January 4th, 2007 10:00 pm
"Latitude 0 Longitude 91, please dial zero".
The passengers of the m/v Galapagos Legend were just puzzled by this weird intercommunication as they were ready to dive into bed.
Only one group was activated by what sounded like a code. People who had no better to do at 00.30 am. No quiet sleeping at their cabin, but confluence hunting.
Cruise Director Yvette Hauser just agreed with Captain Cesar Arcos to wake them up 10 minutes before the ship crossed an imaginary point on her way to the circumnavigation of the "Seahorse head", the North part of the Isabela Island in the Galapagos.
So that night, while the passengers on board were lulled by the waves, someone knocked at the door of our cabin. We swiftly climbed the stairs to the bridge, just in time to take pictures of the GPS. Thanks to the kindness of Captain Cesar the vessel passed within 50m from the confluence. The feeble light of the bridge let us see the charming (and useful) view of the sea in front of the boat, but prevented us to shoot a good picture showing the zero reading on GPS. So the final one is more than 1 km away.
Despite the clear sky and the favorable moon light (3 days after full moon) the trials to make a picture of main land from the confluence came to nothing.
So here is the view of the same Wolf volcano taken in the crystal morning light from 60 km SE (from the vessel out of Egas port in San Salvador Island, two days after) instead of 38 km E, from the confluence.
Being not able to describe the land from 0N 91W, I leave the words to some previous qualified visitors of the island.
28 - 29th September
“Albemarle (Isabela) Island is a singular mass of volcanic ejections. Six volcanoes have there raised their summits from two to four thousand feet above the ocean, and from them immense quantities of lava have from time to time flowed towards the sea; so that this island, large as it is, may be literally described by saying that it consists of six huge craters, whose bases are united by their own overflowed lava.
…we continued our examination of this unearthly shore. Passing a low projecting point, our eyes and imagination were engrossed by the strange wildness of the view; for in such a place Vulcan might have worked. Amidst the most confusedly heaped masses of lava, black and barren, as if hardly yet cooled, innumerable craters (or fumeroles) showed their very regular, even artificial looking heaps. It was like immense iron works, on a Cyclopian scale!...”
From “Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle between the years 1826 and 1836”
Robert FitzRoy, Captain and Surveyor
“Albemarle Island is as it were the mainland of the Archipelago; it is about 75 miles long & several broad; is composed of 6 or 7 great Volcanic Mounds from 2 to 3000 ft. high, joined by low land formed of Lava & other Volcanic substances. Since leaving the last Island, owing to the small quantity of water on board, only half allowance of water has been served out (i.e. ½ a Gallon for cooking & all purposes). This under the line with a Vertical sun is a sad drawback to the few comforts which a Ship possesses. From different accounts, we had hoped to have found water here. To our disappointment the little pits in the Sandstone contained scarcely a Gallon & that not good. It was however sufficient to draw together all the little birds in the country; Doves & Finches swarmed round its margin (this is Darwin's sole reference to a finch in his Diary)…. To the South of the Cove I found a most beautiful Crater, elliptic in form, less than a mile in its longer axis & about 500 feet deep. Its bottom was occupied by a lake, out of which a tiny Crater formed an Island. The day was overpoweringly hot; & the lake looked blue & clear. I hurried down the cindery side, choked with dust, to my disgust on tasting the water found it Salt as brine. … We here have another large Reptile in great numbers; it is a great Lizard, from 10-15 lb. in weight & 2-4 feet in length; is in structure closely allied to those “imps of darkness” which frequent the sea-shore. This one inhabits burrows to which it hurries when frightened, with quick & clumsy gait. They have a ridge & spines along the back; are colored an orange yellow, with the hinder part of back brick red. They are hideous animals; but are considered good food: this day forty were collected.”
From Charles Darwin's Diary of the Voyage of H.M.S. “Beagle”
So many thanks again to Captain Cesar Arcos and Yvette Hauser for not having raised too many questions after our strange request and especially for their kind contribution to this wonderful cruise.
If you want to know more about Galapagos, the Lonesome George, turtles and boobies, it is plentiful of sites (i.e. Galapagos.org); I suggest the interesting report of a combined trip to the archipelago and the chase of the April 2005 total eclipse in mreclipse.ir or 2005 Eclipse report at Galapagos