Arrived in the Galapagos

The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Wed 26 Feb 2014 18:23



0:53.80S  89:36.75W

We’ve arrived in San Cristobal in the Galapagos and it’s a lovely anchorage – it’s quite calm at the moment.  Here’s what we did yesterday.


25 February 2014   Bahia de Caraques to San Cristobal, Galapagos (Day 5)

At dawn, we were still motoring along in calm seas and 4-5 knot winds - Ho Hum...


By ten o’clock, I could see land and I was starting to get excited.  My day was made even better when I finally hooked a fish - a nice fat Tuna.  It didn’t take long to get it aboard and I gutted it immediately, just to get it out of the way. 


It always takes longer than you think to approach land and this was no exception.  At midday, we were motoring around the south side of the island with 10 miles still to go and a current against us.  At least there was some wildlife to look at.  We’d not seen anything for four days apart from a few Boobies, one Frigate Bird and a dead whale, but now we were surrounded by pods of dolphins, a plethora of seabirds and we even spotted a sea lion.


We finally motored into Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on Isla San Cristobal at half past two in the afternoon and it looked lovely in the sunshine with sparkling blue water.  There were only 4 or 5 other sailboats in the anchorage amongst the hundreds of local pleasure and commercial boats.  Unfortunately, the sailboats were all facing in totally different directions making it a real challenge to anchor.  We eventually took a gamble on where everyone’s anchor was lying and dropped our anchor in a large space next to some yellow commercial moorings – at least we know that they are on a fairly short scope.


Glenys got on with tidying up, while I lashed some big fenders onto our sugar scoop as a deterrent to the sea lions, which allegedly try to climb on board any unprotected boat at night.  They might look cute, but I’m told that the mess that they leave behind if they get on board stinks to high heaven and is a bugger to clean up.  Let’s hope that my defences are effective.


It only took an hour for our agent, Bolivar Pesantes to come on board.  He took away our passports, a copy of our boat papers and the two zarpe documents that we’d been given in Bahia.  He left us with a crumpled copy of our expensive autographo and a hefty bill for $1,054!!! 


Bolivar was back within an hour with a boat load of people from the national park authority.  One asked me questions about disposal of garbage, holding tanks, our antifoul paint and do we use biodegradable cleaners – of course.  He asked me if we had a fumigation certificate to which I truthfully replied “No” and went onto say that I’d been told that we didn’t need one if we came from mainland Ecuador – he said that I needed to talk to Bolivar.  I just shrugged and thought that I’ll just keep my mouth shut and see what happens.


He made a couple of signs in Spanish and English that said “No Garbage in the Sea” and taped them up above our fridge.  Meanwhile two girls and another bloke were wandering around the boat taking photographs of things like the holding tank, some oil absorbent pads that I have stored away and lastly my spear gun which (of course) I’m not allowed to use here.


More worryingly, two guys turned up with scuba gear and proceeded to inspect the hull of the boat.  I gave it a fair cleaning before we left mainland Ecuador, but there is still a large amount of green slime on the hull and I’m pretty sure that I missed some barnacles.  I don’t know what they’ll do if they think that our hull is too dirty because they just went away.


Bolivar came back a couple of hours later with the Port Captain and the Agriculture Inspector.  The port captain diligently filled in his form and I signed it.  The Agriculture Inspector asked us if we had any animals, plants or fruit.  We said no and were surprised when he didn’t go below to have a look himself – not very good pest control.  I’m sure that it will be a lot tougher in New Zealand.  He also knew that we didn’t have a fumigation certificate because a box was crossed on his form, but he didn’t say anything about having the boat fumigated, thank God.


I went down below with Bolivar and paid his bill in cash.  While I had him alone, I asked about the hull inspection and was it a problem, he just shrugged and said it was the Park Authority and there was “No Problema”.  I guess that the Parks Authority have no powers at the moment.


When we had the last of the officials off the boat, we collapsed and ripped open a cold beer.  Glenys had made some Seared Tuna for evening nibbles, which was delicious. 


A group of sea lions have taken over a powerboat moored nearby and it was strange to hear the sound of them arguing amongst themselves as it went dark.  We were in bed early, looking forward to going ashore tomorrow.