Sept 28th 2019 - Entering Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador
Updated: Nov 18, 2019
The cruising guides and other sources warned that entering the river at Bahia de Caraquez required a pilot, so we emailed the marina from offshore via our IridiumGo satellite unit and SailMail and made the arrangements. At the agreed time we were at the offshore waiting spot and saw the panga with the pilot approaching. He yelled “follow me” in Spanish and we were off!
The current on the river can reach 2.5 knots (pretty strong). Couple the incoming current with an onshore breeze, shallowing water and some good sized breakers are created. The pilot kept signaling faster, faster and we were soon pegged, and surfing down the breaking rollers struggling to keep the boat in a straight line and from broaching!! Candy was on deck communicating with the pilot and holding on for dear life. After 45 stressful minutes we entered the tranquil harbor and picked up a mooring before the incoming current made it impossible. It was time for a well-deserved cold one!
We were welcomed to Puerto Amistad Yacht Club by the owner, Gene, who was more than helpful getting us settled in and through customs, immigration, health inspection and the port captain. It was pretty funny when we realized that out of nine or so boats in the harbor, we knew (or knew of) four of them – two from Shelter Bay and our Panama crossing, plus two boats who are well known to us from YouTube sailing videos, Karl and Johanna (White Spot Pirates).
We checked into the Bahia B&B while we did laundry and cleaned the boat… and got a good night’s sleep in a stationary bed! The owner, Dave, is a Canadian Ex-Pat and instantly became a friend! An avid back-packer and traveler, he pulled out local and national maps and thoroughly helped us map out our upcoming inland travels. We also met Henry, the owner of the H Sports Bar and a Fire rescue trainer (ex special ops military). Henry runs a free “Boot Camp” exercise and workout session that Candy happily attended.
The Bahia is still recovering from a 6.0 earthquake that struck two years ago and is slowly attracting back the tourist traffic that it survives on. There has been much reconstruction, but evidence of the quake is everywhere. We walked the town and hiked the surrounding hills taking pictures while sampling the great ceviche, Encebollado (fish soup) and other regional dishes.
Our immediate plans to see the local area were dashed when the Ecuadorian President passed an emergency ruling and ended the subsidized fuel program, effectively doubling the price of gas overnight. The bus and taxi drivers immediately went on strike, lining up hundreds of taxis on the main road and burning tires in the street. We watched in amazement as the police moved in and fired off tear gas, dispersing the angry crowd while we ate breakfast nearby.
Next – we try to get to Quito and see the inner countryside….