Post box at Floreana
Dick and Irene Craig
Fri 5 Mar 2010 14:34
We left our boat before 8am on the 26th to join a cruise around a number of islands within the archipelago of the Galapagos so have heard very little about the tragedy.
Only two other people participating in the WARC, also joined the same cruise ship as Dick and myself, a large catamaran with eight double cabins for guests. The four of us took a taxi to the ferry, some miles from Academy bay where we are at anchor.
The taxi was in fact a pick-up truck though there was room for all four of us to sit inside the cab with the luggage in the back, covered in plastic sheeting to protect it from the rain.
Eventually we arrived at a ferry terminal, the luggage was unloaded and piled on top of the ferry. We went inside and sat on benches provided along each side. The front and the back of the ferry remained open. The ferry crossed the bay and we collected our luggage, climbed on a coach and went to the airport where we were meeting the other people who were on the cruise.
After waiting some time at the airport, we were told that the plane had been further delayed, so managed to get a lift back to the ferry terminal in an open-back garbage truck. Marie and I were able to sit inside the cab but Dick and Charles had to stay in the back, with the luggage, in the rain.
On arrival at the ferry terminal, we transferred our luggage to a rib which took us to the cruise ship. Within the hour three young people also joined the boat. By noon, all sixteen passengers were aboard.
After a splendid lunch we went ashore and began the start of our exploration of Santa Cruz. Overnight the catamaram made passage to San Cristobal but the journey was not comfortable and a number of people were seasick. Most of us didn't sleep very well as we bounced up and down in our beds.
Next morning we were woken soon after six am with news of the pending tsunami. The cruise boat was already underway before the guests were gathered together and told that we were to have our backpacks ready in the event that we had to leave the ship and that the ship had been instructed to move twenty miles offshore.
By late morning, we were aware that Santa Cruz had been effected by the tsunami and that some WARC boats had been damaged. By mid afternoon, Charles and Marie knew that their boat had been damaged and by early evening we had been told that our boat was fine, as were our crew.
Other than Santa Cruz, to which we returned on the evening of the fourth day of the tour and San Cristobal, both of which have already been mentioned, we also visited South Plaza island, Isla Lobos, Pta Suarez and Gardner bay on the island of Española.
At Post office bay, on the island of Floreana we posted into a barrel, unstamped postcards. Sailors have left their letters here, since the days when the whaleboats visited. On depositing a letter in the barrel, one also checks if there is any mail to be delivered at the next port of call, or a destination further along one's passage. Should this be the case then the letter is extracted and delivered by hand on arrival at the appropriate village, town or city. Nowadays, most letters and/or postcards would be stamped and posted in the country to which the mail is to be delivered by whom-so-ever took it from the barrel. See photo of the setup.
We have swum with Galapagos sharks, reef sharks, turtles, sea lions and marine iguanas and have admired giant tortoise, land iguanas, lizards, flamingos, frigate birds, flightless cormorants, herons, egrits, Galapagos doves, petrels, tropic birds, Galapagos mocking birds, American oystercatchers, blue-footed boobys, red-footed boobys, masked boobys, hawks, yellow warblers, Darwin finches, Sally Lightfoot crabs, hermit crabs, a variety of different types of exotic fish, countless butterflies, locusts and more.
Every morning we are up by 7am, sometimes 6.30am and off the boat by 8.30 or even 8am. Our ranger takes us along the marked trails and explains in depth about the wildlife, the flowers and the fauna. We snorkel off the beach and we snorkel in deep water. For relaxation, we can also swim off the boat.
Some landings are wet and others are dry. We always know in advance the type of landing to expect. We always carry a back-pack containing waterproof clothing because this is the rainy season and it rains at some juncture every day, mostly torrentially and often for hours. The rain encourages the mosquitoes so insect repellent is a must, as is high factor sun lotion and drinking water. No food or cigarettes are permitted on the uninhabited islands and there are no toilet facilities.
On the last day of the trip, we were up at 6am and off the boat by 7am. Between breakfast and departing from the boat, the cruise ship ribs were able to take our bags directly to our own boat.
Back on our own boat shortly after 9am, Dick had to fix the water system which had stopped working as well as repairing a small leak in one of the water pipes. Next he and Moe donned diving gear and took the rib to where our stern anchor had been abandoned. It was easy to find as it had been marked with a buoy when it had been set on arrival at this anchorage. After some little struggle the anchor was retrieved, returned to where we were now at anchor and reset. With the swell into this bay, it is more comfortable if the boat is held into the waves rather than being left to swing.