First and foremost, can you believe Andrew wanted to sell me to the Galapaguenos!? And he used to be my favorite. I guess Osmond will be my favorite now.
On Thursday, May 5 Andrew and Leslie headed back into town to finalize the remainder of our odds and ends before we set off for our Pacific passage. Around noon, they return on the water taxi carrying more bananas. I'm not sure where Andrew plans to put all these bananas. Yesterday, he stashed away all sorts of provisions, the majority of which included every variety of banana on the island: tiny little yellow ones, giant fat red ones, the normal yellow ones, and long green plantains. Today, he returned with two more bunches of red ones, a bunch of plantains, and another bunch of the little yellow ones. I am the banana boat; if you sail downwind of me you will sniff the air and think: "Do I smell bananas?" Yes.
Andrew and Leslie become a blur of activity. They set up bed sheets on the sea-berth, stow away anything that could crush their skulls should it break loose in a rough seaway, and do one last check on all the rigging and equipment. We up anchor, hardly believing our time in the Galapagos has come to an end. We swoop through the anchorage, saying farewell to friends who will be following us out shortly, and then we are off.
Back to business for me! As we reach open ocean I stretch my sails. Leslie sets the spinnaker and we are making a comfortable 4 knots in 6-8 knots of wind. Andrew sets up his beanbag on the bow and the afternoon looks to promise a pleasant start. Blue footed boobies and sea turtles see us off on our way.
Shortly thereafter, the natives became restless. "7.3? How are they going 7.3?" I hear Andrew exclaim, looking at the GPS screen. At first, I let him fidget without thinking anything of it, but then Leslie starts wondering, too. Looking astern, she scowls. "Well, they have their sails set on a reach, with both the main and the genoa out. Maybe we shouldn't be using the spinnaker?"
"No, the spinnaker always gets us more speed than the genoa," Andrew replies. "Should we put up the main?"
Leslie expresses concern that the main will only blanket our spinnaker, but they set about raising the main. Andrew braces his feet on either side of the winch, leans over and grinds the heavy sail up. Leslie pulls the halyard (rope that pulls the sail up) at the mast to help the process. Soon, they are sweaty and the main is up. Our speed drops from 4 knots to 3.
"What the heck!?" Leslie says, looking up at the mainsail, down at the GPS, astern. "It says they are now sailing at 8! Do you think they have heavier wind over there?"
Now, I look across the water and see my new boat friend Lufi catching us from behind. "Guys, they are motor-sailing." I try to say, but they don't hear me. They are busy taking the main sail down again, which brings us back up to four knots. Good. Now we can all relax again.
Andrew and Leslie sit in the cockpit for about ten minutes in silence, looking behind us. "What are we doing wrong? They are moving!"
"Guys, they are motor-sailing. They have their motor on. It's the only explanation." I will them to understand.
"Maybe they are motor-sailing," Leslie says. Yes! Yes! Exactly.
"No, I don't think so," Andrew responds. If I had hands, and a forehead, I would smack myself in the forehead right now. "Let's put the main back up and try setting the genoa instead of the spinnaker."
They scurry around on deck. Leslie socks the spinnaker, they muscle the main sail back up, roll out the genoa....2.5 knots. Scratching their heads, Andrew grabs the VHF radio and hails Lufi:
"Lufi, Lufi, Lufi, can you read me? This is Sonrisa." Lufi answers, and they make small chat for a minute or two about dinner and fishing. Then, Andrew asks: "hey, are you guys motor-sailing over there, or what?"
Lufi's person laughs. "Yes, why?" Andrew laughs. "We've been driving ourselves crazy over here trying to figure out how you are going so fast!"
With that confirmed, they put the spinnaker back up and settled into our comfortable four knots. At sunset, we received an amazing dolphin show. A hundred or more, small black dolphins swam and swooped and jumped in front of us. Sometimes, their whole bodies cleared the water by three feet or more! A perfect start to our long, long sail.
We motor/sail intermittently in light wind for the first three days until we reach the trade winds and currents. Since then, we have enjoyed 13 straight days of wind from the East, South East at 8-30 knots, mostly 15-20. The current is also set at SE, anywhere from 1-2 knots helping us along at any given time. Things are going well...except for the fish down Leslie's shirt, the jellyfish attack, and the ghost of Richard Henry Dana. But those will be stories for another day.