A note from Dick and Gail Barnes:
Dick and Gail Barnes are off on another excellent adventure on their Nordhavn 57, Ice Dancer II. They departed Honolulu on May 4, 2009 for an expected one-year cruise of the deep South Pacific. On Ice Dancer (I), a Nordhavn 50, they completed trips to Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii and French Polynesia for a total of 23,545 nm. Ice Dancer II has been to Mexico, Alaska, Galapagos Islands, Cape Horn to Hawaii for a total of 28,708 nm. At their first stop for this trip, Palmyra Atoll, they had completed 52,253 nm on their two Nordhavns. You are invited to share their observations, here.
We are attending tonight the gala New Years Eve dinner and party at the
Antofagasta Yacht Club. Everyone here has been extremely nice and friendly.
Arrival of our boat is unusual for the club and local citizens.
We are moored parallel to a very old, iron pier that may have been designed
by Eiffel, from its style. It is abandoned and boarded up, but the kids,
lovers and fishermen find a way to its end.
Boats are modest sized, mostly sailboats. A fleet of old, brightly painted
fishing boats is across the "old harbor", called that to differentiate it
from the busy commercial port, just south.
There is much surge in the harbor, but we are comfortable with a stern
anchor tightened against the mooring.
Yesterday's fueling was another adventure. We backed in between boats and a
pier for the travel lift and strung long lines at all corners to keep us out
of trouble. A tank truck delivered the diesel. It makes one appreciate a
floating fuel dock.
We have our Zarpe (cruising permit) in hand, with authorization to leave
Monday morning for Puerto Montt and a stop at the yacht club at Algarrobo,
if we can get a slip or mooring. Otherwise, we will be using caletas or
coves for several nights of anchoring.
Antofagasta never endures rain, and the hillsides are testament to that
fact. It is probably three times the size we saw twelve years ago, when we
last visited. It seems prosperous with a mall complex as modern and large
as most in the U.S. The demand for copper has provided lucrative financial
input for this area.
Thursday 12/28/06 11 a.m. local
23 38.6S 070 23.9W
Anchored at 10 a.m. Thursday at Antofagasta, Chile. We will now wait on
board for the National Police, Customs, Armada de Chile and Agriculture to
separately come to visit.
The local yacht club was extremely helpful in getting us hooked up to a
mooring and contacting the respective authorities. In an few days, when the
paperwork and onboard chores are completed, we will start down the coast.
Wednesday 12/27/06 5:15 p.m. local UTC-3
22 11.9S 072 13.6W
Tomorrow should put us into Antofagasta. Then we can de-slime the boat,
change main oil, change main transmission oil, change main fuel filter,
clean main air filter, fix dinghy leak, check in with all the branches of
government, buy food, buy fuel and push off again. Ah, boat maintenance in
We have sun this afternoon, which is a treat after a couple of overcast
days. In general, the weather has been cooperative on this leg of the trip.
A little further down becomes more complicated. Water temperature is down
to 71, which impacts the weather. The Humboldt current is flowing up from
Tuesday 12/26/06 1:38 p.m. local
19 40.6S 075 05.9W
Gail has been a great trooper on this crossing, only complaining when the
apparent wind on the nose gets up to 30 knots and we start pounding. The
wind waves are local and therefore steep and close when that happens. For
comparative numbers, 1800 nm is the same distance as San Diego to 200 miles
north of Juneau. We have about 360nm left to go, putting us in at a good
time on Thursday. Seas are reasonable, today, so we are running at higher
speeds. If conditions deteriorate, we will have the extra miles in the bag
and may be able to reach Antofagasta at a good time of day, nonetheless.
Hours of favorable ham radio propagation keep dropping. We still have three
or four stations that are reliable, but are not running as fast as when we
had a stronger connection. It will be interesting to see how it holds
together as we fall off the south end of the earth. Ham nets that I could
hear, up and down the east coast, are now very faint.
We are getting e-mailed weather charts through ham radio high frequency
transmission, a Pactor 3 modem and our computer. The server is Winlink,
using an AirMail program. I order Saildocs, grib files, and they send one
every day for two weeks for the area selected, which now is from Galapagos
to Cape Horn.
My other weather source is weather faxes received HF over the SSB. I was
using New Orleans, NOAA and now I'm using Chile. The frequencies are all
loaded in the Get Fax program, which is also from AirMail.
We spent considerable time getting these programs to work well and eliminate
on-board interference issues. They work great and it was well worth the
effort with Alcom Marine Electronics and Shea Weston of Offshore Outfitters,
Sunday 12/24/06 7:30 p.m. Chile Daylight Time
15 53.7S 079 06.3W
This morning we passed Lima, Peru, 200nm offshore. Seas are bouncier, which
is slowing us down a little. No vessels have been sighted for two days.
We would like to make Antofagasta early enough Thursday to anchor and check
in with the authorities, before they go onto overtime rates. Paperwork is a
cottage industry in Latin countries, it seems.
Our grandson, Diego, is arriving in Santiago from Anchorage on January 11.
We are working toward a schedule that would put us at Santiago's coastal
community of Vina del Mar or Algorrobo at about that time, so he and his
grandparents (and others) could come down for a visit.
Distance to go is 675 miles of 1800 total.
Merry Christmas to all.
Friday 12/22/06 5 p.m. CST
10 36.1S 082 01.4W
Closer reading of Peru's regulations complicated use of Arica for our
Chilean port of entry. Peru claims and controls its waters out 200 nm, for
boats of all sizes. Staying out until we hit Chile's border would make an
awkward approach to Arica; therefore, we are taking a nearly straight shot
to Puerto Antofagasta. Estimated time of arrival is Thursday afternoon.
Friday 12/22/06 noon
10 06.9S 082 23.3W
Only 900 miles to go. I guess that's getting close. Thinking of relativity,
if we could travel faster, it not only would take less time, if wouldn't be
as far (just ask Einstein), and we wouldn't age as much. We should get there
sometime Wednesday, at about five days older.
Weather changes from bright sun to squalls, with trade winds constantly
within 15 degrees of the bow, one side, the other or on the nose. The only
change is whether they are 12, 15 or 20 knots. I don't think we'll see
sailboats heading this way. I think they sail to Easter Island, then take
the westerlies to Valdivia or Puerto Montt.
Our friend, Terry of Houston, remarked that he had not sneezed once since
joining us in the Galapagos. On reflection, Gail and I had not either. In
Mexico, there was lots of air pollution, even out on the Pacific Coast.
Sunsets looked like L.A., with the big red disc. In Houston, he said his
nose runs all the time.
07 53.8S 084 28.2W
We are cruising along 225nm off the coast of Peru. This morning, we passed
two large fishing boats, working their catch. One had a huge array of
bright lights that may have been for squid. Another hint was the scattering
of small squid on the boat deck this morning, along with flying fish.
We stopped for an engine fluid check, only to find that the raw cooling
water impeller was fried on the auxiliary engine. So, some unplanned
maintenance took place this morning. All is back together and working well.
The impeller problem resulted from a vacuum leak on the sea-chest strainers.
I knew that they were showing wear and had Nordhavn's parts department order
spares. I shouldn't have put off changing them.
05 37.2S 086 34.4W
We are plugging along against the Humbolt Current, just like a salmon
running upstream. No salmon here, this morning, but we did catch a nice
mahi mahi. That means putting the fishing poles away for a while, until we
thin out contents of the freezers.
Skies are heavy overcast, with light squall conditions. Maybe we will get
enough rain to wash off the boat. Conditions change quickly, so it could be
bright and sunny in a few hours.
Things are routine, on board, with three-hour watches alternating overnight.
We have detected no boats on radar, by sight or by our automatic information
system (transponder) since leaving Islas Galapagos. The AIS would pick up
any ship within 50 miles. For entertainment, we are watching a Middlebury
College physics course, on relativity. It is challenging, but like a
sedative if you are tired. In the middle of the night, action movies or
up-tempo music works better.
December 19, 2006
03 17.2S 088 42.3W
Everything is ok on board. We are running at 1200 rpm (slow speed) directly
upwind, up current, up seas for Arica Chile. The slow engine speed
minimizes pounding and conserves fuel. Winds have been 12 to 18 knots, so
sea conditions are pretty good and about what we expected. The Humbolt
current is about .5 to .7 knots. Water temperature is 78 degrees, down 10
from just north of the Galapagos. In these conditions, we are making about
7.5 knots, which is fine. Our course is on a great circle, presently 137
December 18, 2006
We were organized and departed Villamil before 7 a.m., as stipulated in our
Zarpe or exit papers. We are beginning 1,600 nm of what sounds like the
Baja Bash all over again. Maybe we can scrape off and sell the sea salt or
trade for diesel. But, think how nice it will be coming back the other way.
Villamil is a great anchorage and has beaches to die for. A French family
sailing on their catamaran was the only other cruiser here, sharing the bay
with maybe 25 fishing skiffs. The town has not been slimed by the cruise
boats (bay is too shallow). Not a T-shirt for sale, anywhere.
December 17, 2006
Puerto Villamil, Isla Isabela, Islas Galapagos, Equador 00-57.9S 090-57.8W
This morning, our guest from Houston left Puerto Villamil on a speedboat for
Puerto Ayora, then to Quito and home by airplane. We had a fabulous 12 days
in the islands, but it is time to tear ourselves away and continue our
voyage first thing Monday morning. Today, we will clean, put everything
away and tie down loose items.
December 14, 2006
Ice Dancer II was fueled Wednesday, stern to stern, from a fueling ship
anchored in the channel between Isla Santa Cruz and Isla Baltra. It was an
exciting maneuver, but accomplished the goal of topping off all tanks with
After fueling, we cast off and cruised overnight to Isla Isabela.
Unfortunately, that put us near the complicated entrance to Puerto Villamil
at 3:30 a.m. We anchored outside, rather than chance using our poor charts
of the harbor. At 7:30, we were pulling anchor to move inside when we were
greeted by the Capitania de Puerto. He wanted to know what this foreign
vessel was up to. Before leaving Puerto Ayora, we had our agent arrange for
our stop at Villamil, which normally isn't allowed for foreign cruisers.
We plan to remain anchored in the harbor until Monday morning, then begin
our crossing to Chile.
December 12, 2006
It is no wonder that Darwin and other naturalists were attracted by the
Galapagos ecosystems. Even among closely spaced islets, fauna and flora
adaptation to different environments is striking. So far, we have taken two
chartered boat trips to offshore islets and toured the Charles Darwin
Station, the local research facility. All were guided by naturalists.
Today, we will travel to the highlands to view large tortoises in the wild.
We may be the only cruising vessel in the archipelago. Sailboats heading to
the Marquesas Islands will not be here until February or March. Visits are
limited to 20 days and most cruisers do not want to enter the South Pacific
until the end of its hurricane season, in March.
The government scheme welcomes cruisers, but within circumscribed
conditions. Your dinghy is best left on board, because a cadre of water
taxis expect the business. And if you want to see nearby locations, they
want you to hire boats chartered for that purpose. Rates charged, however,
are very reasonable. Unless you have acquired special permits, months in
advance, use of your own vessel to tour the islands is prohibited.
Our anchorage at Puerto Ayora is filled with commercial tour boats, 60 to
120 feet length. These vessels service tourists arriving by aircraft from
Quito. Two thirds are taking visitors to shore destinations for wildlife
viewing. The balance are equipped for scuba diving trips. We utilized
smaller boats departing from the northeast side of Isla Santa Cruz Small
freighters arrive and discharge cargo by crane into small lightering barges,
powered by outboard skiffs tied alongside. It is very labor intensive. We
were the only private cruising boat in the harbor.
On Wednesday, we will backtrack to nearby Isla Baltra. We contacted a
ship's agent before arrival to help us with clearance, tours and fueling.
After fueling, we will travel overnight to Puerto Villamil, on Isla Isabela.
On Monday, we expect to begin the passage to Arica, Chile.
December 7, 2006
At 10 a.m. this morning, we anchored at Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz, Islas
Galapagos, Equador. We will spend the day removing salt, changing oil,
doing boat maintenance and resting.
By the time our anchor was down, a water taxi with the Capatania de Puerto,
an Agriculture Officer and our agent, Ricardo Arenas were on board. Ricardo
attended to all of the entry issues, arranged field trips to small islands
and the highlands for wildlife viewing, and the Darwin Research Center. He
also provided diesel fueling service for Ice Dancer II.
Tomorrow, we will start looking around. Midday, a friend from Houston will
join us and stay on board. He had planned to make the trip from Mexico, but
was unable to make it happen.
We have covered 4,600 nm since leaving Cordova, in September, putting us
over half way to Cape Horn.
December 06, 2006 2 p.m.
This morning, we passed the first of the outlying Islas Galapagos. Like
many volcanic archipelagoes, this one stretches across a considerable
distance. We expect to anchor at Puerto Ayora, Thursday morning.
With respect to range, when full we carry 2,000 gallons of diesel. Our
average over 11,800nm on this boat is 1.5 nm/gal or a run-dry total of
3,000 range, not counting generator fuel use. That burn rate is at our
cruise speed of about 8.7 knots, but is made up of days as low as 6.5 and as
high as 10 knots at the same throttle setting. Current direction and speed
are the big factors as are winds and waves, which generally go in the same
direction. Reducing engine RPM increases range. For example, it is 2950nm
to Nuka Hiva, Marquesas from the Galapagos. But, the current drift is 10 to
20 nm/day directly for them. So, the effective distance is about 2800 nm,
and if you slowed boat speed, 3500 nm would be achievable, giving a 700 mile
or 400 gallon reserve. Still, I would have to bring my worry beads.
At about sundown we will cross the equator near the north end of Isla
December 4, 2006 4 p.m. CST
Conditions in the ITCZ would fit nicely into a Twilight Zone script. The
sky is highly overcast. Convective cells form thunderheads and squalls;
seventeen within ten miles showing on the radar, right now. Each squall
seems to produce its own chop and wind, confusing the surface. Fortunately,
the ITCZ wind doesn't carry the harsh seas and spray of the gales out of the
Tehuantepec or Papagaya Gulfs, and the showers are helpful for washing salt
off the boat.
Currents, and to a lesser extent seas, slowed us considerably the past two
days, throwing askew our planned arrival in the Islas Galapagos and Puerto
Ayora. Our scheme was to spend a day cruising among the islands and anchor
at the offical port just before sundown. Now it looks like cruising among
the islands may be in the dark with arrival on Thursday morning. We will
reevaluate when closer.
December 3, 2006 6:30 p.m. CST
I think that we are entering the ITCZ. Seas today were better behaved, but
this evening this wind is piping up, again, about 20 to 25 knots on port
beam. Swell is lighter, but too much spray to think about barbecuing,
All this water and no room in the freezers for fish.
December 2, 2006 6 p.m.
E-mail messaging through the Winlink system continues to be reliable and
efficient. The ham-radio-based system has limited speed, so we use it for
text messages, only. Voice communication with other boats is hit or miss,
but the big land-based operators with beam antennas are easy to contact.
Checking in with the Maritime Mobile Net during the day on 14.300MH works
well, for example.
The past 24 hours have been windy, salty and bumpy. It feels like we may be
working our way out of the Tehauntepec gale. It has been right on our beam.
It is probably good for sailing, but just a pain for us. Ports, windows and
most doors were closed to keep out the salt spray, which wasn't nearly as
nice as open.
We had a brown boobie ride with us last night. Guess what he left in return
for the favor. No good deed goes unpunished.
December 1, 2006 6 p.m. CST Friday
Day two of our Zihuatanejo to Galapagos crossing was great. A group of
small porpoises found us, which is fun, but ordinary. But this group had
yellow-fin tuna tagging along, and one took a large, skirted lure that we
were trolling in our wake. After 45 minutes, the 50 pounder was tired
enough to gaff and bring aboard. Tonight's dinner is sashimi with sushi
Not long afterward, Gail noticed a large sea turtle that was trapped in net
debris. We circled back, grabbed a two-inch hawser included in the mess and
Gail cut the turtle loose. We dragged the net on board, to prevent another
entanglement. She organized an earlier turtle rescue, in Hawaii. That one
was entangled in a gill net stretched from shore.
Sea conditions were flat, today. We are expecting a blow this weekend,
coming out of the Gulf of Tehuantepec, but don't know how it will affect us
at 300 miles offshore.
Last night the porpoise trails in the water were highlighted with
luminescent critters. It was interesting to see against the star-filled