Visiting Isla Isabela in the Galápagos Archipelago

Cruising Lifestyle (continued)

This is the haul of fresh produce we got from Richar; it's drying on the aft deck after being rinsed in seawater.

This is the hand of bananas, drip-drying while hanging from a dinghy davit. It's a good thing we all like bananas.  

When you buy your produce directly from a rural market, sometimes you get things that you don't see in a grocery store. One bunch of bananas had a tiny baby banana—that's a penny for comparison. The little bananas are so sweet they're like candy bars.  

Wednesday, April 21, 2004 (Day 24 in the Galápagos Archipelago)

Early this morning while I was still in bed, I heard the engine start, which was unusual. Marcie (who is an early riser) later told me that the house battery voltage had dropped to 11.5 volts, which is a very low voltage, so she immediately started the engine to recharge the battery. A reading of 11.5 volts is much lower than you'd normally want (almost a dead battery) and such a low voltage could interfere with the normal operation of electronic and electrical equipment. We're not sure, but there might be a problem developing somewhere in the electrical system.

Richar finally called us on the radio this morning, and Marcie and David dinghied ashore to pick up the fruits and vegetables we ordered. We got lots of goodies: oranges, grapefruits, papayas, a pineapple, a "hand" of bananas (which is the main stalk encircled by dozens of bananas), a watermelon, green peppers, some yucca, lots of green tomatoes, a few plantains, and a nice big zucchini. While all the items were still in the dinghy, David dunked all the items in seawater and thoroughly washed them, then passed them aboard Nine of Cups where we arranged them on the aft deck to dry. Produce is handled like this to avoid bringing aboard pesky bugs like spiders and roaches. We also don't save or reuse the bags the fruits and vegetables come in.

Later on, David went ashore by himself to get two more jugs of diesel fuel and a few other supplies. When he got back, he laboriously hoisted a heavy fuel jug from the dinghy and passed it to me at the lifeline gate. I hefted it then reacted with surprise—the jug was empty (which was a little practical joke he played on me). As it turned out, the gas station didn't have any diesel fuel, and it cost him a $1 cab fare each way to find out. He did manage to get a few other items, but some necessities were simply unavailable (like carrots and onions) so we'll have to do without.

I worked on a small maintenance project to fix the 12-volt outlet that Marcie uses to power her laptop computer. Lately, when she unplugs the connector after using her computer, the metal end is too hot to touch, which could indicate a bad connection. I found a poorly crimped wire on the outlet which could be the source of the problem, so I replaced the short length of wire. It wasn't a complicated or difficult repair, but it took a while since it used several tools and parts that had to be dredged up from their usual hiding places in the boat's lockers. Later, Marcie used the computer again and said the connector worked properly and didn't get hot.

Marcie demonstrated yet another skill today when she whipped out a pair of scissors and a comb and became the ship's barber; the aft deck became the barbershop. Both David and I needed haircuts, and we both got them, skillfully done. And we both had the same number of ears after our haircut as before! (This is not as big a joke as it might seem, on a rolling boat.) A good thing about outdoor haircuts is that on a breezy day (which it was), most of the trimmed hair just blows over the side, so there was practically no cleanup.

We still have the matter of the flaky prop shaft and we've been trying to decide if it's going to cause more trouble. One way to judge the scope of the problem is to check the cutless bearing. This important bearing is located where the prop shaft passes through the keel; just aft of the bearing the propeller attaches to the shaft. As the shaft and propeller rotate, the cutless bearing must hold everything securely to minimize vibration and avoid damage. Back at the boatyard on the mainland, the workers installed a brand new cutless bearing. Theoretically, there should be very little wear and tear and the bearing should still be snug. On the other hand, if the shaft problems damaged the cutless bearing, there will be considerable play, which is a bad thing.

Soon after we arrived at Isla Isabela, David dove below the boat (his ear infection was pretty much cured) and determined that the play in the cutless bearing was minimal and not a problem at all. This was an important determination, because it means that our voyage can go forward without having to make very difficult repairs (like getting the shaft back into place, then removing and repairing the prop and maybe even the cutless bearing). Since we have motored many hours with the problem present and it doesn't seem to have damaged the cutless bearing, we can go ahead with our voyage to Easter Island and back to the mainland. During the remainder of the trip we expect to do very little motoring, since we may not be able to get any more fuel until mainland Chile. What fuel we have on-board will be reserved for running the engine to charge the batteries.

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