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Puerto Amistad (Bahía de Caráquez): Cruiser's Impressions

By Val Ellis last modified Apr 14, 2015 01:05 PM

Published: 2015-04-14 10:55:00
Countries: Ecuador

Posted April 2015

We spent 3 months in Bahia de Caraquez, from December 2014 to March 2015.

This place is absolutely superb! Coming from Panama, with it’s high prices, “manana” attitude, and poor facilities (on the Pacific side), Ecuador is a breath of fresh air, and very cheap to boot! The climate is also a nice change from the Panama thunderstorms. It is warm during the day, cool at night, and it rarely rains.

Puerto Amistad, founded and run by Tripp Martin and his wife is a heaven of warmth, friendly attitude, decent pricing and security. A very good and safe place to leave the yacht while traveling inland or heading home. The mooring field (no marina, no haul out facility) is a short hop up the river Chone, with very solid and well looked after moorings (one moors front and aft, with space for anchoring in the same vicinity). Entrance into the river requires a pilot (40$, VHF 69), and is only possible at high tide (for tide tables, see the Puerto Amistad website).

Puerto Amistad acts as the agent, and clearing cost is about 350$, which includes agency fees, port authorities, sanitary authorities, immigration and customs. This seems expensive, but is a fraction of what it costs in Salinas, 110 miles further South (see 
separate report on Puerto Lucia in Salinas/La Libertad).

Mooring fees are about 400$ a month, which includes decent showers/toilets, access to the dinghy dock, free water, ice and wifi. There is a good restaurant at the “marina”, and happy hour from 5 to 7, with great staff, and a relaxed atmosphere. On Sundays, the restaurant is closed, and the cruisers have free access to the BBQ for some friendly gathering.

Bahia de Caraquez is also surprisingly a great place to get work done. Although there is no haul out facility, which limits the type of work, the place has an outstanding mechanic (Wacho, phone 0997914250), who will fix any engine, get parts machined if necessary, and will find parts if at all available in Ecuador. He will also advise on the best man around for any other specialty.

Another excellent contact for refrigeration is Jose Pedro, phone 09889711006.

Canvas work can be done either on site by Renaud, a French sailor on his catamaran, or in town (see Wacho). Typical hourly fees are 20 $, compared with 50 or 60 in Panama.

The marina staff will clean hulls, do minor paint and varnishing jobs for a very low price.

Gas refills are available, as well as diesel and gasoline (diesel is heavily subsidized, and in theory the local price doesn’t apply to visiting yachts, but there are ways…)

The main problem in Ecuador is parts. High import tariffs, and possible delays in Guayaquil mean that is it wise to come with parts from Panama, where it is easy to bring in parts duty free (Marine Warehouse is very efficient there in our experience).

We regret having done so much in Panama, which could have been done in Bahia much faster, probably better and a lot cheaper! All in all, a great place which we recommend warmly. It is also some 600 miles South of Panama, meaning one gets much faster in the trades for the Pacific crossing.

Olivier
SY Mary Ann

 

Posted February 2011

There is now a bridge across the harbour above Puerto Amistad, so the only options for staying here are to anchor outside the mooring field or to take a mooring at Puerto Amistad.

The facility is nice and very clean with good showers and a laundry service. The town is charming and shopping for basic supplies is good, although proper provisioning would have to be done in Manta, about an hour away by taxi. Hiring a taxi for the day to shop in Manta costs about $35.

Buses run all over Ecuador and cost on average, $1 per hour, so a ride to Quito, for example, takes 7-8 hours and costs $7-8.

A lot of trees and vegetation come down the river and through the mooring field. We know of some people who have left their boats here for many months at anchor, but hiring a local to keep the debris clear is virtually mandatory.

Clearing was the easiest we have ever experienced in twenty years of cruising. The papers were all taken by our pilot and Tripp from Puerto Amistad did the rest. All we had to do was have a beer (or two) at the bar and then we were done! We did have to leave the passports overnight and a taxi driver took them to Manta and got our visas, but no other hassles were encountered.

There is free water on the dinghy dock but it is not potable. Diesel is available through Puerto Amistad, delivered to the boat in your jugs for $1.50 per gallon. Food costs here are well below what we saw in Panama and we regret not waiting till here to do our major provisioning for the Pacific crossing.

We encountered a 1/2 to 1 knot following current all the way from Las Perlas to the equator when it turned against us at about 1/2 knot for the remainder of the passage. We had not intended to come here as a direct passage to Galapagos had seemed more logical, but because of the light winds we were encountering between Panama and Galapagos, we decided to detour here first and are very glad we did. Ecuador is beautiful, inexpensive and the people are welcoming and helpful.

Our thanks to Todd Duff for this report.

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