Sugar Shack at Dawn on the Pacific

18-Day Passage: Galapagos to Chile

This passage from Galapagos to Chile was our second biggest passage.  The first being across the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands to St. Lucia.  Matt and I have done several shorter passages by ourselves, but they were all under 700nm (or 6-8 days).  This journey is about 1700nm as the crow flies and is scheduled to take us 14-15 days.  Unfortunately, this passage is a beat.  What does this mean?  We will get beaten up on the way to Chile and can’t go “as the crow flies”.

As you know, a motor boat can go directly into the wind if they have enough fuel for the entire journey.  As a sailboat, we tack back and forth using the wind.  Because the wind was pointing directly on to our nose, we ended up going 800nm out of our way – to get to our destination.

During the entire trip, we had a heading of 32(s) and 44(p).  Translated for non-boat people: 32 degrees apparent wind angle on starboard tack or 44 degrees apparent wind angle on port.  Beating into the wind and waves the entire way made for a bit of a rough ride.

STATS:

  • Departed Thursday, 13 December 2018 at 0845.
  • Total Miles Traveled: 2,608
  • Max Speed:11.4
  • Average Speed: 6.0
  • Average Wind Speed: 15-18kt
  • Arrived: Tuesday, 1 January 2019 at 0400 (local time)
  • Total Travel Time: 18 days
Heading out from Galapagos to Chile

Heading out from Galapagos to Chile

ROUTINE:

With limited space, you tend to get into a routine.  Eat, sleep, shift work, read. Rinse and Repeat.  Not much you can do on a boat underway, so you eat, sleep, shift work, read. Rinse and repeat.

Of course, you have daily sail changes to adjust for lack of wind, big gusts, or squalls.  But those take all of 10-15 minutes from start to finish.  You get into a habit of cleaning the deck, coiling the lines, and general up keep. We reefed each night for bigger gusts, as they usually occur between 2300-0400 when you can’t see anything, and you are bone tired.

PASSAGE SHIFTS:

  • Sally:  1800-2100 and 0600-0900
  • Christine: 1500-1800 and 0300-0600
  • Matt:  12n-3p and 1200-0300
  • Ron: 2100-2400 and 0900-1200

Everyone is awake at odd hours so you rest when you can.  We did a lot of this:

Nap, sleep, rest, repeat

Nap, sleep, rest, repeat

We did some of this: reading and planning.  Matt stretched out on the boom a few times to adjust our reefing lines.

Entertaining ourselves...

Entertaining ourselves…

As you can tell from the photos, it was cold and wet.  We did lots of this…

Shift work

Shift work

FISH AND SEA LIFE:

On our first day out, we caught a huge wahoo.  Unfortunately, we were going too fast and were not able to slow the boat down before the bugger broke the swivel and got away.  About an hour later, we had a huge marlin sneak up behind the boat to take our teaser away from us – he had a field day trying to get rid of that hook.  First day, 0 for 2.

Catch and release

Catch and release

Believe it or not, those were our only fish encounters.  Not counting the tons and tons of dead flying fish and squid that landed on the deck each night.  It was a morning routine to bury them at sea and clean the deck and tramp.

We did see a few pods of dolphins but for some reason they did not want to play with us. It was the birds that kept us company most days.  We saw a lot of beautiful birds, boobies and sea birds.

Boobies on the crossing

Boobies on the crossing

SHIPS AT SEA:

Remarkably, we did not see a lot of other ships considering we were at sea for 18 days.  On day 3 we saw three barges, day 6 we saw 3 barges from China, and day 8 we saw one more barge.  That was the extent of our ship sightings…strange, right?

First barge sighting on day 3

First barge sighting on day 3

We celebrated Christmas on board with a tree and gingerbread cookies.

Christmas at Sea

Christmas at Sea

COOL HAPPENINGS:

We were blessed to see meteor showers for the first several nights.  Each evening brought loads and loads of falling stars to wish upon.

We had lots of beautiful, breath taking sunrises and sunsets.  Including one beautiful rainbow.

Gorgeous Sunrises and Sunsets

Gorgeous Sunrises and Sunsets

RANDOM THOUGHTS

You tend to think of the strangest things when you are trying to stay awake in the middle of the night.  My shift was 3p-6p and 3a-6a.  So, during my early morning shift, I set out to solve the world’s problems.

  • Are phosphorescence in the water all the time? You just can’t see them in the daylight?
  • How did early explorers sail around with no navigation? When there are no stars out?
  • Do flying fish get a headache when they hit the wave?
  • Why do the flying fish come aboard, did they miss our 47’ boat?

Warm clothes on Sugar Shack.  At one time, Matt promised me we would never be anywhere cold.  Because he reasoned, why would he want to see women all covered up when he could see them in bikinis?  Made sense at the time, but it also limited our wardrobe choices.  We were not prepared.  We all had foulies (foul weather gear), but layers were needed to fight against the cold wind and rogue waves.

My nightly routine consisted of putting on: (2) pairs of pants, (2) shirts, (2) sweatshirts, (2) jackets, shoes, socks, scarf, and a hat.  I looked like the Pillsbury dough girl.  See above shift work photo.  Eventually you just get used to the chill.

At times, I would try to squeeze behind the helm to avoid the rogue wave splashes and cold wind.  Keep in mind that it is a whopping 10” wide.

Port helm at night

Port helm at night

Most times, being on this trip felt like being a cowboy riding a bucking bronco or being a coffee stir in a Venti Starbucks coffee.  Bash, bash, bash, swirl, kaboom.

We introduced Ron and Sally to the joys of pressure cooking and gave them their first of many meals.  Including:  Feijoda, Pad Thai, Black Bean burgers, Chicken Roti, Toad in a hole, cheesecake bites, and mint/chocolate chip cookies.

ARRIVAL:

All said and done, we made a safe passage to our marina in Antofagasta, Chile.  Nothing major broke or was damaged, nobody broke any bones, no blood was shed, and everyone got along.  Super grateful to have reached land after such a long journey.

It was with great joy that we had our first land sighting.  We took photos of all the instruments, charts, and shore of course.

Land Ho! First sighting of Land

Land Ho! First sighting of Land

At one point, the Garmin GPS reset itself so we did not have an accurate reading off the unit.  However, we took daily numbers so we had all the data.  Sugar Shack at the end of our trip on the chart, Garmin not in motion and land during the night and morning.

Antofagasta from our temporary anchorage.

Antofagasta from our temporary anchorage.

COMING UP NEXT:

Clearing into Chile and exploring the town of Antofagasta.

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