Panama to Ecuador
Sunday, June 4, 2006
After a late night last night we got underway this morning. We untied from the buoy at Balboa Yacht Club about 10:30 AM in increasingly sunny weather and traveled the short distance to Taboga Island where we plan to stay for two nights.
Last night we went out to dinner with the folks from Moonshadow and ended up visiting until well after 9 PM. We took our last real shower for some time and arrived back on Lanikai after 9:30 PM. We got Emily to bed, then Bill had a list of things that he wanted to accomplish before we lost the WiFi connection from the Balboa Yacht Club. It was after 2 AM before he came to bed, so we had a late start this morning and still had to ready Lanikai for travel. With both of us working on getting her ready for travel it took us until about 10 AM. We then enjoyed one last cup of coffee and a short rest before we actually took off. Taboga is a very nice island with a small town on shore and ferry connection to Panama City. The water is very clear, so as soon as we were anchored we jumped overboard. Bill needed to clean the depth sounder head, as it did not give us depth readings as we entered the anchorage. We used a lead line to check the depth after anchoring and it showed 60 feet, which was similar to the number we got from the depth sounder after we got it cleaned off and working.
Tuesday, June 6, 2006
Yesterday was a rainy day and the swells in the anchorage picked up thru the day. Late in the afternoon we moved to the north side of the sand spit connecting Isla Taboga with a small little islet. The water was much calmer over there and we got good night’s sleep. Bill and I were up early getting ready to move on and had the engine on by 5:45 AM but when I brought the anchor up it had caught a steel cable !! It took us another 45 minutes to get the cable off the anchor so that we could finish bringing the anchor on deck. The wind was pushing 20 knots as we rounded the islands and the seas were quite lumpy but with a sail up it was not too bad. We crossed the shipping lane with three oncoming big ships that we had to avoid. The wind was dying so we continued to motor sail. Finally shortly before noon we had enough wind again to pull up the mizzen. The engine was left on to give us the added push to arrive before dark at the islands and to allow us to make water. We anchored in a nook with a tricky entranced but which only slightly protected from the rolly seas. Bill and I were exhausted when we arrived, but we got the dinghy overboard so that Emily could try to swim. She soon realized that the rolls were too large for fun swimming and gave up as well. It was early to bed for all of us. The wind cut back as well as the swells after dark, so we all got a good night’s sleep.
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
We moved to Isla Pedro Gonzalez and anchored in the bay off the town. The south winds continued to blow up to 20 but the anchorage stayed calm as it is a north-facing bay. Our plan is to stay here a few days - resting up - before we continue on to Ecuador. We had a nice swim after we got the hook set and Emily even tried out her fins and mask.
Friday June 9, 2006
Emily is getting rather good with her fins and mask and swims quite far from the boat with me now. We swam yesterday in the afternoon, but today started sunny and calm so we did a morning swim. We have had two nice days, today being mostly sunny with a mid-day rain storm. It was the calmest so far with winds only up to 5 mph. We do plan on getting started on the long trip to Ecuador tomorrow and are hoping for more wind offshore but it would be good to get started in calm conditions. We were going to take a dinghy ride this afternoon but the outboard would not start. Bill spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning “gasoline varnish” out of the fuel hoses. They are free now but the engine itself needs particles of varnish cleaned out of its innards; a project for another day.
Sunday June 11, 2006
Yesterday morning just before 10AM we pulled up the anchor and headed offshore toward Ecuador. We have now been traveling about 24 hours with the motor running the entire time. The winds have been mostly light, but occasionally stronger for short periods of time. Just enough wind to sail, but we took the "lazy way out" and kept running with the engine on and only the main sail up for stability and the occasional push when the winds did pick up. Emily did very well her first day out. She made herself a nest in the aft cabin with her dolls and other toys. Last night she slept in the cockpit - in the same spot where her mother use to sleep during night passages. She did not want to miss any dolphin sightings! We were treated to a large shark slowly passing our bow during the calm period just before sunset and also saw several dolphins that checked us out during the day.
Monday June 12, 2006
Today is Bill’s 59th Birthday and since we all seem to have our sea legs I am planning on actually doing some cooking for the occasion. We are still motoring along in very little wind. Occasionally it picks up to 8 knots giving us a boost since the main is still up. Yesterday was a rather dull day as we are getting quite far offshore and there has been no more dolphin or other sea creature sightings, except for a few booby birds and a small squid that jumped on board last nite. This morning about sun-up we changed course to 180 degrees (i.e. due south) to pass east of Malpelo Island. Since we have little wind and the boats ahead of us report no improvement in the wind, we decided to cut the corner east of the island. I fixed potato salad and served it with ham slices for Bill’s birthday dinner around noon. Emily made him a nice card, then we all four read the afternoon away, between naps. Emily is really enjoying reading and finding fun in books.
Tuesday June 13, 2006
We hoisted the jib and mizzen last evening and shut down the engine !! It is now 7:30 AM and the engine is still off !! We have made progress under wind at anywhere from 3.0 to 5.5 knots of boat speed, depending on the wind strength (which has varied from 5mph all the way up to 12mph). I enjoyed the first sleep, sleeping from about 7 to 10:30 PM last night - quite soundly with no engine noise! Bill and Emily got a treat from a group of dolphins who played at our bow for some time while I slept. Bill then got his much needed shot at good sleep from 11 PM to just before radio schedule time at 5 AM this morning. I then got another shot a sleep for 1 ½ hour, waking up to pick up the morning weather faxes. The seas have just lumped up some but most of the night they were almost flat calm. We have passed the Isla Malpelo and are heading more westerly as the prevailing wisdom is to get as much westing as possible before getting too close to the Ecuadorian shore.
Wednesday June 14, 2006
Yesterday after we ran the engine in the morning to charge up the batteries, the seas began lumping up. By late afternoon we had rain squalls around the boat and quite a bit of rain was dumped on us. Then the winds increased overnight reaching 30mph and at times decreasing to 15. With the lumpy seas we had trouble keeping Lanikai’s sails full and keeping her on any kind of reasonable course. We moved Emily out of the cockpit for safety and settled her down on the starboard settee where she slept much of the late afternoon and night away. She woke up this morning with “mal de mar” but is handling it very well. The seas are still lumpy but the wind has lessened some with the sunrise.
Later: Well, the wind picked up in the afternoon and we were "on our ear" traveling at close to 7 knots. We finally decided that getting there comfortably was better than getting there fast, so changed jibs down to our trusty, smaller “Gorge” jib. A much more comfortable ride and we are hoping to get some sleep tonight. Emily had a bout of sea sickness this morning but by lunch time she was doing fine.
Friday June 16, 2006
Yesterday the wind cut back and the seas laid down allowing for us to have a comfortable sail all day. About 150 miles off shore we met a smallish fishing boat with a gaggle of fishing pangas spreading their nets. One panga came over to us to point out where their net was, asking us to go around it, which we did of course. Last night about 10:30 PM the wind picked up again. We spent the night sailing with the “Gorge” sail again. Our "Gorge" jib is a small 85% jib that only goes about 2/3 of the way up the forestay. We've used it lots and lots in the Columbia River Gorge winds. Today the wind is up and down but we are still making good progress with our shortened sail set.
Late in the afternoon as the wind cut back, we again switched to the larger jib but only for a few hours. We then dropped it to motor-sail thru the night so that we could point closer to our goal on each tack. The north-flowing current had arrived and with it on both the southerly tack and the westerly tack our course showed a noticeable leeway compared to our heading.
Saturday June 17, 2006
Last night there were quite a few fishing boats that we passed in the night that kept us from getting much sleep. We crossed the equator into the southern hemisphere 35 minutes after midnight but were both to tired to celebrate.
We dropped the anchor off Cabo Pasado in Ecuador just after sunup this morning. Our plan is to spend a few days here and move into Bahía Caráquez after the long-period southerly swells, which are predicted to increase for the next few days, have laid back down. This is a pretty little nook with only one house visible on shore. It is well protected from the south with a nice long reef off the point. Bill and I got things settled on Lanikai, helped Emily to get working on her journal again and fell into bed for a nice long nap.
We finally did a toast to King Neptune after the anchor was down, each with a glass of wine.
Tuesday June 20, 2006
We are still anchored north of Cabo Pasado waiting for a large southern swell to abate. Sunday, Bill replaced an old hose in the engine which was leaking oil. It took lots of effort because the hose was located in a hard-to-reach place. The big swells were coming into the anchorage and rolling Lanikai from side to side. After he got the engine working, and as we approached low tide, we realized that some of the waves were on the point of breaking (!!) as they reached Lanikai. We raised the anchor and moved further out anchoring in 30 feet of water instead of 18 at low water. We are now not so protected by the point and reef, but the waves are still much smaller out here. Sunday evening Otter (Randy and Gail) arrived just before dark and anchored nearby. Monday morning just before sunrise Soy Libre (Andy, MaryAnn, Andrew) arrived anchoring north of us and later in the morning RDreamZ (Royce and Pam) arrived. Now there are 4 of us waiting for the large southerly swell to subside so that we can enter the river mouth to Bahía Caráquez about 25 miles by sea away. MaryAnn came over in their kayak and picked up Emily to spend an afternoon playing with Andrew. Later we spent the evening on Otter to celebrate their anniversary. But mostly we just stuck to our own vessels to wait out the waves.
Friday June 23, 2006
We are anchored in Bahía Caráquez after a lumpy ride from the anchorage to the mouth of Rio Chone yesterday. We arrived at the waiting point just at noon and the river pilot was waiting for us. Otter entered with a different pilot just ahead of us. The pilot guided us thru the shallows then went back to bring RDreamZ thru. Soy Libre was a little late arriving at the way point and it was touch-and-go as to whether they would get across. But after RDreamZ was guided thru the shallows, the pilot went back for Soy Libre, so we all made it to the anchorage by early afternoon, yesterday. After we got the anchor down, we had to wait for the port captain to check our papers and inspect the boat before we could go ashore. He finished with us about 4:30 PM and since our dinghy motor did not work we got a ride into shore with George from Clair de Lune. Puerto Amistad (the cruiser hang out ashore) is run by very friendly people. We enjoyed a nice dinner and cheap beers before hitching a ride back to Lanikai for a good night’s rest in the calm waters.
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