Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Monday 11th June

Puerto Ayora
Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands.
0 44.914 S
90 18.417 W

The sun began to rise behind us casting a reddish tinge to the clouds as we slowed down to make sure that we didn’t arrive at the anchorage in the dark. We began to see the masts of several yachts already at anchor and headed towards them. The water was very calm with some long interval swell and every now and again we could make out “things” bobbing along in the water and then vanishing – they were sea lions, Gerry hadn’t been hallucinating. The anchorage was still in sleep mode as we motored into it at 07.30hrs. We spotted Y Not almost immediately as their cockpit cover stood out, we decided to take a slow turn around the anchorage before deciding where to drop our anchor. JJ Moon was fairly easy to spot as they had told us about a fishing boat next to them that hadn’t put out a stern anchor and had drifted into them during the night; once we spotted the fishing boat it was simple to see JJ Moon. After our reconnoitering of the anchorage we picked a spot and without too much trouble dropped our anchor in 24 foot of water, it set quite quickly but as the anchorage is quite small with lots of boats at anchor and a constant swell the advice is to put out a stern anchor as well. We dropped the dink off of the foredeck and into the water, attached the outboard motor, tied our spare anchor line to the stern of the boat and then Gerry motored out with the anchor in the dinghy and dropped it about 80 foot behind us. Once the anchor was in the water we winched the excess line back into the boat, we were now held firmly between the two anchors and hopefully wouldn’t encounter any problems of drifting into other boats. By 07.50 hrs we were able to say we had arrived! We celebrated our arrival with some coffee and toast, Gerry went over to say hello to Ross and Sue on Y Not whilst I began tidying away the cockpit mess. When he returned Gerry informed me that Ross and Sue were going into Immigration to complete their formalities at about 09.30hrs, we were going to tag along to do ours at the same time. With just under an hour before we were going into town we hurriedly had showers, put on clean clothes and gathered our documentation and money together. Everyone uses the water taxis to get into town and back, they arrive after being called on channel 14 on the VHF radio and cost just 50 cents per person each way, the regulations dictate that you must wear a life jacket in the water taxi so we duly donned them – the taxis are well equipped with enough for all passengers. We were dropped at the dock and made our way to the port captain’s office to check in. At the reception we were directed to a very pleasant naval officer who spoke very little English but managed to convey everything he needed, we filled out the appropriate forms and were presented with our clearance papers (we could stay for up to 20 days but could not sail / anchor around any of the other islands here without further paper work) and the bill – it cost us $180.64 to clear in which was better than we had expected. A word to the issue of fumigation certificates here: we had been told in Panama that we were required to have a fumigation certificate from the previous port of call when we arrive and clear in at the Galapagos Islands. We didn’t bother getting one whilst a few people we met did (not that they were actually fumigated – it was just a bought certificate costing them $25 each – we wonder if this is a scam by the Panamanians to make a few more dollars). At no time were we asked for a certificate but other boats used an agent to clear in here and the agent insisted that they needed the certificate. If it is a government requirement (not actually proven) to have a fumigation certificate it doesn’t seem to be one that is enforced. We had also heard that if you arrived without one then your boat would visited by the authorities and doused in fumigation powder for a phenomenal fee – this too didn’t happen. Whilst I relate this for information purposes I caution that it is “buyer bewares” – this was our findings and may not apply to the next boat to arrive here, it may also be a different story if you check in at any of the other ports in the islands – I can not say for sure. Anyway after checking in with the port captain we were directed to attend the police station for immigration clearance, the police station was a short distance away and we had no problem finding it and getting our passports stamped with the visas – at a cost of $15 each, the visa is good for up to 90 days. The last part of clearing in was a return visit to the port captain to show our visa stamps and pick up our clearance papers, it was all painless and quick and everyone we encountered was polite, helpful and efficient. Sue and Ross also finished their clearing in details (they had arrived on the weekend and had to return to day to complete the formalities). The four of us then made our way to store where Ross was having his phone looked at – they had experienced some problems with their very expensive NARA world phone. The store seemed to deal with all things required for boats from phones to computers to fishing gear, Gerry asked about a battery to replace our failed one and was directed to another store – it was the one thing they didn’t deal with! Mags and Barry turned up whilst we were in the store as they needed to purchase a new laptop computer, theirs had had a “water accident” on the trip across and no longer worked. Once all the transactions were completed the six of us went to one other store – to sort out cell phone stuff, then we decided it was beer o’clock and availed ourselves of the services of a nearby bar and restaurant. Following lunch there, the food was good and cheap, we split up and Gerry and I headed back to our boat as the lack of sleep was rapidly catching up with us. We laid on the bed at 15.30hrs and the pair of us were fast asleep by 15.31hrs. After 2 hours we woke, a little less tired but also a little more refreshed. We spent the remainder of the evening on the boat, neither of us having the desire or energy to do anything else. We did the mundane chores like running the water maker and chilling down the fridge / freezer, typing blog notes and washing dishes. Finally it was time to hit the sack again, tomorrow was going to be a busy day organizing tours, finding a battery and generally getting our bearings.



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