Odyssey Logs

Galapagos round up: Memories are made of this

On Tuesday 10 March the Blue Planet Odyssey fleet sailed west, leaving the Galapagos Islands behind after a memorable two week stay, first stopping at Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal  and then Pursuit Puerto Ayora on Isla Santa Cruz. While the fleet now make their way west towards the Marquesas, read some extracts from their Galapagos blogs…

Arrival and clearance into the islands

Hey Tim, how did the big green fender work for keeping the sea lions off the boat…? – Photo: NO REGRETS

Janet Hayes, Chapter Two

Because we arrived at night, our boat couldn’t be inspected until this morning which also meant we couldn’t go ashore the night before. The boat was in spotless condition as we all waited on the fly bridge.

The boat full of officials arrive and there are 9 people in total. As they step onboard, there is a flutter of activity. Our interpreter begins asking for information, handing out forms and giving us directions. The two divers jump into the water and begin the bottom inspection while the crew begins completion of immigration forms. Pat is asked to complete a stack of forms all the while being asked specific questions about the boat. What size of engine and where is it, how many holding tanks and where are they, are the signs posted, do we have a waste plan, etc. etc. Two gentlemen, pulled me aside and wanted to see inside the freezers, refrigerators, cabinets, drawers, the bathrooms and bedrooms. One official even checked the expiration date of our canned goods while another carried a vacuum around to check for bugs. The whole group of officials was very professional and polite. The divers popped out of the water and said our boat bottom was excellent and the group inside said we were perfect. High fives all around! The whole process went quickly and lasted only 30 minutes.

Once the group left, we called a water taxi and headed for shore. We were ready to walk on land after 6 days at sea. Upon arrival at the dock, we were greeted by Kathy and Roger, our BPO reps, with a hug and congratulations! Our crew parted ways and headed out to explore the city of Baquerizo Moreno, Galapagos. What a thrill! We’re here!

Carol Harvey, Maggie

The first view ashore was such a surprise! There are sea lions everywhere, lying on the stairs up the dock, on the beach and rocks, on the park benches, in the fishing boats. Also on the rocks are large iguanas and red crabs. We just enjoyed the sights, took photos, and swapped travel stories with the other boaters.

Tim Liveright, No Regrets

All but one BPO boat has arrived all safe, sound, and savoring the magic of this place. 

The lobos marinos continue to overtake our floating home so we’ve bolstered our transom step blockade so that they can’t get further than the first step.  Further and the necessity of providing them doggie bags would be paramount. 

Dena Singh, Libby

We enjoyed our coffee and pinched ourselves again to remind us we were indeed in Galapagos and not dreaming. It is cool to wake up every day on the hook, on crystal clear turquoise water. The sea life embraces us from every angle and we can sit and stare at the plethora of activity for hours. Our best activity so far was the snorkling. Sharks, turtles, sea lions, all treated us as new found friends. This is a very cool place, one where nature and humans really do live in harmony.

Meredith Denning, Coconut Woman

The prevailing feeling we get from everyone in our little group is that we’re lucky to be here, together.  Cheers to our absolutely wonderful and diverse rally members, to visiting family and friends, and to all the wonderful locals we have met so far!  After all, it’s the people, and the Galapagos animal friends, who truly make the place!

Janet Hayes, Chapter Two

Baquerizo Moreno is a quaint and friendly seaside town. There are many little bodegas (markets) selling produce, eggs and various other sundries. We find a local restaurant serving various rice dishes and a $5.00 lunch special of salad, soup, entrée, rice and juice. We ended the day with dinner onshore at Calypso with the crew from No Regrets. We are trying to have dinner with different boat crews so that we can get to know everyone. We have a week to socialize before moving to the island of Santa Cruz, Galapagos.

Bob Shanks, Maggie

Our trip to Santa Cruz Island was filled with swarms of birds churning up the water as they dived for fish, sea turtles swimming by and sea lions floating on their backs soaking up the sun. As I watch a guy on a neighbouring boat wave a mop at the frigate birds all over his working boat I realize these islands truly belong to the birds and the wildlife here.

Kicker Rock

Kicker Rock – Photo: NO REGRETS

Janet Hayes, Chapter Two

Pat and I managed to organize a group for snorkeling and diving at the #1 attraction called Kicker Rock. The dive operation outfitted us with heavy wetsuits for the dive even though the outside temperature is a tropical 90 degrees. The water around the rock has a series of currents called thermoclines. There would be a current of warm water moving one direction and then another current of very cold water rushing the opposite direction. Upon arrival, we geared up and dropped into the deep water to begin our dive. Within minutes, I was hit with a wave of cold water that made me shiver even though I was wearing the heaviest wetsuit ever. We saw many turtles, sharks and fish that I had never seen before. For the second dive, we moved around to the opposite side of the rock. We saw millions of fish called Salemas which hung together like a huge wall. You could swim right through them and they would part and then surround you. As we moved along the wall dive, we saw more turtles, an eel, an octopus, a beautiful spotted sting ray and several sharks. While we were waiting for the boat, the dive master asked if I wanted to go into this large crack in the wall of the rock. I said, “sure, but I’m out of air” and he said, “take some of mine, I have plenty”. I said OK and we headed down inside the rock crack. It was so fun, because we saw so many turtles and a playful sea lion. The sea lion swam up to me planted a peck on my mask and then kept touching my leg. I was so surprised. Later, the dive master said he was giving me a kiss and wanted to play.

Zeke Holland, No Regrets

Kicker Rock is an amazing place, with cliffs that not only plummet down to the water but continue straight down into the depths below. Exciting just to see the formation and the sea birds on and over it, but the real treat is snorkeling around it. Snorkeling next to a sheer wall, with the sunlight shining on the many colors of the wall, plus zillions of fish… quite an experience! Tranquil sea turtles amble by below, while sea lions dart by inches away (sometimes scaring the dickens out of you, when they approach from behind and suddenly appear next to your face!), in the depths a few sharks (not people-threatening ones, though one of our group did spot a hammerhead), colorful fish, and if you dive down 10 feet a school of fish so thick it almost seems solid, all while frigate birds are soaring overhead. We swam around the perimeter for an hour until most of us were exhausted as well as awed.

Isabela Island

Blue Planet Odyssey sailors Pip, Daphne, Lisel, Justin, Mer, Mierko, Martin, Claudia, Debbie, Deana, Terry, Carol, Barb, Rob, and Bob on Lookout Platform, Isabela Island. Photo: COCONUT WOMAN

Carol Harvey, Maggie

A group of us took a day trip to Isabela. It was worth the trip as each island has its own unique features and flora and fauna. Isabela is the largest and youngest. There are a number of volcanoes on the island and the last eruption was only a few years ago. The second largest crater in the world is here, 11 by 9 km. It looks like Arizona with the cactus and lava rocks.

Nearby are remnants of an old, infamous, Equadorian penal colony from 1949 to 1956,  the Wall of Tears. As punishment the harsh guards ordered the building of a tall rock wall that caused many deaths and was never finished or needed.

Meredith, Coconut Woman

Flamingos, socially-fearless black iguanas, finches, and fish were on the roster for our day trip to Isabela.  But the most exciting locals we met were the swimming penguins, who lay claim to being the only breeding penguins in the world living as far north as the equator.  The marine iguanas seemed to enjoy swimming alongside us while we snorkeled!  The chilly Humbolt Current running northward from Antarctica is responsible for carrying them to these islands many thousands of years ago.

We visited the Wall of Tears, created by the Ecuadorian prisoners in an old prison camp that is said to be the Ecuadorian version of Alcatraz.  In order to increase their suffering in the dry and barren countryside, the guards forced them to build a wall of rocks—without any mortar!  This meant prisoners were killed by falling rocks or by falling off the rocks, as they struggled to place them in stable positions.  There was never any purpose whatsoever to building this wall. It had always been intended solely for the torture of the prisoners.

For many centuries, Galapagos was said to be a cursed place.  Poisonous manchineel trees with sweet-smelling, seemingly benign apple fruit could kill with one bite.  The lack of water and food made it a place to send unwanted people, or a place for crooked real estate brokers to lure unsuspecting Europeans into buying land in a supposedly very affordable “paradise.”

Nowadays, the Puerto Ayora square is full of locals and tourists celebrating local music and culture on weekend nights .  Bands and dancers light up the square as families and friends ride by on bicycles or stroll with their ice creams.

And some poetry…

Tim Liveright, No Regrets

Seals bark sweet hellos

Cristobal cracks lava smiles

We toast our small feat

Grind rocks together

Come tortoises and people

Reptiles get the rub

Time to leave…

Blue Planet Odyssey check out at Puerto Ayora

Lovesail

Our time in the Galapagos is coming to an end. We set off at midday on the 3,000 nm passage to Hiva Oa island. Lovesail and crew have enjoyed an unforgettable experience here. As I write this, the wind is 4 knots. At that rate we’ll still be in the bay here in a week’s time but I’m confident that we will be able to find some breeze later to take us on our way. Our plan is to head SW until we get to about 5 degrees South and then we should be in the trade winds and able to alter course to due West for a long time. Weather outlook is fine and no problems anticipated. In fact we are all eager to get on our way again and continue the adventure.

Maggie

The last couple of days has been busy with topping up with fuel and water, and sitting in a very slow internet cafe trying to update our blogs with pictures. Yesterday we took a walk to the Darwin Institute to get our log books signed by officials of the Galapagos National Park and to see the giant saddleback turtles and land iguanas. Last evening we had our skipper’s meeting in anticipation of our noon departure for the Marquesas today. We are excited about starting the three week or so passage across the Pacific. So far it looks like little wind for the first couple of days. Hopefully we won’t have to motor too much.

Libby

Are you ready team?
Are we all provisioned? Check. Lotsa fresh food. Check. Laundry done? Check. Boat tidy? Check. Jib halyard replaced? Check. Battery charger sorted out? Mostly. Turtles, Iguana’s, Penguins, Sea Lions, Sea Turtles, and Boobies befriended? Check. Swam with sharks? Check. Beautiful and kind people met? Check. Excellent!

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