Little Ibex‘ Log from Panama to Galapagos

Little Ibex plans head south to equator first to cross at 84W and then head west towards Galapagos. She will not take the direct route as this is known to have large areas without any wind. Find her log from the passage below.

Day 1 – 12 Feb 08°50.2N 079°30.7W COG194

1115 Little Ibex leaves Panama City and runs under engine until after the inner traffic lanes. Then she’s setting sail and quietly plows through the water. A relaxed downwind sail.

1920 Large fishing vessel heads directly towards her. Is it trawling or can it maneuver? Calls them multiple times – no answer. But finally fishing vessel changes course to pass on her port side.

2300 Around the southern tip of Panama very choppy sea. Chart notes tide rip curls. Short waves and eddies come and go for hours. Sea is rougher than expected, but a lot calmer than the west Caribbean Sea.

Day 2 – 13 Feb 06°26.3N 079°59.6W COG195

0200 Turning in bed without finding sleep. Typical for first night at sea. No at sea rhythm yet.

0900 Tired as there was hardly any sleep at night

1300 Little Ibex’ friends from SY Bohemen left for Galapagos a day before her. Now they turn back to Panama City as their alternator and generator are not working. Too much of a risk if the batteries can only be charged with solar.

1400 No wind – turns the engine on

1900 Tender oven chicken for dinner. A real treat!

Day 3 – 14 Feb 04°15.4N 080°45.2W COG210

0400 Getting closer to full moon (16 Feb) – the nights are very bright. Temperature is moderate and helps to catch up on sleep.

0600 Thunderstorm and squalls ahead of Little Ibex. Easy to see on the new radar. They stay ahead of her, but she puts electronics into the oven (Faraday’s cage)

1100 Valentine’s day – thinking about drawing a heart with the boat on the plotter, but fuel is too precious on this trip.

1400 Still no wind. Forecast showed northerly wind for this area. Little Ibex runs south under engine. Expects to pick up the trade wind after motoring through a calm area.

2300 A bird decides to rest for some hours on the currently unused spinnaker pole

Day 4 – 15 Feb 02°41.6N 082°00.8W COG220/270

0200 Second bird joins. Loud argument over the best seat. Takes a while until they move on.

0700 A quick fuel calculation shows that the engine burns more fuel than expected. Need to reduce rpms and set sails as soon as possible. Wind comes straight on the nose. Little Ibex might need to change course to enable Code 0 sailing.

0900 No cargo ships for the last 24 hours.

1000 Hoists Code 0, but even a close reach brings her rather WNW than SW. Experiments with different sail set-ups including Genua. No success. Sailing does not bring her closer to the destination. Quite frustrating. Turns the engine on again with lower rpms than before.

1400 New weather forecast loaded. Decides to run south under engine for the next 24 hours. This should bring her to a manageable wind field to set sails again. Needs to monitor fuel.

1900 Four birds sit on the bow of the boat. Who will clean up after them?

Day 5 – 16 Feb 01°45.9N 083°14.0W COG250

0700 Wind finally picked up and Little Ibex sets sails. She sails on a very close reach which does not feel comfortable, but better than going with engine.

0815 Cargo ship Del Monte Valiant crossed her course. The first cargo ship after some days.

1500 A group of birds sits on our windward rail guard. They seem to enjoy the ride.

1800 Making progress under sail. Still a close reach as she tries to go as much south as possible. Current is against her with 1.5 knots. Not comfortable. Needs to use handrails all the time when moving around.

Day 6 – 17 Feb 00°56.2N 084°47.9W COG245

0700 A very strenuous night. Changing wind direction enables her to go further south. Waves keep flushing over the bow. At least the water cleans the bird droppings away. Fun watching the birds approaching, sitting down on the rail and clean themselves there.

1000 Expect ETA in Galapagos on Sunday 20 Feb in the morning

1300 Little Ibex tries to communicate with friends on SSB. She heards SY Lucky Girl very softly. Not loud enough to communicate.

1915 Check in to the Maritime Mobil Net on 14300 Hz. Her message has to be relayed, but in the end she was heard. Good to know in case of emergency as there are multiple nets on this frequency.

Day 7 – 18 Feb 00°15.7N 086°44.3W COG 250

1100 Battery check. Used on average 3.5A in the last 52 hours (recharging from Solar and Wind already factored in)

1200 The current which was up to 2 knots is finally getting weaker. Moves her still to NE.

1500 All birds have left, and she cleans the deck of the bird droppings.

1856 Little Ibex and her crew cross the equator, they celebrate with sparkling wine, and everyone swims around the yacht once. They also offer some alcohol to the sea (not sure if to Poseidon and / or Neptune).

Day 8 – 19 Feb 00°26,7S 088°40,9W COG255

0700 An uneventful and calm night. Stable wind around 12 knots give a SOG ~6 knots with reefed sails.

1430 Drifting on the ocean to clean the hull. Dive equipment and safety line necessary. Too exhausting to go with snorkel gear due to waves and current. Attached all information stickers to the boat as demanded by Galapagos regulation. Checked and cleaned bilge.

1910 Little Ibex lost the first winch handle overboard since her departure in Italy in 2020.

Day 9 – 20 Feb 00°53,8S 089°36,8W COG200

0600 Wind dies down and Little Ibex finally take the sails down 7 miles in front of the Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal.

0700 The last bird left the bow of the boat, but left some fertilizer on the anchor.

Key facts of the trip Panama – Galapagos

  • 1008 nm through water
  • 966 nm over ground
  • 192 hour trip (exactly 8 days), thereof
    – 112 hours (58%) sailing
    – 73 hours (38%) under engine
    – 7 hours (4%) drifting
  • Current ~1 to 2 knots (mostly against us)
  • Crossed the equator at 087°04.385W