World ARC - Day 44- 21th Feb – Isla San Cristobal, Galapagos
The 19th February saw 20 ARC boats all converging on the Eastern
end of San Cristobal, the first and nearest island to Ecuador, 540
It was great to arrive like that, mostly together, with most of
the fleet motoring in the calm and glassy sea down the northern
side of the Island.
First it was a sea of Rays, with just their wing tips sticking out
of the surface. Then Dolphins, whales and seals were seen. Blue
footed boobies, frigate birds and huge pelicans all wheeling
around the boat. This was more sea life in 40nin miles than we had
seen since leaving Europe.
Checking In............. All Day!
Peurto Baquerizo is the port, town and main habitation on the
island, and we had to go through pretty stringent checking in. We
arrived at 09.50. Kettle on for a brew and sort out time to make
Three parties of checking in boats came.
First the divers, checking the bottom of Nina. Up they came after
a thorough inspection, thumbs up, Phew. All the hard work paid
off. We were OK. Only one of the ARC boats were rejected, Mearra
Nieida, with their Finnish crew looking to borrow diving kit to go
40 miles out into the ocean, accompanied offshore, to clean
themselves ready for another inspection.
Then in the afternoon, the second group of six people, to check
for health,food and cleanliness, and fill out the forms. Tins were
checked to see if we had any out of date, and our medical first
aid kit was inspected. They made sure we had a system of
recycling, and signs were up for holding tanks and not o throw
rubbish over the side.
We failed! - we had a triangular bandage and some indigestion
tablets confiscated. They were lovely about it, almost apologetic.
A bit ridiculous, as we still fail to see how either of these
things were seriously hazardous to our health?!
Third and final group of six people were the heavy hitters. Port
Captain, Navy and Immigration. They arrived at 19.00, leaving us
unable to go ashore all day, but never mind, had to be done. All
Nina's equipment and particulars, and our details recorded,
checked, inspected and verified. Forms and certificates issued,
signed, countersigned. We passed, phew! we were in!
Actually, it was long and time consuming, an we had done an
enormous amount of work to ensure our entry was OK. Success.
Reading the books and blogs, they were getting overwhelmed a few
years ago by the boats entering Galapagos, so the navy and
Ecuadorian government took it over, and hence the enormous
jobs-worth bureaucracy. Once they saw we were pretty good with
everything, they were much more relaxed about letting things like
packaging on meat and some fruits go through. If you started to
fail the tick-lists, it was easy to imagine they would have been
terrible, checking and inspecting everything. We got a very easy
We did a trip in a taxi for the day o see the island, up to the
volcano, which is windy, and a huge pool with Frigate birds
wheeling and splashing to clean themselves.
We visited the tortoise sanctuary, where they protect and breed
the last remaining giant tortoises.
We also visited the Darwin museum, where the history of the island
was explained. Whales and tortoises were harvested to virtual
extinction by the Europeans and Americans a couple of hundred
years ago, for meat and lamp oil. Then the island became a
murderous penal colony for the worst criminals from mainland
Ecuador, then the natives were left to fend for themselves until
Darwin visited in HMS Beagle, developed his theory of evolution,
and challenged the generally held belief that we were created by
god, and interest grew again in the unique flora and fauna, and
the idea of protecting it and developing tourism saved the
Nothing is frightened of people. Wary, yes, but not scared. You
can walk right up to the animal life here.
It is absolutely fantastically magically stupendous to walk along
a beach with pelicans walking and swimming past you. Pull on your
mask and fins and swim with Hawksbill and Pacific Green sea
Turtles, then come across marine Iguanas sunning themselves a few
yards away. Magical place.