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We left Gig Harbor, WA in 2009 and spent 3 winters in the Sea of Cortez then sailed to the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia up to Hawaii, then to San Francisco Bay. We are once again enjoying the Sea of Cortez as we plan our next adventure.
Los Tuneles
04/21/2012, isla Isabela

We took one of Anna Maria's highly recommended tours yesterday and had an amazing day despite the terribly wet and squally weather. We boarded a local tour boat and took a crazy 45 minutes boat ride through rough seas curlminating in a turn that looked like we were going directly into the surf, but our driver, Roberto, safely navigated the pass that we couldn't see into what I can only describe as a fairy land.

The Tuneles, or Tunnels, is a rocky labyrinth formed from rivers of lava that reached the sea and solidified forming countless cracks and tunnels. It formed a beautiful land/seascape and we were greeted at the entrance by blue footed boobies sitting on a rock followed by a couple penguins doing the same. Roberto continues to wind us around the shallow channels and we oohed and ahhed at the beauty of the place. Then he stopped the boat in the heart of the maze and we donned our snorkel gear and he then led us through going under bridges and tunnels of lava rock and seeing brightly colored fish, rays, and even a couple white tipped reef sharks.

Next we piled into the boat to head back out through the surf and then back in to another protected swimming area which is home to many sea turtles and we were thrilled to swim with many of the giant creatures. They were beautiful and graceful and just fascinating to watch.

It was a magical day.

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04/22/2012 | Diana and Dale
Can't wait to see pictures
The Highlands
04/19/2012, isla Isabela

We weren't sure what to expect with our tour to the highlands -- it's not something in the guidebooks for this island. But Louis, our driver, thought this would be something we'd enjoy and he was right.

There seems to be only one road that heads out of town and if you follow it long enough you get up to the closest volcano -- but that's a tour for another day. So our highlands tour took us up a ways and Louis took us to one of the farms up there. The country side is extremely lush as you gain elevation and the views were spectacular.

Then he pulled into a lovely little family farm and we got to go around and look at everything and pick out what ever we wanted to buy to take back with us. They grew small amounts of everything you could imagine from tomatoes to papaya and even coffee beans! It was just beautiful and we came back loaded with green beans and peppers, giant papaya, pineapple, limes and a big hand of bananas. It was a wonderful trip and fun to get all the good fresh produce.

On the way down we stopped at one of the tourist sites where one of the many lava tunnels on the island opened up forming a deep cave. Tomorrow we'll go on a boat tour where we will see another lava tunnel and snorkel with the variety of fish that gather near the entrance.

Today we're enjoying a relaxing day on the boat -- it's Joni's birthday so we started it out with our favorite on board breakfast of Spam and pancakes and will just decide what to do as the day goes on.

It was the first day since our arrival in the Galapagos that we didn't have to get up and rush around to travel or do something ashore and it felt great to catch our breath.

The internet on this island is very slow so I'm not going to try to take my computer in to the Internet Cafe to up load pictures -- that will have to wait till we get back to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz.

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Flamingos! And more!
04/17/2012, isla Isabela

Our first day on Isabela was spent with a lot of time at the Port Captains office getting cleared in to this island. It would have been a lot quicker, but they had computer problems so we had to come back three times to see if it was up and running, and each time meant a long wait in the very small standing room only waiting room. We started when we first came in shortly after nine, had to check back at 2, and then finally completed the process at 5 pm. It was the usual $5.16 cent fee -- you pay it when you check in to an island and then again when you check out.

In the meantime we wallked and took in some of the local sites and checked out the town for the small tiendas (stores) and other services. Had a nice lunch on restaurant row and the best part of all is we met Anna Maria! She is an American living and working here right now, and we were told of her by some good friends back home -- she's a friend of their family and was a roomate of their daughter's in college. She's traveling and living in different countries and just happens to be here on Isabela right now. She's working in a tour agency and was able to set us up with a taxi driver that takes people on tours around the island.

So today we set off with Louis, our driver, and Anna Maria joined us and we went to Isabela;s tortoise breeding center and saw tortoises of all ages and sizes. Then we went to a pond where we were thrilled to see a flock of 9 flamingos in the wild! A real treat and one that Jonii has been looking forward too. We went on to see the Wall of Tears built by prisoners when this was a penal colony and we're excited to see several tortoise in the wild. it was a very good day.

Tomorrow morning we will meet Louis again and he will take us on a tour to the highlands -- can't wait to see what's in store there!

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04/18/2012 | jack
Great reading Heidi..I know the Galapagos were high on your bucket list...I can image that your time there will seen to fly by...enjoy! One question...are flamingos indigenous to the Galapagos..if so how did they make the flight.....
On our way to Isla Isabela
04/15/2012, traveling through the Galapagps Archipelago

We left the big city behind when we pulled up anchor at 6 am for the 45 mile trip to Isla Isabella -- the largest island in the Galapagos chain. It promises to be the most interesting of all the islands that we're allowed to anchor in boasting penguins and flamingos in addition to all the usual critters -- tortoises, land and marine iguanas, seals and sea lions, and of course all of the other birds.

We plan to base ourselves there in the anchorage off of Puerto Villamil, the smallest of the 3 towns in these islands, while we explore not only Isabela, but take tours to some of the nearby islands that we can't visit on our own boat. We will stay about a week, until its time to sail back to Puerto Ayora for Joni's flight out on April 24th.

Look out penguins here we come!

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Tortuga Bay
04/14/2012, Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz

We survived the 45 minute hike to Tortuga Bay and were rewarded first with a gorgeous white sand beach with tourquois breakers, then a bit further down a protected pool bordered with black lava rocks where we snorkeled and in addition to the many fish we swam with a marine iguana! Wow!

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Fill 'er up!
04/13/2012, Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz

Today we'll get our fuel tanks filled. To get fuel here in the Galapagos you have to arrange it through your agent, and we did that when he came out with the Port Captain to clear us in on Thursday.

He'll come out at 9 am to collect the money and then back at noon to fill the tanks. The diesel costs $5.42 at the station but with the delivery charge it will be $6.00 per gallon.

So we'll spend the morning on the boat and after the fueling is complete we plan to go in to a nearby beach for some snorkeling -- so today won't be all work and no play.

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04/13/2012 | jack
6 bucks a almost that much here.....Have a great day
Off to the market
04/13/2012, Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz

We learned there is a great Saturday Market for fresh fruits and vegetables, so the girls from Cetus and Inspiration are heading in to get some good provisioning done for our trip to Isabella tomorrow.

The afternoon plans have us hiking to nearby Tortuga Beach to see some sights and enjoy a beautiful beach.

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Charles Darwin Research Center
04/12/2012, Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz

We had a wonderful time exploring the Charles Darwin Research Center, just a short walk from downtown Puerto Ayora -- seeing the giant tortoises and colorful land iguanas -- just unbelievable! We also saw the baby tortoises as they bring the eggs there from the various islands and incubate them then return them to where they belong.

One of the best sites of the day was on the walk there we went by a fish market at the side of the road -- first several pelicans showed up and stood behind the guy selling the fish, then a seal joined the crowd followed by a marine iguana and then another seal! So funny!

We all took probably 200 pictures each just on our 5 hour jaunt -- everything was just amazing.

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04/12/2012 | Diana and Dale
Soooo jealous and thoroughly enjoying the blog. Thanks for taking us along on the journey!
Just pinch me!
04/11/2012, Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz

Even though it's all been such a rush since we got here getting checked in, getting to another island so we can meet our guest, getting the boat ready for our guest, getting the laundry in to be washed we're just so excited to be here and it all seems so charming -- I just can't believe we're actually in the Galapagos!

Terry hopped on a bus this morning to go to the airport to meet Joni and I went into town with the girls from Inspiration at Sea to take the laundry in, then after a brief stop at a Internet Cafe I headed out to the boat to turn the V-berth storage area into a guest room.

We plan to stay here a couple days to see some of the local sites including the Darwin Station, then we will move on to the big island of Isabela where we plan to stay until its time to bring Joni back here to the airport. We've been told by friends who traveled here by boat that that is the place to spend your time and from what I've read in the guidebooks it sounds wonderful..

It just keeps getting better and better.

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04/12/2012 | jack
Have a wonderful time...keep the blogs coming..Tell Terry, while he is gallivating the Galapagos, I am working of our goes the local cruising life
Clearing into the Galapagos
04/10/2012, On our way to Isla Santa Cruz

The rules for private yachts entering the Galapagos seems to be in constant flux and what you might find as the requirements one year could be quite different the next. We've been reading about and planning this trip for sometime and we've even seen some changes since we first started learning about the process.

For the last few years it seems there are two main ways to see the islands if you arrive in private boat which are go get a permit ahead of time or just sail in. In both cases you now need an agent to handle all the check in procedures. If you just sail in agents will approach you and you can enlist their services for a fee and they will take you through the process of mucho paperwork to make you legal in the islands. The drawback to that approach is you are given a maximum of 20 days to remain in the islands and your boat has to stay in the port in which you made landfall. You can still visit other islands but it would be through arranged tours, which are plentiful.

We chose to get an agent in advance and apply for the permit -- or Autografo -- which allows you more time in the islands and the privilege to take your boat to more than 1 port -- usually 5 anchorages total. We applied for the maximum stay and were granted the full 60 days. We aren't sure yet if we have 4 or 5 islands because one of them may have been removed from the permitted 5. We will clarify that when we talk to our agent tomorrow. Even though we can only take our boat into those permitted anchorages, we too can explore other islands or other parts of the islands we go to on tours.

We secured our agent nearly 2 years ago as we first planned to sail to the Galapagos in 2011. I researched through sailing forums and blogs to get names of agents and I chose Ricardo Arenas as he had high recommendations and speaks English. It cost us $600 to enlist his services and the permit process was begun. We received our Autografo a few days before we left Mexico.

He is located on Isla Santa Cruz -- one of the other ports of entry, but our autografo asked that we clear in on San Cristobal and he has agents there to help with the arriving boats. Shortly after we dropped anchor yesterday one of the colorful water taxis came out to our boat with Carmela aboard who was our representative and she got the ball rolling and the check in process was begun. She returned about noon with a group of 5 young people who are the government officials from the navy, agriculture, customs etc. and we had a very nice visit (one girl spoke excellent English) while they filled out their paperwork and did a simple inspection of the boat and checked out our produce. 15 or 20 minutes later they were gone and we were told to meet Carmela at the pier at 3 and she would take us to the agencies to complete the clearing in.

At 3 we met a smiling Carmela who had all of us (the crew of Inspiration at Sea was with us) jump into a small pick up truck (which are their taxis) with the guys riding in the truck bed. It was a great scenic ride through the small charming town and out to the country side where the two offices were located. One was Immigration and the other the National Parks department. There she guided us through the paperwork and paying of the different fees, and after a couple hours we were done and went back to the waterfront where the diesel jugs that Vicky had filled for Inspiration were ready and waiting.

All told, the fees amounted to $379 -- $200 of which was for our $100 per person park passes which everyone is required to purchase when you enter the islands, so only $179 was for boat clearance and immigration fees.

We also received a zarpe, or departure paper, as we planned to leave Cristobal in the morning to head to Santa Cruz. We all enjoyed a celebration dinner in town before hoping on a water taxi and going back out to the boats after successfully, and enjoyably, clearing into the Galapagos. It was a very good day.

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We have arrived!
04/09/2012, Puerto Baquerizo, San Cristobal, Galapagos

Dropped the anchor is the crowded anchorage known as Wreck Bay on San Cristobal Island !! We're in the Galapagos! We've hoisted our yellow quarantine flag to show we need to clear in and we've emailed a note to our agent so he can get someone out here to help us clear in to the country. Next couple days will be busy busy with cleaning up, doing laundry, getting fuel and preparing for our guest arriving on Wednesday -- then it will be off to explore!

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04/09/2012 | jacx
congratulatons....what a great adventure, just beware of the galloping galapagos herbavors
jack and joan
04/10/2012 | Sue and Larry
Congratulations! Glad to hear that you are safe. What a milestone!!
Off to Puerto Ayora
04/09/2012, Puerto Baquerizo, San Cristobal, Galapagos

All checked in to the Galapagos! Now we're off to Isla Santa Cruz so we can meet where Joni will be flying in tomorrow.

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Easter Morning Fuel Drop
04/08/2012, The Galapagos Archipelago

We bobbed in a windless sea all night waiting for daylight to pass some fuel to Inspiration at Sea. At sunrise, Terry had the two jerry jugs of diesel we keep on deck tied to big loop lines with a buoy in between. He instructed Vicky and her crew to let us pass in front of their boat and we would drop the package in the water and they could come up behind and using a boathook pull the loops and buoy on board and then the jugs. It worked perfectly!

Vicky put one jug into her tank, keeping the other in reserve, and we are slowly motoring on our course to San Cristobal hoping wind will come up or that she can hail one of the numerous tour boats that will be out and about and maybe buy additional fuel from them. At least we are on our way for now! 78 miles to go, so we anticipate dropping anchor tomorrow sometime.

Happy Easter everyone!

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Crossing the Equator
04/08/2012, The Galapagos Archipelago

This afternoon marked our 4th crossing of the equator and we had a great time sharing the celebration with Inspiration at Sea as we motored along side by side over smooth seas with a light cooling breeze. We donned costumes and toasted King Neptune and tossed our "message in a bottle" bottles over the side. These bottles were put together for us by our friends on Dock 3 in Marina Palmira at our going away party and they are filled with boat cards from all our friends from the Sea of Cortez.

Now we are motoring our final approach to our first anchorage in the Galapagos, San Cristobal, where we will clear customs and then on Wednesday our friend Joni joins us for a two week vacation! She's as excited as we are to go explore the wonderful wildlife where you can see penguins and Flamingos at the same time.

I can't believe we're really in the Galapagos!

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04/07/2012, The Galapagos Archipelago

The light winds we've had pushing us along the last few days have died out and we are becalmed. We are a mere 90 miles from our destination, but the boat we are traveling with doesn't have enough fuel to motor the rest of the way, so we have rendezvoused with them ( we were about 8 miles away when the winds gave out) and will wait here till morning when we will transfer a couple jerry jugs of diesel to them and be on our way. Hopefully the wind will pick up and we can make some progress before that, but for now it is dead calm on a flat sea so we will take a little break and look forward to making landfall at San Cristobal on Monday.

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04/08/2012 | Sue and Larry Tomback
Hang in there!
Following the Beagle's Trail
04/07/2012, The Galapagos Archipelago

We won't be able to visit all of the islands that Darwin visited when he came to the archipelago in 1835, as cruising permits only allow 5 anchorages to private yachts. We will however make first landfall on San Cristobal where the HMS Beagle with Darwin aboard first set anchor.

We now have about 125 miles to go to that anchorage, but will be passing by one of the northern islands, Genovesa early this evening -- we are in the Galapagos!!

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Getting close!

The sun just set and the moon is rising and we're sailing along at a comfortable 4 knots over smooth seas. We should sight land tomorrow sometime as we pass the northern islands in the Galapagos and we should be anchored in the bay on San Cristobal (where we are required to check in), on Sunday. Since that is Easter we don't know how soon we'll actually get to check in because Easter Monday is also a big holiday in Central and South American countries as it is in Mexico. So we'll get there and see what happens! We're very excited!

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Sail on Sail on Sailor
04/06/2012, out on the Pacific

After we dried out from the rain we were becalmed in the doldrums for most of the morning yesterday -- bobbed around for hours waiting for the predicted light winds to come up.

We felt the first breath at about 1 o'clock and it gradually filled in and we got moving and have been sailing along comfortably ever since. Some of the nicest off shore sailing we've ever done and on a perfect point of sail to take us to the Galapagos! And with the big nearly full moon last night you could see for miles -- it was simply beautiful.

This morning I watched the moon set on the starboard side of the boat, then turned to see the sunrise off the port side. Magical.

We have less wind this morning but its far from becalmed and we're still moving toward our destination -- which is now only 189 miles away!

I can't believe we're almost to the Galapagos!

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04/08/2012 | Diana and Dale
Can't tell you how fun it is to follow your progress. Can't wait to see the pictures from this crossing. Galapagos...that is truly a "bucket list" item.
Drying out
04/05/2012, out on the Pacific

Well it rained and rained and rained yesterday so we had a pretty wet cockpit for our night watch, but today everythings hanging out on the rails to dry. And though it is still gray and Pacific Northwest looking these things will dry out -- not like back home.

After the rains quit we were sailing along quite comfortably when all of a sudden I saw a big cell coming our way -- it was big and dark but this one didn't pack any rain, but lots of wind. So we enjoyed a brisk sail until it blew itself out about an hour later. And on it goes.

Today, so far, is the flat calm of the doldrums but we're hoping the forecast is right and we'll get a bit of wind later to push us on to the Galapagos!

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04/04/2012, Squall Valley

With all our weather predictions we knew we'd be getting into a squally area soon, and just as predicted yesterday afternoon we started seeing squalls on the horizon and it's been like playing a video game on the radar trying to dodge the active cells. We had lightening in the distance most of the night and this morning we were greeted by gray sky and seas and cooler temps -- it looks just like we're in the Pacific Northwest!

This afternoon we were swallowed up by a big cell that dumped lots of rain on us, and I made the best of it by having a squall shower -- getting my daily shower in without using our fresh water supply! Cetus hasn't had this good of a wash down in 3 years.

We've been lucky with the squalls that have caught us -- they just had rain and no high winds -- or lightening. Squalls are like a box of chocolates -- you never know what you're going to get.

So we're sailing along enjoying the cooler temps and bit of wind after the last two hot windless days. That's the thing about ocean sailing -- everything around you is constantly changing.

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