“Adventure is worthwhile.” -Aristotle
Our first sail was to the Galapagos and it was a bit of a rough start for our beginning forays into the world of sailing. We had headwinds and after a couple days decided to turn back to Las Perlas, Panama to wait for better weather. After a couple days we decided to head off again even though we never got the winds we were hoping for, as they weren’t as common this late in the season.
This second attempt took nine exhausting days. It was cold, windy and no one slept well. The sea was rough and when in bed you’d lose contact with the mattress as we’d crest over a wave and be in a free fall. It was jarring to say the least! Our first night watches were unnerving and I felt like I clung to my safety harness looking for boats and other perils while trying to figure out how to navigate. (We had come across small fishing boats, got tangled in their lines and had to cut ourselves free. The fishermen were not happy with us and so we apologized and paid them back with beer and a coke. They made us nervous and we were not always convinced of their trade given our proximity to Colombia. We were concerned about a whole different kind of coke.) But it was also enthralling watching the phytoplankton and jellyfish light up as we sliced through a field of them.
One night we were awakened by a horrible noise and I literally think my heart missed a few beats. It was 4:00 am and my first thought was that the boat was sinking! Well, no we weren’t, in fact we were crossing the equator. Sailors like to make an offering to Neptune as they cross over, sometimes baptizing themselves in the ocean. Given it was the middle of the night, rough seas and freezing, we decided not to take a dip. Instead our captain dressed himself in green and banged on a pot with his trident of forks. As an offering to the god of the sea we all did a song and dance to appease him and for a safe crossing.
When we saw the Galapagos from a distance land never looked so good. We spent most of the week on the island of Santa Cruz. We went to El Chalto reserve and saw the giant tortoise in the wild (one hissed at me). We spent all day walking and so a nice woman who worked on the reserve gave us a ride back to town in her gravel truck. We went to the Darwin center and learned how they were protecting the baby turtles, visited a beautiful beach, saw salt flats and went to a chasm. Interesting animals were everywhere, marine iguanas, seals (they got up on the boats), sally lightfoot crabs and pelicans (one took a snap at me) to name a few.
It’s hard to get around independently because everything is protect. So we took a boat to the bigger island of Isabella. There we went to another Darwin center, saw flamingos, seals (one barked at me), penguins and lots of sharks. We even went for a very cold snorkel.
Our week in the Galapagos was up and it was time for the big crossing to French Polynesia. I was nervous for this after the last sail. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be at sea for so long. But as I would find out this first sail would be some of the roughest we would encounter and it would literally be all down wind from here.