Well, we're here, got it at about 4. The wind gave up an the current came back at about midnight. We motored in at about 4am. Praying the engine wouldn't run out of fuel as we cut the corner over uncharted bottom at 2.5 knots against the tide.
You can tell we're in the Pacific islands proper now. The chart says we're anchored on land. Coming in last night was interesting, fortunately we had the Radar. Which told us that the shore that looked closer than it should be was closer than it should be.
Fortunately there was a moon. Since the wind died completely a few nights back, the stars have been fabulous. I've been using a little program called "Stelarium" to look about.
With this program I was also able to identify Alan's UFO. To be fair, the thing was flashing different colours. It looked like a carousel in the sky. In fact it was Canopus, a -0.65 magnitude star some 312 light years away, and therefore no direct threat to Jackal.
Alan and I are proud of our decision making. Neither of us wanted to run out of fuel. Neither did we want to stop and float backwards on no wind. More importantly neither of us wanted to be responsible for the wrong decision! Its been clear for days that it would be close and at times re- assuringly good and others obviously bad.
Thanks to our refusal to come down off the fence either way until the last possible moment we got lucky. The night before last when we stopped. We we're headed sw west into the current. When we stopped we floated slightly more north than our original course. This and the early morning attempt to sail resulted in us crabbing east in a semi circle. By a miracle of luck we (I think) found ourselves in the lee of the Island the tide must have been eddying around inshore and pushing us south.
I know just how lucky we we're. This has happened to me before. Last time we got near the islands, had the same view for a week as we stayed effectively still, then floated in a big arc around the north of the whole group for another week. This trip took 9 days. That's a fourteen day improvement on last time.
At about 8:00pm yesterday we were motoring at 5.3 knots. But due to the current making a mere 2.9knots forward progress. We stopped the engine and went backwards, initially at 2.2 knots.
Before we got even the faintest hint of a breeze at 7:00am this morning we'd floated backwards on the current 11 miles.
We are now about a mile from where we stopped last night. The log (the sensor that tells you half fast your going through the water). Reads 1 knot ish (not that its gonna be terribly accurate at that point, but that's still sweet Fanny Adams). But were doing 2.2 knots in the direction we want to go.
That doesn't make sense. Even in terms of tidal not current it doesn't make sense, since the time of day is similar, and tides only shift forward a bit each day. The don't go completely opposite.
I'm not complaining mind, but if we'd had this current last night, this would be on the internet, and I'd be in the pub. Not staring at the same view as yesterday
22 miles from the destination, we've stopped the engine, and are floating backwards at 2 knots
We took the lid off the fuel tank and looked there's about an inch above the fuel inlet pipe. We decided that we might not make it and eventually even I was convinced we'd have to save it so we can get in.
trouble is I've been here before and gone backwards here for a week.
We heard that there might be wind on Tuesday. That means we'll just have to sit here and wait
It also means if it arrives then we'll have floated miles backwards.
We've got about 55Nm to go, we're in the red, there's zip wind. Current seems to be abating. My handy mk1 eyballometer says we've 14 hours of fuel left. Assuming the gauge is linear. I'd like to assume that, like most gauges zero isn't cough splutter stop. Lets also assume my eyeball is accurate. and the current speed over the ground (that's the boats speed after correcting for any tides and currents remains constant then our ETA is about 13 hours. That's a lot of assumptions, and none of them are accurate.
Do we shut down now? Or try and make it and risk running out of fuel. Alan has made 40 miles on this little fuel, I was generous with 55Nm. Fifty might do. Might. Re-pressurising a diesel engine isn't difficult. But that would mean we've run out of fuel. And we really need that engine to get in the Anchorage.
We're not going to make it, there's no wind, we've half a tank of fuel and the GPS says we've one hundred and fifty five Nautical Miles to go. Theoretically that's half a tank, however we've got at least a knot of current against us. So if it take us 36 hours to get there we effectively need fuel for 191 Nm. and right now, that 1 knot of current is looking mighty optimistic.
Help its happening again! Last time I came this way on Ornen. We got within sight of the Galapagos and sat there for a week. Were a good day's sail, on a good day from our goal. However we're not going to get there without running out of fuel, and with the really light head winds and current we're going to do exactly what we did last time, sail just fast enough to stand still.
Please don't let this happen to me again, I've spent forever sitting here near the Galapagos already. I don't want to do it again.
Hmmm we've got 250Nm to go, we've got half a tank of Diesel and three small gerry cans left. When I say "gerry cans" I mean were using them as gerry cans the writing on the side says "sunflower oil". I wonder if the oil would have been cheaper. Engine probably wouldn't have minded.
2 birds sitting on a log is the only interesting thing we've seen in 2 days. God this is a big ocean, I'd kind of forgotten. This is a small hop to some islands barely off the coast of South America!
Still in the doldrums, saw a couple of hours of sun yesterday, that's it for this trip so far.
Wind has been slightly better, though we had to beat most of yesterday morning and afternoon. That's painful if your used to trade wind sailing. Last night we had joy beyond measure, a following breeze that lasted several hours.
Panama City is a mere 450Nm away. Todays Thursday, nearly 5 whole days, and we've done 450 miles and burned a lot of diesel. Still we are more than half way at last.
With a bit of luck and conserving fuel when we can, that should be about 10 days to the Galapagos, which is a hell of an improvement on last time when it took the Ornen 23 days, that's longer than all 4 of my Atlantic crossings and a third the distance.
Even if the wind has been all over the place, at least the wind from last night and the 180° different wind this morning are cooler. The first few days brought the term "muggy" to a new level. It was light drinking the air, heavy and leaden. Any sort of motion resulted in dripping sweat as the air could suck up no more moisture.
Like I said, its probably character building
Well actually there's only one booby, and, disappointingly it not blue footed. I like blue footed boobies.
Wow Firefox actually spell checks "boobies".
Well this is seriously getting to be character building. As is I'm actually having to sail. I've reefed in and out about 8 times so far today. The good news is, we're moving, generally (though this varies wildly) towards the Galapagos. We've only used the engine for about an hour since I set sail shortly after dawn. However its raining cats, dogs chickens, hamsters and possibly badgers. Eugh. The photo is a stitched together panorama of the cloud this morning, looks less menacing in this pic. Normally my panorama image join prog is pretty good, struggled with this one. The black dot just above the hatch is the boobie, it stayed for the night.
Finished "SEAWOLF", very good bar the last few pages. It was in such a state I took to reading a page, tearing it off and throwing it overboard. There's something very decadent about ripping up a book as your read it and throwing the pages over the side!
Doldrums Day 3 - Sunday the 18th Feb
Boy did it rain last night, I mean biblical, I changed sail config about 15 times and achieve about 5 miles. Its pretty frustrating out here.
At least we don't have David Beckam's "My life in football" on board, or anything by Geoffrey Archer. We do have plenty of other complete tat to read. I'm reading "SEAWOLF" about an American Sub spying on the Chinese, Its probably important that its in capitals, the cover seem to think so anyway. Its redeeming feature is that it was written by a Brit. So it contains odd references to the quality of UK subs and submariners usually absent from htis sort of book, being usually written by Americans. Tom Clancy's "Red Storm rising", also contains a lot of submarines. All irritating barrelling around the oceans at 20 30 40 knots. Both authors seem enamoured with the British Spear Fish torpedo. Oh dear torpedo envy, what would Sigmund Froid have made of that.
We've plenty of food on board so time isn't bothering us. Fuel is we've got bugger all wind, right on the nose. We've got about 0.7 knots of current. Also right on the nose. We've burnt so much fuel all ready we just had to check the engine oil. We didn't buy any American Heritage brand cheese slices, whose packet contained an oldy worldy picture and the words "American Heritage - Artificial Processed imitation cheese food" . American Heritage, the Americans should sue for slander, if it wasn't unfortunately true. Errm i may have gotten the "Artificial" and the "Imitation" swapped over, but you get the jist.
Ever heard the phrase "Wine Dark Sea", its also the title of one of the O'brian Master and Commander series. Well this is what it looks like. Photo probably doesn't do it justice, but the colour was exactly like the colour you get in the bottom of a red wine bottle the morning after a party when someone has dropped fag ash in it.
I've got a sore butt. I hate being skinny. All I wanted was to not be fat for the last few years. Now I have lost weight. Bits of me get sore on hard bits of cockpit seat. Not fair. Big thanks to Nick for commenting on how thin I looked. You saying I used to look fat?
Sod it its raining again, you lot get off.... and I was gonna play Simon the Sorcerer on SCUMMvm.
Oh and don't read any criticism of "SEAWOLF" into this post. So far its an excellent book. Even if its been badly marinised. By marinised I mean, its a cheap paper back, from a book exchange. Its probably sailed half way around the world already and is plodding south west now, its almost certainly been read repeatedly, crumpled and transported by dinghy. Its now in 13 odd pieces, one of which got wet again last night.
Defiantly in the doldrums, Squally black clouds are gathering. Wind is very light and right on the nose, we've been on both tacks, sailing, motoring or motor sailing at random intervals since we left Panama City yesterday lunch time.
I get the laptop out and it begins to rain. Defiantly the doldrums
Oh dear I can feel a multi day ramble coming on, brought on by exposure to large amounts of open sea and nothing to do.
Been doing some updates, there's a video medley of the Panama Canal, a write up of the Panama Canal in Tom's Travels
I've also updated Pilotage with a Panama Canal mini Howto and a little bit about where to put you boat in Panama City
Also there's a humorous (rather than rude - honest) analysis of cruising yachts persons in Odds and Ends. If you are a former skipper of mine, a current skipper of mine or a future skipper of mine do not read this!, please, pretty please, wiv sugar on top.
Use your card in millions of cash points around the world they said....
The Eastern Caribbean chain works intermittently. Some days it doesn't.
In Venezuela, in 4 days and more than 2 dozen attempts in a dozen cash points no money was forthcoming.
We've been in Panama for a week, not one cash point as given me money. Nor have any of them given Al money. That's 2 English people. Jacky's an Auzie, she can't get any money out either.
Yesterday we me 2 Brits and 2 South Africans 2 I know. They couldn't get money either! Becky couldn't get any in Venezuela either.
Aruba - 2 machines no money.
Bonaire loads of machines for 3 days, managed $300 dollars on one occasion.
What's the first thing you do when you reach another ocean?
Jump in it of course. I tried this last time, the Caribbean is a balmy 27 degrees the Pacific a few hours travel through a ditch is not. This is because of Humboldt, inventor of the current (still in common use in fruit cake to this day).
Actually it was pleasantly cool. After the organizational nightmare standing round in the sun at Balboa Yacht Club looking for a AWOL Colon taxi driver called Dracula. To the right (grrr had to give up on my images in RSS - it broke outlook) is a picture of some sea. This is not to be confused with other pictures of some sea I may have posted this one's the pacific.
I must confess guilt forgive me oh Cowley Club, for I have sinned I entered a TGI (should be TFI, but the Americans don't do swearing). It was that hot I bought a coke.
If your wondering more about the canal than the crap American chains. Well we lived, we didn't break anything, we didn't have to motor at 8knots, which is hand y cos we couldn't get 8 knots downhill with the wind behind. Even in the canal, which few places where you can take a yacht down hill. As a result of me still typing this post after sunset, I've decided its an article not a blog you can see it in Tom's Travels on the website.
I will be transiting the Panama Canal Tomorrow and Saturday. You can see us going through the Gatun Locks on Webcam tomorrow (friday) night. Were leaving here at 18:30 local (23:30GMT). So Estimated lock time is about 7:30-8:30 at GATUN. That early AM UK time.
Assuming we're following the patten I expect we'll be coming under the bridge cam around noon (17:00 GMT) and maybe 14:00 Local (19:00gmt) at mirraflores locks.
I'm on "Jackal", which is a white Yacht. It has a blue Bimini (sunshade) over the cockpit, with 2 solar panels on it. The rear guard rails have panels of blue fabric (dogers). For those that know yachts its a Beneteau first 411, 42ft long, with roller furling main I.E. no sail cover. We have no UV strip on the Genoa, but we do have a blue cover that may or may not been on. IE Genny may be blue or white.
I've tweaked my rss feed, to allow it to show small pictures. I'll be working on it some more. But new posts should no include illustrations. If you don't use RRS, its very cool. If your using a descent browser (opera or firefox) it will notify you when they update and notify you.
Woot! I had a cold and wrote up some info on Rodney Bay Marina. A few weeks ago, I can also tell where people are coming from when they visit my site, and what they're searching for.
I'm only page 4 of google for Rodney bay Marina. Not bad huh. Better do some more.
Mini howto for Panama canal coming right up....
Approaching Colon, the nicest spot in South America, described by the rough guide as "Colon is a dangerous slum, unless you have a pressing reason to come here, do yourself a favor and give it a miss." The trouble is that after 5 days at sea I'm actually looking forward to the place.
This is in no way related to the fact that we have only 2 beers left on board.
Yesterday morning we caught a fish, wahoo which we consumed last night, with a sauce of butter, garlic, lime and lemon. With a side of baked potatoes and sweet potatoes. That really hit the spot. Poor old Jackie is still sea sick so her dinner went straight back overboard.
Al and I have been standing most of the watches, its hard work with just 2. I think Al's had the worse part of the deal, so last night we swapped. I got the latter part of the night, which means I can see the southern cross. It only rises late at night, its about the only southern hemisphere constellation I know. We're 9 degrees now. I've not managed to pick out Polaris for a while now. There's no equivalent in the southern sky, you have to follow the the vertical of the southern cross and make a guestimate. There's no doubt however, I'm sailing where the stars a strange. Not that I've all that much time to gwak at them, the traffic round here is like Friday on the M25
If you look at the panama canal its not long. If you look at it closely, the only bridge I can see, or remember (watch this space), is the bridge of the Americas at Panama city. So the Atlantic ocean is separated from the pacific by a spit of land (2 hours on the Bus) north and south America are connected only by the same narrow isthmus and the one bridge. Its lucky religious terrorists aren't too bright. Drop the Bridge of the Americas into the Canal and god knows what you'd do to the world economy.