We spent a few days in La Playita marina to prepare for the journey to the Galapagos islands, top up the
fuel and get some fresh fruit for the one week passage. There was not a lot of wind predicted and many boats have to motor
part or all of the 950 miles. We stopped after the first day at the Las Perlas islands on a private island and had a swim
and an overnight rest. We were planning to spend a second night but the weather and wind direction changed and we decided
to head off to the Galapagos as the bay was no longer safe at anchor.
The wind eventually died and
we resorted to motoring, sailing and motor sailing for several days. Trifon's main sail, which is now more than 3 years old
and has been re-cut by my sail maker to adjust the reefing points, has seen more than 10,000 nm and has survived several storms
both in the Med and the Atlantic is looking baggy and tired and will be replaced when we reach Tahiti. During one of the three
day storms in the Atlantic the main was torn out of the mast track in 40+knots of wind and the sail was free flying from the
halyard and the reef cringle rather like a jib. This type of abuse with a full battened main is not conducive to extending
the life of the sail. It took us six days to reach San Cristobal (chatham) in the Galapagos. While on passage we came across
a strange fishing boat who was circling without an obvious reason. We headed directly into a line of squalls so that they
could not track us on their radar.....I have watched the film Master and Commander several times...... Our radar broke down
during the passage which was a concern both for spotting other vessels but also to locate the squalls at night.
Fortunately I located the fault as a poor electrical connection between the mast exit wires and the internal
radar cable junction box. I also had to change the pre-fuel filter and re-tighten the alternator belts whilst at sea. The
lessons I learnt from my brother-in law, Robert and my friend Gilles before leaving Monaco regarding both the engine and the
electrical systems have been very valuable in keeping the boat in good shape. Many "sailors" who sail round a bay
or day trip between the marina and their local yacht club bar believe that they could sail across oceans if they had the time/money
and all they need to do is trim the main and fore sails. What some of these people are unaware is that most of the effort
of long distance sailing is maintaining, repairing and replacing all of the boats systems. Most of these systems are absent
on day sailors' boats and so their knowledge is often limited to tweaking two sails and holding onto the helm. Long range
communications through shortwave radio and computer linked satellite phones, EPIRB rescue beacons, gyro controlled heavy duty
autopilot, high resolution radar, AIS, back-up rudder, back -up steering, back up navigation lights, sea drogues, storm sails,
whisker poles , world-wide charts both paper and electronic, tide tables, pilot books, sextant plus tables, back up GPS, two
anchors, outboard plus inflatable dingy, dive compressor and dive gear, solar panels, water maker, hydrogenerator plus all
the associated spares, tools and knowledge required to keep the systems functioning are not found on day boats. Sailing across
oceans requires that you leave behind the protective society that has a repair facility in every port, food on every corner
and medical or police help within minutes. When we visit foreign islands we often cannot speak the local language and the
population lives in a third world subsistence economy. To get anything fixed or even to get fuel, water and food presents
a whole set of challenges starting with the local administration. We are sailing across an immense liquid desert and self
sufficiency is the key to survival. And we do this in a sail boat which was retired as a viable form of global transportation
over one hundred years ago.
The island of San Cristobal is very laid back, clean with friendly people. There is a colony of sea lions
in the bay where we are moored and we have sea lions sleeping on the swim platform most of the time. They are not aggressive
unless you get to close or corner them. We had a trip round the island by jeep and saw the giant tortoises and marine iguanas.
There are also a large number of rare (endemic) birds and watching the frigate birds circling over the fresh water lake on
the extinct volcano of San Cristobal you can easily believe that you are one another planet.
am currently trying to get the broken engine remote control replaced as the motor can no longer be controlled from the helm
and to put the gearbox in forward /reverse or neutral you have to by-pass the control cables and change gears inside the boat
on the engine. This is rather like trying to drive a car with someone standing 10 metres away controlling the gear shift.
There are no parts on San Cristobal and I have contacted the Yanmar dealer on the Equadorian mainland (1000 miles away) who
also does not have the parts and is trying to source them outside Equator. I think we may be in for a long wait...