Sunday, May 30, 2010

Caribbean to Galapagos

After visiting various islands in the Caribbean Athena is back on the move, and headed West. Many things have happened since my last post, and there is nearly too much to write. I've sailed in St. Barth's, lunched on St. Maarten, drank in St. Thomas, and snorkeled in St. John. Sure, lots of saints have been involved, but trust me when I say I haven't exactly been reciting hail Marys. After hopping around and doing the "Saint Tour" we headed to Antigua for re-fueling and provisioning before our 6000 nautical mile trip to Tahiti.

Our trip took us through the infamous Panama Canal. The canal is an awesome experience for any mariner, and I am glad to have been able to go through the locks. I would much rather have taken the route around Cape Horn, but seeing as though they dug that massive trench through a country I guess it only made sense to use it. Going through the canal is a quintessential experience for a mariner, and I got to check it off my list. I'll soon be uploading a video of Athena and her journey through the Panama Canal.

After the canal we sailed for a few more days before refueling in the Galapagos Islands. However, before we reached the Galapagos, I ticked another quintessential sailor experience off my list, crossing the equator. Navies of the world, merchant marines, and sailors from all over participate in line-crossing ceremonies as they reach zero degrees latitude. The ceremonies are meant to honor Neptune, but really they are just a way of hazing those who have never crossed. A form of entertainment during a long sea voyage. It's good to know I will never have the slops bucket dumped on me ever again, and am now a "Son of Neptune."

We arrived in the Galapagos at night, and anchored in the bay to wait for fueling the next day. Immediately I could see why Darwin was in awe of the amount of life here. All night long we had sharks, turtles, stingrays, and seals encircling our boat. Never before have I seen that much life around us. For the first time I saw seals in their natural habitat, playful and swift. If I learned anything that night it was that seals don't swim through the water. They fly.

Our Captain saw the looks of awe on our faces as we watched the seals and sharks for hours on end, and gave us an unscheduled day off on Santa Cruz to explore. We booked a walking tour for the day and got to see lots of the endemic species of the area. Marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, giant land tortoises, and much more. We walked through ancient lava flows, and ate the local Ecuadorian food. For having only one day ashore, we made the most of it and saw the best parts of the Galapagos.

Since then we have been sailing. Days of endless sea, no other vessels have been sighted since we left land. The Pacific is huge, we are right in the middle, and I wouldn't want it any other way. Most everyone aboard Athena wants to get back to land, back to the bars, nightclubs, restaurants and shopping. Back to civilization. Not me. I just want to sail. Even though we are headed for Tahiti I wish we would never get there. For me, the fun is the journey, not the destination. I'd rather be out here with the flying fish and the whales. I quite like this feeling of isolation, and love the motion of the seas. But it has to end, we have to go somewhere. Next stop, Tahiti. Check out photos of my latest travels by clicking HERE.