15th June 2010.
Our last days sail was superb, reaching for 24 hours past Cristobel and on to Santa Cruz, big swell running but cruising at 8 knots, autopilot loving life, beers going down a treat, this is sailing. Dropped our sails and motored into the harbour at Academy Bay and we were completely shocked to see a lit up town on the waters edge, blue lighting along the jetty and ferry wharf. I thought there might be a few shacks or something but this is a eye opener, holy shit. We anchored up away from everyone as the swell was quite large and sweeping into the harbour, there were about 30 yachts and other ships in the harbour as well. Anchor set well in 4 metres and let out 40 metres of chain, congratulating beers followed then off to town to find the harbour master. Found him and his name was Seargent Romero, a very helpful bloke especially having to deal with a dumb Australian who can’t even say hello in Spanish. He pretty much told me we can all come ashore but must clear in tomorrow with an agent, he would also organise an agent for us, sounded good to me. I shot back out to the boat and picked up the others and back in for a feast and beers at Hernans Cafe which is a pretty flash joint.
Back at the boat we called up Dolly Grace and they still had 20 miles to go to Cristobel and they should get to Academy Bay at around sunrise. I reckon they got a shock as they thought they were in front of us, you get that. Its funny as we have a HF radio and a sat phone but it won’t call their number and they don’t have HF so we can’t communicate once we are out of VHF range. You get that.
Dolly Grace mob woke me up at 0600 as they came past to anchor further out than us, they were all excited to be here thats for sure. This was to be a bad place to anchor and a couple of days later when the swell really picked up waves were breaking where they were anchored.
We all went into town on the water taxi, yellow boats, that pick you up from your boat and drop you off at the taxi wharf for 60 cents, we gave them 1 buck and they kept an eye out for you and the boat. On land taxis are white and usually cost 1 dollar to get around town. Our destination after seeing Seargent Romero was our agent, Javier’s place where he goes through the costs associated with our stay in Galapagus. All up it was about $750 USD for Boomerang, Muz, Moe and I which is a bit steep, but who are you going to argue with, if you were staying a bit longer than a few days I am sure it would be worth it. Geez people in Panama were whinging about paying the Kuna $150 a boat to visit San Blas, Galapagus is pretty unique though.
We met Captain Louis off of a Catana 47 called Simpatica and his crew, Davina was a beauty too. She was in on anything going. When you go to Acadaemy Bay on a yacht you will inevitably me Cockaracha, you need anything he will find it, good value and honest. They have really good markets at the top of town, excellent washing services and I found a mechanic who could fix the alternator. Moe and Muz joined Vinnie and Mark and went to Isabella, I stayed with the boat as the swell was getting out of control. Lionel did the same so it was a quiet few days with the boat to myself. Captain Louis and Captain Curly came over for Nachos and beers and to help set up the HF radio. After an hour or so I now had the knack, I could listen to the puddle jump net at 0100 AND 1300 UTC. Learnt how to search for other frequencies but still couldn’t get the pactor fucking modem to work, so it looks like all the subscriptions for sail mail etc are a waste of time for us. Captain Curly was a ripper, he was on a very small catamaran and had an engel fridge, a HF radio and a swag. His cat had started to fall to bits when all the nuts and bolts holding the hulls to the cabin pod came undone, lucky he was onto it or he would have sunk for sure.
The biggest swell hit that arvo so Lionel and I got a taxi over to a wave that we had been watching and what fun we had. I got 2 hooting backhand barrels and just had a ball, the water is freezing though and 1 hour was enough, blue feet, knees and lips. We asked the taxi driver if he had seen any others surf this spot and he laughed and said no way you fucking crazy, so we named the spot diesels coz all you could smell was the exhaust off a big ship anchored up about 50 metres away which was being emptied one barge at a time all day long, amazing, they offload land cruisers and mini trucks onto a barge then drive them off at the land base. Had good tucker with a market style street, with chinese, local and spanish style foods, cold beer and pretty cheap too. Had a meal out on the point at a restaurant that was superb, but expensive, and you could always get something at Hurnans Cafe and the place was a good place to catch up with other yachties and of cause Cockaracha. His fuel delivered to the boat in 18 gallon drums was $3.00 a gallon, the agent wanted $4.50 so it was a no brainer. His mechanic came back with the repaired alternator and I put that all back together so then the shed could be stacked up neatly and Boomerang was looking pretty good. Hit the market with Lionel, I bought heaps of fruit, veges and stuff, Lionel bought some muesli and that was it. Moe and I will be right at least we won’t starve. Javier dropped out our passports so when the guys got back we were free to go.
Met the crew from a yacht called Kittiwake, nice people who would be following us across the Pacific and would be listening in on the PPJ net daily. Captain Louis and Davina left with dodgy ill fitting keels that had been made on the island and then the next day they returned to get them fixed properly, another cat come into harbour with only one rudder after hitting a reef at Isabella, Curly just smiled and waved and came over for drinks when we all piled onto Simpatica, they have got a coffee machine and all the gear. The Dolly Grace was parked next door as it had dragged its anchor the first day there, all the taxi drivers asking me why Boomerang is the only boat facing the shore something which I have no idea about but it was true it just sat there without surging on the swells or anything. I cleaned up my list and was pretty well ready to get going. We all went out for tea and a few drinks down the ritzy end of town, good food and nice looking out onto the bay.
The final morning I had radio lessons with Curly and Louis and then coffees and bacon and eggs and juices at Hurnans. The crews all returned looking burnt out and rooted with tales of climbing a volcano, swimming with sharks and general running amuck, their boat was late which then meant Muz had to get to the airport pretty much the moment he got back, which didn’t happen but we got him in a taxi to the airport with some chick from who knows where. So Muz’s farewell was not that well planned which was a bummer, he flew out to Panama City and then onto USA and back home. God we had some funny times and we all had learnt so much as we went along day by day. Now it was just me and Moe. Horror. Bought some soda water, bicarb soda and some yeast so we could give cooking bread a go. Mollie is not that keen to get going and putting on a bit of a show but it is time to go. A weather report is not much good as it only goes out 7 days and this could take 20 so this will be us against the elements, bring it on.
Dolly grace have got dramas with their anchor, ours come up nicely, Moe wore the Dufus headphones and did a really good job, we meandered around the anchorage saying seeya to everyone while we waited for DG and finally we were off. Great wind, SSW 15 knots and us doing 8 and a bit heading west with a bees dick of south.