Sailing to the Galápagos Archipelago and Easter Island

Nine of Cups anchored off the beach at Anakena, Easter Island, in a spectacular South Seas setting.  

In the spring of 2004, I sailed as crew aboard the sailing vessel Nine of Cups on a voyage from mainland Ecuador to the Galápagos Archipelago and onward to Easter Island. It was an adventure that lasted more than three months, and included extended explorations of the islands and more than 4,000 miles of ocean sailing.

I traveled with my friends David Lynn and Marcie Connelly-Lynn, the owners of Nine of Cups, who are four years into a ten-year circumnavigation aboard their vessel. I first met David and Marcie in Charleston, South Carolina, at the start of their circumnavigation, and I've followed their progress ever since. In late 2003, they invited me to participate in their adventure, and what an adventure it was!

I got a brief taste of South American culture in mainland Ecuador, then we sailed and motored to the Galápagos Archipelago and visited the islands for almost four weeks. We marveled at the unique flora and fauna, including forests of tree-like cacti, the famous giant tortoises, marine and land iguanas, the unique penguins, and lots of comical blue-footed boobies. One day we traveled by open truck and horseback up a dormant volcano, and walked through its steaming crater during a tropical downpour.

We then sailed to Easter Island, a voyage of nearly 2,000 miles that took 19 days. Our voyage started out in the near-calm weather of the doldrums, proceeded through days of boisterous sailing in the brisk trade winds, and ended with variable and unsettled weather as we approached the island.

We visited the mysterious and enigmatic island for 15 days, but it was a difficult place to visit by boat. We enjoyed time ashore photographing the giant carved stone statues and touring the quaint town, but we also spent days on the boat, chased from anchorage to anchorage by bad weather and rough seas. Although the island itself was exotic and fascinating, the difficulties of visiting by boat caused some disappointments, at least for me.

Our next destination was supposed to be the Juan Fernández Archipelago, off the coast of Chile. We sailed more than 600 miles eastward towards the islands, but our plans were upset by days of bad weather and a distressing number of problems with the boat. We were forced to refigure our plans and decided to return to Easter Island, so this portion of our adventure became the 1,200 mile "voyage to nowhere".

Shortly after returning to Easter Island, I moved ashore and prepared to fly home to Baltimore. I spent a week ashore revisiting the island, this time immune to bad weather and rough seas. I walked through volcano craters and lava tunnels, visited ancient stone quarries and caves, and viewed and photographed dozens of carved stone figures. Although Nine of Cups sailed on to mainland South America, my time was up, and my adventure ended as I returned to Baltimore.

Now all I have are memories. Well, not quite. During the trip, I took more than 5,400 pictures and kept a daily journal that grew to more than 350 pages. I have edited all the information down to a more manageable size, and I'm pleased to present it for your enjoyment on the following web pages.

Table of Contents

I have divided the information into several sections, retaining the chronological order of the trip. You can browse the main sections by clicking on the following thumbnails. Each section starts with a detailed table of contents for that section, allowing further navigation. To see a complete table of contents for the entire journal, visit the Site Map. If you want, you can read through all the pages sequentially by clicking the "Next Page" button at the bottom of each page.

The individual pages usually have pictures and text. Most of the text comes directly from my daily journal, though I later added "sidebar" information. Most of the pictures are mine, except for a few photos graciously provided by Marcie (as mentioned in the caption). Some of the pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them; this is also mentioned in the caption.

My Favorite Pictures - This is a special section that I created in case you don't have the time to view the individual pages. Of the 1,400 pictures available online, I have selected 96 of my favorites and placed them here, in eight sequential pages of thumbnails. Each thumbnail has a caption, but to simplify things, there's no other text. You can click on any thumbnail to enlarge it. The enlarged versions are from 70 kb to 180 kb.

Page 1     Page 2     Page 3     Page 4     Page 5     Page 6     Page 7     Page 8

Introduction - Start here at the beginning, to meet the main characters and to find out how this whole adventure came about. I'll give you a hint: serendipity can have a huge impact on your life!

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Getting to Ecuador - Here are some details about planning my trip to South America. Read about the flights (Baltimore to Miami to Quito to Guayaquil), and my first impressions of the Ecuadorian mainland including the bus ride to the marina.

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Visiting Ecuador - We spent a couple of weeks at the marina on the mainland preparing for our voyage. Read about marina life and take a photo tour of the good ship Nine of Cups. See what this part of Ecuador looks like, and visit a unique and interesting gallery and museum. I also have some background information about Ecuador.

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Sailing to the Galápagos Archipelago - With all our preparations complete, we sailed and motored to the Galápagos Archipelago. Read about getting used to "life at sea" during our voyage.

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Visiting the Galápagos Archipelago - What a fascinating place to visit! We visited three different islands, and saw lots of flora and fauna as well as exotic scenery and interesting towns. Read all about it here, and look at lots of pictures. I also have some background information about the Galápagos Archipelago.

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Sailing to Easter Island - This was the second part of our voyage, nearly 2,000 miles of South Pacific sailing over the course of 19 days. Read about our watchstanding routines and all the other details of traveling on a small boat for nearly three weeks non-stop.

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Visiting Easter Island (Boat-Based) - My first visit to Easter Island was from Nine of Cups, and although the island was fascinating, I came away disappointed due to the difficulties of visiting the island by boat. Read all about it and look at lots of pictures. I also have some background information about Easter Island (which is part of Chile).

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The Voyage to Nowhere - That's right, we sailed more than 600 miles out, turned around, then sailed more than 600 miles back, without stopping anywhere. Read about the boat problems and the bad weather, including a Force 8 gale with 15 to 20-foot waves.

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Visiting Easter Island (Land-Based) - My second visit to Easter Island was from a shoreside hotel room; this time there were no difficulties or disappointments. See volcano craters, caves and tunnels, lots of giant carved stone figures, and tour the quaint town of Hanga Roa.

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Returning to Baltimore - All good things must come to an end (or you'd run out of money and go broke!), and this section covers the anticlimatic letdown of returning to Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.

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Summary of the Trip - It had its highs and lows, the smooth sailing and the tough scrapes, but overall, it was a grand adventure—just like life is supposed to be! In this section, I recapitulate the trip and draw some conclusions.

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This part of my web site is dedicated to my good friends David and Marcie, the indomitable world cruisers who made my adventure possible. Thank you for your gracious hospitality by inviting me into your splendid sail-away home, and thank you especially for inviting me to actively participate in your awesome adventure. May fair winds and following seas be yours, always.


David Lynn and Marcie Connelly-Lynn, the owners of Nine of Cups, in the wardroom of the Chilean submarine Simpson. (Photo by Jean Paul Chassin - Trubert Correa, Oficial de Marina.)

Internet Links

I have provided lots of internet links in the individual sections of my online journal, but for convenience, I'll put them all here, too. Due to the number of links, they are on a separate page: Internet Links

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- John Santic

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