April 1, 2013

Arrived in Cocos Island

Important note: Our computer crashed and we lost all emails, contacts and documents. Please email us so that we have your contact again.

2013-03-31_cocos-island.JPGSee more pictures here.

TOPtoTOP was warmly welcomed today by park ranger Esteban Herrrera at Cocos Island (N05.32W087.03) to check the underwater after an impact with a floating log on the 6 days voyage from Panama over Las Perlas towards Hawaii.


The island is unique! 15 % of the plants are endemic and 60 animals you find only here...

At the moment we just sent a request to park director Fernenado Quiros so that we can investigate the garbage washed ashore and send the data to the International Pacific Research Center in Hawaii. Furher we like to produce a documentary and report about this special place to inspire and motivate even more people to protect our planet in the next destinations.

Here some pictures.
See also "Area de Conservation Marina Isla del Coco".
More coming soon... At the moment we are still waiting the respond of Costa Rica's immigration office who is able to give us permission to land...

Today we had Easter Bunny on Pachamama with a lot of excitement for the kids, but also some tears, because Johannes has to leave to make it back in time to Switzerland for his exams to enter medical school.
Here his last statement before hopping into the dinghy and rowing over to Luna Rosa, a luxury motor yacht. Captain Salvador agreed to give Johannes a lift to the continent. Now we are the only boat on Cocos Island except the boat of the Park Rangers.
"Some say life is just a game. I never believed that. But reminiscing the last two months, it was just poker! So many parameters had to be right... from the arrival until the journey's happy end. The US Visa, I got it in 2 weeks. Two very important packages sent with the public post arrived just on the last day in Panama City, and so on... Life is a game, means you may win, but you don't have to be afraid of losing. You need good strategies, persistence, sometimes to take high risks and a pinch of luck. It makes fun; it's adventurous and very exciting!
The price was all these unforgettable experiences between Trinidad and Cocos Island on the TOPtoTOP Expedition.
I feel like a winner, just one thing bothers me: I'm next to one of the most beautiful and unique islands, but won't be able to set a foot on the ground of it, because the immigration issue is still not solved. The only possibility to hitchhike back to Costa Rica for weeks is now! I cannot decide when I want to leave, because I have to be back to prepare for my medicine studies. So my boat leaves in 30 minutes... Goodbye!"


Finally we got permission to go on land and thanks to the rangers we had a wonderful time. The swell is increasing and we may have to leave the anchorage tonight. So the Cocos report comes as soon as we are able to do it and get internet connection?

Posted by dario at 8:51 AM

April 6, 2013

Cocos Island

More pictures here!
2013-04-05_cocos_hammer-shark_foto-felipe.jpgisland of hammer sharks
2013-04-05_cocos_birds_foto-guiermo.jpgunique forests: 15% of plants are endemic and 60 animals you find only here
2013-04-04_cocos_submarine-1.JPGSubmarine on MV Argo

So the kids could run around a bit we were finally allowed on land. And so the adventure started...
After a long swim in the little river Steven, one of the park rangers, showed us around their camp. The first thing he showed us was a normal shed but filled to the roof with bags full of fishing lines. These are all the lines they found within the boundaries of the protected area of the island (until 12 miles around the island). Illegal fishing is one of the main threats to the island besides irresponsible diving and invasive exotic plant and animal species. In 2012 more than 200km of fishing lines and 5000 hooks were seized. The green turtle and the pelagic thresher are among the most caught species. Thanks to the park rangers around 80% of them can be released alive.
2013-04-05_cocos_illegal-fishing-traped-shark_foto-felipe1.jpg2013-04-05_cocos_illegal-fishing-traped-shark_foto-felipe2.jpgvictims of illegal fishing
Yet what can you do with so many fishing lines, hooks, buoys and ropes? The rangers found a really cool answer to that- make a hanging bridge. This bridge leads over the river to the hydroelectric plant which produces all the power needed on the island and more.

2013-04-04_cocos_bridge-4.JPGAlegra on the upcycled bridge

2013-04-06_cocos_submarine.JPGWe also had the unique opportunity to go aboard Argo and have a look at their yellow submarine.

As part of our on-going plastic investigation we decided to make a trip to Chatham bay to see how much plastic we could find. Plastic that is washed ashore here is quite a problem because there aren't many possibilities to get it off the island to mainland Costa Rica.
In Chatham Bay it was high tide so we couldn't find any rubbish however Eduardo, the ranger that stays there showed us the plastic he had found in the last couple of days- a plastic bottle and a plastic bag. He also told us most of the plastic comes from Peru and Ecuador which he can tell due to the labels on the bottles. The currents at the moment touch the island more in the South so probably more plastic could be found in the Bahia Iglesias. The most plastic comes to Chatham Bay between February and March and in September.
When we asked Eduardo about the most unpleasant he has seen on the island, he answered „the human bodies without heads swimming in the sea"... Explanation: Cocos Island was already one of the favorite places at the early time of piracy. Today, the surrounding waters is the place where the Mexican and Columbian drug mafia meets to do their deals. It looks like that they are sometimes quite bloody.

2013-04-05_cocos_tempered-forest_foto-guiermo1.jpgcloud forest as a perfect indicator of climate change

The cloud forest is unique on the planet. It starts already at 400 m at Cocos which is absolutely rare and the reason why it is of so much importance for climatologists. This forest is one of the best indicators of climate change. Even their data base only goes back 6 years, they see a trend of less precipitation which effects the fauna on the island. Park rangers like Eduardo and Guillermo who are already on the island for more than a decade, can confirm this trend.

Thank you to the crew of Argo that showed us their around boat and submarine and brought us to Chatham Bay and back.

2013-04-06_cocos_clean-up-7.JPGWe would like to sincerely thank all the rangers for sharing all their knowledge with us and being so helpful and accommodating.

Many thanks to park ranger Steven. He assisted Dario scuba diving to hammer the lower rudder bearing back in place and glue it with Sikaflex. Sabine and Dario also fixed the fridge thanks to the new PAPST ventilators. Now we are ready to sail the approx. 4200 nm to Hawaii. We hope that we have good wind and get there begin of May.

Note: One of the park rangers told me about an interesting site. Check it out:RESERVA ECOLOGICA YAGUARUNDI

Posted by dario at 7:35 PM

April 13, 2013

Salina completed circumnavigation in Galapagos

More pictures here!
2013-04-12_galapagos.JPGOn the 8th of April we started celebrating Salina's birthday on Cocos Island with a treasure hunt, where Andri got a small shark bite in his right arm while playing at the beach.

At Salina's birthday we entered the magic waters of the Galapagos Islands after 460 nm sailing from Cocos. For Meret it was the first time crossing the equator and being on the Southern Hemisphere.

The reason we went South was no wind North of Cocos. So we couldn't make it into the NE-trades. We were lucky going South and had good wind conditions in the notorious doldrums and encountered already today some breeze from the SE-trades approaching Porto Villamile.

At the moment we are anchored at N 00.57.879 W 090.57.846 on Island Isabella at the same spot like 2004 where we had our first ultrasound and saw Salina first time in Sabine's stomach: Means that Salina completed her first circumnavigation in Isabella, Galapagos. Congratulation!
On the trip from Cocos Island Salina got some strange infection at her knees, what we go to check tomorrow at the medical center here, before we say hello to all our old friends from 2004 and continue the approx.. 4300 nm-leg to Hawaii. In the SE trade-wind-belt we will do as much West as possible till about 130 W and may till to the Marquesas, before we climb North towards Hawaii, crossing the equator again where the doldrums stretches not too much.

Read our report from Galapagos 2004!

Posted by dario at 7:10 AM

April 14, 2013


See pictures here!


The port captain allowed us to stay 2 nights, so that we were able to show Salina's knees to a doctor. We were able to buy the right antibiotics. Our old friend Susanna helped us to stock up with fruits and vegetables. Old friend Charley guided us to see some animals and Pipa cooked us a wonderful fish.

It was just great to see all our Galapagos friends again.
Some of the school children we visited in 2004 are married and have kids too.
The population of Villamile nearly tripled and there is a wonderful church. Many tourists, hotels, cars and a port with tourist boats changed the place in regards to 2004.
The climate changed in the way that they have stronger and harder rainfalls, so that Villamille got flooded.
The best for us was to see our old close friends Susanna and Charley again.
Now we are ready to sail after we fixed our sea water pump. Goodbye Galapagos - Hawaii we are coming!


Posted by dario at 2:16 PM

April 21, 2013

Pos. S03.26W106.26, course 270, speed 7 kn.

Satphone on SY Pachamama is down. no communication possible except SSB UTC 01.30 on kHz 8155. All fine on board. Pos. S03.26W106.26, course 270, speed 7 kn.

Posted by dario at 1:03 PM

April 26, 2013

Towards Hawaii

Pachamama and team are going well despite no computer/sat phone and they are still sailing towards the Marqueses and will soon turn towards Hawaii once they are able to get a reliable weather report. Another boat, 'Bidule' is doing the same journey and has advised Pacha Mama to turn when they reach 130' west. Today they are at 120' west.

Posted by dario at 6:38 PM