Visiting Ecuador

Launching Day And Final Preparations (continued)

The Three Musketeers, Belair, Nine of Cups, and Cosmos, all dressed up and about to go places.  

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

We need to visit the immigration office today for sure, so we left early in case there are problems. Thankfully, the official was in his office, which was furnished with some dilapidated furniture with miscellaneous pictures and bulletins on the walls. There was a minor snafu because the previous immigration official at their last port had given Marcie and David the wrong copy of a document. Everything else went fine and we headed off in a cab to the port captain, located some distance away in Salinas.

When we got there, we discovered we didn't have our passports. We were all a little frantic since we didn't know what happened to them—maybe they fell out of the folder somewhere. We took a cab back to the immigration office to check that location. David walked up to the office, but when he came back down, he had a glum look on his face. When he got in the cab, Marcie asked him "did he have the passports?" and he cracked a joke that he only had two of them. Of course he had all three—the immigration official noticed them on his desk just after we left, and he knew we wouldn't get far without them.

We went back to the port captain but he was no longer in his office. After we waited 45 minutes, his secretary started working on the forms. She was quite attractive and well-dressed, with a semi-see-through white blouse with her lacy bra plainly visible. I figured she was a good catch for the port captain—as the highest-ranking officer, he probably rated the cutest secretary.

Finally the port captain returned and completed the paperwork. There were a lot of forms, many in duplicate or triplicate. They don't have "automatic" carbonless forms, so they have to feed the forms into the printer or typewriter with carbon paper between the sheets. The carbon paper had been used so many times it was almost clear in places. Once the formalities were completed, the port captain shook hands with each of us and wished us a good voyage.

Before we left the boat that morning, David discovered that there was a leak in a propane line connection and one whole propane tank was empty. The propane locker has two tanks and they like to start a voyage with both tanks full. Due to incompatible fittings, it can be a real pain to get an American tank refilled. Instead, the cab driver took us to a gas station that also sold propane tanks, where David bought a 30-lb propane tank. The tank plus the propane cost about $37, but most of that was the deposit on the tank. Propane prices are fixed by the government, and 30-lbs of propane cost only $1.60, a real bargain. David also bought a regulator and hose, then back on the boat, spent several hours rigging everything to use the new tank. Right now, we don't have a good way to transfer gas from tank to tank.

After dinner, we discussed watchstanding schedules. Since Marcie does all the cooking and cleaning (a major responsibility, especially since she has very high standards), she has less on-deck watchkeeping. My watches are 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight. David always follows me: 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., 12:00 midnight to 4:00 a.m. Marcie does 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. The diagram below shows this graphically (using a 24-hour clock format):

Watchstanding Schedule




Tomorrow should be a big day. We think we're all set; we plan to leave 8 - 9'ish. The adventure continues in the next section as we cast off our lines and head for the Galápagos.

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