Sailing to Isla Floreana in the Galápagos Archipelago

Departing Isla Isabela

Motoring away from Isla Isabela in the early evening, the island looking as cloud-shrouded as when we arrived.  

The crew overseeing our departure: Marcie, David, and 49,000 bananas.  

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

We expect the passage from Isla Isabela to Isla Floreana to be roughly a half-day sail, so our plan is to leave in the early evening, sail overnight, then arrive sometime tomorrow during peak daylight hours. At 5:30 p.m. Marcie raised the anchor and David motored out of the anchorage.

We had a small problem with the anchor as we were departing. The last step of raising the anchor is to pull it over the bow roller into its stowed position, but the chain shackle had become cocked and jammed in the anchor stock so the anchor couldn't be pulled over the bow roller. It took a little work with some tools to free up the shackle and get things straightened out, then the anchor was stowed and secured.

While we were motoring we suddenly saw some black humps and fins in our path a short distance ahead. For a moment I thought they were whales, and we reduced power and maneuvered to go around them. They turned out to be sea-lions lying on their side with their flippers sticking out of the water; once they noticed us they swam away.

As we got farther from the island, the harbor took on the same gloomy, gray, cloud-shrouded look that had greeted us when we arrived. We motored until we were well clear of the island, then shut down the engine and started sailing. Unfortunately the wind promptly died and Nine of Cups began idly drifting with the current. From now on we need to conserve fuel, so we can't crank up the engine and motor whenever the wind dies.

At sunset we could see a thin crescent moon also setting. When I started my night watch, the sails were slatting annoyingly. I furled the jib and tried repositioning the main but the noise continued through the night. I must confess it was a fairly tedious night—calm wind, slatting sails, and an adverse current that carried us farther from our destination.

The battery was still being depleted faster than normal, so I had to run the engine for an hour to charge the batteries. At least for that hour we could motor and make progress towards our destination. The horizon was very indistinct due to low haze and at one point while motoring I had to turn on the radar to make sure we would clear Isla Tortuga (which is uninhabited and has no shoreside lights). The island was quite noticeable on radar, as well as the southeastern portion of Isla Isabela.

Just before David took over at midnight we began drifting through a school of fish about six to eight inches long. When a fish darted through the water it would leave a streak of sparkly bioluminescence. Also, the bioluminescence in the boat's bow wave was very prominent (when we were motoring).

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