Posted by: powellpjc | November 2, 2009

I Fought the Law and You Know Who Won.

I Fought the Law and You Know Who Won.

The sailing from Ecuador to Peru was tough. I intended to go directly to Iquique, Chile but we needed to use the motor a lot to get anywhere.

Caught a lovely mahi-mahi and fried her up, along with a few pieces of sushi. Rico, baby.

Lima 1

This fish costs a fortune in a restaurant. It cost more when you buy a sailboat and catch it yourself.

The wind was right on the nose almost always and the Humboldt current is also 1-1.5 knots against.

It was also cold. I mean 14C at night cold, not freezing, but I didn’t like it. I’m a tropical guy now.

lima 2

Not fully clothed, but damn near.

My crewman, Jussi, has lots of experience with racing yachts in the Baltic and the slow progress was too much for him so we decided to put in at Chimbote, Peru, north of Lima, to let him off. He is a participant in the paragliding competition in Iquique and he needed time to practise. I thought we could roll in, anchor, put him ashore, buy fuel and leave. We did all those things perfectly. Arrived on a Friday afternoon and I was motoring away at 9:30 the next morning. That’s when I heard the siren behind me. The Guardacostas and their little puny aluminum punt was chasing me down. I wasn’t about to outrun them and when they found out I’d purchased diesel they said, ‘Follow us,’ and I did. That was Saturday morning. It is now Sunday evening and I remain securely tied to their cutter in the security compound of this port. I expect to be released tomorrow with a fine.

I did sneak around town before they nabbed me and had a fine Chifa meal (Chinese) and then walked home to the boat. Along the way I heard music and stopped at an open doorway. Wow. Thirty dancers were practicing their folk dancing. Mostly young women (15-20) and a few boys. Mesmerizing. The practice went on for at least 2 hours and the girls appeared to be in a trance, continuing to dance together when the music recording needed re-setting. I sat on a bench in the background with a bellyfull of chopsuey and an eyefull of swaying beauty. These moments in life are rare and one appreciates them. Wish I had pictures but don’t. Those moments are common.

I bought the diesel fuel from a floating barge in the harbour. This was a shit show of the most immense proportions.

1. The operator had no control over the fuel flow.

2. The fuel hose was made for transferring thousands of gallons of fuel to large vessels.

3. The operator had a mad dog who stopped his barking, intermittently, only in order to vomit.

4. Communications were poor. I speak poor Spanish and the dog understood no English.

I anticipated a large fueling rig, so I opened up my inspection hatch on my fuel tank (in the main salon) to allow a large nozzle. My deck fitting is made for a garden hose and don’t ask me why. So now I am down below, in my cabin with a fire hose and nozzle sized for an aircraft carrier and I say ‘OK’. Nothing happens. I repeat in English, ‘OK’. Nothing. The operator shows up down below and takes hold of the nozzle. He then radios—RADIOS!— to the pump operator on dry land, 1 kilometre away, to start the flow. I’m talking about an FRS handheld Walmart radio–no– a walkie-talkie. He says, ‘we need 50 gallons–about 30 seconds’. Now I am worried. There is no shut off valve. The fuel begins flowing and it soon reaches earth escape velocity. Fifty gallons is a snap of the fingers. I say, ‘Ok’ in all my official languages and he shouts into his talkie-walkie to his compadre ‘OK’ in English (I think.) By now the fuel is flowing everywhere except into my fuel tank, which has been full for an eternity.

Diesel does not evaporate quickly. I have special rags–like diapers–to soak up small diesel spills. In Oregon we would have been shot on the spot for the fuel spill but here there is only the smell to contend with. I emptied my bilge last night when the Guardacostas boys went to sleep. 100 metres from me is the end of the bay. There is garbage 2 feet thick there and 3 dead sea lions, bloated and sunburned. I didn’t feel too bad about the bilging.


Didn’t get released as expected. A shipping agency took on my case and we dragged all over town to various offices, ending up in the agency office where I reunited with my crewman, Jussi. He tried to clear immigration and all the pieces fell into place for the authorities. He faced a large cost to clear the country and my fine amounted to $3000 US with costs of $1000. Jussi decided to continue with me to Lima.

After 4 days of detention and a whopping fine we motored away at 9 pm, happy as hell to be clear of Chimbote and its morons masquerading as officals.

We made Lima in less than 2 days, motorsailing. Jussi was still keen to get the hell off. He departed again as soon as we had picked up a mooring ball off the Yacht Club Peru. In spite of having all my papers in order, it took an agent, 24 hours and 10 office visits (and $500) to get clearance for Chile. I was able to refuel without flooding the cabin, though, and that was a plus. The officials in Peru really don’t seem to know the rules. Each moron has his own interpretation and the rules change hour to hour. Peru is a country without a central nervous system. It does have its share of bandits, though. I found out after the fact that whilst in Chimbote, thieves came aboard and stole a flashlight and my radar monitor. Only the fact that the radar monitor never worked since the morons in Portland repositioned, it softened the blow. I was about to chuck it anyway. The bandits saved me some work.

Lima to Chile passage next.



  1. hope the frig was still working when mr mahi mahi alighted your decks did you try marinating some in lemon juice?———-throw the tinned anchovies overboard.

  2. Glad it was you, not me. Haven’t laughed this much ever, reading a cruising blog. Excellent stuff. World Class!

    Sorry to miss you in Central America. We’re now in Golfito, Costa Rica and I’m getting worried about heading south to Callao. (About the current and wind being against us).

    But we’ll push and push and push.

    Well done – and good writing. Excellent writing.

  3. Hey Pete we don’t like this story of the bandits…grrr eh?
    we are in Tucson and heading soon to the Baja on our continued road trip…DR is arriving from Texas tomorrow to hang with us and get a little “canadian back” – he is mentioning ‘God’ and ‘God willing’ alot in his emails – is it being by oneself that causes this? eileen & john

  4. Hey Peter just got your websight. Sitting in Kentucky on my way to Fl. and am busting a gut. You are having way to much fun. Sure we are not hearing the best of it. Will follow this read with great interest and heartfelt thoughts.Great writing

  5. Cuz
    Officialdom-draws the moron dendrites out of the human brain…those guys in Peru you’d wanna get on top of the Old Fort William ski jump in a Feb snow storm and loosen up their bindings if you know what I mean

  6. Hey Pete ~ Try to avoid the gun-related episodes. Enough danger already built into your life. LOL Christmas won’t be the same without you. Couldn’t you just fly home for a few days?? Miss you! xoox

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