Monday 23 February 2015

San Cristobal, Galapagos

Straddling the equator, 500 miles from mainland Ecuador, lies a remote archipelago. Located on the intersection of three tectonic plates, it sits on a hotspot of volcanic activity at a point where the earths crust is thin, allowing the magma to burst through, creating 18 islands of volcanic lava.  We approach at dawn, rounding the cardinal mark. A sea lion basks on the yellow buoy, looking slightly ridiculous, its head hanging over the side, watching us with bored indifference. We are in the Galapagos Islands, and it is quite extraordinary.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Crossing the Equator

The equator is a huge heat sink where warm air continually rises, cools and then subsides over the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, flowing back towards the equator.  As this air moves south it is deflected by the Coriolis Force, pushing the wind to the west and creating the trade winds that carry us around the world.  

Monday 16 February 2015

Las Perlas

Only forty miles from Panama, yet the archipelago of Las Perlas feels very remote. A small group of pretty islands, famous for their pearls, they are largely uninhabited. Densely forested, with rocky outcrops and hidden beaches of the finest white sand.  With large tidal ranges, the water turns green as the tide ebbs and flows, suddenly clearing at slack water to reveal the sea life beneath.  Poorly charted with isolated rocks lurking just under the surface, we proceed with caution, the Bauhaus pilot book our constant companion.

Sunday 15 February 2015

Compendium, guest written by Andrew

I have been aboard for a month now and it seems time to pen something.

So we have arrived at the Las Perlas Islands, 50 miles from Panama city.  It is a big relief to have finally got sailing again after 10 days in Panama. The canal was fascinating (25,000 dead from disease and accidents in the construction) but it is a long slow route from the Atlantic to the Pacific and once you have seen one lock the next 5 are all the same. I seem to be blasé about locks having experienced the mega locks on the Rhone.

Thursday 12 February 2015

Panama Canal

It is dark when the heavy pilot boat surges up alongside. A big swell is running as the pilot takes a firm grip on my hand and jumps aboard. We are with eight other ARC yachts at the Flats, an anchorage near the commercial shipping terminal in Colon, where cranes work under neon lights like giant insects as they load containers onto a freighter, bound for Europe.  Finally, just after 9pm our pilot receives clearance on the VHF and we raise anchor.  We follow the red channel markers towards a sea of bright lights until we make out the shape of huge lock gates. A tanker in the opposing lock floats fifty feet above us. We are about to transit the Panama Canal.

Saturday 7 February 2015

Panama, guest written by Kez

It feels somehow fitting that on my last morning on Juno I have her to myself just for a little while and so can quietly say good-bye and remember all the special moments on board and how she has magnificently looked after us during some fairly boisterous passages and kept us safe. But that ability to keep us safe is far from automatic and comes with an awful lot of care and attention from Paul. Since being in Panama he has done little else, forgoing the trip to the Embera Village, the city tour and also, before transiting, our trip to the Observatory to see both the construction of the new locks at Gatun and the workings of the existing ones.