Friday, April 4, 2014

Enjoying Galapagos Animals & Visiting Boaters

Today we went swimming with the seals, penguins, stingrays, fish, boobies, and pelicans.  Not sure if I mentioned it, but these islands are actually quite nice.  We are mainly doing just the free stuff around the harbor, but are thinking about going for some diving with the giant mantas, and the hammerheads.  They have things quite controlled/restricted around here.  Fortunately though they have allocated quite a few areas as free areas where you can go and do what you please without a guide.  But anything outside the harbor requires both a guide, and a local boat. The new port captain is being quite tough still, as he hasn't learned the fine art of taking bribes.  The penguins are about 14 inches long, and when you dive with them they are easily approached and you can reach out you hand and touch them. 

Pretty much all the family boats are here, and what a lovely group of people.  This is a group of 'non-broken' families, all with fantastic stories, and beautiful lives.  There is the Swedish fellow, Shell, who lost his hand when he was disposing of bombs that he had made when he was a youngster, and a treasure trove of other sailors, to brighten any conversation!

Until next time,

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tsunami Events According to Captain Courage

So there we were causally wrapping up the day, when this panicked woman’s voice comes over the radio stammering, "T-t-there is a tsunami coming!" This was followed by radio silence. Then she comes on again and says in the same voice now quaking with panic and fear, "They just came in to the restaurant and said we have to leave that a tsunami is coming.  I don't know about the rest of the fleet but we are leaving right now!”  Again this warning appeared to go unheeded as nobody said anything.  After a few minutes, boats started to call one another to see if anyone knew anything.  And I sent out a message to the family requesting info on the tsunami.  Over the next 10 minutes or so the fleet came alive with questions. There was no real panic, just radio traffic asking what other boats/people were doing, and making plans. Then the message from the port captain came saying that everyone had to leave the anchorage immediately and go 20 miles south. That was all the push the fleet needed, and everyone started asking not if the other boats were leaving, but rather how far out they were going.  By then we had received email confirmation that there was a 5.5 to 6.5 foot tsunami coming from the SSE. So we would receive no protection from the island. It was decided to go out to 100 feet of water for the night. Shannon and Cassidy had the kayaks and dingy up 'muy rapido' and the exit from the dark, reef infested anchorage, was quiet and swift. It is nice to be anchored at the edge of the fleet when you are trying to get your anchor up.

Most boats decided to motor out the required 20 miles. We went out 2 miles, anchored, and watched a movie. Most of the fleet has AIS and when I checked their speed I was impressed to see that they were all going over 7 knots. Pretty impressive!!

After the movie we could still hear the other boats talking, and they were indicating that the port was still closed per the port captain.  But as I said the movie was over, and it was past tsunami time, so we pulled anchor, and went back to port completely blacked out.  On the shore I could see the cop cars with all their lights on patrolling the city, so we remained 'lights out' and went to sleep.

Good times!!!

A Day at the Farm

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Last Night's Adventure

We were settling in at almost 7 pm last night when a call on the radio asked if anyone could confirm or deny a tsunami warning. A boater onshore had heard a rumor and was quite concerned. We sent out Sailmails to family in the states with Internet. Other boaters were doing different searches also to learn more.

Shortly thereafter we heard the official Port Captain "emergency" call to evacuate the harbor immediately, go 20 nautical miles out to at least 100 meters of water deep. They anticipated the wave hitting in 2.5 to 3 hours. Reports from home confirmed that there was an 8.2 magnitude earthquake off the shore of Chile, so we pulled up our kayaks and dinghy and headed out for deeper water. 

There was quite some stir and hubbub going on in the harbor as everyone made sure everyone else had been notified, dinghy's going up, anchors going up, etc. It was an orderly departure, but a mass exodus at the same time. Based on prior tsunamis, I'd much rather be on a boat at sea than onshore!! One boat was not responding. They must have been onshore without their radios on. He later came into contact and it turns out that the police onshore were evacuating town. 

They obviously weren't letting people down to the water and back to their boats. So, the mother and 3 kids went with the evacuation plan in town and went inland to sleep in a shelter, but the husband and crew member slipped past security, ran for the dock, grabbed their dinghy and got their boat out of the harbor also. Nice move. I bet they had more excitement than anyone else. We went out and anchored, most people continued out as far and fast as they could go for those 2-3 hours. They traveled at around 7 knots, so would just barely make the recommended distance by 3 hours. One boat was traveling at 9.9 knots leaving me to conclude two things - 1) they are a fast boat!! 2) they must have been scared and running full motors! One boat I know had been waiting all day for their ZARPE (exit paperwork from the government/port captain to say you left in good standing). They were calling for it during the evacuation with no success. Rumor is they left last night, haven't seen them with all the returning boats this morning. Hope they have a nice trip and no problems on the other side checking in since they chose to not make a big round trip to pick up their paperwork.

Later reports indicated that we were expecting 5.5 to 6.5 foot waves. No problem, we were in over 100 feet of water, that size wave won't break or cause any issues. At 9:30 pm, we pulled up anchor and at 10 pm we headed in. All was well, nothing detectable, even in town fortunately. Glad they sent the warning, seemed very efficient and successful way to notify people. We got some sleep last night, other boats that went out and stayed out didn't fare as well, but they are fine, just tired.

We had a nice school morning reviewing where Chile is and what a tsunami is. Kids were quite interested which always makes school easier. We also learned to count to 10 in French, yes, no, hello, hi, and how are you. We’re off to a good start in French for the kids (I hope). They've picked up a little Spanish, but I think they can do better. If we go to French Polynesia with some language skills, they can try to communicate. With no skills, they didn't really try, just depended on us to translate. So, new plan in French speaking, we will arrive with a subset of words on which to get by and expand!

I see incoming emails with more info about the tsunami in the queue, but haven't been able to get Sailmail to download it yet. I'll try again while I send this message.


Evening of April 1, 2014

The port captain here issued an evacuation warning for the harbor. 

We and our buddy boats have evacuated and gone to deeper water. We heard wave height of 5.5 to 6.5, so aren't worried. In deeper waters, that's nothing. In shallow waters, that can be a problem for sure!! So, thanks for the info, enjoy hearing about it since we don't have Internet! How is Chile faring? Sounds like the CNN reports were unconcerned, but that is a big earthquake and close to land!

So thank you for the info, we are in great shape, anchored in over 100 feet of water, so a 6-foot swell is unlikely to cause us any notice.

Had a nice hike up the Sierra Negra Volcano today, 10 miles round trip, very interesting and nice. It was even cool with overcast, fog, and a cool breeze. 

Unexpected and very pleasant weather!! No amazing wildlife spotted, but cool lava formations.

We have been told 2.5 - 3 hours for waves to hit us here, so around 10 pm our time we figure we are in the clear. Will probably stay anchored out all night, then go back in the morning, but were supposed to go on a ferry tomorrow morning at 6 am to Santa Cruz (probably Courage and Cassidy) to check out another island and use their ATM as there is not an ATM on this island and we need more money to pay port captain expenses, etc.

Talk with you soon,

April 1st - No April Fool's Joke

It is 7pm local time here. There is a Tsunami warning. We have 3 hours. We are being told we need to leave.

“(CNN) -- An 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northern Chile on Tuesday, generating a tsunami, authorities said. A tsunami warning was in effect for Chile, Peru and Ecuador. A tsunami watch was issued for Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.”

We have moved out to 125 feet of water, and have anchored.
Thank you all for the info.

We will be hitting the sack!
Good night,

Monday, March 31, 2014

Kids Enjoying Galapagos Wildlife

Kids with Sea Lions

Cassidy with Iguana

Valiant Fascinated with Iguana

Watching Swimming Penguins

Watching Dolphins

Sign you don't see everyday -
Iguana Crossing, Drive Slowly

Fish for Dinner & Hitch Hikers

The Heavy Tuna

Kids Dissecting Leftover Tuna

Tag-along Booby Bird

Hitch-hiking  Bird

Along for the Ride

Integrity with Stow-away Squid

Crossing the Equator