The Galapagos Islands : San Cristobal.
Checking in and meeting the locals.
28th June 2017.
We slept like logs the night of our arrival, nothing woke us. The check-in officials were due to arrive between nine and ten so at 0730 we were up. Liam wanted to jump overboard to check the condition of GWTW’s bottom and do a touch up job if needed, and I wanted to tidy up a bit so that we made a good first impression. The powers that be come down on you like a sledgehammer if they find marine growth on your hulls, and have been known to send you and a diver 40 miles back out to sea to clean it. That was something we definitely didn’t want to happen.
One thing that hadn’t been planned for was a surprise visitor who’d lobbed aboard while we were sleeping. We woke up to a huge sea lion fast asleep in the cockpit near our starboard helm. This one certainly had no social graces and the mess he made took me over an hour to clean up, and a heck of a lot of disinfectant and air freshener to get rid of the “eau de sea lion” scent from the cockpit. From that moment on it was man verses beast in the war on pooping. We’d have to get inventive in ways to keep all creatures big and small off GWTW’s ever so attractive transoms and we’d have to do it soon.
Our check-in went smoothly and we both held our breath as the diver with Go Pro in hand jumped off to inspect our hulls. When he came back up he gave us the green light. We were good to go. The next hurdle was the fumigation certificate that we’d got in Panama. The environmental officer didn’t like it saying that it was out of date, which it wasn’t as it was valid for three months. In her report she recommended the boat we be re-fumigated by an accredited company here in the Galapagos at our own cost.
Our agent’s son, Johnathon, who was filling in for his father while he was out of town in mainland Ecuador, gave us a line that these certificates are only valid for one month and that every boat that comes here must be re-fumigated each month. Yeah well, we weren’t buying that one, as all those who have gone before us have never uttered a word about that. And we all know what the cruiser's bush telegraph is like. So we’ve decided to just ignore that whole issue and let sleeping dogs lie. With all the paperwork done it was time to go into town and do a bit of housekeeping.
First up was to establish communications with the outside world once again and to get rid of eight days worth of recyclable garbage. There were trash bins just along from the dock and Johnathon, who usually works on the big tour boats, recommended the local CNT office to get a chip for our IPad. We set up a prepaid account which gave us meagre 1gb of data for 30 days. CNT own the towers here and therefore have the strongest signal on all the islands. It’s a 3g signal so it is relatively fast. We stopped by the produce market and picked up a few things including some wonderful fresh passionfruit pulp sold in bags, then it was time for a beer down by the waterfront and back to GWTW to construct anti sea lion fence, have dinner and go to bed.
Visiting the Galapagos by private boat is extremely restrictive. You really can’t just front up and say I’m here as you may well be denied entry. In emergencies boats are granted a 24hr- 48hr stay and that’s it, then you have to leave no matter what.
There are couple types of permits (autographo) to purchase which range in price between $800 US for a one island, one anchorage stop to a two month, three island, three anchorage stop for $1375 US ,which is what we decided on. If you want to visit additional islands you must employ a National Park Guide who lives on board with you for the duration at a cost of $300 – $500 US per day !
Movements of yachts other than what is stated on your autographo is strictly enforced. No matter which autographo you choose your anchorage is restricted to the main port on each island, no pretty little secluded anchorages for anything other than cruise ships. Oh well life goes on.