Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Isabela - the island shaped like a sea horse.

So here we are at our launching point for the 3000 mile Pacific crossing. Villamil harbour is shallow and calm; infrastructure is minimal, people are very focussed on taking you for one tour or another and we've seen sharks turtles manta rays, blue footed boobies, flamingoes, penguins and pelicans. We picked up another traveller- Patricio from Argentina - who fixed our compass light, dived with Kristin at Isla tortuga and now is on his way back to mainland Ecuador.

Here is a picture of Kristin, Rupe and the crew! 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Flying visit to flashy Floreana

Floreana top 3:

  1. La Loberia - “the sea lion beach” -  snorkelling over rocks where sea turtles grazed and sea lion families frolicked.
  2. “Bolones” - fist-sized balls of mashed plantain (green banana) with cheese, with coffee for breakfast. Kept us going for hours. 
  3. The saga of Rupe’s lost sandal: it floated away on the high tide as we snorkelled, and after a long search we were resigned to its loss…… as Rupe trudged back over the sharp volcanic rocks, I went back for a last look and there it was, tossing on the waves around the point. Retrieved after a quick swim and a run to reunite Rupe with his beloved right sandal. 
Other moments: the Iguana trail with the coloured marine iguanas, and the sea lions suckling their cubs on the ferry landing as we waited to board.

Some Darwin finches

La lobelia, where the sandal went for a float

The name's Bond....

Bandera de Ecuador

Gorgeous Galapagos: San Cristobal and Santa Cruz

We were delighted to arrive at the Leon Dormido (Sleeping Lion) rock in San Cristobal after our bouncy rough week's passage from Panama, with a low key midnight Equator crossing. 

San Cristobal & Santa Cruz are two of the Galapagos islands, with small towns that are largely tourism-focussed. People are friendly, to a point.....and it certainly helps to speak Spanish, or at least attempt to...

San Cristobal top 3: 

  1. Centro de Interpretacion with intriguing geological, biological and human history of the Islands. 
  2. Tijeretas bay, rocky cove patrolled by frigate birds (’tijeretas’); snorkelling with turtles and sea lions overlooked by a giant statue of Darwin
  3. Beach and clifftop walk to see Galapagos gulls, frigate birds and tropic birds.
Rumpus at her bouncy anchorage in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz top 3:

  1. Scuba diving at Mosqueras and North Seymour: hammerheads, white & black tip reef sharks, Galapagos sharks, manta rays, huge morays, tuna schools and thousands of fish. 

  1. Scalesia forest and volcanic cauldrons in the highlands
  2. the Darwin conservation centre with tortoises, land iguanas, and great information. 
Now for some reason my earlier blog post disappeared.....so here are the photos of wonderful Galapagos animals, plants and the occasional human......

Monday, June 5, 2017

Panama Canal transit and a week at sea

not much room either side of this boat
Katya at the bow

exiting the canal into the Pacific Ocean

Through the Canal between two continents

Rumpus spent a day moving between the north and south American continents; from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean. Our 12 hour transit: moving, tying, lifting, lowering, drifting, motoring…..between the 3 Atlantic locks and the 3 Pacific locks there is a network of lakes surrounded by lush forest.

Our canal companions and the Colon bridge construction at dawn

We started at 4 am and were in the Pacific Ocean by 4:39 pm 
To enter and transit the locks we tied up with other small boats. One was a 39 foot Sparkman Stevens, covered in sponsors’ signage, belonging to Jon Sanders, a legend of Australian yachting. At 77, he is on his tenth solo world circumnavigation. He set the record for a triple unassisted non-stop circumnavigation in the 80s. A venerable man of the sea, he drank beer as his crew manoeuvred the little boat through the currents and locks of the canal. At one point they spun out of control in the final lock and retrieved the situation by tying to us bow to stern.

All small boats must have an advisor on board for the transit. Our advisor, Francisco, has transited the canal hundreds of times. We also hired Ludovic, a French traveller, to be our line handler. 

3 yachts are tied together. We motor gently through the imposing gates of each lock. Then wait for the lock to fill. 3 locks on the Atlantic side, motor through the lakes for several hours, then 3 locks on the Pacific side…and that’s how you cross through two continents. 

Passage to the Galapagos Islands. 

A day of shopping: plantains, coconut, capsicum, celery, coriander, onions and many many mangoes and pineapples. A few hours’ motoring took us to Isla Bona, a beautiful isolated anchorage. And then, two or three  rough and bouncy days with adverse current, wind on the nose, overcast and hot conditions. 

We ran the new watermaker to fill our port water tank. Ran the flushing mechanism afterwards and forgot to close off the valves. A few hours later all our fresh water had gone back into the sea…

Katya cooked wonderful meals, working in a kitchen that sloped uphill/downhill/forwards/back every few moments. Nico was always there whenever we needed some help or strength. We crossed the equator in the middle of the night. And hundreds of miles from land, we had an overnight visitor - a piquero patas rojas (“red footed boobie”) - he landed on our deck, then flew around to the stern railing where he spent 14 hours perched asleep.

and after our Equator crossing, we were lucky enough to to catch 2 tuna at the same moment - so plenty for the next few days at the Galapagos.