Galapagos island hopping

Our parts arrived very quickly in Panama City, thanks to Maria and Cathy. As we knew we would have at least another week waiting for them to be brought to us via another cruiser, Ian and I decided to have a few days on a cruise ship exploring some of the islands we couldn’t get to on Sea Cloud. We left JoAnne and Bill with Sea Cloud and caught the ferry to Santa Cruz where we joined the cruise. ship Santa Cruz II for 4 wonderful days of being looked after, eating very well, meeting interesting people and seeing the most amazing places full of wildlife.


The highlight of Bacchas Beach on Santa Cruz Island was a nesting turtle slowly coming out of the water and then digging her nest.






A panga trip on Santiago Island was great for bird spotting. Snorkelling along the coastline we saw abundant reef fish, a manta ray and black tipped reef sharks


On our early morning walk to Rabida Island we spotted the elusive Galapagos hawk and their favourite food, the lava lizard. Mating rays were spotted in the path of our kayak trip along the coastline.


IMG_3909While snorkelling on Bartholome Island we spotted a group of penguins, quite a treat as there haven’t been as many around this year in the other islands.


IMG_3951A sunset walk to the peak of the island was spectacular.IMG_4015

Genovese Island was an unexpected gem. The rocky barren top of the island is a favourite for nesting red footed and nazcar boobies, frigate birds. The birds and chicks are so unafraid as we wandered along the paths between their nests.IMG_4127Frigate birds (“magnificent” and “great”) showing the red pouch and full courtship display! IMG_4336


Back in San Cristobal,  we enjoyed the surf competition at La Loberia beach, then the walk along the spectacular headland.





After a few days our parts finally arrived, thank you Shawnigan! We set sail for Isabela Island where we spent a few days. We had a very hot but enjoyable cycle to the Wall of Tears – a pointless wall built by prisoners in the 1950s.

IMG_4714Large tortoises could be spotted along the side of the road, lazily resting and eating in the shade of the bushes and the picnic shelter.


IMG_4720It was iguana breeding time on Isabela, masses of tiny iguanas could were seen on the beachfront bar opposite the Booby Trap Bar, the yachties watering hole owned by local agent James.


All of our friends had raved about the Los Tuneles tour. It didn’t disappoint. We had the opportunity to swim with turtles, many black tipped sharks and to see a seahorse. We swam through and then walked on the stunning lava formations. The highlight was seeing a blue footed booby performing his mating dance.




We sailed back to Santa Cruz Island for last minute provisioning, experiencing  the fish market and diving at Nth Seymour.



The Los Kioskos street of fish restaurants was our favourite haunt – we needed a few restaurant meals before our long passage to the Marquesas.


We were very sad to say farewell JoAnne and Bill who were heading to mainland Ecuador then back to Panama. We had such a fun time with them!




Galapagos – San Cristobal

Our checkin to Galapagos went smoothly. Eight officials boarded our boat, the diver went down to check the bottom, cupboards were opened, foodstuff and safety gear checked, forms signed, money paid and Sea Cloud and crew were cleared to stay for 60 days in Galapagos. We used water taxis in and out of town as there is nowhere to put your dinghy. We wouldn’t want to leave one here anyway as it would quickly become a bed for one of the many resident sea lions.


We were welcomed by a few pups sitting on the end of the jetty. They are so cute and there are so many of them playing in the ‘creche’ pond. You never tire of their antics.

IMG_3229Sea Cloud’s bottom step was a comfortable spot for this sea lion pup.IMG_3361IMG_3370

Monique and Dick from Umnyama had been here for a few days, so filled us in on their favourite spots. Sea lions loved sleeping on their transom. They were happy to have them there, but not so happy when they realised one had slept overnight on their cockpit table!

Our first walk took us to the magical Tijeretas Cove, which very quickly became our favourite spot. Snorkelling with the playful sea lion pups was very special. They are so unafraid, and obviously don’t know about the park rule of keeping 2m between humans and wildlife. Their cheeky face would come right up to your mask, then they’d dart below you. The more we tumbled, the more they copied. So much fun. The bay was different each time we visited, we saw sea lions and pelicans feeding on huge balls of small fish. We also saw rays, turtles, iguanas blue footed boobies as well as many colourful fish.


IMG_3704Our other favourite spot was La Loberia, a surf beach on the southern cove. The cliffs beyond the beach was a wonderful spot for viewing nesting swallow tailed gulls, watching blue footed boobies fishing, frigate birds swooping and the elegant red billed tropic bird.


You had to take care not to tread on the marine iguanas on the footpaths. They blend in so well to the dark lava.IMG_3389

A tour across the island to climb the extinct volcano and to visit the giant tortoise breeding centre.


San Cristobal town is small, laid back and friendly. There are sea lions everywhere along the beachfront and town dock.


Panama City to Galapagos

After final farewells at Balboa Yacht Club and last minute shopping done, we left Panama City.

A_IMG_7476This passage was the most pleasant we have had by far. We had steady winds on our beam, a 2knot current behind us and calm seas. Having JoAnne and Bill on board meant lots of sleep, laughs, good food and fun for all.

The only hiccup was the burning out of our fan belt when the idler pulley failed. Pretty scary to have black smoke coming from the engine room, but a relief to find it was not a fire. Ian and Bill spent the next day building a replacement pulley from bits on the boat, and it worked!!

We crossed the equator during the night, so postponed our celebration until the following day.

equator screen



Crossing the equator was celebrated in style. We wore crowns made by JoAnne, while we told stories, and sipped  French champagne as we toasted our conversion from shellbacks to polliwogs (or is it the other way around?).

us equatorIMG_3121

As we wouldn’t make it into port by the evening, we hove to off the top of San Cristobal to clean the hull and to take many photographs posing with our new friends, a pair of red footed boobies perched on our pulpit.



As the sun rose over Leon Dormido (Sleeping Lion) we drifted down in the current towards San Cristobal Wreck Bay anchorage with the dolphins and sea lions swimming around us.

LandHo2_IMG_3210GA_IMG_3216Bill pushed Sea Cloud along using the tender and we safely anchored. Very exciting to finally be in the Galapagos!