March 13, 2010
We all kept imagining a sea lion in our cockpit during the night, but luckily it never came. It seems that hanging the towels as a barrier worked. What we did find in the morning was a bunch of short black hairs smeared where he had slept and dropped wherever it had waddled after we had scared him last night. But, we had no time to clean up, our agent Bolivar (who had handled our Autografo which authorizes our boat to be in the Galapagos) came to take us to immigration. We all quickly climbed into the water taxi in the rain to find out we didn't have to go to immigration at all.
After arriving at the dock thoroughly wet because we had stopped to pick up two other cruisers going to immigration, we took a taxi to the fruit/vegetable market where we found the usual choices of tomatoes, potatoes, yucca, green beans, and onions. One vendor had refrigerated broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce. There were many live chickens standing around, but we decided that we didn't need that fresh a chicken so we bought half a chicken which weighed 6 pounds; this was fresh enough!
In the afternoon, we visited the Interpretation Center, a modern structure just outside of town, where we learned from visual displays the formation of the Galapagos Islands, its history and its environmental concerns. There were nice walk ways that led up to Frigate Hill or down to a sandy beach where there were body surfers in the water and seals lounging on the beach. We walked back to town. The enticement that we would walk by the best ice cream place on the island encouraged Steve to make the trek. And, yes, the ice cream was pretty good, topped with a large chocolate dipped cookie. Unfortunately, the ice cream calories far outweighed calories burned on the walk.
Our cruising friends who are carrying some supplies for us from Panama City wrote to tell us that because of a forecast of windless days, they won't be leaving Panama City for over a week. This saddens us because we had hoped to spend some time with them. Now we hope that they will catch up with us at Isla Isabella, our last stop in the Galapagos Islands. Most boats arriving here, the main entry to the Galapagos Islands, are Europeans coming through the Panama Canal, headed to the South Pacific. Lots of Swiss, French and German flags.
March 12, 2010
After a lazy morning we decided to clean the boat of sea lion hairs, night bird droppings during our crossing, and general grime. We used the new pump that Steve had installed on our saltwater faucet in the galley, attaching to it a water hose with nozzle. It worked great! It was much easier than pulling buckets of water from the side of the boat which is back aching work. With four of us doing the work, it went quickly after which we plunged into the water to cool off. Sea lions are seen swimming by, probably checking out our swim steps. We don't mind the little ones that rest on the steps just so long as they don't come into the cockpit!
In the evening we joined the Leu Cat crew for dinner at Rosita's Restaurant. There are 5 of them: their son and girlfriend who will crew with them to the South Pacific and their daughter. They are leaving tonight to sail to Santa Cruz Island where they have reservations on a cruise ship that will take them to most of the islands. Their daughter is visiting for only a short while and a cruise is a good way to quickly see the other islands.
As we exited the water taxi in the dark onto Dream Caper and Steve stepped over the protective wall, he was greeted by a large barking sea lion who had been disturbed from his cozy bed amongst our cushions in the cockpit. Portia who had just stepped onto the swim steps immediately jumped back onto the water taxi, afraid the sea lion was escaping by coming over the wall and down the swim steps. Instead he chose to waddle to the front of the boat and sat on the trampoline, his weight causing him the trampoline to sag. He contentedly sat there lit by our deck lights until David chased him away by clapping with two large swim fins. He easily waddled forward and fell the 4' to the water. We tried to track from where he had gotten past our walls. We found his short hairs on the back of the dinghy pontoon near the steps. We think he had climbed up onto the dinghy from the swim steps, a span of 3', then under the lifeline wires away from the swim step wall, onto the back walkway and then into the cockpit. Before going to bed, we hung bath towels on the life lines with clothes pins. This effectively continued the wall although it was flimsy, but perhaps this would be enough discouragement. These cute sea lions are becoming less cute every day.
March 11, 2010
We anchored at Isla San Cristobol, Galapagos Islands, right next to our friends on a Lagoon 44 catamaran, Leu Cat, who arrived here yesterday from Bahia. The water temperature is 79-80 degrees, a bit cool for swimming, and very clear. David, Mary Margaret and their daughter Heather swam over to visit after we were anchored. They told us that the sea lions like to climb onto swim steps of catamarans and even dinghies in the water. For that reason, we are not using our dinghy because when left at the dock the sea lions will jump in it, get it dirty and even pop the inflated pontoons with their great weight. There is a water taxi service which will pick us up for 50 cents per person, $1 per person at night.
Leu Cat told us that a sea lion had climbed right into their cockpit from the swim steps so we rigged up a wall of blue tarp at the top of each swim step. We have to high step over the wall but it is worth it to not have a sea lion muck up our cockpit with hair, grime or poop. In the evening we took the water taxi to shore where there is a very nice dock and waterfront promenade area lined with tourist shops, restaurants and sea lions. We used the internet to pick up messages and then enjoyed ice cold beers on the waterfront. With darkness came dive bombing mosquitoes who bit through our pants! We ate at an open air restaurant overlooking the bay. It seems that prices are about 2-3 times more than what we paid in Bahia. A large beer is $2.50 here, $1 at Bahia. It is understandable since everything has to be either flown in or brought in by boat.
In the middle of the night we heard a bucket fall in the cockpit. Steve got up to find a large sea lion, about 200# in our cockpit! When Steve scared him, he climbed out of the cockpit, straight into our dinghy which is hanging on davits on our stern and into the water. He left a bunch of short hairs scattered on the cushions and floor. We can not determine how he got past the walls. Yuk!
March 11, 2010
At day break, Isla San Cristobol came into sight. We have made it to the Galapagos Islands! It took us almost exactly 4 days. First impression is a long green island with dark low cliff like shores and short hills covered in clouds. We were expecting a brown island but it is the rainy season so everything is green. We have not been greeted by schools of Bottle Nose Dolphins as in the movies of the Galapagos although a small seal took a peek at us and we have seen some unusual fins sticking up in the water here and there. We are currently 1 hour from anchoring at the island, motoring slowly along the southern coast of San Cristobol Island. We will report more later.
March 10, 2010
We sailed all night making 7 knots with fairly constant winds and mild seas. In the morning, we calculated that we would arrive in the Galapagos at 1:00 am on March 11, based on sailing at 7 knots per hour. We did not want to arrive in the dark and make our way into Wreck Bay (Puerto Baquerizo Moreno), Isla San Cristobol at that hour. We considered slowing our speed so we would arrive later in the morning, but decided to take advantage of the winds while we had them and sped along at 7-8 knots. Good decision. The winds died in the late afternoon and since we can get fuel in the Galapagos we turned on an engine, planning to arrive around 7:00 am tomorrow.
All is well on Dream Caper except that both large bunches of green bananas over ripened at once. Besides eating fresh bananas, we had to do something. So, a double batch of banana nut bread did the trick. It made us all happy too as the sweet baked aroma filled the boat.
While in Bahia, we received the first two seasons of Grey's Anatomy, from some fellow cruisers. During the past 6 years of cruising and traveling, we have had infrequent access to television, so Grey's Anatomy and any seasonal show, during that time would be new to us other than glimpses here and there. During our watch, Steve and Portia enjoyed Grey's Anatomy while breaking every 20 minutes to examine the radar for traffic, check the sail trim, correct our course, and look at the stars. Unlike the last 3 overcast nights, the stars were shining brightly including our favorite, the Southern Cross.