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Puerto Amistad A New Destination For Cruisers In Ecuador

By doina — last modified Jul 19, 2004 02:50 PM

Published: 2004-07-19 14:50:53
Countries: Ecuador

Dear Noonsite,

I’d like to let the visitors to Noonsite know about a new cruising destination on the coast of Ecuador. Six hundred miles south of Panama City, Bahía de Caráquez is a port of entry, and is a great place to visit for boats that are heading off for the Coconut Milk Run, or want a change from Panama/Costa Rica.

I arrived here in March this year, planning to stay a couple of weeks before moving on to Salinas to leave my boat while I traveled inland for a year. But when I arrived, I found the friendliest people I’ve run across since cruising, a safe town where I can walk anywhere, good cheap food ($1-2 for lunch), a fabulous climate for the boat (no storms, no squalls, no lightening, no mould/mildew) – I was beginning to waver in my plan. Then I met Gary Swenson, an American ex-pat and retired cruiser who married a local girl. He had just installed ten moorings and a small dinghy dock called Puerto Amistad (Friendship Port in Spanish). One thing led to another and I decided to swallow the hook and go into partnership with Gary. We now have twenty-two moorings and have obtained a long-term lease on the old municipal pier where we are building a restaurant/bar, new dinghy dock, and bathhouse; the new improvements will be available in December.

Our marina is based on a philosophy of “By cruisers, for cruisers” and in that spirit is priced for the majority of people. Moorings (5000 lbs of concrete and steel) are available for $125/month. A dinghy dock is available for those that prefer their own hook. Cruisers in the area are starting to discover how wonderful Bahia is; we currently have 25 boats in the estuary, and this is supposed to be the low season!

We plan to have the marina (sans slips) in place by December 2004 in time for the folks that are heading off on the coconut milk run. We will have a restaurant/bar, bath house with hot showers, dinghy dock, laundry service, and parts importation service.

Bahía (as it’s locally called) is a beach resort town, primarily frequented by Ecuadorian tourists. It was severely damaged in the 1997/1998 El Niño, and then hit by a 7.2 earthquake the following year. If that weren’t enough, the local shrimp farming industry was affected by the “White Spot” virus that cut yields to 10% of previous levels, leaving the economy in shambles. Bahía has reinvented itself as an eco-city and is doing nicely; the locals just love all the yachts that have suddenly started showing up. Local activities include a nice museum, beaches, surfing, whale-watching, birding, hiking, mountain biking, and horse-back riding, not to mention that you are eight hours away from Quito and the Andes which you can’t pass up.

Anyone thinking to come to Bahía can contact either Gary or myself at Puerto Amistad for info PuertoAmistadEcuador@yahoo.com www.PuertoAmistadEcuador.com

Also check on the Panama Pacific Net (8.143 MHz, 1400 UTC) for the latest cruiser input. If you decide to come, anchor at waypoint (00º 35.805S, 080º26.832W), which you approach from the west to avoid shoals to the north. Call Puerto Amistad on VHF 69 to arrange for our pilot, César, to come out and guide you in over the river bar at daylight high tide. Controlling depth over the bar is about eight feet, but people with draft of 7-8 feet enter on the spring tides without problem.

Tripp Martin, S/V Walkabout

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