Crossing the Equator: Panama to The Galapagos

February 22-March 3 2022

We said goodby to Panama City Tuesday afternoon and motored through a sea of commercial traffic 7 miles to Isla Taboga. Taboga is a poplar beach community for Panamanians. Forgoing the beach I took a hot and humid hike to the top of the island with great views of the harbor watching freighters wait their turn for the canal.

I have been to the Galapagos before and as Gail wasn’t joining us there until March 6th we opted to spend some time exploring the Las Perlas Islands.

Las Perlas is a group of over 20 Pacific islands 50-100 miles off the the Panama coast. This archipelago has over 20 islands many with beautiful large sandy beaches ,sparsely populated, and several with private airstrips for the wealthy to visit their homes. Isla Contradora, one such island, has the distinction of being the home for the Shah of Iran when he was forced into exile in 1979. It is said that every person has an interesting story if you only take the time to listen….I am finding that the same holds true for places , even small islands.

Isla Contadora looking toward its airstrip

Winds were reported to be very light and many of the Oysters that had left ahead of us motored most of the way to Galapagos…about 800 NM. We fortunately had 8-12 knots and calm seas for most of our passage giving us several days to fly the spinnaker . Great fun.

Caught a tuna in the Las Perlas… We don’t have freezer room for a big fish so we have been lucky so far… Hooked a marlin later in the passage but after a fight it fortunately got away.

And then there was the equator crossing: Naval tradition has it that when one first sails across the equator, flying doesn’t count, there is a ceremony where the initiated turn from pollywogs to shellbacks. In the navies of old this seems to have been an excuse for hazing the pollywogs much like fraternity initiations. On Infinity we were more civilized . I crossed the equator in the morning on watch at 0538 . Later, with everyone awake we celebrated with a nice meal and a bottle of wine. Neptune was given his share and we requested of him a safe passage for the remainder of our journey

Equator Crossing
Celebrating the crossing

Finally on day 5 we arrive at San Cristobal at 2130. The bay has a wide entrance open to the west but 2 of the buoys and Cardinals were absent and the lighthouse light wasn’t working . There are extensive reefs to the south and north . We entered slowly with me on the bow. The next day I learned that this bay is called ”ship wreck bay” by the locals.

I had purchased a 2 way headphone set that is super helpful in communicating between the bow and helm for situations like this and when anchoring, no shouting or misunderstood hand signals. It is also helpful when sending someone up the mast. A highly recommended purchase.

Ecuador had a total of 11 inspectors visit Infinity for us to gain entry into the Galapagos

The next morning we were visited by 11 Ecuador inspectors: immigration,customs,National Parks, Health department doctor and nurse, sanitation inspector , most foods other than dry goods not allowed; all frozen foods must be vacuum sealed and not consumed in Galapagos. The boat must be fumigated and bottom cleaned in Panama with certification then 2 divers inspect the hull for signs of growth….the entire process takes almost half a day.

Gail arrives tomorrow. Looking forward to explore the Galapagos together.

It will also be interesting to see what changes time have brought to these islands since I was last here in 2019.

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