Once again, I’m not sure where all the time goes, but it sure does fly by. I arrived here in at Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos on Thursday morning. It took a bit of time to get settled in the harbor and then to grab a much-needed shower, a great local breakfast complete with passion fruit juice and fried plantains (banana-like fruit.) The rest of Thursday and Friday were taken up with governmental errands, working around their annual May Day Holiday, and catching up with emails and tracking down the best Wi-Fi hot spots!
Each day I must take a trip out to Bodacious Dream, which rests on a mooring in the harbor. This is facilitated by taking a water taxi – these boats run by locals holds about 12 people. These boats, of which there are probably a dozen at any one time, wander around the harbor moving people and supplies to and from boats, as well as to one of the farther corners of the harbor where people can land on the beach and hike inland. There are no roads to this beach, so your only option is the water taxi.
I visit Bodacious Dream each day to check the lines and gear and to make sure that nothing is rubbing or wearing out that could cause big problems if undetected! This slow rubbing action is called “chafe,” and it’s one of those nagging and ongoing problems sailors face. A line rubbing back and forth across a hard surface doesn’t take long to wear through!
In the few days I’ve been here, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a number of other sailors from around the world. Most are headed where I’ve come from – deeper into the South Pacific or to New Zealand or Australia – so we’ve have had fun exchanging information. As you might imagine, they come from all walks of life. Some are life-long sailors, some are new and have dropped out and are cruising around the world. Some are doing research on various projects, but each one had an interesting story to tell, which has made evenings hanging out at one of the local sidewalk cafés very lively and rich with great stories!
Saturday afternoon, I took a walk up the road about a kilometer to the headquarters of the Park Nationale and the Charles Darwin Research Station. This is the area where they do much of the research on the giant tortoises and land iguanas.
Being more than a bit nosy, I tagged along with a tour group, eavesdropping in on the guide’s talk to learn some of the facts.
This is where they have been able to hatch, incubate and raise tortoises in captivity and help to keep the range of the various species strong on the islands. Years ago, the tortoises were hunted by sailors who killed them for the meat and took them with them on the boats, keeping them alive until they were needed for food later in the voyage. As a result, the tortoise population dropped; hence, the need for a protected preserve and research area. One of the most famous turtles from around here was named Lonesome George. He was over 100 years old and the only surviving giant “Pinta” tortoise. He died in 2012 and sadly, with him went extinct that entire species of tortoise.
Most of the tortoises look the same until someone tells you how they each have adapted to their various habitats. The most obvious differences in the tortoises I see are the patterns of their shells and the lengths of their necks. Their necks range from short to medium and to long. They think this is because of the height of vegetation in the various islands and habitats from which they come. Low vegetation favors short necks; higher vegetation requires longer necks. Much of this is what Darwin discovered and documented during 1835 when aboard the HMS Beagle; he landed here for five weeks and studied various species of birds (finches in particular) and other wildlife.
There is so much to see here. Unfortunately, time is passing quickly so I won’t get the chance to do too much exploring on this trip. I am taking a tour on Tuesday to the island of Seymour where I should get a chance to see all sorts of interesting and infamous species of birds and wild life. I’m especially looking forward to encountering the Blue-footed Boobie … that, believe it or not, actually does have blue feet! I’ve seen pictures before; now I can’t wait to see them in real life!
For now, I’ve got more chores to do with the boat today. As you can imagine, using the water taxi to get fuel and provisions to the boat takes up a lot of time. Then I hope this afternoon to get the chance to explore one of the other beaches that is close to the downtown area of Santa Cruz. I know I’ll enjoy the hike, since my legs don’t get all that much exercise when I’m on the boat.
By later afternoon on Wednesday, I hope to be back at sea, headed to the Panama Canal. So, we’ll update you before I leave and along the way.
Thanks for following along!
– Dave (on land with no Bodacious Dream and no Franklin)