April 20, 2002
Log: Leaving Bahia de Caraquez for Galapagos Islands
Finally on our way!! We have about 600 miles to go to reach the
Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. It will be our first stop in
the S. Pacific. We are too far south to catch a few days of Caribbean
trade winds that sometimes flow over into the Gulf of Panama but far
enough south to catch a NW stream as well as the Humbolt current. We can
either go south of 5 degrees for stronger winds and less current or stay
north and ride the current but less wind. 8:30AM the pilot from Bahia
motors out to catch us. Our designated time of departure was 7:AM but no
one showed. The German boat ‘Cobra’ with Ingrid and Lutz aboard didn’t
wait and motored on around us. There is still the contention about
paying the $25 for the pilot as we can use our reciprocal GPS course to
exit the river. The Germans think they are taking advantage of the
cruisers and by paying we are spoiling it for other cruisers. Once past
the sand bars to the entrance we dropped anchor. The captain goes
overboard to clean the barnacles off the keel, prop and anchor chain.
Decks are washed down, watermaker turned on to top off the tanks and
everything stowed for the passage. 11:00AM we motor out into flat calm
seas with reefed main for stability. White spotted dolphins grace our
bow as we quietly head off into the west and vast open sea.
April 21, 2002
Log: Heading 266
Wind SE 10 kts.
The captain has chosen a good course. By midnight we are in the Humbolt
current which is about 1 1/2 knots. Main is up full and jib out to catch
the small amount of wind and stabilize the boat but still must motor
most of night. 7:00AM wind up 10kts. out of SW so engine off, sails up
and we are sailing 5-6 kts. on a close reach. Listening to the Net this
AM we hear there is a problem with boats anchored on Isabella one of the
Galapagos Islands. Several boats did not check in or out so the Navy
sent a boat out to bring them back and fined them $5000. Every sailboat
must check in and pay the required port entrance fees either on Isle San
Cristobal, Isle Santa Cruz or Isla Isabella. It was not until recently
that yachts were even welcome. Now we must stay within certain required
island groups or pay exorbitant amounts of money and endless time
processing permits as well as taking on a local guide at our expense of
$200 a day to tour the Galapagos in our own boats. That does not include
the $100 each for park fees. But we do understand it is possible to
stop, pay the port fees and take a designated tour on one of their boats
leaving ours at anchor.
April 22, 2002
Log: Heading 266
Wind has died down so motoring once again. In the night the air felt
cool so heavy clothing put on. We speculate it must be do to the Humbolt
current and the cooler water temperatures. But the day is warm and
sunny. A sense of peace prevails as we relax to the motion of Ariel.
That is all but the captain. He is busy on the back deck cleaning out
the carburetors on the dinghy engine. Some laundry gets washed and hung
out on the lifelines to dry. It is calm enough to do computer work, and
cook an involved Thai meal. Ariel is a well maintained working ship.
Passages are a good time to catch up on projects and carry on further
than the usual everyday living chores. We have a discussion with
Georgiana about the close living of 4 people for over 6 months. We agree
that lots of compromise is in order. We will see how it goes.
April 23, 2002
Log: Heading 263
200 miles to go till we reach the Galapagos. Beautiful sunny day,
temperature 80 degrees with intermittent wind. The wind seems to die
down at night and pick up in the daytime. We take advantage of the
sailing when possible or when the boat speed drops below 5kts to pick us
up to at least 6.5kts. Big discussion today about when and who should
make the decision about turning the engine on or making sail changes.
Steve likes to keep the boat moving and not opposed to turning on the
engine when the speed drops. But when the engine was turned off during
the captains nap time it was a moment of pure panic that maybe someone
had fallen overboard. It was decided the person that makes the decision
to make a change must be willing to carry out follow up sail trims,
reefing, jibing or putting up the whisker pole or whatever is called
for. Everett and Georgiana do not go out of the cockpit while under
power or sail unless it is flat calm. The captain will remain the
decision maker since he and first mate will be making all the major
physical sail changes. Ariel will remain under the same command as has
always worked in the past.
The Galapagos Islands are almost 600 miles off the west coast of South
America and consist of over 60 islands and islets, 13 large islands, six
smaller islands, and over 40 islets that have official names. The
Ecuadorian government declared the Galapagos Islands a protected area in
1959. Today they are considered one of the most spectacular and pristine
National Parks within a marine reserve of 45,000 square kilometers.
There are fewer places in the world where it is possible to find such a
variety of species, both plant and animal, which show so many degrees of
evolutionary changes, in such a restricted area. Charles Darwin the
explorer and scientist was astounded by these observations which lead
him to his masterpiece: The Origin of the Species. His work changed the
concepts of science forever.
April 24, 2002
Log: Arriving from Bahia de Caraquez Ecuador to Galapagos Islands 561
Seas calm, night squalls
Sailing into the night with squalls all around. Radar shows one 5 miles
off another 1.7 miles but it barely affected Ariel’s sails with only a
whisper of wind change. But an early morning squall did come up in time
to wash Ariel’s decks before anchoring. 9:30Am anchored in Wreck Bay,
Isla San Cristobal Galapagos Islands a nice 4 1/2 days passage.
Wreck Bay, Isla San Cristobal Galapagos Islands
|S/v Eros is next to us, Terry the captain we met in the Rio and now
we have met his wife Phyllis and crew Jo and Jennifer. They explain the
painless checking in process and we find it as laid back as the dozens
of sea lions laying around on all the moored fishing boats. Georgiana
and Everett have decided to go the tourist route and take one of the
designer tours. The Galapagos Explorer is at anchor and leaving out of
Wreck Bay at midnight.
The Galapagos Explorer at $2000 US for one week
We dingy over, get a tour aboard and within hours Georgiana and Everett
have paid their $1700 each for a week tour. They were able to bargain
the price down from $2000 each as last minute bargaining is acceptable.
Of course this does not include the recommended $20 a day tip. We choose
to remain on Ariel for the week, do some recommended walks and
exploration, lay back like the sea lions and enjoy nature as it comes.
April 25 to May 6, 2002
(May 1 to May 2, 2002 Logged 84 nautical miles between San Cristobal and
The Galapagos Islands
We did not have to lay back for long or walk far. The Galapagos Islands
are known for their tame and unusual wildlife. The islands are dominated
by birds, sea mammals and reptiles.
‘Galapagos’ in Spanish means ‘giant tortoises’
|All around Ariel we had sea lions and fur seals playing and romping
about diving under the keel and even sleeping in the dinghy. In the
evening we could hear them snorting and ‘talking’ though the hull.
Friendly Sea Lions
The 13 major and 6 smaller islands along with
dozens of islets that make up the islands are volcanic in origin
surrounded by very deep ocean. They have never been connected to the
mainland. All living things including plant and animal must have come
by way of either flying, swimming or carried across long distances on
floating debris. The plant seeds could also be carried in the
stomach or on the bodies of other species. Because
there are no large predators the animals and birds all seem to be
fearless. It is possible to wander very close without
Flamingos in a still pond inland walk from Wreck Bay Isla San Christobal
|An Interpretation Center located on San Cristobal at Wreck Bay
introduced us to the history, geography, geology, colonization and
evolution of these very unique isolated islands.
Waiting for nature to come to us on many of the Nature Walks from
| From there, trails through the rough lava landscape overgrown with
tropical vegetation enabled us to wonder through the interior without
disturbing the wildlife. Darwin finches came right up to us almost
within our touch. Named after the famous scientific explorer Charles
Darwin, there are noted to be 13 different species, their bills adapted
to different ecological niches, thus proving the theory of evolution by
natural selection. We found the solitude of walking alone among such
specialized nature to be the essence of the Galapagos.
Of our two weeks in the islands we were able to visit several areas not
subject to park fees within walking distance of Ariel and one trip by
horseback with a guide up to Volcan Negro and Volcan Chica on Isabella
island. Several cruisers joined us on our ride which turned out to be a
fun and interesting day trip.
Cruisers from EROS, and ODYSSEY OF CANADA & crews go for a horseback
|Cruisers are more oriented to water so trotting across the fields of
low scrub, through old coffee plants, up steep muddy paths and keeping
our steeds under control without GPS’s was nothing short of
amusing. Turn starboard or port meant nothing to our source
of transport and we often found one wondering off into the bushes or
trotting off ahead picking up the pace for the entire fleet.
But we all stayed aboard for the 1 1/2 hour ride. It was worth the $20
just to see the view down into the Volcan Negro. Something like 10 miles
across this steep sided circle drops down into a black void of vast
desolate lava fields, earning its name
Horseback riding along Volcan Negro
|A short hike to Volcan Chico gave us a close look down into steaming
calderas and a view of the island stretched out beyond. It truly felt as
if we had reached the end of the earth or perhaps what it must have been
like at the beginning .
Can you find Martin of ODYSSEY peering into the caldera?
There are over 50 visitor sites in the Galapagos but the wildlife is
everywhere without bounds. Exploring the shore lines we walked among
colonies of sea lions and fur seals, being careful not to step on the
black iguana’s that blend in with the black lava rocks and found the
pink flamingos in the inland lagoons fading in with the glowing pink
sunsets. We saw the famous huge land tortoise, were entertained by the
pelicans diving and scooping up fish right next to the dinghy and always
excited when a marine turtle surfaced near us. We took the dinghy right
up to the penguins sunning on the rocks, looked down on the white tip
sharks laying in the still shallows between the crevasses in the lava of
White Tip Sharks in rock cravass
The blue footed boobies were our favorite, their webbed feet the most
beautiful shade of blue against the black rock at the waters edge.
|In the end we felt we had successfully experienced all that we had
come to expect. Doing the Galapagos on your own without the guided tours
is possible. We are totally in agreement that the rules and regulations
are needed to preserve these delicate unique ecosystems. We were able to
see what we did without any more impact than if we had been in a group
but had the rewards of being able to come together with nature
peacefully without time frames or organization, by adapting to it’s time
and often letting nature come to us.