When any yacht is cruising throughout the galapagos it is mandatory to have a Park approved Naturalist stay onboard the yacht for the entire trip! The naturalist is responsible for ensuring that we follow all of the rules and regulations of the park. They also serve as a cruising guide sharing all of their knowledge of the islands and wildlife. As you can imagine, bringing a stranger onboard in close quarters can have a huge impact on the trip. We lucked out with Jason on all fronts! He was a pleasure to have aboard. His enthusiasm with his job and the Galapagos Islands was a major factor in shaping our trip into what it was. He reluctantly accepted the fact that well all called the seal lions seals. He didn’t mind that we thought his name was Jeremy up the the end! He managed to stay somewhat quite when we pushed the limits on where to anchor. He madde sure to remind as countless times to stay “two meters” away from the animals! In hind sight, were not sure if he protected us from the animals, or the animals from us! Regardless, we couldn’t have asked for a better guide. Thanks Jason!
Warbird carries two inflable RIB tenders on the bow. The smaller one is a 14ft AB inflatable. The larger one is called “Sealegs.” This vessel is equipped with three wheels that can be hydraulically lowered and used to “drive” the boat onshore. Sealegs is 21ft overall and has an aluminum hull and keel making it a heavy boat that handles seas well. (2800 lbs) These tenders are critical pieces of equipment on long range expeditions. They serve as the link that allow us to depart Wabrid and get ashore.
Every bit as important as the tenders are the crane, (davit) that lower the tenders from the bow to the water. A crane failure can leave us unable to access the shore entirely without swimming! Knowing the important role the davit would play in this trip we had it completely rebuilt before departing Fort Lauderdale. Once would think it should be good to go, right? Wel,l a few days into the trip the davit suffered an electrical casualty. It was still operational, but only by using the back up valves located in the base. Seveal repair attempts were not successful and we determined the controller or electric valves had failed. We made the decision that the davit should be used as little as possible and we would tow the Sealegs behind Warbird. We quickly made up a make shift tow bridle and away we went. The Sealegs ended up towing extremely well even in choppy conditions. We found it usefull to send ahead to scout out uncharted anchorages
It was the last dive of the trip. Up until now the diving had been completely next level. We had experienced the depths, currents, and sea life that make the Galapagos a top diving destination in the world. At this point in the trip I think all of the divers had logged dozens of dives and were ready to complete the final dive. When we were gearing up in the dive boat a joke was made about the possibility of seeing a whale shark. It was the only creature that we didn’t encounter during the trip. We were told ahead of time not to expect to see one due to the time of year. They usually pass thorough the Galapagos in late May early June.
Next, we rolled backwards off the dive boat and deceded to the deep one last time. Once on the bottom everybody began the process of gear checks and boyancy adjustments. By now we were trained that when the dive leader sounded the underwater noise maker the there was something interesting swimming by. Everybody probably thought it was another ray, turtle, or hammerhead shark, gracing us with there presence. When we turned around, it was apparent that our dive leader Pati was overwhelmed with excitment! She began to swim towards a shadow that was bigger than a school bus. Slowly the giant creature came close and into view. These whale sharks are massive!!! It gently and quietly swam in front of all of us giving a full view from the side. Words cannot explain how unique of an experience it is to get up close and personal with this fish.
Once the whale shark swam into the blue we all continued on our final dive. Even without this amazing sighting, the dive was phenomenal an all levels. Once on the surface we all shared in the realization of how blessed we all were to have shared this adventure!!!
By Captain John
So the Warbrird Galapagos adventure has come to an end. The guests have returned home to their normal lives and the boat is on the long voyage back to Fort Lauderdale. Sometimes in life we will build up anticapation for a trip or event only to find in the end it did not live up to our expectations. I can say on behalf of all involved that this was not the case. All of the natural beauty of the landscapes and wildlife was truly spectacular. The diving was world class and the shore excursions diverse. I was hoping to share the adventure on this blog throughout the trip as we cruised. Unfortunately, due to lack of internet that became impossible. Over the next few days and weeks I will try my best to share with all, a glimpses into our unforgettable expedition.