(Thanks to http://www.starfish.ch/scubadiving/map/Galapagos-map-farbig.htm for this map of the western shore landings on Isabela.)
The captain pulled up the anchor and headed out for Isabela at 7:30 p.m. He anticipated a 10- to 12-hour trip. Indeed, 12 hours was the final tally, cruising at about 8 knots through the night.
Shaped like a seahorse at the western edge of the archipelago, Isabela stretches about 70 miles from north to south, covering about 1800 square miles. It arose from the joining of 6 volcanos: (from south to north) Cerro Azul, Sierra Negra, Alcedo, Darwin, Wolf, and Ecuador. All except Volcán Ecuador are still active, with eruptions in the last 50 years from all but Volcán Darwin. As one of the youngest islands, its vast stretches of lava haven’t yet developed the nutrients needed to support the variety of vegetation found on the older, more easterly islands.
Tuesday, May 14, morning
I showered and headed out of the cabin at 5:45 a.m., just as the huge pot of coffee’s Ready light flashed on. The Mary Anne had delicious, rich coffee, which I enhanced with a couple of small spoonfuls of Ecuadorian cocoa (which helps to take away from the rather empty taste of the thin milk). My mug of coffee and I headed out to the fantail, to join Zell and another fellow Coloradan to watch the day dawn. The boat was still motoring to our morning anchorage—Puenta Moreno. Isabela lay to the east (photos on left and right); Fernandina, to the west emerging from the thin marine layer like Brigadoon (below). I just sat at the side of the boat, soaking in the peace and beauty and watching as seabirds began their commutes low across the water, looking for breakfast as they flew. Perhaps as close to heaven on earth as I’ll ever be.
Continued on p. 2; click below.