|Equator to Ecuador|
PANAMA, PERLAS ISLANDS to ECUADOR
March 16 to April 19, 2002
We have joined the ranks of the Pacific cruisers. We listen to the Net each AM in preparation getting loads of info on where, what, when and how. A child gives the Net here and does a fine job. The women are more active on the radios and the men more relaxed and bold. We hear Net controller apologies for being late and remarks, “I am up to my ass in batteries so if the Net suddenly goes quiet I have probably electrocuted myself”. One day a discussion ensues about a constipated cat and how to overcome the problem my massaging the anus with a Q-tip. Like the west coast of the USA compared to the east things seem to be getting more relaxed and less formal. After all we are about to embark on what is called the famous Coconut Milk Run across the South Pacific.
Georgiana and Everett have returned from the states after 6 weeks and rejoined Ariel just in time to find us exhausted from the Canal transit, all but the last of the provisioning done and coming down with colds. They head out for a few days into the mountains for prevention reasons. We follow suit once they return, for us, a well deserved rest. We visit Bouquete a mountain village near the Costa Rican border. We visit the Ruiz coffee plantations and take a tour of the processing and packaging plants. A hike up into the cloud forest near the Volcan Baru National Park is rejuvenating with hills abundant with flowers, green jungle teeming with Mot Mot and Quetzal birds. The air is clear and cool with lots of fresh flowing streams. It is a pleasant way to begin our journey out into the ocean where we may not experience these earthly pleasures for months at a time.
|March 16, 2002
Log: Panama City to Isle Pedro Gonzales, Perals Islands Panama 41 nautical miles
Wind NE 7 kts.
Heading SE sailing 5 knots with jib main and mizzen. We are amazed at how calm the Pacific is compared to the Caribbean. We are also amazed at how we let Ariel get so dirty. Never has it been so bad. We decide to make the islands a clean up spot before heading out on a long passage. Everyone has been sick and now Georgianna is feeling some affects. Wellbeing is a system of many things including living in a clean environment so small with four people. We realize we can not put things off. It is a smooth ride with lots of pelicans flying in formation to this deserted island at Isla Pedro Gonzales off Isletilla De Don Bernardo. We drop anchor off a long stretch of white sand beach. Anchored on lee side which is windy in the night but calms later.
March 17, 2002
Log: Cleaning day off Isle Pedro Gonzales, Perals Islands Panama
With the water maker making 130 liters or about 35 gallons an hour we are able to hose down and scrub the decks. It is a back braking job but one that is necessary as to supplement our water supply we catch rain water. This is done by making a dam by the water intake on the deck and let the water run into the hole as is comes flowing down to the stern of the boat. Ariel gets a start on a polishing job to her hull, also a necessity with the black tire marks used as fenders for the Panama Canal transit. Inside and out she is scrubbed, polished and oiled. We are all one tired crew.
March 18, 2002
Log: Perals Islands to Bahia de Caraquez Ecuador
Wind O knots
Seas dead calm
12:30 PM anchor is hauled up and we set sail. But there is NO wind. The main sail will steady the boat, but the seas are dead flat. It is an eerie feeling, still not accustomed to the placid Pacific. We have decided to head south first to Bahia de Caraquez a small beach resort town on the Chone river flowing out the west coast of Ecuador. Many cruisers are starting to go here as it is a secure place to leave the boat for an inland tour of Ecuador. By going south first this will add a couple hundred more miles out to the Galapagos but will also give us a stop. We are excited about the plan but not about motoring all the way as it will be four and half days.
March 19, 2002
Log: Motoring 100 miles off coast Ecuador
Wind 3 knots
Seas flat with slight current
The Pacific is more teal green and full of phosphorescence. We have resorted to watching it stream into the toilet like shooting stars we are so bored after all the excitement of the canal transit, provisioning and cleaning up. We motor south all day. The only excitement is when everyone is stirred out of a groggy sleep when Georgianna sees a boat fast approaching. She is on the radio to 14300 Marine Mobil giving our position . But the fishing boat passes us by with a friendly wave. At 11:30PM the Alert Man Overboard alarm goes off. It is a false alarm. Sailing is like that. Either very exciting or very boring!
March 20, 2002
Log: Motor sailing bearing 193, tracking 196
Wind from 1.8 to 10 knots E
Seas flat with current
7:30 AM wind up so engines off having a beautiful sail at 5.3 knots until 2:00PM when wind dies to 2 knots. Engine back on motoring at 5.5 knots. Saw a huge 4 foot fish leap out of water off Ariel’s bow wake clearing the water. At night saw a beautiful porpoise darting around covered in phosphorescence. It was a quiet day of reading and relaxing. We are half way to Bahia de Caraquez.
March 21, 2002
Log: 100 miles from Bahia de Caraques
Wind 6.1 knots
12:00AM watching the moon rising off starboard beam. It is the exact place the sun set 6 hours earlier. There is a strange feeling that maybe the sun never quite made it down. It is the first day of spring so in alignment and all is well. 10:00 AM wind is down to 1.7 knots so still motoring at 5 knots. It is getting sunny and hotter. It is a quiet day so we put out a fishing line to no avail. We are all getting much mellower feeling the pressure of civilization melt away. 4:50 PM we pass the Colombia/Ecuador border. Only one small vessel passes us all day. 6:00PM We are 24 hours away from the Equator.
March 22, 2002
Log: Cross the Equator
Wind 2.7 knots to 19 knots SE
There is lightening in the sky at night. We are getting closer to land so the weather is changing to more overcast skies. Passed 3 vessels then 2 smaller ones. At 2 miles away a third vessel went between 2 smaller ones which is a strange maneuver so we changed course to stay clear. 1:45AM there is a weather disturbance off port bow. 2:30 AM light rain, missen is taken down. Wind 6.4 kts. NE still motoring. 8:00AM wind up to 19 knts SE. Sailing 7.3 with missen and main up, but both reefed. 9:30AM Wind dies, back on with the motor. 10:30 AM we are all below with only one fishing boat off port bow. I go topside to check and right beside Ariel is a small powered vessel with 3 men aboard. I smile, wave and get the same response back. They are friendly and curious fishermen offering to sell us a huge dorado fish for $20. We offer $5 and a deal is made. They also clean it for us on the spot. A second small boat speeds up and is motioning us to go starboard. They are helping us steer clear of their fish nets. A similar incidence was reported on the Net one day, but the cruisers were uneasy not understanding and thinking they may be pirates.
|18:00PM CROSSING THE EQUATOR into the southern hemisphere. A pineapple upside down cake is flipped out onto a plate for the occasion.|
March 23, 2002
Log: From Perals Islands to Bahia de Caraquez Ecuador 566 nautical miles
12:00 midnight land and lights off port beam. We decided to motor in close to mouth of Chone river and anchor out for the night. Two huge frigate birds land on the wire between the two masts. With our sentinels in tow we drop anchor at 1:53 in 27 feet of water. In AM we talk on VHF with s/v Meriva and s/vMr. Bean who will transport their pilot to us as they exit the river. We understand it is required to have a pilot on board going in or out of the river at a $25 charge. This has come under debate as to weather it is a local regulation or the pilots taking advantage as some boats refuse the pilot and not paid either way. It looks like an easy entrance but Meriva with a 7’3 keel touched bottom on the way out. We pay $30 due to being a weekend and enter the river with pilot Tito, safely. Anchored off Port Capts. office along a wall with five other boats. Surrounded by green mountains and friendly people. We meet Nancy and John on s/v Nanjo who come for cocktails and fill us in on information to get around easily, market days and where to tie up the dinghy. There is a swift current and tidal changes in the river. The port captain sends out a pranga or small boat to see that we are secure and suggestions on keeping the dinghy hauled up at night for security. This is a nice feeling as we plan to leave Ariel anchored here while traveling inland.