Our crossing from Panama to the Galápagos Islands was pretty uneventful. We estimated anywhere from 7-10 days and it took just over 8 full days (8 days and 4 hrs). Logging in nearly 1,000 miles to make the crossing, most of it was downwind, but surprisingly, a lot of which was upwind as well.
March 17th, 2018: We sailed from Panama City to Las Perlas Islands to decompress from the city life as well as set ourselves up further south for our departure to the Galapagos. We made two stops in Las Perlas. The first was Isla Contadora. After sailing off the hook in Las Brisas anchorage and a full day sail there with one hour of motoring in the middle, we sailed in and anchored near another kid boat, SV Moody Finn. We spent the next day there, doing school, cleaning the bottom of the boat (Christian was in the water for 2.75 hours scrubbing away), and later exploring shore with SV Moody Finn crew.
The next day, we sailed off the hook and to an island further south called Isla Del Rey. We had read about this river call Mosquito River, in which you can take your dinghy up at high tide and explore the mangroves and get some fresh water swimming in. We were able to sail all day and, again, anchor under sail next to our friends on Moody Finn. Mid morning, the next day, we hopped in our dinghies and motored them over to the river. Our timing with tides was wrong for getting up the river that early in the day, so we spent the first few hours on the beach, just inside the outlet of the river, playing, drinking coconuts and letting off fireworks that we needed to get off board before making landfall in the Galapagos. When the tide came in, it came it QUICK! With a 15 ft tidal range on a new moon, the water was rising fast. We made it up to the “waterfall” (not so much an actual fall) and played around in the fresh water pool above it. Fun times! That evening we said our farewells to SV Moody Finn and prepped for our morning departure for the Galapagos.
Wednesday morning at 7:10 we set sail for the Galápagos Islands. There was a light breeze, but not enough to keep us from getting set on the rocks by the current. After 20 minutes of attempting to sail away, we started the engine and motored out for 30 minutes to get our wind and away from the rocks. By mid afternoon, full wind had kicked in and we were screaming downwind. That night we saw gusts up to 35, but comfortably reefed and various furled in rib points throughout the first night. We did 160 miles in 24 hours. We’re pretty sure that’s the most mileage we’ve done in a 24hr period on Shawnigan.
The second day’s wind backed off a bit but kept us moving strong. Then the wind died off to almost nothing. Based on the weather files, wind was just ahead and if we caught up to it, hopefully we could keep it all the way through. Well, that plan didn’t work completely. We did motor for about 4.5 hours and did catch some wind, but it didn’t hold for long. Our 4th day out, we lost all wind. We literally drifted, bobbing back and fourth for a good 12 hours. During that time we managed to make it 6 miles, thanks to the NNW current. We did keep a westerly track, but it also took us back north a bit. We took this lag time to clean up the boat, inside and out. Christian hopped in again and cleaned the bottom in preparation for the clean bottom requirements of the Galapagos.
By nightfall the wind started to fill in slowly and steadily. It held up for the rest of our sail. Surprisingly though from day 6 on, our friend “Windy” was on the nose, we were on a close reach until we were 12 miles off of Isla San Cristobal.
Shawnigan crossed the Equator, into the Southern Hemisphere about 90 miles Northeast of Isla San Cristobal. We had all our celebratory items and our offerings to Neptune ready to go. At 11:57 am, on our eighth day out at sea, we crossed the Equator. We had a count down using our GPS until it read “00°00.000’S, 88°14.378’W ” ! Taj tossed a pancake into the water for Neptune. Each kid blew the conch shell. The girls dressed up like mermaids, make-up and all. Taj had his crown and cape on. Both Christian and I wore our homemade paper crowns, pulled out our bag of Equator Coffee, made a cup of bulletproof coffee style and shared it with Neptune. Ellamae ended our ceremony with a poem by John Masefield: “One road leads to London, One road runs to Wales, my road leads me seawards to white dipping sails.”
Our last night out at sea before making Puerto Baquerizo, San Cristobal Island hosted a beautiful sunset. Winds remained light, forward of the beam until we rounded the north side of the island. We were in a groove, sleep became easy between watches, daily routine was established. Now we will spend a few weeks soaking in as much of the Galápagos Islands as possible. Since I was a young girl, I’ve always wanted to visit the Galápagos… now here I am, with my family via sailboat.
***I apologize for the lack of photos. Uploading anything with limited wifi has proven very difficult. I will have to back log the photos when wifi is better. Watch our Equator Crossing on our YouTube channel!