Imagine arriving into a new country at 0400 on New Year’s Day. Brilliant, right? How the heck are we going to get officials to clear us into the country on a National holiday? Ugh.
Our new IridiumGo enabled us to communicate with the marina and local officials before our arrival. However, because we motored in at 0100 Galapagos time or 0400 local time, nothing was open and everything was pitch black. So, Matt dutifully drove us in circles until sunrise. Once the sun the came up, we headed over to a shoal where we dropped anchor in 15 meters of water.
Antofagasta is a much bigger city that any of us anticipated. In this photo below you can see all of the foam that surrounded us prior to getting to the marina entrance.
Unfortunately, the red tide has found its way to Chile and has turned the water a dark muddy red. In addition, there is a huge pocket of foam floating around as we get closer to shore – very unappealing. The photo doesn’t show the red tide, but trust me when I saw it aint pretty.
There were also dozens and dozens of jelly fish. Their sizes ranging from the size of a lemon to the size of a basketball. Huge, swirly tails trailing behind them. I could not get a decent photo with anchoring and other activities going on at the time.
Entering the bay requires local knowledge. The marina said they would send someone out to meet us at 1030 so we had some time to kill. We set a temporary anchor and hit the sack for a few hours.
True to their word, Theo, the marina manager came out to greet us, explain the mooring process and guide us in. There are shoals and large shallow patches all around, so we were grateful for the help. We came in, turned around, dropped anchor, pulled back to first buoy where we tied bow lines and pulled back more to a stern buoy. We tightened up all the lines, thanked them profusely and wished them a happy NY. They informed us officials would be on board at 1530 and we had 5 more hours to burn on-board.
Three officials came aboard. They were extremely professional, efficient and friendly. Lucky for us, I had been in communication with SAG, the local official, before arrival so I had all of our paperwork prepared ahead of time. In addition, we had made sure we had no live plants, animals, organic food, fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, nuts, coffee beans, and limited frozen meats. All part of the dance you do when you enter a new country.
After forcing some of my cookies on them, we wished them a happy NY and sent them on their way. It did not take us long to hop in the dinghy to go to shore. We were all in need of a good walk!
We have some new neighbors. Giant “Lobos” call the marina home and make an awful lot of noise. These enormous sea wolves are some of the biggest sea creatures I have ever seen. Most of them well over 300-400lbs a piece. In order to get up on to the dock, they dip under and burst up and then sit on the edge to catch their breath. Sometimes it takes two or three times before they make it up.
The sea lions like to sit half way up with their noses in the air. Might because they are posturing or declaring their dominance. Maybe they just like to stretch their necks or dry out their underbellies. Who knows. Either way, sometimes they just look like a giant, hairy turd. Still, they captivate us.
We explore Antofagasta, find a movie theater, bowling ally, two markets, and a well-stocked hardware store.