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Estamos gostando muito dos Galápagos. Realmente estas ilhas são um perfeito "laboratório de pesquisa"! Ja vimos muitos animais como pinguins, iguanas, tartarugas, e é claro os leões marinhos. Acordamos às 4:30 horas, para ir até a pequena ilha Bartolomé! Não vamos com a Diva, pois não pedimos aquela autorização da Marinha do Equador (além do alto custo de US$ 500,00 por dia) para visitar as ilhas com o nosso barco! Nós fazemos tours com os barcos daqui mesmo e também são bem bacanas.

Conosco estão os 5 tripulantes do barco americano PHOENIX e os dois meninos Garret e John ja são amigos dos nossos. Eles vao surfar a tarde na praia das tortugas e voltam realizados. Os meninos curtem ter amigos na mesma idade e poder brincar e passear independentemente. Aqui tomam o Aquataxi (uma lanchinha que pega agente no barco por 0,50 cents de dollar e leva para a
vila. La tem uma praça com quadra poliesportiva e uma rampa de skate - ai a coisa acontece. Os equatorianos são um povo simpatico e simples - muito agradável. O Phoenix tem um amigo e ex tripulante aqui em Galapoagos - o Sergio - que é guia do parque e surfista sério de Hawaii e campeonato. Um cara bem zen e legal. Ele leva a garotada para a praia numa trilha de 2,5 km
atravez dos cactus e rochas de lava! Ao final (meio suado) se abre a linda praia das tortugas e todos correm para pegar a primeira onda. Que fantastico!

Chegou o dia de partir para a ilha Isabela e ficarmos por lá mais uma semana antes de partirmos rumo as Marquesas! Aqui tudo é bem tranquilo e já reencontramos vários cruzeirstas que conhecemos em San Blas. Todos vão proseguir na mesma rota. Aqui em Isla ISABELA a coise é bem rusica. Vamos de cavalo conhecer o vulcão Chico que ainda espirra sufura e alguma coisa
quente para cima! A vista é daquelas de desmaiar. O sol esta quentinho o ventinho fresco e o local para ancorar bem menos rolly que em Sta Cruz.

Em uma semana devemos partir para a travessia. De la mandamos outro update.
Abraços a todos da Esslefamily



position: 00.14 South; 087.51W

On Tuesday we crossed the Equator and we had King Neptune come aboard to baptise all the first time crossers (the 5 Essles) and give them new names and certificates as "true blue water salts"! We are now 150 miles from Galapagos and all is fine aboard. The cool breeze that drove us the last two and a half days has softened a bit to 8 kts and we are motorsailing to get going. After the christening event this morning and some Tuna "a la Garcia" for lunch the schoolbooks came out this afternoon so that we can have a school break in Galapagos and study all the animals and sceneries without the formal classes.

The ride has been good and we are looking forward to drop our anchor in Puerto Ayora on Isla Santa Cruz, the smaller one in the middle of the archipelago.

See you!


April 20th Position: Marina Flamenco

The mast is up!

We are underway to Galapagos!

Smooth sailing so far after a beatifull weekend in Isla Contadora of the Las Perlas Archipelago. Gentle notherly winds are carrying us down towards the Equator. We are at 6.37N and 80.23W and making 7 knots over ground. The currents are amazingly in favor so we are moving ahead fast. The ocean is very smooth and hardly no waves making up to its name "Pacífico". Hope this stays like that for a long time!!

The trip to Galapagos is 1020 miles long and you need to go south first to try to cross the doldrums quickly and then get the Humbold current and the south easterly winds to carry you over to the Archipelago. We plan to arrive in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island in about 7 days.

Today we tested our Genaker (finally) and it is a great sail = Gabi, Juan Garay and the Noth Sails team - well done - the sail flies very smoothly up to 135 apperent wind angle and we were coastig with only 9 knots of wind. So far we have not used the engine. We took on 8 additional 20 liter tanks of diesel for the long trip to Galapagos as you have to cross the windless doldrums and may have to motor quite a lot.

Contadora was very nice - Rafa Arias and his wife Lourdes took us with their power boat to see lovely beaches and coves and we met up with all their friends and fellow YPOers who have their beach houses here. Panamanias love to mingle together and soon we were 5 boats rafted up having a parillada and drinks in the afternoon sun. Finaly we could go swimming again after 20 days in the marina! In the evening we had a dinner party at Rafas and were treated like kings. Thank you!

Batteries refilled we used Monday to finish up with the preparations for the long trip and got a good nights sleep. This morning we lifted the anchor at 7:40 and sailed away by sail only. Que delicia.

Will keep you posted as we move along

The mast is up!

After a full week of hard labor we have mast and sails up and installed! The two Americans, Karl and Peter, that came fom Florida Rigging&Hydraulics were great and all pieces of the puzzle came together nicely (and the little problems that always occur were solved quickly)

A tense moment was when the new Selden mast did not fit in the old hole and deckring of the boat! The crane had lifted the 70 foot aluminum structure and we were getting it in when a milimeter of casting was to thick. So up the mast again and lay it down again and install the new mastring (that luckily was sent with the kit) and by late afternoon we had the stick in the boat!

The Sails from North Sails Argentina fitted very well but it took us a day to install them. The staysail had to be cut so it would fit the roler reefing - so another run to find a sail repair shop. There was one - Odilio - who normaly does upholstering. We broke 7 needles to sew the thick headsail but got it done.

In the mean time, Corinna went to the supermaket 4 times and bought enough food for the next 4 months. Everybody warned us about the high prices in French Polinesia so we stocked up BIG and now the waterline is a few centimeters lower!

We said farewell to our friends Robert & Kiki and Domingo and Martha and sailed off to Contadora where we will spend the extended weekend with Rafa Arias and friends to get to know this beatifull archipelago of Las Perlas. Panama and its people was very gentle and generous with us and we can only take great memories with us. While it could have been a boring and frustrating wait, being at the port became a very pleasent (still lot of work) experience. Our YPOer friends were a big part of this but Panama is a very positive surprise. We can only recommend it!

April 20th

Position: Marina Flamenco

After Patrick's Birthday, we focused on getting everything organized for our mast and other projects, but then we got a welcome break on the YPO Panama Family weekend and the Easter Weekend with Roberto and Kiki Boyd in the beautifull "EL Valle". This place, an extinguished Volcano crater, is something else! Absolutely beautifull and great weather.

Kiki and Robert had us up there for 3 days and we went hiking, 4x4, motorcycling and relaxed by
the pool in the afternoons. Cranberry & Vodka and a steambath - what a treat. Robert and Kiki are the best hosts in Panama and showed us local food, the market, the river, the town, etc. etc. On Sunday we did our Easter egg hunt in the garden with Wiliam and Steffi, the two youngest of their four kids.

It was a memorable weekend and a real treat to be in the mountains in the tropical Panama, another of this country's secrets.

April 2th, 2006

Position: Flamenco Marina – Panama City: 8. 54 N; 79. 31W

An intense but successful Panama Canal transit!

After spending 3 days in Colon, we transited the world famous canal starting at 20:00 at night with a Pilot on board and two other sailor friends Lars from Denmark and John from Florida as line handlers.

The first lock was quite nerve wracking as we were tied sidewall to the rough concrete walls built in 1912 by the US and thousands of workers from all parts of the world. We went in right after a big ship and had another sailboat on our side. The water gushes in from the bottom and creates wild turbulences and out eleven fenders (big rubber balloons you put on the side of the boat so it does not scratch on the wall) were tested for their ruggedness – wow! They were squeezed hard by the water forces.

But we came out on the Gatun Lake at 24:00 unharmed and anchored in sweet water for the night.

The next morning started early and our pilot boarded and took us through the Banana cut (a short cut for smaller boats) and then through the canal in the man made lake in the Panamanian mountains – every now and then a big ship crossed – always an awesome sight! After sandwiches for lunch we were already at the next set of locks – Pedro Miguel – and were lowered to the next level below – a much better experience then climbing! Now more relaxed we took a lot of pictures and flew the flags of our YPO Forum and friends to thank them for all their support to get us to experience this moment! Your mind fills with memories and you know you will not forget this day.

The boys were obviously excited to see so many ships, locomotives, locks and other wonders of the engineers that they were exhausted at the end of the experience.

Juan Garcia is a great new skipper on board, always positive and very dedicated to the boat and all the hard work it is to keep everything up and running. The mood aboard is therefore excellent! Beyond his boating experience, Juan is also a passionate cook and has already put his Argentinean cooking talent to the test of the crew and guests.

When lowered down to the pacific level we all were very relieved that all was OK and we could look forward to our next step – getting ready with the mast and ready for the long haul to Galapagos and Marquesas. Now we are in the Flamenco Marina – at the end of the long causeway that reaches out into the Pacific. Over the breakwater we can see Panama city and its lights. As soon as we got the boat cleaned up and our bodies rested we jumped into a taxi and went to the shopping mall to indulge city life! Ice cream, crispy pizza, movies, shops etc. how wonderful after 2 months of wildlife! Florent and Sabine - French friends from SanBlas came for a sundowner on deck and we exchanges Canal stories!

It looks as if we will spend the month of April here getting the mast up and fixing several smalles items from our ToDo list. Major provisioning is also on the list as the Pacific islands are renowned for the expensive foodstuffs ( the all come in from far by ship only). So Divas waterline will be at its lowest point when we depart. All is fine and we look forward to having a new rig and look like a sailboat again.

Cheers – the Essles!