Saturday, December 2, 2006

M/Y Reina Silvia

At 7:30 I’m transferred to the airport by pick-up, mini-ferry and bus. Pausing along the way for a quick look down one of the pretty deep Gemelos sinkholes. The plane bringing in the other guests is late, but Victor, the main guide, looses no time rounding up everybody and organizing the move to Baltra’s harbor. There, the Gobierno Provincial De Galapagos lets us through without a word and we jump onboard a zodiac for the short ride to the M/Y Reina Silvia, our live-aboard for the next two weeks. We are fifteen tourists on this trip: nine German, one Polish and four Swiss divers, besides yours truly. To take care we get around, get fed, get to see a lot without getting lost above or under water and return happy are ten crew members: captain, first & second mate, cook & assistant, waiter/barman, engineer & assistant, deck-hand and two guides.

Being alone, I get to share a compact cabin with Piotr, a sympathetic Polish guy, who’s also appointed as my dive buddy on this trip.

After a three-course lunch, we’re thoroughly briefed about everything, prepare our gear, suit up and step into the 24°C water directly from the stern of the ship, by now anchored between the two small Plaza islands, on Santa Cruz’s east coast. Just for a short check dive, to get wet and make sure everything is working and we’re properly weighted. In my case that means 6kg of lead, in addition to my 4kg stainless-steel backplate! But then, I’m wearing a very buoyant double 7mm wetsuit.

 M/Y Reina Silvia at Plazas
We dive along a shallow coastal edge with sandy bottom. Viz is poor, about 10m. There’re some fish around, but nothing too interesting except for two turtles and a stingray. The sea-lions all seem to be sleeping on shore.

 Sea-lion puppy with its mommy
Shortly after the dive we do a quick walk-about on Plaza sur, the same place I visited two days ago. So I get to see the sea-lions again anyway :o)

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