Following the safe passage through the Panama Canal, the yachts participating in the inaugural Oyster World Rally have now sailed more than 3000 miles and are presently 900 miles into the Pacific Ocean. The Oyster fleet has regrouped in the fabulous yacht charter destination – the Galapagos Islands.
Situated in the Pacific Ocean 500 nautical miles from the South American continent, the archipelago of 19 islands and the surrounding marine reserve is a showcase of evolution. The Galapagos are a melting pot of marine species. On going seismic and volcanic activity coupled with the extreme isolation of the islands, has led to the development of unusual animal life such as the land iguana and the giant tortoise, which inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.
From Switzerland, Lukas Schiesser is taking part in the Oyster World Rally with his family onboard the Oyster 54 sailing yacht In Flagranti. “It has been my dream for years to dive with Hammerhead sharks.” Admitted Lukas. “The Galapagos is one of the few places in the world that these amazing creatures can be seen in abundance, often swimming in huge groups. In my opinion, this phenomenon makes the islands the most amazing place on earth. They are sharks, so they have the potential of being dangerous but they are not known to be aggressive. It is unlikely you will see them unless you scuba dive as they tend to swim below 30 metres or more, so it is fantastic that Oyster have arranged our diving permits.”
Oyster Project Manager, Debbie Johnson and Customer Care Manager Eddie Scougall are providing constant support for the Oyster World Rally during the 14-month odyssey around the world.
“It is just so amazing here! It is like being in another world, a real adventure.” Commented Debbie Johnson. “Some of the islands have only recently been formed. You can literally see the evolution of the landscape from the lava flow. Peaks appear, followed by plant life such as mangroves and then the wildlife. Some of the islands are totally baron, whilst others that have been here for millions of years are lush green. The Galapagos is like a mini-world, a unique eco-system.
“Everyone is so excited to be here and the thing that just astonishes you straight away is the incredible abundance and diversity of wildlife, rays jumping out of the water, sea lions coming to greet you. At night many of the Oyster yachts put on their underwater lights and there are sharks, sea lions and all sorts of marine animals playing about right under the boats, it is just incredible.
“Even ashore the close contact with wildlife is just astonishing, we have set up a basic office in one of the local hotels and iguanas often come up to share our space, the sea lions are often in and out of the hotel pool and petrels perform acrobatics above, I have never experienced anything like it. None of the animals seem to be worried by us, the Morgan family from Crazy Daisy went snorkelling a few days ago, one penguin came over to Bob Morgan and literally pecked on his dive mask, the solitary penguin was then joined by a whole colony, they just wanted to play with them, utterly remarkable.
“One of the more unusual species of shark in The Galapagos is the Hammerhead and just about everyone who has been snorkelling and diving has seen them, most of the Oyster crews have enjoyed secluded dives but we put a call around on the VHF to see who would like to come on a group dive and 27 people from nine different boats came along including; Amelie, Babe, Chinook, Pandemonium, Pearl of Persia, Quester, Satika and Yantina.
“The spirit between the yachts in the Oyster World Rally is just fantastic. Although the Oyster fleet are spread out through many of the islands, Ian Davis owner of Oyster 56 yacht Yantina operates our radio-net. It takes a lot of time and effort but it has been so useful.”
The value of the radio net and the assistance within the fleet was highlighted by Oyster 53 yacht Amelie, when reporting problems with their water maker to Customer Care Manager Eddie Scougall. “After going on board and assessing the problem, I could see that a spare part for the water maker was required.”
Confirmed Eddie Scougall. ”So we put out a message via VHF and within half an hour Oyster 655 luxury yacht Sotto Vento replied to say that they had the spare and the problem was solved with a 3,000 mile trip coming up, not having a water maker would have changed Amelie’s plans significantly. Ironically, Sotto Vento developed a problem with one of their heads and once again we were on the radio and within minutes the Oyster 56 yacht Sulana responded with a solution. The fleet is really helping each other out, which is so vital in these remote locations.”
The Oyster fleet are expected to leave The Galapagos Islands over the next few days and head for the next port of call. The Marquesas Islands group is one of the most remote in the world, lying about 850 miles northeast of Tahiti and 3000 miles away from the West coast of Mexico, the nearest continental land mass.