We’re starting to really gear up for our trip to the Galapagos. We’ll check out of Mexico around the 1st of March as that’s when our visas expire. It will take two to three weeks to get to the Galapagos from Puerto Vallarta and then we’ll stay there for one month. After that, we’ll sail west to the Marquesas Islands and then the French Polynesian Islands. It will take us another two to four weeks to get to the Marquesas (depending on winds and weather). Our timeline is pretty much dictated by visas, wind and weather so there are a lot of variables to consider which makes the planning a bit sketchy.
What we do know for certain is that before we leave here we need to do a lot of preparations. Probably more than we did before we left San Diego. To give you an idea of what it takes…here’s our current list (that we just started making…not even halfway done I’m guessing).
1) Get the boat hauled out and bottom repainted – I know what you’re thinking, “Didn’t you do that in San Diego?” Yes, yes we did. They did a crappy job. Really crappy job. We not only see the original paint, but in some places we see bare metal. It should have lasted us 2 years. Instead it barely lasted 6 months. And no, we haven’t been scrubbing it and knocking the paint off ourselves. So we found a yard here that will haul us out and let us do the work ourselves which will save a lot of money and make Andy feel a lot better knowing exactly what’s being done.
2) Finish painting the topside. Not a huge deal, but kind of a nice to have. It turns out the paint that Andy did in San Blas is not sticking so we really have to redo the whole thing. Need to do research to figure out what went wrong.
3) Make a list of spare parts needed and buy said parts. Once you’re out there in the ocean and something breaks (and something will break), you have to be able to fix it yourself. Now everyone who knows us knows I’m married to MacGyver, but even he gets in a jam sometimes and runs out of chewing gum and wire so it’s very important to plan this part well so as not to throw the timeline off too much, overrun the budget or have to cancel the whole project.
4) Begin inventory of all the food and drink we have onboard to begin making our provisioning list. We have stuff stuffed everywhere. Literally, everywhere. And sometimes we forget what we have and where we stuffed it. For example, we got home from the store one day with 3 boxes of sushi rice and 3 bottles of cooking oil. Want to know where I stored them? Next to the 2 large bags of sushi rice and 4 bottles of cooking oil we already had.
5) Provision. After making the list, I need to scout out the area and figure out the best place to buy everything. I’m guessing I’ll go to Costco, the Mega, local meat market and probably the local stores for veggies and other Mexican specific things we’ve come to love. The act of buying all of these groceries takes 3 times a long as you think it does as we have no car and usually don’t have any clue where we’re going.
6) Figure out where to put everything we buy.
7) Come up with a few menu items that I can cook ahead of time for the first few days out as I tend to get queasy and won’t feel like cooking.
8) Figure out visa requirements and route after the Marquesas. Everything before that seems pretty solid, but we’re not really that far in the planning past “lets go to the French Polynesians!”
We have about 2 months to finish everything up, which sounds like a lot of time, but remember what I said about everything taking three times as long as you think.
So now that I’ve laid out the tentative scope of the project and the tentative timeline, lets cover our very firm budget. We are on a fixed income with some stashed in the bank for the days we overrun our budget (so I guess, even that is not really firm). But reality is, there is a finite amount of money and the theory is that we won’t need it (because we’re so good at managing our monthly budget) and will come home with a good chunk to help us acclimate ourselves back into civilization. With that said, here are the expenses so far that we’re supposed to cover on this “fixed income.” All numbers are approximate as I’m too lazy to go looking for all of the exact numbers in our various emails.
Haul out - $1200
Additional bottom paint - $1000 (I know, why so expensive? We have to have special paint since we’re aluminium…it can’t have any copper in it. I guess it takes an extra 2-300 bucks to remove the copper? Kind of like fat free food costing more than the good stuff)
Additional tools to do the work on the bottom - $200 (this is Andy’s cushion. I know from experience he’ll find something he needs that we don’t have)
Additional paint for the topside – who knows…I’m guessing $250
Spare Parts – unknown , no idea, probably lots
Food/drinks - $1500 (knowing us, I’m probably underestimating here. Remember this will need to get us across the ocean…twice. We want to stock up as things get more expensive the more remote you get).
Galapagos - $1000 give or take
$300 agent fee
$300 park fees ($100 pp)
$250 – various fees and taxes
That’s what we know of so far….
We’re still in the initial pre-planning stages so I do expect a significant amount of scope increase as well as numerous timeline changes and probably a few calls to the financial advisor when our budget is overrun. But the plus here is that I only have to get management approval from one person for any of these changes, so the bureaucracy is considerably less. So anyone worried about me losing my touch, keep the faith…I think we can do it!