Visiting Isla Santa Cruz in the Galápagos Archipelago

Fixing the Fouled Prop

Soon after the first big diving session, David decided to rent dive gear so he could unfoul the prop faster (without having to hold his breath the whole time). Both David and Marcie are certified scuba divers, and in fact they have scuba gear on the boat including air tanks. Unfortunately the air tanks are empty, and there is a logistical problem in getting them refilled. Due to the tanks' age, they need to be recertified before they can be refilled. In the States this would be a routine procedure, but there aren't many places that recertify air tanks in Ecuador—perhaps in Guayaquil, but lugging heavy air tanks back and forth on the bus would have its own set of problems. At this point, it's easier to rent equipment.

In the morning, we rode the water taxi ashore and split up. Marcie and David went to check out dive shops, while I walked around and took pictures. The Galápagos are a popular destination for sport divers, so there are several dive shops on the island. After checking them out, David and Marcie rented some gear and an air tank.

Back on the boat, David suited-up in his wetsuit, donned his gear, and resumed unfouling the prop. Although progress was much faster than the first session it was still a difficult and tedious job. He was using the saw blade on his Leatherman tool to saw away at the line, especially the lumps of line where the heat of friction had fused them together. At one point, the tether to his Leatherman came undone and the tool dropped to the bottom in 20-feet of water. Luckily he managed to recover it.

David used up a whole tank of air but there was more work to be done, so he and Marcie went back into town to get another tank of air. He used up the second tank of air, too, but they decided to wait a couple of days before finishing the job since it was so tiring and time-consuming. Instead, we decided to do touristy things for a few days.

A few days later, Marcie and David went ashore to rent dive gear again. When they got back, David suited-up and finished the repairs to the prop, at least until permanent repairs can be effected at a mainland marina. There was a slight mishap when David lost the weight belt that scuba divers wear to reduce their buoyancy. David is a skinny guy, and while he was working, the weight belt slid down over his hips and dropped into the depths. Unfortunately, underwater visibility was poor due to choppy waves stirring up the bottom, so he wasn't able to find the belt. The next day he again tried to find the weight belt but was unsuccessful. With the air tank empty, the search was abandoned. When he returned the dive gear he had to pay a "lost equipment" fee—just one more cost of cruising.

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