After almost two months of preparing the boat for the biggest ocean passage we’ll ever undertake we were finally ready to break all our ties with Panama and head on out for what should be the experience of a life time!! We have provisions of canned and dried food onboard to last us a year and fresh groceries to last the first couple of months. We have enough alcohol to stock up a pub and the decks are lined with Jerry Cans full of diesel and extra water. Bluemoon is sitting extremely low in the water and we have a definite heal to our starboard side where we’ve stored all the tins of food. It’s been an extremely stressful process trying to figure out exactly what we’ll need to survive on and then trying to find it in a Spanish speaking country. Luckily things are very cheap here or else we’d probably be bankrupt by now!!
Our first stop after Panama City were the Perlas islands roughly fifty miles off the Panamanian Coast and just far enough away for us to find out how we would sail with all the extra weight. We left with our friends from Norway Ingvil and Gunnar on board their yacht ‘Helen Kate’ and had a great sail over. We arrived just before sunset and anchored up for the night happy to be on the move again and catch up with some other friends to celebrate the beginning of our pacific crossing.
However, in the pacific this is something we’ll have to get used to as the distances are far greater than anywhere else in the world. We were really lucky with this passage as the wind stayed pretty consistent from the South East and allowed us to sail the whole way, we were even able to fly the spinnaker for a couple of days. Bluemoon handled really well although we found it impossible to get our new wind steering vane to work so we had to hand steer three hour shifts each. The seas stayed relatively calm with a steady swell from the south only picking up slightly with the wind on the third and fourth days.
On our seventh day at 11:18pm we crossed the equator into the Southern Hemisphere. For those of you who don’t know when you cross the equator on a boat you go from being a ‘Pollywog’ to a ‘Shell Back’, an old sailing tradition. I had crossed the equator before in Indonesia but for Jimmy it was his first time. The tradition is to give an offering to Neptune and the Pollywog has to be gunked in some form of slime! During the day we had carved our names and our position onto a coconut (kind of a message in a bottle thing) so we could throw it overboard on the equator. As for the gunking we had to settle with a bottle of Champaign as after hand steering for seven days we felt we deserved a treat and the temperature was so cold that being covered in slime (or the shower afterwards) would be quite cruel.
On the eighth day, the 2nd April, after passing through some extremely heavy fog for most of the morning we finally sighted land and the island of Santa Cruz in the Galapagos arhcipeligo. It turned into a beautiful sunny day and as the island grew closer we could make out the rugged coast line and towering volcanic peaks. As we sailed along the coast we spotted huge sea turtles and dolphins swimming along side the boat and couldn’t wait to set foot among the enchanted isles!