Posted by: williekp | April 13, 2012

Galapagos to the Marquesas, 3000 miles of open ocean

I had a great time in the Galapagos and really enjoyed the people we met and the wildlife but we have to move on if I am to get back to Beaconsfield. The next leg to the Marquesas should not be too challenging in a sailing sense, but it’s duration and remoteness mean it deserves respect and one must be conscious of the effect the distance and relative boredom can have on the others around. We pulled up the anchor and set sail at 1400 local time on Thursday 12th April. The Galapagos is a half a degree south of the equator and our next port of call is eight and a half degrees south. Because of the southern doldrums, we can’t just point there and go in a straight line. Most people head off south or south west and try to take a direct line out of the doldrums, even though it means that you are not getting any nearer your planned destination. The reward is that after about 300 nm you start to pick up the steady south easterly trade winds that blow at 15 to 20 miles an hour.

Our rough route from Galapagos to Marquesas

That was our plan and since there was not much wind we sailed south on the engine. Motoring always raises the tension on the boat. On a full tank plus our reserves we can motor about 1000 miles. The skipper is reluctant to motor as we also need fuel to generate electricity and make water. Fortunately, we found enough wind that motoring was reduced to about 18 hours and we are safely through the doldrums and in the trade winds. Here, the wind is coming over the rear left hand side of the boat ( port quarter for the sailors). That means that we are sailing with just the large headsail out and the little sail on the rear mast called the mizzen. We saw some wonderful sights in the first day leaving San Cristobal. The sea was calm but about a mile away we could see big splashes. We motored over that way and it turned out to be a huge school of dolphins. There were several hundred all racing through the water and jumping. They were very big compared to others we have seen. I bought a laminated card with descriptions of all the whales and dolphins and my guess was that they were common bottle nosed dolphins. I was truly staggered by the scale of it all and how this huge group had literally taken over this part of the ocean.

More later….

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