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The Two Captains


Latitude 01*46S
Longitude 88*10.W

May 15, 2001
Underway from Salinas, Ecuador to Galapagos

It occurred to me this morning while watching our third sunrise at sea, that I would be wise to wrap up accounts of our mainland Ecuador experience BEFORE actually getting to the Galapagos.

TII ended up spending ten days in the Med Moor slip in Puerto Lucia, but I'd have to confess to having little idea what the 2Cs did with all the time. We did not do our planned inland trip for the Devil's Nose Railway journey. We did not check out the huge coastal city of Guayaquil. We did not even get to the beach town Cindy wanted badly to visit to get a special braid done in her hair. We could lay the blame for the lethargy on the crew of Lite N Up who had a lot on their plate trying to finish yardprojects, get their refrigeration repaired, etc., before departing for Galapagos and the South Pacific, but that would be unfair. If we'd wanted badly enough to go, we would have gone..and they might even have come with us. Mostly, I think, we needed some time to lay low and beat all the bugs in our system. The chief highlight of our time in Salinas was the socializing with a mixed group of North Americans and their Ecuadorean wives. At the center of this hospitality was the American couple Jim & Arlene Gilbert. Jim is a power plant engineer who has worked in South America for many years. He and his wife are members of Puerto Lucia Yacht Club, although they currently have an apartment high up over the beautiful Salinas tourist beach with one of those views that goes on forever. The Ecuadorian Navy moors their ships and even submarines off this beach, and with Jim's telescope, it was fun to check these out even as pleasure craft zipped all around them.

The Gilbert hospitality started with invites to use land-line Internet connections and homestyle washer/dryers, but expanded from there to two fabulous group dinners, including a Thanksgiving in May dinner with two 20lb turkeys, the bulk of which came home with the two cruising boats for soup, sandwiches, and tetrazzini! In between, there was a little socialization aboard TII & Lite N Up (once the latter was relaunched), which on one occasion somehow included shots of tequila in the middle of the afternoon....???? I think it had something to do with Cinco de Mayo which threw Don into flashback mode to his days as the Jose Cuervo guy for St. Thomas Foods.

Anyway, it was tough to leave these warm new friends...and it was made even tougher by some peculiar government regulations that forbid Ecuadorian Port Captains from writing "zarpes" (clearance documents) for the Galapagos! Here I am poised to write great words urging cruisers to come to coastal Ecuador on the way to Galapagos, only to find it isn't allowed. Well, our new friends went to bat for us, unravelling red tape far enough to get us a document enabling us to leave Salinas for the Galapagos where we officially look forward to a 72-hour stay! Although by all accounts such bureaucracy is pretty relaxed once one gets to the islands, since it's a 4-5 day trip just to get there, this didn't seem good enough. More phone calls, however, produced an arrangement with a particular official in Puerto Ayora who will make sure we get the time we need.

We'll see, We'll see soon, in fact, as we are projected to arrive around first light tomorrow morning. We left Puerto Lucia Saturday morning -- on our own as Lite N Up needed a day or two more (they're still there!), and we have sailed, close reaching, non-stop for three days, with, I may point out, the Aries Vane autopilot doing all the driving! This means (for anyone who cares) that we have traveled about 600 miles using almost none of our diesel! Keeping almost 2 degrees south of the equator the whole way, we have had steady SW winds @12-17kts, which made for a fabulous and fast passage. All while boats coming to Galapagos from Panama have been struggling with light and adverse winds! We have just changed course for our last leg into the archipelago, now broad reaching with the swell behind us. It's quite the sleigh ride!

Mother Nature has been keeping her cards close to her chest on this trip. We have seen no exciting sea creatures and few birds, so far, but then I think she is just saving up! This morning we had a pair of tropic birds (no doubt attracted by the artwork on our bow) and our first ever storm petrel, which we believe was a Galapagos storm petrel by his markings. There were no less than 61 stiff bodies of squid and flying fish on deck this morning, and we at least had a hit on our trolling line (lost it!) The weather, however, has been steadily improving. Our first night out was so cold we had several layers of sweaters, pants and socks! Today, with the sea temp finally up to 79.5 degrees, I am actually wearing a bathing suit & T-shirt. Much more importantly, the ocean has at last turned blue! BLUE! I'd forgotten what it was like.

On this note, I'll close for now. Any hams among you may want to know that we have not one but two new HF antennas we have been playing with, with some impressive improvements. Have talked with operators in Pennsylvania that sounded like they were next door. This has prompted me to pay more attention to the morning Central American Breakfast Club (7083LSB at 1300 UTC), as well as the evening Maritime Mobile Nets, (e.g. the Maritime Mobile Service Net on 14300 mHz from 2300 UTC on as well as the Pacific Seafarer's Net 14313 mHz at 0230 UTC.) These are times hams might to try to reach us....'Course....we'll be in port tomorrow night, and it's doubtful we'll stay up that late if we don't have watches to keep. However, we'll be back at sea the second week in June, so try us then!


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