Logbook Entry 5 - Panama to Galapagos






Miles traveled using SAILS-WIND POWER ONLY: 977 NM


Miles traveled using both SAILS & ENGINES together: 122 NM


Miles traveled using ENGINES – FOSSIL FUELS ONLY: 23 NM









Average Water Temperature: 80 f/26.7 c

Average Air Temperature: 85.5 f/29.7 c

Strongest Wind: 19 Knots (knots are a wind measurement of Nautical Miles per hour)


Ship Sightings:


Cargo Ship "Melchior Schulte" bound for Singapore


Animal Sightings:


Pacific on Passage: Bottlenose Dolphins, Pan-tropical Spotted Dolphins, Red-footed Booby,

Brown Booby, Tuna, Gannets, Flying Fish


Galapágos: Black-tipped Sharks, Galapágos Penguin, Giant Tortoise, Sally Lightfoot Crab, Green Sea Turtles, Stingray, Blue-footed Booby, Pelican, Sea Lion, Marine Iguana


Plastics Collection:

We are all ready to deploy our plastics trawl. Stronger than expected winds prevented us from using the trawl on our last leg.  We hope to deploy it at our first opportunity on this next leg.  


VOS Reports Filed:

We filed 5 VOS reports to NOAA via a satellite communications system. Our average air and sea temperatures were based on this collected data.


Elcie spent a few days in the Pacific Islands of Panama before departing for the Galapágos Islands. We spotted some interesting wildlife on Taboga Island. We were surprised to spot a snake in the tree above the path we were walking on, and surprised again when Molly nearly stepped on a tarantula!  What a loud yell, Molly!

Once underway, we made passage into the eastern Pacific Ocean and encountered cooler weather, cooler water temperatures, and strong winds all the way to the Galapágos Islands.  This weather is unusual at this time of year, but is consistent with a weather pattern called La Niña.  For Elcie, the strong winds were great for sailing, but interfered with our ability to deploy our plastics trawl.  Interestingly, La Niña in the Pacific Ocean is also affecting you!  La Niña changes weather patterns around the world, affecting extreme weather (e.g. freezing temperatures, rain/snowfall, storms) and human health.  Check out this webpage to learn more about La Niña and how it affects our weather here in the United States!


Challenge Question: What does La Niña mean in Spanish? 


During our passage, we saw a lot of dolphins!!  The dolphins love to play in Elcie's bow wave, racing back and forth, and jumping.  Even the Greeks (more than 2,500 years ago!) wrote about dolphin 'bow-riding'. Watching these dolphins, especially when they appear to look up at us, makes us feel very happy.  Some were Bottlenose Dolphins and some were Pan-Tropical Spotted Dolphins. We had good opportunities to take photos and videos of them.

Check out this video we made of the Bottlenose Dolphins.


What is a Bow Wave?

A bow wave is the wave that forms at the bow (front) of a ship when it moves through the water.   Even if people cannot see an actual wave in the water in front of the ship, animals swimming in the water can feel the 'push' of the wave.


Challenge question:  Why do you think dolphins ride bow waves?


We also had a bird hitchhiking on Elcie for a few days. It was a laughing gull, which usually live near the coast.  It may have been tired this far out to sea, as it rode with us for several hours. It was raining on the day it joined us but this didn't stop Moonlight, the cat, from trying to chase it. At one point, the gull looked in through the window to see what was going on inside! 

We saw only one ship up close during this passage. It was the cargo ship "Melchior Schulte" and was headed to Singapore. It probably had come through the Panama Canal.


We crossed the equator on Day 5 of our passage. [Click here to review the map of this leg and locate the equator.]  The equator is an imaginary line drawn around the Earth equally distant from both poles, dividing the Earth into northern and southern hemispheres.  It is a funny tradition for crew who have never crossed the equator before (also known as 'slimy pollywogs' or 'griffins') to perform some "tests" for King Neptune (God of the Sea) to prove they are worthy sailors (also known as 'trusty shellbacks' or 'sons/daughters of Neptune').  All of our crew passed the tests and received a certificate. 


Historical Side Note:

Accounts of ship crews around the world performing variations on this line-crossing ritual, or "Order of Neptune", date back at least 400 years.  Throughout history, the rituals often involved extreme physical challenges that are now considered abusive and banned.  Note this excerpt from one shipman's diary: "[I] was then placed on a plank, which could be easily tilted up into a large bath of water. — They then lathered my face & mouth with pitch [tar] and paint, & scraped some of it off with a piece of roughened iron hoop. —a signal being given I was tilted head over heels into the water, where two men received me & ducked me. —at last, glad enough, I escaped."  This diary entry was written by Charles Darwin, a young British man (early 20s) serving as a naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle circumnavigating the world (1831-1836). 


Do you recognize this name?  For years Charles Darwin explored the coast of South America, including the Galapágos Islands, and filled notebooks with careful observations on animals, plants and geology, and collected thousands of specimens, which he crated and sent home for further study.  The HMS Beagle voyage provided Darwin with a lifetime of experiences to ponder, and the seeds of a theory he would work on, and become famous for, for the rest of his life.


Challenge question: What theory is Charles Darwin famous for?



Once we arrived in the Galapágos Islands, we had to clear in with the officials. This included the immigration and customs officials, a health officer and an inspection of our hulls and also and inspection inside for bugs or other critters. The Galapágos Islands are a protected area and the officials are careful not to let in invasive species.











The Galapágos Islands are full of amazing animals. Here are photos of some of the wildlife we saw up close. The animals have little fear of humans.

We also made the video below about some of our adventures in the Galapágos. We visited Las Grietas, a fissure in the earth that was filled with saltwater. We hiked to Tortuga Bay, a beach for swimming and it also had many marine iguanas. One day we took a taxi boat to a neighboring island called Floreana and swam with sea turtles and rays.



All in all, the Galapágos have been a great adventure and we are sorry to be leaving! However, we are headed off to another exciting island some 2,000 miles to the south and a bit east. Go look at a map and see if you can figure out where we are headed next!



Official Name:   Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Population:   26,640

Area:    3,093 sq. miles (8010.833 km2)

Capital:   Puerto Ayora

Type of Government: Representative democratic republic

Currency:   U.S dollars

Language:   Spanish, English

Highest Point:   Wolf Volcano 5,600 ft (1,707m)

Climate:   “dry and warm” seasons

Natural Hazards:    fires, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, and floods


Country Flag:





















Interesting Fact: The Galápagos was home to the only surviving giant Pinta tortoise, affectionately named "Lonesome George"  or "Solitario Jorge" in Spanish.  Richard and Jessica actually saw him during a visit in 1998.  Unfortunately he died in June 2012 at an estimated 100+ years old.  He is considered a symbol of conservation because his home island was overrun with non-native goats that destroyed valuable tortoise habitat, and led to his species' extinction.  His body was preserved through taxidermy (i.e. 'stuffed') and returned to the islands for display at the Charles Darwin Research Station.  The following words were inscribed on the information panel outside of his enclosure at the Galápagos National Park before his death:

“Whatever happens to this single animal, let him always remind us that the fate of all living things on Earth is in human hands.”



Read more about LONESOME GEORGE!

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