11/6/82 We are now sitting in the quiet anchorage called Wreck Bay in the Galapagos Islands. Our captain has gone ashore this morning to clear the boat in and get the paperwork done, so that we are signed into Ecuador and can go ashore. We are eagerly awaiting his return as he promised he would bring back some fresh bread for dinner. And then we’ll go ashore to look around. Chris is dying for a beer, and I am hoping with all my heart that I can buy some fresh milk. It’s amazing what you take for granted normally (at home the milkman brings fresh milk every day and you can go to the baker’s, not too far away, to buy bread when you want it) and suddenly you realise how much you miss being able to pop into town, or just down the road to the shops when you need something.
It has taken us 3 weeks to make a 12-14 day journey, so I hope we’ll do better than that on the next leg of our trip. We did eventually catch a fish, but it was so small and puny we had to throw it back. We also caught a bird! We had several large birds following the boat for a while, and then suddenly one dived and tried to eat our bait. So we had to reel the bird in, flapping and beating its wings through the sea, and then take the hook out of its beak. It stood on the deck for a moment gathering its dignity and Alma rubbed it dry with a towel before it flew off, first landing in the sea and then flying off for good.
While nearing the islands we have seen lots and lots of wildlife. We have had many hitch-hiking birds – at one time we had 5 booby birds sitting on the bowsprit and they were so tame that we could go up and touch them. We have also seen two or three whales swimming only about 30 yards off the boat, surfacing and diving, curious to see what we are – often they mistake boats for other whales. There are quite a few seals in and around the islands and there is one that sits on the bows of the tiny fishing boats moored here in the harbour. Of course, the Galapagos are most famous for the turtles here and we are hoping to get ashore to see some, but unfortunately the authorities here are very strict about boats cruising around the islands, and won’t let you go to visit the wildlife unless you pay an exorbitant amount of money for a guided tour.
We have been busy cleaning up the boat for a day and so we’ll soon be free to go sight-seeing. Chris and I have done most of the household chores, but Jack and Alma have a lot more work to do. At the moment the biggest thing to repair is the main sail – we have a large rip several feet across to be patched. And also the front sail has to be replaced by another larger one we have on board, which means going up to the top of the mast to change the fitting. And on top of that we have a mountain of washing to be done on the back deck. It’s so difficult to do things other than what is absolutely necessary when out at sea that you tend to leave things piling up for when you get into port.
We’re looking forward to getting our feet on solid ground again this afternoon; I think, though, that we’ll find it difficult to stand up straight now that we’re so used to rocking + rolling about. The next letter will probably be in about a month to five weeks time, so see you then.