Happy Easter from the Pacific Ocean & Galapagos XI. 08:16:73S 125:46:66W

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Fri 21 Mar 2008 19:07

It has been a mixed bag of sailing today/yesterday. Some good sailing with South Easterly Trade winds and a lot of North Easterly light winds. These latter winds make life aboard quite uncomfortable. This is because the boat is not sailing at all well in the and the sails bang and crash around as the large swell tips the mast one way then the other. To add to the joy we are also getting the odd rogue wave,  that always catches you out if you are moving around the boat. You then find yourself doing an involuntary “Mexican Two Step” across the boat and doing your best not to get hurt in the process. Not always successfully as the various bruises we are sporting will attest!


One thing that has been amusing is that over night the other night, we caught and overtook a 100 foot plus super yacht ketch. They were clearly not amused by this, so yesterday afternoon they then motor sailed to catch us and then tried several sail plans to over take us. We are still in front…….despite the fact that at one point they came quite close, ( so close they set off the radar guard alarms several times), but we held the line and they had to Gybe away. Mind you it’s a beautiful boat. Blue hull aluminium retro-design. Dutch built I would think.


Meanwhile, back in the Galapagos Archipelago…………………


One of the most delightful sights we enjoyed was whilst MV Angelito was on passage between Islands. It was early one afternoon, after we had just enjoyed another gastronomic tour de force. When suddenly, the boat changed course. Curious to know why, we peered over the guard rail and the crew pointed to something in the water. As soon as we realised what it was we all immediately dashed for our cameras. It was a pod of some 12 or 15 Giant Manta Rays. They laid on an aquatic acrobatic display that was worthy of the Red Arrows….in slow motion and without smoke! We were enthralled by this display. I have seen Manta Rays in the Andaman sea before, whilst scuba diving, especially off Hing Dang, but never, so many in one group. They were obviously an enlarged family, because there were several youngsters in the herd.(?) We watched their antics until they got bored with us and dove away. About a 20 minute show in all. Just another unforgettable experience in Galapagos. Oh, and whilst all of this was going on the Maltese Falcon, one of the worlds largest and most dramatic of super yachts sailed by, completely oblivious to what they were missing.   



    Two Manta Rays on the surface, there were several more in the shot before I edited it.



Hood Island, (Also known as Espanola), the nesting site for the Giant Albatross…..but we didn’t see any!



The picture above typifies this and other Islands. In one picture you have (an indignant) Masked  Boobie, marine Iguanas. Swallow Tailed Gulls and spectacular rolling surf.


I mentioned the Albatross earlier. This is the largest bird to be found on the oceans. They cruise the seas for one year at a time before returning back to Hood Island to mate. They are mainly to be found searching for food in the Southern Ocean. These birds are being driven to extinction by Far Eastern Fishermen, principally the Taiwanese, who use a technique called long line fishing. These lines, sometimes up to 4 miles long, have hundreds of baited hooks and are towed behind a large fishing boat with refrigeration plant on board. These ships can stay at sea for months at a time. The Albatross see the bait in the water and mistake it for food. Which of course it is. They then dive down, get caught on the hook and are dragged under the water by the towed line to die a horrid and slow death. There has been much campaigning to stop fishing by this method, but these fishermen are more concerned about their lively hood than some strange bird that comes from a land thousands of miles away. The Albatross breed at a different time of the year, so by the time we arrived they and their chick had flown off for another year.


  Look closely below the Boobie and you will see a chick AND a yet to be hatched egg. A very rare sight.



The Blue Footed Boobie above is unusual in so far as he/she is protecting a chick AND is sitting on a second egg. This is very unusual, because all Boobies only raise one youngster each time they breed.  When there are two offspring, it  is literally a case of survival of the fittest. The chick that is the strongest, forces the weaker sibling out of the way when the parents arrive back with food. The parents do nothing to encourage the weaker chick. They seem to work on the principle that their job is to successfully raise one chick at a time and if the weaker one dies, then so be it. So the maxim being, best to have one strong chick rather than two weak ones.  It makes sense, but at the same time does seem so cruel. But I guess that is nature and it works for them!


The other full on treat on this Island (and some others) is the surfing Sea Lions. They have such a fantastic sense of play. I took dozens of pictures of them surfing. They are so fast and so unpredictable in the direction they take it is a total nightmare trying to get them in frame, in focus or so they LOOK like they are surfing!  Some times several of them surf at once and then have spectacular crashes, but they never seem to get hurt.



This guy had picked up a wave from about 100m out and charged towards the shore line. Then at the last minute dove under the water, and then speed along parallel to the beach, before finally landing fully up the beach. All on wave power. How cool is that??






Yet another treat on this Island are the unique Lizards. They are about 4 or 5 inches long. The have just stunning colours and markings. Quite adorable little critters!




The final treat on Hood Island is the “Blow Hole” on the rocky coast line. This is a natural hole through the rocks from the sea that waves crash into. At high tide these waves send a jet of water up to 100 feet in the air. As some of our party learned,  (the hard way), it is best not to stand down wind of this spot………………………………



There was so much more to see on this Island, especially small birds, (but there is a limit to how much I can afford in picture transmission time).

There is no doubt that Hood Island was one of the best we saw. But in fact they are all different and all have something to entertain and inspire.


Next up, Floriana, home of the famous “Post Office” and the disappearing people…………………...