Day 160, Year 1: Day One on the Sulidae
Date: Sunday, March 26, 2006
Weather: Very Warm and Partly Cloudy
Windbird’s Location: Academy Bay, Puerto Ayoro, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos
Sulidae’s Location: Tortuga Negra

Today was the first day of our tour of the Galapagos Islands on the Sulidae. This is a 63-foot sailboat that is over a hundred years old. It was made in Denmark and is the picture perfect pirate boat. There is a captain, a ship’s cook (phenomenal), a bilingual naturalist guide, a young man who takes us out in the small panga (dinghy), and another crew member that serves the food, helps with anchoring, and various other tasks. This is not a luxury liner, but we think we made the right choice for us. There are two couples from Germany aboard, three young people from Switzerland, a young female physician from Michigan, and the Handley-Goldstone crew.

Heather, Jed, Mark, and I arrived at the Baltra airport this morning to meet someone who would take us to the Sulidae. Baltra is an island just to the north of Santa Cruz. There were supposed to be other passengers arriving on the 0930 flight, but no one showed up. So they took us to the boat and we waited until almost 1400 for the others to arrive. While waiting, we had a fantastic lunch prepared by the ship’s cook. Once we were all aboard, we took off for Tortuga Negra. This is a mangrove bay on the north side of Santa Cruz. We went out in the panga to explore the mangroves and saw multiple Galapagos sharks, eagle rays, oyster catchers, herons, and marine turtles. When we returned to the boat, a snack of Brie, Vienna sausages, salami, and cut vegetables was waiting for us. We then went out for a snorkeling adventure where we saw spectacular fish even though the water was cloudy. Jed saw a two meter long shark and a large orange octopus, but the rest of us saw only the fish. After an hour in the water, we were all a little cold, so headed home. We arrived to find fresh popcorn and hot showers awaiting us.

Dinner was another wonderful venture and now everyone is on deck watching sea lions and sharks in the water. In fact, I think I should sign off for now so that I can enjoy the sights as well. Tomorrow we will go to two different locations to view marine and land iguanas, blue-footed and red-footed boobies, magnificent and great frigate birds, and loads of sea lions. We will snorkel once in the morning and once again in the afternoon. I’ll let you know tomorrow night what prizes we find.

060326 Day 160 Galapagos Tour Day 1–Tortuga Negra Bay, Santa Cruz