Saturday, March 12
We were up at 6 am to a beautiful morning, but there was still no news as to whether we could land. However at breakfast we were told that we were going on with our activities despite the lack of news. The first order of business was to get fitted for snorkel, mask, and flippers. There was a varied collection of flippers, but even so it was hard to find a pair which fit. We could also have rented wetsuits, but this was the warm season and the water was supposed to be warm too, so none of us took them.
Today we were to snorkel in the Devil’s Crown, which was the eroded volcanic crater islet which we could see from our boat. It’s reputed to be one of the best places for snorkelling in all of the Galápagos. So we boarded the pangas and headed over there. The water was a little cool at first but it was very refreshing. First we snorkelled around the outside of the crater. The water was quite deep here, but it was amazingly clear and it was swarming with fish. There were hundreds of King angelfish, there were parrotfish, then we saw an eel, several white-tipped reef sharks, two kinds of rays, and later a lot of Panama sergeant majors, not to mention dozens of other species. All in all we were in the water for about an hour.
Back in the panga, we were given towels to dry off with and then headed back to the ship. But our morning wasn’t over yet. After stowing our gear, having a snack, and then showering, we were off again. On the land this time, we followed a trail which led to a lagoon where we saw the first flamingo of the trip (only one lonesome flamingo) and then across a narrow part of Floreana to the opposite shore. Here there was a beach where we saw shorebirds such as Ruddy Turnstone, many ghost crabs digging their holes, and rays mating off-shore. Above the high-tide line was the place where sea turtles were laying their eggs. There were no turtles there today, because they lay their eggs at night, but their nesting area didn’t seem to have been damaged by the tsunami.
Our afternoon cruise required a repositioning, so while we had lunch we motored along to the other end of the island. Here was Post Office Bay. There was a barrel there which had been there since the 17th century. (Perhaps not the same barrel all that time, though). Here sailors would post letters to their loved ones in the hope that other sailors would take them out and deliver them. This was apparently a common method of mail delivery around the Pacific Ocean before public postal systems were invented in the 19th century. And it is still in use, but only for fun now. We dutifully put our postcard into the box, but there wasn’t anything to be delivered in our area (the nearest address to us was in Vernon, which is a 6-hour drive from our house). So we didn’t offer to deliver anything. However Erik, who lives in Denmark, took five cards addressed to Denmark and southern Sweden.
Our guide Alejandro (“Alex”) at Post Office barrel
Rosemary mailing a postcard
Initially when we had arrived at the beach the day was slightly overcast, but then it cleared up and was beastly hot. Some of the people went swimming, but we chose to explore the beach. It was fun watching the ghost crabs excavating their holes. After each high tide they re-dig their burrows, which certainly seemed to take up quite a bit of their life.
The Mary Anne offshore
Raising the sails
Once back at the boat the anchor was raised and we set off on our long trip to Isabela Island. The crew raised some of the sails – the mainsail, three staysails, and the two jibs. This was only a small portion as the boat had sixteen sails in total, none the less it looked impressive. We were all busy taking photos of the sails when we encountered a sudden rain storm, so everyone scurried to take down their clothes which had been hung up to dry and then went inside. It rained for quite a while so no star-gazing was possible. Bedtime was 9 pm, as we had an early wake-up tomorrow.