The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.

Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.

Our favorite sailing quote:

"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Galapagos part 1, February 5

Our first casualty in the Galapagos was the loss of an oar from our dinghy. The sea lions use the dinghy to sleep in at night and they either broke the oar when they got in, or they pulled it off. Either way, that wasn't something on our radar to prevent. We now pull the dinghy up at night. The seals, without natural land enemies, are not scared of anything, and here in Cristobol they share the beaches with swimmers and surfers. They sleep on any horizontal surface (including our dinghy or swim platform): park benches, steps leading out of the water and on the pier. On the beach they surf in between us, totally comfortable with cross species body surfing. The sea lion here is a subspecies of the California Sea Lion, so they look familiar, but they are a little smaller and most certainly less timid. By far the favorite activity for the kids has been watching the antics of the sea lions in and out of the water. Yesterday we had a small female swimming near the boat for about an hour chasing a small bait ball. The boys slipped in the water next to her and she was totally oblivious to their presence.
The Galapagos is a bucket list location for most people, and it is amazing, but having your boat here is almost a liability. For example the cost to enter the islands is steep; $1200 for one harbor. In addition we have to pay for an agent, a fumigation certificate and a national park fee. They scrutinize the bottom of your boat and fine you for small infractions and send you on your way if your bottom is covered in barnacles, algae or other growth. Once you pay the fees you have much less to spend on tours. A French boat entered the harbor the same morning that we did and they we denied entry and had to be on their way within 24 hours because of a dirty bottom. They worry about invasive species, which are a threat to the islands indigenous species. We also cannot dive easily on our own (considering we are limited to the one harbor), although Mike and the boys have found a few sites within dinghy access. It is frustrating when you have sailed 900 miles to get here and you can't explore more. Usually a boat gives you access to amazing locations you can't get to otherwise, in the Galapagos it is quite the opposite. We have to pay to go on small cruises around the islands on other boats, which is obviously frustrating when we have a boat at anchor. That said, the islands are still an amazing destination and even with out limitations we have been having a great time.
Mike and Zander dove a deep outer rock with a guide and saw hammerheads, Galapagos sharks and a very impressive bait ball that they caught on film. Porter was able to do his first wreck dive in 62 degrees of water not too far from the anchorage. The water temperature is about 10 degree cooler at the surface and 20 degrees cooler down at depth. Diving in the Galapagos includes a wet suit and even still you can feel significant thermoclines and get cold. Cold, nutrient rich water is up welled around the islands which attracts lots of pelagic species. There are also penguins and whale sharks here that we hope to see, but with our limitations we don't necessarily expect to see.

We also toured the island, climbed a volcano, observed our first giant tortoises, among other small discoveries the island offers. Obviously the Galapagos are known for their endemic species, but it is fantastic to see the actual animals that inspired Darwin's Theories on evolution. We've seen several of the famous Galapagos Finch's which Darwin studied and researched for his theories on adaptation. Each island has their own species of Giant Tortoise. Most are still intact, although several have become extinct. The Galapagos was never inhabited by indigenous people, the first permanent residents of the Galapagos were Germans escaping Nazi Germany before the war. Otherwise the islands were known as a place to stop, stock up on food and water for pirates, whalers, and explorers. The Giant Tortoises took a beating during this era of early exploration because they were a fantastic food staple for the sailors. One tortoise can last a year without food and water. Ships would fill their hulls with tortoises and have fresh meat up to a year from when they left the islands. Although there are lots of naturally reproducing tortoises on the islands, the big islands each also have a tortoise rearing site where they dig up eggs and hatch them out to relocate when the tortoises are 5 or 6 years old. On Cristobol, the island we are on, 90 percent of the island has been in park status for the last 50 years, so there are thousands of healthy tortoises roaming the island. I so wanted to stick one of the little 2 month old tortoises in my pocket, but that would be a pet commitment that I would have to ask my grandchildren to continue since they can live 150 years.

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