Back in the big smoke

Our 40 mile passage back to Academy Bay was a delight – a fast close fetch south of the islands, over smooth seas. A solitary whale sounded, rafts of storm petrels flitted about and manta rays breached. We were sorry to leave Isabela, one of the loveliest anchorages. We will miss the penguins, turtles and sea lions which came to visit us every morning.

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Here at Puerto Aroya we are in a different world. Tainui is the only yacht, but we are surrounded by cruise ships – up to 15 of them coming in to load and unload their punters. We are anchored in close quarters with them and because of limitations of space a stern anchor is mandatory. RIB tenders roar back and forth between their mother ships and the shore 24 hours a day. There is still a wealth of wildlife – frigates and egrets are aloft while boobies plunge dive and storm petrels dance over the surface of the water. A big turtle surfaced beside us, marine iguanas swim by and John spied an 8 foot shark under our bows.

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the ever-present storm petrels

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marine iguana saunters past

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cruise boats waiting for the punters

Ayora fish market

Ayora fish market

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Most of the tourist cruisers here are pretty ordinary vessels. But there is one exception – the lovely “Grace” – a 1928 Camper and Nicholson motor yacht owned successively by Grace Kelly and Ari Onassis. I’d hate to think how much this gorgeous ship would cost to charter.

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MY Grace

There is a very good Japanese restaurant ashore and the caiparinhas are most pleasing at the shore front bars. But it is not the same.

I will be very sorry to see John and Anna leave. As friends and crew they have been a delight. I have a week to tidy things up before Sonja arrives on the 13th and we provision for the month long passage WSW to the Marquesas. With El Nino playing havoc with the trades I only hope we have enough wind.

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