Downhill Sailing & Galapagos Part VII 07:23:87S 113:11:17W

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Mon 17 Mar 2008 15:32

After several days of wonderful sparkling sailing, the wind turned fickle on us today.  So earlier in the day we decided to was time to have a crack at Goose winging the sails. This entailed getting the Genoa poled out on the windward side of the boat. The pole then decided to get stuck, The shoe on the mast runner was well and truly jammed at its upper most point, which where is stays when the pole is stowed,  After some subtle persuasion,  it came free, but in the process one side of the nylon bush that sits between the shoe and the track snapped and then plopped over the side! B&$%*r cried the skipper. However, after careful examination we concluded that with the help of lots of silicon spray applied to the track and the shoe, it should be serviceable, So one hour later, the pole was rigged and the Goose wing rig set. 30 mins after that,  we took it all down again! The winds, combined with a rolly sea of 2 to 3 metre wave height meant that the sails were cracking and snapping all over the show. So, it was back to plan A.  Broad reaching. Then just after dinner this evening the wind moved right behind us. So to stay on the rhumb line we had no choice but to set the goose wing rig again. This time it worked. Later we added the staysail on the leeward side and the boat is now quite steady and running along at 7 knots SOG in 11 knots of apparent wind…not bad at all! The only fly in the ointment is that the Apparent wind source is erratic (awaiting the new mast head unit) so the wind pilot is unreliable. Consequently, we are on NMEA pilot, (that is autopilot), steering to a waypoint. This means we have to watch the apparent wind like a hawk to ensure we do not Gybe.


The other thing I discovered first thing this morning during my daily foredeck and rig check, was a shoal of Squid…on the decks! Most mornings we have a smattering of Flying Fish, but yesterday we had a couple of Squid and today there were at least a dozen of them in various sizes. The problem with these creatures is that they have a defensive mechanism which involves squirting a black dye at any attacker. So, our pristine teak decks, safely netting and GRP superstructure are now irrevocably stained.  Hopefully in time the sun will bleach the stains out of the teak and the safety netting, but I fear the GRP is stained for good.


Meanwhile back in the Galapagos….One Wednesday 27th February, we descended on San Salvador Island, James Bay.


This is one of the few Islands in the Galapagos Archipelago to have suffered any form of Industrialisation.  It was in fact a salt mine. The salt was extracted from underground and then transported back to Ecuador. However, in the mid 20th Century the relatively high operating costs were making this business marginal, and with the declaration of Galapagos as a National Park in 1959, the business finally went bankrupt. Evidence of this former business is still around to see, but step by step nature is taking back the Island.


One of the more dramatic features of this Island are the Cacti. The ones in this picture are over 3 metres high!




This a truly Darwinian Island. There are loads of small birds, especially Finches, in several varieties. We had a brief glimpse of Spotted Flycatchers, as well as Mocking Birds, Turnstones, and  Oyster Catchers




Also in bountiful supply are the ever present Sea Loins. Once again we ere treated to a surfing display by these feisty creatures. Lords of the sea.


Others were more interested in basic needs as displayed by this mother and her pup.




However, it is the Marine Iguanas that are the main occupants of this Island. The foreshore is just crawling with them. There were lots of colonies each  with dozens of them. Just sunning themselves on the rocky outcrops near the sea.


This was the end of the mating season, so most of the males had “done their stuff” and were quite happy to chill out with their mates. Except for the two below who were “facing off” over a female.  Get too close to them and they realty spit at you with 100% commitment!!




The marine Iguanas produce their offspring by the female digging a burrow, into which she crawls and lays her eggs. Usually between 7 and 15. These hatch out on their own some 30 to 40 days later, depending on the temperature. Interestingly, the temperature at which the eggs are incubated, dictates the gender of the hatchings.


The other delightful creatures on this Island are Lava Lizards. They are everywhere. Scuttling around and then posing on a rock or some sunny aspect.  The one below found another use for the silly stop signs.



We then returned to the boat for the trip to Babida. During this trip we were treated to the vision of Spotted Eagle Rays throwing themselves out of the water. This is a most spectacular sight. These mammals are not designed to jump out of the water, so they make a huge splash on re-entering the sea. Apparently they do this to remove pests and sea lice. What ever the reason, it is certainly a sight to behold!


So see you next in Rabida……the home of the elusive Galapagos Hawk.