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Tuesday, March 14, 2017: Good morning, Galápagos! Here's beautiful Elizabeth Bay with Largo Island (left) and Tabanera Island (right).
We had signed up for the 8:00 zodiac tour of the bay ...
... and Monica checked us out for our tour as usual.
We passed Tabanera Island on our way to ...
... a small rocky outcropping covered with birds.
Here's a Galápagos penguin standing next to a juvenile blue-footed booby, whose feet haven't changed to bright blue yet.
These are flightless cormorants.
Of course, the rock was covered with Sally Lightfoot crabs too.
Let's look at that adorable penguin again.
Here's a better look at the juvenile blue-footed booby's non-blue feet.
This is how close we were to the rock.
Across the bay, a Galápagos brown pelican was perched on a mangrove.
A penguin, one of many, swam in the water near us.
We headed further back into the mangroves ...
... and we spotted these golden rays swimming alongside the boat.
The water was really clear so it was easy to see Pacific green turtles swimming below too.
We saw a white-tipped reef shark at the base of the mangroves.
Now let's just admire the scenery.
So pretty.
This was about as far as we went before turning around to head back.
We passed another group on our way.
We saw lots of Pacific green turtles, but it was still a thrill each time we spotted one.
Here's the mangrove foliage up close.
Did we mention how clear the water was?
Yep, it's another turtle and we were having a great time snapping pictures of him.
Here comes a sea lion straight for us!
Flighless cormorants may not be able to fly, but they're great at swimming.
Here is a gull of some sort. Possibly a Franklin's gull but the beak isn't quite the right color.
Here's a penguin.
He's making his move.
He's gone!
He's back!
Let's go check out these pelicans.
Here's one ...
... and here's another.
This is the closest we had come to seeing actual blue feet on a blue-footed booby and we couldn't be more excited. Little did we know that we would end up seeing dozens up close by the end of the week.
Will got out his camera to photograph the booby too.
We went back to the rocks where we had started our tour. This time, we found a trio of blue-footed boobies including one adult and two juveniles. Those feet really are blue. So cool.
There's Tabanera Island again ...
... and Largo Island.
After an hour and a half, it was time to return to the ship so the next wave of passengers could enjoy the same tour.
Back on board, we were treated to ice cold Diet Coke, banana bread, and a delicious pastry. This is the life.
Frank and Other Debbie had told us that they were signed up for the 10:00 AM bridge tour. Since we had the time, we signed up for it too at the last minute and were happy to find that there was room for us.
We met at the cruise director's desk and were escorted upstairs to the bridge.
Luis introduced himself and gave us a tour. John and Vera also joined us for the tour.
This radar display showed the position and heading of all ships in the area.
This odd thing is a clear view screen. When the windows are frozen over, this heats up and provides a view outside.
There's part of the command center.
Other Debbie got a picture of her husband in the captain's chair. Wherever he's pointing, we should go there.
There's the communications station, complete with a set of flags up top.
Tom loved the chart table.
This chart shows depth in meters and the mangroves that we toured in the morning. You can see Largo and Tabanera Island near the lower left of center.
This is a marked-up chart of the Galápagos.
This display shows heading, course, speed, and roll.
This is the watertight door status board.
The magnetic compass is on top of the bridge to make sure it is not affected by the electronic instruments in the bridge. To read it, you have to look through a periscope mounted on the ceiling.
Let's take a look.
This shows the distances between the various ports in the Galápagos. Our 7-day cruise itinerary (referred to as the Inner Loop) is listed as Crucero 2. Our tour ended after 45 minutes, so we headed back to our cabin to rest up until ...
... lunch at the Beagle Grill again!
It was extremely pleasant hanging out in the shade for lunch ...
... with this beautiful scenery passing by on the port side as we left Elizabeth Bay.
Even though we only ate lunch in the main restaurant once, the Beagle Grill featured the same dessert selection as in the restaurant. So we skipped the Italian-themed lunch but still got delicious tiramisu as a treat.
After a couple of days with no internet, we tried to use the wifi on the ship. It was slower than dialup even though almost no one else was in the lounge trying to use it. Downloading a couple of days of personal mail took over an hour.
Back in the room, we could see a raincloud over the island of Fernandina.
It was still looking dark as we arrived in Tagus Cove around 2:30.
Speaking of Tagus Cove, there it is.
Down came the zodiacs, ...
... and a half-hour later, we were ready for our next excursion.
It was raining as we departed, but it only lasted for 10 minutes. Martha (pronounced Marta) was our naturalist for the snorkel excursion.
We headed to the far side of Tagus Cove.
Here we are approaching the rocks, ...
... which were covered with crabs and sleepy marine iguanas.
By 3:15, we were in the water. This was our first deep-water snorkel, so we jumped into the water from the boat.
As always, there's the bullseye puffer, swimming alone.
This turned out to be the snorkeling site where we snorkeled with lots of turtles. Here's the first Pacific green turtle we saw.
Here's another.
This green and red algae was colorful.
This area was known for having numerous harlequin wrasse, with distinctive black/orange or white/orange markings.
Here's another hogfish.
Seeing a sea lion is always fun.
Here's a spotted porcupinefish.
Another Pacific green turtle, ...
... and another, ...
... and one more.
We were called back to the boat after a half hour, ...
... then headed back to the ship. The sun was starting to come out over our next destination.
We got back on the ship, rinsed our snorkel gear, washed our swimsuits and ourselves, ...
... and were back up on deck in 25 minutes. By now, the sun was out everywhere.
Ten minutes later, we were on a zodiac with Orlando on our way to a two-mile "fast-paced fitness walk."
The hills surrounding Tagus Cove have long been used by sailors to carve the date and the name of their ship into the rocks.
It's a little sad to see, ...
... but the dates are all pretty old so at least new graffiti isn't being added.
There's more graffiti at the landing site in Tagus Cove.
It was a dry landing onto a docking area carved into the rock, which can make it a little tricky depending on how high the waves were.
Debbie got a picture ...
... of fellow passengers posing by a friendly sea lion.
The picture is much better with just the sea lion in it.
A great blue heron stood off to one side.
At 4:40, we started up the stairs and trail.
Four minutes later, Orlando mercifully granted us a short stop to rest.
Then we were off again.
Ten minutes after we started our walk, we arrived at an overlook of Darwin Lake. This was as far as the people who took the short walk option went.
We spotted a small tree finch ...
... near its nest, ...
... and a spot-winged dragonfly.
At the next overlook, Orlando took photos of everyone who wanted proof that they had made it this far.
We made it and we have proof. That's Tagus Cove and our ship in the background.
Orlando spotted a land iguana in the brush and was very excited for us.
It was the only one spotted on the island during our visit, and it was the first one we had seen on the trip.
Lava lizards don't always hang out on lava. Trees are nice too.
The ground plants were very lush this time of year, since the rainy season had begun. Our guides remarked on how green it was now.
A half hour after we started, we were pretty far up.
Forty minutes in, we were in view of the top. At this point, Debbie was dehydrated, exhausted, and done.
She made it to the top but was too exhausted to look around, ...
... so Tom took this photo ...
... and this one.
After a rest, some water, and a wet washcloth from Frank, the trip back down the mountain went much better.
Going down is much easier than going up, ...
... and we were back to the boat in 20 minutes.
Our friend, the great blue heron was now sunning himself.
By 6:00, we were back on the zodiac for a short tour of the rocks where we had snorkeled earlier.
Here's a flightless cormorant.
There's a cool natural cave.
Pretty rocks.
Sleepy sea lion.
It's an iguana pile-up.
Oh, the pathos! A flightless cormorant stands stoically as a booby flies by.
Here's the same flightless cormorant in better lighting ...
... and here's a blue-footed booby. Yes, those feet really are that color in real life.
Here's a handsome marine iguana.
As we entered this little cove, ...
... a sea lion splashed playfully around our boat.
Frank was ready with his camera too.
Orlando was thrilled that we were having such a great experience. One thing that was especially great about our naturalists is that they were genuinely excited about everything they spotted for us.
A man ...
... and his ship.
When we returned, there were beef empanadas, fruit, and strawberry juice waiting for us. By 7:00, we were showered and holding the drink of the day, a Blue-Footed Booby. It was tasty.
Sunset between Fernandina (left) and Isabela (right) was perfect.
It was time for our nightly briefing and a recap of where we had been ...
... and where we were going. We would start on Santiago Island in the morning, ...
... then snorkel and hike on Bartolome Island in the afternoon.
The naturalists came out to get our excursion selections, ...
... then it was time for dinner. We had dinner with Third Debbie and Mike and had delicious filets for dinner. Debbie was still feeling poorly from our hike so we skipped dessert to rest for a bit.
After dinner, we went up to the lounge to see what the Crossing the Equator party was all about.
Other than John and Vera dancing, there weren't any festivities yet, so we went out to do some stargazing instead. Word the next day was that there was a party eventually, and we saw pictures to prove it, but we sure weren't there.
The moon was still close to full and Jupiter was overhead above it.

Wes and Mary Anne joined us on deck as we searched for the Southern Cross and the False Cross in the southern hemisphere.

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