18 March 2010 | Panama City
Around 6pm, Alex and Panu decided to get some sleep to prepare for the night watches, so I grabbed a book and threw on the autopilot as the sun went down. I decided to see if I could catch us some supper and threw out a little imitation squid. The reel was screaming less than 15 minutes later. I grabbed the rod and started reeling, but the fish snapped the 40lb test immediately. I put on an 80lb leader and 15 minutes later hooked something else that felt bigger. It nearly took all the line off the spool before I got it stopped. After a 20 minute fight, I had a long fairly skinny fish on the boat that was shaped quite a bit like a northern, but silver and blue with a green streak and yellow spots. I was pretty sure it was a mackerel, so I filleted it up and tossed it in the fridge for dinner. It was around 4 hours into the trip and we already had fresh fish on the boat. Panu woke up and decided to hang out on the bow. He had his headlamp on and thought he heard something. He spent the next 15 minutes with a pod of dolphins circling the bow of the boat and coming up and making that weird squeaking sound that dolphins make. They were just playing around the bow and coming within arms length of him, following his headlamp. He said it was one of the most amazing things he’s seen and he was laughing so hard he was nearly crying. We cooked up the mackerel and had a great meal and the wind was perfect (about 15 knots from the north). We had a small problem with the jib during the night and also had another encounter with a tanker, but disaster was avoided in both cases. Panu and I were both pretty sure that we saw something resembling whales, but we were both dead tired and pretty sure it was just our imaginations. I was on the helm from 3am until 7 and around 6:30 there was another pod of dolphins that were about 100 ft away jumping completely out of the water, doing flips. I have no idea if they were feeding or just messing around, but it was the first time I had seen it in nature and really cool. We ended up seeing three pods in the first 24 hours. I tested our weather system and it worked much better than it had been next to the city with the cell phone interference. We were now in clean ocean water, so we tested the water maker and that works great (it takes 25 minutes to fill a 2 liter bottle and tastes a bit like plastic, but it’ll work). We cleared the final point of panama and pointed the boat towards the Galapagos. By 2:30pm, we had lost sight of land. With great wind almost the entire first day, we were able to clear over 130 nautical miles. If all goes according to plan, the next time we’ll see land is in 9 days (still around 750 nm) we’re just hoping to make it in one peace and with our sanity.