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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.


Sunday 12/31/06
Antofagasta

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 exotic places.

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 Antarctic waters.

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, San Diego.

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.

Thursday 12/21/06
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.

Wednesday 12/20/06
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 degrees true.

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
00-57.9S 090-57.8W

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 diesel.

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
Puerto Ayora

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
00-44.9S 090-18.6W

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.
00-36.3N 91-33.1W

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 Isabela.

December 4, 2006 4 p.m. CST
05-54.9N 094-30.7W

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
08-14.4N 095-47.5W

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, tonight.

All this water and no room in the freezers for fish.

December 2, 2006 6 p.m.
10-32.4N 097-05.0W

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
13-17.8N 098-48.9W

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 rice.

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 sky.

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