Cruising life

If you ask me, solipsism is alright in small doses, but I prefer to share mine. To paraphrase HW Tilman, what I want is silence, but not too much of it. 3 weeks in Puerto Moreno provided a great opportunity to work through the endless job list which my 40 year old boat generates, but I was delighted when my old mates John and Anna Little arrived for a fortnight’s exploration of the Galapagos in Tainui.

I met these two in the late 70’s in Tonga and we have been sailing in and out of one another’s anchorages ever since. Their sedate yacht Kestrel was one of the early (and still rare) yachts to circumnavigate Australia. Now, they gunkhole in a splendid little boat, beautifully built by John himself. I can’t resist inserting a pic of it.


With some crew it takes no time at all for you to start getting edgy about the way they slurp their coffee, leave their belongings in the wrong places, break and spill things. Not John and Anna. They slipped seamlessly into boat life and are a delight to have on board. Anna’s boundless good cheer and optimism combine well with John’s thoughtful, sober view of the world.

The 40 mile reach across to the island of Santa Cruz was fast and pleasant. Puerto Aroya is home to dozens of cruise ships which ply the Galapagos and the waters are disturbed by the constant to-ing and fro-ing of RIB boats shunting punters back and forth for their island adventures. An uncomfortable anchorage, open to the prevailing southerly sell and wind, we left after 12 hours for the next leg across to Santa Isabela island. Aroya is nevertheless the place to provision and we will return here for the next crew change before Tainui sets out for the Marquesas.

The Isabela anchorage is a lovely protected lagoon, with only one other yacht. The waters are pristine, with enough wildlife to keep any curmudgeon happy – green turtles, the occasional stingray, black tipped reef sharks, sea lions and galapagos penguins parade past the boat. Frigate birds soar above, pelicans sit on mooring buoys like characters out of a Dickens courtroom, storm petrels flit busily across the water while boobies plunge dive with spectacular accuracy. Marine iguanas doze on the sand and spit at you if you get too close. 

The town of Villamil is a sleepy, one street affair which seems mainly to cater for backpackers and surfers. The streets are black volcanic sand. Behind the town the green hills which embrace the island’s 5 volcanoes rise mysteriously into the clouds. A container ship is unloading and the process is painful to watch. One container at a time is lowered onto a barge shunted by an outboard pirogue to the shore, where it is unloaded by a swarm of laborers. It will take at least a week to complete the process, I reckon.

Unloading the container ship

Unloading the container ship

We are well settled into the cruising life – swimming, snorkelling, reading, chatting and planning our Isabela adventures. Pictures to follow.

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