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Day 11: Española Island, Galapagos

Thursday, May 17, 2001. Sunny 86°

The midnight sail was not as romantic as we'd hoped. First, there was lot of wind so the sea was “lumpy.” In addition, we never put up the sails that would have smoothed out the ride considerably. Because of the diesel smell, Linda slept in Lana and Joe's cabin on the third bunk. When she left early that morning, several others were already up, giving rise to speculation about an illicit ménage à trios. We were up at 5:45 AM, so that we could visit the island while it was cool and before the other tourist boats showed up.

Española is the southern most island in the archipelago. Our first stop was Punta Suarez on the western tip. Even before landing, we watched the seals play - much more active in the early morning than they are in the heat of the day. After landing, we immediately spotted the Galapagos Mocking Bird and Galapagos Dove, as well as the Red-billed Tropicbird, American Oystercatcher, and Masked Booby. Randy was the first to spot the Galapagos Hawk, the famous Darwin Finch, and a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron.

Albatross mating ritual on the Galapagos Islands, EcuadorThe highlight of the hike was to see the Albatrosses doing their mating ritual of fencing with their beaks. You couldn't help but laugh at the sight. At one point we stepped around an albatross sitting on a nest. They nest here because of the high cliff that they jump off in order to become airborne.

Along the cliffs we also spotted Swallow-Tailed Gulls and an immature Booby hidden in a rock crevasse with his soft downy. We also more brightly colored Marine Iguanas that are the largest in the Galapagos. Jorge took us to a blowhole that made the famous one in Hawaii look rather puny. It was magnificent, “erupting” much like Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone Park.

Snorkeling at the Galapagos Islands, EcuadorAfter we returned to the boat, Franco served fresh watermelon juice, toast, cold cereal with milk or yogurt, and eggs with cheese. Too bad we didn't do enough exercise to walk it off. After breakfast we all took a nap while they moved the boat to Garner Bay. There some of us went snorkeling and once again watched the seals play all around us. We also spotted sea urchins, squid and king angle fish. An amorous Eagle Sting Ray chased Don out of the surf. Charlie and Joe suffered from sunburn. Joe's was especially funny because it was only on the crease on the back of his knees. Obviously he put sun block on while sitting down and his knees were bent. Don avoided a sunburn by wearing his red baseball cap while snorkeling.

On the way to our next anchorage, we spotted Orca, or Killer, whales. Even the Freedom crew came topside to watch the three whales surface. Percilla, who was in the middle of a shower, wrapped herself in a towel and came topside to see them. We also saw our first sea turtle, about 3 feet in diameter. So far Jorge has delivered on every animal he promised we would see. The Orcas were an added bonus.

While eating dinner, the main generator shut down. Not to worry. The captain sat on the edge of the seating area with a flashlight so we could finish dinner. Randy suspected that the generator was sabotaged on purpose so we wouldn't have to listen to Yanni as we had promised her. At about 10:30 PM, they were able to fix it (bad fuel filter) and the air conditioner came back on. It was the only time some of us felt susceptible to seasickness.

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