Pollywogs no more: Coconut Woman crosses the line, arrives in Galapagos

February 26 - March 3, 2015

Coconut Woman picks its way through cargo ships off Panama City.

 Leaving Panama City, we made our way through the minefield of large anchored vessels, which dotted the bay for up to four miles out.  Here began what sailors fondly refer to as “the Coconut Milk Run,” the trade wind-driven passage across the Pacific Ocean, and what many boats are specifically designed to do. Winds on, or just aft of the beam will carry you along a paradise pathway.  

When examining the AC intake strainer, Justin noticed numerous pairs of large eyes staring back up at him. Puffy, Poofy, Poopy, and Squirt were politely asking to be rescued from certain death.  We couldn't turn down three tiny baby puffer fish and their minnow friend, so into a glass they went for a photo shoot and a play-date with the cat.  

About two hundred miles off the coast of Colombia resides a very disconcerting random rock just begging to be bonked into with a boat.  Over 900 feet high and one mile long, Malpelo, we suppose, was named after someone who had a bad hair day, seeing as the word literally translates as “bad hair.”  We hear the manned lighthouse enjoys scolding boats for sailing too close to Badhair, seeing as this involves unauthorized entry into Colombian waters just to catch a close-up view of a rock, which of course, should incite concern on the part of Colombian authorities.

Puffer fish rescued from the intake strainer.

As the southerly-flowing winds dissipated, the 5-8 knot north-easterly flowing winds filled in. This is a rarity in terms of wind direction on this route, and a pain in the transom.  Wimpy winds right on the nose is not what Coconut Woman prefers!  So we turned on the engine and motor-pinched to windward, which she does like, as the increase in apparent wind gives her sails some giddy-up.  

But what luck we had to happen upon a squall line that stayed with us all the night and kicked CW up to 7-9 knots engine-free.  As the winds slowly backed southward, we were able to sail again, and cranked out some serious mileage during the evening wind increases on flat waters.  Our passage to Galapagos gave us the most comfortable upwind sail of our lives so far, and marked the first time the entire crew of Coconut Woman has crossed the Equator.

This, of course, predicated the obligatory Equator Ceremony.

 Originally the Equator Ceremony flourished in the British navy as a form of hazing “Pollywogs,” or mariners who had yet to cross the Equator for the first time.  Apparently, this often involved things such as blind-folding crew members then pushing them overboard, which doesn't seem very amusing.  Thankfully, they would fill a sail with water and secure it overboard so the men would simply fall into a tub of water, so to speak.  

Other absurdities include dressing up as Neptune or a bunch of bears.  Yes, bears.   Neptune and the bears then sentence all the pollywogs to various forms of mild torture, sometimes going as far as tar and feathering, or worse.

So we took it upon ourselves to do the only sensible thing in this scenario, and haze the cat.  We dressed up as Neptune and his goddess wife, Amphitrite.  The cat hates dogs, so we dressed her up as a mutt, with floppy spotted ears and a big tongue.  Then Neptune took his beer-on-a-boathook trident, stood on the bowsprit, and sentenced the cat to walk the plank.  This did involved mild pet torture because the cat does not like to be on deck in the first place, let alone in the middle of the ocean.

Afterward, we took a dip in the southern ocean to cleanse ourselves of the dirty waters of the north.  As the sun descended, we toasted with fresh passion-fruit rum libations and tried to figure out how I managed to bring so much bling onto a small vessel and happened to be wearing all of it.  The cat received tuna and apologetic scritchers.


Before our final approach to Galapagos, Justin went overboard to clean the bottom, as we had been warned the officials bring divers to inspect it before entry into the country.  That's not all they bring when they caravan onto your boat.  Try having 11 people on board a yacht built for four!

Sailing into the Baquerizo Moreno Harbor, we experienced a distinct feeling of being in a special place.  “Other-wordly” describes Galapagos, with its volcanic rock formations, wildly differing topography, and generally, the look of a mix between California dessert and grassy-hilled Ireland.  The cold Humbolt current arrives to the islands, preventing coral growth but failing to deter the presence of tropical fish and many marine animals.  We have a flotilla piled high with sea lions just off our port bow, bellowing and quibbling over who stepped on who's flipper.  We can hardly believe we are here!


Posted on March 4, 2015 .