Bahia de Caraquez, 0:36.45S:80:25.29W
We motored through the last night of our passage, as we wanted to arrive in time to enter on the midday high tide on Saturday. The instructions for entry here are that you contact the ‘marina’ by email two days before arrival, then on arrival drop anchor outside in the bay, and call on the VHF radio, and they will send a pilot out to you.
Approaching Bahia de Caraquez, we saw the mother ships gathering up the small fishing boats
to tow them back home at the end of a night’s fishing
We had emailed twice, but had not had a response, so we dropped our anchor as instructed and tried the radio, also with no response. We emailed again, but resigned ourselves to staying at anchor until Monday morning, so were pleased when a fishing boat came over too us and indicated by sign language that he had been sent out to pilot us, and we should follow him carefully. It was just after high water, so if anything went wrong we would be stuck until the next high tide. We started off following the line that seemed sensible, but then headed directly for the shore close alongside where our chart showed some rocks. We were concentrating on our guide in front, so were taken by suprise when the first wave picked us up and shoved us forward. About three waves surfed us and our echo sounder showed 2.7 m at the top of the wave and 2.4 m at the bottom – we need 1.9m!, then we seemed to come across the sandbank into slightly deeper water (3m) and our guide turned north along the shore to the deeper water of the river.
The red line is our route in from our chart plotter
Looking back on the breaking waves we surfed through
The beach we were heading for!
We are on a mooring buoy in the river, with 8 other visiting yachts. The marina provides water and fuel, but you have to take cans ashore for it, and there is a bar and restaurant and showers. On Saturday, afternoon we had a shower, visited the modern shopping mall and supermarket to buy a few essentials (on this trip the first thing we want to know in any new port is how good the supermarket is!), and then had a beer and a meal ashore, before going home to sleep...
Bahia de Caraquez is in an area of Ecuador that was hit badly by an earthquake 12 months ago, and they are still struggling to recover. There are still lots of damaged buildings and repair work is underway in many places. Despite this the people are friendly and welcoming.
The sea front
The modern shopping mall is a great contrast to the rest of the town.