So Adina has arrived in the Galapagos.
While we had hoped for sea lions and Orka whales leaping out of the sea to greet us as would happen in a Disney movie, our experience was a little different. The sun was setting and we started noticing several fins on the surface of the water. Indeed we had a rather eerie experience of numerous sharks swimming around on the surface! Susie declared she was not moving out of the cockpit, end of!
Fifty miles before arriving in the Galapagos (and before sighting the sharks) we stopped the boat and Tom hopped in the water for one final clean of the hull. The Galapagos is known for having strict regulations and we knew our hull would be inspected. It still makes a good lookout for any sharks necessary but the water was crystal clear and only a few fish scavenging the remains of what Tom cleaned off were to be seen.
We arrived at 9.30pm slowly making our way in the dark. Night entry is something that must be carefully considered but we could see the navigation was straight-forward, knew we had moonlight and another boat already in the anchorage had advised us there was plenty of space. Putting the anchor down, Susie spotted her first sea lion. I’m sure in time we will tire of them but it was exciting.
We put to bed early knowing our agent and the officials would arrive around 7.30am the following morning. For sailors wanting full details of what to expect and our advice please click here.
We had worked hard on preparing Adina for the inspection; she was spotlessly clean, we’d implemented a waste management system, our maintenance log was up to date etc. etc. But it was like being back at university on examination date, we were just a little nervous.
The first officials arrived questioning safety and fumigation and sanitation and we were ready with answers. Off they went happy. Next came the National Park Officials who are the ones people fear as your boat is subject to a full inspection. Everything is opened and inspected, pictures are taken, any non-permitted food will be removed. But much to our surprise they were all very friendly.
Tom even managed to make some light humour with the girls opening and inspecting the cupboards. He went to what has traditionally been Tom’s Bar, stating “Solo Hombres” (“Men Only”) and opened it to reveal a cupboard full of beer packed away for the next 6 months. This created laughter and a cry was made for “Chicas?” (“Girls?”). Tom dutifully found a cupboard with wine! We were asked questions on our engine maintenance and were able to produce the checklists we maintained. As for the hull, Tom had put the Go-Pro to good use and took a video of the hull when we cleaned it, and this satisfied the authorities. With several ‘Welcome to Galapagos’ cheers they headed off. We had passed!
The inspections have caused some consternation amongst sailors with some now by-passing the Galapagos. But you do have to respect the officials here are simply trying to protect this unique environment. No doubt the debates will continue; it needs both sides to work at it, sailors to respect the laws and officials to be clear on the rules and professional and friendly as ours indeed were.
So now we can start our exploration (and empty our pockets of cash!). Already we’ve been excited with the sea lions and pelicans approaching the boat. The sea lions flip and pirotte putting on a show. We’ve been told given half the chance they will lie on your stern. Many say they smell and leave mess so we’ve got a big fender protecting the stern but we are going to have to succumb at some stage and have a photograph! You can hear them barking at night, it’s a warming sound.
We have one week here prior to the arrival of the Senior Plumes who are then joining us for two full weeks of exploring the islands. Ready for the sea lions, giant tortoises, hammerheads, boobies….