Sunday, 3 May 2015

5/2015 Galapagos

Hi from Clare 1st May 2015

No 5 Galapagos

We left Las Perlas Islands on 15th April and sailed to the Galapagos Islands. The weather forecast showed little wind for the next week or more and so we anticipated motoring for a large proportion of the 1000 mile trip. However once out at sea we found both wind and current and much to our delight we completed the distance in 7 days and 6 hours averaging 5.7 knots of boat speed sailing on a relatively flat sea. This was one of our best trips ever and an absolute pleasure to be out on the water. It is also wonderful to be in the Southern Hemisphere now and see the Southern Cross every night.

Since arriving in Port Villamil on the peaceful island of Isabela we have met up with five other boats from our daily Radio Net; Saraoni, Moonfleet, Macushla, Jacaranda and Flying Cloud. So we are having a very social time with happy hours and various excursions.

The most amazing thing about the region is the abundant sea life. It's a full time job keeping the seals off the boat and out of the dinghy. At first they are cute but rather disgusting once they have defecated. The dinghy dock has a shaded area and some lovely bench seats which I'm sure are supposed to be for humans but the seals have claimed them for sleeping throughout the day. Iguanas lie around in the sun and penguins dart about in the water near the dock.

We went on a guided snorkelling trip to The Tunnels. The area is about 20 miles along the coast and it's a rather hair-raising ride by power boat through the rolling surf before arriving in calm waters behind the reef. The tunnels (which look like bridges to me) are volcanic rock and formed by a lava flow which has been eroded later by the sea. This area is home to giant 300 year old Candelabra Cactus, bright red crabs and the Bluefooted Booby bird; a very attractive fellow who displayed some steps of his ritual dance to attract the female. We then went snorkelling outside the reef area to see white tip reef sharks, giant green turtles, penguins and a sea horse or two. Unfortunately the visibility was very poor and underwater photos were impossible. I just about bumped into a giant green turtle before I saw it.

A group of ten of us went on a trip up into the hills and visited a 30 acre organic farm to purchase fruit and vegetables and then on to a wonderful restaurant for a smorgasbord lunch. We had a sweeping view of the lush valley below stretching out to the sea. I know I have mentioned it before but lush green vegetation is such a feast for the eye when living on the water and seeing mostly blue.

Yesterday we visited the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre where hundreds of tortoises are being raised to adulthood before being released into the wild. The tortoise can live for 150 years but is a threatened species due to introduced predators eating the eggs and newborns. I think the largest tortoise we saw was about 100 years old. Not the most attractive creature but they hold the distinction of being the oldest reptiles on earth.

The township of Villamil has sand streets and made footpaths. There isn't a building code and so the shops are mixed in amongst the houses and businesses. The shops themselves carry whatever they can acquire and so shopping is hit and miss. One week there are vegetables and the next week there are very few. Even when there are vegetables you have to fossick around to find tomatoes in one shop, pineapple and apples in another, a cucumber in another shop and potatoes somewhere else. The selection is very basic and I'm still searching for an onion. There is some frozen red meat which is hard to identify and in another shop a few frozen chooks (note I didn't say chickens), these are best cooked in the pressure cooker. The bread from the bakery is very sweet, however the local cheese is lovely. Fortunately Eye Candy is well stocked and so we only have to seek out fresh produce.

On Monday we are taking the ferry to the island of Santa Cruz for three days. This is the main tourist destination where people fly in to take tours of the islands on live aboard vessels. We have no idea what we will find but I will tell you more in our next newsletter.

Love Candy xx