Malpelo Island

10th June 2010

We first spotted Malpelo Island at 1630 and all you could see was a lump on the horizon and as we approached it just rose higher and higher out of the ocean, Muz was kept busy with the fishing and he caught a filthy tuna which we bled and put on ice in the new esky for later. We could make out a mast so got on the blower to Dolly Grace and was informed that they had members of the Columbian navy, immigration and parks and wildlife aboard but all was good. We finally made it just on dark, Malpelo is not where it should be on the raymarine charts, its about a kilometre out to the northwest, first time that has happened. DSC00817 Tried to raft up with Dolly Grace but ripped one of their fittings off the deck so bugger that, it hit Muz on the hand and looked like it hurt, we just drifted apart but now the guys on DG had seen Mollie so over to Boomerang they flocked, photos after photos, beers too but they were a happy mob. As they were going to leave they asked if we could toe them around the corner of the island as it was pitch black by then. A rope hanging off the zodiac got caught around one of our props, so in I go with one of them to untangle it, we had our flood light shining over the side to see and just as we finished a huge shark swam into our field of vision, I shit myself and come out of that water and onto the step in one very frantic move. Once the excitement calmed down a bit, DG calling us wondering what was going on, we set off towing them as they just continuously shot off flares so we could see the island and the couple of stragglers off the eastern end. They then got their ship to turn on a floodlight which lit the horizon, they all piled into the dinghy and waved farewell, then the dinghy conked out, then they had to remove the cowl and get and old piece of rope to wind around the flywheel to restart it. Eventually they got under way and we just drifted for the rest of the night and in the morning found we had only gone a couple of miles. Muz filleted the tuna and  we had the most awesome sashimi, mouthwatering.

We all set about the task of fixing Cumulus’s autopilot, although it was decided to just glue the rudder shaft coupling, I had my cordless drill, taps and grub screws but deemed not required, reckon Dave wished he had of gone the next step as he and Gay hand steered for days when the glue let go later down the track. We said our goodbyes to them as they were heading straight to Hiva Oa and we all hoped to catch up there.  We went for a dive off the end of Malpelo, crystal clear water and the deeper you went the bigger and more colourful the fish were, Moe came in which was pretty gutsy, Muz seen something big and wasn’t real keen on swimming back out to the boat so we picked him up off the rock.DSC00822 Besides the sea life there is birdlife with the cliffs being home to thousands of birds, brown boobies we reckoned. Further along the south western edge there is signs of human habitation with a large Colombian flag flying by some buildings. We just waved and headed west into a shitty 15kns south westerly. Lots of banging and crashing but bearable for everyone. Our heading was not going to help us much unless we wanted to stay in the Northern hemisphere so during the night we would drop the sails, start the Yanmahs and head due south at 6 kns, chuck some movies on, have a cook up and relax until sunrise and then set the sails and point as high as we could all day and do the same again. We had lost contact with the other boats so had no idea of our progress but it worked for us on our longest passage so far. We pretty much did this for the next couple of days but as we neared the equator the swell dropped and the wind turned to the south night and day and was enjoyed immensely by us all, we were scooting along doing 6 to 8 knots with reefed main and jib.DSC00833

We crossed the equator at 0743 on Monday the 14/06/2010, in fact we did it a few times to make sure, cracked a bottle of Moet then left Moe in charge doing a constant 8.8 knots in 12kns of wind, good westerly current now. Our Bouyweather 7 day forecast runs out today and we are amazed it is exactly right again. This is really the first time we have used bouyweather other than the daily weather reports so was really impressed with the results.

The last couple of days have gone really quick, even Malpelo seems like ages ago. In great winds and sitting on 8 knots all the time, Muz killed the batteries with the microwave but they seem to be coming good now, bloody good quiche though. We were surrounded by dolphins, hundreds of them, little dudes, we have had 4 birds flying with us since we left Malpelo, now we have 6, don’t know what they do all day but at night they fly close to the boat and catch squid and shit on the boat, if they weren’t our mates you would have got pissed off with them. Also starting to come across frigate birds as well, land is coming,DSC00860

Pacific Puddle Jump Appertiser

7th June 2010

We have just had a pretty amazing week, left Panama City after only 26 hours there. We were chasing the Dolly Grace which left about 24 hours in front of us. The boys looked like they couldn’t wait to get going. Bit of a bummer as it is the cheapest place to buy anything so far. I will spend more time there next lap. In the time we were there we had excellent Lebbonese food, hubbly bubbly, got most of the shopping done, even took a list but still forgot stuff and had a look around the City. Filled a shopping trolley to bulging and my cards didn’t work and the miserable cow on the till got security over, they are soldiers with M16’s, to make sure  didn’t  try to leave without paying, fat chance of that. Moe’s Spanish didn’t help much, so by the time I had returned from an ATM we were back in the que and had to wait for the next person , who had about the same amount of stuff,  go through the same ordeal. He was South American so it was all cool for him and we just had to wait. Felt like strangling the bitch. First bad thing to really happen.

So we got back in taxi and got out of there. Loaded the boat said goodbye to the marina mob and the Lebo restaurant mob and got going. Fuel cost $2.88/gallon, from a marina which is cheap as, although it cost $3.50/foot to stay there. At least I got to sneak some power for the night from a power point that was just flopping around on the fuel jetty. Have to keep the batteries charged but couldn’t run the AC. Come to think of it the check out mole could have been bad Karma for the power. Better not do that again. From now on it is all 240 volt so not much point anyway. We set sail at 1500 and passed heaps of ships queing for The panama Canal and headed out past the Las Olas Islands in a 15kn Southerly. Caught a Bonito and chucked it back then sailed into the night. We stayed closer to the coast and didn’t have to deal with all the ships, plenty of them going both ways.DSC00814

We made Punta Mala by the morning and then headed out into the Pacific proper. Goodbye Gulf of Panama and the Americas. All had been fine till then but once out in open waters the wind changed to SW, the one wind the bibles author Jimmy Cornell reckons to avoid, set in on us. No point sailing so started up the motors and set of at 6kns to Isle Malpelo close to 400nm away. Pretty bloody horrible with heaps of banging and stuff but we maintained our course and speed for 3 days. We had the fishing line in with a new lure when all of a sudden it went mental. I grabbed it , Moe grabbed the strap on rod holder and the best fun for this leg of the trip happened. All of a sudden this fish jumped out of the water and it had a great big sail on it’s back, could not believe it. The video footage has it all. It jumped out of the water shaking it’s head over and over, dived and took line whenever you thought it was tiring, trucking good fun. I don’t know how long it went for but it was a while, my left arm was aching from holding the rod, we got it near the boat only to have it take off again, unbelievable strength but it finally wore out. Murray  got hold of its beak and we dragged it out of the water onto the steps and took the hook out. It wasn’t coming out without  that was for sure. It was black and then it went purple and shimmery than the purple moved down it body. We didn’t really measure it but we reckon 6 to 7 foot plus the beak which was easily another foot. Got a couple of photos and we put it back in the water, Murray holding its beak and I got the sail flapping, it took ages for it to start flapping its tail but finally it did and we let it go and it flapped its tail as it swam away. It was a ripper. After the fun we kept on motoring but every time the reel started making its noise everyone goes for it now.

After 3 days we picked up Dave and Gay, some people we had met in Colon on the radio and had a yack, we changed from VHF as they were miles away from us to the new HF radio which had not been tested at sea. We could pick them up easy but needed to get some sqelch happening. Read the book and sorted that for the next time. They had problems with their autopilot and had seen the boys the day before. Having to steer all the way would be horror, poor buggers. We kept in touch with them to Malpelo which we looked like reaching at around nightfall. The reel went off and Murray was on to it in a flash and he hauled in a yellow fin Tuna. It looked like a missile, bled it straight away and stuck it in the esky. First thing to go in the esky besides ice. When we saw the island for the first time upped the revs to 2400rpm and hoped to get there earlier to try to find a anchorage for the night. It is a huge piece of rock in the middle of nowhere. Little did we know that it has sheer faces going 10 metres below the surface that drop to 30 metres about 10 from  the island and is pretty much inaccessible by boat.DSC00817

We stayed well clear of the island and tried to raft up with the boys on the now newly named Jolly Disgrace. One of their fittings ripped out of their deck so we canned that idea. They had the Columbian navy and fisheries on board and the boys suggested we hide the fish. We pushed the esky under the table, not really expecting them to come aboard when all of a sudden they want to and are climbing on. We didn’t know how far the fishery boundary was , in fact we had no idea there was a boundary, so I asked the fisheries dude and it was 20 mile. We caught the tuna a bit closer than that but we all hoped no one would see it. It’s tail was sticking out of the esky and it was just under the table everyone was milling around. They must have taken a hundred photos of Moe and a few of Murray and I but they didn’t see the fish. They climbed all over our boat then got their dinghy anchor line around our prop, not happy, so I jumped in with torches from above and undid it. Then they wanted us to drop them off, pitch black so they started letting off flares then they ordered the ship to put on the big floodies and once we were in calmer water took off. They had to use a piece of rope to start the outboard, Colombian Navy are a bit dodgy. We drifted back around the island and went to sleep. Pretty weird just drifting but in the morning we had only gone a mile or so. We checked the island out in the morning and had a dive, specy place and I am sure it has been on TV. They have a rare Boobie that lives there.DSC00860

We left there into the same wind but made reasonable headway and finally it changed to SSW and we could point to Galapagus. We had 3 days of joy sailing and crossed the equator at 0845 and cracked a bottle of Moet. We kept sailing to Galapagus and got there on nightfall but managed to anchor up with no dramas. We are on Santa Cruz Island. We went in and had a look around, had some food and beers and went back and crashed.

The boys rolled up at 0600 and were keen to get the paperwork done, didn’t open till 0900 but we had to go ashore and wait there. Got stitched up by the agent for a bit not to bad. This place is like Rotto and Airlie Beach, you can go on dives, cruises, charters you name it. The guys all decided on Isabella but on the day the swell was huge with really big waves breaking 200 metres form the boat so I decided to stay with the boat. It was amazing seeing the taxi and work boats handle it. We went and surfed that reef and what a hoot. Full stand up backhand barrels and the taxi drivers reckon we are the first to surf it, they also reckon that it had never been as big swells into the harbor before. We surfed for 1 and a half hours and had to come back as we were freezing. Cold water here. We named it Diesels because that was the smell coming from the ship about 100 metres away. The others went to Isabella and have done things like swim with hammerheads, dive lava tunnels, climb volcanoes and other things I am sure. Will fill you in next time. Murray heads home back to work and we head South for 2 days to get to 5 degrees south then west in 15 kns SE we hope, that’s the plan anyway. 17 days and we should be in the Marquesas Group.Seeya.