It's been about a ten days since our arrival in the Galapagos and it's been quite an adventure.
The wild life here is really amazing, such diversity that's really goes well with the crazy weather we have had here and it just seems to fit in with the whole feel of the place.
Johnny and I have suffered from some upset bellies and strongly recommend not drinking the local desalinated water! As we have since found out from the local doctor that it's not so reliably desalinated, we thought it tasted funny! Dr Gabriel was recommended to us by one of the yacht agents as the best man for the job and he was excellent. Had our rear ends back in normal operation in a couple of days! Thank god. He also proved that Jason really can blow smoke out of one ear and needs to have surgery to fix it, or he could grow mushrooms or worse! Showed us on the computer and you could actually see the tiny hole opening and closing.
Our unpleasant bellies could also have been from the local Tucker we were eating below.
The first week was spent getting Spirit ready for the next leg. We didn't have anything major to get done but did want to do a lot of small jobs mainly maintenance to the rig, tightening the shrouds, sail repairs, reinforcing some of the batten slides, making new bolts for the rudder attachment (larger ones) greasing and tightening the rudder bearings, swapping out the small foot blocks on the centerboard to larger ones, cleaning out all the boats compartments and re-stowing the spares, doing laundry, re-fueling and taking on water (which we recommend others not to do!).
We also bought more heavier chain from a really nice Australian couple we've meet as we may need it for the deeper anchorages in the Pacific. The new Fortress anchor has proven it's worth here as the local anchorage is crap. There is tourist boats coming and going all the time and boats anchoring on top of you as well. Making for sleepless nights.
We had about 1-1.5m swell rolling in for the first few days as the anchorage is totally open to the south east. Luckily we were able to tuck right into the bay using a stern anchor as well, which is highly recommended and got into about 15ft of water. In the surge Spirit just rode back and forth and with the 100ft of nylon line she just pulled up nice and slow. We buoyed the anchor so we could also keep an eye on it's position and make sure no one anchored on top of us. Then only people that did ended up being anchoring on top of us was another cruising yacht that had no idea of what they were doing! And that also ended up hitting another yacht when they weighed anchor and departed.
We used a local agent here to clear in, which is something that all the guides say you have to have. It's not law but you can't clear in and out without one? Work that one out! I've put the details below of both the agents I think are ok. We used YachtGala but a lot of the boats here used GOS and all had great things to say about him but he was a little more for some boats as he's price in based on the yachts length but less for others.
Johnny Rommero - has transport and can arrange anything for a price. I would only try and deal with Johnny himself.
+ 593 52 527 403
Galapagos Ocean Services - offers a dinghy dock and laundry services great deal and well recommend by al the yachts that used him.
+593 9 377 2718
While here we never used our own tender. The reason was the seals do try and get in them and also the amount of growth and how quickly it grows put us off. The locals have taxi services that constantly run all day and night, which you can call on channel 14 VHF and during the day it's 60 cents per person and a dollar at night. We would just whistle as they went past. They also offer laundry services for very reasonable prices and can organize water and fuel but make sure you get your fuel legally getting your receipt and paper work from your agent. We also had our favorite taxi captain help us clean the bottom of Spirit before we departed for $40 USD and considering the amount of weed and growth on the bottom it was very reasonable. He also did a great job with our laundry bringing it back on time and smelling wonderful.
Fuel is $1.05 per gallon for locals and $5.00 for everyone else! Like most places the yachts get ripped off. Like most things here the process of receiving fuel is ludicrous even bordering on plain insane. You have to have your agent get a permit from the port captain for the EXACT! Amount then you take this to the fuel station (there is only one) in a taxi. You head upstairs where to lady behind the desk takes your permit and issues you with a receipt. You then head downstairs to the pump controller whom fills you up with the EXACT amount, no less no more! He then takes your cash at four times what the locals pay, then issues you with another receipt that you fill in and both sign. Then back upstairs To the lady behind the desk who stamps it and makes it all official looking. This then goes to the agent who gives it back to the port captain to prove you bought your fuel! Talk about a joke this is to supposedly stop the back market for fuel as some taxi drivers where filling it up for the yachtie's and selling it to them at a cheaper rate, by the way we were still offered fuel on the black market by water taxis so little good this painful process has done.
Santa Cruz itself has been nice Not as seriously and well looked after as I would have imagined but coming from one of the most highly Protected reef areas in the world they seem a bit slack here. On a few occasions there has been diesel and black oil floating all over the anchorage! We have the pictures to prove it. Feelthy bastardos.
Then to top it all off, a 100ft triple decker dropped anchor with an extreme list to starboard! Portholes under and deck awash! A cast of thousands, slight exaggeration, tinnys water taxis and port authorities etc etc onlookers, all failed totally to avert disaster! Within half an hour she flopped right over to port and kept going!, all the way to the bottom! Once again we have the pictures to prove it. After that, about 2 hours after, the oil boom arrived and they got a circle around the spot but by then there was crap everywhere. That was a week ago and nothing has happened since. She lies in about 50ft of water and is slowly breaking up in the surge. Do not anchor there!
Rumor has it they were "transferring" fuel and left the tanks linked as they transferred giving them an angle of lull that eventually flopped them over to the other side and over she rolled! As my good mates back home would say muppets! More like an insurance job we think who could be that stupid?
2 days ago we finally stopped work on Ssspirit and did a dive trip to the Gordon rocks. Visibility poor but the variety of species more than made up for it. It was like swimming in a fish soup! Everywhere you looked there were more fish. Hammerheads, white tips, turtles, spotted eagle rays in squadrons, barracuda, tuna, jacks, big snapper, cod, moray eel, plus heaps of extremely colorful unknowns of all shapes and sizes.
Then there were the birds! frigates, sheer waters, just like our own mutton birds in Oz, gannets, blue footed boobies, mother caries chickens, pelicans are everywhere, darwin's finches, little sparrow like birds with short arse tails, etc.
On the way to the dive boat we drove over the highlands and there were many tall slender trees with the same trunks as our own Queensland red cedars and it turned out they are an indigenous local cedar used extensively
In their architecture which is a mix of third world post and beam concrete in various states of completion or otherwise. And some really stunning curved forms in a Spanish style. There is an an exclusive jewelry studio, so exclusive it is never open, that is a really stunning piece of art. Even though we have not been able to see the jewelry the building is a real gem.
Later on today we're off to provision and hope to head off to the Marquesas Islands tomorrow after a nice big hot breakfast and hot shower in our ten dollar a night hotel! Have included a photo below of the shower head so you can see why it's ten bucks a night! For anyone wanting to stay there it's called the Charles Darwin hotel.