The Galapagos islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed on either side of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean surrounding the centre of the Western Hemisphere, 906 km (563 mi) west of continental Ecuador. We met the owner of Southern Wind 100 Rapture who revealed us the secrets within one of the world’s wildest archipelagos!
How did your story with Southern Wind Shipyard began and how did that lead you to Southern Wind 100 Rapture? What do you think is special about her?
“I’ve always dreamt of sailing the Pacific and planning started in 2014. In fact we bought Rapture, a Southern Wind 100DS, in early 2015 specifically for this trip after having seen her moored in Antiqua the previous year. We knew she would make the perfect long distance cruising yacht that we needed.”
“She sails really well at most points of the wind, is light enough to sail in lighter airs but robust enough to tackle the great oceans of the world. You also cruise in the most magnificent comfort. She’s a perfectly balanced sailing yacht, her rig is not exceptionally tall but she will happily cruise at 10-12 knots all day with 15-20 knots of breeze and when the breeze picks up and we start hitting 15 knots she never feels out of control. The crew are very well catered for aft and the guest accommodation is luxurious. We carry a paddle board, two canoes, wake boards and water-skis, dive gear for four and the Rib sits neatly on the bow. In short, she is the perfect family sailing yacht. My daughters love the sun bathing area between the two cockpits, guests can sit comfortably away from all the ropes in the forward one whilst there’s plenty of space in the aft cockpit for those who relish sailing. She has proven to be a very popular charter yacht both in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, in the weeks that we are not using her.”
Which are the current boat plan?
“Rapture is currently in French Polynesia and available for charter. She will be heading down to New Zealand for Christmas and back in French Polynesia in Summer 2018.”
The Galapagos Islands bridge the equator in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles from mainland Ecuador. The 13 main islands and hundreds of other islets and volcanic rocks float on one of the most active volcanic regions in the world: why did you choose to visit them?
“To say that I’m a great naturalist would be stretching the truth, however, I’m a great fan of David Attenborough, especially his Galapagos series, as are the entire family. I hadn’t quite appreciated what a completely unique and special experience we were in for by taking our own yacht to Galapagos. Yes, it costs in terms of permits, engaging an agent to organize everything and having a guide on board throughout, but if you can do it, it’s an absolute life time must.”
“The Galapagos is a very remote place; some 600 miles from Ecuador and has a ‘far side of the world’ feel. The Islands are all very different and mostly uninhabited. Having a guide on board is extraordinary, and we were lucky to have the very knowledgeable Sofia. She enthused about the history and geology of the Islands as well as the various unique species that we met. There was no question she couldn’t answer! It was also really heartening to learn about how much care is being taken so that Galapagos isn’t spoilt and we’ve all certainly come home thinking more about the environment and our impact on it.”
To your better opinion, which is the best moment to visit the Archipelago and why?
“We’d been recommended to visit in April or May as these are the driest months, the sea is still very warm and the winds are settled. We were very lucky with the weather, we had blue skies most days and although it was very warm, the islands straddle the equator, we had a steady breeze which helped to reduce the temperature.”
The entire archipelago was declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 1978 (islands) and in 2001 (Marine Reserve). Are there any restrictions to access this area by boat?
“We visited the islands of Mosquera, Chinese Hat, Santiago, North Seymour, Santa Cruz, South Plaza, Santa Fe, San Salvador, Espanola and Floreanna. The plan is agreed with the park authorities and this means that you get the area to yourself during your designated time, but we were never rushed or felt that someone was moving us on and we had plenty of time for snorkeling and relaxing in between our visits.”
“The Archipelago is now a national park and so is a protected area. You need to plan ahead and get yourself a good agent to help with the entry procedure. You will need a guide and work up a rough itinerary beforehand. Don’t rush it, you need about 10-14 days to get around the area. The anchorages are generally very well protected, very quiet and we were often by ourselves in most of the places we visited.”
The islands are known for their vast number of endemic species and were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle contributed to the inception of Darwin’s theory. What are the animal and vegetable species that attracted you most?
“Visiting the Galapagos is a once in a lifetime opportunity, you feel like an explorer. You see so many unique creatures like the blue footed boobies, the marine and land iguanas and the giant tortoises. In fact, having warned the family that we were unlikely to see everything that David Attenborough saw, we were proved totally wrong! We saw pretty much everything in the Galapagos series, really close up. The highlight for me was swimming with a whole family of sea lions who were so curious that they come right up to your mask and then seeing a Galapagos penguin swim by.”
Would you list the Top 5 places not to be missed in the Galapagos (islands, villages, bays, restaurants, activities)?
“Five places not to miss if you get the opportunity to visit: Batholome Island off San Salvador – where the famous scene from Master and Commander was filmed. Espanola island to see the mating Albatross. The Sea Lions off Santa Maria and North Seymour. The Hammerhead sharks south of Plaza Island. Visiting the Darwin Centre and Tortoises on Santa Cruz.”