Visiting Isla Isabela in the Galápagos Archipelago

Cruising Lifestyle

Our next-door neighbor in the anchorage (before we moved Nine of Cups closer to shore). In the background you can see the tanker that was delivering fuel to the island.   The neighboring boat and tanker at sunset.

Just as I did for the Isla Santa Cruz write-up, I'd like to present a few day's worth of mundane details so you can get a glimpse of our cruising lifestyle when we're not playing "tourist" and visiting shore-side attractions. If I only told you about the "touristy" part, you might think we spend every minute of our time engaged in fascinating adventures. But sometimes we don't do a damn thing (and it feels good!).

Thursday, April 15, 2004 (Day 18 in the Galápagos Archipelago)

This was a slow day as we recuperated from a very busy (and wet) day yesterday when we did the volcano tour on horseback.

Today is my mother's birthday and by tradition I call her to sing "Happy Birthday To You". I still want to attempt a call even though I am thousands of miles away on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean. Late in the day, David and I dinghied ashore so I could call Mom; we both planned to do email, too. Unfortunately, we had heard yesterday that the island's phone system was out-of-order, and guess what? It's still out-of-order. No telephone calls anywhere, and no email either (since it uses the same telecommunications system). We heard they were flying-in some engineers from the mainland to troubleshoot the problem.

When it's working, the usual way to make an international call is to go to the island's telecommunications building where they have a few phone booths and some computers for email. You wait in line, and when it's your turn, go to a booth and dial your call on an ordinary desk phone (the attendant tells you what prefix to dial for the U.S.). Meanwhile, the attendant's console keeps track of where you're calling and how long you talk. When you're done, you hang up and pay the attendant (66 cents per minute to the U.S.).

We walked all over town to check out internet and phone access but no joy, so we returned to Nine of Cups with our mission unfulfilled. We had a wet and bouncy dinghy ride due to the wind and strong swells. When we reached the boat, there were blotches of blood in the dink and I discovered that I had cut the bottom of my foot. Although it wasn't a serious cut, it was annoying because we usually go barefoot and it will be hard to keep a band-aid attached as I walk around on damp decks, do wet landings, etc. Then there's the risk of a potentially troublesome infection.

Instead of telephoning Mom I decided to send a birthday email, using the boat's amateur radio system and the Pactor modem. I used David's computer to compose the email and wrote out all the words to "Happy Birthday" as if I was singing it. David fired up the radio and did the Pactor transmission, which worked very well. Now that we have the high-speed software installed it was unbelievably fast for a high-frequency radio transmission. David used one of his favorite stations in Florida (or Louisiana?) and the message went through right away, zipping thousands of miles through the air. It's amazing to realize that the signal we transmit has about as much power as a 100-watt light bulb. Imagine somebody in Florida trying to see a 100-watt light bulb in the Galápagos—no way! Not only can the radios communicate at that distance, they can even send and receive email, and quickly and easily, too.

I subsequently received an email reply from my mother—the "Happy Birthday" wishes had arrived promptly and were much appreciated.

A couple of eccentric cruising boats in the anchorage. The boat in the foreground is obviously made of metal, but since the hull is unpainted it must be aluminum.   Another boat in the anchorage, this one a very handsome Ta Shing. In the full-size picture I could make out the name as Lillian B. hailing from Rockport, Maine. You can look them up on the internet.

Two more views of the anchorage, after we moved the boat.

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