position S01 25.427 W87 27.400
Ocean Rival Journey Log
Adam Power Diana Power
Tue 1 Aug 2017 20:23
Tuesday 1st August|
We have been at sea for 3 days already but doing essential tasks only due to sea sickness for a couple of days and technical email connection issues yesterday.
To catch up we arrived in Quito just over a couple of weeks ago and after 1 evening in the old town we joined Tren Ecuador trip at 6.30 in the morning at the very swanky Swissotel.
Following a lengthy bus ride to pick up a short section of restored train track north of Quito we had an interesting day stopping at the stations to look at a museum of a disused cotton factory, a wood carvers workshop producing opulently guilded religous statues, and a massive rose farm -4th largest export after oil, bananas & shrimp. At some point there was also an Andean band at one of the stations. It was a long day followed by a long bus ride back to Quito but our weariness lifted by supper and an overnight stay in the Swissotel.
Another early start took us to the start of the main restored train track which runs from Quito to Guayacil. It is only used for tourist trips-either the full 3 day journey or day trips for sections. Day one took us through the magnificent mountain scenery along the avenue of volcanoes finishing at the highest station in the world (Urbina) where we met the last ice man who aged 73 still cuts 60lb blocks of ice from Chimborazo and hauls them down on his donkey to sell to ice cream makers who can claim health benefits for the ice. We stayed in a very grand colonial Hacienda near the station where Simon Bolivar stayed on his way to Guayacil to meet Martin ? who had been liberating from the south. Our knowegable guide new by heart the poem that SB wrote about Chimborazo during his stay. Chimborazo had been hiding under cloud all afternoon but in the morning we emerged from breakfast to find it sparkling in the sun. The size and symetry breathtaking and the ice mans task became even more clearly an impossibility. Dad sent me WM Turners poem about Cotapaxi, Chimborazo & Popacatapetl which was very evocative with the subject looming above us.
For day 2 we were treated to a steam locomotive in place of the diesel and so had numerous photo opps with steam loco/mountain/llama/travellers. We had a market stop at Latacunga with a bustling colourful market selling everything from chicken feet to chainsaws. Dropping gradually from the high Andes to the plains we reached the Devils Nose which descends the final ridge via 2 switchbacks with shear drops to the side. The construction ran out of money and the line was only completed with donation from an English philanthropist whose name I forget.
From the nose we followed a fast flowing river that looked enticing for a daring canoeist but with no respite visible from white water. Lunch (fantastic steak) was at a cocoa plantation with another wonderful Hacienda with delightful gardens. The owners son aiming to diversify the farm with tourism and doing a great job. Our night stop at Bucay was in a forest lodge- slightly less grand than the accomodation to which we were accustomed but still very comfortable.
Day 3 took us along the fertile plains with plantations of banana, rice, teak, pineapple, sugar cane to name a few. The main entertainement was a group of masked devils who had the whole train dancing up and down the aisles to andean tunes. The train has capacity for 50 but we were 28 - otherwise the dancing would have been very cosy. The group was a good mix of nationalities and ages- mostly retired travellers with more money than they know how to spend but also a casino owning mother and teenage daughter from Germany, Annie, an english widow living in California, a Turkey farmer and his wife from Derbyshire, Tim a rather posh old english gentleman who had been everywhere, Joanne an american lady and her mum doing voluntary work in Ecuadorwith disabed kids, some Texans, Mexicans, Spanish and Ecuadorians. We had the steam engine back for the final few miles into Guayacil and I got a short ride on the engine as they changed over. One boyhood ambition ticked off. We sadly left the train and bade fond farewell to our guides and stewards but had one more night of luxury in a hotel on the river front. (Not quite as luxurious as the Swissotel due to lack of free slippers).
Guayacil used to be a dangerous lawless town untill fairly recently but now affords a very pleaseant walk along the river front with numerous galleries and artists displaying their tallents and we enjoyed a delightful last evening with Annie and Joanne sampling local dishes at the back of little gallery.
Next morning we took a taxi into the main town centre to look at the Cathedral and a museum of local culture with some excellent modern art. Otherwise the buildings are not beautiful having been mostly re-built after a fire at the end of the 19th C. In the afternoon we found the bus station and just had time to board the La Libertad bus taking the last 2 seats.
So we arrived at Puerto Lucia mid afternon on Sat and with relief found Ocean Rival at her berth still afloat and looking quite respectable. Below she was fairly dry although the bilges were
full almost to the floor. It took a week to clean, fix bits and pieces, and provision. Fortunately the weather has been overcast and cool since we came down from the mountains so working all day was not half as taxing as in the heat of Shelter bay in Panama. Arnould is the local fixer who has a charter business with his yacht and he was moored next to us. He had arranged new cockpit cushions for us which are a great addition, and had attempted to repair and fit the alternator -unsuccessfuly but further fiddling with the wiring appeared to get it going. We set sail last Saturday full to the brim with vitals, water and fuel.
Apart from an early whale sighting the 1st 2 days are a fug of sea sickness and torpor - slight seas but initially close hauled in light south-westerly wind the motion was short and bumpy. Since then the wind has backed a little giving mostly a nice close reach in 10-12knots. Occasional as now the wind dies to 5 knots and we flop about but still make close to 4 knots with a favourable current. It is about 140miles to go to San Cristobal.
Annoyingly the alternator is still not working properly. Arnould's wiring can't be right and I haven't been able to work out the correct connections. We have been making enough juice with the wind generator so far but as the wind comes round more southerly we have less apparent wind and precious little sun. The fridge may have to go off tonight.