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


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Diving in the Galapagos

Hey there....Cindi here with our first Galapagos dive report.  Sorry that this is a bit delayed, but we had been waiting for some underwater photos to arrive from a fellow diver...never showed up, so, sorry, no pix.  Although Adam was sidelined with his mangled shoulder, Kevin, Emily, and I continued to dive at each island we've called upon.  In Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island we chatted with several dive companies and finally found a great one, Macarron Divers, to take us to a highly recommended location.........Gordon Rocks.

Gordon Rocks is usually reserved for more advanced divers but when the dive master learned that we'd just been diving at El Leon Dormido (The Sleeping Lion), it was "no problema".

Bright and early, their boat picked us up right from Bravo, and headed to our dive site.  We were joined by a German traveler, Steffi who had just returned from several days on a live-aboard dive cruise.  Although she had done three dives per day in very cool locations, there wasn't time for Gordon Rocks so she took this day trip with us.

After our check dive to test gear and weights, we headed down, down, down to 100 feet.  Gordon Rocks is a volcanic islet with much of the land underwater.  It is semi-circular shaped with several underwater pinnacles that are home to sea urchins, wildly colorful reef fish, eels, spiny lobsters, and sea stars in every nook and cranny.  We saw a stone fish (venom is more deadly than a cobra's) that was completely camoflaged within the rocks as well.  We were soon joined by sea turtles, manta rays, galapagos sharks, white-tipped and black-tipped reef sharks and scalloped hammerhead sharks.  At one point, there were hammerheads above us, in front of us and an adult with a baby swimming on the bottom.  Sharks were literally everywhere!!!  For those of you who know me (Cindi), you know that for years, my fear of sharks was my primary reason for not becoming certified to dive.  Amazingly, we have seen sharks of one sort of another on almost all of our dives.......I haven't been munched yet... seems to be a good way to overcome the fear of these awe inspiring critters!

The second dive of the day was at another area of Gordon Rocks and was equally spectacular.  Our dive guide was great at spotting and pointing out critters for us. 

A few days later, Bravo saddled up and headed to Puerto Villamil on Isabella Island, where we remain today.  Here we arranged to have Isabella Divers boat pick us up from Bravo, and headed out to Isla Tortuga, about 30 minutes from our anchorage.  Like all Galapagos islands, this one was volcanic in origin and so the porous rocky reefs were full of colorful wildlife, similar to our other dives.  No sharks on this dive but we had sea lions and sea turtles to swim with, and I saw my first sea horse (caballito del mar) in the wild!!  Very cool. 

Diving tomorrow with friends from other boats Spruce and Mystic Moon, at Quatro Hermanos site......more to follow!


Between dives, we observed the giant frigate birds in their mating season.  The males have a large inflatable sack in their neck that they puff out to attract the females.  The sack is bright red and shaped like a valentine heart....how romantic!  You could see the red pouches dotting the island as they sat around looking studly and cool. Their stud bubble was burst in a hurry when they tried to fly with the sack inflated.  The usually graceful birds became completely awkward (and probably lost their sex appeal!).


At any rate, the diving continues, though Adam's left flipper is fairly badly damaged.  He had an MRI while he was back in the USA last week.  When the orthopod opened the images, he hesitated for a moment, and just shook his head and said "Whoa"......not a good sign!!!  Turns out that one of the 2 tendons that connect the bicep to the shoulder is completely severed.  And the socket, made of cartilage called the labrum, is badly torn as well.  Surgery is clearly the answer, but we simply don't have the time for the surgery and more important, the extensive rehab therapy now, as we'll be on our way to French Polynesia in about 2 weeks.  When we arrive in New Zealand in November, he plans on having the work done back in Seattle.....hopefully it'll be ok.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Circle of Life

I'm sitting here in the Guayaquil, Ecuador airport, on a 12 hour layover as I make my way home to Bravo.  It's been a difficult past couple of weeks.  I (Adam) got an email from my sister that our dad, 87, was very sick with pneumonia.  After determining that it was, in fact, very serious, and that he was still lucid, though in the intensive care unit, I decided that the only thing to do was to head to Pennsylvania as quickly as possible.  It took 3 boats, 3 planes, 1 bus, 1 train, 1 taxi, and a rental car to reach Harrisburg 38 hours after the first ferry picked me up from Bravo.

When I arrived at the hospital, Dad was on a breathing tube, unable to speak, but his eyes and hand squeeze told me that he was glad to see me.  I spent the day by his bedside, and he was doing very well.  So well, in fact, that the team decided to remove the tube (for the second time...the first, a few days prior, didn't go well).  It didn't go well this time either, but in accordance with his wishes, it was decided not to intubate him a third time.  (He was able, though, to hoarsely whisper to me, "Thanks for coming")  Instead, he was made more comfortable with a morphine drip, and he went to sleep rather than panicking for each breath.  He was moved to a private room, and I stayed with him for the next 2 days and nights.  He was asleep the whole time.  A couple of his buddies came by to see him and wish him well, and finally he passed away peacefully in his sleep, a bit over a week from admission to the hospital.  Little suffering, no dementia, and dignity intact.  The way we all hope to go.  At 87 he led a good, full life. 

A friend asked me to describe Dad's influence on me.  I didn't need to look far.  Obviously architecture...when he was starting out, on an architects typical peanut salary, he used to moonlight small projects at home.  I'd sit there next to him at his drawing board, doodling with his drafting tools, and learning a bit about design.  I was probably a real pain in the ass, but he didn't let on.  As I got older, I really didn't want to be anything else than an architect.  He was obviously part, a big part of it.  I went on to practice for 30 years.

And sailing....as a kid, sailing with my dad on his little 16' wood boat on New York's Long Island Sound.  I loved it.  And loved the springtime, working side by side with him in the boatyard, sanding and painting, getting ready for the season.  That was great, just "messing about with boats", together with him.  And today, when anyone asks, as sailors often do over a couple of beers, "hey, how did you get started sailing", there's never any hesitation, it was my dad who taught me to sail, and a love of the sea....

He was always so supportive of Cindi and me doing this cruising stuff.  When we lived in Seattle, he loved his annual visits, and we'd always find time for a few days of sailing together in the San Juan Islands, one of his favorite places.  Then, since we took off a few years ago, we've stayed in touch by Skype.  We'd take the laptop up to the cockpit and move the camera around the anchorage for him, he'd just love it.  It was like magic to him...almost like being there with us.


Well, farewell, skipper.  You'll be greatly missed.

Enjoying a martini and a favorite anchorage...
 Now, back to the Galapagos and our previously scheduled broadcast....Dad would have wanted it that way! 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Adventures continue in the Galapagos

The 4 of us (Cindi, Adam, and friends Kevin and Emily) have continued to rack up the Galapagos miles, as well as the critter count!  For watching wildlife in their natural habitat, totally unafraid of humans, it's hard to imagine a place coming close.  We've now spent time on the 3 major islands permitted on our autografo, Islas San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, and now Isabela.  The 3 are nice easy 40 mile day sails apart...perfect for hopping from one to the next.  Because of the protected status of the entire archipelago, we must take guided day tours to various snorkeling, diving, and critter watching sites.  Can get a bit pricey, but we haven't been disappointed yet on any of them.  Cindi will write up the diving in a separate blog post, as I haven't been able to join in as I continue to nurse my hurt shoulder.  Update is that it seems to be starting to heal, and I'm gaining some ability to lift it (with the other arm) without pain.  The sling is still on, but hopefully a few more weeks will see it right. 

The primary port cities on each of the 3 large islands are quite different from one another.  Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz is the largest in the Galapagos, with about 12,000 residents.  With a good infrastructure of various stores, dive shops, tour operators, banks, and internet hot spots, it provided a good base to resupply.  We will also stop back there to prepare for our hop across the pacific to French Polynesia in about 1 month. 

Isabela, our current island, is by far the largest of the Galapagos in terms of land area, but Puerto Vilamil, the main city (and our anchorage) only has about 2000 inhabitants.  Supply ships call here just once per month, and the town has a great laid back sleepy ambience.  Whenever it rains, they run a road grader around town to smooth out the mud holes...gotta love it.  Internet and email access is a challenge, but we love it here.  (unable to access our email site...will keep trying!!)  Iguanas and sea lions rule the place.  They swim by the boat all the time (yesterday a baby sea lion got on deck, but quickly dove back in when Cindi surprised him)  We're a bit early for the mass of cruising boats who will be heading here on their way to the South Pacific, so we've been the only cruisers on any of the islands.  Muy tranquillo, we'll probably spend a couple of more weeks here!!!  

Monthly supply day.  Small ship and barges ferry goods from off lying supply freighter (behind the tour boats...Bravo on left, over middle of the blue ferry ship)
Isabela church, religion Galapagos style!!!


Nice stained glass.....iguana, penguin, and booby.   This church has it's priorities straight!!!





Sea lion and Adam compare notes on flipper care


Emily gets up close and personal with a favorite iguana.




Iguana tracks everywhere on the beaches


"So these two iguanas walk into a bar....."

Iguana swimming alongside Bravo


Kevin and Emily flew out yesterday to Quito, on their way back to Seattle.  It was terrific to have them join us for the past 2 weeks.  Before leaving, though, we did some great exploring together.  One of our favorite tours was by boat to Los Tuneles, the tunnels.  ($50/pp with Isabela Diving)  An enormous eerie labrynth of volcanic tunnels, bridges, and water pathways, we did some hiking ashore before jumping in the water for some great snorkeling around the area, swimming with white tipped sharks, lots of turtles, rays, and heaps of fish.  It's apparently mating season for the sea turtles, and we were often surrounded by happy couples engaged in their version of the horizontal cha cha for hours of tortugal bliss!  The females will lay their eggs on favorite beaches later in March.

Randy reptiles enjoy their day to play















Blue footed boobies



And their feet are VERY blue.....more so than those we saw in Mexico



















Sally Lightfoot crab



Spotted Eagle Ray







Another tour, right next to anchored Bravo, was on the volcanic reef of Tintoreras.  Walking around the islets for a couple of hours we came upon literally heaps of iguanas (the beach is one of their favorite breeding beaches), birds including blue footed boobies, oyster catchers, frigate birds, and sharks and sea turtles.  A perfect way to spend an afternoon ($25/pp)

Oystercatcher


Booby with two Galapagos penguins, the second smallest species in the world

 Sorry if you guys are getting tired of iguana portraits...the guys are just too cool to leave out!!!








 





Big island activity a couple of days ago was watching a crew try to move a wrecked boat up the road to its final resting place several miles away, to be cut into scrap.  There is no trailer big enough here in the Galapagos.  After several hours with 3 earth movers and one road grader it had moved a hundred yards or so.  There it still sits!!  Ahhh....island life, we love it!!








Bravo, out.....