Our passage from Panama to Ecuador took a good 6 days. We started from Las Perlas / Ilsa del Rey. The route is not completely uncomplicated due to the prevailing (or sometimes non-existent) winds and currents. The area around the equator is generally considered to be low in wind. This area is also called the inner-tropical convergence zone or also known as doldrums or the calms. On the route from Panama to Ecuador, regional weather and current conditions must also be taken into account. Fortunately, we now have reasonably reliable weather reports. We have waited a few days to get a reasonably useful weather window. Especially we wanted to avoid the announced “heavy thunderstorms”. We already had enough of that on the crossing from Colombia to Panama. Admittedly, there are certainly worse things than being on Las Perlas a few days to stroll and wait. 😃🏖
The crossing itself went very well. We had everything from 0 to 7 Bft. wind. But the currents in this area of the Pacific Ocean are quite impressive. Just 2 examples: once we were still sailing at 2.5 to 3 knots in a total lull, driven only by the current and waves. On the other hand, we also had the case that despite sail and engine we only made progress with difficulty about 2 to 2.5 knots towards our destination.
So I think it was a good idea that we took the current conditions into account when choosing our route. We were already somewhat prepared by sailing friends and relevant literature (see below). We chose an “offshore” route far away from the land. We even stayed west of Malpelo Island (a small rocky island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, which belongs to Colombia). This is a detour, but closer to land the current conditions are less favourable and you can also get into the notorious “southwest winds”, to sail against it can be very uncomfortable.
We were also very happy to sail a long distance again after a few months. In Panama we were quite often on the way but mostly only day trips.
On the route we also saw a lot of things. For the first time we met whales 🐳 and also dolphins 🐬 visited us and accompanied us a bit. We know that flying fish jump on board since our Atlantic crossing, but that squids land on board was new to us. 😲 We had this visit twice. One of them left a lot of ink traces on our aft cabin. We hope to get rid of them again. Shortly before Ecuador we also saw big sea turtles that swam very close to our boat.
On the last day of the passage we also crossed the equator. We had “visit” from Neptune for the line-crossing ceremony. Now we are probably real salty souls. The Marina “Puerto Amistad” / Bahía de Caráquez in Ecuador is located in an estuary. At the entrance it is partly very flat and therefore you can only enter during high water. Because we arrived only a while after high tide, we had to anchor outside the harbour for another night. The city makes a quite nice impression at first sight. But we will report more about it soon.
Altogether we spent about 6 1/2 days at sea and covered 620 nautical miles.