Previous Adventures

>> Back to letters.



Here you can leave a greeting to Captain & Crew Guestbook.

Written by: Daryl

Photos by: Daryl and Joar *


  Esmeraldas to Galapagos

     It was 9:00 am we got into the harbor in Esmeraldas, Ecuador and we knew that our vision of shopping centers and discos was not going to stay in our minds for very long.  It was quickly being replaced by the overpowering odor of the 100, or so, fishing boats around us.  The smell was mixture of gas in the water and the fish being gutted and processed on the shore.  Wow!!  We were searching for a place to stop when a bunch of fisherman on a 50 foot boat responded to our ‘rope-throwing’ gestures and motioned for us to bring our boat next to theirs.  After we tied up along side them, Kjell quickly grabbed some warm cervezas from the iceless icebox and handed them out to the 8 workers on the boat,…11 workers,…15,…20!  They were coming out of everywhere to enjoy our hospitality.  It was a great and cheap way to converse with them that we were friendly and to develop a relationship if we were going to leave our boat there.  The international language of Beer!!   But, after a few minutes of celebration, the port authorities came by in their boat to process our entry documents for immigration and customs.  They were most likely watching our approach for the last 12 hours and wondering why we were coming to Esmeraldas and now, celebrating with the local fisherman.  You don’t want to get on the port authorities bad side since, they control if you can stay in their harbor and for how long.  Our broken Spanish answered most of his questions (we think) and he then showed us where we could anchor the boat and told us our papers would be ready tomorrow.  Welcome to Esmeraldas!

     OK, expedition time.  We were a bit concerned about leaving the boat by itself but, when we got to the shore we realized that we were in a harbor protected by the Ecuadorian Navy.  They made us walk through heavy security each time we passed, and we didn’t have to pay these guys off with our beer!  Actually, they wouldn't let us bring any alcohol into the harbor from town and we were checked thoroughly every time we came back to the boat.  (But, nobody stopped us from walking around the building with 10 cases of beer to be loaded up in our dinghy at the fuel dock. he he)

     Despite the lack of tourists and the warnings from the Lonely Planet, Port Officer, and every third person we met, we did feel safe in Esmeraldas.  And, we couldn’t complain about the $3 price of a huge Ecuadorian meal of meat, beans, rice, plantains and a salad with a half liter cerveza either!  Everything was very cheap here and it will be a great place to stock up on food supplies for our trip to the Galapagos and crossing the Pacific.  But first, to the clinic to find out about the infection in my leg.  More shots in the ass! with another cutting performance scheduled for the next day.   Great L  So far it has been my one leg in Colombia, Kjells one leg in Panama, and now my other leg here in Ecuador! What the heck?  I wonder what will happen in French Polynesia.

     The next morning we were woken up by the Port Authorities telling us that the Port ‘Captain’ wants to see us about a problem with our papers!!  Oh oh.  With nobody speaking English anywhere we were worried about how we were going to communicate with the Captain.  Possible mas tardes (maybe later) is great when talking with the local merchants in town.  This guy will want answers.   The presence of being in the Captains office was a bit overwhelming but, luckily he spoke a bit of English and told us what the problem was.  Our exit paper from Panama said that our next port of entry was Salinas, Ecuador not Esmeraldas!  This was a problem and he wanted to know why we were stopping here.   After an explanation of our storm adventure, gas shortage, and leg problem he quickly eased up on the suspicion and gave us the thumbs up!  He even gave us some advice on stopping in Galapagos and how to avoid having to pay for the required entry papers that sailboats need go there and agreed to alter our exit papers to prevent future problems.  Great!!

     We could now concentrate on stocking up the boat with food with a trip to the local fruit market.  It was very assussing.

‘How much for bananas’ (in perfect Spanish of course)


‘per kilo?’

     ‘no, for the whole branch!!’ (50 bananas attached!)

‘??? Whoa!! And the oranges?’

     ‘$1 per bag’ (40 oranges!!)

We bought two big sacks of fruit and vegetables and only spent $7.   Now, we were ready for the trip to Galapagos!  But first, some hot food at the local Chinese restaurant (they are everywhere).  Here, the food smelt great, if we could only understand the menu:  Fried chicken to the juice? Pig with 5 flavors? Special jumped meat?  The Spanish menu actually made more sense to us.

     With our energy up, leg fixed, and boat full of gas and supplies we left Esmeraldas towards Galapagos!!  We figured on a seven day trip if all goes well and if the wind and current work with us.  According to our cruising books, the wind and current should be on our side from here all the way to Galapagos and across the Pacific.  Finally, the books were right.  As soon as we exited the harbor in Esmeraldas, the wind and the waves from the South picked up helping us with our speed but, keeping the boat at an uncomfortable angle to the starboard (right) side.  Who cares about the angle, we were cruising at an all time high average speed of 5.5-6.5 knots.  We got to celebrate crossing the equator just before arriving at Galapagos.

       For the first time we arrived at our destination one day earlier then originally planned with our gas tanks full!!   Unfortunately, arriving a day early meant that our approach into Academy Bay on the Island of Santa Cruz was going to be in the dark and you are never supposed to arrive in the dark, especailly when we never buy harbor maps,...

click to enlarge





                           *                        *

 *                        *


 *                                                   *



 Crossing the        'The Equator'




  © Copyright 2004. Kjell Otto Stave. All Rights Reserved.