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Overcharged and Threatened in the Galapagos – San Cristobal

By Sue Richards last modified Aug 23, 2009 12:56 PM

Published: 2009-08-23 12:56:54
Countries: Galapagos

Reported by Yacht Seren

Arrival in the Galapagos – San Cristobal

Fernando came aboard (an agent contracted by Yachtgala). We discussed a total price. No extras. It was agreed he would take 70usd as his agents fee - I made him write down the fee structure, he signed the receipt. The port captain’s fee was explained as 30usd per ton. He over charged me by 45usd for the port captains fee which is a set fee of 66.27usd plus 3usd per ton.

When we got to the immigration there was suddenly another 15usd to pay. Then he said there would be another 27usd to clear out later. I was not happy but paid it. When I found out that we were supposed to have been given the receipt from the port captain and realised from looking at another yacht's receipt that we had been ripped off, I asked him for the receipt. I went to the office of Carmela who owns the agency, her man there tried to give me a falsified receipt. I went to the port captain and explained it to him. The port captain sorted it out (the port captain seems to be the only honest person in the town).

There was another yacht who had also been ripped off and wanted to speak to Fernando. Fernando's English isn’t good and we needed to be clear in our discussion, so we all went to Fernando's brother Chalo's boat (dive operator with whom the skipper had previously been diving with) as he spoke better English, to explain the money issue and how Fernando was trying to rip us off.

Chalo told us to shut-up about it or he would take his gun, shoot us and feed us to the sharks. He said this 3 times to be clear. I headed to the port captain but there was no need. A water taxi driver had already contacted him when he heard Chalo threaten us. The port captain was on his way to help us when we got a water taxi off the boat. Chalo has since had his tourist license revoked because of this.

We were overcharged and ripped off everywhere.

I have been working with the port captain on a form to give each yacht on arrival. The form will include all the costs and laws of immigration. It will need to be signed by the skipper to show he knows what he should pay and returned to the port captain with the fees. This we both hope will stop the corruption and I hope to update my post with more positive results as they come to hand.

Steve Allen
Yacht Seren

Seren’s bad experience was also confirmed by Yacht Valiam, who were anchored next to Seren in San Cristobal.

My name is Linda Anderson and I am co-skipper on our yacht Valiam and we were anchored next to Seren and the British yacht in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno at the same time this July. I support Steve's letter to noonsite as the behaviour of Challos and Fernando was despicable towards the British couple. My husband and I went over to the British couple to lend support when they arrived dismasted. They were very traumatised. Within minutes Challos and Fernando arrived demanding money. If I had realised at the time how much the British skipper handed over I would have said something. We used Bolivar a different agent who charged $80 for his services and did not add 100s of dollars to immigration and port fees as Fernando did.

I heard first hand from the British couple what was said to them by Challos. I advised Steve skipper of Seren (who could speak Spanish) to report the incident to the port captain. I also said no tourists should be treated this way. From what the British couple said to me Challos threatened them with "I can shoot you with my gun and throw you overboard to the sharks". The British skipper's wife said to me "You should have seen his eyes. He was so threatening". It was not until the intervention of the port captain that Fernando and his brother Challos were forced to handout the extra 100s of dollars charged to both the British yacht and Seren.

We have used noonsite for our whole circumnavigation and appreciate all the information on clearing in etc. for each country we have visited. We also read pertinent reports from other yachts. I think its important that incidents such as this need to be made public so that yachtsmen can be fully informed.

Linda Anderson
SV Valiam
on route to Tuamotus from Marquesas

Received from John Kerr & Jane Tucker on S/V Tara III
We were at San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos when S/V Seren had problems with the YachtGala agent. We used the same agent (Fernando) and he attempted to cheat us by overcharging for the Port Captain's dues. After Seren's experience we presented our receipts and were refunded the over-paid amount.

Response from Yachtgala

In regards to Fernando - he is not our standard employee. He only is contracted by services that he can help us to provide such as fuel, water and other.. I asked Fernando an explanation in regards to this issue. No body wanted to ripp money to this cruiser. He needs to be clear by saying that. Probably he saw everything expensive. If he requires a service and if the service is expensive or cheap is up to the client decision to take it or not.

I was more than surprise of the agent charge. I have asked Carmela why she charged him so low. Our charge for cruisers is 120 for agency fee. She told me that she had to reduce due that the cruiser asked for a lower price. We normally have our prices in the agency fee in order to avoid any inconvenience with the rest of the community. OUR CHARGE IS different according to the activities or length of stay of the cruiser. To all our price goes according to the condition. We can not charge the same if a cruiser stay 1 month or 2 months rather than 20 days. I hope you may understand in that.

Galapagos is extremely expensive place in comparison with the rest of the world. Probably most cruiser has a tight budget and this is reason that probably they think the are taking advantage of.

I hope you understand that we can not control every situation with the cruisers required. The issue here was not directly with our company.

Johnny Romero

Saileosa13 says:
Jun 04, 2014 04:56 AM

I am a professional delivery skipper specializing in Atlantic catamarans which are built in Valdivia, Chile. Galapagos is always our first port of call in transmitting to the final desktop nations. Without hesitation I contact and exclusively use Johnny Romero.
The regulations change like the tides in Galapagos for visiting yachts. Every time the procedures are new. Johnny and Javier, who has worked a long time for Naugala Yacht Services, have never been anything less than honest and accommodating to our needs and schedule. As with all government dealings, some things are not in his control.
The last visit we arrived on The evening before Good friday in a very religious country. We were on a very tight schedule to reach the owners of the yacht in Panama. Johnny was successful in arranging for all of the necessary agencies to inspect the boat, delivered fuel and assisted in transportation for provisions in one day! Many thanks to him and his efforts. This was my fifth experience using him and I will never choose otherwise.
Hope to see you again soon, Johnny. Captain Dale Norley