The wind has continued super light over the last 24, with the biggest gusts we've seen coming from the E@10knots - mostly its been 6-8 knots from the E or ESE, so we've had to sail deep, at 200 deg T for most of the night - far from ideal. I got bored of the 4 knot speeds and slapping sails at 1 am this morning and motor sailed for 4 hours, the first time we've had to motor sail since day 2. The wind started to oblige again at 5am (a lofty 7-9 knots T of SE) so back to sailing at 100 deg AWA at 240T. Yay. I hate using the engine, all that unnecessary noise, maintenance and expense! Update - now we have 10-11 knots of SE so we are practically rocketing along on a reach! Were excited for friends on boats who left in the days before we did from Panama, and are now getting close, days away, from French Polynesia! They have judiciously used the currents and winds (and their engines!) to sneak ahead of us, and are just 3 days away from fresh bagettes, croissants, fruit and vegetables - ahh, so jealous!! These boats have all had resident boobies roosting on deck over night, and leaving considerable 'deposits' on deck! We have (somehow) managed to avoid them roosting for the whole trip, although our beautiful white sails are covered in their 'deposits', as they seem to like hunting the flying fish that run from under our bow, gliding just in front of the headsail, and diving straight for unlucky flying fish that take flight to evade Patea, returning after each successful foray to crap all over our white genoa! Not sure how I'm going to get that out! First world problems!
At 109 local time, 909am UTC on the 9/7 we crossed the equator! Being the middle of the night most everyone was of course asleep, but Denis and myself celebrated as we changed night watches with a small fist pump and a bro-five, and the sacrifices to Neptune will begin in the morning!
We've had a day of equatorial celebrations, sacrifices, poetry, prose and giggles! Everyone has had a hair cut, some more extreme than others, and both Izzie and Kath were subjected to 1 minute haircuts handed out by the captain, significantly reducing the length of hair to above the shoulder! I reckon I did great;) Although I'm not considering a vocational change! My heads been shaved, and just quietly I'm working on doing Denis' too! Equatorial pancakes were prepared, and an appropriate, love-heart-shaped pancake (as devised by Izzie) was offered to Neptune, slathered in some of the last of our fresh fruit, honey and cinnamon, and washed down with some Panamanian rum, which we are hoping were to King Neptunes liking, and will appease him enough to continue to provide us fair winds and calm seas, of which we have all been very appreciative to date! Our local tattoo artists Selma and Denis have inked us all with appropriately nautically themed symbols, and we're just whipping up some cocktails for an afternoon of celebrations - equatorial, and distance - we're coming up on 3/4 of the distance done (ok, so maybe we're about 100nm short but, close enough!).
Happy trails everyone!
That current was certainly nice while it lasted, but the dream run is over for now and we now seem to be struggling to make hull speed, despite good wind, so likely dealing with a little adverse current. We also are starting to drag our own little reef system on the starboard topsides of the boat, which has now been semi-permanently immersed for several weeks of running in the same direction! Kath and I have been removing goose barnacles from our transom (Lepas spp., ubiquitous throughout the worlds oceans, easily identified by the 2 grey/white plates (shells, like a small flat grey-white mussel) delineated by dark edges, and the whole lot supported by a soft rubbery neck (tooks like a teensie weensie pecker!) which is a similar length to the shell, or slightly longer, and attaches to sections of your hull without antifoulling. And there is definitely green filamentous algae starting to grow on our starboard topsides too. The goose barnacles will be easy to remove whilst they are young, but they are hard to reach while we are sailing! As long as we do this in the first few days of our arrival in FP they shouldn't leave any trace behind. The algae is more problematic...
We'll be ticking off 2/3 of the way through this passage this afternoon, and have started our dive south and will be crossing the equator tomorrow, so lots of reasons to celebrate! And sacrifices to be made me maties, har har!! There's talk of shaving some heads, so we'll see how that progresses!!
We've had quite a kick from the current over the last 36 hours, from about 109W to 114W which has been awesome, and as of 1am local this morning Patea set new 24 hour records of 249nm OG and 227NM VMG. In the last hour we've run out of current, but the excellent sailing conditions (14-16 knots at 70deg apparent) continue to allow us to tight reach at 8-9 knots OG with two reefs in the main and the genoa, and flat seas making it very comfortable.
Izzie's two favourite educational apps have stopped working, so that has slightly reduced the happiness factor aboard, and upped the 'adults-playing-kids-imagination-games-all-day' ante, which is freakin exhausting!!!! We're heading to the equator at about 120W, and will continue our curve southward at that point. Patea is also into her longest passage ever, and likely to more than double the previous longest (Cape Verdes to Martinique 12.5 days). The boats doing great, and us crew are holding together too thus far!
We're back into the breeze, and with a little helpful current we are smoking along, sustaining over ten knots average all night long! Beeeeaauutiful! And one happy skipper! And no need to put the big gennaker up, although that hasn't improved the last 2 days fishing stats at all - zip! Expecting to arrive in French Poly in about 11-12 days at this stage:) Patea just ticked over 14 days at sea, with pretty good figures since we left Panama: 2238nm sailed over 337 hours, average speed 6.65knots, avg 24 hour run of 159.5nm and 137VMG, and bests of 227nm and 213VMG - pretty happy! Although we are essentially no further ahead time or distance wise than the last trip on our 36' Oceanus (but I blame that on staying north of the equator and missing out on the bigger breeze in the southern hemi). However its been a much more comfortable lolip on this route with flat seas and sublime winds. And its been much cooler this route too - our SSTs have stayed in the low 20s up until today, when they have started to rise noticeably - we have jumped from 23 to 24 yesterday, and 24 to 26 deg C this morning already. I expect we will all be sweating from today onwards! All happy and healthy, although we only have 2 mangos left!!
New 24 hour speed record for Patea! 237nm, and 214VMG miles -happy campers!!
HALF WAY!!!! Geographically speaking, that is! We should be over half way time wise, having been at sea now for almost 14 days, and with an estimated 13 days still to run! Saw our first fishing boat last night, which was like a glowing beacon of a million lights - likely squid fishing - and other yachts in the surrounding 600 mile area are seeing lots of other industrial fishing activity out here on the high seas. Hopefully we'll catch a fish today too - its been 2 days since we've had fish and Denis and I are definitely ready for more!
All G yo
I spoke too soon! After our best ever 24 hour run of 227nm @ 1900 local last night (and 213 VMG), the wind and current have dropped! We are now 'drifting' along at a steady 6-8 knots SOG, with the wind about as far aft as we can manage without using a gennaker. Comfortable enough anyway, despite the disappointing loss of speed. The crew have rebelled against my desire to drop the lines back over (ok, so the ladies were the actual rebels!), as apparently we've eaten too much tuna in the last couple of weeks! I'm still hoping for some mahi mahi, but apparently the risk of tuna bycatch is considered too high by some! First world problems! Ah, the little things - I've been revelling in my spreadsheet, and giving the (delighted) crew blow-by-blow updates on our status (like we're now 2/5ths, 4/9ths, 8/23rds of the way there, etc etc), and it may not give them joy but it does me! We've had surprisingly cool sea surface temperates along this equatorial route - I recall it being much warmer (like SST of 29 deg) a few degrees south of here - another reason to stay where we are right now - its a very comfortable, mid 20's temp! Happy trails, the Patea crew
Still rolling, doing 220nm days and 210 VMG days - awesome! May it last for the next few weeks!
Over a third of the way there, as of last nightust with a mere 2589 miles left to go! The Mangos are still keeping us vitamin infused, and we have a few apples and oranges left, before the dried fruit take over the nutritional requirements! Kath has been doing an amazing job of preparing most dinners, with Selma filling in and providing other cooked goodies for lunches - I stick to what I know - Sunday morning pancakes! We picked up another good sized tuna yesterday, so we are once again gorging ourselves on fresh fish, which Denis and I are particularly enjoying (Irina, we're looking after your boy with meat!). Other than that, just another day on the ocean! Although last evenings star and moon-filled skies, flat seas and perfect beam reaching conditions were pretty stellar - bring on many more champagne sailing nights like that!
Well hellooooo freight train! We're finally moving, and really well, on the South Equatorial Current, which is adding about 2-2.5knots to our boat speed. Which constantly reads >10 knots for the last 12 hours, and hasn't dropped below 9, now that we are west of the Galapagos, awesome! We spent the whole of yesterday weaving past a handful of the Galapagos Islands, including getting pretty close to the top of the largest, Isla Isabella, just as the sun was setting last night - very photogenic, with the drone doing overtime running loops around the boat! The 10-12 knot S breeze is now abaft the beam @110deg, and our rolling motion is slow and manageable, and everyone slept well last night. These are the conditions that we are expecting until we arrive in the Marquesas:) We are now well outside of the Galapagos Marine Park, so the lures have just gone back in the water, as the last of our tuna was consumed last night for dinner. After our slight diversion to take in some of the Galapagos, we are now heading slightly N of W, to give us better sailing angles as we approach the Marquesas in a few weeks time. We'll head west at about 1 deg N, just above the equator for as long as we can, before the trade winds evolve into ESE and E, and we start our descent towards French Polynesia. Lets hope we can maintain these speeds as we will be there in less than 2 weeks at this rate! With the lovely afternoon sailing past Isabela yesterday it was very hard to not have a cold beer - very much looking forward to that in FP! Patea signing out.
We have cleared the adverse current and are now transiting through the middle of the Galapagos Islands - we passed Isla Genovesa 3 hours ago, and are just passing within a half mile of Isla Marchena currently. There's been heaps of birds around (2 species of gannet/booby, and 2 species of small godwit-type fellas. We've seen the pre-requisite sea lions basking at the seas surface, and the boat is covered in sufficient guano to demonstrate our time here! We're heading to the Northern end of the largest island now, Isla Isabela, where we will duck into the lee of the island and heave-to for a few hours, so that we can fine-tune a couple of things before heading across the Pacific proper.
Hope everyones doing great, we're all loving the wind on the beam and the ease in the motion, a big improvement in the relatively uncomfortable upwind sailing conditions of the last week! Team Patea signing off for now!
And the wind continues to go around, and we are now close reaching in flatish conditions, out of the adverse current, and starting to pick the average speeds up over 6knots, hitting 9's on occasion. Cant wait til we have the current helping us too, and then we'll really start to fly!We're about 200 nm away from the Galapagos ISlands, which we will pass to our south, hopefully with some moonlight if no sunshine to enjoy them from afar - we will see! All is well on the good ship Patea, especially after Sunday morning pancakes!!
We're all still smiling, and now we're over half way to the Galapagos (390nm away so will hopefully pass through before sunset Monday night and get a glimpse), we feel like we are making progress! Izzie is doing great - enjoying the daily movies, and has had her sea legs for pretty much the last 12 months now, which is great! Arnold, the avacado seed is however, a bit of water hog - he keeps falling over and dropping his water, and is proving to be a less-than-ideal pet on board, however the crew are attached to our little monochot so we'll keep him alive for crew morale! We've heard from friends on another boat who just arrived into FP yesterday, and everything went well for Clio re arrival, which bodes well for us! We feel like we're finally shaking the counter current, as our average speeds startr to creep back over 6 knots, and we are hitting 7's and 8's when the waves settle down. The wind is consistently from the SSW now, about 50 degrees aparent, no less than 10 knots and no more than 18, so its almost perfect sailing conditions (although still a little rolly!). After our last 'issue' with mildly parasitic fish, we only ventured our lures out again yesterday, but promptly landed 2 very large tuna (ok, so it wasn't prompt at all - each fish took about 20 minutes to haul in), but way too large for the five of us to eat and our fridge to store, so they got released to swim again. The third was still huge, but slightly less so, and after Denis' massive disappointment at having had to release the first fish (under extreme duress - 'I've never released a fish, ever, ever!!' *sob*), we kept the third, and will be gorging ourselves on tuna for the next few days. Gota love the productive Pa cific! And fortunately no parasites in this one, and it was delicious lightly seared last night. We'll be having sashimi shortly:)
We are still fighting several knots of current and we celebrate whenever we (occasionally!) touch on 6 knots over ground - cant wait til the equatorial current were we should add 3-4 knots boat speed!! But, we had our first night without tacking, having consistent SSW breeze at 16-18knots, so maintained the same 255deg course for the whole night - very nice for a change! The wind went back to SW and WSW on occasion this morning (just long enough to warrant tacking, then it goes straight back to SW...), so we've already executed 8 tacks this morning - the crew are getting sharp at tacking!! And still dealing with the counter current, although it has reduced from about 2-3knots down to 1.5-2knots. Ate our last pineapple this morning, definitely missing bananas that ran out last week, but still got plenty of mangos! Tradesies anyone?!? Team Patea, doing well, over and out for another day
Our planned plunge south has been thwarted by SSW wind of 16-20kn for the last 12 hours, so last night we tacked (for the 75 billionth time) and have been pounding our way into the steep chop heading slightly S of W, making between 3-5kn into the current. I really wanted to be south of 2N when we turned, but the prospect of sailing away from FP and going backwards at 2-3nm/hour just wasn't palatable! Our performance stats I can't bear to report - both distance covered (between 124nm - 90nm/day) and VMG (between 101nm - 29nm/day!) stats for the trip so far I feel I could out-do on an old Lazer! Such is the challenge of sailing against 2-3 knots of counter current! If we can get south a further hundred miles then we should be clear of the current and then we'll be in more favourable winds - everyones looking forward to that, as the motion on the boat is preeeety uncomfortable right now! Patea sending hugs and cuddles to everyone xox
Although we have consistent breeze now, mostly between 8-15knots from the SW, its changing regularly, and occasionally wildly through S to W. So we are sucking it up and tacking with the wind changes, which with a couple of knots of WSW counter current makes for some pretty horrible COG tacking angles - about 150- 160 degrees, ouch! But with limited fuel, that's just what we have to do! The positives - we are back heading straight at Malpelo, so that may still be a brief swimming option..
However, our mango situation is getting dire, we have about 70 left, all of them are ripening too fast to eat, so we're starting to toss the occasional one - what a waste! If anyone has ideas on what to make out of over ripe mangos then free text it to us at the iridium website (https://messaging.iridium.com/, and enter our sat phone no - 8816 315 91645)! Best suggestion wins adoration and appreciation from all of us here! Hope you're all doing good out there, take care, from the Patea crew
After the last couple of days of very light and fickle winds, the sou'westers kicked in last night, leaving us sailing tight to the wind and sailing south towards the equator. We'll try to get to 2 degrees south before we run out of ocean at the Colombian coast, and then we'll tack west and all going well the SW will gradually turn south and we'll be into the trade winds. Unfortunately this angle won't allow us to get to do a quick stop and a swim in the Colombian island of Malpelo, which is a renowned marine reserve with amazing diving - we'llpass to the east of it by about 80 nm. Everyone is happy and healthy, and slowly adapting to the new-norm: sleeping whenever they can (apart from Izzie, who is happy with 11 hours every night!), and taking it easy. Books are being read, and mangos are being consumed! The trevali is finished, but apparently we've got a vegan dish lined up for tonight, so the fishing lines will go back out in earnest tomorrow!
100 miles down, 3700 to go! Apart from the light wind, we've had an awesome first day, with breaching whales, a large school of dolphins hanging out beside the boat doing acrobatics and surfing the bow for an hour, and a good sized trevali landed that will provide the protein for the next few days - and that was only in the first two hours! The wind has been light, between 4 and 7 knots but from useful angles, allowing us to get west as much as possible, which will give us a better sailing angle for the predominant sou-westers that we are expecting to arrive over the next day or so.
Last night with the sunset, the wind dropped to zero, so we slow-motored through the mirror-like waters of the Panamanian Basin, with the vibrant glow of phosphorescence lighting the way. The breeze came back up to 4-7 knots this morning, so we are back to sailing at 4-7 knots, with some helpful current. Off on the horizon to starboard is the headland of Punto Mala, which we will likely lose sight of before the end of the day - our last views of Panama, and likely land of any form for the next month.
The hundred remaining mangos are ripening fast, so the standing orders are to consume at least 10 per person per day - not too much of a hardship at the moment but after a few days the novelty may wear thin! Happy trails everyone!
Our last few days in Panama have been spent at this glorious little spot in the southern Las Perlas, gorging ourselves on the mangos that grow all over the place, and amassing mangos and coconuts for our impending departure across the Pacific. Everyone's happy and healthy, and we are due to depart first thing in the morning, for what will be our longest passage - some 4000 nautical miles through to French Polynesia. Our route will likely take us south towards Equador, before we head west, likely passing close to the Galapagos, and then on to either the Marquesas or Gambier Islands in French Poly. We'll be in good company, as several other boats heading home have departed over the last couple of days, so we'll do our best to catch them up.
As per usual, we'll do our try to update YIT every couple of days with progress, but if we have technical issues with our sat phone or internet connection, don't be too surprised if you don't hear much from us until we arrive in French Polynesia some time around the 20th of July.
Happy plastic-free July everyone, and we'll be in touch soon!
We stayed on several occasions around the lovely islands of Mogo Mogo (where Survivor was filmed) and Chapera, and with plenty of healthy coral we dined most nights on fresh snapper, supplemented by emperor and spanish mackerel on occasion - not too shabby. We also popped over to the neighbours for a barby and some beers on occasion, whilst the kidlywinks ran amok and swam, tree swung, built sand sculptures and roasted marshmallows over the fire - an awesome little spot!
We welcomed back our good friends on Spacgrazer today, who just got through the canal, and have 3 kids between 7 and 9 on board. These three have been Izzies besties whilst we were stuck in Shelter Bay, so Izzie is stoked and spent the day in the water with them, before we had to tow them back to their boat, on the way to a cheeky little surf on the southern reef of Contadora - good fun!
We also welcomed new crew to the boat today - Selma and Denis, who were our neighbours in Shelter Bay, and who fortunately were keen on joining us on the next legs of our trip, through to French Polynesia and maybe beyond! Izzie too is excited - she's getting sick of just mum and dads company on the boat! Welcome guys!
After a couple of nights sitting on a mooring ball outside the Balboa Yacht Club, watching the constant stream to enormous shipping steaming by 100m away, we hoisted our sails for the first time in almost 3 months and south, to the normally bustling resort island of Toboga, with the Aussies on Clio. The island had a beautiful beach, but was currently desolated with the COVID restrictions in place. Izzie and I swam ashore and built sandcastles and chased crabs on the beach for a few hours, whilst admiring the myriad of birds that seemed to have taken back the now human-free beaches. It seemed that we were lucky though, as our friends on SV Clio tried to do the same the next day and got escorted to the Police station by the military, given a warning and told to get back to their boat asap! Apparently swimming, and going to the beach are off limits in Panama at the moment. Oops. We’ll head to somewhere a lot more remote before we try that again!
After a surprisingly exhausting 10 hour transit, we are through the Mira Flores locks, and into the Pacific! Finally we can run for NZ if we need or want to – very exciting! We did spring a very small leak in the gearbox during the transit, so we will need to get some parts ordered and wait for them to arrive before we head across the Pacific, however that will give us time to enjoy and explore some of the glorious west coast of Panama, including the Las Perlas Islands, where we will head to shortly. Cruising life – lets get back to it!!!
Once out of the locks, our raft of three boats dropped our lines and proceeded on in single file, overtaking the ship that was in front of us. 4 hours should have us through to the next lock system, Pedro Miguel, where we will transit into the Miraflores lake, a small lake between the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks, which then releases you to the Pacific!
Gatun lake just so happens to be a highly diverse ecosystem. The flooding of the lake some 110 years ago led to many islands being created, separated from the mainland by the newly formed lake. Each of these islands is covered in lush tropical forest. Bird and insect life is wonderful, and there are a myriad of reptiles (including crocs) and lots of mammals, from monkeys to Kinkajou and Jaguars. Unfortunately the ‘short cut’ had been closed to boats for 4 years, and this used to be where you could get close enough to see much of this wildlife, so restricted to the main channel we didn’t get to experience first hand many of the animals around.
An early start, with our Canal Advisor Carolina joining us at 430am. With Covid in force, all the usual yacht advisors have no work, instead pilots-in-training are being used. Carolina is one of two women training to pilot the big ships through the canal – the NeoPanamax ships, that are 160’ wide and 1200 long – massive things! And we passed several of them whilst we crossed the canal today!
At 530 am, we rafted up with the two Australian boats that would be our companions for the crossing, Clio and Magic Bullet. The catamaran goes in the middle, whilst the two monos were positioned on the outside of the raft. We entered the first of the Gatun locks at 6am, with the sun just starting to rise, following a large container ship in to the locks. Four messenger lines were thrown down from the top of the locks, which our big mooring lines were attached to, then we slowly motored into position, before our lines were pulled up the walls of the lock, and secured to enormous bollards. The gates closed behind us, the line handlers took up the slack, and the water started rising! With the water levels in the Gatun lake at an all-time low, they now recycle the water back up a lock, so the level changes quite slowly. This was quite relaxing, compared to our crossing on Oceanus in 2016, where the water flowed in and out of the locks very rapidly, creating massive turbulence, like riding a bucking bronco.. once we were raised about 10 meters in the lock, the next lock was opened, messenger lines were returned to us, and wharfies walked the lines forward whilst our raft slowly motored into the next lock. When in position in the next lock, lines were run back up to the ships bollards, and the process was repeated. Three locks later and we were in Gatun lake!
10 weeks after arriving into Shelter Bay with a plan to spend 3 weeks doing work on the boat before transiting the canal, and oh how things have changed! COVID brought a new perspective to our travels, and with a huge amount of good fortune, left us ‘stranded’ in Shelter Bay Marina. Unlike most other cruisers, we weren’t stuck on anchor, unable to go ashore, unable to provision properly, unable to check out, or even check in to a country. Some boats were stuck in limbo, having checked out of one country pre-COVID, and stuck in limbo as international borders closed with no-where to go and no-one accepting them.
Instead, Patea had the good fortune to be amongst a small group of other cruisers and families, isolated from the outside world on a peninsula surrounded by native bush, monkeys, agoti, coati, all manner of reptiles, beautiful tropical birds and butterflies, majestic falcons, eagles and vultures. It is 20 Km to the nearest city, but there was just no need to go and potentially expose ourselves to COVID, as we had an on-site shop which provided a steady stream of mangos, pineapples, pawpaw, melons, plus all the usual stuff. We also had an on-site restaurant, which skirted the regulations and continued to operate as a ‘delivery only’ service, providing lunch and dinner delights, delivered to your boat, 6 days a week.
The Panamanian military, the Aeronaval patrolled the entrance to the marina, and the road entrance on the land, so there was never a significant risk of COVID arriving in our community by sea or land. Juanjo, the marina manager went above and beyond, moving his family onto a boat just before Panama was shut down, and then did everything in his power to ensure those in the marina were looked after, safe, fed and watered. New arriving boats had to adhere to a 2 week quarantine period outside the marina, before passing a health check and being allowed in. During this time the usual 40-50 marina staff were also shut out, with only 5 staff ‘locked in’ for the duration. All the cruisers lent a hand to keep the marina running, doing many of the mundane tasks that were necessary to keep the marina facilities operating - cleaning, boat handling, hauling and splashing boats, maintenance, running the shop, laundry and chandlery, etc.
And then there was the company! We were amazingly fortunate being completely separated to the outside world, and allowed freedoms that few in the world still got to enjoy. We could roam the marina, dinner and drinks with other friends and families, explore the National Park that surrounded us, climb the multitude of old ruins scattered throughout the jungle, go to the beach and swim, and most importantly for Izzie, roam far and wide with her new found besties, Luna, Bella, Zoe, Boe, Kai, M.J., Anika, Jonathon, Kai(#2), Olivia, Kiai, Theodore, Evie, Matai and Matilda. Sooooo much fun was had, and mum and dad were stoked too as the kids would disappear for hours on end, leaving parents to focus on boat chores, applying for work, and all that other stuff that parents never seem to get to do normally!
We all made lots of new friends, shared many good times, and some hardships (prohibition was brought in early on, and many of us depleted our Pacific booze stocks and some even ran out – it was quite the crisis!). But with the canal opening to small craft again, we had to say goodbye, for the moment, and on a sad Friday afternoon, we hugged all our new friends, dropped our lines, and said goodbye to the marina and its wonderful people, a place that had been so much more than just a marina for 10 weeks. There was tears (from all of us!), and poor Izzie was beside herself, as her friends chased us down the marina fingers, calling out and waving good bye as we exited the marina. a few minutes later and we put an anchor down outside, in preparation for a 430am departure the next day. Through the Panama Canal, and into the Pacific... finally!!!!!
Hello Panama! Feels like quite the milestone to get here, we are now very very close to the Pacific :) Patea is getting a birthday and there are lots of kids here so the next two weeks will be busy, hard work but should be fun at the same time. We have a great posse for the boat to be out of the water - 30m from a pool, restaurant and bar and Izzies own private soccer/picnic area right beside the boat - we'll manage!
After a very brief 2 night stop in Curacao we are off again, Panama bound! Will let you know when we arrive in 5-6 days xx
We stuck around Los Roques, Venezuela, little longer than planned, a bit of boat fixing, a bit more sightseeing and ticked off the long awaited Frozen II movie! We are now on the road westward, and after a super calm and glorious passage from Grenada, with a couple of extra weeks in Los Roques, just the 3 of us, we are currently in Kralendijk, Bonaire. This small island is a crazy blend of Caribbean and Dutch, it's a marine park so more great snorkelling, and a great place to experience our first Carnival events :)
A day hop across to Aves de Sotovento to make our jump to Bonaire tomorrow a little shorter. Mainly a stop for a sleep only but the local coastguard and other officials still wanted to see us. After an hour 'chatting' and providing the chief a litre of olive oil (??!) and a bottle of coke they were happy enough and let us to our evening. Thanks offshore Venezuelan islands, you were certainly worth it and are near the top (if not at the top) of our list of favourite spots so far on this trip :)
After a fun morning exploring the mangroves by dinghy and spotting hundreds of booby chicks hanging out peacefully in the trees, we up anchored and tucked in between two small reef islands for a spectacular snorkel, then off to meet friends on Calicoba for a catchup over dinner.
Fun day fishing whilst transiting between Cayo de Aqua and Aves de Barlovento today – a billfish came and smashed one of the closer lures and immediately spat the lure, then spent the next 5 minutes chasing all the individual lures as we frantically tried to pull the lures in before he hit one again! Very cool to see the 5-6’ fish tear around at the surface with an iridescent blue/green dorsal fin, bent on nailing the lures! Fortuitously the three of us managed to retrieve all the lines continually snatching them out of his reach before he hooked up again! And then, after we were sure he’d left us, 2 hours later after re-deploying the lures we hooked up again – this time a 5’ sailfish which after stopping the boat and 15 minutes of forearm breaking effort, we managed to get it to the boat to release it – again, waaaaay too big for us! We’d be happy with a 7 or 8 kilo mahi mahi?!?! Please?!
Gannet breeding colonies galore at Elbert Key!! Izzie was mesmerised by the various stages of white fluffy cute birds, from newly hatched to fledging, and all were chill enough to allow us to carefully move amongst them – very cool!
A quick stop in Dos Mosquises for a quick visit to a turtle rescue and ongrowing facility – particuarly for Izzie who got to hold a baby turtle – the smile was enormous!! As those of you who have joined us know, we try to clean up the underwater environment as best we can in each anchorage as best we can, and here was no exception. In the shallows we found a large plastic reticulation pipe that was clearly from the turtle facility, and given we couldn’t take it away (it was about 5m long) we left it on the beach in from t of the facility. The next morning we saw one of the workers spy the pipe, and promptly throw it back into the sea. It was most disheatening – gutting to see the lack of regard to the marine environment, especially given the nature of the facility. Venezuela obviously has its issues at the moment, but in a place reliant on tourism and the marine environment you’d expect better, eh!
A lazy day (for Kath, at least!) celebrating her birthday – scrambled fresh Gran Roque eggs with a dash of cheese, on lightly toasted slices of fresh-baked bread, followed by coffee and a snorkel :) Open sandwhich for lunch followed by a fresh baked carrot cake with cream cheese icing, closely followed by a second snorkel, cold beers, and baked fresh snapper and roast veg with a rice, carrot and raisin salad, washed down with a bottle of french bubbly – happy birthday my beautiful 40 year old wife-to-be!!!
With the weather (temporarily) abated, we headed west again, to the island of Noronqui, in the northern part of the Los Roques archipelago. We enjoyed some lovely snorkelling, and for the first time in the Carribean we were allowed to use the spear gun to facilitate dinner – beginning a successful week of not having to procure protein from elsewhere! Fresh baked fish, alongside fresh baked bread has become our staple again – yum! And fortuitous too, as its Kaths 40th in 2 days and we need to secure some quality food for the occasion!! We also have strong wind forecast, so will go hide in a bomb-proof little anchorage in the eastern end of the Island of Carenero, before continuing our journey West.
A beautiful anchorage surrounded by golden sand beaches and lovely coral pools with plenty of fish. We stayed here for a couple of days while some strong wind passed through, snorkelling, swimming and relaxing, when not fixing our broken outhaul
Our last stop in Grenada, and sadly saying goodbye to Nanny Pam and Karen, who have been awesome to have on the boat over the last month - lots of fun had, places visited, sailing done, diving enjoyed, and good times - especially for Iz who will miss nan heaps!! Come back soon!!
Molinere Point, and the underwater sculpture park - pretty cool concept, but a little eerie with the cloudy water from the swell, and the recent storm damage which meant life-sized human beings were strewn all over the sea floor! Made for some interesting diving and creepy photo ops tho!
Chatham Bay on Union Island, and a few fun days hanging out with our boat buddies on SV Danu - Izzie especially has loved hanging out with Ruairi and Lillian, with lots of beach time and beers n bbqs (actually, that was mainly the adults!). Izzie has since started asking us about when you are allowed to get married. I said that mum and I are probably not the best examples in that regard! (I also had an urge to unholster my shotgun - Sorry Ruairi, I know you mean no harm!)
Baradal, Tobago Cays - and its raining turtles! You cant get in the water without seeing at least one, and sometime 3 or 4, chowing down in the marine reserve on the (not actually that) abundant seagrass - Izzie was stoked, as was Nannp Pam and Karen! A couple of days spent here swimming and relaxing.
A quick trip down to Tobago Cays, and a bit of a rolly night in Worlds End Reef - a stunning offshore reef surrounded by ocean. Some beautiful snorkelling was had, lots of rays and skates (spotted our first spotted eagle ray for the trip!), and some lovely clear water, golden sand and iridescent blue waters = happy skipper!
A glorious little anchorage in the northern tip of Charlestown Bay on the Island of Canouan, where we spent the night in blissful silence with only a couple of boats around us. The next day we explored the reefs by snorkel, which proved to be mums fave spot of the trip, and we were fortunate enough to snorkel with a juvenile sunfish (almost a metre long/wide/tall!), and lots of good sized fish:)
After a lovely couple of days exploring Bequia's forests, turtle-infested beaches and hatcheries, we headed south for a night at Petit Nevis - an uninhabited island with some WW2(?) relics of civilisation, and some lovely snorkelling. The seagrass that surrounded the reef was littered with Queen Conch, and the white beach on closer inspection was made entirely of the sun-bleached shells of tens of thousands of these threatened species - cast up in a near vertical wall created by the forces of wind, waves, and man. Although it looks like the result of the impacts of a powerful storm surge, the small holes drilled through the same place on each shell disclosed the real cause of the piles - middens from fishing. It was a site to see, and Iz was as fascinated as the rest of us!
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