About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi


"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Galapagos delivers the GREAT, the good, and the ugly!!!!!

We spent about 3 days on and around Isla San Cristobal, exploring, diving, and getting our bearings in this beautiful area.  On our 1st day, we hired a taxi for the day.  $80 for a very full day, driving around the island and seeing the sights and critters.  Tortoises, sea lions, iguanas, and lots of birds, it was a terrific orientation.  All of the animals in the Galapagos are protected, so they are not at all shy of humans.  Truly amazing to be able to walk right up to them. 


Visited a sanctuary for the giant tortoises, basically just a large arid forest with tortoises lurking all over the place, grazing and hanging out in the swamps.  They also had a nursery for raising tortoises from eggs to be released as they grow large enough to be protected from natural predators.  Photo ops were great, these 100-150 year old giants don't move all that fast!!  In fact they don't move much at all, except for a slow, steady breathing, very loudly exhaling, and sounding a lot like Darth Vader.  Ya gotta love these guys!!!

 













Our cabbie then took us over to a beach for a snorkel.  Sea lions were lounging all over, many with babies nursing.  Even in this mode, they were totally unafraid of us, with even the males acting mellow and non threatening, very different from the nursing sea lions we've seen elsewhere.












Also on this beach were lots of lounging marine iguanas.  These characters just lay around, not moving too fast, soaking up the hot sun on the rocks before slithering back into the water.  Come to think of it, all of the Galapagos critters we've been spotting, at least those above the surface of the water, are pretty much in slow-mo.














All in all, it was a terrific first day of exploring  in the Galapagos. 



First dive was near the point at the left end of this photo.  Second was through the channel between the 2 rocks.

Through Bolivar, we arranged to hire divemaster Patricio to take us diving the next day at a nearby offshore rock, Lionida Dormida, sleeping lion.  The rock is known for great assortment of fish, both colorful reef fish and larger pelagics, including lots of sharks.  We were assured that the sharks, including hammerheads, NEVER attack people here in the Galapagos, as they have so much better tasting food swimming around.  OK, we're good with that!!

On the way out to the rock, we stopped to check out our gear, including buoyancy checks to be sure we had our weights right, and go for a snorkel with sea lions.  The moms and juveniles, as usual, seemed as curious about us as we were about them.  Fun for all!!!

On arrival at Lionida Dormida, we eagerly got geared up and jumped in the water.  Quickly we dropped down to 100', and Patricio was great at spotting schools of fish all around.  We saw a large school of scalloped hammerheads, then barracudas, and several sea turtles came by to check us out.  Very cool indeed.  A terrific dive, until we were surfacing.  I (Adam) got too close to the rock and got caught in a very strong surge current that swept me against it.  Rolling and tumbling on the rock, things were actually looking pretty grim.  The waves pulled off a fin, the regulator was pulled from my mouth, and my camera also was pulled from my grip, and broke it's tether.  After quite a struggle to get out of the surge, I was able to swim a bit shakily away, and the mate on the boat helped me back aboard.  Very scary business, this was the most challenging dive situation I've been in, and was lucky to escape as well as I did.  The boat driver, also a dive master, told me later that he was afraid when he saw me trapped in the surf that the barnacles would turn me to hamburger!  Not good at all.  Speaking of this guy, the boat driver/dive master.....when he heard I'd lost my camera, he instantly strapped on a tank and jumped in to look for it!  Even when he said he often dives this rock 3-5 times per week, I had absolutely no hope he'd be able to find it, given the surge along the rocks.  But amazingly, after about 20 minutes he surfaced, camera in hand!!!  Said he saw it from about 90 feet down, on the bottom at 150 feet, and was able to get it, no problema!!!  What a stud!  Needless to say, he earned a nice tip!!!

The only lasting bummer about the incident is that my left shoulder got wrenched hard.  It's still, 3 days later, very painful to move.  I've been keeping it in a sling day and night, and I guess will wait for a few more days before deciding if I need to fly back to the mainland Ecuador for further evaluation of the damage with an MRI.  It doesn't sound as though the hospital here is worth the visit, unfortunately.  Especially a bummer to be here in the Galapagos, unable to dive, or even snorkel, after all of this planning for this visit.  Ah well, es la vida.  Our fingers are crossed that it heals soon, so that I can regain use of the arm.  In the meantime, there is plenty to see on shore.

After that dive, Cindi, Emily, and Kevin did another great dive at the rock, again with lots of wildlife.  The next day, 2 days ago, we had a good sail to our next "Galapago", Isla Santa Cruz, about 40 miles away.  Now anchored in Puerto Ayora, the largest city in the Galapagos.  More adventures to follow!!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Arrived in Galapagos!

After a very frustrating last 16 hours or so, trying to slow Bravo down to be sure of arriving after dawn, we finally dropped anchor this morning at around 6:30 in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on Isla San Cristobal.  Our agent for Galapagos paperwork, Bolivar Pesantes, promptly showed up via water taxi and came aboard to begin the entry ritual.  He did his part, checking our papers and ensuring all was in order, left and showed up again an hour later with 5 others in tow...2 from the national park, 1 from the agricultural agency, the port captain, and a sidekick and dive guide Patricio.  We all squeezed into the cockpit (actually the 2 from the park service quickly dove down into the cabin to look into all cupboards and lockers for "contraband", whatever that may have included).  They got a bit of a rise out of a string of drying jungle tea leaves we got in the Amazon, but Patricio was disappointed when we explained that no, it was not coca.

After all was completed the crew except Bolivar and Patricio took off, and we went over our total of Galapagos fees, all payable to Bolivar, and lots of itinerary options.  Fees to visit the Galapagos are high, but not as much as have been charged to some boats in past years.  All in, all done, it came to around $1300 for the 4 of us, including the $100/person park fee.  Lots of small miscellaneous charges added up, but will allow us up to 8 weeks here.  An agent is a requirement for boats to visit the Galapagos, and Bolivar seems like a really good guy.  Should be a big help in figuring out how best to explore the archipelago.   He or one of his people will meet us to check us in at each island that we visit.....nice. 

All in all, it felt terrific to be here.  It was a wonderful passage, averaging about 150 miles per day, on calm seas, with a large, not quite full moon making for bright night watches.  Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is touristy, but without too heavy a hand.  Seems to retain some small town Galapagos charm, in spite of the gaggle of tour boats surrounding us in the anchorage.  Will start exploring tomorrow, and see what we come up with.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Passage to Galapagos, Day 3

After another terrific day of sailing, much of it between 8 and 9 knots, we're facing the harsh reality that we'll be arriving at Wreck Bay on Isla San Cristobal, our port of entry into the Galapagos, a bit after dark. Since we can't go any faster, the only safe option is to slow down. Waaaaay down. Winds have been remarkably steady at around 10-14 knots. With that, we tried incrementally reducing sail to throttle us back to 4 knots. Now we have up just our little staysail. The main is furled and covered. We're still sailing at 4.5 knots, a bit too fast. Means we'll need to hang out a bit off shore before coming into the harbor at first light. But in the big scheme of things, it's not a bad problem to have. With any luck, it should see us snorkeling in the Galapagos tomorrow afternoon, after all of the "paperwork cha cha" has been finished with the authorities, including, we hear, a fumigation of the boat.

Fish report not too tasty. Nothing on the rods, just one little flying squid on deck this morning (he's now on a hook, trailed as bait).

Hopefully the next post will be from our first destination in the Galapagos, after a terrific passage. Yesterday's run, 141 miles.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Passage to Galapagos, Day 2

The past 24 hours have been some more terrific sailing. Though winds have been a bit lighter, averaging perhaps 10-12 knots, our 24 hour run was 163 miles, our best yet on Bravo since leaving Seattle. Heidi, our Hydrovane steering vane, has been driving the whole way, and doing a fine job. Spirits of the crew are great, and the food has been terrific. Emily baked chocolate cookies, yesterday's dorado catch has been our protein du jour, and all of us are enjoying the speedy rhumb line romp so far.

Only dark spots have been 1) losing another monster dorado yesterday evening as we tried to boat him. Lost a favorite lure in the process. arghhhhhhh....... and 2)our forward head (toilet) is plugged up again. This is the same one that Adam spent a stinky intimate day with a couple of weeks ago. Not good. Not good at all!! We have 2 heads aboard Bravo, the second is in the aft stateroom. But we haven't used it since leaving Seattle 2-1/2 years ago, as it's room has been converted into our 'garage', packed nearly to the ceiling with dive gear, kayaks, fenders, bocce balls.....you get the idea. But we've moved heaps of the gear into the forward head area, and after lubing up the recalcitrant aft head pump, I think we're in business!!! Fingers crossed!!! Wouldn't be sailing without a project or 2 awaiting us!!! All good, though, as we're boogeying along at 7.8 knots on flat seas. And we DO have 2 buckets on board, just in case!!! Cheers!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Passage to Galapagos, Day 1

We had a terrific Day 1 of our passage from Bahia de Caraquez Ecuador to the Galapagos. Sand bar pilot Pedro came aboard at about 8 am, we untied from both mooring anchors, and we were off at last, after our 6 month stay at anchor there. Felt great to be underway as Pedro directed us through the shallows at the river mouth. Shallowest on the depth sounder was 6.9 feet. Bravo draws 6'8". Do the math!
Once over the bar Pedro stepped onto his waiting launch, and we were outta there!

Winds were forecast to be very light on this passage, and we motored for the first few hours. Now every boater knows that a first rule of boats is that they need to keep the ocean out of the boat. So it was more than a bit disturbing when we heard the large emergency bilge pump come on. What the f&%$ ??? Checking the bilge showed that indeed, we were taking on water fast. This is so not good!!! A quick check of the stuffing box (the hopefully watertight joint where the drive shaft between the engine and propeller exits the boat) had opened up it's lock nut, and water was streaming in around the shaft. The engine was shut off, and the nut was quickly tightened.....no worries!!!

At last the wind came up to the 5-10 knot range, on an angle of around 50 degrees. We hoisted sails, and had an absolutely perfect first day's sail. Wind built to 10-15 knots in the evening, and by midnight we even tucked in a reef as our apparent wind was in the high teens, as we made 7 knot speed right for the Galapagos!!! Truly a magical nights sailing. And with Emily and Kevin joining us for the trip, we all had a really luxurious nights sleep, as our watches were 2 hours on, 6 off. Hard to beat!!!

Morning saw us throwing out the fishing lines again (no action yesterday, but hope springs eternal!!!) Within 3 minutes we had a sailfish on one rod, but he snapped the 50 lb test line before we could lighten the drag. Shortly after we had a 30 lb dorado on the other rod, and Kevin masterfully brought him to the boat. He's now filleted and in the freezer (the dorado, that is), short the tasty chunk that made its way into our fish taco lunch. Total for day 1, 142 miles. A great first 24 hours, about 450 miles to go...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Back aboard Bravo, readying to cruise!

After leaving our friends the penguins we headed back to Punta Arenas, and then on to Ushuaia, "el fin del mundo", or "end of the world".  Punta Arenas had a very cool recreation of several famous ships in an industrial wasteland on the shore of the Strait of Magellan.



The heavy hitter around these parts, as you could imagine, is that good ol' boy Fernando Magellan.  This Portuguese explorer is "da man" in Patagonia, lending his name to bars, restaurants, plazas, penguins, and even his own bloody Strait, fer cryin' out loud.  One of the ships we saw recreated was one of Mag's ships, the Nao Victoria, typical of the five ships in his fleet which departed in 1519.  An amazing full scale recreation of the ship, down to very fine construction details, the tubby ship is anything but sleek, and in fact looks like it would be a struggle to get out of it's own way, when compared to ships built even 100 years later.  But Magellan was a helluva sailor and navigator, and with these tiny, primitive, boxy ships, he and his crew managed to circumnavigate the globe.  (actually Magellan never quite finished the trip, as he was killed by natives near the Philippines while trying to convert them to Christianity...who's religion was stronger......hmmmmmh??)


Cindi and Diana try on the armor for a staged sword battle.
James Caird
Other boats and ships to were in various stages of construction at the site.  One interesting little boat was the James Caird a modified lifeboat from the Endurance.  This was the boat that Ernest Shackleton and crew sailed 800 miles from their shipwreck camp on Elephant Island to South Georgia Island, where the eventually rallied a rescue to go back and pick up the remaining men.

Beagle's line drawings
Another ambitious project that the crew on the shore of the Straits of Magellan is just starting is the recreation of the HMS Beagle, the ship made famous as the one that brought Charles Darwin to the Galapagos, as well as traversing the canals and straits of the patagonia area (Beagle Channel, for example).  This is a big ship, and a much greater undertaking than even Magellan's crude ship.  They've set up a blog to follow progress, it will be interesting to see how they fare.  These projects have received much acclaim from wooden boat lovers all over the world, including Seattle and Mystic Seaport.

Laying the keel of the Beagle

Antarctic cruise ship and cargo ship on the left, shipwrecked tug on the right.


Penguinos on steroids....sign on wall of a gym in Ushuaia.
After Punta Arenas, we bused down to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the Americas.  Actually it's the closest city to Antarctica in the world, about 600 miles, and is the point of departure for many expeditions and cruises to the southernmost continent.  We saw numerous cruise ships, as well as sailing expedition boats getting ready to head out.  One sailboat had a butchered side of lamb strapped to each side of their radar arch.  It'll keep pretty much frozen at the latitudes they're heading!!!  Kinda sexy bit of boat storage that we don't often see in the tropics!!!


Some of the antarctic sailing fleet in for r&r.
It's said that if you kiss the native's toe beneath the statue of Magellan, you'll return one day to this magical land...What did we have to lose???

But like all good things, our patagonia adventure drew to a close.  We loved traveling down here at the "Fin del Mundo", and would very much like to return one day, perhaps aboard Bravo.  We headed for the Ushuaia, and hopped a plane north to Buenos Aires, where we said our goodbyes to David and Diana.  We spent about a week more in B.A., trying to get back to Ecuador.  Unfortunately it was the week before Christmas, and like everywhere in the world, all transportation was booked.  No buses until MID JANUARY!!  We finally had to fly back to Quito, and on to Bahia where Bravo was waiting safe and sound for us.  After over 2 months on the road, it felt terrific to be back aboard.  The boat list was drawn up of chores to be finished before we leave Ecuador.  Somehow the list keeps growing!!!

Adam working on rigging project at the top of the mast.  Always a great view!!!
But the days have been really busy, with plumbing, rigging, electrical, electronics, and engine projects, and of course provisioning the boat for the next several months of sailing in the South Pacific.  Even had to squeeze an overnight trip to Quito, to the American Embassy, to add pages to our passports.  Many countries await our visit in 2013.   We're also really looking forward to friends Emily and Kevin coming down to join us on the passage to the Galapagos, and spending time together exploring once we arrive.  We'll be leaving for the Galapagos in about 1 week, and will probably spend around 6 weeks in the islands before heading south to French Polynesia.