this passage we came across fishing boats floating hundreds of miles from land, ran over their lines, and had a close call with another. The only other boats we came across was a ship of some sort, which got a little too close for comfort - especially at 3am. We tried hailing the boat, but think they were asleep at the helm. Also on watch (seems to always happen in the middle of the night) Marc saw a strobe light flashing - not sure what it was, we got out our spot light and circled - it appeared to be a weather buoy of some sort, and no harm or problems, just a little more excitement than we want at 4am! Since it is just the two of us for the overnight watch, developing a routine has been a challenge to say the least. Finally with this passage , we seemed to have a nice routine where we each were able to get 4+ hours of sleep at a time which almost felt like a whole night.

Almost everyday we saw dolphins swimming. One day we even witnessed a dolphin feeding frenzy as the dolphins chased other fish out of the water as they stalked their prey. It was quite a commotion. We think we saw a whale. It was quite far away but we are sure it was a pilot whale - just ask Grant. Fishing was light on this passage. We only caught one fish in 6 days but at least we were able to enjoy Spanish Mackerel one night for dinner.

The biggest highlight of the passage was crossing the Equator. The GPS read 00.00.000 at 1:00 AM two days before we arrived. We woke up the kids to celebrate sailing into the Southern Hemisphere. We had a small celebration that night by dumping some red food coloring in the ocean to make the equator line. The next day we had a ceremony where Marc dressed as King Neptune and congratulated the kids as they moved from Pollywogs (northern sailors) to Shellbacks (southern sailors). They dressed as turtles and received turtle necklaces.

We are already enjoying the Galapagos as we watched the sea lions frolicking by the boat. They are EVERYWHERE here. They lay on fishing boats, sailboat swim platforms, and dinghies. In other ports we have had to raise our dinghy out of the water so that it wasn’t stolen, here it is so the sea lions don’t sleep in it. They also tend to leave a smelly present everywhere they lay. The kids are so excited to have one our boat that we immediately had to lower the swim ladder so that they could swim up. Although it would be cute, Marc and I aren’t so excited about the after effects.

The Galapagos Islands are highly regulated for cruisers. It is not like other destinations where we have been able to cruise at will to any port. In the Galapagos, there are two options. One is to stay at one port for up to 20 days and take tour boats to see other islands. The other option is to get a cruising permit that allows you to go in your own boat to 3 different islands (San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, and Isabela) to explore. In order to see the islands more fully we decided to get the cruising permit. It, of course, costs more but we think that it will be worth it. We can’t wait to start exploring here. We can already tell that it will be like nothing we have seen before.

April 17, 2009 - Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos, Ecuador

Well it’s hard to believe that our time in the Galapagos is almost over. We have had a fantastic time and have come to gain an appreciation for the islands, the wildlife, and most importantly have gained an fondness for the Ecuadorian people. The people here are so friendly and helpful. Since Caroline and Grant know more Spanish than Marc and I, they were our interpreters and the locals loved trying to talk with the kids. I think that it was here more than anywhere so far, where I realized that our way of life really allowed us to see the islands differently than most tourists do. We were able to actually get to know the islands and the people where we stayed, not just show up see some animals and leave for another port. We were also able to enjoy things that most tourists don’t get to enjoy like cliff diving at the craters (Caroline was the first kid to dive - go girl), relaxing at the beaches, and watching the locals play volleyball at the town square. By the time that we leave we will have spent 20 days here getting to know the ports, the people, and, of course, the legendary animals.

We were able to see all of the “cool” animals. We saw so many Giant Tortoises’ that on our last hike to see a tortoise, Noah proclaimed that he was tired and had seen 1000 tortoises and he didn’t need to see any others. We had penguins swim up to our boat on Isabela. I thought that they were swimming over to say “Hi” but my bubble was burst when they were just chasing fish. Oh well, they were small and very cute. Since the Galapagos islands straddle the Equator, the Galapagos penguins are the only penguins in the Northern Hemisphere (fun fact). We saw marine iguanas everywhere, like squirrels in Chicago. They are the only marine iguanas in the world and they are quite a site sunning themselves on the lava rock by the beaches. We saw sharks swimming close to the boat, blue footed boobies, land iguanas, frigate birds, and, of course, Darwin finches or as Noah says - Darwin/Schwarwin, I’ve seen enough finches - Ok, maybe teacher mom has focused a little too much on the history of the Galapagos and Charles Darwin.

We also caught three 30+ lb yellowfin tuna as we sailed between the islands. It sounds horrible but we are all very tired of tuna and have even given some to other cruisers and the water taxi drivers as gifts. We have also frozen a lot of it so that we can enjoy it later.

We rode horses to see the volcanoes of Isabela and saw the crater that erupted as recent as 2005. We hiked on lava rock to a crater so deep that we could not see the bottom. But the best part of our stay was spending time with our friends from Chicago; Mark, Annette, Max, and Jack Lynch. They endured some pretty horrific travel to spend time with us and we enjoyed it so much. Having them with us, made all of the adventures of the Galapagos more fun. Grant and Jack were inseparable and played as if they had never been apart. We shared many laughs and solved the worlds problems while they were here and we hated to see them go. Thanks, Mark and Annette for coming to visit. We’re looking forward to our next visitors which I believe with be Dave, Julie, and Doug (Jane’s dad, sister, and brother) in Bora Bora.

Well, it is hard to believe that our time here is almost over. This was on the boys’ top places to visit and I think that it lived up to the expectations. What is harder to believe is that it is almost time for our longest sail. On Sunday, we plan to set off to the Marquesas in French Polynesia. The 3000 mile sail will be the longest that we have. If we are able to reach our average daily miles, it should take us 20 days. However, this route is also plagued with light winds so we will be lucky to average 150 miles per day. Physically we are ready: The food is purchased and stored, the fuel tank is full, the weather reports are downloaded, the boat is running well, and the school work, books, and art projects are waiting. Now mentally, I’m not sure that you can ever be ready for 20+ days out at sea but we are as ready as we are going to be. So it is time to lift the anchor and sail to our next destination, the South Pacific awaits.