Isla Encantadas

Written by David Townsend

29, April 2007

Position 00°53’808N 089°36’877W

At anchor, Isla Cristobal, Galapagos Island.

South Pacific Ocean.

Hi dear friends, thank you for following my journey. Here is this week’s update.

The Galapagos Islands or known locally as the Enchanted Islands are truly a wonder to behold.

On approaching the Isla Cristobol the first sight of land sends you back to images from time’s gone by where dinosaurs ruled the earth. The ‘Roca’ or rock Pateadora breaks through the haze, its shear power of steep sides and pure roughness was an impressive welcoming to the Island.

The Islands were found by accident early in the sixteenth century when a ship carrying the Bishop of Panama to Peru drifted off course. It is also possible that the South American Indians had visited the islands earlier.

Named the Isla Encantadas – the Enchanted Islands – for three centuries the islands were used as a base by pirates, sealers and whalers. Famous sailors such as Drake, Raleigh, Cook and Hawkins stopped there for refuge and provisions. The giant tortoises, called ‘Galapagos’ in Spanish, which could be kept alive in ships holds for months on end, provided a source of fresh meat, and thousands were captured or killed. It is possible for this reason three of the eleven species of tortoises located on three of the remote and smallest islands are now extinct.

In 1835 the islands received their most famous visit, from HMS Beagle and Charles Darwin. The expedition stayed five weeks, and Darwin’s observations on how the wildlife there developed into unique species in response to their surroundings were central to his theory of evolution.

Life Onboard:
After motoring in the final 5 miles to the anchorage I went ashore to complete the usual formalities. The length of stay here depends on how many boats are in the anchorage, the normal time being ten days. There were twenty-two boats when I arrived so I expect this to be so for me however I was asked how long I would like to stay. This apparently was unusual speaking to other people here however as I need to move on I only request a few weeks.

You can stay here for a maximum of thirty days but this has to requested in writing (and in Spanish) four weeks in advance.

Among many of the unique features here which differentiate the Galapagos Islands from anywhere else I had been so far is the need to leave the splash screen (like a doorway from the cockpit going down below) in place otherwise you will wakeup with sea lions sleeping down below for they sleep in your cockpit at night.

Ashore there is strange (and I am afraid you will read this word a few times during my stay here) and unique atmosphere here, from the people who stay on the Island, an international mixture here to protect the plant life, sea life etc, from the near permanent TV crews from the BBC and National Geographic Society.

On Saturday I did a tour of the Island taking in one of the many volcano’s, the giant tortoise with ages raging from one month to 100 years although they can reach a grand old age of 150 years. Next were the Iguanas, you can walk along the beach where they are just sitting around chilling out, next were the sea lions. Although you do not have to go far to see them for they are everywhere but at this location you can sit just meters away and watch the young play in the sea while there parents relax in the sun. Jumping, splashing, just frolicking the day away.

This place is so peaceful one can do nothing here but relax for there is no stress on the island, that is unless you create it yourself.

The Boat:
Like everything else here Pinta is at home, surrounded by turtles swimming by while the sea lions play all around. No problems this week.

Fair winds and calm seas.