Saturday, April 3, 2010

Isabela is Awesome!

We've had a glorious few days at Isla Isabela. The anchorage is great, and there are about a dozen boats here with us, although every day one or two boats leave to jump the puddle, and another comes to take it's place. The other night we had cocktails with Precious Metal - Pamela's boat from Port Hardy! And one of her crew members, Jim, was from Campbell River...small world.

In San Cristobal, the common mode of transport was via scooter or taxi - there were very few privately owned cars in the city. By contrast, there are privatly owned trucks on Isabela, but most families seem to get around on mountain bikes. It's not unusual to see three people on a Giant or Marin coasting down the sandy roads of town.

We've seen incredible wildlife. Yesterday, Dom and I went diving to Isla Tortuga, and swam with the white tip sharks, giant tortoises, and an incredible variety of sea life. Today, all three of us went on an incredible panga ride up the coast to Los Tunneles, where I swam with a humongous Manta Ray that was at least 4 meters wide! We also travelled in and around an incredible maze of lave tunnels and towers, and were able to snorkel with sharks again. We even saw penguins, a sea horse and a turtle!

We have one more day on Isabela. We're trying to decide if we hike up to the rim of the Volcano, or perhaps spend a day snorkeling around the anchorage
and renting a surfboard...the surf breaks here are incredible! Tough life.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cost of Cruising in the Galapagos

When we went to the Galapagos in the spring of 2010, there was a lot of uncertainty from cruisers about what the costs would be. We chose to secure an autographo, enabling us to take our boat between the five approved harbours among the islands. We're glad we did. But, of course, all of this comes at a price. We used Bolivar as our agent, and the process was smooth and flawless.

Here is a summary of our expenses, in US dollars to check in with our 36 foot boat.

Port Captain Fee: $88
Signal Fees: $30
Immigration: $30
National Park Pass: $200 (2 people)
Autographo and Agent Fee: $300
Ingala: $20

TOTAL: $668

FYI, we also paid $3.50 per gallon for diesel fuel, and $3 per 5 gallon jug of bottled drinking water - all delivered to the boat.

Other expenses in the islands were typical - $70 for a single dive, $5 for the lunch special, and pricey canned veggies, but nothing atypical.

Of course, the regulations for cruising sailboats in the Galapagos changes continually, agents charge different fees, and each visitor's perspective will add additional colour...but this was our experience.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Images from the 'Slow Boat to China'

We not-so-fondly referred to ourselves as being on the 'Slow Boat to China' on our passage from Mexico to the Galapagos. Here are a few of the images that we captured along the way.

Dolphins visited us daily, and when we were moving fast enough, they liked to play in our bow wake.

I dove mid-ocean to cool off, and to check on the status of our zinc:Once John determined that I wasn't going to get eaten by a shark, he jumped in for a dip too:

This boobie isn't walking on water - he's riding on the back of a turtle. We know this because we were adrift beside him for over an hour!!

We caught this lovely tuna, and it made delicious sashimi!!

Boobies were forever trying to hitchhike a lift:
These guys also liked to travel beneath the shade of Renova:

We celebrated crossing the equator in style:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Enjoying Being on Land Again

We've got our land legs back, and we're delighted to be here on San Cristobel Island. Dom has moved on board and has been an awesome crew member. As I write this, he is scrubbing the bottom of the boat. And, his spanish is heads and tails above my survival spanish, so we're relying on him heavily for our day-to-day communications!!

We've been occupied with re-provisioning the boat with fuel, food, and water. But we're also exploring and today we hired a taxi to take us on a tour of the island where we hiked up to the rim of a volcano, toured a tortoise breeding centre (saw ENORMOUS tortoises), explored a beautiful beach, and other adventures. It was a great day. Unfortunately, internet isn't easy to come by here, nor is it very quick, so uploading photos will not be easy. I'll keep looking for a good internet connection.

Our current plan is to travel to Isla Isabella tomorrow (Wednesday), as other cruisers often say this is the most interesting island to visit. Now that we've seen tortoises, boobies, sea lions, and marine iquanas, we're on the search for penguins!! After a few days at Isabella, we'll back track to Santa Cruz, where Dom's plane departs from, and the only island where we can get our new-fangled propane tank filled. We expect that we'll begin our crossing to the Marquesas between the 8-10 of April.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Galapagos - Finally here

After a few hours rest, we awoke to a glorious sunny day. Before we had time to have breakfast, our agent Bolivar was at the boat, and indicated that he'd be back in two hours with customs and immigration to check us in!

We spent a bit of time straightening up the boat for our guests, but soon enough Bolivar came back and picked us up and took us into town. We went to his house, where we filled out paperwork for our cruising permit, customs and immigration, and the port captain came to the house to check us in. We went with Bolivar's wife to the brand new immigration offices and surrendered our passports for inspection. We also arranged with Bolivar delivery of fuel and water to the boat for Monday. It was all very pleasant and seamless. Of course, it does cost a small fortune ($700 USD), but you are not allowed to check in here without an agent, so we had little choice in the matter.

The small town here surprised us. It is quaint and colourful, and is full of charm. It does have an overwhelming odor of guano, but I expect that will be the norm in this Archipelago, and we'll be used to it soon enough. As we walked back to the water taxi dock, we noticed all the sea lions playing near the shore, and around the boats. There is a sea lion park for them, complete with waterslides!! They are often basking on the benches that line the waterfront, and tourists gather to take photos sitting on a bench beside a sea lion. I expect we'll do the same (hard to pass up a kodak moment like that), but this morning it was fun to watch and laugh at it all.

We took a siesta this afternoon, and took advantage of the calm conditions in the anchorage to change the oil and fuel filters, and get Renova ready for her third crew member.

This evening we met up with Dom, and enjoyed a fabulous celebratory dinner in town. John ate this enourmous meat fiesta platter, while I enjoyed the fish specialty and lobster for Dom. We're living it up now!!