If you ask me, solipsism is alright in small doses, but I prefer to share it. 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 a 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. 40 years ago they circumnavigated Australia in their trusty old boat Kestrel, still one of the very few boats to have done this trip. Now, they tinker up and down the coast in a lovely day sailer which John built. I cannot help but include a picture of it here.
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, they break and spill things, they take up too much space. Not John and Anna. As always, they have slipped back seamlessly into the boating life (heaven knows, they’ve done enough of it) 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 as we sit and tipple in the cockpit. 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 slowly by an outboard pirogue to the shore, where it is unloaded by a swarm of labourers. It will take at least a week to complete the process, I reckon.
We are well settled into the cruising life – swimming, snorkelling, reading, chatting and planning our Isabela adventures.