October 11, 2017
We arrived in Puerto Lucia, Ecuador after our crazy eight day passage. It looks like the strangely strong winds we experienced may have been effects from tropical storm Nate which unfortunately damaged Pacific Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
To enter Ecuador by boat, you are required to hire an agent who completes the required paperwork and coordinates with immigration, the port captain, customs, etc. They require an advance 24 hour notice of your arrival to get all of the officials to meet you and check you into the country. This is especially challenging for sailboats whose speed depends on the wind, and was certainly a challenge for us.
We were looking at possibly a late Saturday afternoon arrival. Our agent said that the officials were only available until 5:00 pm, and it wasn’t clear to us that they would greet us on Sunday. Thankfully we had the satellite email to communicate with the agent. I really don’t know how boats coordinate arrival that don’t have a way to communicate at sea. It was going to be close whether we would make it in time to be checked in on Saturday, so our agent arranged for the officials to meet us at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday.
We did make the Saturday afternoon arrival and were required to tie up to a mooring buoy outside of the marina until we were officially checked in on Sunday morning. The marina gave us a ride to shore to make arrangements for our boat in the marina. Even though we weren’t officially checked into the country, they let us wander around the marina grounds, which included a hotel with a restaurant.
Mike was really craving a cheeseburger, and soon we were enjoying a meal and a beer overlooking our boat. What we were not expecting upon arrival was how cool it is here. We’re basically on the equator and we are wearing jeans and jackets. It feels a lot like Southern California.
A little while longer we were greeted by our friend Dan on the boat Kini Popo, who has his boat hauled out here at Puerto Lucia and were introduced to Arnaud who runs a charter sailing business out of the marina and also helps coordinate work in the boat yard. We were getting the lay of the land and making plans for our next couple of months here.
The next day we had nine people on the boat, including our agent, the immigration officer, the health inspector, the port captain, and various customs agents. Lots of paperwork later and beers passed all around, we were official in Ecuador! Next was moving the boat off the mooring and into the marina. The marina is a med-moor style tie up, except you don’t use your anchor.
We had to back into the marina entrance. (Adagio does not back well in a straight line!) Then we had to reverse so that the stern of the boat was up against a dock with multiple lines from the stern to the dock. On the bow we have two lines tied to mooring balls out in the middle of the marina. You can see how this took many hands to accomplish. There were several guys on the dock as well as two guys in a skiff in the water to tie the bow lines to the mooring balls. This was a first for us!
Our plan here is to haul the boat out to do new bottom paint, raise the water line, do some work on some thru-holes, and a whole list of other projects. We’ve been on the boat full time for almost two years and some wear is starting to show. As we’ve just now had to dig into our hanging locker to find jeans and sweatshirts, we discovered how much mold and mildew may be hiding in places we didn’t know about. So, everything is coming off the boat to do a thorough cleaning. Thankfully the air here is dry and we are out of the tropical heat and humidity.
Considering the work that we were planning, it did not make logistical sense to stay on the boat in the yard, so we started looking for a place to rent. Our friend Dan was also interested in doing this, and we scored when Arnaud found us a two bedroom condo across the street from the beach and walking distance to the marina for only $600/month. We jumped on it and immediately started hauling everything we could off the boat and piling it into our temporary home.
So, now the work begins. We have to arrange for the haul out, order the paint, and work as fast as we can. We want some time to travel around Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. But, in order to do that we need to get all our boat chores done. The goal is to get the boat ready for the next season. After the New Year we will be in full on prep mode for our South Pacific crossing!