Jacana's yarns
Sailing west about from Melbourne, Australia.
Birds we saw in the Galapagos
Yo and Dan Hellier
March 20, 2011, 6:05 pm, Wreck Bay, San Christobal, Galapagos

Cactus Darwin Finch

Chatham mocking bird (endemic)
Vegetarian Darwin Finch
Woodpecker Darwin finch
Cactus Darwin finch
Small ground Darwin finch
Warbler Darwin finch
Tree Darwin finch
Galapagos flycatcher
White cheeked pintail (endemic)
Common Galinule gallinulla chloropus (endemic)
Yellow warbler
Smooth billed arni (introdu ced)
Galapagos storm petrel
Galapagos or lava heron
Great blue heron
Yellow crowned night heron
Lava gull
Laughing gull
Nazca booby (now recognized as a different species to the masked booby)
Blue footed booby
Red footed booby
Magnificent frigate bird
Great frigate bird
Brown noddy
Brown pelican
Wandering tattler
Semi palmated plover
Red billed tropic bird
Elliots storm petrel

We had a day with a local guide called Wilson Roja, who took us to the bird locations. This tour was organized by Sharksky especially for ourselves and was excellent.
We saw most of the Darwin finches that live on San Christobal, and many endemic species. The land tortoise rehab centre was good for these species.
A highlight was viewing the frigate birds washing in the fresh water volcano lake (El Junco).

We had been under the impression that as the frigate bird finds it so difficult to launch into flight, it does not land in water. Not true. They in fact, come to the fresh water lake to clean the salt from their plumage.
They drop into the water for some seconds, take off and soar to a great height, then go into freefall, violently shaking their wings and feathers as they plummet.

They pull out of their fall as they get nearer to the ground.
At Los Loberia, a beach on the south coast, we saw a surprising number of seabirds.
The Darwin finches are another story. Now they have been identified as tanagers. Every type of finch relates back to a pair of blue black type quits, but they have all adapted differently.
While many all eat the same food in the good years, when everything dries up they have adapted to survive in their own unique way.
The vampire finch has adapted to suck blood from red or blue footed boobies, the wood pecker finch uses a stick as a tool to extract lavae from the trunks of dead trees, yet another has learnt to survive on the lice from the giant land tortoises and iguanas.
Adaptability is the key, and it is the beaks that have primarily adapted in varying ways to suit the conditions of their particular terrain..

Galapagos - Changing Times
Yo and Dan Hellier
March 17, 2011, 6:53 pm, Wreck Bay, San Cristobal, Galapagos

Sea Lions surround us, making guttural cattle-like sounds. Golden cowrays and mantarays visit, flapping the water with their wings.

The tuna surround the bait fish, expertly herding them into a tightening circle, then massacring the fish boil right next to our boat. Then they all join in, sea lions, puffer fish, frigates, laughing gulls, noddies and pelicans.

Marine iguanas dot the rocks

Interspersed with daubs of vermillion Sally Lightfoot crabs

The harbor of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is peaceful and comfy.

The Galapagos are laid back.

Everyone has their favourite sleeping spot, even Guy from Endorfin.

The sealion pups are playfull, while the grown ups are lazy sleeping shitting mounds of fur and fat.
Some of the local pro fishermen have a unique way of ensuring that their boat is not picked as the bedroom or dunny. They surround the topsides with rolls of barbed wire. Most effective but not really within the spirit of the Galapagos.

This old fellow may well be a reli of the land tortoises we chummed up with in Saint Helena, a couple of oceans before.
He gives a knowing blink of the eye to ward off the flies. Yep, flies.
This is the closest thing to Oz we have come across, yet the local human inhabitants here have yet to develop our own effective and unique Aussi salute.

But... the fight for survival goes on....meal by meal.

Note for Yachties: Provisioning at Galapagos
Supplies are much much better than any of the literature lets on.

The municipal fresh market is splendid- tomatoes, basil, parsley, potatoes, onions, broccoli, cauliflowers, spring onions, sweet potatoes, lettuce, eggs, beetroots, cucumber, snake beans, capsicums, chillies, apples, pears, bananas, watermelons, cabbages, melons, shallots, pumpkins, beef, pork, chicken, prawns, avocados etc. Prices are dirt cheap.

The choice at the market is much better on the days that the ship comes in (once a week usually Tues or Wednesday). Sat and Wed mornings are apparently the best - more stalls and more choice, but the mercardo is open every day.

There is a fish monger, and a number of butchers.

There are a number of laundries. Sebastian's seems to get the nod from the locals. Good equipment and $1 a kilo. Open 7 days a week.

Other small tiendas dot the town selling bacon, yoghurt, cheese etc. Each seems to have its own little niche.

There are two smallish supermarkets with a surprisingly wide selection. Chemists abound.

Pasta, rice, flour and all the basics eg vinegar, tinned tomatoes are sold in most of the tiendas.

Bread flour is available in one supermarket and from the panaderia (in bulk).

While wine is available here, it is 200% to 250% more expensive than Panama and the choice is limited. So stock up on wine before you come.

So in other words, except for wine, there is no need to overstock in Panama.

Also if you go to Sharsky, one of the tour operators on the foreshore, for a fee they will refill your propane bottles. If they don't have the fittings for your bottle they'll send it over by ferry to Santa Cruz to get it filled.

Pacific 2011
March 18, 2011, 2:37 am | pegz
Oh your photos are bringing back memories, in fact i am sure it is the same sea lion on the bench as i have photographed under the bench sleeping. Have you had soup with popcorn... mmm?
March 18, 2011, 2:37 am | pegz
Oh your photos are bringing back memories, in fact i am sure it is the same sea lion on the bench as i have photographed under the bench sleeping. Have you had soup with popcorn... mmm?
March 24, 2011, 8:19 am | norni
gorgeous pics, lovely xx
Tsunami no problemo para Jacana

March 12, 2011, 2:19 pm, Wreck Bay, San Cristobal

March 12, 2011, 4:32 pm | Carol Cardile
Hey Dan and Yo,
Glad to hear you had a great trip, also to hear that you are not affected by the tsunami.
I guess you'll stay put for the next few weeks. Enjoy. Lots of pics please. By the way just cause you're so far away it's no excuse not to be aware of the fact that the Mighty Black Caviar won her tenth race straight. Better than Vain I think Daniel!! And we were there to experience it. Yo, we've got Isaac for the weekend!! Exciting times.

March 15, 2011, 11:12 am | Stolen Kiss
One tsunami in a life is enough!! Knew you would be ok!!
Tsunami #2 for Jacana
Yo and Dan Hellier
March 10, 2011, 9:59 am, anchored in Wreck Bay, San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands

The tsuanmi was a bit of an event here.

A 7ft wave eventually entered the harbour with no damage ashore or afloat.

Initially the authorities got it arse about, denying any vessel the right to leave harbour. Within 30 minutes sense prevailed and a presidential decree ( no less) ordered every boat to leave, and to rendevous in a zone 5 miles offshore and greater than 200 metres deep. Bit of an overkill. We were all anchored in water deeper than 10 metres anyway.

We held off leaving for 5 hrs, but after the navy left and we were on our pat malone with a visibly nervous port captain huffing about, we put to sea ie, just outside the entrance and joggled up n down until we were all allowed in at 1900 hrs. Understandable but extremely tiring when we'd just got in the day before, had been onboard for about 2 weeks without going to shore, and were stir crazy.

For another hr or so the depth rose by up to 1.5 metres every 20 mins or so as minor surges followed. Though it only caused flooding and inconvenience, about a 7 foot rise in water.

Anyway started exploring today, walking plans tomorrow. Unfortunately, free onboard internet not working at the moment, so we're using sailmail via the sat phone (expensive) or internet cafe (very slow). so use VLV sailmail address to find us these days.

Pacific 2011
March 15, 2011, 8:48 pm | Pegz
Excited you are now in Galapagos, the giant tortoises on San Christobal were the first of many I saw, each island having a different species. It is lush and worth exploring. Snorkling around Kicker Rock is a rich experience and the waters are clean and clear. I am so jealous and wish I were there again. Have fun.
March 17, 2011, 8:39 am | Sue and Gene
We admire your adventurous spirits but really, two tsunamis? A bit over-the-top don't you think? Glad you were not affected too much by it, although having to go out and sail around after a long crossing must have been hard to take. Enjoy the finches, Dan! Looking forward to photos of them and other unique Galapagos life forms.
Sue and Gene
Passage to Galapagos - day 7 Arrival
Yo and Dan Hellier
March 10, 2011, 9:59 am, anchored in Wreck Bay, San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands

Our final day's sailing was a repeat of the day before - no wind. All up by the time we have arrived at Wreck Bay we have sailed 3 days and 17 hours and motored 3 days and 7 hours. Not bad ffor crossing the doldrums.

Yesterday and night we were moving across an oily mirror top sea (or as Keith used to say "as calm as a millpond"). Another large whale changed course rapidly to check us out. Didn't come quite as close before he peeled off satisfied and we could relax again. Our occasional Chinese visitor, Sum Wun, surfaced again. ..... he left the fridge switch on when we were motoring at full steam. Fortunately, our new fridge compressor handled the pressure well and we could bid goodbye to Sum Wun with our fridges still fully operational.

Meal of the passage - barbecued lamb gyro, baba gannouj, harissa dip, greek salad and potato salad. The wonders of a smooth sea!

We're now anchored with many other yachts and tourist vessels waiting for the officials to clear us in.

Pacific 2011
On passage to Galapagos - day 6
Yo and Dan Hellier
March 9, 2011, 6:06 am, On passage to Galapagos

Yesterday we were motor sailing in about 8kt wind that was too tight to let us get up a headsail so instead we had a finely sheeted staysail up to let us lay the course and gives us an additional 1/2 knot via the slot with the main.

We have slowed down to time our arrival for early on thursday, as we can't make it before dusk.

As at 0800 Wednesday we have 120 miles to go to Wreck Bay and have been battling a small counter current for the last 12 hrs.

The sea is glassy and the fishing lure has been sharpened after the big one got away. Food consumption is up in direct relation to boredom

On Passage
March 10, 2011, 5:27 am | Liz O'Connor
I remember well Yo's fish Polpetti! Stingrays, whales, birds, and you are not even there yet, looking forward to more descriptions-sail well.

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