Galapagos via Ecuador!
OK, so quite unexpectedly we find ourselves in Puerto Lucia, Salinas, Ecuador, although we already covered about 1/3 of the way to Galápagos islands! But I am jumping too much ahead, since our last entry was in January! So first, beginning February we set the sails from Jamaica to Shelter Bay, Colón to prepare Vanille for the Panama Canal crossing. The wind was perfect, the sun was shinning, and just as we settled ourselves for a pleasant uneventful crossing, we suddenly heard a very strange noise and then silence! For few more minutes Vanille kept its course and then sadly the sails started to flap...yes, our 20 years old automatic pilot died a sudden death only one and a half days out of Jamaica and so for the next three days we became real sailors, each taking one and a half hour shifts, day and night, round the clock, steering Vanille with our own hands and muscles! This sailboat was constructed to run on a pilot and the steering station is not the most comfortable place to sit for a very long time! - but we survived – good thing just before this happened I have read that the sleeping cycle for most people is 90 minutes and that did seem to work really well for us. Once in Panama we ordered not one, but right away two new motors to have a spare!! wouldn't want to steer by hand across the many miles separating the islands in Pacific! When we finally entered the Panama Canal we noticed some vibration from the motor but suspected that was due to Vanille's obesity – with all the provisioning we did for the Pacific, for sure we were about one ton heavier than before! but a closer look on the way to Galápagos we realized that the silent blocks for the engine and the transmission are at the end of their life as well and that made us change direction to Ecuador and to take care of it here, since the next place where we could do something about this is Tahiti, and that is many, many miles away! Well, hopefully after this there is nothing too old to brake in the near future. We had stopped here four years ago and took an advantage of the yard here to spruce up interior of Nikan (after which we sold it in Chile), and we are quite amazed that everybody remembers us here, even our names – we have never had such a warm welcome anywhere where we stopped for the second time before! So I am not sorry to be here right now...hopefully the next leg of our journey will be smooth with no unexpected surprises, and since we are already almost at the end of April we will most likely skip Galápagos and go directly to Marquesas Islands, some 3400 nautical miles away. This will be our longest passage so far. We will try to be more regular in our postings, although we are going to be entering islands of rare Internet, slow Internet, no Internet – I don't expect anything too efficient before New Zealand – and do I ever wish that I was wrong about that prediction!!!