Final days in the Galapagos Islands

Monday afternoon, as planned, Richard and I went ashore to enjoy our favourite beach for our last day on Isabela.   We were very lucky as, almost immediately, we managed to get a ride in one of the local safari buses so avoided the long and hot walk.    

On arrival we were delighted to find that ‘our’ tower was free so we quickly took up residence and admired the amazing view.   We just chilled lying on bean bags, chatting, and drinking cold ones.   And, for the first time, we got bar service to our perch so we didn’t even have to get up to get refills.   We had a lovely time.

We started walking back towards the pier and managed to get a pick-up truck taxi back – Richard sat in the back – so topped off a great day.

Tuesday morning we picked up anchor as the sun started to rise.    We motored out into a flat calm no-wind day (again!) and followed our track back towards Santa Cruz.   

This is a 50 mile passage and we just took it slowly conserving fuel – spotted lots of turtles and seals – and then suddenly ‘splash’ this big dolphin jumped out of the water alongside us.   He quickly moved to the bow – followed rapidly by both of us – and we watched him frolicking in the water turning sideways so that he could look at us as we looked at him.     Always makes us smile when we have a dolphin encounter.

We approached the anchorage in Santa Cruz around 4 ish under an increasingly threatening sky and, of course, the minute I’m on the bow preparing the anchor the heavens opened!  

We managed to get a good anchor set so waited in the cockpit for our agent, Ronnie, to arrive.  When he did come to collect our arrival zarpe – another $15 – he took away with him a few of our diesel cans for refilling.  We are not allowed to purchase fuel here in the Galapagos.   We had a quiet night on board and took ourselves off to bed early.

Wednesday morning we were up early and went into town.   We hit all the hardware stores as Richard still wanted to buy some more bits and pieces.   This day’s mission was silicone, glue and fan belts….just to top up the amount we have already of course!   Here are a couple of pictures of Richard’s favourite stores.   

We then got some more cash from the ATM.   All transactions here in the Galapagos are in cash as they charge 19% on top of the bill if you want to use a credit card (most places do not take them) and as there were no banks / ATMs in Isabela our funds were a little low.   Wallet refreshed, we hit the supermarket for another provisioning run. 

This was mainly for household goods and to replace food products that we had eaten.   Heading back to Morphie heavily laden we were forced back from the water taxi pier by some aggressive sea lions who decided our bags were a bit threatening….so ended up having to wait around for a little while.   It seems they have priority LOL.  Back on board by 4pm and Ronnie came by with our fuel – so we are fully laden again now.   We had a quiet night in the cockpit before turning in.

During the night the swell made the anchorage hell on earth.  We rolled side to side…we bounced up and down…and rolled again….and again…..    Neither of us could sleep and suddenly the noise from the bow was horrendous – we went up to check at 2 am – to find that our snubber had come off and we think our anchor was caught around a rock beneath us as the chain was snatching so bad.  This anchorage gets busy overnight with all the tour / cruise boats coming in and we swing 180 degrees at each tidal change.   So picking up and re-anchoring in the middle of the very dark rainy night in a crowded space wasn’t really something we fancied.  So we reset the snubber and toughed it out.   At 6am we picked up and moved closer to the centre of the anchorage hoping for a less rolly experience – and went back to bed for a little while to try and recoup some sleep.   The anchorage certainly looks much more attractive  on a sunny day. 

Mid-morning Thursday and we were back in town having dropped off our big laundry items.     We headed out to do some more shopping and I bought a new cotton top and Richard got a souvenir tee shirt.    We then both treated ourselves to a new tilly hat…you can guess who purchased which one by the logo LOL.

After shopping we headed to Café Hernan for lunch and shared some meat and chicken empanadas.  They are really lovely – think Cornish pasty type snacks – but sadly we can’t find anywhere that sells / makes them or we’d pop some in the freezer for passage food!    We then took advantage of their free wifi, despite its slow speed, and downloaded loads of books in preparation for our long passage. 

We then hit the supermarket again….this time it was a beer and cold cabinet run.  We headed back to Morphie and I got on with clothes washing while Richard did full engine checks and cleaned out the engine bay.  He also made up another 12V power socket for the stern cabin.   We then planned our passage for Saturday’s departure and programmed waypoints into our chartplotter, the iPad and the OpenCPN programme on the computer.    Confident we are ready we sat in the cockpit and enjoyed a quiet evening with noticeably less rolling around than the night before.  Was definitely time for an early night!

This morning, Friday, and we were upset to see that the freezer was playing up again.   This happened just before we did the passage to the Galapagos too – so I guess it suffers from pre-passage nerves?!?   Anyway….pressure checked….more gas inserted….defrosted and repacked….and thankfully it is now working properly again.    In the middle of all this we also did the final batch of washing.

We headed into town and visited the fresh fruit and vegetable market.   We also had a look at the butchers – didn’t fancy cows feet or sweetmeats LOL.   The street vendors were also selling fresh fish but Richard is confident we will catch enough fish to top up the freezer so refused to be tempted.  And final shop of the day was the bakers for some fresh bread rolls.

Back on board we unpacked and stowed everything away.    

I started the blog while Richard chilled for a while.    Later on we headed back into town to meet Ronnie to sort out our exit paperwork – and I had to say hi to the sea lion sitting on the pier’s bench.   We also enjoyed the view out to the anchorage from the pier while we waited.  

We got a taxi, first stop was Ronnie’s house as he’d forgotten to bring our international zarpe with him, and then drove to the immigration office.  All fees paid and we were free to go having been relieved of another $41 – so we are now legally ready to depart from the Galapagos.

We came back to Morphie and I’m finishing the blog while Richard has just jumped into the water to clean the waterline again of the Galapagos grime – it is amazing how quickly the boat picks up a dirty waterline here in Santa Cruz.   

We’ve had a great time in the Galapagos.  The costs of bringing a private yacht here and the restrictions that the authorities place on us are pretty onerous, frustrating and time consuming.  Not to mention the actual logistics of getting here as it is pretty remote.   But was it worth it?!?   Absolutely!  The wildlife, the sea life, and the scenery have all been amazing.  We will be leaving with some very special memories.

The passage to the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia, is 2971 miles long in a straight line.  So we expect to do more than 3,000 miles and anticipate some low wind days as well as anything else that the weather decides to throw at us.   There are currents heading in the direction we are travelling but just a few degrees below there are adverse currents and we might have to stray into that territory to find the wind.  So, overall, we expect this passage to take up to 5 weeks but could be even longer if the wind is light as we don’t have the capacity to carry enough fuel to motor all the way.   While we are on passage we will be able to blog (text only) and download weather via the satellite system but will be offline otherwise.    Please follow the tracker (on the Where are we now? tab) to keep an eye on us. 

 Bye for now.