Loading Map

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Isla de la Plata

As most of you know by now we are currently at Isla de la Plata to fix a huge tear in the main sail which happened less than two days out of Bahia on our way to the Galapagos. We decided to divert here to see if it's repairable, and to see a part of Ecuador that we missed last year. If John can fix the sail to his satisfaction, we will continue on. If he's not confident the repair can make the trip to the Marquesas (where we can have a new sail shipped in for the rest of the more upwind trip to Hawaii), we will return to Bahia for another season and put our plans on hold until next year. But after being shaken down for $85 (bargained down from a total of $165 originally requested!) to stay at Plata for three measly nights, we are determined to make the repair and get going again.

We are still burning over the high cost to visit the "poor man's Galapagos." The original asking price was $40 per person park fee, plus $15/night for the boat, plus $20 per person to walk on shore. After some hard bargaining John got the price almost cut in half, and they threw in our late arrival last night for free. John thinks the amount requested would normally have been smaller but there was a shift change - it's Sunday - and we had to cover "tips" to two rangers. Keep in mind that though these charges may be "official," no one is ever willing to give you a receipt to show you paid them. So in effect, all of the money paid goes into the pocket of the particular individual it's paid to. Later in the day the park boat operator tried to hit us up for fees until John made it clear to him that we had already paid the guy on shore. Which is hard to do when you don't have a receipt to show the next guy down the line with his hand out.

John asked and they are also going to let us use part of the patio at the large building on shore to work on the sail but we have to wait until the tourists leave. The tourists arrived at Noon and went off on their choice of 2 1/2 or 3 hour hikes, so we won't get much done before dark tonight. We are straightening up from our salty two day sail, and John is prepping the mainsail. A couple of sea turtles have cruised by the boat but we haven't been in the (77 degree!) water to swim with any yet. We'll play after we get the job finished.

(this is John writing now...) I wanted to make an observation about this sail thing. The tear happened at about 7pm Friday. I have never had a sail blow up on my boat before so we made the decision to turn around. When we reported the next morning on the radio that we had decided to return to the mainland to make repairs, a couple of boats seemed a little surprised at our decision. Then after we said we'd scrub our plans for the Marquesas there was a little more talk about just repairing it and carrying on. Or just carrying on without the sail. The fact that we may have to sail 4,000 miles without a mainsail didn't seem to make much difference to these particular people. These boats, three or four in total, are completing circumnavigations. My observation is that these guys know that you do the best you can and you carry on. As long as you have a sound hull and a mast standing, you'll eventually get where you're going.

Linda and John