Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Panama to Galapagos : Day 7
26th June 2017
Current Position 000 08.63 S / 086 49.91W, Speed 7.kts, DTR 175nm
My watch started at 0300 today and we did our usual handover of what’s been happening, who’s out there with us, yarda ,yarda,yada. Liam hits the hay and I’m up for the next five hours. Just me, my iPod , the eerie glow of our nav systems and a whole lot of nothingness out there. It’s cloudy and cool and I’m wearing a fleece and long pants. It’s not quite the attire that we were expecting to don at this latitude.
The faint light of a trawler is way off to our port side and the blinking icon on our AIS tells me there is a huge cargo ship 20 miles away over the horizon travelling north at 19 kts on our straboard side. I will never see him visually. We are just ships in the night to each other.
By 0800 Liam is stirring. I make him a cuppa and fill him in on all the exciting news of my watch. My report is akin to watching paint dry. He asks all the important questions like wind speed and boat speed, any emails come in and then gets to the really important question...what’s for breakfast? I have it in the bag for this one . We’re having buttermilk pancakes topped with fresh mango and maple syrup. His eyes light up.

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An hour later the wind is picking up. It’s pushing 20 kts  and the seas are getting bigger. We change our sail configuration,  after a coffee of course, down to two reefs in the mainsail but still keep the whole jib out. GWTW is purring along at a comfortable 7-8kts and we have 236 miles to run to San Cristobal. With the boat all settled it’s my turn for the some shuteye.
It’ll be  a short sleep for me this time as we will be crossing the equator in a few hours and I don’t want to miss the big moment. I mean it’s not like there is a big  brass band sitting there waiting for us or a welcoming committee saying “come on down to the southern hemisphere, it’s nice down here”  After all it’s really just an imaginary line with the magic numbers of 000 00.000 but to all sailors  who cross, it might as well be a fireworks spectacular happening.

P6263731At then at 1305 under  blue sunny skies  GWTW nosed her bows back into the  waters of the southern hemisphere. It has taken just over 11 years to get  back here. In keeping with tradition  we had a quick toast to Neptune and poured a decent splash of rum in the blue pacific hoping that it will filter it’s way down to Davy Jones’s locker.

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Having crossed the equator northbound in 2006 there was no need to perform the usual rights of passage where legend has it that you go from being a slimy pollywog, a person who has never crossed before to a trusty shellback, one who has. We now have earned double shellback status. Shame there isn’t a frequent sea miles program for sailors.
It’s early evening now and the sea birds are starting to show up. They are swooping and diving for the flying fish that we are scaring out of the water. It’s easy  pickings for these guys. Identified as Red Footed Booby’s one has already taken up the prime position on our prodder-pole and others are trying to land as well but number one bird is not budging from his post. By last light the final count was four, three on the pole and one hanging on for dear life on the lifelines. It will be a tough night for these hardy critters as the wind and sea state  are due to increase.

Over the past few days the sea water temps have slowly been sliding down the slippery slide. Today it reads 19c indicating that we are now well and truly in the Humboldt current. This cold ocean current originating at the southern tip of Chile flows north along Peru and then turns left at the equator and heads west bringing a plethora of rich nutrients to the marine environment of the Galapagos Islands. Although being present year round this current also provides a cooling effect to to the climates of Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos particularly during the months July to December. No wonder we are feeling a tad cold.

Just as an aside, the ecosystem of this current is among the most productive ecosystems in the world and approximately 20% of the world’s fish are caught in waters bathed by the Humboldt current. The current also gives us a boost along too, kind of like going from a backroad to a freeway. Yee-ha,this will take us straight to the finish line. 
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