Thursday, June 30, 2016

Life in the middle of the Pacific

Hi everyone,
It's Gudrun here for a change. Normally I don't have it in me to do a blog update while on night watch, as I'm usually anxiously watching "Guy", our beautiful yellow and blue spinnaker dancing around the front of the boat, making sure he doesn't get up to any mischief, (like collapsing), watching the wind speed and direction and making sure we stay on course. I have not yet mastered the art of reading, writing or watching movies on nightshift. Tonight is a little different, however, as we are motoring. The wind died just as the sun went down, and so with a motor running, and no sails up, I can focus some of my attention on this little screen!

We are starting to lose track of days, as each day tends to be the same as the day before. We've noticed that our nights start later, but so do our mornings. We've probably moved into a different time zone, but we won't change our watches until we get to the Marquesas. When I came on deck at 7 this morning, it was still dark. The sun only started peeking out from the horizon at about 7:30am, a far cry from waking up to bright sunlight around 5:00am in Panama!

Around this time sleepy bodies start appearing, and the person who has been on the last shift will usually go back to bed to try and get some rest. The kettle is boiled and tea and coffee are made, cereal and oatmeal prepared. Our days revolve very much around food!! Sometimes Gaby, not yet fully awake, will ask me, "Mommy, what's for dinner?"! At 8:00am Dave gets to "call the aliens", his morning check-in on the SSB radio. Adrian coined this phrase due to the static "ring, ring, boing, boing" noise the radio makes!

Since we've run out of fresh bread, my mission has been to bake bread. This task takes up my whole morning! Prepare, mix, knead, rise, punch down, rise, rollout, put in pan, rise again, bake...phew!!! It's definitely still a work in progress, but I think I produce d a half decent loaf today!! Fresh bread with butter and jam was on the menu for lunch today!

After dishes are washed and put away, thoughts turn to dinner. No-one was feeling particularly creative today, so it was a one-pot rice based meal, but even during dinner we were planning tomorrow's meal...We have potatoes...I'll boil them and then fry them...it'll be like roast potatoes! And we have asparagus (in cans)....We could grill them, along with a nice piece of fish! Great!! Dinner Done!! Sometimes we'll end up talking about all the food we miss: Ice cream! Hamburgers and fries! Milkshakes! A juicy steak!! We sound like the cast of "Survivor" for goodness sake!!

And then we watch the setting sun and get ready for our evening and nightshift. And the next day we get to do it all over again! Granted, there may be a bit more to our days than this....repairs, trips up the mast, sail changes, reading, playing cards, sleeping, reading...and everything of course depends on the sea state and how roly, rough or calm it happens to be. But all in all, that's life in the middle of the Pacific!



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1457 miles to go

Hi all....1st order of business is to wish my Dad a happy 80th Birthday today....HAPPY BIRTHDAY Dad!!!! Hope you have a wonderful day today and year ahead. Sorry we are not there to celebrate it with you.

Sorry I have not done any recent updates....it's been an exhausting few days.

At 12.43am on June 30th we have passed the halfway mark and have 1457 miles to go. Our position is 05 degrees 24 minutes south and 114 degrees 57 minutes west. We are on a heading of 260 degrees and running down wind directly for the Marquesas Islands. Winds are between 10 to 13 knots and have a speed over ground or between 6 to 6.5 knots currently. Seas are still a bit confused but we are at least going roughly with them.

Well were to start....maybe about 3 days or so back.....

It was early morning and we had flown our spinnaker on the last spinnaker halyard we have through the night. We had been making good speed. I went up front wi th my binoculars to do my morning check of the rig and when I looked up at the spinnaker attachment point to my dismay I saw that it appeared to be pulling off the mast.....are you kidding me I thought!!!!! I moved around to different angles looking up through the binoculars and sure enough confirmed the attachment point about 60 feet up was failing :(

No time to waste...We could not afford a breakage and the loss of the halyard if it separated from the mast. We quickly lowered the spinnaker and set the jib sail so we had some forward motion. After talking things through we decided I needed to go up the mast to see exactly how bad it was as there is no way to be 100 percent certain without getting eyes on. So up I went 60 feet in rolling seas. Luckily just before going up Ben gave me his combat helmet to wear....good thing as in one of the big sideways roles I knocked my head against the mast fairly hard. Once up there I confirmed that 3 of the 8 pop rivets had sheered o ff allowing the fitting to bend up and away off the mast....It likely had maybe 1 more hour left before it would have completely failed so good thing we saw it in the early morning light.

So we decided to hoist the mainsail and run with it and jib. At that time the winds were not directly behind us so this sail combination worked ok even though it was slower. Obviously the mood onboard was down as we realized we no longer had the use of a spinnaker and we had about 1700 miles still to go.

That evening conditions worsened and the seas were lumpy and confused and rough. Garrick was on the 10.30pm to 1am watch. As I lay in my cabin that night not being able to sleep I heard so many loud noises as we hit waves, the mainsail flogged back and forth etc. I went up on deck at 1.30am and sat next to Garrick to get the watch hand over. He turned to me and said your not going to believe this. I looked to my side and saw the mainsail lying on the deck.....What.....No! !!!!! Literally 30 minutes earlier poor Garrick had the main halyard break sending the sail crashing down next to him.

Luckily the halyard that broke was an external back up halyard we had rigged in Galapagos as an emergency halyard. We had decided to try it and unfortunately had used an inferior grade home depot shackle instead of a marine grade one at the fixing point at the top of the mast as we did not have a suitable shackle that size aboard.....that's what failed and not the rope. Sooooooo that was a bit demoralizing to say the least. Garrick insisted I go back to sleep as there was nothing we could do in the pitch dark. I reluctantly agreed and headed to a cabin to lie down and contemplate our dilemma and next moves. What a true friend and trooper...Garrick did the entire night shift from 10.30am till 7am the next morning.

The next morning we regrouped and got the mainsail hoisted again on the original main halyard. We had a decent days sail and saw a s mall pod of Killer whales racing at high speed past us!!!! Very cool but scary at the same time.

That night conditions worsened....lighter winds...lumpy and confused seas and the winds switched to come from behind us....not good if you don't have a spinnaker!!!! We had to change course to adapt to the new wind direction which ultimately headed us over 50 degrees away from Marquesas....not good!!! Another frustrating night with not much sleep.

By morning the mood was down...no one had slept in days, we were heading away from our destination... .something had to change and we needed to be able to use our spinnaker as winds were forecasted from behind for future days.

After much discussion and analysis between Adrian, Garrick and myself we settled on a plan to go up the mast and rig a temporary spinnaker attachment point by tying a spinnaker block to the front of the mast. The downside was we could no longer use our full mainsail as the only way I cou ld tie this on was by wrapping rope around and around the top portion of the mast and thus restricting the mainsail going that high up the mast.

So gear up again and up I went. The winds were blowing about 12 knots but right as I was about to go up....they started gusting to 24 knots!!! Luckily this somewhat flattened the seas and made them a bit more consistent. What a view you get from 60ft up and blue sea every where.....It was scary in such strong winds but I was so focused on the work that needed to be completed I did not have time to think much about the situation. About 45 minutes later the work was done...I took a quick go-pro video and some pictures while up the mast and down I came.

By the time I was firmly back on deck I think it hit me and the adrenaline had been pumping for the last hour....I had tears in my eyes as the emotions of the last few days caught up and the fact that we had safely managed to make a repair that will hopefully get us back on track sank in!!!!

Within 30 minutes we had the spinnaker back up and flying on our new temporary halyard. Hats off to Garrick whom had thought through the temporary fix and to him and Adrian for doing a mock up on the base of the mast and cutting all the ropes to size so when I got up there every thing went well and fitted easily. We are so grateful as a family to them for all they have done for us and for all they have sacrificed to help us in our journey across the Pacific!!! It has been a hard trip with many many challenges and I am so grateful that they are with us and helping keep us all safe.....true friends they have been now in our time of need.....and ever since we all first met at university!!!!

Well there is no doubt that was a big turning point for us all....Once that spinnaker was back and pulling us towards the Marquesas everything improved almost instantly!!! Adrian and I went for a nap and Garrick and Gaby decided to wash all the salt of f the boat and gave it a full scrub down! The sun was out...a load of washing was done and water maker run....life was fast improving!!! We saw killer whales again!!! Guds and Gaby even baked some brownies and a fresh loaf of bread!!!!

Yesterday the wind died in the morning and we took the spinnaker down and motored for about 5 1/2 hours. Did more laundry and made more water. We changed the filters on the water maker as they were getting quite clogged and production had dropped from 17 gallons of water made per hour to about 11 gallons per hour. We also say another whale....think it was a sperm whale.

At around 6pm we reached the 1/2 way Mark and the GPS showed we had 1500 miles to go!!!! Garrick and Gaby had decided they wanted to go for a swim to have bragging rights they had swum 1500 miles offshore from any land!!! Peer pressure soon set in and we all decided to go for a swim ;) so we took down the spinnaker and slowed the boat down to about 2 knots before jumping in!!!

Glad we did it and will make for a good bar story one day;) Garrick, Adrian and I where all stung by jelly fish but it was worth it!!!!

Last night Adrian made us a lovely spaghetti dish that was devoured by 6 hungry and happy crew members....life has improved and we see light at the end of a long journey.....talk about character building stuff :)

Thank you for everyone's news, emails, blog comments and updates....Sorry we can't respond to each individual one....but know that they are so appreciated and keep us going :) its so nice to get these.

We are well....exhausted but getting caught up and looking forward to seeing land again....We have been at sea now for 10 days and likely have another 10 to go. The kids continue to amaze us all how they cope!!!! I guess not doing any night watches helps give them an advantage ;)

We are in daily contact via our SSB radio with another boat roughly 1000 miles ahead of u s and a 2nd boat sailing about 300 miles behind us. We normally exchange position...weather and just talk for 10 minutes on how each is doing. Amazingly old technology that still works well today.....talking to someone 1000 miles away over a radio and not a satellite phone.

With that I will sign off and get ready to hand over to Adrian at 4am. As I have been on since 10.30pm...miles remaining are now 1437 at 3.45am ;)

All the best and regards from Dave and crew aboard Cool Runnings!!!!




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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Hello with 2032 miles to go

Hi all

As I begin writing this it's just before midnight on 6/25. Our position is 03 degrees 18 minutes south and 105 degrees 35 minutes west and we have 2032 miles to go....only another 532 miles to the midpoint and when we will also be 1500 miles from any land.....yikes ;) Conditions are decent with 10 to 16 knot winds currently and we are doing around 7.5 knots with a 0.9 knot current at about 45 degrees from behind us.

The moon has just come over the horizon. I sat outside on the back for about 30 minutes tonight watching the stars.....just awesome!!! Veronique you asked about taking a photo of them and the milky way.....unfortunately the boat moves so much so you can't use a slow shutter speed as it would just be a blur. I will try figure if I can but so far no luck....maybe when anchored in a remote island :) last night we saw the International Space station.....that was pretty cool!

Well today was a much better and m ore comfortable day. Everyone's feeling better as we settle into this long journey across the vast Pacific. Every night watch I think about the people that have sailed this route before me and especially those early explorers.....they had almost nothing compared to us....slow lumbering boats and navigating by the stars.....UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! Here I am comfortable, showering every day, eating well, autopilot steering the boat 24/7, and updating my family and friends via a satellite phone.

Back to today....not to much to report....We changed out the existing spinnaker halyard with a brand new line....We can't afford to lose our one and only remaining spinnaker halyard that we also use to fly "puff"....So when we took down the spinnaker this afternoon to check for chafe we switched out lines.

Guds baked another fresh loaf of banana bread....that was devoured by 6 crew members likedy split!!!! Sadly our huge stalk of about 60 bananas is ripening faster than we c an eat them!!!! To top of the day she also made us a wonderful dinner of veggie stew with some sausage cut up in it.....again inhaled by 6 hungry Coolrunnings members:)

The chess board was pulled out (always a sign of improving conditions) but that's as far as it got...no game took place....but I suspect I will be summoned for a game tomorrow! Adrian had downloaded an app on his phone in Galapagos....Some chess app....So am sure he will have a few new sneaky moves to try on all of us!!!! He also played with Ben and Gaby today and endured a full Lego star wars download from Ben who was in heaven explaining everything to Adrian.

The kids are all well. Gaby set up a shop selling hair tie "butterfly's" she had made and ran a two for one special to try and drum up some business. Ben has been busy learning about electricity and helping me check all sorts of items on the boat. He has been reading and reading so fantastic to see that.

That's about it for to day's update.

Thanks for everyone's news, comments and updates!!

Picture attached of tonight's sunset :)

All the best Dave





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Friday, June 24, 2016

2214 miles to go ;)

Hi all...Dave reporting from about 780 miles offshore!

We are at latitude 02 degrees and 39 minutes south and 102 degrees and 36 minutes west. Wind is a pleasant 11 to 13 knots and we are doing about 8 knots with almost a 2 knot current from behind!!!! We have the spinnaker up only and current sea state is ok.....All this as of 9.30pm local time on Friday night June 24th.

Well it's been a while since I wrote as we have had an eventful last two days and nights!!! Today was our first somewhat normal day that we all managed to catch up and rest and start to all feel a bit better.

Two nights ago I was on night shift and at around 3am I started hearing a strange humming sound. It was dark and as I looked around the boat and went past the port transom I saw a line coming from under the boat and going out behind us into the darkness! I went back to the helm station to get a flashlight and noticed our speed had dropped from 6 knots to 3 knots in 12 knots of wind and when I returned I could see a float attached to the rope and a long nylon line extending out as far as I could see into the darkness. We were dragging some kind of fishing line or net!!!!

I woke up Adrian to help me try and free it. We clipped ourselves onto safety lines and both on the back swim platform tried to lift it out the water to cut it loose. There was huge strain on the line and it was extremely difficult to pull it out the water with a boat hook. Eventually we managed to get it close to the surface and Adrian manage to cut the line. A huge twang noise shocked both of us and showed how much strain the line was under as we cut it. Guds was also up behind us and the 3 of us were surprised by the noise. By this time it was about 4 a.m. and we went to sleep but Guds stayed on watch.

At around 5.45am I was awoken by Guds shouting...Dave...Dave. I knew this was not good from the sounds of her shout and came racing out my cabin up to the helm station. It was still dark as she pointed to a small panga fishing boat racing down towards us with just a white light and no running navigation lights. I shouted for her to get Adrian and Garrick up on deck. By this time the boat with two rough looking guys on it was just off our port transom! They headed for the starboard side and came within 10ft of our side. They just spoke Spanish and seemed to be checking our transom....maybe looking for their fishing line or net? Then asked for cigarettes and gas. I motioned...no...no.....and after being forceful and motioned for them to push up with my flashlight they sped off. They were over 400 miles offshore in a small boat maybe 20ft long with a 30 horsepower outboard fed gas from a 20 gallon drum. I believe they were a scout fishing boat from a mothership fishing boat, but obviously piracy crosses your mind.

So a fun start to yesterday.....It gets more intense.

So the seas got pretty nas ty and confused and I wanted to check we did not have any line left on the rudder or saildrive after cutting it earlier that morning. When the seas are rough enough you can sometimes look through the glass escape hatches as they get covered with water and you can see the boat keels like looking through a glass bottom boat. So that's what I did and looked back at the port rudder underwater. To my shock it looked bent sideways and I just imagined the strain of the fishing net pulling it and bending it before we could cut it loose!!! My heart sank.....could this be or was it an optical illusion from looking so far back underwater?

As we were doing about 7 knots there was no way to jump in and check so I decided to stick the go-pro camera over the stern to see if we could video any potential damage. I sat down at the helm with Garrick and as he and I were discussing how we would do this.....BANG....a load cracking noise. As we looked up we saw our spinnaker falling into the water in front of the boat!!!!!!

The spinnaker halyard had just broken!!!!! Everyone jumped into action and luckily Garrick had the sense to think to free the windward sheet which allowed the spinnaker to go around the starboard outer hull and not get dragged under the boat. I ran to the bow to free the remaining lines while trying to hold one of them. It was under such strain it pulled straight through my hand and burnt my fingers and part of my palm. Adrian came rushing up in his pyjamas and we all eventually managed to get the soaking spinnaker dragged back on board.

After we recouped for a few minutes we began to investigate what had happened. It appears the swivel block pop rivets we had installed for the spare spinnaker halyard in Cayman Islands came loose and with nothing to hold the halyard close to the mast it moves around at the top of the mast unrestricted and likely chafed through very quickly after the rivets came loose. The halyard then broke und er strain once chafed through. At least the spinnaker was not torn but a pulley used to pull down the snuffing bag was damaged.

Fun fun fun :)

While Adrian and Garrick worked on getting the spinnaker ready again and replaced the broken pulley I set to work again on videoing the rudder for damage or remaining line. Long story short the video showed all looked ok and what I had seen was an optical illusion.....yay!!!

While the spinnaker was being repaired we deployed "puff" our trusty geneker to keep us sailing. Within about 2 hours we redeployed the spinnaker on the second halyard and were back in business....less a broken halyard that will have to be fixed in Tahiti.

After all this Guds found the Will power to bake a loaf of banana bread and cooked us dinner!!!

Well sadly that's not the end......

At around 7.30pm I suddenly (as I was not paying attention) noticed a "mothership " fishing vessel trailing just off o ur stern about 2 miles and running what appeared to be a parallel course. It was about a 80ft boat is my guess....commercial fishing boat. No AIS signal was coming from him. Sadly all the commercial boats we have discovered since leaving Galapagos have no AIS as required by international law on any commercial vessel big or small....So you get no warning as they approach. So this boat gets closer and closer!!!!

We are over 500 miles offshore in the MASSIVE Pacific ocean and this guy decides to run right next to us and cut 1/2 mile in front of us once he went past us. Well it's pitch dark as all this is going down!!!! Still unsettled by the morning encounter with the small fishing boat....plus we cut his fishing line....my suspicious mind starts thinking this mother ship is coming for revenge or piracy!!!!

I woke up the crew and we watched and watched as he got closer and closer and eventually cut across in front of us. We got all our anti piracy defenses re ady and by this time tension was high! Eventually he carried on in front of us for about an hour and eventually slowly pulled further away. Likely just innocent but we don't know why he came so close with such a massive ocean available to fish in. I could not sleep after that so stayed up till 11.30pm and then poor Garrick did his and Guds nightshit from 2am till 7am.

Well it was a good rehearsal in what to do and we discussed learning today and had a good few laughs. Poor Garrick caught a bug as we left Galapagos and has battled to shake it so last night was the last thing he needed after a tough day.

Thankfully today was a much better day :) We ran the generator for 3 hours to charge batteries as we have had little Sun and took the opportunity to also do 2 loads of laundry and make 3 hours of water. By noon we recorded our best 24hr run of this leg of the journey...176 Miles covered since yesterday at noon.

Other than that.....We are all doing well today as the seas finally settled a bit and we all start to feel a little more settled.....still not 100 percent but a big improvement today after an exhausting last 48 hours.

Thanks for everyone's well wishes, notes, comments and emails!!! We love them.

All the best from aboard Cool Runnings!


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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hi from Dave...2701 miles to go

Hello all...Dave here...i am back in the saddle on night watch again after resting and exploring in Galapagos for a number of days. I have the 10.30pm to 1am night shift.

We are now already about 250 miles from any land at lat/long position 02 degrees and 03 minutes south and 094 degrees and 24 minutes west. Wind is from the south east at about 10 knots and we are doing 5.5 knots with a 1/2 knot current assist finally in our favor :-) Seas are nice and mellow with some large rolling swells. What a beautiful clear night with full moon and no sign of any other boats.

Stars out of this world ... so clear it was unbelievable before the full moon came out. We switched off all lights and even the navigation lights for a few minutes early evening to show the kids how clear the sky's were. The milky way was spectacular!

We are in contact with another sailboat (Mary Ann 2) in front of us daily on the SSB radio so good to speak with someone a few hundred miles ahead of us and also heading to our destination.

We have all started settling into life at sea again. It always takes a few days to find that groove and get use to night shifts again but after the rough conditions we endured on passage to Galapagos from Panama, so far this trip has been rather a pleasure!

We left Madeira Beach without having the time to fully test everything I had fitted and one of those items was running our washing machine via the Invertor. Well yesterday was the moment of truth as we decided to try a load of washing using the Invertor which converts our battery power into 120volt power. Happy to report we have clean laundry!!!! So the significance of this is we can use solar power for doing laundry vs running our generator and use valuable diesel resources. I had always intended it to work this way and had done the install accordingly....but just never got to test it this way until yesterday. Up until that point we had either used shore power or generator power to run the washing machine.

We had a great time in the Galapagos and the last island we visited, Isabela, was definitely our favorite! It's the biggest island but least inhabited and least developed. The last day the water around us was alive with activity. We had penguin's and seals and blue footed boobies and turtles....all hunting fish within feet of our boat at the same time. It's amazing how much we end up taking for granted like that as we cruise along and now putting it in writing I think to my self how unbelievable that was and how special it was to see!!!!!! Very lucky indeed!!!

We did the final halyard repair in that same anchorage.....thanks to Remi from ZSpars in France that has been so graceful in helping us along our journey. He so kindly made and then sent us via FedEx two custom stainless steel rollers to Galapagos that I installed at the top of the mast 4 days ago. Remi they fitted perfectly so again a big thank you for your help and kindness!!!!

Thanks Mom, Gaylor and Volker for your emails!!!! So nice for us to get news from people and it's normally a highlight of our days at sea :-)

With that I am signing off as it's now 12.30am on 6/22/16 with only 2695 miles now remaining!! Till next time....regards to all!!!

Dave






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Monday, June 20, 2016

Farewell Enchanting Isabela

We arrived at Puerto Villamil on Isla Isabela on Thursday evening as the sun was setting.  It was a beautiful sunset, but it is never ideal to arrive at an anchorage at dusk, especially one that has a slightly complicated reef-lined entrance!  But we made it in safely and were soon at anchor next to s/v Alexandra, a boat we first "met" on the Pacific net on passage from Panama to the Galapagos.  The Pacific net is a pre-determined time when boats sailing the Pacific can call in on their SSB radios and check-in (ie. Provide longitude and latitude position), get weather updates and any other news or updates.  Alexandra was a couple of days ahead of us but we heard them on the radio each morning.  We then bumped into them at San Cristobal, as well as in Santa Cruz.  By this time we were old friends and by the time we arrived in Isabela, Lars was ready on deck waiting for us, giving us the lay of the land (or should I say water!).  Lars and Maria are from Denm   ark and  will be leaving Galapagos in a couple of days (they are also waiting for a package!!), also headed to the Marquesas.  We will be in daily radio contact with them throughout the crossing.  Our other "buddy boat", Cheeky Monkey, does not have a SSB radio, so we will stay in touch with them via email.  They will be leaving the Galapagos on Thursday, so we are a few days ahead of both our buddy boats.  So families and friends....You can rest a little easier, we won't be alone out there, which is very comforting for us as well! 

We spent 3 glorious days on Isabela, and I think it turned out to be everyone's favorite! There were only 5 boats in the anchorage and the town of Puerto Villamil is small, with dirt roads. But it was that small town remoteness that appealed to us, and which was a lovely change from the relative "hustle and bustle" of Santa Cruz. And on top of that, you just couldn't beat the wildlife. Where else in the world can you sit on your boat and wat ch seals, penguins, pelicans and the famous Blue Footed Boobies, all swimming, fishing and flying together?! It was truly amazing.

After getting the last of the repairs done on Friday morning ( Dave went up the mast AGAIN and installed the new stainless steel rollers that Remi sent to us), we were free to enjoy our time on the island. As we had done in all the other ports, we hailed a water taxi and went into town. Now, in full disclosure, I have to let you know that Lars told us that the water taxis were not very reliable. However, we managed to communicate with our taxi driver and he said the taxis run until 8:30pm. So we had a great afternoon checking out the town and the various beach bars. They are literally on the sand. I wish I could post all the pictures I took, but let me just says it was just too cool. After a quick bite to eat, we headed back to the dock, and not wanting to push our luck, we were there at 8:00pm. The place was a ghost town and not a working water taxi in sight! What to do?! We could see our boat...so near and yet so far away because there is a reef between us and the boat. Gaby was getting ready to sleep on a bench next to a seal, and Adrian had located a paddleboard that he was going to borrow to paddle out to the boat and get our dinghy, when all of a sudden, a truck pulled up, and simultaneously Gaby spotted a boat in the water! We begged the guy on the boat, who spoke NO English, to take us to our boat, but he refused, saying he had cargo to offload. Turns out the truck was there to receive the cargo. After some hand signals and show of money, we (hoped) that we had hitched a ride back to our boat. But first we had to help offload the cargo. We've uploaded a short video to You Tube of the unloading of the cargo...it was hilarious, but some pretty hard work too! There were heavy crates of heaven only knows what...sacks of carrots and potatoes and other produce. The boat had come from Santa C ruz, in the dark. No running lights, no shelter...a trip that took us 6 hours in our boat! Needless to say, we were pretty sure that the last thing this poor guy wanted to do was take some idiot tourists back to their boat! But, after the cargo was offloaded and the truck was packed, we hopped into the boat and were given a ride back to Cool Runnings! It restored our faith in humanity and made us appreciate our boat, and all we have, so much! It also made for a fantastic story!!

The next day we rented some mountain bikes and rode a trail out to "The Wall of Tears", a purposeless drystack wall that was built by prisoners when Isabela was a penal colony. It was pretty impressive, but quite a hike for the kids. It was over an hour to get there, through sand and up hills, but they were troopers and made it there and back. Sunday was Father's Day and I treated our 2 Dads and Godfather to a breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast and fried bananas. The rest of the day we mel lowed out and enjoyed our time left on land!

This morning we waited for our clearance papers, and at exactly 12 noon we pulled up anchor and left Isabela and the Galapagos for the next big chapter of this journey. I think everyone is getting their sea legs again, and it may be a couple of days before we get into a rhythm again. We are sailing at about 6 -7 knots and the sea is calm. There are some big swells, but all in all, conditions are good. Gaby is asking what's for dinner... I think tonight it will be pasta. We are 5 hours closer to the Marquesas...+/- 22 days to go...

Remember to look on You Tube for a few short video clips. (Just search David Hibberd on You Tube). They are nothing like the almost professional, edited videos some blogs have, just short clips taken on Dave's cell phone, but fun to watch none the less!

Until next time, this is Cool Runnings signing off.

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

We're on our way to Isabella!

The other evening we had a family movie night and we watched "Cool Runnings", the story and movie about the Jamaican bobsled team.  This is also where our boat name comes from.  It means "Peace be the Journey".  The kids had never seen the movie, so it was great for them to get an understanding of the story behind the boat name, and Dave's struggles and determination to get to the Olympics, in the same way the Jamaican bobsled team had to overcome tremendous obstacles to make it to their Olympics.  In the movie, the team chants "Feel the Rhythm, Feel the Ride, Get up and go, it's bobsled time...COOL RUNNINGS!"  and then they start their race.  Gaby made up the attached note "Feel the Rhythm, Feel the Ride, Get up and Go, it's Cool Runnings time" and posted it on the nav station!  

So today is Cool Runnings time! This morning we cleared out of Puerto Ayora, as well as the Galapagos. There is no Customs and Immigration office in Puerto Villamil on Isabella, so they clear you out in Pto. Ayora. We left with NO wind and reluctantly had to run one engine and motor for the first hour or so. But then the wind filled in and we are now sailing beautifully in about 10 knots of wind, doing about 7 knots SOG ( speed over ground). We should get there at about 5:30pm.

Garrick and Adrian are snoozing and the kids are on deck looking for sea turtles. Captain Dave is happy to have wind in his sails again! The watermaker is running and we are topping up the tanks. We have a line out the back and maybe we'll catch some fish for dinner. The sun is shining and life is good...it's Cool Runnings Time! :-)


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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

And the winner is...

How do you choose one picture that captures our time in the Galapagos??  I have spent about an hour this morning going through all our photos, and it is so difficult!!  Using this satellite posting option allows me only to post one picture.  Should it be the close up of the giant tortoise eating a passion fruit that we had the luxury of seeing in the wild yesterday?  Is it of the lava tunnels we explored in the highlands of Santa Cruz?  Is it the amazing yellow and orange colored land iguana that was just lazing in the sun?  Is it of the tiny finch or the bright yellow canary?  Is it of our 3 musketeers on Garrick’s birthday, enjoying a beer, 25 years after a similar photo was taken in Malta when we sailed Dave’s uncle Brian’s “Golden Emerald” across the Mediterranean?  Is it a family picture of us standing next to some sea iguanas on the rocks, or is it a picture of the entire crew?  Is it a picture of Ben and Gaby getting a haircut at the back of the boat, or the bunch of bananas hanging from our solar panel supports that we bought for $2 (the bananas that is, not the solar panel support!).  Or is it the one I finally chose…this amazing shot that Adrian took…this sea iguana sneezing out sea water, with Cool Runnings in the background.  The sea iguanas dive off the rocks into the sea and eat the algae on the rocks below.  They can only hold their breath for a certain period of time, and then they have to come back up again.  They also lose a lot of body heat while in the cold water, so they spend a lot of time sitting on the rocks, warming up in the sun.  They also get salt water in their lungs when they are underwater, so when they sit on the rocks, you’ll occasionally see them sneezing.  This is how they get rid of the salt water!  To catch it on camera was a once in a lifetime shot!

 

Our other mission to solve while in the Galapagos has been trying to get 2 FedEx packages.  Wow…what a nightmare!  The one package was sent from Florida (a repair kit for rope cleats that Dave had ordered from West Marine and they never sent), and the other was sent from France – the rollers that we need to replace at the top of the mast to (hopefully) once and for all stop the chafing.  You’d think it would be simple.  The packages have been in Ecuador for probably a week now.  They wanted a cell phone number for the consignee (Dave), that of course we don’t have.  We gave them our satellite phone number.  Not good enough.  They were going to abandon the package.  WHAT?!  We’d paid almost $300 in shipping for these parts!!!  Then they wanted a copy of his passport.  We managed to get that to them.  Then yesterday they wanted an additional $160 something for the one package and $30 something for the other.  “Customs Fee”.  Imagine trying to coordinate all of this with limited to no wifi, and primarily over a satellite connection.  It has been a nightmare.  Yesterday we got confirmation that the parts will arrive today and we should…fingers crossed….get them by the end of the day.  If all goes well, we will then leave here tomorrow and sail over to Isla Isabel, where Dave will do the final mast repair (install the rollers), and we will get ready for our crossing.

 

So today we will finish provisioning – there is a fresh market in town where we can buy our fruits and veggies.  We’ve been buying fresh fish from the fish market, which has been absolutely delicious! We’ll get a few more items from the supermarket (long life milk, cereal for the kids ($4+ for a small box of Fruit Loops…!!) and then we have to solve the beer dilemma.  We stocked up pretty well in Panama, and didn’t consume any beers on the trip over, but the boys have made a dent in the beer supply since our arrival, so we have been looking for a way to replenish the beer.  We have battled to find any cans (which we can crush and store more easily than glass…and glass breaks), and all they sell here are huge, glass bottles of beer.  So inventory needs to be taken, and a decision needs to be made.  Do we get the big glass bottles, or purchase the few cans of Pilsner that we found at an outrageous price?  That’s one for the boys to figure out.  I have my wine…I’m OK! ;-)  We’ll top our tanks and jerry cans with diesel and then we should be good to go.  Isabella is pretty remote and the island has only a small settlement.  We are looking forward to spending a few days there after the “hustle and bustle” of Puerto Ayora!

 

Until next time from Isabella, this is the Cool Runnings crew signing off!  (I’m going to see if I can attach two pictures…let’s see what happens…if it comes through, the second picture is the Cool Runnings crew wishing you all well!)

 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Our Time in the Galapagos

Hi everyone,
Well, we've discovered that a good (or even any!) WiFi connection is extremely difficult to get in the Galapagos islands! We thought maybe the more populated island of Santa Cruz would have better connections, but so far, no luck. So I am trying something new...I'm going to see if I can post this via our satellite email. Unfortunately I won't be able to include pictures, but I hope to be able to at least keep you all updated on our whereabouts and experiences.

We spent 5 days on the island of San Cristobal. Our first day was spent cleaning up and clearing in. The next 2 days were spent exploring the island, and we saw giant tortoises, sea iguanas, some amazing bird life, and of course lots and lots of sea lions! On day 4 we rested (Garrick and Adrian went on an ambitious hike, but the Hibberd clan opted for the lazy alternative!). Friday was spent doing boat chores and then on Saturday morning we were ready to head over to Santa Cruz.

We had a wonderful sail, which restored everyone's faith and souls and we possibly may have convinced Adrian and Garrick to continue the journey with us!! After the miserable passage from Panama to here, they had threatened to find the nearest airport!!! Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz is the most populated port of all the islands. There are about 20,000 people who live here. The anchorage is crowded with local excursion boats, but has not been as uncomfortable as many reports we'd previously read.

Sunday was Garrick's birthday, and we went on a great walk and found an amazing canyon, a volcanic fissure, called Las Grietas, where Dave and Gaby swam in Crystal clear water. The day's celebration continued way into the night with birthday drinks and dinner of local fish together with newly made friends on the boat "Cheeky Monkey", whom we first saw in Panama, but only got the chance to meet now. They are on the same timeframe and route, so we will have a buddy boat to cross the Pacific with. (Unfortunately no kids aboard for Ben and Gaby).

Yesterday we went to the Charles Darwin research station, which was very interesting, and I counted it as a school field trip for the kids. They will have to do a report on what they learned. We plan to do some more exploring today, and then tomorrow we plan to sail over to the last island that we are allowed to visit on our cruising permit. It will take us 6-8 hours depending on the wind. We will spend a few days on Isabella, and then begin the big journey across the Pacific ocean!



Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

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 there...you 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: https://www.facebook.com/gudrun.hibberd

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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!