Day 7 to the Galapagos
17 May 2008 | Pacific Ocean
We arrived in Wreck Bay at 14:00 local time (6-UTC NoDST). Everyone was very excited to be in the Galapagos. It is kind of a magical place. On the way in it seemed the creatures were coming out to welcome us. Some small dolphins began jumping out of the water doing tricks in front of our bow as we came down the west side of the island. As we motored into the bay sea lions swam around the boat to see if we had any good sleeping spots on our transom (unfortunately we do), and a sea turtle swam by to say hello after our anchor was down.
We sailed all last night and as providence would have it the GRIB files came true and the wind backed to the south allowing us to fetch San Cristobal. At just about 1AM we crossed the equator. As expected King Neptune Ed (Ed being the only one to previously cross the equator) showed up on deck and indoctrinated everyone. Hideko made a yummy cake and we all shared a champagne toast. It was a bumpy night thereafter with Swingin' on a Star making 7 knots even after we reefed the main and jib.
The sail down the coast was going nicely this morning but the closer we got the more the wind began to blow from the anchorage. We furled the jib and began to motor sail. By the time we reached the anchorage we were motoring into 25 knots with gusts to 30 (which we later heard was rather unusual).
The Navionics electronic charts we have for Central America don't cover the Galapagos and neither do the South Pacific electronic charts. We discovered that we would have had to buy the South American Chart chip (another $250) to get the Galapagos. We have paper charts of everything on our route plan so we used the British Admiralty chart of the area for our approach.
Wreck Bay has a big reef in front of it to the south side and there are various hazards to watch out for along the coast to the north. That said if you come in from the northwest at mid day you should have no problem entering the harbor and getting to the yacht anchorage. There is an East Cardinal Mark that you leave to starboard marking the northeast end of the reef. On the opposite point at the north end of the bay there is a light and a shoal extending which you should leave well to port. We sailed straight for the cardinal in deep water and then turned to port just before reaching it, heading straight into the yacht anchorage. After doing this once in the daylight it would be easy eoungh to do at night but it would be dangerous to make your first enterance in the dark.
Once anchored Hideko made us huge bowls of Tekka-don (fresh marinated tuna over rice with seaweed). We had our first cold beers in a week as well. A nap was called for immediately thereafter.
I hailed Blew Moon, a boat near us in the anchorage, on the radio after we arrived and they gave us the clear in low down. There is only one agent at this time and the port captain wants you to use an agent. Carmella Romero runs a small grocery store and from this vantage also clears yachts. She speaks no English but her bother Johnny Romero does and is usually only a phone call away. Fees are around $150. Then you need to pay the port captain (who will come to your boat M-F, so we wont get their visit until Monday) another $150ish for anchoring fees and what not. Basically $300 for 20 days, at $15 per day it is about the same as the mooring fees in the British Virgin Islands.
Fernando, the local yacht services guy, took a water Taxi out to our boat at 6PM. Apparently everything shuts down from 1-4PM for siesta. The town is open for business again at 4 until eight or nine. Fernando is a nice guy with very little English and a lot of determination. He will take you to Carmella (the claim is that you must get a cruising permit started within the first 24 hours of your arrival). He will also arrange for fueling (current quote is $2.50 per gallon but under pressure he agreed to $2.30) at your boat, tours, and other things boats need.
Most yachts use the water taxis here because if you put your dinghy down you may find sea lions in it when you get back. Our dinghy also acts as a barricade keeping them out of the cockpit.
So far the Galapagos is a pretty wonderful and very different place. We are looking forward to exploring in the days ahead.
Nobu says: "I'm impressed by the boldness of these sea lions"
Ed says: "zzz (sleeping, it's hard work serving as Neptune's minion)"
Hideko says: "I could have kept going all the way to the Marquisas"
Anchored in Wreck Bay, San Cristobal Island, The Galapagos