1:02S 90:27W at 1600GMT =10am local
Motoring COG 214 SOG 7knts in sunny gentle swell, Easter Island bears
215degrees about 1920nm distant. Single engine at 2000rpm uses about
3.5lph, and speed varies from under 6 to (currently) over 7knots. I have
over 1000litres on board but no idea of the actual fuel situation in Easter
Island. In fact, at one point i had no idea about anything on Easter island
since I don't have a paper chart of the place (cos i only recently though of
going there...)and none of the Navionics chart chips show Easter island
(altho sold as Pacific Islands and another as South America)... so I
initially didn't have a chart of Easter Island . However, I looked
carefully at my copy of Nimble Navigator, and it has a perfect detailed
chart of the whole island, and indeed the whole world. Nice PC charting
software for under $100, charts of the whole world, AIS interface and GRIB
weather file display.
The weather files say that we should get wind after about 400miles,
somehwere like 6 or 7 degrees south, SE and then SE trades. BxWx has been
in touch about the weather, altho I know about Easter is;land weather
anyway - it's Chilly haha.
So where was I last time, oh yes - leaving Isla Christobal supposedly
enroute Easter Island on Saturday morning - and then dipped into Puerto
Ayora, seemingly no problem, anchor down, try hail a water taxi but bit
useless, so out with the dinghy to find perhaps the nicest dinghy dock i
have ever seen anywhere, middle of town, lots of dock space floats upand
down, covered and lit at night. The town is nicely fixed up too, swirling
with busy but not-too-numerous tourists. Sorry, I mean ECO-tourists. The
dinghy dock is the "eco-tourist pontoon" too. Oh yes, if you take a series
of airflights on ancient inefficient old airplanes, and then take taxis
and/or speedboats around Galapagos for no other reason that to snap
tortoises and fish and turtles, you're not just a ordinary pesky tourist -
you're an eco-tourist. The taxis are giant 4x4's - impossible to use any
bigger or they couldn't get down the streets - and the boats pelt around at
30knots. Obviously, it's no better hoiking up in a big plastic boat either,
like me, but at least I have sails, which is gosh very eco indeed. Except
there's no wind, so complete waste of resources making the sails and the
mast at the moment...
Puerto Ayora feels about the size of erm Padstow, perhaps a bit bigger.
It's the biggest urban area for tousand miles in any direction. The
supermarket is just as crap as anywhere else - big bags f rice, not much if
anything fresh (but it's the weekend...) but very good for for bleach and
disposable nappies. Every other shop hawks boat tours around the
island(s), from half a day to a week. Some good restaurants this first
evening, back to the boat then next day Sunday supermarket shopping at 8am,
taxi to the lava tubes 5miles inland (bit rubbish, just a dark dripping
cave) and then on to the tortoise farm, not really a farm at all, just a
muddy messy area where there's more big tortoises than usual. Wild giant
tortoises (not sure how "wild" a tortoise can really be...) tramp around
small roads like windup toys, about 4ft x 3ft and almost 3ft high... and
we stopped and walked up for pix no problem. After an hour of tortoises we'd
had enough so when the taxi driver said Oh look- another tortoise! I sed
yeah yeah, Giant Tortoises, seenem.
Lunch at the Rock, very good stuff...and then the police turned up. Eek.
Mojomo - Major international incident. It's probably been on CNN. We'd
checked in at one island, and had a Zarpe (exit visa) to leave that island
for Easter Island... so we aren't allowed in Puerto Ayora. Um, yes sir
well but Ah but, see, we got the Zarpe to leave ...and then went to
immigration back in Christobal on Friday - but it was shut! Even though it
was only 4pm and should have been open, and then not open till Monday. So
*obviously* we needed an immigration exit stamp, see, and hence we came
here, for the stamp, okay? Hm, no Signor, not okay at all. it's a
problem? Si, eez very big problem Signor. Very very big problem, maybe two
problems, the Zarpe is wrong and you should not be here and we need to take
your passports and boat papers.
Back on the boat, Carlos the agent and an equally very worried immigration
policeman argue circularly about this awful problem for over an hour.
Meanwhile I'm wondering - how did they track the boat? how did they know I
was in the Rock cafe restaurant...,and how did they recognise us? But...
ze problem is very very beeg. Yes, I agree i should really have gone off to
Easter Island, but see, I had no exit stamp, as I said. But we shouldn't
have come to Puerto Ayora, just like it says in the book - choose one port
unless you have made special arrangements beforehand for a so-called
autografia. But spose the port captain in Easter Island kicks up a fuss cos
no exit stamp, hm? Unlikely i spose - but then what? Hum, this sways them,
but only a bit. And look, the Zarpe sed we had to leave on Friday, so
that's why I left. Okay, yes, i left on Saturday am, that's just a boaty
thing, can't leave on a Friday. Anyways, eez beeg beeg problem. Sort of
Catch-22, it seems. Well, not that complex - just you stamp the passport
and we'll go, Catch-1.5 or hardly a catch at all. I was gonna go on Monday
anyways. But ze paperwork eez not correct. Hm, right. Heads in their
hands, what to do? What on earth can they do? I can't help feeling most
people have bigger problems than this several times every day - but for the
Immigration Police and this agent it's massive.
We take them ashore, they have one or two possible ideas, maybe, just maybe,
but it could take months to sort out. Are we allowed to go ashore, by the
way? Oh yes, no problem. It's a paperwork problem. So we go snorkelling
and swimming and internet caff. Later in the evening, the agent arrives
again, and YOU VERY VERY LUCKY (he says this every few minutes for the next
hour) there have been meetings all afternoon about this and YOU VERY LUCKY
we can go get our passports stamped now (at 8pm) and go the next day, just
as I was planning. And so I handed over another $200 for erm, something,
how very very lucky we are. Phew. BUT we MUST leave tomorrow, okay? Yes,
fine. YOU VERY LUCKY
Only teensy slight fly in the ointment is that I failed to play/busk the
Master and Commander piece at Puerto Ayora, but praps best not push it eh?
So off to dinner at the Rock. Seafood spaghetti at lunch was very fab,
lobster in the evening not so fab, but okay.
So, there you are, valuable information for would-be circumnavigators - get
an autografia pre-arranged for multi-island Galapagos visit, or just choose
one island and stay there. Cos the authorities track you and (somehow, not
sure) can and will know where you go and will find you even if you're
skulking ashore in a caff. My recommendation is you choose Santa Cruz
island cos Puerto Ayora is (realtively) nice, and not wreck bay, which (even
tho Peter Santini is a great guy) is a bit of a fleapit ashore. It was my
mate Mark who suggested Wreck Bay, but there again he also told me to ignore
the bullsh*t advice from other cruisers, so heh, fair enuf i spose
There's enough on Sanata Cruz for most people, and you don't need to crawl
over the whole place altho it seems that swathes of quite-bored people on
orgainsed tours do exactly that. Mostly, you need some footage of Giant
Tortoises, fuel, and food. A week is enough easily, not sure what you would
find to do after that, unles you could usefully offer advice to scientists
at the Charles Darwin institute wassername, i know some readers probably
could do exactly that. The fuel and food is a pain, so jam the boat full
in St Martin and Panama. The tortoises are easy - 2hours, $30 cab ride,
tick. After that, most people go diving or snorkelling.
Lotsa WARC boats in PA, not much evidence of them mingling tho plenty of
evidence of them having smashed up boat stuff with inmast furling systems
being rebuilt etc. They seem an odd lot - GRIBs are new to lots of them,
another aged about 65 said that he liked Puerto Ayora - "great restaurants
and great discos!" erm er, rightyho... WARC goes to Marquesas but not
till next Sunday March 4th- and even then there still a cycclone risk, not
so towards the south where we go, and Easter Island reputedly "awesome"
whereas Marquesas is reputedly a bit, well, meh ( MWS#5).
I'll post this and do another diary thing for planning schedules etc over
the next few months.