January 2014 - Ecuador

1 January 2014  Bahia de Caraques, Ecuador
We had a nice long lie in and then lounged around.

After our disappointing meal on Christmas Day, we were determined to have a nice traditional lunch, so Glenys prepared a fabulous chicken dinner with all the trimmings – mashed potatoes, carrots, apricots wrapped in bacon, bread sauce, etc, etc.

We watched a James Bond film and then a BBC documentary on the Galapagos Islands, before collapsing into bed – a fabulous day.

2 January 2014  Bahia de Caraques, Ecuador
I went for a run, but was definitely suffering from my over indulgence yesterday. I only made it 100 metres up the steep hill to the Cross – my “Rocky” moment is getting more and more unlikely.

We motivated ourselves enough to start on some jobs.  Glenys did some dashing around in the morning and then started to sand down some of the cockpit woodwork getting ready to varnish.

I pottered around doing small jobs and then pulled our 60 metres of chain out of the anchor locker with the intention to swap it end-for-end.  I should be doing this every six months, so that the galvanising on the chain wears evenly.  Unfortunately, I’ve been very slack and not done it for eighteen months, with the result that one half of the chain is now going rusty, while the other half is fine.  I chatted to Michael from “Salamander” who is trying to organise getting his chain re-galvanised, so I might get ours done at the same time. 

Glenys loves sanding

A fishing boat pulled alongside us selling some lovely large prawns, so Glenys bought a pound and made Viche De Cameron, which is a soup made from prawns with a hint of peanut sauce. It was absolutely fabulous, although I don’t think that I should have had the fourth helping…

3 January 2014  Bahia de Caraques, Ecuador
I got up early and dropped “Viatrix” off at the dinghy dock – they’re going to Quito for a week and wanted to leave their dinghy safely on their deck.

We had another day of jobs.  Glenys continued sanding the cockpit woodwork.  We've left it for too long and so she has to sand it back to the bare wood, which is very laborious.

I went up the mast and checked our standing rigging.  Everything looks okay and I made sure that I could move all of the bottle screws.  While I was up there, I replaced the bulb for the tricolour navigation light with an LED bulb, which will use less power and should last ten years.  

Glenys winched me up the backstay where I attached a small pulley so that we can fly our ensign up there out of harm’s way.  Our old ensign has definitely seen better days and has been shortened to a third of its original length because it kept catching on the aerials on the stern arch.  It was so bad that “Aros Mear” have given us a replacement ensign because they were so embarrassed for us... 

4 January 2014  Bahia de Caraques, Ecuador
We had yet another day of jobs.  I finished off another 12 teak plugs in the deck and discovered another two loose ones.  I’m giving up for now and maybe I’ll do another set before we leave here – I suspect that the deck is drying out because there’s no rain or sea water getting on the deck and the plugs are shrinking.

Glenys did her first coat of varnish on the cockpit shelves.  She used up the last of our turpentine, so I went out to buy some more and also some acetone.  Sometimes the simplest things defeat me.  One of the problems in Ecuador is that you don’t wander around a nice store like Home Base.  Instead, you’re faced with a long counter and you have to ask for everything (normally in Spanish).  I went out armed with Spanish translations of turpentine, white spirit and acetone, but got the run around being directed from shop to shop.  It appears that acetone is now illegal and there’s no turpentine or white spirit anywhere in town.  Perhaps I’m asking for the wrong thing?

I arranged for a taxi driver (Geovanny) to take us on the 7th January into Manta, which is a large city about an hour’s drive away.  We’ve got a long list of stuff that we need and we’ve looked up Spanish translations of everything, so hopefully Geovanny will be able to take us to the correct shops.  I removed the stainless steel holding tank that has been leaking and I’ll get that repaired in Manta.

I’ve decided that I ought to get our chain re-galvanised, but “Salamander” are now planning to leave for the marina in Salinas next week and will get their chain galvanised there.  I talked to Tripp and he said that the only place to get chain galvanised is in Guayaquil which is a five hour drive away.  The galvanising is cheap and will cost about $1 per foot, so our 200 feet of chain will only cost $200.  Unfortunately, it will cost $140 both ways to get the chain there.  I wandered around the anchorage, asking if anyone else wants to share the transport cost and Grant from “Viandante” says that he’ll probably get some of his chain done as well.  Fingers crossed.

Impromptu party on the bus to Canoa

5 January 2014  Bahia de Caraques, Ecuador
We caught a bus to Canoa with Michael and Rachelle from “Salamander”.  The bus was packed with a large group of 18 year old locals, who were having a mobile party, singing along to a guitar and bongo drums.  It was interesting to see the culture difference between here and the UK – you wouldn’t see young people having such innocent fun in the UK, where it would be uncool to be seen singing in a public place (unless they were drunk, of course…)

We walked onto the beach and found a group of caballeros with six horses.  It was total chaos trying to arrange for the four of us to go for a long ride.  The horses are each owned by one person and there’s no coordination between the individuals.  We wanted to go for a two hour ride and expected that there would be one guide going along with us on a horse.  They didn't see it that way, and by the time that we’d tried to explain in our poor Spanish, two of the horses had already been taken by other people.

Unfazed by this, the caballeros got us onto the four remaining horses and we then had the four owners running along behind us.  We followed the same route that Glenys and I did a month ago, going along dirt roads up to the top of the cliffs.  Unfortunately, the road has been recently recovered with sharp stones, which meant that we couldn't canter much.  Also, the road surface hurt our guides’ bare feet, so one of them got up onto Michael’s horse and rode behind him. Michael wasn't too pleased with the close bodily contact, but the guide didn't understand that there was a problem.

After 30 minutes, I volunteered to walk and gave my horse to the guide to give Michael some respite from riding double.  We then took turns in riding and walking for the rest of the trip.  It was very chaotic, but only cost $20 each for two interesting hours. We had an Almuerzo Tipico lunch and then went for a walk along the busy beach before catching a bus to Bahia.  

Back on the boat, I helped Grant from “Viandante” to separate two badly rusted shackles connecting his anchor to his chain, and then arranged to drop our chains ashore at high tide at seven o'clock tomorrow morning.  We then retired to the bar for happy hour with some of the other cruisers.

6 January 2014  Bahia de Caraques, Ecuador
We were up at half past six and took the chain ashore.  It was a major operation because we had to put the 60 metres of chain into our dinghy and then pull it up a concrete sea wall into the grounds of Puerto Amistad.  There was quite a bit of swell and the sea wall was covered in nasty sharp barnacles, so the biggest challenge was keeping our inflatable dinghy from being shredded as the chain was pulled up.

We were back on jobs today.  I serviced our small outboard, which has not been worked on for 2½ years.  I’m surprised that it ran at all because the carburettor was very badly gummed up – it took me ages to clean it.  Glenys pottered about and carried on varnishing the cockpit shelving.

Servicing the outboard

Our generator is fitted with a water separator, which splits the exhaust water from the exhaust gas.  The exhaust gas comes out of an outlet above the water line and the water comes of an underwater skin fitting.  I noticed the other day that we were getting water coming out of the exhaust gas outlet, which indicated that the water outlet was blocked.  

So I dived down to have a look.  It took me five minutes to find the skin fitting because the water was so full of sediment that I literally couldn't see any further than one foot.  Having eventually found the skin fitting by touch, I discovered that it was blocked by barnacles and soon had it cleared with the aid of a long screwdriver.

In the evening, I spent two hours trying to print out a list of things to do and buy in Manta, but our damn printer just wouldn't work.  I’ve discovered that Hewlett Packard have method of stopping the printer using non-HP cartridges and I wonder if it doesn't like the cartridges that I bought in Panama.  Eventually, I had to write the four page list out by hand – the bloody printer is definitely going into the bin.

7 January 2014  Bahia de Caraques, Ecuador
Our taxi driver, Geovanny, picked us up at eight o'clock and drove us into Manta.  Our first stop was at a metal fabrication shop where I dropped off our leaking holding tank and the vane from our Hydrovane to get it shortened by two inches because it’s been hitting our arch on certain points of sail.

Geovanny then took us to the “best” marine and hardware store in town.  It was bedlam.  I was expecting a “self-serve” store, but I had to ask for everything.  It was so sequential, with the guy running off to try to find one part at a time.  Sometimes he was gone for five minutes.  They didn’t have a lot of the specialist yacht things that I wanted, but I managed to get a litre of paint thinners (in an old Coca-cola bottle), a 40mm hole drill, some insulation tape and a gallon of degreaser – I actually only wanted a litre of the stuff, but by the end, I’d lost the will to live. 

Varnishing in front cabin

We drove around town and Geovanny did a good job taking us to various places to get plywood, a camera battery, outboard parts and I even bought a laser printer for $85.  The printer comes with a small toner cartridge and a new cartridge costs $89 – what’s that about?  If you ever wanted proof that printers are sold at a loss so that the manufacturers can make money on the ink then this is it!

We arrived back in Bahia at six o’clock - totally knackered.   It only cost us $60 for Geovanny’s time and it was well worth the expense – it would have taken us days to get the same amount of stuff done without a car.  Back on the boat, Glenys rustled up Huevos Rancheros and we collapsed with a movie.

8 January 2014  Bahia de Caraques, Ecuador
We had a day pottering around on the boat.  I got my new laser printer working, which is wonderful.  I now need to buy an $89 replacement toner cartridge next time that we go into Manta.  I found out that I can get a kit in the USA to recharge the toner cartridge for only $15.  If only I was in the States…

I had a good day finishing off some jobs – I replaced the holding tank and fitted a new shear pin on our 2.5hp outboard, which I found in my spares locker.  I also fitted the new toilet seat that I bought yesterday.  Amazingly, it fits the toilet bowl, but the hinges aren’t as strong as the old ones, so I’ve kept the hinges in case the new ones break – more junk in my spares collection.

Glenys went into town to get some more cash after our blow out day and try to find a rucksack, but there’s no chance of finding technical hiking gear here – she’ll have to get one in Quito when we go in a few days’ time.