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Monday, June 15, 2009

Baby Boobies

Today we went ashore and took the advertised, two and a half hour, "easy" hike around the east end of the island where the boobies nest. Sure enough the blue-footed boobies were just beginning to get it together with a few sitting on eggs, and the masked boobies had chicks of all sizes. We've seen the latter out on the ocean before and it was thrilling to be able to see them up close and personal on land. They are an impressive size with beautiful black markings on otherwise white bodies. Both kinds were nesting right next to, or sometimes in the middle of, the walking trail and we had to carefully make our way around them. As John says, they're not fearless, just dumb as posts. There are also supposed to be albatross at that end of the island, but we saw no sign of those. John saw two rats and there were lots of empty small bird nests in the low trees. It was nice to get off the boat and stretch our legs.

We got back to the ranger building right after the four daily tour boats had disgorged their passengers, and the ranger was upset with us for letting the tour guides see us returning from the hike by ourselves. She wants us to go in to hike at 7 AM so that we're finished and on the boat before the tourists arrive. I may go in tomorrow to hike the west end where the frigates and tropic birds nest, but John said his legs were noodles and he will probably pass up that longer, more difficult trail. Plus the ranger said no one is taking that hike at the moment because there aren't any babies yet (and everyone wants to see blue-footed boobies!).

Oh, we put the mainsail up today to take a look at the patch and when we were flaking it John pulled back on it too hard and put another tear in it! It's the pulling from mast to the aft edge that we can't do - the sail is too UV damaged to take stress in that direction. But the normal stress from sailing is vertical not horizontal, so we'll see how it holds up getting to the Galapagos. If there's any failure on that passage, we can still get back to Bahia. Once we get into the downwind sailing to the Marquesas John feels the sail will be fine, and we'll have a new one shipped to us there before we leave for Hawaii. At least that's the plan today!

Water temperature has dropped again, down to 76 degrees, and the sky is 95% overcast with a cool breeze so I'm not sure we'll get any snorkeling with the sea turtles in before we have to leave. They continue to make regular passes by Nakia and we can see them well in the clear water. There's a young woman from Paraguay here for a week to study their numbers and then she's off to Uruguay for more of the same. She asked me how much we had to pay and concurred that even she was getting charged double for things because the locals viewed her as a tourist. She agreed that it was too bad that the money was going into people's pockets instead of going to the parks.

Ziggy has been ecstatic by our unscheduled stop, running around and acting like a crazy kitty yesterday. I'm sure he had a lot of pent up energy to expend, but I keep telling him he's going to love watching the sea lions in the Galapagos. (What I don't tell him is the month at sea that comes after that!)

Linda and John