Warbird had been out at sea away from a dock since departing Panama a few weeks prior . During this time the boat never shuts down. We are constantly on the move with machinery running 24 hours a day. This includes generating our own power, making fresh water from sea water, treating all gray water and sewage, and cleaning and polishing fuel. Due to the length of the trip we needed to complete maintenance work in between Galapagos diving and hiking . Below you will see Haggy and Captain John in the engine room completing oil changes on the generator and engines. Warbird carries 120 gallons of clean oil in a tank and has the capacity to hold 120 gallons go dirty oil in a separate tank. This allows us to perform several oil changes on long trips without the need to top up. All oil is changed through a series of valves and pumps that are plumbed directly to the machinery. This particular day we also replaced all primary and secondary fuel filters, installed new generator raw water pumps, and cleaned AC strainers. Warbird is like a mini city that never sleeps!
Who say’s owners don’t get their hands dirty!
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
Sealegs going from sea to land!
“Sealegs” in tow behind Warbird!!
Wabird’s davit extended and holding up our anchor ball
To our surprise, after our final tow of the trip we found the shackle that connects the tow bridle to the Sealegs had sheared its pin. We are in disbelief on how we didn’t lose the boat!!! At the end of the final tow we found the tow bridle hanging down into the water disconnected!! I guess you have to win every once in awhile!
Captain John holding the shackle in question!
Ricky woke up in the morning to find flying fish had flown to their death into the Sealegs!
The davit being used to dry wetsuits after a day of diving.
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!!!
The biggest creature we encountered!
Dive Guide Pate getting up close and personal with our new friend. This pic only begins to show the relative size of the beast! (The “stuff” hanging from his tail are actually remora fish that tag along for a free ride!)
Captain John after the whale shark sighting! (luckily Haggy talked him into the final dive!)
Haggy hanging out with the marine iguana at Cabo Douglas.
Kate and Josh are enjoying one of the many early morning hikes though out the trip!
This is a overhead shot of Sombrero Chino, (Chinese Hat)
This shot is looking out over our first anchorage at Isla Bartholomew. Look closely and you will see Warbird!
Shore party out with our Naturalist” Jason. (more on him later)
Crew member Taylor enjoying the view!
Warbird anchored at sunrise!
Early morning brief of the days plan!
Kate is riding though the Elephant Arch at Wolf Island!
Haggy is trailblazing through the Mangroves leading the group!
Chef Lise taking a break from the galley to head ashore!
Maybe this one should have stayed on the cutting room floor!
Everybody on the trip is in the process of sharing photos and videos so we can compile the best of the best. Here are some early ones that stayed off the cutting room floor!
Warbird Anchored at sunrise.
Galapagos turtle floating by.
Everybody love “Boobies!” (Blue footed boobies)
Warbird anchored off Wolf Island
One of the many hammerhead sharks divers and snorkelers encountered in the water. ( don’t worry, they ignore you!)
Don’t miss the small stuff!
Our dive at Cabo Douglas revealed the only marine iguana species in the world. Evolution at it’s finest!
When diving, eels could be found in most underwater cracks and crevices.
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.
It’s hard to say goodbye!
One of the shore hikes took us over a lava flow area. Looks like Josh might be having a bit of a bad day!
Ricky always has time for a selfie. I’m sure we will find this one on Instagram!
Most of our passages from island to island take place at night. The beautiful rock formations that we see in the day can look a bit more intimidating after the sun goes down. After departing from Cristobal we traveled 65 miles to our first destination. We arrived into the anchorage area around 1:00 AM. Everything looked fine on the radar and chart plotter as we made our final approach. As Warbird slowly began closing the distance to the island ahead, we energized the FLIR camera and spotlight to see what was ahead. We found rock formations that were just a few hundred yards off the bow that towered into the night sky. When our spotlight (aka: Photon torpedo) was energized the massive rocks seemed visually closer then they appeared on radar. It looked like we were viewing the surface of a far off planet. Needless to say, we all decided we were close enough and stopped the boat to anchor. Little did we know this was just a taste of what lied ahead!
Isla Bartolomew at night.
Daytime arrival into Wolf Island!
By Captain Bob
The Galápagos is one of the few places on our planet that is not all about man. Here, all the regulations favor the “Endemic species”. The native animal residents of this land and sea park are protected in every possible way. The Park is protected from illegal fishing by a coastal patrol. All the resident fishermen, guides and residents are active lookouts for any activity deemed illegal to the Park.
Lookout shacks at mountain top locations report vessels approaching or landing on restricted areas. Special permits have to be obtained to go anywhere within the Park.
Movement by water is highly controlled. Private vessels cannot deploy their tenders and move around without authorization and a guide. All swimming and diving has to be supervised by dive boat operations utilizing authorized guides and naturalists.
The first thing you are cautioned about is to initiate no contact with any animals. They may touch you, but you cannot touch them.
Red Footed “Boobie”
Blue Footed Boobies
Most diving in the Galapagos is considered advanced due to the depths, currents, and temperatures. Before the guests completed even one dive, all gear was prepped and inspected for proper operation. Here is Jim with our local instuctor Pati reviewing a new full face mask that jim will use on his dives