Final days in San Cristobal

Saturday night we headed into town for sundowners and enjoyed the company of Eric and his fellow pilots again at their hotel – this time from the rooftop Jacuzzi area – overlooking the anchorage. Oh yes and spot our new neighbour the huge tanker.  We had a fun time and it was good to repay Eric for the drinks he had treated us to on Friday.

On our return about seven there were no sea lions on the transom – fantastic!   We were having a couple of drinks in the cockpit when suddenly we heard sea lion barking from behind Morphie. This usually means two are fighting it out for the spot….but it continued and got louder and louder. We turned on the torch to investigate and found a large sea lion with his flipper caught between the swim ladder and the transom – at a horrendous angle. He had clearly jumped up, slipped and got caught and had ended up on his back in the water. He was going crazy, probably with pain as much as rage, and couldn’t get himself free. We went to help and he was very keen to bite. He was shredding our old fashioned life jackets into pieces and thrashing around.

Richard quickly got him to bite onto a broom handle…and then tried to pick him up….this failed the first few times then suddenly the seal seemed to realise what Richard was trying to do and he held on tight…Richard lifted him a couple of feet out of the water…and he got his flipper free and swam away as though nothing had happened. Phew!!!   During all this – it must have sounded like a massacre – one of the large tour boats had shouted out to check we were OK. We felt terrible – just because we didn’t want them to get onto Morphie we had inadvertently caused one to hurt himself. So defences were removed from the transom other than fenders and the word is out that seals are now welcome.

Sunday morning we were up early and yes we had a sea lion on the transom – he opened his eyes to check us out and was very surprised to be allowed to stay, so settled back down to sleep.

We had a lazy day just lounging around reading and chilling. And we had a traditional Sunday roast as the gas bottle was going off for a refill in the morning.

Monday morning and there was still a tiny bit of gas left in the bottle. So I got up early and made cheese scones. Yes, really, crazy or what?!?   Anyway Bolivar’s son came by to collect our diesel and petrol jugs….and took the gas bottle for a refill. An hour later – and $120 lighter – we had 25 gallons of diesel and 5 gallons of petrol on board so we are fully stocked again now.  We headed into town and dropped off the heavy laundry – sheets and towels only – and went to Rositas for lunch.

Richard had the daily special for a great price of $6 while I blew the budget and went for the chicken with rice at $12 LOL. Well Richard had chicken soup followed by fried fish with rice which was fantastic value. My plate was huge…and the pile of rice was humongous…and had loads of chicken in it. It tasted like egg fried rice from the Chinese….quite delicious. But I couldn’t finish it and Richard had a go but we still left some. That was definitely a main meal to share!

While we were there we bumped into Chris from Sea Bear and his son – so we made arrangements to see them later for sundowners. We met up at five and had a really nice catch up before returning to Morphie at about eight on practically the last water taxi of the night!   We had to dodge the seals on the jetty – they stay away during the day but seem to think it is theirs come six.   Our pet seal was still there when we got back…..and the first of the Oyster Rally boats had turned up in the anchorage.

Tuesday morning and the gas bottle came back – but not filled! Apparently it is not possible here but is in Santa Cruz our next island destination. So fingers crossed that is the truth – we are slightly concerned about it at this stage. Filling these US bottles with separate in/out valves has been problematic throughout the Caribbean and we specifically purchased adaptors to alleviate the situation – but even that didn’t work here.

We decided to go out and about so got ourselves organised for a long walk….and hopefully some snorkelling. We walked to the Interpretation Centre at the other end of town and then followed the path through the lush green vegetation interspersed with large cactus and the occasional flower.

We enjoyed the sights of the tiny lizards – which were really quick to run off so getting a photo was a challenge – and felt like intrepid explorers alone in the wilderness. There were lots of tiny birds around too but they were way too quick to capture as they flitted from bush to bush.

After about an hour we came across some steps up to Cerro Tijeretas and took in the sights of Las Tijeratas. This is a small bay and has historic significance as this is where Darwin first set foot in the Galapagos Islands. It has rugged and spectacular volcanic scenery and we loved watching the seals frolic in the water below. Sadly we failed to pack any rugged shoes that we could wear into the water so snorkelling here wasn’t possible as the access to the water was via very sharp rocks. Something we’ll have to remember!

After a breather we followed the long and winding path – which meandered up and down quite dramatically in places – and found the lookout where Darwin’s statue stands. Was quite an impressive statue but with the sun behind it was difficult to get a good photo…..but you get the gist LOL.

Following the next path to another lookout and we were surprised to find a 1940s war cannon….was apparently used by the Ecuadorian Navy but all the markings on the gun itself were in English so we did wonder about its origins.

Moving on we arrived at Playa Punta Carola….a wide crescent-shaped beach with lots of black volcanic rock….and marine iguanas. We enjoyed watching them for a while and then went in the water to the shallows for a bob – hoping to join the seals frolicking further out – but the surf got up suddenly and we didn’t fancy it so we just sat in the shallows and cooled down. There was the occasional turtle head popping up for air too.

Leaving the beach we took an alternative path back towards the town which was a bit dark and spooky.

Finally we arrived back on the main dirt road that led to town. Walking past the nice hotel we realised that the sun beds had been colonised by mums and babies – clearly this island is just sea lion heaven!

Back to the pier…more sea lions on the steps….and a pelican taking a snooze.   We returned to Morphie, scaring seals off a derelict boat on the way, and that is where we stayed for the rest of the day recovering from our exertions.

Later on it rained which led to a stormy moody looking night sky.

Wednesday morning we were up early – which was just as well – as Bolivar came by around eight. He had, in hand, our clearance documentation and agent information for Santa Cruz and Isabella our next two Galapagos destinations. Pretty efficient as we only emailed him the night before and so we are ready to depart here on Thursday. In the meantime more Oyster Rally boats have turned up and the anchorage is starting to look a bit full….   And, in fact, we have all just been asked to move to clear a central channel in the anchorage….

We are not sure whether they will put another diver in the water on our arrival at the next island so, just in case, we have snorkelled the hull today and cleaned the waterline. We have a lovely family of fish living on top of the rudder and there are more in the bowsprit too.

Along the hull and the rudder there are marks in the antifoul that are unexplained – we think this might be the seals playing as they are pretty noisy when they hit the hull during the night!!!    Alas none wanted to play in the water with us today.

Later on we are planning to go ashore for supper before an early night in preparation for the trip tomorrow. The passage will take around 10 hours so we want to leave when the sun comes up to ensure that we arrive in daylight. The charts here are woefully inadequate so eyeball navigation is going to be important. There is a bit of wind forecast so fingers crossed for a good one. Don’t forget to watch our progress via the ‘Where are we now’ tracker.

Looking forward to visiting another island on Thursday and we remain hopeful of swimming with sea lions and seeing schooling hammerheads, giant turtles and manta rays. There are other things to see on Santa Cruz too not least giant tortoises so all quite exciting.

Bye for now