QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE GALAPAGOS
INFORMATION FOR YACHTS SAILING FROM PANAMA TO GALAPAGOS
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS ( ARCHIPIELAGO DE COLON ):
Eastern Tropical Pacific around Equator and 90 Degreees West, 845 Nautical Miles from Panama.
SAILING ADVISORY AND INFORMATION PANAMA - GALAPAGOS:
Yachts sailing from Panama to Galapagos, or to mainland Ecuador, have to pass the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) on this voyage. The ITCZ is an area of disturbed unsettled weather surrounding the earth a few degrees north of Equator where the northeast and southeast Tradewinds converge and where the sea temperatures reach their maximum.
It is an area with moderate to strong convection interspersed with areas of calm (the doldrums). There is frequent torrential rain with thunder and lightning and often squally with winds from all directions. In the area between Panama and Galapagos ITCZ generally moves north and south around 5 degrees North and the area is about 3 Degrees wide.
Yachts leaving Panama should proceed towards Isla Mapelo (03-59 N & 81-36 W) as first waypoint. Depending of the location of ITCZ the wind will generally be from the north or northeast, light to moderate, leaving Panama until reaching ITCZ. South of ITCZ the wind will generally be from south west, light to moderate, and yachts should continue on a southerly course after Isla Mapelo to such time the wind shift more towards the south and eventually to southeast catching the Southeast Trade Wind, which normally happens around Equator. At that time yachts bound for Galapagos can hold a westerly course directly to Galapagos. Yachts bound mainland Ecuador normally will be able to steer directly towards their destination after Isla Mapelo, where the wind will shift from southwest to south and finally southeast depends of the location of the ITCZ, and the Marine Weather Fax Charts published by NOAA/NWS several times daily are showing the location of ITCZ.
Due to ITCZ yachts should calculate a fair amount of motor sailing on this passage.
The prevailing Ocean Current is the Humboldt Current (also called Peru Current) becoming the Equatorial Current towards the west. The Humboldt Current comes north along Peru’s coast and turn towards northwest and west around Galapagos and is present both north and south of the Islands. North and east of the Humboldt Current, in the area between Panama and Galapagos, a counter current coming from the west and going southward can also be expierenced.
1) Yachts leaving Balboa, Panama directly towards Isla Mapelo, without calling Islas Perlas, should keep well clear of Punta Mala in the western part of Golfo de Panama. The area around Punta Mala is known for some adverse weather conditions.
2) Yachts should also keep well clear of the coastal area near the Panama/Colombia border, as well as the pacific coast of Colombia in general. Reports have been received covering piracy activity in the border area, and even no recent reports are recorded from the pacific coast of Colombia, the area must be considered unsafe.
3) Yachts enroute are likely to meet small fishing vessels far off shore from the Colombian and Ecuadorian coasts. They are often approaching yachts to warn them of their nets or to do some trading, and no problems reported. Also close to the northern coast of Ecuador yachts have reported large areas with poorly marked floating nets.
4) Piracy: Some infrequent Piracy Activity reported in the area, in 2004 a yacht was attacked enroute Panama to Galapagos and during the past years several yachts reported being pursued by suspicios crafts, but escaped. Last year a attack reported close to the northern coast of Ecuador. Prudent measurers for a safe transit should be taken.
- Marine Weather Fax Charts covering eastern tropical Pacific from NOAA/NWS via US Coast Guard Stations at New Orleans, La. - Honolulu, Hawaii - Pt. Reyes, Ca. Schedule and Charts also available on NOAA/NWS Web-Site: weather.noaa.gov/fax/marine.shtml
- High Seas Text forecasts: www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/home.htm
- Passage Weather: www.passageweather.com
- Marine Weather on Line from: weatheronline.co.uk (go to Pacific Routes)
- GMDSS Marine Weather forecasts (METAREA XII) via Inmarsat or Web-Site:
- Yacht Net: Panama Pacific Net at 14:00 UTC on 8.143 Mhz. USB (SSB)
CLEARING IN AND OUT GALAPAGOS ISLANDS:
The Rules and regulations covering clearing in and out at Galapagos for visiting yachts have frequently changed over the years. New Regulations became effective by the middle of 2007 and 2008, however as before often the interpretation is up to the Official attending, causing confusion.
Generally yachts have following options:
- No advance cruising permit required.
- Clearence (Zarpe) from last port should not indicate Galapagos as destination but next foreign port after Galapagos (example Marquesas).
- Will be allowed to stay at Port of Entry up to 20 days.
A "Transit Call" at Galapagos, according to the Regulations, allows a yacht or vessel to make a call to one of the Ports of Entry, Puerto Ayora (Academy Bay), Isla Santa Cruz or Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (Wreck Bay), Isla San Cristobal, for provisions, repairs etc. Over the years yachts with no more than 10 crewmember, wishing to call Galapagos without a prior obtained permit, have been permitted restricted entry up to 20 days covered by this Regulations (Galapagos Law No: 50).
In some cases yachts have been restricted to less than 20 days, in other cases yachts have been granted permission to proceed and call other ports outside the Park Area!
Cruising Permit for the Park Area:
- Require an Agent or contact in Ecuador to apply and obtain the Cruising Permit for the Park Area well in advance of the planned arrival.
- Additional it is required that a guide is embarked when cruising the Park Area, cost of which about US$ 200,00 per day (2008).
Limited Cruising Permit to inhabited Ports outside the Park Area:
A limited Cruising Permit (Autografo) exist for inhabited Ports outside the Park Area: Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Isla San Cristobal - Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz - Villamil, Isla Isabela – Puerto Seymour, Isla Baltra – Puerto Ibarra, Isla Floreana.
Require an agent on Galapagos to apply and obtain the Cruising Permit before arrival, and could be arranged with relative short notice.
Some yachts even reported that they applied and obtained the permit on arrival!.
According to latest information received it is mandatory that the service of an agent is employed on Galapagos to arrange the formalities with the Authorities, clearing in and out with the Port Captain and Immigration etc.
Agents will offer their service upon arrival, and can only add that all reports received indicate positive and negative expierences, consequently unable to recommend any specific Company.
According to Regulations Park Fee should be paid by all visitors arriving Galapagos, however over the years, Park Fee has not been collected from most yachts calling the Islands covered by the Transit Rules.
Can only confirm that a certain amount of confusion and inconsistency prevail on Galapagos Islands in addition to bureaucracy, and to a lesser extend corruption, dealing with the Authorities and Agents. It is not clear which Authority is in charge, and each Authority has their own interpretation of the Laws, Rules and Regulations. However as maritime affairs are in the hands of Port Captains yachts must follow their instructions, requirements and regulations.
General Information, Jimmy Cornell's Web-Site: www.noonsite.com
Galapagos Chamber of Tourism: www.galapagostour.org
Ecuador Cruiser’s Handbook
Ecuador Cruisers Guide
World Cruising Routes (by Jimmy Cornell)
This QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE GALAPAGOS compiled from various sources such as:
-Contacts on Galapagos Islands
-Reports from Cruising Yachts
-Cruising Guides and Cruising News
By: Karsten Staffeldt, Panama City, Panama R.P.
Contact Panama for following Scandinavian Cruising Associations: FTLF/DOCA Denmark,
OSK and JRSK Sweden.
Published January 2009 and up dated April 2011 3 Pages