What can I say…. For us, on a sailing yacht, Galapagos is a bureaucratic nightmare most of which we still do not really understand. A permit here, a permit there; a few more dollars for something or other; restrictions, rules; and plenty of waiting around for something or someone! Today we had the cheese, we had just bought in Santa Cruz photographed before we boarded a local speedboat – why we don’t know? We can only assume it is a game designed to deliver some more dollars, keep people employed and enhance the eco marketing credentials of the Galapagos – but it might just be bureaucrats completely out of control.
But you cannot help being charmed by the wildlife. Where else in the world will you climb out of the dinghy and have to step over sea lions, and iguanas and going for walk navigate around giant tortoises? These guys know they are in charge, and we have to walk around them, but they do let you come incredibly close. On the boat at anchor we have pelicans diving, the sweetest little penguins, sea lions and black tipped sharks just metres away. I am not sure who eats who but it all seems to work.
We have visited three islands – San Cristobal, Isabella and Santa Cruz. Isabella is our favourite being more relaxed and has a better anchorage. We have seen all three boobies – blue footed, red footed and Nascar’s and definitely earned the right to wear the “I love boobies t-shirt.” We were lucky enough to see the blue footed boobies dancing which is the mating ritual and very comical. We have had some amazing snorkelling and the highlight must be swimming with rays and giant turtles. On the way to the snorkelling spots we were also lucky enough to see jumping rays – another mating ritual, and the blows and fins of fin whales.
The islands are volcanic and it does make for dramatic scenery. The very dark tangled rocks against the bright turquoise water is spectacular. We visited the Sierra Negra which is still an active volcano and has one of the largest craters in the world. We have been on push bikes and did an “only downhill” bike ride on San Cristobal. This sounds a bit slack but the heat is draining and quite frankly the bikes had very dodgy gears and were fit for downhill only. The ladies, Helen, Moira and I biked to the “Wall of Tears” and this is uphill but we did see wild giant tortoises which is really special on the way. The wall of tears is a wall 100m long and 7m high. It was built by convicts from the penal colony and served no real purpose except punishment.
The place is extremely clean and we have seen none of the dreadful plastic waste that has been on other islands. There seems to be no single use plastic cups or plates, no plastic straws and even in the supermarket no plastic bags for vegetables. It can be done.
Our friend Helen Phillips has been in Galapagos for a month and joined us on the boat for a week. Stuart Dawson has joined us today to do the long Pacific crossing to the Marquesas.
The boat jobs do not stop. Helen very kindly went up the mast to polish the shrouds -what a star because this is not a popular job. Julian and Bill, from Krabat, fitted a aft roller so we can use a stern anchor more easily. We have taken our torn (again) code zero sail to be mended on Santa Cruz. No posh sail loft here but a rather rough football pitch to roll the sail out on. We suspect the sail repair man is more of a cobbler, but he has a machine and some material, and for what we feel is rather an expensive price, seems willing and is probably competent – needs must.’
We are now preparing for the long voyage to the Marquesas. This will be 3000 NM and our longest non stop trip so far. We expect it to take about 20 days. Amazingly we are looking forward to it!
Limited broadband has meant smaller and fewer photos than usual in this post.