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Badger

Badger
In Greenland

Iron Bark

Iron Bark
Under full sail

Fantail

Fantail
At Russell Boating Club's Tall Ships Regatta

Annie Hill

Annie Hill
Photo credit: Alvah Simon

Blue Water Medal

Blue Water Medal
Blue Water Medal

Books By Annie Hill

  • Brazil and Beyond
  • Voyaging on a Small Income

About Me

12 March, 2007






When we got down to Villamil, we went to visit the tortoise sanctuary. A winding boardwalk took us through a mangrove swamp where shocking pink flamingos were feeding. Iguanas lolled at the entrance, piled up in sociable heaps. Birds and butterflies flew around. The sanctuary itself was fascinating and provided a pleasant home for the giant animals. They lumbered happily about among the trees, munching blissfully on the fresh vegetables put out for them and dozing in the sun. The babies were stacked in racks, several layers deep, staggered to catch the sun. Their little cages had water bowls and had just been filled with fresh lettuces. As soon as they were large enough, they would be put into pens and in due course, some would be released to the wild. It was sad to think that all this was necessary, but reassuring to see that it was happening. The real danger for the Galápagos is that they are vulnerable to politicians’ decisions. More than a few Ecuadorians feel that they should be allowed to go and farm the islands; tourist companies would like to expand their operations; people already there want to enlarge their farms and other businesses. I think that it’s fair to say that the best thing that can happen to the Galápagos is to have a strong, well-regulated eco-tourism industry that brings in a lot of hard currency. No animals = no tourists; many animals = many tourists. You don’t have to be an Einstein to work this one out. Many of the islands are off limits unless you have permission to visit; some are completely off limits. The kudos of visiting the former is a reason to keep the situation as it is. We can only hope that the Ecuadorian government does not bow to pressure to ignore the fate of the indigenous flora and fauna.
We left Isabela on 20th May, sailing along the island for a while, enjoying the scenery and wildlife, which included some beautiful rays. Then we headed off in a SW direction, towards Mangareva in the Gambier Is. We had decided to go there, rather than the more usual Marquesas, for a number of reasons. It was more off the beaten track and Trevor had never been there. Trevor was worried about the no-nos in the Marquesas – tiny insects that bite savagely. Having seen what happens to me when I’ve been bitten by blackflies and mosquitoes, I don’t think he could face the thought of an Annie ravaged by no-nos and needing sympathy! It was a difficult decision for me to make, having heard so much about the spectacular beauty of the Marquesas. We had a superb cruising guide for the Marquesas, but lacked even adequate charts for Mangareva. However, we did have Warwick Clay’s South Pacific Anchorages and could print out charts from my laptop via an old copy of C-map, so we lent our Marquesan cruising guide to friends and set off southwest.
Our luck had turned: we left the Enchanted Islands on the back of a fair wind that stayed with us until the day we arrived at Îles Gambier. Day after day, it drove us steadily along, with records days’ runs and over 2000 miles sailed in the first fortnight. Occasionally we would have to reef the mainsail; quite often Iron Bark wore her topsail, but our hopes of a record passage died with the wind in the final few days of our passage.

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