Leg 6 - Panama to Galapagos

January 31, 2018

We started Leg 6 from La Playita

near Balboa, Panama with our crew of 8.  On board are our core crew of 5 and Kim, who sailed with us in the Bahamas, Wayne from Alberta and Marty from Colorado.

 

The days just prior to Leg 6 were very busy with provisioning and preparing Elcie for the long Pacific crossings. With the crew on board and a few extra days before we needed to depart, we moved over to Taboga Island and shared an anchorage briefly with John Neal and Amanda Swan Neal of Mahina Tiare. John and Amanda are old sailing friends. It is the first time Elcie and Mahina Tiare have shared an anchorage since Auckland, NZ in 2014! We had a great but too short catch up while in Panama.

 

A hike on Taboga Island showed some interesting Panamanian creatures - a hairy tarantula crossed our path and a snake sat in the tree branches overhead. A steep trail led downhill from the high point on Taboga. Emma took a tumble and we ended up at the local clinic for 7 stitches and antibiotics for a grand total of $8.60.

 

We sailed from Tabogo across to the Perlas for 2 nights anchored - one night at Contadora and one night at San Jose. The weather looked good for our departure for Galapagos so we headed off on the 15th of January -  2 months exactly since we left our dock at  Boone Creek. It's been a busy 2 months!

 

From day one on passage, we were joined by playful dolphins leaping in the bow wake. The first pod of Bottlenose Dolphins stayed with us for nearly an hour. We also saw several pods of Pan-tropical spotted dolphins, including some at night, streaking through the bioluminescense.

 

There were plenty of photo ops and Emma put together a video of the dolphin show.

 

We also had a very friendly hitchhiker - a laughing gull that stayed aboard for half the day. Moonlight was not too happy about having that foul avian creature on board and once tried to lunge at it. Our feathered friend did not mind posing for the camera and we have many photos of him/her.

 

 

The passage was 1050 NM in all and we sailed nearly all the way. This was unusual as we have done this leg three times before and it was mostly a motor. El Nina and cooler Pacific temps may be responsible for more wind in this area. No complaints on board as the sailing was pleasant and we saved our diesel fuel.

 

A day out of the Galapagos we crossed the equator and so we had to ensure that the 4 Slimy Polliwogs on board were fit to become Trusty Shellbacks. A series of trials organized by Molly put them to the test. All passed and certificates from Neptune were granted insuring future protection from such initiations. A shot of rum into the sea and a bit for the crew followed as we crossed from the northern to the southern hemisphere.  You can admire King Neptune's clever triton below left!

 

 

We arrived in the Galapagos on the following day. The next trial would be to pass

 the inspections of all the officials that visited Elcie for our clearance. There were officers from immigration, customs, sanitation, a hull inspector, and a fumigation expert. The clearance procedures have become much more involved since our first visit to the Galapagos in this same anchorage in 1998! It has also become much more expensive but the wildlife is worth it. Right here in the anchorage one can see turtles, sharks, rays, sea lions, marine iguanas and many birds. Emma also had her 17th birthday on our second full day in the Galapagos. 

 

This is one of my favorite photos. The sea lion was "helping" the guy cleaning the fish

 while several pelicans looked on. Of course he got all the extra scraps that fell off the table. 

 

The park areas are everywhere and are extremely well-maintained. One sees the official guides all over, leading tours and explaining the landscape and characteristics of the wildlife to visitors. 

 

It is an educational stop as well as an interesting one. There is much to learn around every corner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below are photos of some of the wildlife we saw around the anchorage and islands.

 

And here is a second video that Emma made depicting our Galapagos adventures. We visited a deep fissure of saltwater deep enough to dive in. It was full of fish. We went to a beach with loads of marine iguanas and a few swimming sea lions. A day tour took us to Floreana Island, the only inhabited island we had not visited before. We also had an early morning adventure in the local veggie market.

 

 

 It's been a wild time here in the Galapagos. The crew celebrated a final evening out with  some local pilsner followed by a boatload of Empanadas from the local market.

 

Now we head towards Easter Island - 2000 miles to the south.

 

 

 

 

 

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