We crossed the equator at 1700 hours on the 16th, just 14 hours out from San Cristobal, our destination in the Galapagos. Each of us had a solid shot of fine rum in preparation, then we slowed the boat to a mere two knots and counted down. Several hundred yards before the imaginary line was reached we all bailed off the bow of Discovery and swam laughing all the way into the Southern Hemisphere. My first time across the equator was back in 2001, when we did the same thing in the same ocean, although a thousand miles west of our present location, at that time heading for the Marquesas. The seas were as flat as they get, the “Pacific” owning up to its name.
The rum probably helped, but each of us were in very good spirits. There’s certainly nothing this far out from anything to signify even the slightest hint of the equator, but crossing it is momentous all the same. Everyone swam for as long as you can in 10,000 foot water before the mind begins to scream unfriendly thoughts like “SHARK”, and considering we’d just seen a very large hammerhead not one hour before I think we did pretty well.
Sunsets are often extraordinary at sea, but this day and night will be one that will be remembered forever.
Each of us spent a long time staring long and hard at the water and sky, this our last night of the passage. Each reveling in the peace and calm of our trip. In the last log I mentioned my only concern was our arrival. While we were all excited to reach the Galapagos, I know I was not alone to be very sad that the passage was nearing its end. I know we all could spend more weeks out here in these conditions. Every day new animal wonders to see; each meal somehow more succulent than the last; each evening a shifting canopy of stars…and friends to make it all gel. Our arrival would shatter this calm. Immigration, tourists, customs, taxis, tours. I’ll take the simplicity of the sea.
By 0300 San Cristobal was sighted, a looming gray shape highlighted by an almost-full moon. By sun break the hills and cliffs of the island could be made out, much greener than imagined. March it turns out has been a wet month and the typically arid landscape was covered in velvety green. A few miles out from port we got our first sea lion visit and decided to alter course to a small rock outcropping to have a swim with the playful creatures.
There are easily more sea lions here than people. Within minutes of slipping into the ocean we were all within feet of maybe a dozen lions, from babies to bulls. This was Hannah’s first ever experience snorkeling. Imagine dropping into intensely blue water, no bottom in sight, three miles offshore with 500 pound lions (who’s predators are sharks and killer whales) swimming right in front of your mask. I couldn’t believe she could hold her cool, and at the same time- what a first go!
Some time later we dropped anchor in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Two very nice surf breaks crashed to either side of us. Sea lions by the hundreds lounged wherever they could on unmanned Lanchas and unattended cruising vessels (this would be novel for about 1 hour- they are not the cleanest smelling creatures). Boobies and other sea birds dove and splashed in the clean water. A small, attractive town lay perched on the sea front, beckoning us to land. Maybe it’s not so bad getting here after all.