Cruising the Peruvian coast

By Clark Beek

In the September issue of SAIL, Clark Beek writes of cruising the extensive, remote southern coast and the much warmer, more popular northern coast of Peru (Ceviche + Process Knitting). Here are the notes that did not fit into the story.

For many North American boats, the west coast cruising route has been pushed farther and farther south each year, so that many cruisers now include Ecuador and the Galpagos on a west coast cruise. Peru would be the next logical extension, but Peru seems to suffer from a reputation problem that, to my mind, is entirely undeserved. This is bad for yachting tourism, which doesn’t even exist, per se, in Peru, but great for those of us who seek a little solitude. Also, Peru as a jumping-off place is as good as any for the South Pacific or a continued voyage down the South American coast. There are still many nooks and crannies to be discovered, and a cruising boat is sure to have each discovery to itself.

A One-Stop Shop
The Yacht Club Peruano in Callao is a top-notch club with excellent facilities. It has a fuel dock and an 18-ton Travelift, and labor and materials are reasonably priced. Because of the marked surged, there no floating docks, but there are many secure moorings with 24-hour launch service. These moorings lie just off the navy and coast guard bases, are patrolled 24 hours a day by yacht-club security, and cost less than $50 per month.

While Callao is one of the most modern commercial ports in South America, others may be behind the times. If you decide to clear into another Peruvian port you would certainly be the first foreign cruiser to do so, and port officials might not know what to do with you. They would probably treat your boat as a ship and require you to use a shipping agent, which could cost up to $800. In Callao, cruising boats no longer need agents. Jaime Ackerman, facilities manager at the club, did his homework, figured out that cruising boats shouldn’t have to use agents, and used Condesa as his guinea pig. Jaime, an ex-Peruvian navy officer, was ready to crack some heads if need be. While time consuming, labyrinthine, and confusing, the process cost me less than $100 and was no worse than in any other Latin American country.

The Yacht Club Peruano has a satellite facility in Paracas, 160 miles to the south, and the club can clear you to go from one facility to another. This would make a great side trip for visiting the Nazca lines and geoglyphs, Pisco, and the Paracas Peninsula. Unfortunately, during my visit a tragic earthquake killed over a thousand people in the Paracas region, the club’s facilities were damaged, and it was a no-go zone. At the time of writing these facilities are still damaged, but under repair.

There are reasonably priced plane flights to Cuzco, Machu Picchu, and the Amazon. Peru is mountainous and three times the size of France, so think twice before taking the bus to save money. Cuzco, for example, is just an hour by plane, and 18 hours by bus.

A large modern marina is currently under construction in Chorillos, on the coast in the heart of Lima. It may end up being a better option for some sailors or for part of a stay. Completion is projected for next year.

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