" As if in a zombie trance, everyone around us started walking towards the edge of the harbour squinting through the sunshine to get a better look."
It’d been one of the highlights of our backpacking life. After hanging around the sketchy Ecuadorian capital for several days scoping out a last-minute deal for a Galapagos cruise (the best way to visit the archipelago by far), my boyfriend and I ended up compromising our budget to stump for an eight-day tour on the Darwin yacht, which a seemingly trustworthy travel agent recommended more highly than the Cruz del Sur, the vessel we were leaning towards choosing. From the gourmet food to the epic crew to the brilliant, naturalist-led tours of each otherworldly island we visited, the Darwin experience exceeded our greatest expectations.
At the end of our cruise, we decided to chill out for a few days with the marine iguanas on Isabella, an island we hadn’t visited on our tour that allows for independent travel. Rough seas had delayed our speedboat departure from Santa Cruz, the main island, and as we sat in Puerto Ayora harbor twiddling our thumbs, we noticed something odd.
As if in a zombie trance, everyone around us started walking towards the edge of the harbour, squinting through the sunshine to get a better look at a 75ft yacht that seemed to be listing heavily to one side.
“This doesn’t look ri…”
Tim didn’t even finish his sentence before the yacht suddenly flipped on to its other side, and then promptly on to its head, before sliding under the turquoise sea with a stomach turning gurgle.
Our harbourside gathering gasped in unison, and looked around nervously at each other wondering what on earth to do. Fortunately, the yacht’s 16 passengers were on a land excursion, and nobody was harmed. Word on the street had it that the engineer had stuffed up by pumping in the fuel too fast or something, and the uneven weight distribution had caused the flippage.
Having partaken in the same excursion to see the island’s resident giant tortoises the previous day, I felt sick in the knowledge that the guests would likely be dressed in little more than their swimwear, with all valuables apart from their cameras now floating around on the upturned yacht. It’s not well known that a small handful of yachts run into serious trouble in the Galapagos each year, and this was one of the primary reasons we ended up forking out a bit extra for the Darwin, which had an excellent safety record. It turned out to be one of the best decisions we’ve ever made, because I soon learned just how close we came to being one of those passengers. For the yacht at the bottom of the harbour was none other than the Cruz del Sur.
(Screen shot + video by Timmy Page)