The Galapagos…again!

Yes Boatbloggers®

We know The Galapagos is a once-in-a-lifetime place to go, but we here on the good ship Domini have done it twice. This time with a difference. This time the whole gang came out.

Everyone really

So we won’t bore you with all the usual photos of the Galapagan wildlife – you can see all that in our previous blog – but we’ll try to show you some of the things we got up to.

Of course it wouldn’t be a holiday in Los Galapagos if you didn’t do some diving. Here’s Joe, Ju & Rory about to jump…

3 Divers

Joe completed his PADI training course while he was here, so he’s now a qualified diver. Well done Joe!

Ben and Joe on boat

There is an enormous amount of fish. We even swam inside a baitball which is literally millions of fish all swimming around in a huge ball to protect themselves from the sharks and other things that want to eat them.

Baitball

We just hope that this isn’t the time the shark decides to raid the baitball.

Ok – so I said no pictures of wildlife, but this one of the rays is pretty good.

Rays 1

Here’s Rory…

Rory Diver 2

But it wasn’t all under the water. We sailed (well…motored if we’re honest) from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz, and stopped for a bit of deep water swimming off the back of the boat on the way.

Deep sea swimming

You can’t do a blog about the Galapagos without mentioning the Giant Tortoises.

Tortoise 2

And they are pretty massive.

Tortoise 1

Here’s one for the caption competition.

Tortoise fighting

Answers on a ten pound note to the usual address, and the winner gets to take the crew of Domini out for a slap up meal.

And now the Boatblog® quiz.

Q: How do Giant Tortoises make love?

Tortoise humping

A: Slowly.

It’s only when you try on the shells that you realise what an achievement it is.

Press ups

We also went down the nearby lava tunnels. It was a bit wet, so they made us all wear wellies.

Boots 2

Which you did need.

Cave

Because it was quite deep.

Sink hole

We went surfing…

Surfing

Hiked up to the top of the volcanos.

Alice knackered

Till the mist rolled in.

Mist

But sadly it wasn’t all just fun and games. Ben, who is a professional coder (for those of you over fifty, that’s something to do with computers) unfortunately had to do some work while he was over here.

Ben working 2

And we found time to enjoy a drink or two. This one was particularly popular,

Clitoris cocktail

because it is made out of this flower, which has a rather surprising name.

Clitoris flower

I’m afraid you’ll have to figure it out for yourselves, but here’s a clue. It is called what it is called, because that is what it resembles. Though only if you are ill.

We took lots of photos. 

Rory

Especially of people taking photos.

Oh – I can’t resist any longer. Here’s some photos of the wildlife. First up, a marine iguana…

Iguana

A sleeping sea lion. Or as they call them over here, a sea wolf.

Sealion 1

Despite our best efforts with the fenders, this cheeky one got onto the boat.

Sealion 2

Here’s one of Darwin’s finches.

Finch

At least we think it is. They all look a bit the same to us. Which I guess is why we didn’t come up with a theory about evolution.

Talking of which, you have to hand it to the Seventh Day Adventists. They’ve just built a church right in the middle of town.

Creationists

Given that they’re all Creationists, they’re trying hard taking the message right to the heathen heartland.

Here’s a heron. 

Heron

Not the most unique of birds, but it’s still a nice picture. And here’s a dancing booby.

Booby

And now, can you guess what Lyn & Alice have just seen?

Wow

Answer below.

In the mean time, here is this edition’s gratuitous sunset, submitted by Rory.

Sunset

And a turtle especially for James.

Turtle 2

But our favourite photo is of Ju & Joe by Troels on SV Atreju. Thanks Troels

Image1

And now here’s the answer to the “What Did Lyn & Alice Just See?” quiz.

R040221

Hasta luego Boatblog® fans. And let’s face it, you must be fans if you’ve got this far.

Next stop, The Marquesas. We leave on Wednesday (4th March) and it’s quite a big crossing. Actually longer than the Atlantic so don’t forget to track us on…

https://www.worldcruising.com/world_arc/eventfleetviewer.aspx

Ju & Lyn

Pacific Overtures

Hello Again Boatbloggers®

This is us going into The Pacific, as filmed by Jeremy on Next Step.

Thanks Jeremy.

The Pacific isn’t sooooo different from The Atlantic, though if anything the sea is more…well, pacific.  There also seems to a lot more wildlife. We saw two whales, loads of summersaulting Manta rays, and of course the usual dolphins and flying fish. I would love to show you photos of the summersaulting rays or the whales, but alas dear reader they were too quick for me and my iPhone. So I’m afraid you will just have to believe us.

We did however manage to shoot lots of Boobies, and you will be pleased to know that we are not going to resort to the obvious jokes. Sometimes there were seven or eight of them on board. It was like a scene from a Hitchcock movie. At first we thought they were really cute, but then we noticed how much poop they produced. Goodness knows what they eat.

Boobies

The Pelicans were even worse.

Pelican 1

But it was all very nice. This was taken by Andrew on Accomplice.

Domini by Sun  By moon

Domini by Sun & by Moon. That straightaway wins the arty farty prize. Thanks Andrew. The winner gets to take the crew of Domini out for a slap up meal.

We went past Malpelo – a little island that not many people have seen because it really is in the middle of nowhere.

IMG 4160

Of course we had to celebrate when we crossed the Equator.

Equator

It’s traditional to dunk the crew in water.

Equator 2

So now we are Shellbacks – which is the traditional name for sailors who have crossed the Equator.

Lyn tried to win the arty farty prize with her composition called “Hats,”

Hats

…but I’m afraid Andrew still wins.

And now we have just arrived in The Galapagos.

Woo woo woo.

 

Ju & Lyn

 

Panama City

Hello again Boatblog® Fans,

And here we are in Panama City – Crossroads to the world.

Ju  Lyn 2

Not only did our American friends build a canal through the jungle, but they built another Miami here as well.

City In A Jungle

Complete with fabulous restaurants…

Dinner in the Old Town

Here we are with the crews of Cuvee & Kari.

And cool graffiti.

Graffiti 1

We trekked deep into the jungle to meet the Embera Indians, using nothing other than dug out canoes.

Chagress River Selfie

The Embera live about an hour’s canoe ride up the Chagres River in virgin jungle.

Chagress River 1

It was completely unspoilt. There was nothing to hear except the chatter of the tropical birds, the howling of the howler monkeys, and the gentle swish of the traditional Suzuki 4 stroke.

Traditional Outboard 2

When we arrived at the village we were greeted by the band.

The band

Served lunch in banana leaves,

 

Lunch in banana Leaves

and had the opportunity to buy traditional artefacts.

Monkey Masks

Ju was very pleased with his tattoo.

Ju tattoo 2

The Embera build their house on stilts to cope with the flooding that happens on a pretty regular basis.

Stairs

Perhaps they should try that in Tewkesbury.

Then it was back down the river…

Chagress River 4

…in time to get the boat prepared for our trip to the Las Perlas islands where we are writing this now.

IMG 4130

Though of course you can’t visit Panama and not buy a Panama Hat!

Panama Hat

Just time for some arty farty photos…

Drum

DRUM

Coconuts

& COCONUTS

and then it’s off to The Galapagos.

To The Pacific & Beyond!

Ju & Lyn

 

The Panama Canal

…or the “Canal de Panama” as they call it over here.

Panama Canal 1

Hello again Boatblog® Fans,

We knew we met be getting close to the Panama Canal when we looked at our plotter.Panama Ships 2

Aaaaaah. All those big green things are ships. And that’s a lot of ships. But even seeing it on the plotter doesn’t quite prepare you for when you arrive.

Panama Shipping 6

There’s hundreds of them. It’s like Cowes Week but with giant container vessels instead of yachts. We managed to dodge them all, even though we had a stowaway on board.

Panama Seabird

Soon we were safely moored up in Shelter Bay Marina on the Caribbean side of the canal. Shelter Bay claims to be the safest marina in the Caribbean, but these things are all relative. They don’t allow you to swim in the marina because of the crocodiles. Crocodiles! I kid you not. We didn’t actually see any, but they look just like logs, which is worrying because you often see logs floating in marinas.

So now it was just a question of waiting for our turn to go through the canal itself. We kept on getting delayed because there has been a lack of rainfall in Panama and the locks are low on water. This means that they don’t want to waste a ‘lockage,’ with all the water that uses up, on a few tiny yachts. So instead of going through together as a fleet which is what normally happens, we would have to go through in a ‘nest’ of three boats tied together, and one very big ship.

The Canal Authorities also insist that you have at least five people on board to transition the canal, so we were very lucky that the crew of Cavatina agreed to join us.

Crew

Thank you Cavatina.

At last we got the go-ahead. We would enter the first lock at 2045 (quarter to nine in the evening for you landlubbers). Which was great, except that it meant that we would be going through in the dark.

You and Island

And because we were a catamaran, we would be the middle boat of the nest of three. This was bad in that it meant we were responsible for all the manoeuvring, and good because it meant if we did crash at least it wasn’t our boat that would get all mangled.

Going into lock

It’s like having a giant fender on either side of us, though I’m not sure that’s how the other boats saw it. You don’t want to be tied up  next to a boat full of angry sailors because you’ve just smashed their boat into the wall, so you do have to concentrate.

Cookies

Sorry – wrong photo. That was Ju eating cookies. This is Ju concentrating.

Helm

Then they close the doors,

Doors closing

…let the water in, and before you know it you are up at the top.

Top of the lock

And ready to drive into the next lock.

View from the helm

Eventually we got through the first of the three locks which take you up to the Gatun Lake where we moored up for the night onto one of the giant mooring balls. They were really hard to tie up to as they are really made for much bigger boats so Lyn had to jump over the side to attach all the ropes.

Lyn on Mooring Ball 2

Which is quite scary when it is rolling about and one false step and you are in the crocodile infested lake. (Ju forgot to mention the crocodiles until Lyn got back.)

We got up early next morning to cross the lake.

Gatun Lake Sunrise

It’s a big lake so it took about five hours to get to the next set of locks which take you back down to sea level. For some reason, this time they decided that we should go into the lock before the ship. At first this didn’t seem so bad…

Big Boat 4

But then it got closer…

Big Boat 3

And closer…

Big Boat 2

And closer…

Big Boat 1

It was quite a relief when it actually stopped.

At last we arrived at Miraflores, which are the last two locks.

IMG 3917

You go down…

Line Handling 2

And down…

LH Going Down

Then they start to open the doors…

Door opens Pacific

And you get your first view of The Pacific!

Door opens pacific 2

First you see the Bridge of the Americas in the distance…

Bridge of US

which you go under…

LH Bridge of the Americas 2

And then you see the skyline of Panama City.

Panama City

Woo woo woo!

Just time for a couple of Arty Farty photos, the first is called “Crane.”

LH Sunset Crane

And the second is called “Train.”

Sunset Gatun Lake

To The Pacific and Beyond!

Ju & Lyn

Santa Marta to The San Blas…

Hola otra vez Boatbloggers®.

Columbia was fantastic. There were rivers to swim in…

River Swim 1 

Coffee to drink,

Coffee bags

Fresh pineapple,

Pineapple

and some pretty serious spiders.

Spider 2

But it’s not all fun and games. We had a few repairs to sort out from our crossing from Grenada which was pretty rough.

Chafe

Unfortunately, on our last day we were a bit ill, and couldn’t leave the heads*, let alone the marina. So we were a day late starting the next leg.

*that’s toilets for you landlubbers.

And while we were sorry to be leaving Columbia…

Santa Marta  bye bye

we were excited about our next stop – The San Blas Islands.

These are a group of nearly 400 islands, just off the Panama coast. If you imagine a typical tropical island, with turquoise waters and silver sands and palm trees, that is the San Blas.

San Blas 2 2

They are mostly uninhabited, but a few are home to the Kuna Indians,

Lionel 2

who live pretty much as they have done for centuries, fishing and harvesting coconuts which they sell on the mainland.

It really is a little bit of paradise.

Lagoon Ju Swim

Porvenir is the capital, where you check in at immigration.

Porvenir Immigration

and if you fancy a night off the boat you can always check in to the hotel.

Porvenir 2

go to the museum,

Porvenir Museum 2

buy some molas,

Molas

or just enjoy the view.

San Blas3

It’s really very nice.

Lagoon 1

And I think we can all agree that Ju is looking pretty ripped.

Lagoon  Ju ripped

Though he can’t hold that pose for long.

Just time for this week’s arty farty competition.

Lyn’s entry is Santa Marta Flowers

Flowers 1

and Columbian Coffee Corrugations

Corrugations 1

And the winer is “Corrugations.” Well done Lyn.

Just time for a gratuitous picture of a squall.

Squall 3

and a paradise island.

San Blas 5

Next stop – The Panama Canal.

Hasta luego Boatbloggers®

 

Ju & Lyn

Here we Columbia…

Ahoy Boatbloggers® ,

We finally made it to South America. Santa Marta in Columbia to be precise. And it is well worth the trip – even though it was quite a tricky passage.

We managed to get our MDI unit fixed, but it was a bit touch and go. Nico came along to install it… 

Nico

All was going well, until we tried to start the engine. A new fault had developed. The temperature alarm was beeping and the engine still wouldn’t start – but for a different reason this time. So either the new MDI box was duff as well, OR the temperature sensor was faulty, OR…..it was something else.

Grrrr…

Nico eventually decided it was the temperature sensor, so the best thing was to put in a new one and see if that worked.

They didn’t have one in stock.

It would take a week to get it delivered.

There was one in St Lucia.

AaaaaaaaH!

I don’t think he could bear to see a grown man cry any longer, so he thought he had better swap the sensors over from one engine to the other to make sure that was definitely the problem before sending off for the new part.

Which he did..and lo and behold the engines started! Just like that. There is no explanation for it. The identical sensors worked one way round and not the other.

This is not mechanics. This is witchcraft.

No matter. the engines were working so thank you Nico, thank you Grenada Marine, and thank you Island Dreams who sorted it all out for us.

So by three in the afternoon we were off. Two days behind the rest of the fleet, but there was still a chance we might get to Santa Marta before the cut off time on Saturday.

There were high winds, and plenty of squalls.

Line of line squalls

This one was almost as big as the radar screen.

Big Squall

and when a squall hits, you get drenched.

You get drenched

Though luckily on a catamaran you can come inside for the worst of it.

When it rains

One night we seemed to have squall after squall with lulls in between, so we were doing the sailor’s Hokey Cokey all through the night.

NewImage

and so on till you either run out of sails or you’re seasick.

Pulling the sails in quickly when a squall is approaching needs both of us, so when it’s like that you don’t get much of a night’s sleep. But on the plus side, having high winds does mean you go fast.

Windy

That big 46 is the wind speed. It actually got to over 48kn at one point which according to Ju’s Beaufort Scale Mug is officially a storm.

We managed our first 200+ mile day (212 miles to be exact) and once saw 18 knots on the log (speedometer for the landlubbers). OK, so that was surfing down a wave and it lasted about 3 seconds, but still – pretty impressive stuff.

We were romping along, and just as everything was going right – a very unusual state of affairs for a sailor – Lyn noticed something trailing behind us. Perhaps we’d caught a tuna? It seemed unlikely as we haven’t got a fishing rod, but we needed to take a closer look.

We quickly stopped the boat, which is not that quick when you’re barrelling along at nine knots with a screecher out one side and a genoa the other. Ju then climbed down to the transom and at last we could see the problem. There was a whole bundle of fishing ropes and netting and buoys tangled around the rudder. What a mess.  

He managed to cut the worst of it away, but some of it was still tangled out of reach under the boat. Even though we were stopped the boat was still bobbing up and down, so the normal thing of going over the side and cutting it all free wasn’t an option. The transom can easily come down and whack you on the head, which would definitely spoil your day. Besides, even if he could clear the ropes, it didn’t seem like it would be that easy to get back on the boat afterwards.

So what next?

It’s amazing what you can do with a boathook and a knife. It took a bit of doing, but eventually he managed to cut some more away, grab one of the buoys and pull the rest on board.

Prop

What a hero!

But after four days, Columbia came into view.

Captain Hunchback

Is Ju getting a bit of a hunchback?

Columbia 3

Nearly there.

Lyn  Columbia

The final stretch was really rough, 

Final stretch

…but we managed to get in just as the sun set.

Sunset

…and before the steakhouses closed.

Steakhouse

First impressions are that Santa Marta is fantastic. This is a city that never sleeps – there is an amazing buzz here.

Santa marta 1

And it’s very pretty.

Santa Marta Finish Line

We shall be sorry to leave.

Next stop, The San Blas Islands.

Ju & Lyn

We’re Off!

Ahoy Boatbloggers!

At 1200 on Saturday, they sounded the starting signal for The World ARC 2020 St Lucia to St Lucia, and we were off. It was a pretty damp and squally start to the whole thing - a bit like the Solent but with palm trees. But at least when it rains, it’s warm rain.

Race Start

The reason you can see so many boats and they are so far away is because we’re in our usual tactical position. The back. Fools them every time.

Now - an explanation. Those of you following us on the tracker will no doubt be very impressed with our amazing high speeds, of anywhere between eight and ten knots. “They must be among the leaders,” you will be thinking. “If only they were going in the right direction.”

Perhaps you suspect we have some cunning Ben Ainslie style plan; head south then pick up a favourable current, or an unsuspected wind, and then nip in at the front right on the finish line to rapturous applause. 

Alas, dear reader, the truth is far more mundane. 

Our Voyage Around The World was all going really well. Right up until the first day. Well - to be precise, the first second of the first minute of the first hour of the first day of the first leg of our first circumnavigation. 

It was just as we came to cast off our lines to go out into the anchorage ready for the start the next day, that we found one of our engines wasn’t working. The landlubbers amongst you might think, they’ve got two engines - why don’t they just use the spare? But unfortunately in a catamaran it’s not that simple. If you only have one engine you just keep going round in circles. We want to go round the world, not just round the bay forty three times. 

So...we needed to get it fixed - and fast. The rally was going to begin in less than 24 hours! 

We found St Lucia’s number one engineer, and it wasn’t long before we had a diagnosis; a duff MDI unit. The offending item It doesn’t matter if you haven’t got the foggiest idea what one of those is. All you need to know is that the engine won’t work without it. In an emergency you can climb down into the engine compartment and hot wire it with bit of old cable, but you can’t go round the world doing that every time you come into port.  The only solution was to get a new one. 

But unfortunately It turned out that in the whole of St Lucia there were no Mega Dodgy Interface units. Everyone else with a Volvo engine had already taken them. It’s a common fault. But what was worse is that It might take weeks for one to be delivered. It looked like we weren’t going to be able to start - a bit like our engine. As soon as Ju had stopped wailing and thumping the cushion, we sprang into action. Many phone calls and emails later, at last we tracked one down in Grenada. So that is where we went. At Sea And hopefully they can fit it first thing on Monday morning. We will be sat on their doorstep at eight when they open. 
And then - fingers crossed - we can start heading in the right direction.  Considering it’s all gone a bit Pete Tong, having to divert to Grenada is not the worst thing that has ever happened to us. Divert to Grenada To Santa Marta and Beyond!

Ju & Lyn