Panama to Galapagos: Ecuador
Sunday May 19, 2010. Engine hrs.1169 Day 1
We have all the provisions that we can possibly have on board without sinking the boat. There was a slight delay pulling our anchor. The anchor chain got fouled on about 150 feet of chain and a Danforth anchor, plus a 6 foot stainless boarding ladder. It took Gil, myself and Rick from Even Star about 3 hours to untangle them. We are now the proud owners of a 40 lb. Danforth and some extra chain. The fishing rods went out and by dinner time I made Chicken parmesan Oh well! Gil had first watch while I slept, at 2 am we switched off. Apparently I had a good nap I didn’t even know a squall went through.
Sunrise a cup of fresh coffee and a dolphin swimming alongside of you is an awesome beginning to your day. We have a heading of 172 going southish, so we can get a little wind off of our starboard front. Close hauled and doing 3-5 knots with help from our engine. Sometimes I think we should have a trawler, we motor so much.
Dawn has broken and it is near the end of my uneventful watch. There is a lot of cloud cover with the blue sky breaking through. Behind us is a bank of rain, I don’t think we have to worry about it though. The waves are 3-5 feet at 10 second intervals and the wind is 8-10 knots from the SSW. Our heading is 190 degrees. Gil needs to checkout our bilge pump it isn’t working.
Crap! The wind has piped up and it has stormed all day. We didn’t reef the main at sunset. BIG Mistake I was scared the rest of the night and during the next day. Being too tired doesn’t help. There is more water in the bilge to deal with also. Gil has decided to change course and go to the coast of Colombia because of the wind direction (Land beautiful).
The wind has dropped and at 6 am we went through another squall, but it wasn’t too bad. We are headed towards Buena Ventura. It has a bad reputation but it is a major port. By the afternoon I could see the Columbian coastline in the distance. The wind and wave direction making our headway difficult so we headed to a bay a little north of Buena Ventura. The chart showed lots of channel markers and it looked really simple to navigate. As we were drawing near it we observed a few freighters anchored near, so we assumed it was also a shopping port. Dusk found us going into the bay which is almost as large as Cartagena harbor. Gil brought the Endorfin pretty close to what we thought was the shipping docks, I dropped the anchor and we went to sleep.
Low and behold, A launch came out from the naval base,( BIG OOPS), to see us. Bahia Moaga (Moo Yeah) Guardia Costa (Coast Guard). Apparently we really surprised them,(asleep at the radar).Two young officers, Carlo and Juan came aboard with an escort of rifle toting guards. Gil explained our rough couple of days and our broken bilge pump, plus our low fuel situation. They went back to the base and about an hour later returned to tell us we would have to re-anchor closer to the base docks. Well, we did so and got a great view of two grottos that submerge at high tide. We are starting to get use to these huge tides of 14ft or better. Juan returned with the Captain of his ship who came aboard. 3 boarding’s 3hrs. Captain Caesar De Vargas, of the Guardia cutter Valle De Cauca (COW CA). He graciously offered to help us with our bilge pump and refuel our diesel tanks. The Captain told us to rest in the harbor as long as necessary. He invited us for dinner with his family that evening. So far everyone had been friendly, courteous and curious. As it turned out Caesar was an avid sailor with a a dream of sailing the world when he retired. He had a problem though; His wife didn’t swim and would get seasick within minutes. Caesar had a few days off and wanted to take his family sailing in the bay as a test run. And of course we said yes. His family consisted of two boys Santiago, Diego his little girl Paula, Juan Paul a friend of his boys and his wife Dioniris. Santi had a good grasp of the English language, so we used him as our emergency interpreter, when we needed him. Dioniris is a lovely woman in her late twenties. She showed me the fish her husband had caught the day before. I have no idea what kind it was but it looked great. They were huge light pinkish fillets. We talked in her cocina (kitchen) and prepared the fillets, which the ships chef was going to cook for us. Cool Hey! While dinner was being cooked the Admiral of the base stopped in and chatted with us. This guy was the twin of Dave Amadio my former boss. I swear! We told them of our plans to go to Buena Ventura and jump off from there to the Galapagos. He and Caesar advised us not to go there because it was a dangerous place. They would take us to their ships store to provision and get our diesel from the base. The Admiral also told us how surprised they all were to find our sailboat anchored in their harbor that morning. Dinner was superb and a work of art on a plate. Over wine and Amoretto the conversation turned to Caesars’ passion; sailing. So we made plans to sail the boat to a pair of waterfalls in the end of the bay. Caesar joked the price for a room in Caesars Place (Paula’s bedroom) was taking his family sailing for the day plus Juan Paul, who turned out to be the Admirals son
As soon as breakfast was done we piled into Caesar’s truck and headed back to the docks. I showed the boys how to way anchor and off we went. Unfortunately there was no wind, so we had to motor and Dioniris got seasick immediately. Now, the bay is very similar to Tobermory in Onatrio, with lots of flower pot islands and lush steep cliffs like are found in the Rio Dulce. Because they have such high tide on the pacific side we had to anchor Endorfin and continue on in the dinghy. We spent the day frolicking at the bases of both falls and had a splendid day. We never thought that a decision to find a safe harbor could give us an experience to remember and the new friends we made
We spent a week at the naval base and learned that Colombia is trying very hard to get arid of their bad reputation. The countries new slogan is” Colombia Es Passion “. Our experience is just so. The country is beautiful and the people are exceptional.
After reprovisioning and got fuel the base gave to us at no cost Gil and I bid everyone there farewell and set off again for the Galapagos.