Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Next Stop: French Polynesia

I think I may have spoken my final words of Spanish. I’ve got less than 30 days to learn how to make those French noises. It sounds to me like “Z’s” and “F’s” with a heavy nasal murmur. I think I’ll opt for faking it by speaking Spanish with a ridiculous accent.

We left the Galapagos island of Isabela April 24, 2007 at 11:30 am. No wind and calm seas with a 6 second swell from the south. The conditions haven’t changed in 12 hours, except for the heavy cloud cover that now blots out the stars. Suzi is sleeping. I’m pulling the 10 to midnight watch. We’ve caught a favorable current and are riding along at 7.1 knots with only 1500 RPMs. My strategy is to head more south than west in hopes of finding wind. I’m still too far east to drop straight south and catch the trades so there needs to be some westing in my trajectory. I’m hoping to shave a week off the 30 day passage. Wish us luck.

Did you know that there are penguins at the equator? They are absolutely adorable, too buoyant for their own good, and fast under water. They are good friends with the seals, and can often be seen playing around the anchored boat. I called to a seal one day and he swam over and tried to jump aboard. He was inches from my face. Other yachties have had to shoo them out of the cockpit. This morning as I was underwater scrubbing the prop I felt something behind me. I looked over my shoulder to find a small seal, submerged, yet vertical, with curious head cocked and gazing at me, wondering how I was going to eat that piece of metal.

I saw enough tortoises to last a life time. They live so long it’s possible that some of the ones I met may have met Darwin.
And yes, they are gigantic.

The marine iguanas are as black as the lava rocks they lounge upon. They’re perfectly camouflaged, with a face that looks stern and dignified even though their pajamas don’t fit quite right. Sometimes you’ll see them lazily swimming across the bay, late for a nap.

The Galapagos Islands consist of 19 islands with about another 100 islets. Only 4 of the islands are inhabited. 30,000 people live there. There are discos, bars, restaurants, home appliance stores, jewelry stores, art boutiques, and more tourist boats than Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan combined. The infrastructure is excellent and the science centers are free and very well done, but despite its isolated location, the place is highly developed and expensive. If you are planning a trip there, do it sooner than later.

My mom was born on Bastille Day. I think of it now, only because it’s one of the few French words I know and Barraveigh will be my prison for the next 20 - 30 days. Let the stir crazies begin.

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