May 4, 2001
Just to let you know we have arrived back in civilization. We spent a total of three nights as Isla de la Plata, which we grew quite fond of despite the chilly air and water(Did we mention the water temp was 67 degrees?) Then, on Monday, the 30th we wrenched ourselves away, despite the promise of the first sunny day and cruised 21 miles over to the mainland to check out an anchorage in the ParqueMachalilla called Los Frailles. we actually sailed a bit of the way in the cool, clear sunny morning, before the wind dies away, but it was joous to get some sunshine.
Los Frailles proved to be a big open bay with a long sandy beach with dramatic rocky cliffs at each end. Parque Machalilla protects the very last bit of original tropical dry forest along the Ecuadorian coastline and it appears to be a popular vacation beach. Popular did not make it crowded. At most we counted a couple of dozen people, all well spread out. With the wind out of the SW, TII sat with her stern to the beach and her bow bobbing nicely in the slight swell. Rationalized by lee shore and our inherent laziness, plus the fact that water was unpleasantly diiscolored by red tide, the decision was made just to hang out on the boat, do laundry and enjoy the sunshine. We actually peeled off all those long layers and did a little sunbathing! We got fried! Several people swam out to talk to us, however. The first was a group of three young Europeans -- Spain, Great Britain, and Finland -- on holiday from their cultural exchange jobs in Quito; and then a businessman from Quito. The next day we did actually swim to the beach ourselves, and it did feel good to stretch our legs. Interestingly, No one spoke to us on the beach!
The next morning we weighed anchor in the wee dark hours and motored nine hours, dodging several fishing boats and nets along the way, to arive midday into Puerto Lucia Yacht Club, one of the most modern and new facilities we have seen since we have left St. Thomas. There are two condo towers, a hotel for members' guests, a fancy restaurant, big pool, gym, and jacuzzi. The marina has its own yard (where Baker & Cindy are hauled out) which is small but clean as a pin with solid tile/stone paving and a 50 ton Travelift. Besides slips on the the floating docks, they have Med-Moor "slips" as well as regular moorings. The Yacht Club here charges $16,500.00 just for annual membership and then monthly fees are on top of that. When you think about the economy here, you realize that is a bloody fortune! The club is five years old, and we're told they have 400 members. However, in mid-week, off season, we yachties are the only souls in sight.
arrival we picked up a mooring that was pointed out to us by one
of the marina workers in a dingy that lead us in around the breakwater.
Friends, Cindy and Baker on Lite N Up, were "on thehard"
finishing their bottom job and waved and greeted us by radio. The
Club Manager appeared and announced that he had ordered lunch for
the four Americans to be delivered in a few minutes to the yard.
Some spread--shrimp,fish, calamari, french fries, fried plantatins
AND cold beer and a bottle of white wine. All served off the back
of a golf cart with plates and glasses (no paper or plastic here),
cloth napkins and a bucket of ice to keep the beer and wine at the
temp that you know ALL boaters require of their beverages!!!! Baker
and Cindy had talked about their other "American" friends
so much that he wanted to welcome us personally. Clearly, they are
working very hard to attract more transient boaters. The hospitality
sure worked on us, but I will have to say right now, we did not
ask for a membership application.
Later, Baker and I had to make the "usual" trip to the hardware for more paint and parts for LITE n Up. And Gwen went with Cindy to another American's apt to do laundry and emails. Baker introduced me to a local bar on the corner (and if any of you speak to Cindy, you should refrain from mentioning this as she thinks I'm a bad influence on Baker!) of the main street in town. I know, however, that it was not the first time Baker had been there (they have been in the marina for 4 days) because the toothless, 4' 10" bartender waved and smiled while grabbing a "grande" cerveza with two small glasses and greeted us with "Senoir Baker, como esta?" I may be slow, but this old boy KNEW Baker and now he knows ME! Anyway, we returned to the marina (not too long after that-honest) and found the girls still gone so we did the only thing we could do, have a beer and wait for them to return. They did not return. Instead we got a messsage to meet them at one of the local steak houses for dinner. Great meal, little more costly than we are used to (at least for the last few months), but it is the first time I have not been able to finish my steak--can we say "MUY GRANDE". Returned to the boat and slept like the dead......
This morning upon making the coffee and trying to decide in which way we were going to relax for the day, I poked my head outside to the cockpit and realized we were not in the marina. We were not even close to the marina! There was no wind to speak of and no seas to speak of, so we did not realize the mooring had come apart at the base and TII (and the mooring) had drifted out on the tide and whatever little breeze there had been. Now you have to understand that there is only one way into the marina. It is surrounded by land and most of that land has big rocks. On the way out of the marina we had to pass TWO channel markers and another pretty good-sized power boat on a mooring right in the middle of the channel. We ar not sure how far out in the open we got as the tide was actually coming back in when we discovered where we were. At this point we were actually at least a half mile outside the breakwater. Can we say "holy shit!" Not long after we realized where we were, the club's Security force (all 5 of them) appeared in one of the club dinghies. They didn't notice us "leaving" either; they just noticed us gone! I finished making the coffee while they untied the mooring ball from the bow of the boat, and we motored back in to the fuel dock. Hey, we were going to get fuel anyway.
About an hour or so later cluba manager shows up, shakes his head and looks to the heavens before walking down the ramp to the 2 Captains sitting in the cockpit. (Cindy had intercepted him at his truck so if the crew had not explained it to him, she sure as hell did). Well guess what? We all got invited to our second "welcome" meal, this time breakfast, and this time in the fancy restaurant, even as the marina crew donned scuba gear and tried to figure out what went awry. We heard later they couldn't even find our mooring in the mud, but we did notice that they checked out all the other moorings. We must say that this is the kind of response to a situation you like to see.
We have since fueled the boat, and moved into a "Med moor" slip--2 lines to the shore from the bow and 2 separate mooring lines to the stern, (note: that makes FOU attachment points!) water and power from shore. They could not do enough for us or fast enough for us. We are thinking it might be a good time to ask for a "discount" on one of those memberships!!!!! HA!
All in all, pretty damn scary, when you stop to think about it. BUT "no blood, no foul." There is a reason we alway prefer to use our own ground tackle, but it is not an option here. We may get a discount on our total stay; we really haven't asked yet. At the very least we should be able to use the fancy pool without the $6.00/pp/day guest fees. It is a great place, and we will not worry about leaving the boat for a few days (one of the Captains IS going to check the underwater connections before we leave it). Lite N UP goes back in the water this afternoon and the girls have researched our inland adventure.