22nd October 1835

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
Reflections following the visit to the Galapagos (1)
There are six principal ones, nine smaller, and many islets scarcely deserving to be distinguished from mere rocks. The largest island is sixty miles in length, and about fifteen broad; the highest part being four thousand feet above the sea. All are of volcanic origin, and the lava, of which they are chiefly composed, is excessively hard. Old Dampier says, "The Spaniards, when they first discovered these islands, found multitudes of 'guanoes' and land-turtle, or tortoise, and named them the Galapagos Islands." Again, "the air of these islands is temperate enough, considering the clime. Here is constantly a fresh sea-breeze all day, and cooling refreshing winds in the night; therefore the heat is not so violent here as in most places near the equator. The time of the year for the rains is in November, December, and January: then there is oftentimes excessive dark tempestuous weather, mixed with much thunder and lightning. Sometimes before and after these months there are moderate refreshing showers; but in May, June, July, and August, the weather is always very fair." I can add nothing to this excellent description, except that heavy rollers occasionally break upon the northern shores of the Galapagos during the rainy season above-mentioned—though no wind of any consequence accompanies them. They are caused by the 'Northers,' or 'Papagayos,' which are so well known on the coast between Panama and Acapulco. Colnett also gives a good description of these islands:—in his voyage, p. 58, he says, "I consider it as one of the most delightful climates under heaven, although situated within a few miles of the equator." The buccaneers often resorted to them for refreshments, and as a place where they might refit their vessels, share out plunder, or plan new schemes of rapine, without any risk of being molested.

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