16/06/2010 - Leaving Panama

Today we are leaving Panama, I can’t say I am disappointed to say goodbye, I am sure I would have enjoyed Panama more if I had had a chance to escape the city and tour around a little.  It is a shame I never got to see the rainforests and the surf beaches, but who knows, maybe I’ll be back one day!  I certainly won’t miss the big city though, although the Casco Viejo will be the place to visit in about 10 years. 
Can’t wait till the Galapagos, but I have to manage my expectations carefully. The image I have in my mind of the Galapagos islands is of a tropical unspoilt biological paradise where flightless birds and iguanas stroll about nonchalantly in the lack of direct predators and where I can picture Darwin developing his theories and suppositions.  I know it isn’t going to be like that now, but I don’t want to be disappointed so I am trying to convince myself that it is going to be a built up metropolis,… hopefully it will be somewhere in between.
This morning was a lot of “hurry up and wait”, we had to wait for immigration to clear us out, wood to be delivered, more food and various other bits and pieces.  I honestly can’t believe how much this ship can fit, we have loaded up with 52 people, food for a small army for 6 weeks, and a huge amount of supplies for Pitcairn.  The hold is filled to the brim, and the breezeways are now little more than minute shafts due to the amount of wood stored there, but somehow there is always room for more! 
Our watches have been changed and I am now on the 4-8 watch.  Looks like a good mixture of people and I have a few from the old 8-12 watch to keep me company.  I think we are going to managed in a different way from how Sophie and Katelinn managed us, but it’ll be interesting to see how we develop as sail handlers as this watch is allegedly THE sail handling watch and I desperately need the practise.
Sophie told me she almost cried when Jo asked her if she could still come and see her for a motivational morning speech even though she isn’t on her watch anymore… aaah.  Although I’ll miss those little speeches and associated arm swings too!
We finally moved away from the dock at about 3pm and the captain called a general muster to explain the situation; we were now in an area that is known for its light changeable breezes so we would be motoring for the next few days, especially since the prevailing wind is from the south, which is where we want to go.   We should hit the doldrums (also known as the inter-tropical convergence zone) in a day or two and the Island we would be visiting in the Galapagos is San Cristobal.  The Islands are approximately 850 miles away and we have to make a slightly curved trajectory so we should reach them in about 8-10 days.  Before then however we will be crossing the equator so by the time we arrive we will have been converted from “pollywogs” to “shellbacks”.
He informed us that over the last 2 days we had taken on 20 tonnes of food and 10 tonnes of fuel, this had caused us to drop in the water by about 2 inches!
Looking at our aloha deck it could well be true, it looks like a jungle, with bunches of bananas, pineapple and mangos hanging from every beam!
There was absolutely no wind as we left port and schools of bait fish could be clearly seen on the surface of the glassy water, Paul was getting excited as we passed between schools and rightly so, in the space of an hour we caught 3 fish, 2 tuna, and one Spanish mackerel, unfortunately we only discovered it was a mackerel after trawling through his fish book and so it had already been thrown back as it was too small, one of the tunas was deemed too small as well, can’t believe I was on helm again and so couldn’t see any of this!
As with most first days back at sea I began to feel a little seasick as the swell increased and I took a pill just to be sure.  I am still surprised that after sailing my whole life and never being seasick I still feel nauseas, bit irritating really as it really does affect how you behave on board if you are not feeling 100%.  Everyone was absolutely exhausted and despite the excitement on leaving Panama and heading for the Galapagos the atmosphere on board was muted and became more so as the evening matured.
After first watch I was in bed by 20.15 and was out for the count until my wakeup at 03.30.

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