Odyssey Logs

Into the Doldrums: BPO Passage Notes to the Galapagos

As our Blue Planet Odyssey and Pacific Odyssey participants spend the next few days with the barely onerous task of deciding which of the island and wildlife tours to choose from in the Galapagos, relaxing after they passed the stringent entry formalities with flying colors, we are publishing a taste of their blogs as they make their first Pacific crossing. Enjoy.

Libby, 13 February

Red-footed Booby hitches a lift on Lovesail (photo: Lovesail)

Red-footed Booby hitches a lift on Lovesail (photo: Lovesail)

Boobies have made their home on our mast! The Red-Footed version that is. They have been following us for days it seems, trying so hard to figure out how to land on a moving target. One succeeded yesterday but got his face too close to the wind generator and moved on. Try, try, and try again and tonight, success! And he ain’t lettin’ go. He’s been up on the main mast for a few hours fending off other jealous Boobies. He’s sitting on our just repaired anemometer! Argh. 

14 February

After the calmest day and night I have ever seen anywhere, let alone at sea, last night we found good wind, so we thought. Sounds great until I tell you that wind was coming from the gale in Tehauntepec, Mexico and carried with it 12 ft seas and all of that was directly on our nose if we want to go direct to Galapagos. Even if you don’t sail, it doesn’t take much to figure out if the wind and 12ft waves are blowing at you square in the face, you’re not going to get very far and it’s going to rock and roll you to exhaustion. And so it did. Tonight we gave into Miss Mother Nature and fell off the wind for the evening, heading due west (and nowhere near where we want to end up).

Terry and Dena, Libby

Terry and Dena, Libby

Did you know that squid leap out of the water at night? Not sure why but they do, perhaps they are trying to escape predators? This probably works well unless a sailboat happens to be passing nearby with a deck to catch you on! Once the sun rose this morning we could see the biggest splat on the windshield with a squid just under the smear. And I used to think those bugs in Nebraska were messy! 

My friend asked today if we had gotten into a nice routine that included yoga on the deck and a swim before bedtime. I told her that the only thing on the deck was salt, sea spray, and dead squid….and that the boat was rocking so much that striking a Warrior II pose was completely out of the question!! As for swimming in 19,219 feet of water, no thanks.

 Dena Singh


Chapter Two, 18 February

We noticed birds hitting the water and a school of tuna running. We watched hoping that we could snag one for dinner. Within a minute, we had the reel spinning and tuna on. John buckled his harness on and began pulling it into the boat. We were all doing the happy dance knowing we would have fresh tuna for dinner. We got the tequila ready to pour down its throat to numb it and keep from fighting. Then we poured ourselves a shot to toast John and then poured it overboard. No drinking while underway. John cleaned it and I planned the meal of fish tacos for later that night. This morning while the engines were running, I baked a pan of chocolate chip banana bread with leftover fresh bananas from the San Blas islands. We’ve already devoured most of it. We eat very well on this boat between Sue and I. Just call us Julia Childs or Betty Crocker.

Janet Hayes


Chapter Two crew

Chapter Two crew

No Regrets, 19 February

We were lucky yesterday and pretty much flew through the zarpe issuance which led to getting our passports stamped: we’re officially permitted to leave the country and enter the Galapagos assuming we successfully remove barnacles in the doldrums as per Eduadorian/Galapagos law.  Having listened to a NPR podcast today about various projects aimed at restoring the G’s to their “true” form, it’s understandable that invasive life forms be minimized.

 Tim Liveright 

Zeke, Tim and Bill on No Regrets

Zeke, Tim and Bill on No Regrets

Libby, 19 February

Alone in the cockpit, I sipped my coffee on yet another bright sunny day. I stared into the same ocean I’ve been staring into for 21 days. This time, I felt a rush of peace that I’m not sure I have ever felt before. I felt like a little girl, riding every wave with Libby as if we were both on horseback. The sea birds circled the boat as they always do, as if their only functions in life are to make sure sailors don’t feel lonely. I began to notice every sensation, whether it was the sea breeze through my hair, or the slight ocean spray I felt on my face, or the deep love and affection I have for our kids and our parents and all our wonderful friends. I had an overwhelming sense that no matter how far any of us travel, our hearts never leave those we love, and therefore ‘this’ was all ok.

Yesterday, I didn’t feel well at all. Just a little ‘off’. I had no energy, I thought maybe I’d just had enough hanging on to anything just to walk, enough of the blue scenery, I thought I was just ready to get to land. And then today, a whole new spirit was in me. Today, I felt like I belonged here, right here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Maybe it just took 21 days for me to embrace that, or perhaps it took the ocean 21 days to embrace me. All I know for sure is that I hope this feeling stays.


Lovesail, 20 February

Nights are black, being around the time of the New Moon, and the phosphorescence has been amazing.  A couple of dolphin have surprised us at night appearing out of the dark like bright torpedoes heading at speed for the boat before diving underneath the hull and disappearing.


Lovesail crew

Lovesail crew

21 February

Chapter Two

We can’t help but notice all the trash and debris floating in the water. There are large logs, plastic bottles, bags and cans. As we move further and further out to sea, there is less trash but it’s still disturbing. We’re getting our boat readied for our next stop in the Galapagos. There are many requirements and the boat has to be spick and span from top to bottom. We have to stop the boat roughly 70 miles out and clean off the barnacles and check all the through holes for creatures that have attached themselves to our hull. The officials have a point system and if we score less than 85, we can’t stop there and have to keep going.



We took advantage of the calm weather to transfer some fuel from jerry cans to the tanks. Since the filler caps are located down the aft steps outside the guard rails, this can be hazardous in anything but fine conditions. 

Refuelling at sea (photo Lovesail)

Refuelling at sea (photo Lovesail)

We remove the cap and insert a filler pipe, then return to the deck level to pour fuel down the funnel.  We put about 40 litres into each tank which is not bad considering that we had to motor all the way through the canal and for several nights since then, plus now during the day. 


I have about 10 blue footed boobies here with me tonight on their 3rd hour of trying to land on the boat for a rest. I think their red footed cousins from the north sent word that the top of the mast is deadly. These guys are only focused on landing on the bow and for that I’m grateful. 

Libby, 22 February

As we have been approaching these elusive islands for days now, the BPO rally control has been emailing often about the seriousness of the government restrictions for entry. In particular, the issue of hull ‘growth’. Terry and I kept talking about it; “what do we do, should we (he) dive down and check it out?”, “no not necessary as we just had her bottom cleaned and anti fouled,” “but what if…?”, “yeah ok maybe we (I) should”… So this morning after coffee we began preparing for the daunting task of letting the captain off the boat, 137 miles from the destination! His first words after his first look, “ARE YOU FRICKIN’ KIDDING ME”? Thousands of barnacles adorned Libby’s entire transom, parts of the rudder and keel. Three hours later, Libby was (hopefully) barnacle free. It did cost us 4 hours time (3 for the work and 1 for the distance we drifted in reverse with the opposing current). We have since notified rally control and we will wait to see if it was all worth it upon arrival tomorrow. 

Chapter Two, 23 February

The whole crew was up bright and early in order to complete a list of items before we actually arrived in Galapagos. Thank goodness we don’t drink underway or we would have been hung over from crossing the equator the night before. Now, mind you, we cleaned the bottom at least 10 days before leaving Panama but you still run the risk of having barnacles grow back. The guys donned their wet suits and begrudgingly hopped into the water at 7:45 a.m. Needless to say, it was stressful for all of us but we had to “git er dun” as they say in Oklahoma. The guys finished 2-1/2 hrs later and climbed out of the water exhausted with a sparkling clean hull. I decided the guys needed a nice hot breakfast as we started the engines and put the pedal to the metal to arrive in Galapagos before dark. As we all finished breakfast, everyone ran around cleaning, storing cargo, labeling trash bins and waste as per the requirements of customs and immigrations. I finally began to relax as we cruised around the island to our designated destination. The excitement builds as the reality of actually arriving starts to sink in for us. When we first started this adventure, the prospect of arriving in Galapagos seemed so far off and now we’re here! Wow, what a huge milestone for us. Once the crew dropped the anchor, we pulled out the cocktails and toasted the finish of the 4th leg of our journey. We are having a blast! 

Tahawus, 24 February

The crew of Tahawus became Shellbacks as we crossed the Equator into the Southern Hemisphere and Southern Pacific Ocean. The Celebration will commence when everyone awakens as we pay our tribute to Neptune. Then onwards to the Galapagos.


Tahawus crew (photo Jan Irons)

Tahawus crew (photo Jan Irons)








No Regrets, 24 February

Tim tries to invite the booby to dinner (photo Zeke Holland)

Tim tries to invite the booby to dinner (photo Zeke Holland)

Mr or Ms Booby has spent another night as bow watch-bird and a flying squid-like creature was sitting in the cockpit, well actually lying quite mortally still with its smaller cousin greeting the sole of my right foot as I prepared a cup of frankly rotten coffee.  The latter creature obviously had flown through the galley hatch.  Gotta talk to Neptune about fitting these guys with specs.  Feel bad for them although I did save the cockpit visitor as an offering for the Boob if it doesn’t mind four hour old fare.

Indeed, we’re six or so hours from our destination but we’ve got work to do and it’ll be challenging given this freaky abundant wind.  We have the bottom to inspect and clean.  According to one BPOer now at anchor in the G’s, the inspectors were thorough but forgiving given the distance they traveled.  Nonetheless, all we need is a barnacle citation when what we would prefer is a rum drink and a hug from a sea lion.


Last night we had a pink-footed booby roosting on our sprit stay all night, and he’s back again tonight. Tim keeps inviting him into the pilot house and offering him things to eat, but he seems content just to perch and get a free ride. In addition I can see in the moonlight that there are three more birds that are “leading the way” — flying just ahead of our jib. Sometimes they break away and fly off, but before long they are back. It’s eerie seeing them fly by in the moonlight.

Our latitude is 0 degrees, 17 minutes north. That is, we’re just 17 nautical miles north of the equator. We’ll cross it during the night after my watch, which is exciting but a little disappointing because I’d like to be awake at the time. I just think it would be cool to watch the navigation system show 0.00 latitude and switch from north to south…


Maggie, 25 February

Another milestone on the trip – entering the southern hemisphere.

We were watching to see any changes. The latitudes on the chart plotter turned to S. The water temp has gone from 34.5 to 31.5. The cold Humboldt current comes north along SA and turns towards Galapagos. The nutrients it brings are the source of the abundant sea life there. The current will now push us to the islands. The wind turned to the southeast as it should.

Maggie's crew perform the Equator crossing ceremony (photo: Maggie)

Maggie’s crew perform the Equator crossing ceremony (photo: Maggie)

We motored south to the equator as there was still not enough wind to sail. That was not the direct line to the islands but we wanted to cross in the daylight with everyone awake. We did a few of the traditions associated with the crossing but drew the line at shaving heads and a dunking. “Neptune” had his trident and his nymphs dressed in lines and shawls. A dram of spirits was given to the sea and, of course, to the crew. Afterwards we could sail for a while and conditions were great. Some new vocabulary for us: We were “polliwogs” who had never crossed the equator. Now we are “shellbacks”. Also, when doing the Panama Canal we were “Y-jobs”, those doing it for the first time.



And last but not least, the Muse continues to inspire our sailors:

Ransom’s Ode to The Equator on Passing

(with little regard for rhyme, fact or truth)

This glorious blue/green orb of ours is girdled by a line so delicate and fine
It can’t be seen by eyes like yours or even these like mine.
Even though it’s been drawn on charts from earliest times of old.
So now my little verse for it, I hope you’ll let me here unfold.

You see, this line divides the North from South
Along the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone
Without this secondary meridian,
Our bearings would simply have no home.

GMT or Zulu time is found at Longitude naught.naught
Because it’s Longitude that keeps Earth’s quotidian clock.
But Latitude is greater still, it measures more than time.
It marks our ups and downs, it helps us plot location compared to what’s around.

Pre GPS and Satellite, our clue to where we are
Came from knowing our position in relation to the stars.
So Zero North and Zero South took on a great import.
For without this unseen reference line, we could never leave home port.

From this belt around the greatness of our gorgeous planet’s girth
March the meticulous, latticework lines of labyrinthine Latitude.
In a preciseness to the second that would bring a micrometrist mirth.
Why they can pinpoint our position anywhere on Earth!

Were it not for the accuracy of these lines of exactitude,
How would we know where we were going?
How would we know where we might be found?
This points out the importance of Zero Latitude!

So as we are approaching this endless ribbon on the sea.
We are duty bound to honor He who keeps this place in line.
We shall drink a toast to Neptune with our finest glass of wine.
Take your goblets now fair ladies and raise them high with me.

And so that He shall know of fair Ransom’s transit
And calm His seas for her,
We shall share our wine with Neptune.
Into His waves our wine we’ll stir.

Tonight this ritual’s ours, and ours alone, to make.
As sailors have for centuries as they pass this mystic place.
We shall take this quaff in celebration and feast upon rum cake.
And ask for Neptune’s blessing as we travel through His space.

So here’s to The Great King Neptune, Ruler of The Sea.
Here’s to our dear Ransom who safely brought us here.
Here’s to this fine crew who marks this night with me.
And here’s to our next voyage; fair winds, clear skies and a star
by which to steer.

Tim King 


Ransom crew are happy to have made it to the Galapagos

Ransom crew are happy to have made it to the Galapagos

More news: BPO boats impress Galapagos inspectors

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