Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Milkshake Run

Update:  I think I was able to add some pictures.  If they don't come through, some are posted on Facebook!

Internet is EXTREMELY slow/spotty so no pics right now, but we have managed to upload one youtube video....rather thn put individual links, please just go to our youtube page and all our videos are can check regularly .....
Dave Hibberd youtube video collection

Here is a 2nd video link of us crossing the eqautor:
Cool Runnings crossing the equator

One more.....rainbow after rough nite:
Rainbow after rough nite

I (Gudrun) was able to post some pictures on Facebook - please feel free to check them out there:

The passage from the Galapagos across the Pacific to the Marquesas Islands is commonly known as the “Coconut Milk Run” because of the favourable South East Trade winds that generally allow for a nice, easy-ish (I am NOT going to say “easy”!!) passage with the wind behind you most of the way, which is known in sailing as a “run”. Well, we decided to name our passage from Panama to the Galapagos Islands as the “Milkshake Run”. It was another tough passage with Cool Runnings and her crew taking another pounding!

We left Panama on Thursday, May 26th and headed toward the Las Perlas islands. One of the “Survivor” series was filmed in Las Perlas, a beautiful group of islands about a day’s sail from Panama. It took us forever to get diesel in Panama, so we had a late start. As we were waiting, 3 of the Clipper Round the World boats sailed past, getting ready to transit the canal from the Pacific to the Atlantic side. Our friend, Mike Duffy, had left a comment on the blog letting us know that they were in the area, so we were on the lookout for them (thanks, Mike!). One of the boats had the South African flag on the side and some SA crew on board, so they got an extra cheer from us!

The SA Clipper Round the World yacht
So we headed out to Las Perlas, motoring most of the way, since there was little to no wind. We arrived at the anchorage we had decided on just as it was getting dark, so unfortunately did not have a lot of time to explore that day. On Friday morning Dave and Adrian hopped in the water and cleaned Cool Runnings’ hulls (where is Micah when we need him ;-)) in preparation for our arrival in the Galapagos. We had planned on staying a day or two, to enjoy the islands, but the weather report showed that there was some wind on Friday, and supposedly nothing much thereafter, so we decided to take the wind while we had it, and ended up leaving on Friday at about noon.

So much for weather forecasts. We continually downloaded the weather, and it continued to show light winds, but it was not what we saw. The biggest problem was the direction – it was coming straight from the direction we needed to go in, which would have been OK (not great) if it had been as light as forecast, as then we could have motored into it, but it was a consistent avg 12 knots, and we had to beat back and forth. Beating in a catamaran is not fun. Dave worked out the distance we covered, and we ended up sailing 1,300 miles to cover the 900 mile distance from Panama to Galapagos. And it took FOREVER. After every night watch you’d come back to look at the chart, and it looked like we were still in the same position. After about 3 or 4 days we had a slight reprieve and we able to sail with Puff up for a day and a night in the right direction, and then it switched back again and we were beating once more. At one stage we were making great headway to Ecuador, and it would have been closer for us to go there! And the weather was miserable – it was cloudy, rainy and the seas were very unsettled. Galapagos is unique in that 7 major currents converge here, and we think we experienced them all!. Once, for maybe 5 minutes, we had a current assist, but the rest of the time, both wind and current were against us.

On day 2 or 3 Dave checked the main halyard again….and guess what…it was chafed again! At that point, we seriously considered calling it quits. It was so frustrating not knowing what was causing this chafe. If it had been easy to turn around, we may just have done it. But getting from where we were back to Florida was probably harder than carrying on, so we persevered. We put a reef in the main sail, , and moved the halyard daily, and continually monitored the rope. Luckily we caught it early, and the chafe was just on the outer core, and with the sail lowered a bit, there was less stress on the rope, and daily checks showed that no more chafe was occurring. For those who are interested, here is a picture of our Achilles heel!  You may need to zoom in to see the chafe

Main Halyard Chafe

Our passage took 10 days. It was tough for all of us, but even more so for Adrian and Garrick who still had to get their sea legs. Poor Adrian celebrated his birthday on the second day of the passage, and all we could offer him was to do his night watch for him.

Adrian "kitting up" for night watch
 We really just slept, ate little, and sailed the boat. By day 5 or 6, the chess board came out and a chess tournament started. I don’t believe we’ve completed our round robin tournament yet, but I can tell you that there were some intense games, and it was a good way to pass the time! We did have a visitor for a short period of time. This sea bird circled our boat for a while, and then came in for a landing. She landed on the bow, and that’s where she stayed for a whole 16 hours. We named her “Mrs. Bow” and she stayed with us through one of the most miserable days and nights. It was pouring with rain, and the seas were so rough, I don’t know how she held on, but she did…taking a pounding as the bows dipped down and was sprayed from head to toe when the water came over the front. At one point, another bird, same species as Mrs. Bow, tried to land on the boat as well. The bird just couldn’t manage it, and Mrs. Bow actually flew off, and tried to guide the bird in. They came in together, Mrs. Bow landed, but the other bird just couldn’t get its webbed feet onto the life line, and just flew off again.

Mrs. Bow riding out some rough weather with us

By day 9 we still had about 8 – 10 knots of wind, but we were so over it, that we tried to give motoring into the wind a go, and for the first time, we were actually headed straight for our destination!! As the night went on, the wind died, and FINALLY we had a break! Day 10 (Sunday, June 5th) dawned calm and clear. What a treat! Today was a big day because we were going to cross the equator! We all gathered around the chart plotter and counted down the seconds as our latitude changed from 00’ 000” 001 N to 0’ 000’ 000 S! We were suddenly in the Southern Hemisphere!! Of course, when you cross the equator, you have to answer to Neptune, and we were graced with a visit from not only King Neptune, but Mrs. Neptune too!! All of us were slimy pollywogs before we crossed the equator, but after our ceremony with Neptune, and letting him know why we were crossing his equator (to PLEASE get to the Galapagos!) and each of us sacrificing something to him, we were named trusty shellbacks! Gaby was the biggest contributor to Neptune’s cause and cut off about an inch and a half of her hair, and tossed it overboard. She is now sporting a very cute, shorter “do”!
Unfortunately I uploaded the wrong pic - not the one showing 00 000 000, but this is close enough!

King Neptune and Mrs. Neptune declaring the kids trusty shellbacks

Cutting Gaby's hair to sacrifice to Neptune
Gaby getting ready to make her sacrifice!

While we were stopped at the Equator, Dave, Garrick and Adrian jumped into the water again and cleaned our bottom (ie. The boat’s bottom!), one more time. Entry requirements into the Galapagos are not only expensive, they are also very strict, and we had been told by our agent, and everything we had read supported this, that we had to have a super clean hull. They don’t want any foreign objects being brought into their ecosystem (understandable). Dave was amazed at how much growth had occurred since we left Las Perlas with a clean hull, and it took the 3 guys about an hour to clean the hulls again. You’d think being on the Equator, it would be warm, but it was so cold, when they got out, they were all shivering so badly they could hardly speak! This is due to the cold Humboldt current that sweeps past here, and we had found that not only the water temperature dropped, but the air temperature too!
Gaby and Ben collect flying fish and squid in the mornings.  They land on the boat overnight!

Thrilled to see land at last!
The weather held out, with winds of about 3 knots allowing us to motor ahead to our port of entry on San Cristobol island. Ben was the first to spot land and soon the shapes of islands rising out of the water could be seen…what a sweet sight!! As we motored closer, we huddled on deck, as it was so cold (!!) and we in awe of not only the land forms, but the sea life we saw: whales blowing water into the air, manta ray jumping out the water, a shy sea turtle ducking into the water after a quick peek at us, frigate birds swirling around above us, and the closer we got, an escort of seals cavorting in our bows. It was truly amazing and all the rough times were soon pushed to the back of our memory bank!!

We picked up a mooring buoy, and soon our agent’s representative arrived by water taxi to get our paperwork. They informed us that our inspection, by all the different Galapagos agencies, would be the following day (Monday) at 3:00pm. First order of business was to barricade the back of the boat because the sea lions like to come up into the cockpits and sleep on the stairs! We were in the process of doing this, and had not quite finished; We had 3 fenders across the back of the one transom, and were getting another, and in a time span of maybe 5 minutes, I walked back to find a sea lion on the step in the gap that we were going to fill with the last fender! I wish I could have gotten a picture, but I clapped my hands and told it to “shoo” and it flopped back into the water.

We spent Monday cleaning the boat getting ready for our inspection. Everything we had heard and read about these inspections had us quite nervous and we were determined to be prepared. We’d read that if your hull was not clean enough, they would send you 42 miles off shore, and you would have to pay to have it professionally cleaned. We had also read that it could take 2 – 3 days to clear in with visits from up to 10 – 12 officials! At 3:00pm our inspection contingent arrived, and there were about 10 people, but at least they all came at once! We had the Port Captain, Customs and Immigration, National Parks officials, a quarantine inspector (Health and Sanitation) and 2 divers, as well as our agents. The divers completed their inspection and declared our bottom “very clean”! J Phew!! A gazzilion forms were completed, passports stamped and customs was happy (he was actually a very nice, friendly guy). More forms completed and our garbage plan inspected (I could write a whole other story on the garbage plan, but basically you have to have clearly labeled recycling bins and signs indicating that no garbage was to be thrown overboard).  This fell under the National Parks department and he asked to see our bins. He took one look, declared “Perfecto!” and that was done.

The worlds most expensive garbage can.  We used our outside cooler for our recycling station:  "Perfecto!"

Last, but not least, the Health and Sanitation inspector had his day. He was the most serious chap, and he inspected EVERYTHING. He checked our food – especially pasta looking for weevils – he made Dave open every floor board, inspected the bilges to make sure they were clean, he looked under every bunk and under the salon seats. He inspected the bathrooms and made sure our fake plants were fake. When he was done…it was done! “Welcome to Galapagos” we were told! Yay! Inspection over and passed!!! We were now free to enjoy the islands (to the extent that our cruising permit allows, which is pretty restrictive. We can only anchor in 3 ports and are not allowed to cruise the islands as such, and have to take organized tours). But we are here, we are cleared in, and we are recuperating! We found the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to be a charming, quaint little town with waterfront restaurants, friendly people and lots of sea lions! J

We do have a few chores to do, and are waiting for some parts to be flown in, to do a final repair on the mast to see if we can solve the halyard chafing issue once and for all. Thanks once again to Remi in France from ZSpars, the company that manufacturers the masts for Lagoon. Remi has gone above and beyond to help us with this problem, and is having 2 stainless steel rollers made and shipped to us, that Dave will have to install (another trip up the mast!). If this does not fix the problem, we will use the main with a reef, and will have to have the mast taken off in New Zealand. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. But we know we can sail with one reef and be OK. We have a tour planned for this afternoon and are excited to explore and enjoy this once in a life time opportunity of experiencing the Galapagos Islands!


  1. YEAH! You made it! How exciting! I would love to have seen all the sealife welcoming you to the Galapagos!! Enjoy dry land for a bit!

  2. Read every detail with great interest and I feel your pain on constant tacking.

    We also had a little bird use our boat for a rest when we sailed back to Mad Beach from Panama City - this was ahead of a storm that night and we think the bird knew that and was seeking shelter! He eventually made his way into the cabin and settled above the chart table :) We found out later what we were in for and it was a challenge to hold the boat on course.

    Your main halyard chafing, boy of boy that is a real pain in the butt - I hope this new SS roller fixes the problem, I just cannot imagine what else is causing this issue?? Fingers and toes crossed, taking the mast down does not sound like fun and will of course be costly.

    Cleaning the hulls in cold water :( - I did mine the other day in the warmth of FL waters, dont fancy the chilly option.

    Enjoy the islands, I am sure you will make amazing memories.