Thursday, 18 April 2013

16 days..... it should have been 5

Well what an adventure. We left Playa del Coco on our way to Chiapas Mexico. We sailed 200 miles in 2 days, then off the coast of Nicaragua, our motor stopped working, and we were becalmed for two days with a 2 knot current, against us. After bobbing backwards for a couple days we got some wind on the nose, which Cypraea does not sail well into. So we went nowhere for another day. Then we decided to sail out and around the current (we didn't really know where the current was, educated guess at best). For another few days we sailed a large loop off the coast of El Salvador. The rest of the time we battled lighter counter currents and various headwinds. We did the same around Guatemala and up to Mexico with headwinds and currents against us the whole way. On a good day we made 25 miles of forward progress, most days about 15; some days we went backwards. I would now consider us seasoned sailors. With this experience all I can say is that Jennie and I had a good personal growth experience, and it really tested our mental strength. Now we are very confident to sail across oceans, hell at least you have the trade winds and currents on your side.

I must say though, the sea life was amazing. We frequently had 9 foot marlin and sail fish jumping around the boat. We saw a tiger shark 60 ft behind us one morning, and sail fish sails trailing us one time too. We encountered a school of 40 lbs tuna going full speed and launching through the air around our boat. We watched massive mahi mahi swimming under our boat, and avoiding our lures. We had a school of bait fish follow us for a couple weeks. Every day we saw dolphins, and at night they glowed like ghosts in the bioluminescence. One day we saw a pod of hundreds of dolphins doing spins and flips and moving at insane speeds across the water, and we saw them three times. You could hear them coming. We also were greeted by them the next morning as a wake up call. Plus (unfortunately Jennie just missed it) I saw a huge whale about rise about 40 ft in front of our boat. Luckily we didn't hit it, but it was very close. Another thing that North American land lubbers might find interesting is that there are thousands of sea turtles floating around everywhere. We would be inside the cabin slowly sailing along at 2 knots and watching TV shows, and we would hear them hit the hull. We would look out the hatch to see a turtle sleepily raise it's head out of the water and look at us, then go back to sleep.

The last day we pushed the boat as hard as we could into the wind. There was almost never enough wind to tack, so we would have to jibe each time we wanted to turn across the wind. We got ourselves into a great angle and sailed at 3 to 4 knots!!!!!! All the way to Puerto Madero, Chiapas. 2 miles out we radioed the marina, and the met us outside the break water, where 7 ft swells were smashing 30 ft into the sky. With the wind direction being on our quarter as we turned into the channel and the swell on our stern, I decided to sail into calmer waters and we tied up to the panga and were assisted to the dock. Finally tied up, Jennie and I were greateful and very proud of ourselves. Sure there were times we thought to call for help, but central america is not the place to call out on the radio saying you are in trouble. We never called the coast guard (though it was discussed) and we never gave up. We just told ourselves, "we chose to be out here, we chose to take on this challenge;  we are responsible to finish it."

Now we sit calmly in Chiapas Marina. So far this place is awesome. We got assisted into the slip, we filled out our customs paperwork online before leaving Costa Rica, and the Port Captain and quarantine inspectors came right away to our boat (definitely later than most officials in central america work), They cleared us in, and they had the online info we filled out with them. The next morning we cleared in with the marina, we were introduced to the mechanic, then the marina drove us to the airport to clear in through immigration. It is a $2 30 minute bus ride and $20 cab ride from a fairly large city (it has a wal-mart and home depot). It is 15 minutes to the airport. And most importantly, the marina staff are really helpful and friendly and our first impressions are great. Plus when they get their travel lift in, they have a really really nice paved yard to work in. The marina has concrete docks and free electricity and water! So far, two thumbs up.

On a completely separate note. We are docked beside a boat with a D400 wind generator. Our sunforce wind generator is quieter (and pumps out more juice). We are very happy with it. When sailing down wind in 15 knots we get about 5 amps charge, and at anchor it works great. The most I have seen it put out is about 30 amps, and the most consistent high out put (before it cuts out) is 25 amps. It cuts out for safety reasons at about 30 knots of wind. It is holding up well to the weather, and considering our pole for it is not the most firmly supported thing on the boat, it barely moves in high winds. The sunforce is half the price of the D400 too! Just an aside for those who are thinking about a wind generator.

On a humorous note, things can get a little odd when you are at the mercy of the ocean and the wind. We started making donations to Poseidon. We donated coins, Dave donated his hair (an impromptu at sea hair cut), and at one point A Jimmy Buffet novel got tossed overboard (he should stick to funky expat songs about the tropics).

I also forgot to add that Dexter caught a frigate bird (not known for their intelligence) and Jennie had to tell him to let it go. Once out of Dexter's mouth the bird jumped ship in the water, then flew away. First parrots and then sea birds... Maybe we should have named him Sylvester.

1 comment:

san blas said...

Don't know about you but when went there i enjoyed Nicaragua's largest lagoon is called Pearl Lagoon or Laguna de Perlas, located north of Bluefields...indeed beautiful place