Circumnavigation: Leg 3 Recap

:: LEG 3: March 28, 2014 – May 1, 2014
Wellington, NZ - The Galapagos Islands (7200 Miles/ Actual Time:?) 

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 3.04.22 PMWith Bodacious Dream having completed her maintenance overhaul, and after some last minute circusy maneuvers, we managed to pull away from the slip in Chaffers Marina in Wellington, NZ on the morning of March 28th.

Despite my love for the adventuring lifestyle, each time I leave harbor and set out again, I find myself disoriented for a time, as I transition from the more manageable life on land to the more unpredictable demands that await me at sea. After a few days though, the transition is mostly complete and my focus shifts back to the journey and destinations ahead instead of aft at the land and friends fading over the horizon.

2537_leaving_wellington_550Leaving Wellington …

Soon enough, we were plopped in the middle of sloppy seas with winds that would appear and disappear without much warning. It would be a few weeks more before we reached the trade winds off the western coast of South America that would carry us northwards towards the Galapagos Islands.

Technically, we still had some time to decide whether or not to take the southern course around the Cape Horn, instead of heading north. But, as we followed the weather forecasts, we encountered little that would give us cause to re-ignite such hopes. And so we settled into our regular routines; constantly monitoring weather, winds, seas and other conditions and then making the necessary changes to our course and trim.

As time passed, I began to grow more excited at the thought of exploring the Galapagos, which since the days when Charles Darwin first visited on board the H.M.S. Beagle in 1831, has provided scientists with countless insights into nature’s grand designs.

On March 30th, we crossed the International Date Line … which meant I had to sail the same day all over again! As the world is divided into 24 time zones, there has to be SOME place where there is a difference in days, somewhere that the new day truly “starts” on the planet – and this was it! It wasn’t a big adjustment, as for several days before and after, the weather was the same … i.e. gray and wet!

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Like I said .. gray and wet!

Each day as I went about my required duties, I was watched over by the dozen or so albatross that glided over the undulating waves, up and down back and forth as they circled the boat, watching me with one eye as they soared by. I suspect they find my sailing as curious as I find their flying. Perhaps, as the old sailors believe, they are the souls of dead sailors guiding and watching out for me, as I sail through their neighborhoods.

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Our boon companion … the Southern Ocean albatross

The more cloudy night skies there are, the more you appreciate those nights when you can see the stars. The stars and you – both of you alone in your remote place.

As we were in the Southern Hemisphere, storm systems rotate clockwise, so the best place to be when a storm front comes by, is behind it to the west and northwest. Our gybe, which we made on the morning of April 8th, opened a pathway behind the storm that allowed us to use the winds that spun off of it to propel us northward.

Galapagos ... this way!
The Galapagos this way! - 47.16029S, 136.136105W

People occasionally ask me, “So, what do you do out there with all that time?” Well, there’s the obvious things like boat maintenance, eating, napping, trimming sails and navigating… but in and around those jobs, there’s lots of time to read books and write emails, but often I find myself just sitting and staring out across the waters. “Stare at what?” you might well ask. I really don’t know. I just stare and watch the waves; my mind processing millions of bytes of data on waves, wind and sea conditions… most of it unconsciously. Some days I find myself recognizing wave patterns from the past and knowing exactly what type of winds will follow. Other days, I just relax into the beauty of the waves and into the immense reality of this wavy watery world.

On April 9th, Franklin, Bo and I celebrated my 56th trip around the sun! It was pretty nice weather out that day … sunny and 56 degrees, wouldn’t you know. For my birthday, I did what I do every day … I watched the waves. Now, if you were to ask me about waves, I’d say there are good waves, calm waves, windy waves, choppy waves, steep waves, square back waves, big waves, OMG waves, storm waves, cross waves and rogue waves … but that day, while I watched the end of the day come and the sun set behind the clouds, I captured with my camera a few of what felt to me to be very “happy waves.”

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Mid-April found us trying to leverage cold fronts and stronger winds to get us moving more in the right direction. When the fronts move up from the south, they bring with them chilly winds of around 20 knots – but they can easily get higher of course, especially if the front carries with it squalls and rain storms, in which case you need to prepare for winds up to 30-35 knots!

38.545782S, 125.12947W
Cold front waves - 38.520408S,124.282397W

Easter Sunday was April 21st, and it coincidentally enough found us about 500 miles southeast of Easter Island. The week prior had delivered more than its share of uncomfortable sailing as we weaved our way between a high-pressure system off the Chilean coast and a low-pressure system that pressed in from the West.

On April 23rd was memorable in that it was the day we launched our new Glacier Explorer Guide as well as the full story of my excursion to Fox Glacier, quickly followed by Tegan Mortimer’s wonderful Science Note on Glaciers!

By the end of April, we had finally broken into the solid trade winds that would carry us up the western coast of South America! It doesn’t take too much “champagne sailing” for a sailor’s mind to start drifting. Once it did, I found mine drifting back home to the Midwest, where in springtime, folks start working on their boats getting them ready to put into the water. One of the great traditions at my home yacht club, The Michigan City Yacht Club, is Cooper’s annual spring sock burning party – a time when you burn your winter socks and make the transition over to flip-flops. Alas, I’ll have to miss it this year, and anyway, my socks are too waterlogged to do more than smolder.

19.02225S, 96.429072W
Eyes Forward Sailor – 19.02225S, 96.429072W

Each day that goes by, took us further north towards the Equator, which lies just above the Galapagos Islands … so each day, the temperature grew warmer as well. Short sleeves and no socks were just fine for a change.

There was a string of very beautiful nights under the stars. One night in particular, I recall I was moving through warm trade winds and focusing my course on one single star… and then another. Minutes passed; I don’t know how many. But in the course of those few brief moments, I gradually felt myself drawn into some larger world. It was as if I were a part of some weather-worn fraternity of sailors going back thousands and thousands of years, who had all done just what I was doing now … and in that moment, I was one of them!

As I gazed into the heavens, my thoughts drifted even farther off, as I imagined myself steering Bodacious Dream through the universe! And then I thought … I AM doing that … in fact, that’s ALL I’m doing … and I wondered if perhaps somewhere out there beyond the stars, there was another world and another sailor who at that very moment was focusing his or her course on our star and on the soft glow of Earth that is home to all the dreams that we have ever dreamed.

20.26899S, 96.582191W
The Universe … straight ahead … 20.26899S, 96.582191W

It was in such a grateful spirit that I approached the Galapagos Island of Santa Cruz on the morning of May 1st and moored Bodacious Dream. Once rested up, I began to explore the Island. One of my first stops was the Charles Darwin Research Station.

station_darwin_550Entrance to the Estacion Charles Darwin

This is where they do much of the research on the giant tortoises and land iguanas, and where they have been able to hatch, incubate and raise tortoises in captivity and so help to keep the range of the various species strong on the islands.

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A Land Iguana… 3-5 feet long – weighs up to 25 Pounds – can live 50-60 years!

tortoise4_550Galápago is the Spanish name for Turtle … some of these near 500 pounds. The number of tortoises on the islands today is around 15,000.

In the few days I was in the Galapagos, I had the pleasure of meeting a varied assortment of sailors and travelers from around the world. Most were headed where I’d come from – deeper into the South Pacific or to New Zealand or Australia – so we had fun exchanging stories and information. As you might imagine, they had come from all walks of life. Some were life-long sailors, some were freshly dropped out and off cruising around the world. Some were doing research on various projects, but each one had an interesting tale to tell, which made evenings hanging out at the local sidewalk cafés very lively and rich with conversation!

4770_sc_cafe_550Music and Talk in the Cafés …

The next morning, back in Santa Cruz, I took a water taxi out to Bodacious Dream to begin getting her ready for departure. In the course of working, I looked up to see that the two larger boats that we had been moored in between, were now a ways away. It took another minute of stunned disbelief to realize that somehow Bodacious Dream had broken from her mooring and was freely adrift in the harbor … a mere 75 yards from the rocky shoreline! With the help of a sharp team of locals, we got her quickly re-moored … but to say this was a close call … would be a bodacious understatement. Read the whole story right here.

Mooring Broken
Not more than a half hour before this, Bodacious Dream was moored right between these two hefty dudes!

Th next day, I took a tour of North Seymour Island, one of the more ecologically-important islands north of the central island of Santa Cruz. Sparsely populated as it is, North Seymour is famous for its many blue-footed boobies along with its equally legendary frigate birds, land iguanas, marine iguanas and sea lions.

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A fully inflated frigate bird …

While the frigate bird nests up in the trees, the blue-footed booby nests on the ground. As we walked along and encountered both species, it was hard not to see them as eco-friendly collaborators, what with the boobies nesting on rocks just a foot or two off the ground and the frigates nesting in the scruffy tress, closer to five feet off the ground!

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A Blue-Footed Boobie resting on its eggs …

So much to see on these islands that has remained largely undisturbed for thousands of years – an amazing place to explore… a place where you get the curious feeling that time has slowed down… perhaps to better accommodate the pace of the great tortoises.

Two days before I departed the Galapagos, at the end of a long day of work, I took an impromptu hike out to Turtle Beach … a pristine stretch of white sandy beach only accessible by foot. While there, it struck me just how very important it is that places like Turtle Beach be allowed to exist – because it is here that natures still ROARS with that species of timeless beauty that has not yet been compromised or irreversibly transformed by commercial development, excessive tourism or resource extraction.

Here is a little video from that brief respite.

Turtle Beach – Santa Cruz Island – Galapagos

My time up in the Galapagos, early in the morning the day of departure, I took a water taxi out to Bodacious Dream to begin getting her ready to leave. In the course of working, I looked up to see that the two larger boats that we had been moored in between, were now a ways away. It took another minute of stunned disbelief to realize that somehow Bodacious Dream’s mooring had broken free and we were adrift in the harbor… a mere 75 yards from the rocky shoreline! With the help of a sharp team of locals, we quickly got the boat re-moored … but to say this was a close call … would be a bodacious understatement. Read the whole story right here.

Departing a place like the Galapagos … it is impossible not to imagine returning sometime when there is no schedule to keep… when you can wander freely. So it was with some mixed feelings, that Bodacious Dream and I departed the Galapagos on May 7, 2014, bound for Panama and the Panama Canal.

:: Leg 1 = Newport, RI to Cape Town, S.A.
:: Leg 2 Cape Town to  Wellington, New Zealand
:: Leg 3 = Wellington, NZ to the Galapagos Islands  

 :: Remember all our many updates from the water can always be found on the Expedition Blog… where they are filtered by subject and date.

:: And all our Leg 3 photo albums can be found on our BDX Facebook Photo Album Page

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