Laura's Blog

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03-06-2011

Because of all the many teasing from hazes and squalls, I have been busy all day adjusting the sails. Unlike yesterday, the sky is clear again today and the light winds between squalls blow Guppy to a speed of five knots [9 kilometres or 6 land miles an hour]. For other things, I try to catch as much sleep as possible because once I sail straight through all the reefs and atolls I will have to check on Guppy every 20 minutes so she does not head directly into a reef! The atolls and reefs are really so shallow that sometimes even the radar system will not detect them. I have now sailed into a new time zone and the difference with the Netherlands is now exactly 12 hours [GMT/UTC -10]. I was lost in the reading of a book when I was startled by something which at first appeared to be a small whale but then it became clear that it was a mega-big dolphin! The dolphin swam side by side with Guppy for a few minutes and then suddenly left to continue on its voyage. What a pity Guppy and the dolphin did not go along together for longer.. I would rather have liked to have time enough to study this animal some more - I had never seen such a huge dolphin before.

laura


     


02-06-2011

As soon as the very last "Have a safe trip" was called out to me from other yachts, Guppy and I had already disappeared behind a huge curtain of rain. There are only light winds and through the drifting coconuts all around, Guppy is peacefully chugging on towards the open sea. It is cold and wet while I pass a mega-big waterfall. At the moment the swell is not as high as it was when I arrived here, but still I would welcome some stronger winds. Most usually when I take down the sails then the wind picks up, and when I try to catch some water then the rain stops.. But also that did not help.. Nature simply does as it likes, and today it decided that Guppy wouldn't be sailing faster than four knots [7,4 kilometres or 4,6 land miles an hour].

Laura


 


01-06-2011

Even though Hiva'Oa and all of its so very kind people are real beautiful, Guppy and I have travel urges again.. There is nothing that will hold us. Guppy feels clean and tidy, the water tanks are full and - not the least that's for sure – I have real original French baguettes on board. Today I will hoist my anchors for the 770 nautical miles route to Tahiti [1426 kilometres or 886 land miles]. With all the reefs and many atolls that lie just above the water surface this will a bit more difficult run! Most of the yachts are staying here for quite some time and so this means that each one goes his own way. And so it is time to go meet new people and to visit more Pacific islands.

Laura

 



 


31-05-2011

Unfortunately, the beautiful sunny day is over and the weather is back to normal which means rain and no winds! However it makes it a nice day to share films or books with the neighbours. That's what we sailors usually do between us, so everyone has something new to read or to watch while on Route. That is why I almost only read books in English which have become as easy to read as reading Dutch is to me. Today I also tried to bake bread again, something that hasn't been going too well for me and at which I haven't been too successfull at doing…really! But now... with the recipe and the right ingredients provided by another sailor, my first home-baked bread is there on my table. It looks like bread and it even tastes like bread... yummy. So, I have not yet been ashore today but I will be in a short while, to enjoy a pizza somewhere with other sailor-friends.

Laura

 


29-05-2011

Without letting me in on it, people here organized the welcome party that they couldn't give me for my arrival. With a girlfriend from another yacht, I was busy cleaning parts of Guppy when someone came knocking (every time I start cleaning someone comes by - but I am almost finished with it now). It was a woman from the island inviting me to come along with her. The people here are actually so kind that you really cannot say no to them. On an open field there was a big party with locals dancing. It was really beautiful. With drums and singing, the people put on some astonishing and beautiful performances. So up to now I have collected four flower necklaces and three beans, the durable kind.. They gave us a whole load of all the delicious food there was to take back with us. We shared it all with the other sailors later in the evening. Of course the evening cosily dragged on, so I went to bed very late. This morning I did not wake up to the usual rain but to sunshine! The weather suddenly became very nice, after the non-stop rain since my arrival! I guess the weather got better because today is Sunday or because I have just finished filling up my water tanks and bottles.. In any case I'll have to get used to it again because it is really very warm now.

Laura

 


28-05-2011

Since mooring I have had a life full of new experiences and I have been busy with many things to do, and I really feel like I have been here for about a week.. Of course, I visited the Atuona village where I was welcomed by the mayor right upon arrival and I have since already collected three flower necklaces... The people here are really very friendly, and they find it sad that they could not organize a big party for my arrival because they did not know the time of my arrival. Actually, this is exactly the reason why I did not want them to know in advance. This way my trip becomes a lot more fun and spontaneous. This morning [May 27th], I went exploring along with a peer from another yacht and a woman who lives on the island. The island really is very beautiful, very green and extremely high. Once you are in the clouds, it gets colder and there are fir trees growing everywhere, which really doesn't make me think that I am now in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Every day a new yacht is coming in, and I get to meet more people all the time. Everyone is wondering how I could make the crossing within 17 days and 22 hours. Except for a big 66-feet yacht, I could not yet find another boat that did the crossing faster than Guppy. And during conversations the question is often raised about how I managed to be that fast. Mostly they conclude that I must have been towed by a whale - or that I am the "Flying DutchGIRL".. Unfortunately being so fast did not prevent Guppy from collecting underwater growth on her hull on the way over here. And so I spent half of my day today under Guppy once again, armed with diving goggles and a scraper..  

Laura

 


28-05-2011


26-05-2011

Guppy is now lying at anchor in a quiet bay near Atuona, and I did the crossing in 17 days and 22 hours! This is the same time I needed to cross the Atlantic Ocean but there were about 800 nautical miles more to go! [1481 kilometres or 921 land miles]. When I sailed into the bay, many of the yacht crews looked very much surprised to see me since they were not expecting me so soon. Some of the yachts that had left two days ahead of me still had not arrived! Yeah, Guppy you are the best! Hiva Oa really is very high, and next to me there is a mountain whose top I cannot even see! That is why it rains a lot over here, so I am very busy now with catching water and cleaning the boat. I did not go ashore yet, it is just odd enough for me now to be looking at land.. But I have to go ashore today since I still have to clear customs.  

Laura


 


25-05-2011

Yesterday the squalls have kept me busy for quite a while but they tired down in the evening, just like me. And after a few more teasing hazes they disappeared. This morning the sky cleared up and what shimmered on the horizon grew and became more real all the time. There are still 16 nautical miles [30 kilometres or 18 land miles] to go to anchorage and I am growing more and more impatient with every single mile. Arriving is one of the greatest and most exciting moment and one of the most dangerous. There is a swell of about four metres [13 feet] and Guppy is getting ever closer to... the most present and greatest threat, land!!  I cannot stay still for even one minute and I keep staring at the rocks which are now taking place of what was only water for the past 17 days. It is really unbelievable that those high cliffs are the Marquesas Islands for real! Till now it had been a vague dream that seemed so far away, but now it is very real and so very close.

Laura


 


24-05-2011

Yes, I took another shower this morning and it was a freshwater shower! Early this morning two forceful squalls hit. Of course Mother Nature sent some strong winds along with them, so by the time I had finished wrestling with the sails and I was ready to catch some fresh water, the rain had stopped. The rain itself moved away, but the winds and the clouds remained with the associated waves included. I should have touched wood when I said yesterday that the cockpit was still dry.. Well, after 17 days of beautiful sailing weather, one should expect a punch in the belly. But Guppy enjoys it and she sails good and fast again. And so, the miles just fly by under her keel. I think that 'Gup' and I will arrive at Hiva'Oa island tomorrow in the afternoon my time. My foot is better now, so I can pound on my beloved customs formalities and paperwork once again..

Laura 


 


23-05-2011

Woeshh! I took a shower once again! During my check around, a wave took the opportunity to take me to graze unto the foredeck. Thank you, now I am wide awake and hmm...salty. The wind has picked up and the waves are just high enough that some occasionally jump on the foredeck every now and then. But happily, Guppy can jump over most of them so I could take my guitar with me to the cockpit once more. Playing outside to the whisper of the waves as Guppy cuts through them, sounded so beautiful that it made me totally forget that I was also frying an egg... Unfortunately the big catamaran gained back on me but it won't catch up in any case. Because the land is coming closer and closer, and there are only 350 nautical miles [648 kilometres or 403 land miles] still to go. What a small number compared to what it was at the beginning of this crossing.

Laura

 


22-05-2011

Another beautiful and sunny morning, and there is really no cloud in sight! Guppy is surrounded by dark blue, light blue and even more variations of blue. Once again I took my sextant to 'shoot' the sun and determine my position by this ancient method. This is much easier to do aboard a big ship like the "Stad Amsterdam" than on my rocking horse.. Well, practice makes perfect! Guppy still has 500 nautical miles to go [926 kilometres or 575 land miles], and if the wind cooperates a little, I will drop anchor at Hiva Oa island in about three days. I am not totally getting used to this idea yet.. Iwould like to go running and walking, but trying this as soon as in three days would not be too wise a decision. My foot would rather stay at sea for a little longer to enjoy the rest and well, I cannot really be against its choice.

Laura

 

 


21-05-2011

At the time when most people in Europe are having supper, I just wake-up from my latest nap. The wind again chose to go for the "too-little-not-enough- type-coming-directly-from-the-back", so I went back to fighting with the sails again. I could not catch any understandable word from the short wave radio this morning. And while I sat down listening to the ...beep...noise...crackle..., I took off the dressing from my foot because the whole thing was stuck together again, and I thought that fresh air would be good for the wound's healing. Of course, three minutes later I was taking a few steps and that caused the wound to rip half open again.  Well done, Laura..  And so I had to dress it anew because it was bleeding again. And when my breakfast took some flying lessons a short while later, my morning was then done for me. But... that's the way I keep myself busy here.. I also try to ignore the rolling of the boat and the slow going speed, but for all that, it is really a beautiful morning. Moreover, Guppy increased the distance by 10 nautical miles on the 52-foot catamaran [18,52 kilometres or 11,5 land miles], which is sailing 300 nautical miles behind [555 kilometres or 345 land miles]. 


Laura


20-05-2011

Because of the atmospheric conditions, the daily short wave radio hour is now held at about 5 AM local time which mixes up my whole morning rhythm. After chatting for an hour I learned - with great satisfaction! - that the 52 feet catamaran that departed two days after me is still two days behind me, meaning of course that I must not fall asleep. They really thought they could catch up with Guppy! Well, it is not so easy to catch up with Guppy, and she will keep mowing down the 800 nautical miles that are still left to go [1481 kilometres or 921 land miles]. Even the flying fishes apparently cannot keep pace with her since the cemetery has been empty for the past days. Because there are not too exciting things happening and sleep very well, I have excess energy that I spend walking from bow to stern in the flamingo stance, adjusting the sails as best as possible and cooking dinner of course! This... is often an art of its own. If you make something and leave it unattended for just two seconds, you can be sure that it will fly away and come at you with neck breaking speed! It wouldn't be the only or last time the pasta sauce is dripping down the wall... But once I manage to bring the pot, content included, safely outside, it tastes so much the better.

Laura

 


19-05-2011

Last night I have seen my very first moonrise at sea! I was outside to do my usual round when I noticed a yellowish shimmer on the horizon, which was very similar to light-pollution of towns' lights coming from an island. But the nearest coast is about 1000 nautical miles away [1852 kilometres or 1151 land miles]. So I first thought it was a crashed airplane or a ship on fire. Hmm, no. Maybe a cruise ship with all lights on. But then I was very much surprised when a huge yellow ball slowly rose from above the horizon, splashing Guppy in light - it looked like wizardry, so much so it was beautiful! By the end of the night a series of squalls,the usual blows, hit me.. Anyhow, I am now sailing with crosswinds and ‘Gup’ and I are moving along at a speed of 6,5 knots [12 kilometres or 7,5 land miles an hour]. My foot is getting better and healing well, I can stand on it a little bit!

Laura

 


18-05-2011

Toiing-Flap-bling!... There are two wind directions I really can't stand: strong winds coming from straight ahead, and little winds coming directly from astern. And so, winds coming from astern kept me busy all night long. Because Guppy was not leaning to one side, which is the case with crosswinds, she started rolling which made the sails flap in the wind. And so I have been busy all through the night with correcting course and adjusting the sails until the noise from the flapping sails finally stopped, although it meant I wasn't sailing on the correct course..! Forget that.., and so I enjoyed the full moon and the beautiful trace of phosphorescent light that Guppy left behind in this endless swell. And then there was the sunrise, which reminded me of the fact that I had been busy scrambling with the sails all night! The wind has now picked up a little bit. It is just enough to stop the noise of the flapping sails. In the morning sun I enjoyed eating some cornflakes while I kept an eye on the speedometer that is now showing a speed of 5,5 knots [10 kilometres or 6 miles an hour] again. I hope it will stay this way so I can catch-up on some sleep.

Laura

 


17-05-2011

My foot is healing very well, thank you all for the many good advices. I think I won't have to walk like a flamingo any more when I reach land in about eight or nine days, but till then the largest distance I can go to is no more than 12 meters [39 feet] any which way...! Now I will enjoy the peacefulness and the easy going pace of a large crossing for about eight more days. There are no islands, no shoals or reefs to run aground on, and there is not much ship traffic around here. And so my radar system can perfectly keep watch by itself and I can sleep a little longer.. Because it is not necessary to keep the course too precisely, my heading being west like is just fine.. so it is all just great sailing right now. Unfortunately, those fabulous days won't last forever, and so, as soon as I round the Marquesas Islands, I will sail, literally, through a minefield of reefs, islands and atolls again..

Laura

 


16-05-2011

I have now learned that one leg hopping in a kind of non-stop fairground ride is much harder than I actually thought, and I am afraid I might cause even more trouble for myself by doing this... In spite of the wound under my heel I can still use my toes very well! It's only that I now have sore toes! Obviously they lacked some training... but this is about to change. Last night I passed the half way point. Unfortunately I could not dance a jig, but feeding myself home-baked cookies to celebrate did just fine. Besides that, there is a mega-large swell over here caused by a more southerly storm. Happily, the swell is very long so it is not worse than usual. But, oh my! Some of the waves are at least 7 meters high [22 feet], giving me a spontaneous vertigo when I am sailing on the very top of them..

Laura

 


15-05-2011

Blang!... My intuition that rightly recognizes every single noise on the boat woke me up. There was a new unknowned noise. Clang, clang, pff... I had to get out of my warm bed – if anything goes wrong, I can always be sure that it will happen at night – and so I went to check on the windvane. Humm, the stainless eye-clip that holds the pulley that guides the cables to the tiller had broken off, but by using a rope and a little improvisational talent I managed to fix it, and in a short time the whole thing was working again. Then I stood still for a while in the hatchway just to watch the almost full moon that draws a mysterious glow on the swell, when an unexpectedly high wave smashed over Guppy making me fall backwards and down the stairs. I came to a stop half-way into the cabin as an acute pain went through my foot... that is bleeding like crazy. There is a large wound at the bottom of my foot. After limping back and forth through the cabin several times and dressing the wound, the cabin's floor is very nicely covered with drips and streaks of blood. Well, it matches with Guppy and it is also my favourite color... If I avoid standing on my foot, the pain is bearable, and I am now quite busy practicing the Flamingo' stance...some other challenge that goes to show that sailing is really unpredictable…

Laura

 


14-05-2011

Beep...Crackle...Hiss...The sailors' daily radio network on the short wave radio has started again, and out of the squeaky English that comes from the black box in front of me I try to make sense of what is being said. Sometimes the reception is loud and clear but sometimes it is not. But there is always a boat call that can be understoodd better than the others so if you can't contact a boat directly, the conversation is done by interconnecting from one boat to the other. This is the only way to find out if and where there are other yachts around on the ocean. There is another yacht sailing 200 nautical miles [370 kilometres or 230 land miles] from me. After an hour, everyone is babbled out of things to say and the chatter box turns off and everything turns quiet again. I have won the fight against the over ripened bananas, and the clock is set back another hour. The time difference with the Netherlands is now 9 hours [UTC/GMT - 7 hours]. 

Laura

 


13-05-2011

Hup, Guppy, Hup! You are the best! Yeah! I established a new record: 194 nautical miles [359 kilometres or 223 land miles] in a day's run. It is both a personal record and I even beated my father's record by one mile [1,852 kilometres or 1,15 land miles]. The wind is coming a little more from astern and the waves have stopped visiting the cockpit. So now I can read a book sittting in the cockpit without having to deal with pages that are stuck together! Our current speed is about 7,5 knots [14 kilometres or 9 land miles an hour], and there are only 450 nautical miles [833 kilometres or 518 land miles] to go until I am at the half-way point!

Laura

 


12-05-2011

Gee whiz! Guppy has got hot peppers up her tushy and it is the same with the wind!! For the last while the wind has picked up and our current speed has increased to 8 knots [15 kilometres or 9 miles an hour]. The Windpilot windvane [self steering device] can easily take it. There are still 2140 nautical miles [3963 kilometres or 2464 land miles] to go. Now I am getting sick from eating bananas, that have suddenly all of them mellowed at the same time, and I'm trying to dodge the waves that are coming in to wash over me. Today there was a record-breaking number of twenty flying fishes laying on the deck! Hallelujah... And in a miraculous way, they all lay in the middle of the portside gunwale.... Maybe this is because that is the only place on the boat that was not washed over by water…

Laura

 


11-05-2011

This morning the birds flew away. I guess they are now well equipped for their next leg... And so I am alone again but for the lizard that is very good at hiding away. The weather conditions are still the same - what bliss! There is a nice and strong crosswind and a clear blue sky with some stray clouds here and there. If the weather stays like this, the land does not need to appear on the horizon soon, for all I care. Well, I actually hope this does not happen for real because it would mean that I have done something wrong. After the hustle and bustle and the uncomfortable nights in the Galápagos I could fully recover here, and I even found time to do some schoolwork. I have not seen a boat or a dolphin recently but the number of stranded squids and flying fishes increases everyday. When I get up in the morning, the deck looks like a cemetery…

Laura

 


10-05-2011

A high and long swell is rolling under Guppy and washes over her sometimes... then we both I and everything that lies in the cockpit get wet - and then I curse the wave... It is already our third day at sea. And it feels all so familiar. I sleep a lot better now than when I was at anchorage. I woke up with the first daylight and with the short wave radio I listened to the chatting of other sailors. I cooked dinner, I read something, and I am checked on the bananas' huge stalk at the stern to see if they had mellowed yet. Right there I found a strange insect with antennas - I dropped it over board. Then I found a small lizard, but I felt too sorry to throw him over board - he escaped and I have not seen him since. Life at sea is so simple. The day comes and goes, and Guppy is hobbling along tirelessly. There are 2500 of the 2980 nautical miles [4630 of 5519 kilometres or 2876 of 3430 land miles] still to go!

Laura

 


09-05-2011

Today started smoothly with some chatting to other yacht crews via short wave radio. While I was busy throwing flying fishes and squids off the deck, I suddenly stood face to face with a bird! This animal sat 10 centimetres [4 inches] in front of my nose on top of the sprayhood, enjoying being rocked back and forth by the waves. On the other end of the sprayhood I discovered another one, and since they had no intention of leaving I struck up a conversation telling them that they were allowed to stay if they promised not to poop over the boat... They have not moved a single centimetre since. Guppy really enjoys the trip and with good crosswinds she still is going at a speed of about 7 knots [13 kilometres or 8 land miles an hour] so all is well, and so far so good.

Laura

 


08-05-2011

I said Hello and Goodbye for the umpteenth time. I set sail for the umpteenth time to bring Guppy towards the next unknown island. But for the first time it now feels quite familiar. I am back at sea and it feels like I had never done anything else before. Guppy is rushing towards the Marquesas Islands at a speed of 7 knots [13 kilometres or 8 land miles an hour] while I am skilfully catching each wave that washes into the cockpit... The Galápagos Islands are out of sight, and to my great surprise, I immediately fell completely into my own rhythm again. A great start for what I hope will be a great crossing.

Laura

 


07-05-2011

photo's ( see the dutch weblog, or hyves.)

 


07-05-2011

I am hoisting my anchor in a few hours, Guppy and I will sail the longest sea crossing of our whole trip. As always one day before sailing off I am really looking forward to the journey, and a few hours before leaving I am a little nervous about having forgotten something. But as soon as I sail away everything will be fine and I will be sailing the ocean with a smile. I must also say goodbye to the best friends I've made ​​during this last part of my trip. I am leaving behind perhaps the most extraordinary of islands that I have visited. The meeting here with some people of Sea Shepherd also was very special to me. But Guppy and I long for the Marquesas! We are going for it now. We are ready. Water, fuel, food all set and then some good wind!

Laura

 


05-05-2011

I am just back from Isla Isabela. It really was very beautiful. There is a small village with only dirt roads, a few houses, restaurants and hostels. After a two hour ride in a speedboat which was crammed full with 15 people, we arrived in Isla Isabela. We arrived late in the afternoon. After admiring the penguins that swam between the sea lions in the harbour, we rented surfboards and we went surfing for two hours. We spend two nights on the beach under a beautiful starry sky! Most of the penguins and sea lions swim about in the small harbour, so we decided to admire them by sitting in the shallow water. After one hour they came closer and closer. Just within arm's reach! We also did have a swim with the sealions. The penguins are super fast and small! The water at Island Isabela seemed to be a bit colder but this was only because we had been sitting still in the water for way too long... Early this morning, at 6 AM, our boat was going back to the Island of Santa Cruz and so we went. The crossing [to the Marquesas Islands] is getting even closer and closer, and the more time I spend ashore, the more I feel like sailing the sea again. I am thinking of hoisting the anchor on Saturday or Sunday.

Laura

 


03-05-2011

Exactly one year ago, Guppy was launched, and I sailed the first meters with her. Now one year later, she is berthed in the Galápagos having many thousands of miles under her keel!! This had to be celebrated. Yesterday I have been very busy cleaning her. Now she is spick-and-span not just on the inside - well, yes, I am an expert at making mess... - but also both the hull and under the water level hull are clean again!! Especially the water level line was very dirty and there had been very much growth on the hull below it. Armed with diving goggles and a snorkel, I hung under the boat for two hours yesterday. Now she is well prepared for the biggest crossing that lays ahead, and that is getting ever closer and closer. I repaired all the things that had broken on the way over here, and I checked on everything else. The Diesel fuel tank is filled and I have plenty to eat - I just need to replenish with fresh water and then she is completely ready for the sea. Along with a good girlfriend, I am going to the Isla Isabella today, an island that is 40 nautical miles [74 kilometres; 46 land miles] away from here, where you can't go to with your own boat without a special permit. Of course I do not have this permit, so we will go there by ferry. It seems that it is a very beautiful place, not too touristy, and the penguins are there, too!! I really have to see them. I will be back on Thursday, and then I will share all of my adventures with you!!

Laura

 


02-05-2011

Yesterday I decided to spend a quiet day after all the latest hustle and bustle. I went back to Las Grietas to cliff dive again. I am becoming well known over there... I spent the rest of the day with some maintenance work on Guppy. To catch up for my lazy day yesterday, I decided to go diving near the Gordon Rocks with three sailor friends. We had the company of Hammerhead sharks, White-tip sharks and Galápagos sharks. We hoped to see the Whale shark that was spotted yesterday, but unfortunately we did not encounter this sea giant. But while we swam the underwater world of the Galápagos, we met some turtles, manta rays and many coloured fishes. And the sharks were an adequate compensation for the Whale shark! So in the end, I defeated my shark-phobia! Since I was eight years old I suffered from an extreme shark-phobia, but this is over now. Those were exactly the sharks I had seen in my nightmares, and they did not do any harm to me. About ten of them swam below me and they were not interested in us at all! The water was extremely cold down there, and I almost came out of the water as frozen as an ice cube - despite the 7 millimetres [0,28 inch] thick wetsuit. It took me about two hours in 37° Celsius [98,6° F] outside temperature to come back to my normal body temperature again... If I had closed my eyes, I would almost have thought that I was back in the Netherlands... It really was THAT cold...

Laura

 


02-05-2011


30-04-2011

After a slow start, I still had very much done today. I went back to Las Grietas to cliff dive again. I could not resist... I have seen the craters and the giant tortoises in the wild. In the afternoon we walked through a lava tunnel. Both the craters and the lava tunnels were mega large. It was very touristy though, which disappointed me very much. The tortoises 'in the wild...' were surrounded by some 40 tourists!! So we tried to get away as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, it was nice to see. Up to now, watching the wildlife around the boat is much more beautiful than at all the parks or zoos. Indeed, it is a very special place here!

Laura

 


29-04-2011

Another crazy day! Guppy is rolling back and forth at anchorage (well, that's what boats do...) while I am exploring the island. Today I have been to a lake in a valley between two cliffs from which you can jump... Which of course, I tried at once. After that, with some other people I walked for two and a half kilometres [1,5 land miles] towards the beach to go surfing again. Today it went a lot better, and I have not been chased by a shark so far... At the fish market, we watched the seals and pelicans trying to catch fish remains. It is very nice to see that the people here are living with all those animals!!

Laura

 


28-04-2011

Once again, my beloved 'sea-rhythm' is interrupted by the stresses of life ashore. Unlike all the other places I have been to, the official duties - for example clearing customs and inspection of the boat - are more stringent here. Of course there are nice things too. On the first day I met some good sailor friends that I had not seen since Panama. I went to watch the big turtles and surfing for the first time. Unfortunately it was more than a one hour walk to and back from the beach but it definitely was worth the effort. Looks like that not only do I have a talent for sailing but also one for surfing (uhum!)... I managed to surf a wave on the first attempt!! It was a mini wave and it was just beginner's luck of course, for I landed in the water innumerable times in the most idiotic ways thereafter. But I will certainly try it one more time. The Galápagos Islands are wonderful. The water is clear and not cold at all, as everybody had told me. The Island has everything a tropical Island usually has, greenery, palm trees and it is very warm! At the dinghy dockside the seals just lie in front of your feet, and the only way to pass them is simply stepping over them. Then they start making crazy noises and close in on you though. It scared me a little bit the first time, but I wanted to go ashore and I could not avoid them without falling in the water... The anchorage is very bumpy, there is a swell of one meter [three feet] coming from the sea, and when I lie in my bed, it feels like being in the middle of the ocean... I am pushed from one side of my berth to the other end. So, I have to think of a solution for tonight since I woke up all black and blue ( as happens many times while sailing )... And this when I was hoping to sleep in one stretch the whole night through!

 


Laura

 


26-04-2011

Ha! I killed two birds with one stone... huh, with one blog. I found the Galápagos Islands AND the Equator. It was dark closing in to the Equator but at the very moment I reached it, lightning flashed up in the sky and Poseidon rose from the water to admire little Guppy. This was... just the dream I had the night before crossing. In reality it went like this: during the day I met with another boat and at 9 PM [my time] we crossed the Equator, all swinging to loud music. Since I had heard from reliable sources that Neptune has a weakness for pancakes I gave him one specially made for him. Crossing the Equator just felt like New Year's Eve! After a few short naps, this morning I reached the Island of Santa Cruz, Galápagos. I am lying at anchor now and I can see many well knowned yachts again, also I am eager to go ashore.

Laura

 


25-04-2011

Only 50 more miles [93 kilometres; 58 land miles] and then I leave behind me the northern hemisphere. After expecting calm winds as is usual in these parts [ of the Pacific Ocean], I have been having good winds now for over 24 hour! I shall probably be sailing across the Equator at around 22.00 hour my time [ 03:00 AM / GMT ], if I can find this thing in the dark ... After the equator it is not too far to the Galapagos Islands and I hope to be there by tomorrow night. This was a wonderful trip with more wind than expected and no high waves. There is a swell 3 meters high but very long so Guppy floats just like a bathduck over it.

Laura

 


24-04-2011

A good side wind still fills my sails. I expect to cross the equator between tomorrow night and the day after tomorrow. By short-wave and VHF-radio we already started discussing colourful ideas on what each of us will give Neptune; a freshly caught fish, rum, bananas, diving goggles...? Early this morning (at 5 AM), I was already busy baking pancakes. As soon as the sun rises it becomes too warm and I wanted pancakes for breakfast in any case. Yesterday I experienced a heavy squall, but unlike other squalls there was no wind this time. Hence, I could clean the boat, take a shower and I collected 11 litres [2,4 gallons] of water. Being covered in so much fresh water just made me feel over the moon.

Laura

 


23-04-2011

Last night the wind lacked courage but came back with the first daylight. Guppy is now blowing forward at a speed of about 6 knots [11 kilometres or 7 miles an hour]. I am in the middle of a group of three boats who set sail together from the Las Perlas Islands en route to the Galápagos Islands. One of the boats has been out of sight from the first day and is now 40 nautical miles behind [74 kilometres or 46 land miles]. The other boat, a American with a catamaran, is still visible on the horizon, and via VHF-radio we have conversations about the weather, the covered distance and of course the day's highlight, the dinner. I have been with these boats since the San Blas Islands. Sailors are always very sociable people, there is always someone to talk to if you feel like it, and at least you know for sure that you are not the only creature that is roasting in the sweltering heat while bobbing ahead slowly. Besides the chats via VHF-radio, I use the short-wave-radio which makes it possible to call other boats that are out range of the VHF-radio. I have already been in contact with sailors who are berthed in the Galápagos Islands 400 nautical miles away [740 kilometres or 460 land miles]. Besides that, I read a lot.

Laura

 


22-04-2011

Wind! After running on the engine all night again, finally some wind came and since this morning we are moving under sails. With a good wind of about 8 knots [15 kilometres or 9 miles per hour; force 3 on the Beaufort scale] coming from astern, 'Gup' and I are going at a speed of about 5,5 knots [9 kilometres or 5,8 land miles an hour] again. The clouds are gone and Guppy is slowly turning into a baking oven again; it is getting warmer day by day. And in four days, I will sail across the equator. Yesterday it rained for about two hours and I kept busy with collecting water. Now it is too warm to do anything, and I am mostly busy showering myself with buckets full of water, and keeping an eye on the course and the sails while sitting in the shade.

 


Laura

  


21-04-2011

Unlike yesterday there was no wind at all last night and so to the noise of the engine, Guppy softly slid over the moonlit sea at a speed of 3,5 knots [6,5 kilometres or 5,6 miles an hour]. Last night I heard a thump, a sound meaning that I had hit something. Most likely it was a tree trunk, there are many adrift around here. I cannot find any visible damage, probably because we weren't moving so fast when we hit, as I think. There is some wind now and Guppy is running under sail again. Luckily the sky is a little cloudier for Guppy nowadays is more like an oven during the day with the sun straight up above.

Laura

 


20-04-2011

Last night Guppy made very good progress. I have had wind so I travelled 140 nautical miles or so since I left [259 kilometres or 161 land miles]. Yesterday evening, I was accompanied for almost two hours by a school of about 30 dolphins. They played along with the boat, looked up pryingly and then dived away. Today I have not yet seen any dolphins, and unfortunately it is the same with the wind. The good wind has disappeared again, and Guppy and I are now slowly bobbing towards the Galápagos Islands and the equator! I think I will be sailing across it in about five days into this trip!

Laura

 


19-04-2011

The Pacific Ocean is great! On my trip to the Las Perlas Islands I saw  dolphins, a jumping ray, a shark and a whale! I have seen more in one day than during six month in the Atlantic Ocean. The anchorage and the scenery were not so nice though, so on the following day I sailed to La Esmeralda, a small village on the south coast of Isla del Rey along with another boat. The scenery and the anchorage are better here. There are tall cliffs with much greenery. The water is a bit colder because of the cold Gulf Stream. The anchorage is not very clean and there are many jellyfishes, so I had to skip scrubbing the underwater hull of my boat. This morning I set sail towards the Galapagos Islands. At the start there was not much wind but since the wind picked up. The swell is soft and large here, and with the halfwinder, the mainsail and the mizzen up, I am going at a speed of 4,5 knots [8,3 kilometres or 5 land miles an hour]. Just so I won't break any speed records...

Laura

 


16-04-2011

I am very busy with preparations for the Pacific Ocean. Shopping for provisions, stowing away the MiniCat and cleaning the boat. After the passage through the Panama Canal with six people on board, it became a big mess and I have been busy with cleaning up. Yesterday I made big purchases. The food in the Pacific region is very expensive, so I tried to cram Guppy full of food that should last until I reach Australia. Now Guppy has a 5 centimetres [app. 2 inches] deeper draft [ below the water line]. Tomorrow I will head for the Las Perlas Island, an island which lies about 40 nautical miles [74 kilometres, 46 land miles] off shore, so I can do this trip easily in one day. Panama City is very large with plenty of very tall buildings. But the water in the anchorage is not very clean, and Guppy and I want to sail the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean!!

Laura

 


13-04-2011

The passage through the Panama Canal was great. Especially the Gatun Lake was very beautiful. Along with one of the line handlers (that I am good friends with), we slept outside on the deck. In the morning, we awoke to the howling of - most likely - shouting monkeys. It was extremely loud and very fascinating. One monkey starts screaming and then it goes on like a wave through the entire forest. The Gatun Lake was very beautiful, but I had already seen it of course. But I had not heard the monkeys at that time. I went through the Canal along with a boat that I have been with since the San Blas Islands, and it was great fun. Water jockeying and with very loud music on, we sailed up the Gatun Lake. We have had great weather, but when we exited the very last lock, it began to pour. The only two not mutinous crewmembers on board also started to mutiny and went inside the cabin. Hence, I navigated through the heavy rain towards the anchorage alone. But I don't find this to be so bad. Sailing with a crew is very difficult. You have to keep an eye on everyone and everything that they are doing. Everything gets mixed up, the whole boat is a mess and they always stand in front of your nose or run in your way. Well... it is very much fun though. Yesterday night I went to a concert by Shakira along with a good friend. Actually, I am not the biggest fan of Shakira. But we had very much fun anyway. In the huge crowd, we suddenly met an acquaintance from one of the yachts I had occasionally been with since Bonaire. She had lost track of the rest of her family, and so she joined us. After we all have had lots of fun, we all went to bed at 2 AM, and by 7 AM this morning, we are already back working on anything and everything again.

 Laura

 


12-04-2011

Here are a few pictures of the Panama Canal. Please also see my Dutch weblog or http://solozeilster.hyves.nl for other pictures. It was really a great experience and Guppy is now safely anchored. Tomorrow I will write some more about it. But first, I will have some sleep and I will explore around my new anchorage.

Laura


08-04-2011

The Rib Barbecue in Shelter Bay Marina yesterday night was fun and the ribs were really delicious! So I ate with a big-strong appetite.

Two more nights before Guppy heads for the Pacific Ocean. In the evening of the 6th, I came back from my trip as a line handler on another boat going through the Panama Canal. We went in the Canal three boats at a time, which had to be tied together going into the locks. The first time it became a big mess since most crewmembers did not understand what to do. Ahead and behind us, the cargo ships blew their horns, wanting us to give way. Once in the lock, it all went fine. We spent the night in the Gatun Lake at a mega big mooring. The following day, we sailed the remaining part of the Gatun Lake after some water jockeing with the other yachts. It also went well in the other locks. Only the two yachts ahead of us had some problems. They rolled back and forth heavily - only music was missing otherwise they could have joined in a dance contest for yachts (which will be held from now on... hi hi). Later we heard that someone from one of those yachts had lost his fingers, and that an ambulance had picked her/him at the next lock. We did not get more information so I still do not really know what happened. In the meantime, I have had a run with my MiniCat again. There were strong winds, and I sailed super fast. It is so nice to be sailing with a small boat again!

Laura


Please see the Dutch weblog for pictures http//: solozeilster.hyves.nl.


07-04-2011


05-04-2011

I am back! Sorry to be a few days late. But I am experiencing so much all the time! Today I will sail as a line handler through the Panama Canal on a other boat for a little practice, hi hi! Even though I already have some experience from the locks in the Netherlands. I find it great to have the chance of doing it two times, besides getting to know the things that will be expected of me is quite nice, too. The day before yesterday, I went to Panama City with some friends. It is large and especially tall! I haven't really formed an opinion about it yet, except that it is different from all the places I have been to before. We are now waiting for the signal to let go of the mooring cables. Since I will sail from lock to lock without having internet access for the next two days, it just came to my mind to give a quick review of how things will go. On April 7th, there will be a Rib Night [barbecue] in the harbour in my honour. In return, I will give an interview to a local newspaper. I find it nice to do it this way. It shows respect for me - I have been asked for permission before. Quite different from suddenly standing right in front of my nose like on the first day and then asking annoying questions to me. At this very moment, the tires that will be used as fenders/bumpers in the channel are thrown on my deck. I will go through the Panama Canal on April 10 and 11, so I still have some days before I can sail the Pacific with Guppy.

 Laura

 


01-04-2011

Yesterday I went cycling with some friends from another yacht. We went to Fort Lorenzo National Park, a 10 kilometer uphill and downhill ride on a folding bike. The fort and the view where beautiful.  From the fort you can see the sea and the Chagres River. We where a little bit late and just before sunset we went on our way back. There were lot of noises from the monkeys and other animals that started to get active in the jungle at dusk. I was looking at the monkeys up in a tree above when I  almost drove over a snake! I looked just in time down and stopped my bicycle 50 cm from the snake while letting out a scream. The snake went to another place and we where able to take some good picture's. Just before dark we where back at the marina. Today I went to Colon to get some food. Colon is not really a safe place and I would not feel safe if I had to walk there alone. The houses look ruinous and the people seem rushed and nearly run each other down. It looks like there's no organization. Luckily I was not alone and Guppy is not docked in Colon.

Laura 


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