Trade Wind Sailing & Galapagos Part IV. 06:52:65S 104:35:37W

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Fri 14 Mar 2008 10:54

It is a spectacular night with a stunning sky. It is like a carpet of jewels on an inky velvet blaze. Most of the constellations I am embarrassed to say I do not know, some I recognise. But they are upside down! None the less, as the saying goes, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like!” For the last couple of mornings at around 0400 local time (we are 8 hours behind UTC now) a large star, which is (I assume) a planet has risen majestically from the East, over our transom. I surmise that it is Jupiter or Mars, as it starts off being an ochre red when it first appears, and is very much larger and brighter than the other stars. If anyone can help me identify this Star or Planet, I would appreciate that?


It was a really lovely day yesterday. It was a brilliant, clear sunny day, with a gentle breeze, so it was once again relatively cool (even had to put a polo shirt on). The boat was well balanced and Zipping along at 6 or 7 knots for most of the day on a broad reach. The Trade winds are now really well established at this southerly latitude.  I must confess it still fells odd filling in the latitude in the log book with an “S” after the latitude position. The west part for longitude it not so strange….that is what we have nearly always done. But now it’s three digits!!  We continue to relax, read and try our hand at fishing. But I am under strict instructions not to catch any more Tuna. So I have been trying out all sorts of different (none Tuna friendly) lures. This in the hope of catching a Wahoo (please) or a Dorado. No luck for the last couple of days. No sight in fact of any wild life at all yesterday. Not even the ever present Petrels for company. But then we are now 1,000nm from the nearest land, (Galapagos) and over 1,400nm from the American continent.


So on with the Galapagos show……


After lunch we arrived at the adjacent Bartolome. This Island has a tall lava pinnacle that can be seen for miles.


  Bartolome, taken from Santiago, with the battered pinnacle clearly visible on the left


Regrettably, it is somewhat the worse for wear. This is thanks to the US Navy, who between the two world war’s, used it for target practice. Such great conservationists. Not much changes!!


Prior to our landing we had a marvellous snorkel cum drift dive. There were white tipped reef sharks, and joy of joys a smallish Hammerhead shark, around 5 feet long. I also swam with inquisitive sea lions,(nearly jumped clean out of my wet suit when a sea lion face appeared about a foot away from my face mask.  In addition I  got to within 3 or 4 feet of some Galapagos penguins. The fish life was truly bountiful, with Emperor Wrasse, and  Napoleon Wrasse. Cleaning stations with obliging cleaner wrasse, Trigger Fish, (be scared, MUCH more dangerous than sharks), Parrot fish, Angel fish, Surgeon fish and so much more. Oh, and on the reef itself a plethora of Christmas tree worms.  A total visual feast, to assault the senses. Who needs drugs when you can experience such wonders?


Once ashore, it was time for a group picture,


  No we haven’t just landed on the Moon!




The landing stage was almost blocked by a rather dozy female sea lion, having her afternoon siesta.  As you can see she was some what put out by these people wanting to step over her to get ashore.


  “Sod orrf. Can’t you see I am trying to sleep here?”




The primary object of going ashore on this barren Island is for the view from the top. Helpfully, the National Parks department had installed a board walk over the volcanic ash. In this charcoal grey ash you could see the tracks of lizards, Iguana and much to Jennie’s delight, Galapagos snakes!!!!! Luckily for all our sakes the nearest we got to the snakes was the tracks……phew.


The board walk is followed by a lot of steps interspersed with the odd viewing platform, where you can rest and let your vision clear as the heart rate slows down to a more sensible level.


There are in fact 365 steps. Or so we were told. Two members of our team (sad people) actually counted them. Both came up with different numbers, and they weren’t even statisticians!



So we had to take the word of our guide on the number of steps. In any event this is one of the highest points in the Galapagos archipelago. The view from the top was spectacular to say the least.( Or perhaps I should have said “breath taking” given the climb we had). Especially as by now it was late afternoon (aimed at doing the climb in lower temperatures). So the light was at a low angle and with a soft red hue to it. This danced, dazzled and shimmered  off the water between the islands below us..  “Another bloody lovely view” as one of our party commented.


We then returned to the landing stage to board the Pangas, This was then followed by a gentle tour along the shore line and cliff base to see the abundant wild life. Loads of roosting Boobies, sleeping Lea lions, preening Frigate birds, and with a waterline littered with Sally Lightfoot crabs, deftly clinging onto the vertical rock faces. As the waves crashed about them.


But the star of the show this afternoon was the relatively rare (only 700 pairs in the whole of Galapagos), Galapagos Penguins.  These cheeky chappies are about a foot tall and are very expert swimmers and fishermen. They come ashore to warm up and to mate………………


In true David Attenborough tradition, as if on clue, a pair of them decided to have a shag right in front of us! It was all over on a flash, with cries of “how was it for you love” from our boat, followed by lots of giggles.  As children see this blog, the picture below is of the post action entertainment. Who would have though of a blue movie staring Penguins anyway?



  “OK, I promise I will wait for you next time. Luv.”


(See me later for a peek at the “real” action….   err, shot.)



The rock formations on this Island are like something from outer space, and these were highlighted by the fading light as the sun headed inexorably towards to welcoming horizon.




As this was then getting near to that critical time of the day for all true yachts persons, we returned back to the mother ship, just as the sun was dropping below the Yard Arm. Need I say any more?


Next up………Genovesa……….(Oops, blown the picture budget once again)