Our departure from Bahia de Caraquez was more complicated than expected because we discovered that the document we had received there on our arrival in November last year to enable us to import the boat into Ecuador had metamorphosed from the original into a photocopy. This must have happened sometime somewhere over the last 8 months between Bahia and La Libertad where Baringo had stayed on the hard. The original was essential for us to be able to leave Ecuador so we searched the boat telephoned the various offices locally and in La Libertad but to no avail. The solution to the problem was as usual …money ! With that the original was replicated and we just made our departure with the high tide.
Glynis and I had bought all the fresh provisions that morning still not sure if the wheels of bureaucracy would work fast enough for us to catch the tide but they did and Pedro the pilot arrived with all the papers and we were away out of the river into the sea at 14.30. The first few hours were motor sailing into quite a head wind and the waves so a rough start. We crossed Manta bay that evening and the nest day dawned gray and cool ,the effect of the cold Humboldt current which remained with us until after we were west of the Galapagos. The wind had become more favourable so we could sail now on a beam reach but it was still 25 kts and the sea was rough. We were all finding our sea legs and getting used to the watch system and the broken nights again.
It was now beginning to feel a large empty ocean and our progress on the chart seemed rather small but we were making about 7kts occasionally up to 9 kts as the wind remained strong and from the SE. By day 3 we were passing south of the Galapagos but did not have sight of them,but we had dolphins and two whales and petrels for company .All the machinery was functioning, generator ,water maker , autohelm and chartploter although the latter became unnecessary in such an empty ocean. We were sailing with reefed main and reefed jenny so the main watch tasks were furling and unfurling the jenny depending on wind strength which was quite variable but never less than about 15kts.The daily routine of meals ,power generation ,water making and watches continued unabated as the number of miles to the Marquesas gradually diminished. This is the longest passage on the so called “Coconut Milk Run”.
On Thursday 17th there was great excitement as Malcolm caught a large dorado and we had a delicious fresh fish supper. Four days later Malcom caught another and hauled in the line with great difficulty while we are all watching his struggle in eager anticipation but at the last moment the fish swam struggling to the port stern and the fishing line was severed by the wind generator! Undeterred by such a loss our fisherman continued and landed another large dorado the next day which fed us handsomely for three days .
The 23rd July gave us increasing winds gusting up to 45 so we furled the jenny completely and put the 3rd reef in the main sail. We had improved the way we could use this while in Ecuador and were pleased we had as it was easy to do and took the pressure off the boat in the strong wind. These seemed to be very strong trade winds and any thoughts of using the parasailor were still a distant dream .The waves were much bigger now and as we were still trying to cross them to maintain course the boat was lurching violently and unpredictably which made the galley an interesting place to work ! By the next day we decided to drop the main completely having discussed and contemplated this for the preceding 24 hours we as usual felt we could have done it earlier. The boat felt much more relaxed and we sailed easily on the furled jenny alone until we needed the pole out to stabilize it and make course.
So far so good and as I write we are making around 6 kts on a sunny day with the ocean to oursleves still on poled out furled jenny alone. Glynis has celebrated our crossing the 3/4 distance mark with some delicious scones ! We have a sweepstake for our ETA so there is all to play for. (Sorry Richard not an interesting blog for you!)