Galapagos - Santa Cruz and Isabela

Wed 23 Apr 2014 20:09
00:57.967S 90:57.676W

We left Isla Cristobal on a windless day so motor on and a nice relax for the 40 mile sail to the next island Santa Cruz, that is until we sailed straight into an evil shoal (minimum 200 feet deep) which tossed the boat all over the place for about 4 hours, not quite what we expected!  We arrived on the next island Santa Cruz late afternoon and thought a drink of the alcoholic variety was a definite must so we got dressed and saw a water taxi heading our way - great except it contained the Port Captain and our Santa Cruz agent a bouncy little lady named Irena.  Neither of them spoke a word of English so we laboured through yet more paperwork done in duplicate to satisfy both parties.  About an hour later they seemed happy that we were'nt doing anything illegal so we hitched a ride with them to dry land and hit the bars of Santa Cruz for just one Caipirinha (a lethal concoction of sweet Brazilian rum, fresh lime juice and crushed ice), except in happy hour they come in twos!

Santa Cruz is the liveliest of the islands (that means everyone goes to bed at 9.00pm not 8.00pm!).  We spent a good week there, other than it being a very rolly anchorage - on our first day we upped anchor and  moved right into the centre of the commercial harbour where most of the rolling was caused by the constant water taxi traffic (they apparently run 24 hours a day though we could'nt quite imagine why when most people went to bed at 9.00pm and got up at 5.00am.  We visited the giant tortoises at the Darwin Centre and some beautiful beaches and got totally hooked on Caipirinhas!!!! 

After a week of drinking we left for the third and quietest of the islands Isabela, we had the perfect sail, spinnaker up and a very comfortable 3-4 knots averaging 5 knots because of the currents and arrived late afternoon, our agent left us undisturbed unitl the next morning and paperwork was sorted quickly and we went exploring.  We had cycled on the other 2 islands but the tracks on Isabela were ideal.  We cycled to the top of the Serra Negra volcano just under 2,000 metres up in the clouds - it was actually cool up there and a nice relief after the searing heat of the coastal zone but were disappointed to find out that for the walk to the rim you had to have an official guide - only available at the coastal town of Puerto Villamil where we had cycled from!  The great thing about a 3 hour uphill slog is that the only way back is down - so a very whoopee downhill followed.

We must be gluttons for punishment because 2 days later we did the same ride, this time the intention was to horseride around the rim of the volcano, this had been arranged in our non-existent Spanish and after the 3 hour slog back up the volcano we discovered our horses and guides were as non-existent as our Spanish so after a 2 hour wait we headed back downhill again.  

We did a lot better on our pre-booked day out to Los Tuneles, this involved an amazing white knuckle speed boat ride out in the Pacific rollers and across the breaking surf into the lagoon behind - even Syd was hanging on as we leaped and rolled over massive waves and avoided the huge jagged lava rocks, luckily our driver was expert and got us in safely where we snorkelled with white tip reef shark, seals, giant green turtles and penguins and on route got to see the enormous Manta Rays (3-4 metres across) that thrive off that very inhospitable coastline, a truly amazing experience.

The animals are the stars of the show here in Galapagos, we have both got to see and get close to animals we may never see again but French Polynesia calls and Syd is getting itchy to get sailing again so we will be saying good-bye to Isabela and heading out in the Pacific swell for the 20 day crossing to Hiva Oa in The Marquesas tomorrow Thursday, 24th April and I guess we will be seeing a lot of sea!!!!

JPEG image

JPEG image

JPEG image