Puerto Villamil, Isabela
Sunday 21st April 2013
Distance run: 48 nmiles
Having stocked up with fresh fruit & veg & eggs from the Mercado Municipal and visited the Mega Primavera supermarket (not at all Mega – think Tesco local and down a bit!) on Thursday morning, we met up with our agent late afternoon to make a visit to Immigration – a taxi ride out of town – to check out of Ecuador. Although we plan to spend another 10 days or so in Galapagos, our next island, Isabela, does not have an Immigration office so we have to check out here.
Paperwork done, we headed back to town for a sundowner or two, followed by a supper of wahoo steak at a small restaurant across from the fishermen’s market. We couldn’t leave without some reminder of the wonderful blue-footed boobies, so Steve was treated to an early birthday present of a t-shirt depicting dancing boobies (I decided against the one that said ‘I love boobies’!) and I treated myself to a late birthday present of a booby foot pendant.
Friday morning we were up early and managed to collar a water taxi to take Steve around the back of the boat to retrieve the kedge anchor. Just as well he didn’t put the dinghy down and try to do it himself as it was very firmly set and the taxi driver was kind enough to give him a hand to break it out.
With the kedge back on board we lifted the bow anchor and by 0630 we were motoring out of Academy Bay. There was either no wind or it was on the nose for much of the morning, but then it came round and filled in a bit and we were able to sail for a couple of hours before giving up and putting the engine on again.
We passed numerous small islands on the way – one group called the Islas Crossman which looked like the remains of a volcano, with a partly collapsed caldera, and one called Isla Tortuga which had the shape of a tortoise carapace.
The chartplotter shows the shape of the larger Isla Crossman. And here the semicircular shape of the island is evident.
Isla Tortuga (Tortoise island)
We arrived at Puerto Villamil on the south coast of the biggest of the Galapagos islands – Isabela – late afternoon to find a small and very crowded anchorage. We squeezed ourselves into a spot just off the reef where the water was calmer, but with the minimum of chain out to reduce our swinging circle, it was not the most relaxing spot.
We were very pleased, however, to be greeted by a penguin within minutes of setting the anchor, and that seemed to make it all alright. Sea lions soon appeared and played around the boat, and later a pelly took a liking to our forward step until we asked him to leave. He took a bit of persuading, and at first simply turned his head and gave us a disdainful look, but we persevered because we didn’t think pelican guano would be a positive addition to the boat.
Our penguin friend swimming around the boat. Later a pelly liked the look of our fore step, but we shooed him off.
We tried calling our agent here soon after we arrived and again yesterday morning, with no reply. A chap came round in a boat during the morning, noting down the names of the boats. We asked him if he was the agent and he said “No”. The same chap, who it turns out is the agent, came to the boat an hour later with the Port Captain, telling us off because we should have checked in yesterday. We pointed out that a) we had been calling him regularly since arriving and not been answered and b) when we asked if he was the agent earlier he had denied it! After a little bluster about being busy he then changed his attitude and became friendly and helpful and took our paperwork to check us in.
We spent a quiet day on the boat, catching up with a number of people we had sailed from Panama with, and doing a few boat jobs. Steve used the rib to take Rod ashore with his paperwork, and on the way back the propeller failed. Fortunately this model has a ‘get me home’ mode and so they didn’t have to resort to the oars (it’s quite a long way to the dock!) but unfortunately it is the equivalent of about 1 hp compared to our usual 15hp and will be next to useless in the South Pacific islands when we will need it most! Damn!
Of all the spares we have on the boat, we just forgot to get a spare prop for the outboard. We are really kicking ourselves and are not too sure how we will solve this one. We emailed the Mercury agents on Santa Cruz who say they do not have one in stock and it will take them 25 days to get one from the States. So watch this space. In the meantime Steve has refitted the old prop which he has managed to repair to the extent that it will go a little faster than the current one, but it still will not give us the power we may need.
Yesterday evening the wind dropped and the boats all started to move in different ways, including the boat next to us. We made a successful pass stern to stern once, but on the second go our davits and theirs looked like they would touch, so we put the engine on and motored forward. Then we took up a couple of metres of chain to move further away, but as we haven’t yet recalibrated the chain after it was cut we were not too sure how much we actually had out, and as we thought it was not much, we didn’t feel we could take up more.
We didn’t want to re-anchor in the dark, so Steve decided to sleep in the cockpit to be ready for action if needed and we set the anchor alarm to 0.01nm. This meant it might go off quite often as we were swinging, but we thought it best to be awake often to check out boat positions anyway. In the end it was an uneventful night, but this morning we decided to take up the anchor, re-measuring and marking the chain as we did so, and move to a different spot.
It seems we lost only 4 metres of chain in the rocks at San Cristobal, and we now have new marks on the chain so that we know exactly what we’ve got down. We just need to remember what the marks mean! I am still a little wary of bumping other boats when the wind drops, but some boats are due to leave tomorrow so that should help me relax a little!
So we are at the end of our second day here and we haven’t ventured ashore yet. We have, however, been entertained by the diving of the boobies and pellies and the playing of the sea lions and penguins around the boat. We may venture ashore a little later to stretch our legs and investigate Happy Hour at a local hostelry.