The few days before we left Ecuador I was having doubts, funny tummy as feeling nervous, checking and re checking the weather and my mind was on a over drive. Wasn’t sleeping very well.
Not many boats go down this route, it’s not easy, against wind, current and waives and I didn’t find much updated information about clearing into Peru. That should have sent bells ringing of warning as why…! I thought, ok, it will maybe cost us few thousand dollars but oh boy was I in for a big nasty surprise when we finally got there. Should have listen to my instinct.
We did last minute shopping, school and sat in the cockpit two days before we left ticking the boxes, enjoying a drink and mentally saying good bye to Ecuador. We both felt a yank, a slight one, didn’t pay any attention and carried on talking.
Suddenly Chris piped up and said ” are we moving?”
“No” I said.
Sat for awhile and this time Chris jumped up and said that we are definitely on the move. I took a closer look and yes, we were sideways to all the other boats around us, the bloody buoy had snapped. Shit, we jumped up for action. It was dark and in my mind I rolled all the swear words I could think of.
Engine on, pick up the buoy with all the line so it wouldn’t get tangled in the prop and as I pull it all in we got a all kinds of crabs and and things on deck.
Motored to the back of the pack hoping the anchor will snag the first time as we had problems anchoring when we first came in. Yes, all good but of course my night sleep went with that. Also not happy with Mick and Pat as they told us it was a buoy that get serviced. I know, you should never take a buoy unless you can check it yourself, I trusted them, stupidly and lost. Lucky it didn’t happen when we were in Quito!!!
Next they Mick and Pat appeared very embarrassed as I threw the junk at them. Scowling in my finest non exciting Spanish, trying to tell them how dangerous it could have been but also we could have lost our home…..anyway, lesson learnt for both parties.
So came the day of leaving. My tummy was a jumble of nerves, coming up with another thing that had to be done before we leave until Chris just yanked the anchor up…..ok, I guess we really are leaving then….
Beautiful day, out we motored looking for some wind. Current very strong. So the first day was pretty much tacking and trimming the sails, trying to get out a bit further but didn’t want to go to Galapagos either. Saw a sun fish and whale shark. The whale shark was such a quick glimpse so no chance of a photo. Amazing.
Second day was all good. Working our way downwards as tight to the wind as possible. Actually a very nice sail. Sunny. Everybody felt fine.
And then we had this most amazing thing happens. A whale came up. Wow. Almost the size of our boat, dancing and twirling around. It kept going under the boat, giving me slight concern of what the whales intentions were but it just kept playing. Up, under, other side and back. It was just beautiful. Don’t know what whale it was, maybe a baby blue whale as it was big but also so playful. Let me know if you or anybody else would know.
It was with us about 15 minutes, happy with the company although I was wondering if there was a big mama waiting….
Day three went well. Everybody getting into a routine of reading, watching movies and David Attenborough for school. Chris and I spend most of our time in the cockpit taking turns to sleep and watch as we need it. Dinner was done by 6 pm so everybody was ready for bed when it got dark. And nobody was sick. Hallelujah!
There was a big swell but the wind was good as we kept tacking our way down ….
This is how the kids camped on the journey. It made them feel safe, watch movies together and fall asleep knowing somebody was right next to them.
On the first day we realise we had a problem with the wind instrument at the top of the mast. Rather then just looking at the display where the wind is blowing from and trim sails as tight to the mark we could do we were faffing a bit. So when we realise that it’s better to get it sorted we had a choice of two islands.
Lobos de Afuera, the island further out looked ok so we headed in that direction. Now, that gave me now slight panic as we had no proper charts for the place, didn’t know anything about it or what kind of anchoring it would be…..
I had a vision of a green, lush island as we just left the tropics, what we saw was a brownie/ grey lump wit white on the top…..which we realised was a whole lot of bird shit. It stank!
As we came closer, edging slowly between the two parts of the island, big swell crashing on the outside, following the chart plotter, we were overwhelmed by the stink. The kids came up, making big noises and howling that it’s no way they are going to stay here. I wasn’t impressed either. I said to Chris, “you got 4h to go up the mast and sort it out. I’m outta here!
Slowly coming in as close as we dare we anchored. The bird poo didn’t smell so bad now as we were past the worst bit, all calming down and I thought, maybe it’s ok. The anchor took a good hold, we sat down wit a beer and took it all in.
We were the only boat there. Fantastic! The anchoring spot was good, we were holding fine and frankly, it was nice to have a respite. So I was ok to stay, to Chris’s great relief.
Isla de Afuera on approach
The only boat there, for awhile…..
And what a stunning sunset…..
But wait…..what’s that on the horizon…? A boat?
We felt slight ill at ease….what boat, who’s on it….what do they want….?
All these things went through my mind while we sat there waiting to see what happens next….thinking of all kind of horror stories, nowhere to go….
Ok, a fishing boat….
We watched as it anchor, a bit from us and shouted, fish in his hand if we want some. Oh yes please.
As the evening went by more and more of these rather old fishing boats came in, anchoring closer and closer to us.
They were from a town further north and they go out fishing for 8 days straight, just stopping at these islands for a rest at night and dinner. We could see they were very poor, sleeping on deck with a plastic sheet over them, no toilets, it is bucket and chuck it but man they were still all happy and friendly.
We bought fish and gave them cookies and snacks.
Chris slept the first night in the cockpit as we didn’t want to be taking by surprise by a dragging anchor and by early morning all the fishing boats were gone.
We tried to fish with no luck, fixed the wind instrument and started school. On the break James went upstairs to fish with just a hook and line and caught a squid. Well, lovely but put it back, no good to have one…..he tried again and pulled another one. By now we were all up watching as he pulls another one…..
So all hands on deck, all kids fishing and we pulled hundreds of squid up. What a feast. Kids fished, we prepared. Ink all over the place, hooting with excitement. Free food. Calamari!
Best day ever
Our curious friend.
Day three at this anchor and a day before we were leaving again we took the dinghy down to go and have a look around.
And guess what we found?
Blue footed boobies and Humboldt penguins….things that you apparently only see on Galapagos. Well, we couldn’t believe it. What a surprise and best of all, it didn’t cost us a penny.
So all in all our best place so far.
We loved the place as it’s isolated, we were the only sailing boat there, the wild life and the friendly fishermen who got a nice rich stew cooked for them by Chris the last night. They were surprised and grateful, got more fish in exchange and our last parting gift was a bag of calamari for the nearest boat who couldn’t believe that we fished it there.
We were very sad to say good buy, didn’t want to leave but time to move on. We all still talk about this magical place, although not the prettiest but far the most interesting and peaceful…..
Next the rest of the journey to Lima ……
Good that we didn’t know the nightmare that was waiting for us with the check in and customs….