It was another moment of truth, the kind that we seem to have to face nearly every day here on Escape Velocity. We’d had great, even unexpected conditions so far on our passage from Contadora, Las Perlas Islands, through the doldrums and the equator toward the Galapagos but with the winds getting increasingly fluky and light, we realized that to arrive before dark Friday, it would probably have to involve the Iron Genny (the engine) and maybe not even then. There would be no nighttime anchoring for us with shoals and reefs everywhere. We either make it by 1700 hrs. or we slow up and just sail, ending up standing off and waiting until morning Saturday and pay overtime fees for the check-in crew. So it comes down to pay the officials and stay out an extra night or pay BP.
We kept the pedal down and the breeze picked up a bit for my 0100 to 0700 shift and it began to look plausible for a late Friday afternoon landfall.
Yes Escapees, it’s true, Marce and I are officially SHELLBACKS now that we crossed the equator. It’s mandatory to mark the occasion with a ceremony of some sort. I had envisioned something naked and slippery on the bow trampoline but a very curious thing spoiled the party. We were both awake at the same time which, at night, is unusual in itself and with cameras poised the latitude countdown commenced. All went well until the moment of truth (MOT). We were using the AIS display to photograph the occasion but we noticed the latitude display never switched to South degrees but went to 00 00.00 degrees and started back up, still North! (The chartplotter, shown here, did show our position correctly.)
With the mood shattered we gave each other the this-isn’t-good-look (MOT) and immediately began to troubleshoot. It didn’t switch to South degrees which means we aren’t transmitting the correct location and presumably it will show us boats that are nowhere near us anymore. Not good. Not good at all. Strongly worded emails to follow.
So, as I was saying, precisely at 1600 hrs we rounded Punta Lido, Isla San Cristobal, Galapagos, and I really don’t know what I was expecting…well, you know, the Galapagos. Islands of Mystery. But instead we found a cute little touristy town and nine officials waiting to board EV with demands for multiple copies of everything.
Our agent Bolivar made it all go smoothly and really before we knew it we were officially checked into the Galapagos. We washed down EV while being serenaded by hundreds of croaking, bawling sea lions. One even came up for a close inspection. Cute, big dark eyes, playful..isn’t that nice? I think we were so exhausted that that we never considered going into town and I made pasta, eaten in situ. So, it’s early to bed for the handy bloke and a long restful sleep.
Simultaneously we both sat up in bed, turned to each other and said someone is on the boat. Don’t know how we knew, we just knew. Of course it’s the skippers job to confront whoever decides to join us so I armed myself with a bright LED flashlight and crept up the side deck playing the bluish beam back and forth. Wait…what was that, unblinking, unearthly red eyes were staring back at me from the front of the trampoline. Just then it let out a chest vibrating bellow. A medium size sea lion is not pleased with having its beauty sleep interrupted. Boat hook and flashlight in either hand I felt like a toreador herding a shy bull with flippers. Slowly he reluctantly got the idea and slid down our inviting sugar scoop steps into the bay. Out came every fender we own and what we were too tired to rig this evening we had to do at 3 am.
The following morning the true cost of having a sea lion sleepover became known. Muck and filth was everywhere. After another full washdown and a pot of hot coffee, we were ready for a spot of exploring. Now we know why they don’t want you to use your dinghy. These behemoths would sink it.