We arrived at Puerto Villamil on Isla Isabela on Thursday evening as the sun was setting. It was a beautiful sunset, but it is never ideal to arrive at an anchorage at dusk, especially one that has a slightly complicated reef-lined entrance! But we made it in safely and were soon at anchor next to s/v Alexandra, a boat we first "met" on the Pacific net on passage from Panama to the Galapagos. The Pacific net is a pre-determined time when boats sailing the Pacific can call in on their SSB radios and check-in (ie. Provide longitude and latitude position), get weather updates and any other news or updates. Alexandra was a couple of days ahead of us but we heard them on the radio each morning. We then bumped into them at San Cristobal, as well as in Santa Cruz. By this time we were old friends and by the time we arrived in Isabela, Lars was ready on deck waiting for us, giving us the lay of the land (or should I say water!). Lars and Maria are from Denm ark and will be leaving Galapagos in a couple of days (they are also waiting for a package!!), also headed to the Marquesas. We will be in daily radio contact with them throughout the crossing. Our other "buddy boat", Cheeky Monkey, does not have a SSB radio, so we will stay in touch with them via email. They will be leaving the Galapagos on Thursday, so we are a few days ahead of both our buddy boats. So families and friends....You can rest a little easier, we won't be alone out there, which is very comforting for us as well!
We spent 3 glorious days on Isabela, and I think it turned out to be everyone's favorite! There were only 5 boats in the anchorage and the town of Puerto Villamil is small, with dirt roads. But it was that small town remoteness that appealed to us, and which was a lovely change from the relative "hustle and bustle" of Santa Cruz. And on top of that, you just couldn't beat the wildlife. Where else in the world can you sit on your boat and wat ch seals, penguins, pelicans and the famous Blue Footed Boobies, all swimming, fishing and flying together?! It was truly amazing.
After getting the last of the repairs done on Friday morning ( Dave went up the mast AGAIN and installed the new stainless steel rollers that Remi sent to us), we were free to enjoy our time on the island. As we had done in all the other ports, we hailed a water taxi and went into town. Now, in full disclosure, I have to let you know that Lars told us that the water taxis were not very reliable. However, we managed to communicate with our taxi driver and he said the taxis run until 8:30pm. So we had a great afternoon checking out the town and the various beach bars. They are literally on the sand. I wish I could post all the pictures I took, but let me just says it was just too cool. After a quick bite to eat, we headed back to the dock, and not wanting to push our luck, we were there at 8:00pm. The place was a ghost town and not a working water taxi in sight! What to do?! We could see our boat...so near and yet so far away because there is a reef between us and the boat. Gaby was getting ready to sleep on a bench next to a seal, and Adrian had located a paddleboard that he was going to borrow to paddle out to the boat and get our dinghy, when all of a sudden, a truck pulled up, and simultaneously Gaby spotted a boat in the water! We begged the guy on the boat, who spoke NO English, to take us to our boat, but he refused, saying he had cargo to offload. Turns out the truck was there to receive the cargo. After some hand signals and show of money, we (hoped) that we had hitched a ride back to our boat. But first we had to help offload the cargo. We've uploaded a short video to You Tube of the unloading of the cargo...it was hilarious, but some pretty hard work too! There were heavy crates of heaven only knows what...sacks of carrots and potatoes and other produce. The boat had come from Santa C ruz, in the dark. No running lights, no shelter...a trip that took us 6 hours in our boat! Needless to say, we were pretty sure that the last thing this poor guy wanted to do was take some idiot tourists back to their boat! But, after the cargo was offloaded and the truck was packed, we hopped into the boat and were given a ride back to Cool Runnings! It restored our faith in humanity and made us appreciate our boat, and all we have, so much! It also made for a fantastic story!!
The next day we rented some mountain bikes and rode a trail out to "The Wall of Tears", a purposeless drystack wall that was built by prisoners when Isabela was a penal colony. It was pretty impressive, but quite a hike for the kids. It was over an hour to get there, through sand and up hills, but they were troopers and made it there and back. Sunday was Father's Day and I treated our 2 Dads and Godfather to a breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast and fried bananas. The rest of the day we mel lowed out and enjoyed our time left on land!
This morning we waited for our clearance papers, and at exactly 12 noon we pulled up anchor and left Isabela and the Galapagos for the next big chapter of this journey. I think everyone is getting their sea legs again, and it may be a couple of days before we get into a rhythm again. We are sailing at about 6 -7 knots and the sea is calm. There are some big swells, but all in all, conditions are good. Gaby is asking what's for dinner... I think tonight it will be pasta. We are 5 hours closer to the Marquesas...+/- 22 days to go...
Remember to look on You Tube for a few short video clips. (Just search David Hibberd on You Tube). They are nothing like the almost professional, edited videos some blogs have, just short clips taken on Dave's cell phone, but fun to watch none the less!
Until next time, this is Cool Runnings signing off.
Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.