Friday, February 27, 2009

Tours in the Gallapagos

So now we have been in the Galapagos for about a week now and our just
starting to plan some tours. We didn't plan tours earlier because we thought
that our agent would help us get an autographo, something that would allow
us to sail around to islands legally. Even though it would cost some money,
we decided that it would be the best choice. Now there are some rules on
getting an autographo and we did everything they needed.

Anyways, our agent lied to us telling us that we could get an autographo and
then came back with nothing done. One thing led to another and we got a
different agent.

Now that we are checked in we have signed up for a day trip to Isabella and
to go diving. We are all going to the island Isabella this Sunday on a
little tour boat to do some cool stuff there. On that tour we will be with
another motor yacht we met called, Carl Lind. They are really cool people
even though we only met the crew and there boat is really cool too.

In Isabella we are supposed to have breakfast and then go do some snorkeling
and shark spotting. After lunch we will take a walk to see some penguins and
flamingos. Then at six PM we get back on the boat to come back to Santa Cruz
for dinner. We are really excited and are told that Isabella is one of the
most visited islands in the Galapagos because of its penguins and volcanoes.

Next we planned a diving tour for Daddy and I. We decided to go next
Wednesday to a spot known for its sharks, manta rays and other big sea life.
I'm really freaked out to see a shark but also so excited.

We just turned on the engines and Mommy and Cole are both trying to tune
Cole's new guitar. Dinner is coming out soon and a movie is planned for
later. Bye!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Galloping to the Galapagos

Hi everyone! We have officially arrived in the Galapagos. We have already
been here 3 days, but Daddy informed me that now we are fully checked in.
First of all our trip was basically 4 days and 5 nights long. If you wanted
to be exact you could argue less but that's the basic idea.
Anyways, when we saw the first island in the Galapagos we were amazed at how
big and green the mountains were. From miles away we could see the island
clearly. As we got closer we started to see other islands and some cool sea
life like puffer fish. Soon we had breakfast and had the anchor out and
ready. Mommy pulled out the video camera and started talking to herself
about the Galapagos. As we were about to round the point and head into the
anchorage we started to see what looked like tires floating in the water.
When one of the tires stuck his head out of the water we realized that they
were really sea turtles! All of a sudden we were surrounded by huge sea
turtles poking their heads out of the water to check us out. Seeing the big
white hull scared them away but some didn't care and we got to see them up
close. Next seals joined the sea turtles and started to jump all around the
boat. Seeing some fins out in front of us and wanting to see a seal, Cole
and I went and sat on the bow with our feet over the edge. As they got
closer we realized that they weren't really seals. At first they looked like
a bunch of little fish. We wanted to see the fish closer up so we leaned
over a bit. As they got closer though we realized that they weren't fish at
all. They were huge manta rays. There was three of them and they must have
been at least 10 feet across. Screaming in surprise, Cole and I pulled our
feet up and started to do our panic dance on the tramp. Soon we calmed down
a bit and pulled ourselves together enough to look over the side and watch
the rays fly through the water. Oh, by the way, the whole time Cole and I
were freaking out Mommy, Daddy and Don were asking us 'what's going on?! Are
you okay?!' and also freaking out. Once we told them everyone frantically
dashed around the boat looking for them. It was quite the sight but it was
so cool to see them.
Anyways, we are now anchored, with two anchors so that we don't hit other
boats in the anchorage. The town is much bigger than we thought with
internet, supermarkets, restaurants, resorts, and ice cream places. We have
already downloaded our Rosetta Stone French lessons onto my computer and
have started French in preparation for French Polynesia.
Yesterday we went to a beach that had really fine sand and huge waves. We
were so happy to find the waves since we haven't seen waves like that for
months. To get there we had to walk about 2 miles from the dock. There was a
really nice little path that lead to the beach. There was basically nobody
there except for a few surfers. It was really nice. Before the beach we had
taken a cab to something called 'the lava tubes'. The lava tubes were made
when lava rolled down the mountains and froze on the outside sooner than the
inside. When walking through the tubes you look up to a really high ceiling,
and walking over big rocks. The tunnel must have been at least a 15 minute
walk through and needed a flashlight. It was so much fun! For lunch we went
to a little place on the street where all the locals go. It was really small
but the food was amazing and cheap. I had rice, chicken and beans. From
lunch we went to a soft ice cream place and then to the beach. For dinner we
decided to go to a place on the water that everyone said was really good.
After waiting a really long time for the water taxi to come we arrived at
the restaurant. Soon we ordered and were just waiting for our food to come.
All of a sudden the head chef came out to tell me that he wouldn't be able
to cook my curry for me but he could do some type of curry instead.
Surprisingly he spoke English and was from Canada. He was really nice and
explained that he was sorry but didn't have the supplies to make Indian
curry that night. Of course, I had only gotten the curry because it sounded
good with the rice, so anything else sounded fine to me. Anyways, a few
minutes later I decided to go to the bathroom to wash the bug spray off my
hands and found a place where I could sit and watch everyone in the kitchen.
After quickly washing my hands I went back to the table to tell everyone
what I had found. Mommy, Cole and I then went to sit and watch them cook.
David, the head cook, didn't mind us watching and even gave us a taste of
the tuna tartar. It was so good! I was so excited for my food to come. Soon
we watched our food be made and then followed our waiter back to the table.
The food was amazing. The curry was really spicy but it was so good! For
desert I had a little piece of all the cakes and a scoop of maracuya
(passion fruit) ice cream. At around 11 at night we were finished and very
content that we had had a wonderful meal. Before we left David came by to
ask us if we like it. Of course we all said yes. Next he asked us if we
wanted to do a special package thing for tomorrow. He told us that the meal
would last 3 hours and we would have 6 courses. We wouldn't have to order,
he would chose what we ate making sure that we got to taste a bunch of
different flavors. Of course, we all said yes.
Tonight we are going back to the restaurant to enjoy a dinner decided by the
cook. I am so excited! We are also going to the Darwin museum to see all
sorts of animals that are only in the Galapagos. We've got to reset the
anchor, bye! Oh wait, I have just been informed that in the past 2 hours we
have picked up the bow anchor, set the bow anchor, set the stern anchor,
picked up the stern anchor, and set the stern anchor. Now we are going to
pick up both anchors and set the bow. Oh yeah, and it's 10:00 in the
morning! Oh wait it gets better....Mommy is going to wash clothes while we
set the anchor! Okay, Bye!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Swimming In the Pacific

Hi everyone! So today is our fourth day on our trip and is really calm and
peaceful (other than our really loud engines). There is absolutely no wind
and hasn't been for a couple days. No wind though means calm seas and being
able to read and play games without getting seasick. It also means being
able to stop the boat and go for a swim. We got the idea of swimming in the
middle of the Pacific Ocean from our friends on Lightfoot, a boat we met
before we left in Panama. I don't remember if I told you about them, but
they have two kids on board, Jes a ten year old boy and Haley a thirteen
year old girl. They are really cool and are doing about the same trip that
we are just a little faster. Anyways, since they have a tighter time
schedule than we do they had to leave Panama as early as possible and have
been giving us info about the passage while they went. One thing they told
us was that it would get really calm and you'd be able to stop the boat.
They also said that the water was very nice and if we got a chance we should
jump in for a swim. Well yesterday we did just that. The water was an
amazing blue that seemed to go on forever and sparkled with the sun. There
was a little bit of a current, but the boat went along with it too so we had
no problem. Mommy was the first to jump in and said that it was really
refreshing and not too cold. Hearing this I jumped in and then Don and Cole.
Oh by the way, Don has decided to stay with us until Tahiti! We're all
really happy that he could stay and Cole and I decided that now that Don has
stayed with us, Carla should too (watch out Carga, we have plans set up on
when you and Mike are going to come and how much fun we are going to have!).
We swam around for a while and Daddy took some pictures. Since he had taken
a shower the day before he decided not to swim and to save us some water.
Since the engines were off it was silent and you couldn't see anything or
anyone. I decided to jump off the bow while Don was using the underwater
camera to take some pictures of the boat from the water. He was near the bow
and I was still too freaked to be swimming in the middle of nowhere and
couldn't see anyone. It was really fun for a while but there were these
little things in the water that sting so soon we got out and all took
showers on the back transom. It was about mid-afternoon and so soon we all
air-dried and had a snack of chips and salsa (something I had been craving
for the whole trip). The rest of the day I spent reading and playing DS. The
basic day on a passage that's not rough. Today I finished the series of
books called the Young Wizard Series. It was a great series and I'm going to
try to find the 8th book on the internet if we get any. I also finished the
game Mario Party on DS with the help of Cole (I wouldn't get anywhere
without the help of Cole on my DS. I've even made a few strategies on how to
get him to do really good and help me beat the game!). I also did a bunch of
school and should be done with 6th grade and onto 7th grade math in April!
Well, we just finished a really good dinner of hamburgers and French fries
on the grill pan and I'm being called to wash the dishes (Cole and I wash
the dishes every night for dinner). Gotta go, bye!

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

To the Galapagos!

So right now we are underway at the end of our second day sailing to the
Galapagos. It has been beautiful sailing weather so far but a few hours ago
the wind died and we had to turn on the motors. This wasn't a surprise
though since this is what the weather is said to always be like in the
Pacific: no wind. There still is a little bit of left over swells so the
blog might be quick so that my stomach doesn't flip but I think we'll be
good. Anyways, the day before we left Daddy was looking at the weather and
noticed that there was a great window to go and that we should skip the Las
Perlas. Since we had already been to those islands and knew that there
wouldn't be another window like this for weeks we had our last meal ashore
and left the next morning. The first couple hours of the trip we had no
wind but soon it picked up to about 25 to 30 knots. The seas weren't too
comfortable but we were going fast and covering lots of ground. When we woke
up this morning (believe me when I tell you that you get so messed up on
time while underway you can't tell if its' midnight or 4 AM) we found that
the wind had died a little bit and according to the weather charts, would
keep going down until the wind just disappeared. At the moment all I could
think about was 'yay! No more big waves!' but I guess other people thought
differently. Daddy said that it wasn't good that the wind would go away
because we'd have to motor the whole rest of the way and now that I think
about it, no wind means really hot. Well the day went by slowly and the wind
did eventually die. I think that everything that we've done so far. Coming
up though we are going to cross the Equator! I'm really excited but we don't
know how we're going to celebrate yet. Well I've gotta go, bye!

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day everyone! So yesterday was pretty calm. Except for Cole doing his tests we didn't do much school. Since we had a problem with our dinghy engine we had a bunch of people working on it for a while. They came on Friday, but since it was Friday the 13th they weren't very productive and had to come back yesterday. Luckily they did finish and everything is fine. I'm trying really hard to finish this huge composition project for school since it needs internet I have been spending whole days on the computer. It's not so bad though since composition is my favorite subject and the internet connection here is really fast. Anyways, the restaurants always have really loud music and it drives you nuts but it's in English which makes it okay. I know, this blog is really random. Anyways, I don't really know what else to write about. bye!


Monday, February 9, 2009

Isla Del Rey

Hi! Right now we are bouncing up and down on the waves going about 7 knots
with 16 knots of wind. We are headed back to Panama to re-provision and fuel
up for the trip to the Galapagos. We just left Isla Del Rey in the Las
Perlas this morning. A few days ago we decided to hop in the dinghy and
explore the 'amazing river with waterfalls'. Since it sounded so much fun
from what our friends told us we decided to explore before we left for
Panama. So we all jumped in the dinghy and started to motor over to the
entrance. After maneuvering through shallow water and floating logs we found
the river. It was a beautiful, wide river with mangroves on either side and
all sorts of birds above you. Soon the bees started to attack and we had to
keep going since Don is allergic to them. After motoring a little farther
the river started to get more shallow and skinny but the bugs went away
(that could be because Mommy killed us and the dinghy with bug spray but who
knows). Anyways the surroundings soon became trees with amazing roots that
spread from the tree ten feet off the ground. We kept looking for monkeys
and sloths but only saw a few birds. Soon we came to a curve in the river
where we had a choice. One part of the river had a log lying across it but
just enough space to pass it, and the other was a bit tight but wider that
the first path. Since the river had now become really shallow and tight it
wasn't really living up to its name. Since we all wanted to see the
waterfalls we took the more open path. Soon we came to the end of the water
and ran into multiple logs. It was time to try the other path. After passing
the log we found another dead end. Oh well we thought. After motoring back
to the boat Cole and I pulled out all of our water toys (surf board, water
skies, stuff like that) and attached the wind surfer to the back of the
dinghy hoping that it would pull both Cole and I sitting down on it. After
multiple tries we had to paddle back to the boat and grab the water skies.
Since the boots on the skies are a little too big for me I had no trouble
putting them on and was soon flying across the water. I had so much fun
going outside the wake until my foot came out of the boot and we had to go
back to the boat to readjust it. Since it didn't go any tighter I did a
couple more circles of the anchorage and then went back to the boat to get
the surf board. Lucky for me, Cole wasn't in the mood for water sports and
so I basically had the rest of the afternoon. Since scurfing isn't my
specialty I decided to knee board. On my first lap around I performed a
beautiful 360 sideways spin off the board and splashed into the water
laughing my butt off. Daddy and Cole soon circled back so that I could grab
the tow rope and they were laughing pretty hard too. Soon my knees got tired
and Daddy wanted to water ski. In the hopes that the dinghy had enough power
to pull him out of the water he pulled on the skies and put Cole at the
wheel. Sadly, our dinghy isn't strong enough and so we had to put everything
away for the day. It was time for dinner. Well our speed has increased since
I started writing this but so have the waves. If I keep going I'm gonna make
my stomach flip, bye!

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Panama Canal

Oh my goodness! I haven't written a blog on the Panama Canal! Well, we are
now in the Las Perlas islands and just anchored after and beautiful sail and
catching a fish. It's really nice here and tomorrow we are going to explore
a river that's supposed to be really cool in the dinghy.

So after sitting in the marina for a few more days after Costa Rica,
we quickly motored through all the huge ships to a little anchorage right
outside the canal called the flats. We waited here for a couple hours for
our adviser who would stay on the boat during the transit and help us get
through the locks and lake. Before leaving the marina that morning two of
our friends, Frank on Anemos and Andre on Tigre, as line handlers. They
would tie, loosen, and tighten the lines as we went up and down in the
locks. They would also stay onboard for the whole transit (two days) and
then take a taxi back to the marina where they would return to their boats.
Once the adviser arrived we served everyone dinner and then made our way to
the first pair of locks called the Gatun Locks. After finishing dinner our
adviser told us that we would be rafted to another catamaran and there would
be a ship in-front of us in the lock at once. Soon we came close enough to
the other cat to raft up and we were soon waiting for the ship to tie up so
that the two of us could also enter the locks. The other cat had three guys
onboard who were doing a delivery to Tahiti from South Africa. Why they came
two thirds around the world instead of just one we have no idea, but they
were really nice and the skipper and Daddy communicated well and neither
boat had the slightest ding. When we entered the lock the people on the
edges of the locks through down monkey fists (a type of knot with a really
heavy ball in the center of it) to the boat. Everyone tied the bigger blue
lines that were provided by the canal to the monkey fist and then the people
on the edge of the locks pulled in the lines. They were then tied onto
really huge cleats and the lock doors started to close. It must have taken
at least ten minutes to close the huge doors. They must have been uhh, at
the very least, 20 feet thick. They were huge! Once the doors were closed
water started to push us upwards. The water enters the lock entirely on
gravity. Of course you might think "Sure, how else?" until you see it. It
got really loud and the water made tiny whirlpools while it shot upwards.
The entire lock was soon filled to the top and we were getting ready to
motor out to the nest lock. This process repeated twice. Once we left the
last lock we had raised over 80 feet and we now floating on the top of the
Continental Divide. Since it was already 10 PM and we weren't allowed to go
any farther, the two boats de-rafted and started for the huge moorings that
we would tie up to for the night. A boat for our adviser soon came and he
jumped on, advisers don't stay on the boat for the night. Everyone was soon
in bed. The next morning everyone woke up to the sound of screeching howler
monkeys. After a large breakfast we were greeted by our next adviser who
would lead us through the last part of the canal. Today's agenda included
crossing the Gatun Lake, and going through the last three locks. After that
we would enter the Pacific. Cole and I both prepared for a long motor across
the lake and stuck ourselves to the roof of the house. Soon we started to
see some trees sticking up through the water where they had been drowned
when the lake was made. After a few hours. We entered the Gaillard Cut. This
cut was known to be quite dangerous for large ships because of its' sharp
turns, but being a little boat it was no problem. After hours of motoring
Mommy soon brought up lunch and we rafted back up with our friends on the
Moorings Cat. So far we had been really lucky with our advisers because most
people say that they can be greedy and not very helpful and both our
advisers had been really nice and very knowledgeable on the canal.
Unfortunately though, the other cat did not have a great adviser for this
section for the canal. We did find it pretty strange though when he all of a
sudden smelled food on Zen and so he invited himself over. Mommy being the
all generous cook offered him some lunch. Since this was exactly what he
wanted he quickly agreed. Since Mommy had no more left when he asked for
more he got Cole's leftovers. Anyways, we were soon in the last three locks
with a small powerboat in-front of us and a ship in back. Going down,
everyone said, was much easier than going up and the doors were soon
entering to the Pacific. Once outside the locks we de-rafted with the other
cat and both set off for either the anchorage or mooring field. We had to go
to the mooring field since it had a dock and availability to taxis. Although
all of our friends were at the anchorage and said that there weren't any
moorings left, we decided to go and check it out anyways. There ended up to
be plenty of free moorings and so after dropping off Frank and Andre we
picked up a mooring. We didn't go to the anchorage because there was a pool,
restaurants and hotel with a TGI Fridays inside it at the mooring field.
While we were there we ended up meeting some people on a the exact same
boat as us, just a few feet smaller. They ended up to be a really nice
couple who built the boat themselves. It was definitely the most beautiful
homemade boat I have ever seen with an unbelievable finish. We did end up
being able to visit our friends in the anchorage before we left for a little
island only an hour or two away. A day later we left for the Las Perlas and
anchored in a beautiful little cove with a really nice beach in dinghy and
kayak distance. Oh! I forgot to tell you that we bought a three person pink
kayak from our friends on Galivanter a couple days before we left. Cole,
Mommy and I love it but Daddy says that it's way too heavy. He also said
that we're going to get rid of it if we don't use it for a long time, but I
think he likes it too. On our sail to a different anchorage today we caught
a really big tuna and will be having fish tonight. Don is a really big help
on the boat and is really great to have around. We all hope that he'll come
to the Galapagos with us. Mmmm, Mommy must be cooking down in the galley
because it smells so good up here which might mean that we eat soon. Gotta
go, bye!