position N02 41.500 W78 33.800
Ocean Rival Journey Log
Adam Power Diana Power
Mon 23 Jan 2017 18:20
I had a very quiet night at anchor saturday night after a policeman had shouted at me from the shore to turn on my radio and call. There was a patrol vessel moored not far away so perhaps I should have put the radio on without prompting. They were very keen for me to present my papers but as it was dusk I managed to negotiate that I should do it in the morning. I rowed ashore in the morning and was met by a troop of a dozen or so small monkeys who emerged from the trees, crossed the little bay I had chosen to land and giving me an occasional disparaging glance disapeared into the forest again.
I wandered into a group of brightly painted concrete buildings surrounded with well mown grass and set round a basketball court. There was a dining room in which several people were having breakfast and as I stood on the basketball court looking lost two people came up and introduced themselves. One was an official warden and the other a volunteer working on the island for a month or so. The latter, Maria, spoke very good english and was assigned to be my personal guide and translator for the day. I was given a talk by the warden who impressed on me the importance of the island in ecological terms and the need not to leave litter. He had three pickled snakes in jars which he assured me would kill me swiftly given half a chance and told I could only explore the forest with a guide and gumboots. There was a fee to pay of around $20 and the vital police paperwork involved a quick look at my passport and the noting of my name in a log book.
The island was a prison from 1960-1984 and disregarding gumboots, Maria gave me a tour of the buildings which were being re-claimed by the jungle to give them a much more attractive appearance no doubt than when they were in use. Although it was supposed to be a high security prison for murderers and rapists it was actually used for political dissidents and run in very unofficial manner by the warden. A sign in the sanitarium said that gonnorea was a major problem as the guards were in the habit of supplying prostitutes for the use of inmates. A picture in the little museum of death alley suggested that the ultimate penalty was unofficially used.
After the prison tour Maria offered to take me to the best snorkling sites and joined by a fellow volunteer, Willy, we took OR up to the north point of the island. Maria assured me that the best snorkling was at high tide but I have my doubts as the coral in view was rather disapointing. We did however see lots of lovely colourful fish and occasional glimpses of turtles. Big splashes further out at sea apparently signalled the appearance of a Manta Ray. After taking a long dinghy ride to try and find more coral (again rather stunted looking stuff compared to the San Blas) we took the long way round the west coast of the island and returned to base at dusk just in time for supper in the dining room. Mine was eaten with a fair degree of guilt as Maria and Willy very dutifully shared a meal between them.
There are 6 volunteers all told, all students or just graduated and it is clearly a tough gig to get to the island as they submit to a selection process to whittle down hundreds of applicants. I said my goodbyes and heartfelt thanks and back on OR stowed the dinghy, raised the main and upped anchor by 9pm. By 10 I was making fair progress close hauled on course to Esmeraldas but was gradually pushed to the east overnight as the wind backed. Now perservering with tacking in the hope that the promised north westerly will free me to get back on a course making starboard tack.