We thought the passage from Panama City would be at least a week, but that was because we thought we would have very light winds, however as always seems to be the case with sailing you don’t necessarily get what is forecast or what you want. The Rhum Line (direct route between the two points) was 855 miles, we did a few detours for wind angles and covered 1006 miles, taking 7 days and 23 hours. We motored 35 hours when there was absolutely no wind, and were close hauled in stronger than expected winds until the last day when we finally got a beam reach. All up a tiring passage, many sail changes, lots of squalls causing changes in wind direction and some lumpy seas from the wind and current.
Our mid afternoon arrival was timed well, our agent came out and started the checking in process.
Mark had a chance to jump overboard and check that Balvenies bottom was still all clean and barnacle free. If you have barnacles on the hull you are sent 60 miles offshore with a diver onboard, who jumps overboard, cleans the hull, you return the 60 miles and are charged accordingly for the diver and inconvenience ~ best not to have a dirty bottom!!! Then it was a very happy Happy Hour onboard the good ship Balvenie, an early dinner and a blissful long sleep.
Next morning we were inundated with officials for this, that and everything else, a diver was deployed to confirm we had a clean hull, forms were filled in, necessary certificates and signs viewed, passports stamped and we were all processed within an hour.
We have been doing small excursions most days since our arrival. We have visited the excellent Interpretation Centre twice (too much info in one go!!) and read all about the history, geology, ocean currents, animals, inhabitants, ecology, politics, evolution and future of the islands. We have completed all the walks from the centre.
We have visited Punta Carola, a sandy beach littered with snoozing sea lions in every directions, dark black marina iguanas lie amongst the sea lions, pelicans, boobies and frigate birds dive bomb into the surf searching for a takeaway meal. It is all about nature here, it is a truly wonderful display of wildlife at ease in their own environment.
Yesterday we hiked another couple of trails and went to a small cove on the western side where we snorkelled with sea lions and saw a reasonable amount of large fish. There is still quite a swell running at the moment and even in this protected cove the waves were crashing in so the visibility wasn’t too good, the bonus was that the water wasn’t quite as cold as expected. We will wait and hope the swell abates and then have another look underwater to see what we can discover.
Ticking Off the Wildlife
We purchased a Guide of Galapagos Species, and we have started spotting, identifying and ticking off birds, fish, insects, butterflies, beetles, bugs, mammals, reptiles ~ if we see it, we identify it and try to photograph it! We have become right little wildlife spotters and have even found some that aren’t on our guide, not sure if that is good or bad.
We are the only yacht here now, there were three others but they have all moved on so it’s a bit quiet and lonely. There are small cruise ships/tour boats coming and going all the time so plenty of tourists around and there are a few backpackers here also. We still have the island tour to do, there are more walks to discover and swimming with the giant turtles. So we will take our time and slowly take in the magnificence of this unique animal wonderland.
So, We Have the Sea Lion Photos ~ Now How Do We Keep Them Off!!!!