Seal of Approval!
24 April 2009 | Wreck Bay, Galapagos
We finally arrived in the Galapagos last Tuesday after 9 days. Fantastic feeling after being at sea all that time. The trip was much better than I had thought it would be. You get into a gentle pattern of sleeping, being on watch, bit of reading, bit of fishing, bit of looking around. "I spy with my little eye something beginning with S!' We didn't see any other boat or ship for 5 days. We started out travelling with Bill and Sandy on Taku Tori and kept them in sight for 3 days but they went off to find a bit more wind on Day 4 and we didn't see them again until 5 days later when we arrived in Wreck Bay. They had got in 3 hours before us! Most days we saw dolphins who came for a bit of a play in our bow wake. A couple of days we saw possibly a hundred of them in a long line, obviously on the way somewhere! They were all leaping out of the water, doing a bit of a half twist with pike! If anyone knows why they do this, please let us know. Every night we were joined by 7 or 8 large gulls, not sure what sort, who spent all night with us, using our lights to find fish. They had cream undersides which seem to glow in the dark and were quite eerie. Bit like a scene from The Birds at first, but we got to look forward to them coming. They made a strange chirruping noise all night.
In case you don't know, the Galapagos Islands consist of 13 major islands and several minor ones and are volcanic. They were discovered in 1535 by the Bishop of Panama on his way to Peru (he was actually lost) and then made famous by Darwin when he came on the Beagle in 1834. There are two ports where yachts can enter: Academy Bay on Isla Santa Cruz and Wreck Bay on Isla San Cristobal. Academy Bay is the larger, busier one where most of the cruise ships and tour boats go from and where the Charles Darwin Research Station is. Scientists come here from all over the world to work on the preservation and management of the Galapagos National Park and Marine Resources Reserve and that's where they are doing the captive breeding programme of the famous Galapagos giant tortoise.' Galapagos is apparently Spanish for giant tortoise!
We decided to stop in Wreck Bay as it appeared to be a bit quieter and easier to book into. The regulations now are that you can stay on one island only but we were given a visa for up to 20 days which is great as we have to re-fuel and take on water for the big crossing to the Marquesas. Some boats only got a 3 day visa which barely gives them any time to see anything. The people are Ecuadorian and speak very little English but are incredibly friendly and helpful. The town is called Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and I had imagined it would be very small with maybe one shop and a Customs office but it's actually a busy little place with lots of souvenir shops and bars, restaurants and internet cafes. There are elections at the moment and there seem to be parades every night with people in pick-up trucks and whole families riding on motor scooters carrying banners of the candidates and blowing whistles! All the cruisers meet up in one of the bars for sundowners in the evening and we've met so many interesting people. Lots of Australians and Kiwis going home after years of cruising and many other nationalities going round the world (no Americans though. They don't seem to come this far!) Whatever problem you might have with the boat, there is someone who can help or who has the spare part or who had that themselves and knows what to do. It's a fantastic club to belong to! Unfortunately I don't have too many skills to share but have promised to resuscitate anyone if needed!
The bay is full of marine life: sea lions; manta rays; turtles; masses of fish. As you can see from the above photo, the sea lions climb onto all the boats for a bit of a siesta in the day. It's a bit like having black Labradors lying on the sugar scoop except when you try and move them, they snarl at you and breathe disgusting fish breath at you! Actually, it's exactly like having black Labradors...!
We're going off round the island for the next few days to look for the large iguanas, the blue-footed boobies and the giant tortoises, of course, so will get some photos on here before we leave.