Isla Isabella: living up to its name

Mon 14 Apr 2008 19:29
14th April, Monday, 12.00
Noon Position 01:18S 91:18W
Hi all,
Left for the Marquesas at 05.30 this morning, having successfully dodged the port officials in Puerto Villamil for 72 hours, allowing us two days of tours on that wonderful Island: the largest in the group, and being almost the most westerly the 'newest'. Villamil is the only settlement there, just a village. One road, largly dirt, leads past a few farms to the rim of volcano Santo Thomas. This has the second largest crater in the world, 18 x 9 km. It is almost full of fresh lava, which erupted in 2004. I know all this because I hiked the crater rim with a guide and Brandon and Jamie from 'Gaviota' yesterday.Fantastic views and lunar landscape, lava tubes, steam holes, and strange very colourful rock/lava formations.
The previous day I took a boat tour with my other new boat friends, Klaus and his lovely family from Sweden, who I first met at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the Port in San Cristobal (previous deliberate error, Puerto Ayora is on Santa Cruz!). We did the Tuneles, pronounced by the Americams as Tonellis: like italian ice cream! These are subterranean Lava tunnels located within lava lagoons about 15 miles down the coast. Great passes through the swell, surf and rocks in a high powered pirogue to get into the lagoons, and great snorkelling once there: fish, turtles and penguins, plus we got really close to white tipped sharks who lurk in the tunnels. Downside was a major offensive by the dreaded gad flies: great big things that Olivia and I had previously done battle with on San Cristobal. They attacked our foreheads and necks as soon as we surfaced from the dives, each of us were surrounded /covered in flies, I just couldn't stand it a beat a retreat!
A marvellous finale to our stay in Galapagos. We left at the crack of dawn because we were not actually allowed in Isabella, following the latest restricted regulations for sailing boats. Klaus had paid/bribed his way in for a lot of dollars, but Fleck and Gaviota just hid away, and after a too close for comfort encouter with the Port Captain last night we decided to get out early whilst the going was good. So far today We have seen no gunboats on the horizon behind us, but we are expecting Klaus's lovely Freyers designed ketch Tarita to sweep past us after their more civilised departure after breakfast!
So far, as expected, absolutely no wind, using the motor to clear the islands, forecast is for favourable but light winds later. Forecasts are proving very unreliable, and there are few contented crews out ahead according to the SSB radio nets that my new friends are connected to.
So some good company for the first part of the big crossing, and we plan to stay in email contact, and maybe we will all see each other again in Polynesia