-- the full on-line record of the 1998-2003 round-the-world voyage of Brec Morgan aboard the Otter!

Note: also "resolves" to this site, so it's easy to remember!
Also, see photos of the St. Maarten Yacht Club's March 17th celebration of Brec's return.
The ceremonial "Tossing of the 'Voyage-End Dock Lines'" went off as planned at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 17th.
Click here to order a copy of Brec's Homecoming Compilation of E-Mailed Reports.

Other Pages & Links


About Brec's Art

About Brec's Reports

List of Reports

E-mail Excerpts

Block Island Times articles
May 17, 2003-front page
May 17, 2003-full article
March 24, 2001
September 29, 2001

Homecoming Articles

AP Story-filed 5/17/03
New London Day

Links to friends
Link to SV Karma
(a companion vessel during much of Brec's Journey)

Contact Information

for Brec

for John Morgan

Phone for John Morgan

Regular Mail:
c/o John R. Morgan
P. O. Box 1982
New London, Conn.

E-mail Note:

Please use the following AOL account in the event the e-mails are returned from the above addresses --


Report Four from the Otter: Panama to the Galapagos

Tuesday, May 25, 1999

Puerto Ayora, Academy Bay
Isla Santa Cruz
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Dear Friends and E-mail Family,

While I write this, a blue-footed booby is diving for fish next to the Otter and is being chased by a playful sea lion each time he dives. And I’m reminded of Joseph Conrad’s observation, "Everything can be found at sea according to the spirit of your quest."

At my last writing, I had gotten through the Panama Canal and was at a mooring off the Balboa Yacht Club. It took me two weeks to prepare and leave for the Galapagos. During those two weeks I did last provisioning and boat chores.

My brother John showed up as a surprise and we spent three days in his rented car driving around Colon and Panama City exploring lots of the historic areas and catching up on family news. April 22nd was my birthday and he brought me presents from family that made the distance not seem so far.

There's always that empty feeling for a while when I'm alone again. As I watched his plane take off from the airport, I think of the fact that the longest stretch of ocean of the voyage lies ahead.

If coming down the North Atlantic in winter was a test of endurance in storms, this leg of the Pacific has been a test of patience. I had anticipated maybe 10 days to do the 960 miles to the Galapagos. Maybe 14 or 15 on the outside. It took 23.

The winds were between zero and six knots with no waves. Whispers of wind would ruffle the water and get bubbles going by the boat, but not enough for steerage way and there were days when I had to pull down the mainsail and furl it and roll up the Genoa to stop the constant slatting as we gently rolled.

I had enough fuel to run for three days. I used my first on Day One. I needed to save my third day for motoring into Academy Bay, especially if I got caught with the strong currents running against me in light winds.

And since the water generator rotor was not spinning because we weren't moving, I had to run the engine between one and two hours each day to top off the batteries to power the running lights at night. At two hours per day I could only charge up for 12 consecutive days. It looked from early on that it was going to be more than 12 days. So I conserved as much as possible on power.

Water, too, became a concern and the two gallons a day I was using for drinking and washing soon dropped to two quarts for drinking only. I had visions of being caught too far north of the Galapagos and being swept by the northwest-setting current beyond them. The water might have to last an additional 3,000 miles to the Marquesas in a worst case scenario.

The following excerpts are from the log of the Otter, Panama to the Galapagos.

We're all on the journey,



Monday, April 26 –

I leave Balboa in the afternoon and sail over to Taboga, an island about 10 miles outside the harbor, and pick up a mooring.

I go over the side and clean off the brown algae that's accumulated on the waterline in Balboa's polluted harbor.

I look over all my charts one last time and go to sleep early.

I have pre-voyage anxiety.

Tuesday, April 27 --

8:00 a.m. I drop the mooring and head out past the end of Taboga and turn south to get out of the Bay of Panama. The wind is very light and I wind up motoring most of the day. (The light winds are a pattern that would last for three weeks.)

Wednesday, April 28 –

Still in the Gulf of Panama. A line of porpoises swim by the boat -- I could see them stretched out for a 1/2 mile to either side. They jump and do back-flips as they go by. A sea world in the wild!

Monday, May 3 –

I have only gone 300 miles in seven days. Malpelo Island, a huge tower of deserted rock, is visible in the evening.

Tuesday, May 4 –

Made 26 miles today. Malpelo in view all day.

Wednesday, May 5 –

1:30 a.m. Hit by a rain squall and thunder and lightning storm. The thunder is loud and the flashes illuminate the boat in a crisp, dead white. I see one long water-strike that lasts for seconds. A jagged line running behind some clouds then clear to the water. I'm glad I'm not under it.

I tack away from the storm, heading northwest. It's a tough decision because I will lose a number of hard-won miles by sailing in this direction.

The course as I plotted it on the chart looked like a crazy, zigzag spring compressed by a demented clockmaker.

Just past Malpelo Island the rhumb line shifts to the southwest directly for the Galapagos. But the winds, which are from the southwest, on the nose and light, north of the equator, become southeast below the equator. So, I tried to get some routing in to get nearer those southeast trade winds.

Made 16 miles today. We slowly drift past Malpelo, which stays in view until evening.


Reflections From the Doldrums:

A second full week of 20 and 30 mile days with one day going in a circle and logging zero miles for 24 hours! Getting anywhere was slow. I read six books and kept up on the journal and sketches. And meditated.

I heard a story of a man single-handing that got caught in a five-week dead calm here and became mentally unbalanced. He had visions while becalmed, and came back predicting the end of the world.

I understand now how that could happen out there – especially since while I was there, I was given the real date!

When there's just enough breeze to keep the sails from slatting but not enough to move the boat, there is a great quiet like I've never experienced. A quiet so deep I can hear the air rush past a tern’s wings in the night. A quiet where I can hear the low hum of the radar warming up 30’ high on the mast. A stillness where I dare not make a sound to break it.

About the beginning of the second week, a white bird like a small gull or large tern with a black head and red eyes flies by around the boat. He stays with me to the Galapagos. I feel I've been adopted and it's very comforting. I see him in the darkest hours flying back and forth in front of the forestay.

I dream more vividly than I have in years.

In order to distinguish one day from another I imagine my routine when I was home and what family and friends are doing each day. I'll imagine Monday as a first work day, Fridays I remember the anticipation of the weekend. Saturdays I imagine myself going for a long run and then doing errands and jobs around the house with friends coming over for dinner. Sundays on the boat I sing a few hymns, read a passage or two in the bible, and wind the clock - then imagine the Sunday dinners that Sandy makes.

The days drift by - colored by my imagination and small rituals.


Saturday, May 15 -- Day 19 at sea

I've gotten to within 30 miles of the equator. The wind shifts to the southeast and increases to 15 knots. Finally, I've reached the southeast trade winds!

Everything changes within a few hours. The daily tacking back and forth for a few miles ends. I'm steering almost directly toward where I want to go and we're moving at a good three-to-four knots.

By Sunday, I've logged 76 miles on course. I thought I'd never see it!

Sunday, May 16 – Day 20 at sea

We’re still bowling along at four knots and approaching the equator.

I set up my g.p.s. and start watching it like a countdown to New Year's. The tenths of a mile drop away.

I pour a finger of gin and vermouth in a cup, just enough to cover nine olives, one for each 100 miles of this voyage. I'm standing in the companionway. It's pitch dark as we rush along.

It's cold now at night with the Peru current coming up from the Antarctic; I’m wearing a sweatshirt.

9:02 p.m. The g.p.s. goes to all zeros and then registers a south latitude. I'm a pollywog become a shellback.

I toast Neptune and have a sip of the drink. Olive juice has gotten into it and it tastes awful, but I eat all nine olives.

I feel warm and connected to all the sailors who've crossed the line.

Tuesday, May 18 -- Day 22 at sea

I take a noon sunsight and the sun is north of me at noon. I've also been seeing the Southern Cross in the sky at night, a stunningly beautiful constellation glowing low on the horizon.

Wednesday, May 19 – Day 23 at sea, and Landfall!

7:00 a.m. Sky lightens enough to see Ponta Pitt on Isla San Cristobal, Galapagos -- a misty, smoky, headland under a range of cloud.

There's another 60 miles to go to Isla Santa Cruz and Puerto Ayora in Academy Bay. Now it's dead calm. I furl all sails and motor, glad for having saved the fuel. It could have taken another two or three days to get into port.

The autopilot burned out on the way out of the Gulf of Panama so I hand steer all day. We pass Isla Santa Fe.

5:30 p.m. Enter Academy Bay behind the tiny Isla Caamano with large coamers crashing into black volcanic rock walls to my right and breakers sweeping onto the sand shoals of the small island to my left. A heart-stopping entrance.

6:30 p.m. Set anchor in the busy little port. I am surrounded by tourist charter boats as well as cruising boats on their way, like me, to the Marquesas.



*** The End of Report Four from the Otter ***


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