Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz

Southern Princess
John & Irene Hunt
Sat 8 Mar 2008 21:39
After a 6 hour MOTOR AGAIN from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz we anchored in Academia Bay (Puerto Ayora 00:45S 90:18W ) with a fore and aft anchor. The aft anchor helps keep the bow into the swell which comes into the harbour all the time. It is an exposed anchorage.
The Galapagos are a surprising place. Permanent population 30,000 people plus the annual influx of 80,000 tourists has a major impact on the place. Some funny local rules. The water taxis which ply the bay carry life jackets tucked into awkward places on the boat however if you use your dinghy, the port police insist that you wear your life jacket at all times! Fuel at the pump is US$1.02 per gallon but they want to deliver it to your yacht at US$2.35 per gallon and their seems to be a dispute between the water deliverer and the pump owner. The service station is open strictly from 08:00 to 12:00 and then again 13:00 to 17:00 and not one moment more.
Lots of good restaurants and some very up market stores. One gallery we inspected is selling exquisite hand woven baskets at US$3,500 each!
Did you know that when the Spaniards first came here they were impressed with the giant tortoise, one of which looks like the saddle off their horses which is called a Galapagos and so they named the islands!
Our first tour was to Bartolome Island. Up at 04:15, picked up by water taxi at 04:45, an hours bus ride to  Baltra at the other end of the island, a 3.5 hours boat ride to Bartolome a 4 million year old extinct volcano and apart from a few scrubby plants hasn't grown anything since. Could have filmed the moon landing here. A board walk takes you to the summit about 1000 metres up and some magnificent views. Galapagos is about the wild life; right? Animal count for the island visit; 1 water iguana, 2 or 3 lava lizards a bit like a small skink back home, some distant birds; Oh and an interesting bush which was still holding drops of water at 11:00 from the over night rain.
From there we went for a snorkel. Saw a couple of common reef fish chewing away at rather dead rocks, and while I could see my hand in front of my face, a fellow traveller snorkelled by 2 arms lengths away and I could not recognize him. A Galapagos white tipped shark would have had to tap me on the shoulder to get my attention it was so murky.
So that was our first day trip 9 hours travelling and 2.5 hours inspecting the delights. The Princess was not impressed!
Day 2 was North Seymour Island, a lot better. Blue footed boobies fishing, boy can they dive into the water, a blue footed booby rookery with newly born chicks through to fledglings getting ready to fly. One such fledging was huddled under a tree with his back to us so we wouldn't see him. A big bundle of white feathers trying to look like something else. I quietly crept in under the tree so I was along side and gave a quiet 'boo', the little head turned startled eyes to me and the look on the face was 'please sir I don't know what you are but I am sure you won't hurt me' and he then shuffled forward a bit to have a sniff.
One of our number with size 13 shoes wandered into the bush to take a photo of a frigate bird in a tree top with our watching where his feet were going. They strayed within 2 feet of a booby sitting over a new born chick and the booby did not even flinch, she just held her ground.
Frigate birds don't fish in the water. They steal from other birds, usually pelicans. On Santa Fe Island, we saw a pelican 'school for fishing and not letting the Frigate birds get your lunch'. The two fledglings are in the water close by the rocks with a bit of a breaking wave. Mum would show them how to get a fish and keep it well within their beaks to stop the Frigate's stealing. She then got on the rocks to watch. The youngsters had a go, the Frigates kept swooping and sealing scraps and every now and again the mother would launch herself at the Frigates to keep them back a bit. The two youngsters started squabbling over a fish with each bird tugging at each end and a Frigate just swooped and took it from between them. Talk about accurate flying!
The giant tortoise are amazing and one day I swam with the seal pups for a while. Mum kept a close eye on proceedings.
There is a strike going on ashore by the locals, the supply ship arrived and bought booze and construction material but not a lot of food. The supermarket shelves are not stacked and it looks like fishing to the Marquises.
Lots of great photos and our crew gifted Southern Princess with a fantastic book of photos on the Galapagos. Thanks Lorraine.
We head out again on Sunday for the 3 week journey to the Marquises and the weather reports are not good so it could be a long trip as we don't have enough fuel to motor the 3150 nautical miles (around 6,300 kilometres).
I won't be logging a daily report as long distant sailing is just plain old boring but will try every few days. The position reports go in each day and will be logged on the web site.
Hope you are enjoying the reports,
Love to all
John & Irene
Lonesome George 150 years old and the last of his breed.                             The girls they are trying to attract him to; from another close sub-species.
Water Iguana swimming by us at anchor.                                                        A Sally Lightfoot crab. The rocks abound in them.
Male Frigate in full mating display.                                                        The Frigates are magnificent aerialists.
Great natural camouflage hiding in the rocks.                                     This one is disguised as a potential bus passenger.
Mother seal gently reminding me not to come too close.                                                            I am the boss of my neighbourhood.
Ferocious looking fellow; pity he is only 2 feet long!                                                                            Blue footed Booby with young.
Another blue footed booby? or Pole Dancing in the Galapagos!