Galapagos

Sitting right atop the Equator, approximately 600 miles directly west of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands had no original inhabitants. They were discovered in 1535 by Tomas de Berlanga, the Spanish Bishop of Panama, when his ship drifted by the islands.The Galapagos Islands first appeared on maps in the late 16th century, and were named Islands of the Tortoises in reference to the giant tortoises found there. The first navigation chart of the Galapagos islands was done by the buccaneer Ambrose Cowley in 1684, and he reportedly named the individual islands after some of his fellow pirates, as well as European nobility. Until the early 19th century the islands were used as a hideout by pirates who pilfered Spanish galleons carrying gold and silver from South America, back to Spain. In 1793, James Colnett, an officer of the British Royal Navy, and explorer, suggested the islands could be used as base for the whalers operating in the Pacific Ocean as they offered fresh water, and an almost endless supply of meat. Consequently, thousands of the Galapagos tortoises were captured and kept on board whale ships as a means of providing of fresh protein. That hunting orgy almost brought the indigenous tortoise close to extinction. Over the next few decades, whale ships continued to exploit the new whaling ground and the Galapagos Islands became a frequent stop for the whalers. Ecuador annexed the Galapagos Islands in 1831, and named them the Archipelago of Ecuador. A year later a group of convicts were shipped in to populate the island of Floreana; Spanish name Isla Santa Maria. The islands became famous around the world after the survey ship HMS Beagle, arrived in the Galapagos on September 15, 1835. On board was a naturalist named Charles Darwin. Darwin’s subsequent studies of local wildlife noted that almost all of the animals and plants here were endemic to the islands, which of course contributed to his famous theory of natural selection, and put these special islands on the map for the rest of the world to experience. In 1920’s and 1930’s, a group of Norwegian settlers arrived in the islands. Ecuador provided them with free land, and no taxation for the first ten years. When word of this deal spread to America and Europe, additional settlers arrived. The islands became Ecuador’s first national park in 1959, and these now aggressively protected islands and the surrounding marine reserve were both declared World Heritage sites

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Panama Canal – Colon to Balboa

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CANAL

In 1524 the king of Spain,Charles V ordered the feasibility of a maritime route across Panama and decided it would be too hard to do with pick and shovel.
Panama became part of Colombia when it broke away from Spain in 1821 and the French negotiated the Canal Project and started excavation in 1880 under the direction of Count Ferdinand de Lesseps, the constructor of the Suez Canal.
After 20 years fighting the Jungle, yellow fever, malaria and financial corruption the project was abandoned.
In 1903 Panama became an independent nation and at the same time signed a treaty with the US giving them authority to construct and operate the Canal for 100 years.
The lands along side the Canal where controlled by the US including the ports of Balboa and Colon. The Canal was completed in 1914 and the first ship passed through on the 15th August.
The Canal and infrastructure passed under Panamanian control on 31st December 1999.

THE TRANSIT

The transit of the Canal of Panama for leisure boats is generally done over two days and the process for me was as follow:

Lots of paperwork is done including copies of passport, Boat registration, cruising permit and visa.
The a date is set to measure the boat by the Canal authority to calculate the charges.
Once the boat is measured and the fees paid in cash plus a refundable bond the date of the transit is set. (The bond is refundable provided that you do not cause any delay to their operations)
The Add measurer checks that your boat is fit to cross and that you have 4 persons on board to handle the 60 feet long lines that will hold your boat steady during the rising and lowering of the boat while in the Loch.
Also you need lots of fenders including tires in case you go near the concrete wall.
We started the transit at that Flats which is a departure point in the port of Cristobal in the Atlantic side of Panama.
The Canal Authority provide an adviser that tell you all you should know and expect during the crossing. He also has the time and number of boats that will be together in the loch.
The Gatun Lochs are 3 chambers in line and will raise the boats 26 meters to Lake Gatun.
That night is spent tied to a mooring until a new adviser arrives to take you across the lake and various cuts to the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Lochs that will lower the boats to the Pacific Ocean.

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Zip line in Panama

Bocas del Toro (meaning “Mouth of the Bull”) is a province of Panama. Christopher Columbus and his crew first visited the area in 1502. Bocas del Toro borders the Caribbean Sea to the north, Limón Province of Costa Rica to the west, Chiriquí Province to the south, and Ngöbe-Buglé Comarca to the east. The province contains two national parks, Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park and La Amistad International Park. Christopher Columbus explored the area in 1502 while searching for the passage to the Pacific Ocean. Columbus’s original name for the island was Isla del Drago. In colonial times, Bocas del Toro was part of Veraguas. It was originally part of Costa Rica until, in one of many territorial disputes, Colombia took control of it with armed forces. The then government made a reservation called Bocas del Toro in 1834. In 1850, Bocas del Toro became a part of Chiriqui, then was separated from it and became part of Colon. On November 16, 1903, Bocas del Toro was separated from Colon and became its own province The national parks in the province are Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park (Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos), which contains most of Isla Bastimentos and some smaller nearby islands and extends into the large nature preserve at the Red Frog Beach Island Resort Panama_-_Bocas_del_Toro.svg Bocas2 1024px-Amanecer_Bocas_del_Toro 1280px-Red_poison_dart_frog

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Cusco – Peru

In 1532, Spanish conquistadors under Francisco Pizarro first made contact with the mighty Inca Empire that ruled parts of present-day Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Colombia. Within 20 years, the Empire was in ruins and the Spanish were in undisputed possession of the Inca cities and wealth.
The Inca Empire had been collecting gold and silver for centuries and the Spanish soon found most of it. A great amount of gold was even hand-delivered to the Spanish as part of Atahualpa’s ransom.
The long-term effects of the arrival of the Spanish on the population of South America were simply catastrophic.
While this is the case for every group of Native-Americans that encountered Europeans from the fifteenth century onwards, the Incan population suffered a dramatic and quick decline following contact with the Spaniards.
The single greatest cause of death of the Incas by far was disease. Old World diseases like Smallpox and Measles brought over unknowingly by colonists and conquistadors wreaked havoc on native populations at a greater rate than any army or armed conflict.
The fact that the Inca did not have as strong of a writing tradition as the Aztecs or Maya is one reason why it is more difficult to estimate population decline or any events after conquest.
Beyond the devastation of the local populations by disease, there was also considerable enslavement, pillaging and destruction from warfare. Thousands of women were taken from the local populations by the Spanish and used by conquistadors as personal slaves.
Another significant effect on the people in South America was the spread of Christianity. As Pizarro and the Spanish subdued the continent and brought it under their control, they forcefully converted many to Christianity, claiming to have educated them in the ways of the “one true religion.” With the depopulation of the local populations along with the capitulation of the Inca Empire, the Spanish missionary work after colonization began was able to continue unimpeded. It took just a generation for the entire continent to be under Christian influence and eradication of their culture.

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Machu Picchu

Tucked away in the rocky countryside northwest of Cuzco, Peru, Machu Picchu is believed to have been a royal estate or sacred religious site for Inca leaders, whose civilization was virtually wiped out by Spanish invaders in the 16th century.

Historians believe Machu Picchu was built at the height of the Inca Empire, which dominated western South America in the 15th and 16th centuries.

It was abandoned an estimated 100 years after its construction, probably around the time the Spanish began their conquest of the mighty pre-Columbian civilization in the 1530s. There is no evidence that the conquistadors ever attacked or even reached the mountaintop citadel, however; for this reason, some have suggested that the residents’ desertion occurred because of a smallpox epidemic.

There are many theories of the purpose of Machu Picchu and amongst them are that Machu Picchu served as a royal estate for Inca emperors and nobles, a religious site, pointing to its proximity to mountains and other geographical features that the Incas held sacred, a women’s retreat or a city devoted to the coronation of kings, among many examples.

The site’s finely crafted stonework, terraced fields and sophisticated irrigation system bear witness to the Inca civilization’s architectural, agricultural and engineering skills. Its central buildings are prime examples of a masonry technique mastered by the Incas in which stones were cut to fit together without mortar.

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Lima – Peru

The city played a leading role in the history of the New World from 1542, when Charles V established the Viceroyalty of Peru there, to the 18th century when the creation of the Viceroyalties of New Granada (1718) and particularly of La Plata gradually put an end to the omnipotence of the oldest Spanish colony on South America.

The Historic Centre of Lima, known as the “Ciudad de los Reyes” (City of Kings), is located in the Rimac valley, and was founded by Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro in January 1535 on the territories led by the Chiefdom of Rimac. Lima was the political, administrative, religious and economic capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru and the most important city of the Spanish dominions in South America. The city played a leading role in the history of the New World from 1542 to the 18th century when the creation of the Viceroyalties of New Granada (1718) and of La Plata (1777) gradually put an end to the omnipotence of the oldest Spanish colony on South America.

Although severely damaged by earthquakes, this ‘City of the Kings’ was, until the middle of the 18th century, the capital and most important city of the Spanish dominions in South America. Many of its buildings, such as the Convent of San Francisco (the largest of its type in this part of the world), are the result of collaboration between local craftspeople and others from the Old World.

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Sailing to Panama

After 4 months with the boat growing mussels in the marina it was time to leave and haul out in Panama. Is is exciting and daunting at the same time, because the coast of Colombia can be dangerous at times due to current and wind.
I will be sailing 15 miles of the coast of Barranquilla where the sea can be very confused due to the river Magdalena where the current can be felt 10 miles offshore and debris and large tree logs are everywhere within 15 miles.
When fresh water enters the sea it displaces the salt water on the surface creating unusual currents.
Having two hulls give you a double the chance to hit something.
After 48 hours the seawall of the port of Colon was a welcoming sight and a promise of good sleep for the night.
This long wall was originally constructed from the rocks taken from the Fort at Portobello 6 miles away.

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