Puerto Montt To The Galápagos
Whale Song took Canal de Chacao with a fair tide and it spat us into the Pacific at 18.5 knots! As we headed north through Chile and Peru, all our thoughts focused on the Galápagos Islands. On the fourth day out of Salaverry, Peru, Whale Song passed Isla Española, part of the Galápagos, surrounded by rafts of albatrosses on the waves. It was April and the birds had arrived for their annual spree of mating rituals. We had reached this unique place where animals have no fear of humans, but we couldn’t land before taking aboard a licensed naturalist and creating a cruise plan approved by the national park.
Grant Wilson’s family — five grandchildren, ages between 2 and 8 — joined the yacht. They soon braved equator baptisms as Whale Song frequently crossed the line. The kids’ interaction with animals was amusing. On Isla Santa Fé, the tiniest sea lion pup waddled up to one of our boys — he withdrew in fright. To one side, a small sea lion played like a flamenco dancer with a discarded handkerchief and our little girls had to be restrained from hugging it. In fact, the girls were ready to kiss even the crusty, spiny marine iguanas lined up on the rocks of Espinosa Point, Isla Fernandina. Across the water, on Isla Isabela in Caleta Tagus, crews of long ago had painted the name of their ships on the smooth rock face. Grant, looking at the cliff, suddenly called with excitement, “Hussar 1932!” His grandfather had skippered the yacht Hussar, owned by E.F. Hutton and Marjorie Merriweather Post, which was renamed Sea Cloud after they divorced. It still roams the oceans.
For most people, the much filmed and photographed Isla Bartolomé and Pinnacle Rock are the Galápagos. The volcanic wasteland and cinder cones above the anchorage, the view of lava fields on Isla Santiago and the periodic violent eruptions on Isla Isabela made us think that any minute we could vanish into the underworld. Meanwhile, life went on. A new crop of hatched turtles kept bumping into our underwater lights. We shut off the lights and the baby turtles swam away to a chorus of “best of luck.” Before we left the islands, minutes after a tight squeeze between sharp rocks, the starboard rudder jammed hard over — a DC converter board had failed. We pushed and locked that fin in the amidships position and continued with the port rudder, feeling glad to have two of everything.