Dear F&F,
May 9, 2009

Scott was scanning the horizon & spotted 2 islands about half an hour ago. Always very exciting. The sea calmed down dramatically & we had a smooth day of sailing. We rolled up the genny & main sails a while ago as the wind lightened. It was nice that we were both up & it was daytime when we crossed the equator. Neptune seemed to enjoy the Tender Bits, I’m sure he gets tired of eating fish… We are heading for the barn. It will be after dark when we enter the bay at Santa Cruz Island but with the night scope & good charts we are going to go for it. We are both looking forward to have a good night’s sleep at anchor. We may see up to a couple of boats we met at Coco Island already anchored at Puerto Ayora.

We will be in these islands 20 days as is allowed cruisers. Our live aboard dive week with “Sky Dancer” is May 17-24.

Besides trying to figure out if the red or yellow stripe of the Ecuador flag goes on top, we are doing great. I’ve got taquitos in the toaster oven & Abba on the Ipod. We are very excited to get here. It is amazing how one can trot across the globe at only 6 knots (7 mph)!

May 10, 2009
So Close & Yet So Far�
We pulled into Academy Bay of Santa Cruz Island – the most populated of all the Galapagos Islands at about 9:00 pm. Santa Cruz island is one of the two Galapagos Islands where private yachts are allowed to go without obtaining a more extensive (& expensive) visa. What a disappointment! It seemed more like we were entering Long Beach than any vision of a nature preserve that you can imagine.

Scott had been trying to hail “any vessel”, including the Port Captain, for an hour as we made our approach. No one responded, which struck us as odd for such a busy port. There were many shore lights, so the night scope was not as helpful as other places. We cautiously made our entry. The place was so crowded. There were many many large boats anchored with assorted lights. Cargo vessels, dive boats, Declasse – Class cruise ships. The harbor had an industrial & unwelcoming feel.
There were just a handful of small sailboats anchored that mostly looked neglected with nobody home.

It was very shallow with a big swell coming right in – no protection. None of the bay has protection from the south swell. There was no “swinging room” & we did not feel safe to anchor there. Especially since once we choose an island, we cannot move for our 20 day allotted stay. And for 1 week, we will leave our boat will be at anchor unattended. No bueno aqui!

Another boater had referred us to an agent on Santa Cruz. All entering boats are required to check in to the country with the service of an agent. But the referring folks had not actually yet been there & used him. We had been in frequent email contact with this agent who is either clueless about boaters needs or deliberately misrepresented the place in order to collect his fee. Scott used our last satellite minutes to call the guy at home to express our concern & disappointment.

Scott spotted the boat “Sky Dancer” that we will join for diving next week. How the poor passengers onboard were tolerating the boats motion at anchor I don’t know! Scott got the attention of a crew member (later we learned he is the head dive master). Edwin was nice enough to talk to us by VHF radio. He advised us to proceed to San Cristobal Island which he guaranteed has a MUCH calmer anchorage. It is on the north side, so it made sense that it would be more protected from the southerly wind and swell. We would have gone there direct & not wasted our time at Santa Cruz, but we took the recommendation of the agent instead of finding out for ourselves where all the cruisers go. Our bad & now we are paying the price by having to travel all night to San Cristobal. We will go slowly to travel the next 45 miles to arrive about day break. It is ALWAYS a better to enter an unknown place with daylight.

Meanwhile we are flat out of satellite phone minutes. We did not realize how fast we burned through them. It was very difficult to connect to a Winlink station from Coco Island plus you can never get out on Winlink (HF EMAIL) at night which is when I do most of my writing. We will be able to order more minutes when we can get a Winlink connection during the day, but it is bad that we ran out of satellite time. It is our link to the world for urgent weather info or any emergencies. This is a short trip with not much traffic. I napped for the first 2 hours, while Scott negotiated around Santa Fe Island. Then Scott will rest for 3 hours & then we will there. Yet again, we are slamming into a 20 knot headwind. Oh joy! Scott promises me that the wind & sea will be at our back for the trip to the Marquesas. I am starting to wonder if this is just a sailors dream…

I pray this next island is calmer & more of a cruisers desired destination than industrial port like the last place. I was so looking forward to a good night’s sleep, but we would not have gotten it if we’d tried to stay at that first place. There was no safe place for us to put down our hook, too crowded & 4-5 foot swell rolling in. No thanks. It is one thing to roll around a bit with the wind & current, but an anchorage is supposed to be protected from the swell. It is a mystery to us why it got so developed as a port. But most of the population is not sleeping on a boat, they are in houses on the land.

Report on San Cristobal to follow

Scott & Cindy

Dear F&F,
May 8, 2009

We have been at sea 30 hours with another 30 or so to go. Motoring head on into the wind & sea, it is very rough going.

“Good Humor Girl”
Boater friend Tami Stewart thought the Good Humor Man was Jonathon Winters. Maybe the company sponsored his radio or TV show.

Per Wikipedia: Good Humor was an American brand of ice cream novelties sold from ice cream trucks. Their heyday was in the 1950s. Scott remembers these trucks coming to his L.A. elementary school during recess. I don’t know where or how I’d heard of it, but the term “Good Humor Man” came to mind after my 7:00-10:30 a.m. nap. I was in quite a good humor. Good thing!
I actually laughed out loud as I was thrown off my feet in the bathroom while attempting to put in my contact lenses. My sense of humor is greatly affected by the amount of rest I’ve had. I was able to get 15 minute cat naps during my prior shift so was in fine form.

The arduousness of this journey is incredible. King Neptune is having a really good time tossing us about in our small vessel as we dare approach his kingdom. We are about 150 miles north of the equator. It is custom to have some type of “crossing the equator” ritual. You may have read about sailors pouring food on their heads & tossing liquor into the ocean as an offering. I have my revenge for Neptune planned. The oldest can onboard is Loma Linda brand “Meatless Tender Bits” made with gluten. Do not ask what possessed me to ever buy this item. No doubt a sentimental memory of my good old Seventh-Day Adventist vegetarian days. I have been shuffling it about my pantry for 4 years & it is now showing a bit of rust around the edges. I consider it a fine item to open up & toss contents and can right over at zero degrees latitude. We’ll make sure to duck since I expect Neptune will heave it right back at us!

In these conditions it is easy to understand all the sailing superstitions & lore. Even the call of the Mermaid is understandable. I often turn around with a start, quite sure that I heard someone whistle to me or moan or speak. It is only the wind in the rigging, the creaking of our hull or the slap of the waves. But it is enough to make me glance down at Scott through the little window from the cockpit into our cabin to make sure he isn’t calling me. Of course he is just lying there asleep. Besides we have a special whistle that we use with each other, purposely unmistakable.

The great news is that we began sailing at 6:00 a.m. We had motored south during the night in order to get a better wind angle today. That strategy worked. I stayed up to help Scott by steering upwind to raise the main, running the staysail lines & trimming all. Little by little I am getting a clue on how to get this barge to run with the wind. Scott still does the fine tuning, but I no longer need to ask him every single thing every single time which is encouraging. The noise of the engines creates a monotonous “white noise” that helps with sleeping. We hear all the creaks & smacks when we sail. At times it feels as if we make as much motion up & down as we do in a forward direction. But overall we are averaging 6 plus knots under sail, about the same as while motoring & it saves fuel. Hopefully the wind will be good enough to sail all day.

I need to eat some lunch so will sign off for now. Tuna salad & potato chips, no vegemeat! Thank you all for writing. It is great to get mail while out here with the elements.
xo Cindy aka Good Humor Girl (well sometimes!)

Scott & Cindy

Dear F&F,
May 6, 2009

Yesterday we went for another hike. It drizzled at the beginning. We were wishing for more rain once we got going, as the sun was pretty hot even though it was only 7:30 a.m. It was about 1 hour & 20 minutes; a VERY steep climb up. Poor Scott found it aerobically challenging. I had a harder time downhill, with shorter legs, keeping my balance. The hike was worth our efforts. We enjoyed a beautiful canopy of trees at the top, some covered in vines & bromiliads. So green, lush & tropical rainforest-y.

Two rangers & a volunteer came by to collect our additional fees. We had paid up through the last day of diving, not exactly sure at that time how many additional days we would stay. It is $85 a day for us & the boat, not diving. We paid $20 more per day (for both of us) on the diving days. This is the one place in Costa Rica that they are doing a really good job of preserving nature, so we are happy to support their efforts.

Scott is slogging away at the photo & video editing while it is fresh. It is just VERY time consuming & rather tedious. He has the patience for it & without the pressure of any deadline, he keeps at it. I keep him fed & watered, get him up to move from time to time & then he is back at it. Meanwhile I write, so it works out well. We each appreciate the others contribution to the website, so make a good team.

Tomorrow it is off to the Galapagos at first light. The wind picked up from the east today which may make for lovely sailing. In any event, we have enough fuel to motor the distance if necessary. We expect to be at sea 3 days & nights.

Thank you for writing us, we love to get mail! (beachhouse51@gmail.com) if you don’t have another address.

Scott & Cindy