A Few Rough Days

A rough day at anchor in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos.
A rough day in the harbor in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos. You can see how close our neighbor is to the surf. Just after I had put the camera away, a wave broke completely over this boat!

The things that make a story more interesting are usually not pleasant to live through. We were supposed to leave almost a week ago, but I became ill with the common traveler’s curse the day before we planned to go, possibly because of something that I ate, but more likely from the local water source. The effect on my system was bad enough to make me seek medical attention for the first time that I can remember in my adult life (outside of problems that required stitches or repairing broken bones). After two injections, a course of 2 different medications, choking down 3 days of a re-hydrating mineral solution, and several days on a strong probiotic prescribed by the hospital, I feel much better now. A follow-up visit has pronounced me still a little dehydrated, but fit enough to sail. Fantastic. We’ll be leaving as soon as we get our new clearance papers.

Puerto Ayora rough anchorage
Look carefully at the boats and you’ll see there is quite a chop in the harbor. The sailboat on the left is Starlight, and the one on the right is a Swan 46. Click on the picture to enlarge.

We’re all ready to be underway again. This has been a wonderful stop, but we’ve explored the area to our content. Also, the anchorage here can be uncomfortable when the wind kicks up from the southeast, which is the direction it has blown from every day since we arrived. Any swell rolls right into the harbor from relatively deep water, keeping things lively for those of us on monohulls. When the wind kicks up and a chop gets added to the mix, things get even worse. Most of the time that we’ve been here Starlight rolls and bounces around enough to make it feel like we’re still at sea. You can see that we have been rolling a lot because we’ve accumulated bottom growth at least a foot above the waterline on the topsides of the hull.

On the very bad days, the swell will kick up and break in the harbor. At the top of this post is a picture of the boat that is moored next to us. When the swell is large, the waves break awfully close to this boat, and on one rough day the biggest waves were breaking where the boat was moored. Where we are anchored with Starlight, the waves were standing up and getting steep, but not quite enough to threaten breaking. Several boats have ended up on the rocks in this port in the past 6 months, including at least one of the supply ships, according to the owner of the mast-less boat. I never forget that we’re not far from a lee shore when the wind kicks up here.

Puerto Ayora cloudy sunset
Enough of a break in the clouds to almost see a sunset…

At least getting back and forth to the boat is pretty easy, thanks to the excellent water taxi service in the harbor. The taxis run 24/7 and the price is fixed at $.80/per person per trip during the day and $1 per person at night. This can still add up, but when I think about some yacht clubs I’ve been to that charge $3-4 per person per trip plus expect a tip on top of that, it seems downright cheap. I also don’t think that we’ve ever really waited more than about 5 minutes for a taxi, which is a nice contrast to days that I remember baking in the sun for a half an hour or more on a moored boat in harbors in New England in the summer waiting for the launch driver to finally decide that I was going to be lucky enough to get a ride to shore.

Before getting sick, Idoia and I got out to explore a few more of the surrounding sights, including the rock formations and Las Grietas, Tortuga Bay, a private ranch in the interior of the island, and some lava tunnels left over from when the island was formed 5 million years ago.

Marine iguanas in Puerto Ayora
Marine iguanas sunning in Puerto Ayora
Cactus forest near Tortuga Bay
Cactus forest near Tortuga Bay
Inside a lava tunnel
Inside a lava tunnel on Rancho El Chato


Rock formations at Las Grietas
Rock formations at Las Grietas
Las Grietas
Las Grietas are a series of what are described locally as “fjords”, crevices in the volcanic rock with clear fresh water at the bottom. They are a great, protected place to swim and snorkel.


Landscape near Las Grietas
Pools of water in the volcanic rock create an otherworldly landscape. This is near the trail to Las Grietas.
More rock pools on the trail to Las Grietas
More rock pools on the trail to Las Grietas







One of Darwin's finches at Las Grietas
One of Darwin’s finches at Las Grietas
Unidentified bird on the beach at Tortuga Bay
Unidentified bird on the beach at Tortuga Bay






Pelican at Tortuga Bay
Pelican at Tortuga Bay
Plover on the beach at Tortuga Bay
Dunlin on the beach at Tortuga Bay







Entry to Rancho El Chato 2
Entry to Rancho El Chato. The uplands of Santa Cruz are rich and green, with many farms.
Giant land tortoise
The giant land tortoises really are impressively huge. It was great to see them roaming free in the high interior of Santa Cruz.
Sea lion on the gangway
You might have to share the gangway to the water taxi with a sea lion in Puerto Ayora
Local market, Puerto Ayora
The local market in Puerto Ayora. There is a good selection of fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat. The prices on fresh food are reasonable.
Turtle ATV
Everyone is turtle crazy here, including this guy. There’s not much headroom in there…
Turtle Graffiti
There’s even turtle graffiti on construction sites here.
Puerto Ayora sunset
This is as close to a sunset as we have seen here. A break in the clouds at least let a little color through this evening.


2 thoughts on “A Few Rough Days

  1. Great pictures! Sorry to hear you were down. Hopefully, you are fully recovered by now. I have enjoyed following your travels. Thanks for posting – I look forward to more when time allows you to do so.

    1. Drew- It too me a week to get that bug out of my system, but I felt great for most of the trip from Galapagos to Marquesas and feel good now. Hopefully I can make it the rest of the way to NZ without a repeat experience.

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