Marquasas passage and The Galapagos Story, Part I. 04:59:47S 95:09:26W

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Mon 10 Mar 2008 09:02

We are currently motor sailing on a course of 248° Towards our current waypoint which is at 07° 30 South, 103°West, (some 490nm distant) on our way to the latitudes where we hope to pick up the favourable trade winds. The strategy being that these strong SE winds together with the positive equatorial current will carry us on our way under sail along to the final destination which is at an arrival waypoint of 09°South, 140°West. That being the Island of Nuku Hiva, some 2680nm distant.  Taking the rhumb line would almost certainly involve us burning all our fuel before we got to the trade winds, and that would make running the generator for cooking and battery charging, for the following 18 to 20 days somewhat challenging!


So far we have motored, motor sailed and sailed some 63 hours combined, since leaving Santa Cruz. Of that only 9 hours has been pure sailing so far. After leaving Puerto Ayora in brilliant sunshine, we plunged right into the doldrums and enjoyed thunder storms, very high humidity and temperatures in the mid 30 degrees C. Followed by near constant rain until this morning, when we then enjoyed a beautiful clear sunny day, with a light breeze and more bearable climatic conditions. With the added bonus of no flies or mosquitoes to plague us. The other good thing is that the ambient water temperature has dropped from 30°C to 26°C. This really helps in reducing the engine running temperature, and so the internal temperature of the boat becomes a little more tolerable.


The only fly in the ointment so far on this trip has been the failure of the Mast Head unit, which provides the wind speed and direction data to the Navigation computer. It looks like the bearings on the anemometer have just worn out. (Can’t complain as the boat has now completed just under 20,000nm). So we are hoping to get a new one shipped out to Nuku Hiva, from B&G and carried by Tony Diment from BWR Control, who is flying out on the 17th March. At this stage this is more of an irritant than a problem, because we can’t use the wind pilot, which will make down wind sailing more of a challenge than we would like it to be. But if push comes to shove we can always press the Hydrovane wind steering into service, and providing the wind is not too strong and we are heavily reefed it should cope. Fingers crossed!


Now its time to turn my attention back to the exquisite Galapagos experience…………………


The arrivals process in Galapagos starts almost immediately you have completed anchoring. Richard Bolt from Rally Control arrived by water taxi with the BWR agents Sail’N Galapagos, with Yvonne the partner in the company and a policemen. The immigration formalities are all completed on your own boat. You are just relived of plenty of green backs. These charges are for the many and various  items, like the mandatory National Park permit at a piffling $100 per head.  The cost of this was to pale into insignificance next to all the other apparently trivial items that yachts are charged for. Like the fumigation teams that “de-bugs” your boat, down to the garbage levy (no garbage collection included, that is extra) to port fees, mooring fees, administration fees, cruising permit, need I go on? That said it was all a very painless process due to the  work that was done behind the scenes by BWR and Sail’n Galapagos. Except that is the big dent it makes in your wallet!! This is not a cheap place to visit!!! But it is in our opinion, worth every penny.


After all of this we were allowed ashore. No need for dinghies here, Just hail a water taxi. $0.60 a ride one way and they run 24/7, but $1 after 1800 at night. On our first night we enjoyed an impromptu party for around two thirds of the Rally at the Red Mangrove Hotel, in their Sushi Restaurant.. All put together by Reinhard and Shelia of Blue Raven. The next day was Rally Briefing for the next leg and the ubiquitous Rally Party that was held in the grounds of a very exotic lodge hotel out in the country. This was a bit of a hoot as the busses were booked quite early to take us back into town. So 8 of us naughty Ralliers stayed behind and then called a pair of Taxis. In the event we got home sooner, as the coach broke down………Hey Hoho


Then it was time to depart for our wonderful seven day trip around these amazing Islands on the MV Angelito 1.



This involved the 8 couples from the Rally being collected by mini bus and transported across the Island to the anchorage in “The Channel” off Baltra, which is where the Airport is located. We were then transported by wooden Panga (dingy) to the Angelito. We were immediately provided with a welcome drinks by the smiling crew and this was followed by a detailed briefing from our National Parks Guide “ Diego”. We then had to endure a sumptuous lunch. This was to set the scene for the next seven days. We eat and drank like Royalty! Whist this was going on the boat lifted her anchor and headed off for our first stop. The Island of  North Seymour.


A word about Angelito 1. This lovely vessel was stated as being 15 years old, but we suspect the original wooden vessel was much older, but the hull had been encapsulated 15 years ago. It had 8 double cabins arranged as 4 cabins on the upper deck and four on the lower deck with the mess deck, restaurant and bar on the middle deck. It had all the necessary facilities. En-suite bathrooms and showers, library, sun decks, dive platform, and was fully air-conditioned (for those that wanted it). Our cabin (#8) was on the upper deck and was light and airy, with a bunk bed arrangement. The lower bunk being just wide enough for two people. The mattress was rock hard, which was fine for us, bur some of our fellow Ralliers did find they had consequential back problems for the first few days. The upper bunk was pressed into service for our luggage. Jennie had not lost her touch. Enough luggage for a small army of holiday makes. Just to two of us……….Just in case etc


Once at anchor we had the chance to take in our surroundings. Beautiful in a rugged way.  The first foray ashore was at 1530, to ensure we missed the hottest point of the day, and so after a short rest we were given the opportunity to go snorkelling off the back of the boat. Almost immediately two Galapagos sharks, some 3 metres in length were spotted in the water nearby, so we declined the offer of a swim!


North Seymour has a dry landing stage that is policed by a very large Bull Sea Lion, who likes to protect his Harem with considerable gusto!



This chap weighs in at around 500lbs, and is remarkably agile and would not hesitate to do you serious harm if you go near any of his cows or the youngsters. Especially at this time of year when it is the prime breeding season. So we had to take great care whilst we manoeuvred ashore. The other reason for not getting too intimate with this lumbering leviathan is the smell. They have an odour du rotting fish that is truly overwhelming. Wild life at its best……………..Definitely not your typical Disney sanitised theme park character.


Not so some of his off spring, who were very inquisitive and tame……



This little Pup was no more than 4 weeks old.


WE eventually managed to drag ourselves away after this major photo Opportunity, only to stumble over the first of many of the Galapagos Islands National symbol……………………………..The Iguana…………….



This was a yellow land Iguana, unique to North Seymour. This is about 20 inches long, nose to tail, and in full breeding colours. The males are nearly double the size of the females who are very bland in comparison.


Then it was time to focus on the bird life here.  First up, the Swallow Tailed Red Foot Gull……………………….



These beautiful birds are unique to the Galapagos, but are common throughout the Islands. They go fishing at night and rest during the day. Although I must have invaded this guy’s personal space as the “took off” just as I started clicking away………………


Well that is my ration of four pictures per Blog entry used up!  So for the second part of the North Seymour adventure, tune in tomorrow to see one of the very rare visitors to Galapagos. This one mutates at an alarming rate went in contact with flies and nasty biting insects………………Oh, and more Boobies than you can shake a stick at!