May 10/10 0800 JST / 1700 local
00°44'S, 90°18'W (Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos)
We've been waiting for the parts we dispatched 11 days ago from Tokyo to make it to Saito-san. We've also had a few rather broken Iridium calls with him as we attempted to confirm progress in attending to equipment, sail, and hydraulic steering repairs.
Following a three-day delay in customs, Saito-san happily reported that the two hydraulic cylinders arrived today, and are expected to be fitted on Monday. If all goes well, he expects to leave the Galápagos on Tuesday afternoon, re-starting his final leg to Japan.
Our great thanks to Ricardo Arenas for his valuable assistance with Ecuadoran customs.
In the meantime, Ricardo also arranged repairs to the aux. generator (including replacing a faulty thermostat), and Saito-san hand-stitched the torn batten pocket on the mainsail. He also added 800 liters of diesel to the ship's tanks, and 8 liters to the hydraulic fluid supply.
To our own delight, through the kind digital help of Yvonne Mortola, we were able to receive some shots Saito-san snapped while on a brief field trip to Darwin Station. This is a working field research center of the non-profit Charles Darwin Foundation.
Saito-san made the visit, partly at our urging, though had warned us that the best wildlife pictures are to be found on other islands, in their natural state. Darwin Station is not a zoo, thus there are no exhibits per se, and -- while it's a mandatory tourist site touted by travel web sites -- apparently you may have to be a pith-helmeted wildlife researcher to get very excited about the penned-up specimens there.
Still, Saito-san... How often do you get to see hundred-year-old, 500-lb ANYTHING frolic like these two apparently love-struck Galapagos tortoises?!
Slow-motion combat or ménage à tortoise?
Hmm, no blushing evident
Galapagos Marine Iguana -- a unique species found only on these islands
Back on the boat, a Galapagos Sea Lion comes calling