Having relished the opportunity to explore three fantastic islands of the Galapagos: San Cristobal, Isabela and Santa Cruz – the fleet have now refuelled and ready to make the big hop across the Pacific to French Polynesia. In this article we take a quick look back at the fleet's experience in the Galapagos and reflect on the their first foray into the Pacific Ocean.
Puerto Baquerizo, San Cristobal – Land Ho! Port of Entry
All 29 boats of the World ARC Pacific fleet have arrived in the Wreck Bay anchorage and checked-in. The town is steeped in nature and is a sealion and iguana hotspot! There can sometimes be a lengthy arrival process into the Galapagos. For this, crews must remain on board until the inspections are completed. However, this does not stop crews from admiring the sea and bird life which surrounds them! Before now, World ARC boats have been boarded by blue-footed boobies and sealions who make themselves at home whilst the authorities inspect other boats. With these moments not being uncommon, it is a useful demonstration of why inspections take the time they do – making sure there are no invasive species on board (or on the hull) to ensure a well-protected nature reserve.
Whilst in San Cristobal all crew members were invited to join the World ARC tour led by certified Galapagos National Park Guides. The tour is a showcase of what the Galapagos has to offer, with a manageable and interesting delivery fit for all.
Of course, the stopover would not be complete without the World ARC happy hours. Always a crowd pleaser, the covered balcony overlooks the anchorage and importantly keeps the rain off!
Puerto Villamil, Isabela – The End of Beaten Track!
Being a cruising leg of the rally, the fleet were invited to take the opportunity to visit the island of Isabela. Thirteen boats sailed to Isabela, with many others making the journey by commercial ferry from Puerto Ayora. Popular spots to visit include the flooded lava tunnels, Tortuga Island, the tortoise conservation centre and of course the spectacular Puerto Villamil beach. A short twenty-minute cycle from the town of Puerto Villamil, a relic of the recent social history of the Galapagos, the ‘Wall of Tears’, still stands. A reminder that the Galapagos has not always been the protected nature reserve that it is today.
Back by the town, although shallow, the anchorage receives ample protection from a surrounding rock formations which makes for a very calm night's sleep. The rocks are an attraction in themselves - sealions, frigate birds and Sally Lightfoot crabs can always be seen in abundance. A short stay in Puerto Villamil always yields positive reviews, it certainly marks the end of the beaten track and is a sign of what is to come for when the boats arrive in the South Pacific.
Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz – Base Camp and Port of Exit
As attention is turned from cruising in the Galapagos to the programme in Puerto Ayora, anticipation now builds to Wednesday 12th April when the leg 4 start line opens for the big trek across the Pacific. Over the past few days, a large refuelling programme has been undertaken for the World ARC Pacific fleet, with more set to be delivered over the coming days. With little wind expected in the latter stages of the journey from the Galapagos, it is clear skippers are welcoming the opportunity to refuel on Santa Cruz Island.
This afternoon, the Skippers Briefing will take place, followed by the Prizegiving for Leg 3, from Panama to the Galapagos. The venue for our Prizegiving is the much-desired Bahia Mar restaurant, who are always very generous hosts.
The last activity on the programme whilst in the Galapagos is due to take place tomorrow morning, an environmental volunteering activity which will see participants plant Escalecia trees (an endemic species) at a local coffee plantation. The project focuses on growing coffee in harmony with native Galapagos species. As well as getting their hands dirty with the trees, the participants will receive a tour of the coffee plantation and get to sample some of the coffee that is grown there.