After a very flat eight day sail/ motor sail from Panama we reach the Galapagos Islands, a place we were all excited to be arriving at, had spent months reading about and were all together eager to get to. Already on the sail over we had seen some of the most incredible wildlife, literally hundreds of dolphins swam with us for about an hour and Oscar managed to get a drone video of the pod feeding, we saw Whales, huge Mahi Mahis, Blue Footed Boobies rested on our bow for days at a time. After these ‘Attenborough’ sights we were ready for the rest.
Private yachts have very strict rules to follow when entering the protected waters of the Galapagos and there are also only a few places we can even sail to with the vast majority of places being completely off limits to us. Our first course of action was to stop about a day outside of the Galapagos and for us to dive into the 3000m deep ocean to clean the hull of the yacht thoroughly as a diver would be checking on our arrival that we are squeaky clean. We spent about two hours snorkelling the hull which was great exercise mid trip with A&R watching from onboard for any shark sightings! Once we decided we were as clean as possible we carried on our way until we reached the Equator line. It was at 11pm and I was on watch when everyone came on deck with Prosecco and Oscar dressed as Poseidon so that we could take part in the Equator ceremony. We had to give a tribute to the God of the Sea to ask for safe passage on our journey. We all gave a measure of rum to the sea and Oscar dressed as Poseidon gave a speech that we all had to repeat.
The next morning, we sailed into San Cristóbal, our first of two stops in the Galapagos. A soon as we anchored a tender full of officials turned up to inspect the boat. We had one person diving on the hull whilst another was checking our papers and another went through every cupboard and under every floorboard to check what we were bringing into the country. You are not allowed to enter with ANY fruit or vegetables, cheeses, eggs, the list goes on endlessly. The checks are taken very seriously so as to protect the unique animals of the Galapagos and if you fail you can be asked to leave the Galapagos waters. Due to our due diligence we passed and were allowed to start exploring.
Immediately you notice just how many sealions there are, they are EVERYWHERE! You have to tie fenders to your sugar scoop so as to stop them climbing onboard and still they sometimes manage it. One night we came back from dinner ashore to find two in our cockpit, goodness knows how! One night we jumped in to swim with them in our underwater lights and they are so playful and cheeky. A&R departed the boat for eight days in San Cristóbal with us meeting up with them next in Santa Cruz, the other Island private yachts are allowed to visit. They had booked onto a small cruise that was licenced to go to all the remote islands that are host to the more Darwinian animals and birds like the flightless cormorant and the penguins. Before we left Santa Cruz, Oscar and I went on four dives which were all incredible. The Galapagos is not great for corals however, we saw a ginormous Turtle, tens of Hammerhead Sharks, Galapagos Sharks and Manta Rays, ticking off the main attractions underwater that we had wanted to see there.
In San Christobal we still had several days before A&R arrived back at the boat and so we used the time to explore the island. We went to see old tunnels, huge volcanic craters, cliffs that Frigate birds nest on, the Darwin Centre, a farm that is home to giant Tortoises and we also explored the small town which is full of art galleries and cafes. By far the best experience for me was the farm full of giant Tortoises, they are just not like anything else I have ever seen and you can imagine them as a prehistoric animal always plodding along. At the farm you are allowed to walk around freely, you are just asked to keep a meter and a half distance from them at all times. They seemed to like the pond areas the most and when they sensed you getting closer, they would retreat into their shells which, as the air is pushed out, would make a hissing noise.
The last few days of our time here were spent preparing for our big Pacific crossing which would take around three weeks. I visited the fruit and veg market to restock and bought fish from the local market in town and then we were off, ready for three weeks of sailing, fishing and reading as many books as possible!