05th May 2007
The landfall was in Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal chief island of Galapagos. Entering the bay, we were greeted by a couple of sea lions jumping next to the boat, we were so flattered. Little we knew that the sea lions are the main attraction of the village. They are by the hundreds, swimming amongst boats, sun bathing on the beach and around the pier, including lots of baby sea lions. We were only able to clear in with Immigrations. Tomorrow we will pay a visit to the Port Captain and ask for a cruising permit to visit other islands. It works wanders to dress smartly and use your best Spanish, hopefully the Port Captain is in good mood tomorrow.
06th May 2007
Again we visited the Port Captain's office and we were told to come back tomorrow. After that we took a trip around the island with an official guide and driver. His name was Carlos and although he is from mainland Ecuador, he has been living in this island for a while. First we visited Galapageira. This is a conservation centre for the giant tortoises. Graham thought that Spielberg had his inspiration for the ET movie from these creatures! These impressive animals live up to 150 years and weigh up to 100 kg. They reach the adult life at 30 years old and from there on the females lay 12 eggs a year, only 2 to 3 hatching successfully. And the babies are minute. Then Carlos drove to a Finca. Finca means farm in Spanish and we ate the best fruit salad with ice cream from locally grown fruits. Finally we went to a beach near Baquerizo to spot some iguanas. Quite ugly animals... However the iguanas are black and it is impressive how they camouflage themselves in between the volcanic rocks. We almost walked over a few without realizing that they were there.
Well we saw the Port Captain. He allowed us to stay until Saturday but he did not give a permit to visit any other islands. After that we spent hours watching the sea lions on the beach. The males have a harem of 20 females; they can weigh up to 200 kg and live up to 30 years. The sad part is that if a human touches the baby sea lions, the mother can reject the offspring, which will consequently die of hunger.
So no stroking the pups even if they are friendly and cute! We met a couple, Ben is English and Rosangela is Brasilian. They have been cruising for the last 3 years with their 2 kids. Same as us, they don't know where they want to live, so to avoid this problem they keep on the move.
Ben came for a morning coffee and chat. After the siesta we went into town and booked a dive for Friday. The water is very cold here, but if we are lucky we will be able to see some Hammerhead sharks.
As we said farewell to Ben and Rosangela in "Zazoo" and watched them sail off, we welcomed Pete and Felicity in "Nadezhda" who arrived today. We all met up at the internet café including Lil and Rob in "Mariah", who also arrived today. When Ivan, the owner of the diving shop where we booked our dives was passing by in his bike and saw the crowd, he invited all us to take part of a film shoot for an Ecuadorian program about the Galapagos. The film shoot was in the dive shop and where we were students having a dive debrief. Graham was interviewed for the program. Pete fancied the chance of becoming a star and also asked to be interviewed, even a bit too drunk to talk. Judit, on the other hand, was running away from the cameras, but since she speaks Spanish, she was also interviewed. After that the group paid a visit to Pepe, a very special giant tortoise.
We had to pretend we were a group of students having a dive debrief. At the end Graham was interviewed, Pete fancied the chance of being a star and asked to also be interviewed, even a bit to drunk to talk... Judit, on the other hand, was running away from the cameras. Because she was the only one who spoke Spanish in the group, was also interviewed. Then we went to see and feed Pepe, a very special tortoise. The hearsay is that Pepe is 300 years old.
In the afternoon, together with Felicity and Pete, we hiked up to see the Charles Darwin statue. The route was scenic over some nice rocky bays. The island is very arid with lots of tiny geckos and of course sea lions lying at the beach and rocks. We witnessed a sad happening. A baby sea lion rejected by an entire group of adult sea lions... Before returning to the boat, Fernando came to see us. He act as an agent in this island selling diesel, tours at a very expensive price. We always refused to use any of his services due to his high prices and his pushy attitude. This time he came threatening us. According to Fernando, the Port Captain will pay us a visit since we have not used his services or recommended to other yachties. Putting in a very polite way on the web, we told him to get a life. It was a sleepless night as sea lion pups were playing around and under the boat. They were swimming under our cabin hitting the hull and using the sugar scoop as a diving platform.
Diving day. Graham and I were picked up by the dive boat at 8.30 am. Before heading to the main dive site, we stopped at Lobos Island, for a check dive. Then we went to Leon Dormido, the main dive site. There are two vertical walls 140m deep and the dive was through the gap between walls. Due to the cold water, I chose a 7mm thick wetsuit, while Graham opted for a normal 4mm wetsuit. The dive was not an easy one. With 13 degrees of water temperature, strong currents we were swept on to the walls of Leon Dormido. However we saw eagle rays, a sting ray, turtles and of course a lot of sea lions joined our dive, playing with the air bubbles. At the end of the dive, both were cold to the bone and refused to jump back in the water to snorkel with sea lions. Later that night we organized a BBQ on Nomad Life with Pete n Fliss and Lil n Rob.
Despite not having a cruising permit we are leaving tomorrow for Isabella Island. Friends stopped there without cruising permit and they were welcomed by the Port Captain. Today was a day to provision for the next 4 weeks of long passage.
Whilst clearing out of with the Port Captain, he emphasized that we are not allowed to visit any other island. He has heard of other yachts stopping in Isabella without authorization. Since today the island celebrates Mother’s Day , everything is closed including the laundry shop. The Port Captain allowed us to stay another night so we could get the laundry back. Nothing else left to do other than organize a leaving party with Pete n Fliss, Rob n Lil and Renald from yacht Pitanga.
Time has come to leave for Marquesas, our biggest passage yet, only 2993 miles to go. We will leave in style with a send-off in fog horns from Nadezhda and Mariah, also playing loud AC/DC Thunderstruck.