After the rough Caribbean Sea comes the peaceful Pacific. That’s also the way it was for us, at least on our day trip to Las Perlas, a group of islands in the Gulf of Panama. There we met our friends from Pelizeno, Raftkin, La Cigale and Dol’Selene. In the evening we discussed together again the crossing to Galapagos based on Grib Files. It was clear to all of us: we have a good weather situation for the next two days with 20 knots of wind from the northeast.
Then we have to try to get south through the ITC to possibly benefit from a small left over of the Southeast trades. We agreed that everyone would send a small update of the position and conditions via satellite e-mail every morning at 9 clock, so everyone could compare the real situation with the latest Grib Files. The next morning we sailed off in a pleasant 15 knots breeze. The wind and waves were increasing during the day, so we sailed the night under Genoa in up to 30 knots. That’s not how we expected the Pacific to be :=). Over the next few days the wind dropped more and more and we learned from the other boats in front of us that they were partly using the engine. With us, however, the wind was always strong enough and we could drive through the ITC without any thunderstorm. The forecast changed and where there was total lull before a slight south wind came up and we could drive nicely upwind with the sails a bit loose. The group e-mails were always fun to read. Everyone started to send a little update in the evening as well, with daily impressions, records, successes and failures while fishing. Brian and Gail from Dol’Selene explained the procedure you do when crossing the equator the first time.
An experienced so called “Shellback” or the skipper takes over the role of Neptune with his crown and trident. The inexperienced “Polywogs” then have to do an unpleasant job and drink a special drink. We adapted the whole procedure a bit to our crew :=). After crossing the equator early in the morning we had drinks and chips. Of course, also for Neptune. And because it was so fun we made another crossing back and forth. Lukas, disguised as Neptune, drew the world map on a large grapefruit and then halved it along the equator. So we could squeeze the two halves and compare the taste of the southern hemisphere with the northern hemisphere.
The next day we arrived on the Galapagos, after 7 days and 900 nautical miles, and without engine assistance. We were really lucky with the weather, despite of many other reports of days of calm. Shortly after we dropped the anchor, our agent with the authorities came on board.
We had told him beforehand via satellite e-mail our ETA. While we did the paperwork on board, a diver checked the underwater. Everything went smoothly and after an hour the authorities left. With a permit you can stay in Galapagos for 20 days and only in one port. This permit can only be obtained through an agent to be contacted a few weeks in advance by e-mail. We paid $ 1500 for it. For another $ 300-500 you can apply for a so-called autographo a few months before. This allows you to anchor for up to 3 months in several bays. We also met sailors who came to Galapagos without a permit. In the end, they had to pay the same amount as us, but only got a few days to stay. We can recommend our agent, Javier of Yacht Gala (firstname.lastname@example.org), especially because he speaks English well. Not many people speak English in Galapagos.