Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Checking Out of Panama

After we got through checking out of Panama we sailed the 28 miles to the Las Perlas anchoring behind Isla Chapera at sundown. It was a good sail with Georgia doing 7.5kts the whole way or better. We had a nice visit from dolphins who came over to play in the boat wake. Also saw a whale spouting as we approached the islands.
Checking out was a little more complex than it should have been – welcome to Latin America. After a 1/2 hour wait, the very helpful and friendly Flemenco port captain showed up and got us our Zarpe for Galapagos, Ecuador. Then we headed to Immigration to get our passports stamped. The immigration lady was having nothing to do with it. She insisted we head to the main Immigration office and get our Tripulante (crew) visas paid for and put in our passports (these are actual stamps they stick in your passport) before we check out. We had already paid for them -- $100 a piece – in  Porvenir in the San Blas islands when we checked-in. The visa in the passport had hand written next to it ‘Tripulante’ by the Immigration officer there, but no stamp. That wasn’t enough for her. The immigration officer had no English, so we were struggling a bit on the language side. We knew where this other immigration office was and didn’t want to spend the day getting out there, being told the right person wasn’t there and having to come back the following day. Just as I was getting a bit feisty with the situation the Port Captain stuck his head in. Despite his translation and encouragement we were at a standstill with Immigration. Then Chris found the receipt for $200 from Immigration in the San Blas. This broke the log jam – although the Immigration officer still wanted to see a receipt for an additional $5, but she finally relented on that. A dozen photo copies later and we had our exit stamps dutifully stamped into our passports.
Before we left, though, we needed a fumigation certificate to enter the Galapagos. A dozen phone calls, one more day, and Tito, the guy we rented Canal lines from, came by and with our $25 certificate. comment redacted for now..
A couple of days of cleaning the bottom, as it has to be spotless to enter the Galapagos, and cooking up meals for the passage, then we will take off – probably on Friday.

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