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FAQs on Ecuador

By doina — last modified May 30, 2003 12:50 PM

Published: 2003-05-30 12:50:34
Countries: Ecuador , Galapagos

Dear Jimmy

We've been toying for some time with the idea of going to mainland Ecuador before heading west to the Galapagos and then to the S Pacific. We've had several friends visit Ecuador and have heard many good reports about it. We were wondering if we could ask you a couple of questions about Ecuador. If there's a "cruising guide" for the place, we haven't found it! We do have both your Cruising Routes and Cruising Handbook, and were please to see that our potential November trip down there was in the "best time" range. I don't know if you have time to answer such queries, but just in case, I'll try to make them short:

(1) Our current thinking is to head from Panama to Ecuador in early Nov, but wondered about moving it forward into Oct?

(2) Is there a good place to leave the boat for an extended period in Ecuador? We're looking to do both inland travel there and go home for 6 wks over Xmas. We have heard conflicting reports on the Puerto Lucia Yacht Club and wondered if you could weigh in with an opinion or an alternative.

(3) We have heard there are issues around departing from mainland Ecuador for the Galapagos. Is this a problem? Your "Handbook" says, "This is a good place to leave for the Galapagos Islands" but we've also heard you can't go directly there from the mainland....? The wording in the Handbook was a little unclear about this.

(4) Assuming we CAN go to the Galapagos from the mainland, and that our ultimate destination is the Marquesas, is there a recommended time for leaving Ecuador? We've just assumed we'd work backwards from a 1 April Marquesas arrival, figuring about 3 weeks in the Galap and about 3 wks to get from there to the Marq's, which would mean leaving Ecuador in the middle of Feb. Does that make sense or is it better to go a little later? (We've read every article there is on this topic and there's much variation in opinion!!)

Many thanks for whatever input you can give. Katie and Jim Coolbaugh Asylum

Dear Katie and Jim,

(1) Going south from Panama is no real problem, so either Oct or Nov would do. You may have light winds, so take enough fuel. Also, keep well away from Colombian waters, and only close with Ecuadorian coast in last 20-30 miles, as there are lots of longlines out, so very dangerous at night.

(2) Puerto Lucia YC in La Libertad is the perfect place to leave the boat for long periods. Security is excellent. I left my own boat there for nearly one year and cannot speak of the place highly enough. The staff are very helpful, and all the bad reports you heard are totally unjustified. The manager of the Club is Galo Ortiz, a personal friend, who will do everything in his power to welcome you. Email him for more questions: [email protected] or [email protected]

The marina is a safe place to leave the boat if you intend to travel inland, and there are no real alternatives anywhere else.

(3) When you clear out from Ecuador, you must say you are going to Marquesas (only emergency stops are allowed in Galapagos, so ... emergencies cannot be foreseen, can they?). Then you just stop in Galapagos like everyone else. This year, they were quite strict (even with boats coming from Panama) so you may only be able to stop at one of the ports of entry only... but things may change.

(4) I left the mainland on 2 March, stopped in Isabela for 2 days, and arrived in Hiva Oa on 29 March, so your idea of not arriving in Marquesas before 1 April makes sense. We had good winds (6 to 16 knots) and made a fast 19 day passage, much of it under spinnaker.

I hope the above helps you with your planning.


Jimmy Cornell