The government of Ecuador in its efforts to preserve this state of nature under the ever increasing pressure of so called 'environmental tourism', has to continually tighten up restrictions on visiting vessels, which of course includes cruising yachts.
The report explains that all yachts planning to visit the Galapagos Islands must have their hull professionally cleaned before leaving their previous port. On arrival in the islands, it will be inspected, possibly by a diver, to ensure there is no foreign marine life which can endanger the native ecosystem.
|Anchorage at Puerto Aroyo|
In addition, the yacht must be fumigated. Preferably before arrival, but it can be carried out on arrival. Ensure that an approved product is used and that you have a certificate.
The new requirements also specify that two notices be posted on the yacht.
One, on the outside stating ‘Do not throw garbage overboard’ and another on the inside by the engine compartment saying ‘Do not discharge Black waters into the sea’.
When I sailed into Puerto Ayoro, whilst similar restrictions were in place, the general administration of them was certainly more relaxed than it is today. We didn't have a 'Autographo' and therefore neither a 'National Zarpe', but being aware of the regulations figured we would not be allowed to stay much more than the 72hr. allowance.
|Tere Moana at anchor looking very small|
"Dawn breaks a murky grey sheet over the town. The bugle blast of the navy reveille is the first sound to be heard, and her crew stumble into the cockpit. Peering into the mist they realise they are moored directly off the local navy base. Without a military vessel in sight, crisp white uniformed ratings line up in the quadrangle, and salute the Ecuador flag as it is hoisted up its staff. Our crew remind themselves that Ecuador is indeed a democracy and they have no need to worry – however, following on from what they saw the previous evening, the nagging doubts firmly lodged in the corner of their minds will not disperse.
|Seals (and others) on the beach, Galapagos|
In their smartest casual gear they manage the tricky landing on the stone wall, stepping ashore with the minimum amount of mud and salt water stains on their clothing. Straightening their garments as best they can, and the captain, importantly carrying their waterproof doco/passport bag tucked under one arm, they set off down the quay. Arriving at the lovely old colonial stone building which is the Custom house, and Puerto Capitano’s office, all varnish and gloss inside, they are ushered into his office. A handsome fortyish officer, with a level gaze, stares at them bleakly from the other side of a huge desk. Varnish must be cheap in this country as this piece of furniture is positively glowing.
|Sea lions at play|
‘And how long is it you would like to be staying in our country?’.
Our captain, momentarily taken aback, but having risen early, replies that ten days would be very nice indeed, thankyou.
‘Not a problem’, a now very relaxed Puerto Capitano replies.
Visas are produced, with passports being stamped accordingly, entry fees paid, and our crew shuffle backwards out of his office almost bowing as they go. Our captain is on the point of inviting the Port Captain to join them for a beer at some point at his convenience, but considers this might be pushing their new relationship a little too far! Instead, they march straight faced down the sea wall, eyes to the front, out of sight round the first corner and suddenly leap into the air, fist punching in their exhilaration. Ten days to explore these fabulous evolutionary islands. A local fruit seller looking out from his stall gives them a quizzical glance – crazy foreigners! Events as we shall see will extend this time to eleven days. Later, checking their entry fee dockets, our crew discover that it was somewhat less than they had calculated."
Visit the Noonsite website and you can find a wealth of information on the necessary documents, fees and restrictions that need to be complied with to legally sail amongst these fabulous islands. Here are two links that will help you :
You can find out about the events that led to our stay being extended in my book 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise' available from my website http://www.sailboat2adventure.com and much more about the cruising lifestyle on passage.