Sunday, February 22, 2009

Leaving Golfito

Golfito – 21st February

We left Golfito yesterday after being there almost a week. When we stop in a place for as long as a week it definitely starts to feel like home and leaving becomes a little wrench. We move along so frequently that ‘home’ no longer has the same larger meaning that it used to have. Home of course is where the heart is and though Tony and I are at home on Moondancer because we are together we miss our families and friends and the short term friends we meet go some way to filling those gaps.
In Golfito we met 2 other boats from Vancouver; Joyce and Peter on Maruatu left Vancouver 6 years ago and have circumnavigated via South Pacific, Indonesia, Africa, South America and are now on their way back up to Mexico. We met them on our last day in Golfito and spent a great evening together with our friend Gary from Pursuit II who is from Toronto and is eagerly sponging up information from veterans like Peter and Joyce. Peter and Joyce have also bought retirement property in Parksville to go ‘home’ to.

Norm and Shiela of Arithea (I think that’s right) who are now from 100 mile house but were previously from Langley and White Rock, have a Kelly Peterson 44 which is currently housing themselves, their son and another family with 2 children.

Though I didn’t care too much for the part of Golfito we had access to it was definitely a convenient place to anchor. For $5 per day we had access to a dinghy dock at Land and Sea, where we could shower in an excellent big clean shower, use the internet, have coffee in the morning, meet other cruisers, and basically sit in a comfortable, quiet anchorage. Next door the Banana Bay CafĂ© has excellent food in a very clean, well run restaurant with internet hook-up. We fuelled up at Banana Bay, filled up our water tanks and thoroughly washed our boat. Its easy to see why people could stay in a place like Golfito, a person could live comfortably at anchor for $150 per month with all amenities, but that’s not what we came this far to do.

Clearing out of Costa Rica was quite painless, we did have to go to 3 different locations to do so, but the taxis are cheap and we never had to wait for the friendly officials to deal with us.

We’ve moved over to the other side of Golfo Dulce and are anchored off the Parrot Bay Resort next to Jimenez. We came over yesterday as this is a better place to leave from which we intend to do this evening, it’s a wide open exit and as our next leg is about 70 miles we’ll leave in the evening, sail through the night and arrive around 0900 in Isla Paraido, our first stop in Panama.
We’ve picked up a couple of guide books for Panama and have now met a few people who have cruised the coast already and it looks like there are so many choices of stops. Many islands to choose from off the mainland, and for some reason seems a bit daunting – much more foreign than Mexico and Costa Rica, but perhaps as foreign as Nicaragua which we only went to by accident.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Herradura to Golfito and Glen's Visit

Herradura to Golfito and Glen’s Visit

From the 5th February we were anchored in Herradura Bay close to the entrance to Los Suenos Marina and Resort. This Marina housed mostly a sport fishing charter fleet aswell as power boats owned by inhabitants of the multi million dollar condominiums in the resort, so the charge of $3.00 per foot per day was totally justifiable to them and ensured that the riff raff like us stayed out. Their daily dinghy dock charge was $40 per day, which just about sealed the place up against visiting yatistas. They did however sell us fuel, and unknown to them we did use the ‘public’ dock outside the marina to tie up our dinghy until the security guards found out. This, we found the last couple of days we were in Herradura. But we didn’t need it anymore by then, we had picked up Glen, Tony’s brother and were weighing anchor to leave Herradura.

For the first 4 days of our stay in Herradura we dinghied ashore, the landings were always a bit nerve racking as the swells which make this a rolly anchorage became breaking rollers on the beach. Mostly Tony has mastered these landings now, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not nervous every time we attempt them. Unfortunately we could not get internet on the boat in Herradura, or since leaving there, so this is the first place where the bars and restaurants ashore have internet. While waiting for Glen, we tried snorkeling in the recommended parts of the bay, but the water was too turbid, as it gets when its been windy for awhile.

Herradura does have a first class supermarket about a half mile walk there and taxi back and its very close to Jaco, a bustling lively beach town which we saw with Glen and his friend Catherine who became our tour guide for a day.
This tour with Catherine was the highlight of our time in Herradura. Catherine, who is the sister of one of Glen’s customers is a Realtor based in Jaco. She’s lived in Costa Rica for about 20 years, speaks perfect Spanish and has a Tico son called Rudolfo, who accompanied us on part of our day.
She picked us up at 0300 and drove us along the coast for starters, through Jaco, showed us the beach, where she served us ice cold beer, then down the coast again to Hermosa Bay, which has competition size surf. The world championship surfing competitions will be held there this year. Then beyond this beach we stopped in a little village on the water whose name I cannot remember and cannot find on our charts. This village is still a quiet little resort not yet hit by the gringo real estate wave, but it won’t take long. It reminded me of Crescent Beach near White Rock about 30 years ago.
Here we saw Macaw parrots flying wild in twos which is a beautiful sight, we drank coconut milk for $1 per coconut – the boy selling them had just climbed the tree to pick them and cut them open, very enterprising.
From there Catherine took us inland driving on potholed gravel and rock roads through beautiful countryside where we saw so many different plants and trees, trees with all types of symbiant plants growing on them, and acres of grassland which was a bit yellow because this is the dry season. It must look incredible when its all green in the rainy season. As we drove Catherine told us about her times in these areas many years ago and about the gringo developments which seem to start in areas which are bound to fail, we drove past 2 such luxury condo developments which were not finished and had been abandoned.
Then we came to a stretch of road along a river which had many small cantinas, this is where local people like to go for drives on their weekends and enjoy the relative cool air. We stopped at a cantina with lookout platforms onto the river and watched cattle grazing along the shore, played with a couple of little dogs, one of which kept nipping us at the back of our heels, obviously wanting us to join the herd down by the river. This was a very beautiful romantic setting, where a person could really get to like Costa Rica.
So then back to Jaco and dinner in a fine restaurant on the beach. Catherine fetched her son from home to join us and we all had a very nice dinner as we learned more about the area from our very qualified guide. Thanks again Catherine, we had a wonderful day.
We left Herradura at 0600 on the 14th February and motored all day until we reached Manuel Antonio Park just south of Quepos at 1500. A well timed day, perhaps a little dull for Glen’s first passage, though he a Tony did spot whales breaching off in the distance. This type of day at sea is quite welcome to Tony and I after the many windy days we’ve spent and will spend thrashing through seas with our hearts in our mouths – well I should speak for myself.
Manuel Antonio Park anchorage is beautiful though very rolly; we tucked ourselves in to the south east corner of Playa Espadilla, and once settled in Tony and Glen went ashore for a trek. The parks here all seem to close at 1600 hrs which meant that we had the bay to ourselves. And the clean-up crew comes out of hiding to see what the tourists left behind, or just to reclaim their space. As Glen and Tony were the only people on the beach they did not scare the raccoons, which we learned the next day aren’t scared of people anyway.
The trails through the park are gorgeous, some are quite a climb, everyone’s looking for monkeys which we heard from the boat early in the morning before the people arrive. They’re called howler monkeys but their sound is more like a deep bark, and I don’t think I’d like to run into the creature that makes that noise. Groups of people are led around by guides carrying magnifying scopes on their shoulders. When the guide stops to show them sights like tiny tree frogs through the scopes they can take photos through the scope.
We didn’t have a guide but we did see some neat things. Glen went ahead of us as he really needed a workout, and we wanted to walk quietly to see what was hiding in the jungle. We saw a really funny little animal whose name we don’t know, about as big as a small dog which a rat-like head and a but like a coconut husk, quite a timid little thing, but we stayed quiet and watched it for some time. Again, incredible fauna, such unusual trees and plants. Though some of the plants we do have in the rest of the world as house plants because they need the heat. For instance many trees have split leaf philodendroms growing all over them, and then wild orchids which somehow root themselves up in the branches.
We met up and walked another trail together where we did see a little white faced monkey who seems to like being watched by crowds, and a very lazy sloth who just wanted to be left alone. Both of these animals were close to the ranger station and are probably fed to keep them around. After all the tourists want to see monkeys.
We walked out of the park and into a thriving, bustling crazy little town where the beached are full of tourists, I suppose this must be where the tourists who come to Quepos go for their beach experience. There were lots of small hotels and cabinas, and a great atmosphere. We sat in a nice bar and had lunch and talked out teak with our waiter, a very proud Tico who knew a lot about wood, so does Glen of course, and we have lots of teak on our boat – so we had tons to talk about.
So back to the boat, we walked along the beach and when we came to one of those streams where the water is running back out into the ocean (and shoe removal is necessary), some enterprising fishermen had placed their panga across the stream so that we could walk across shoes on. Before crossing the fisherman said ‘we work for tips’, we all looked in our pockets for change but couldn’t find it, so we decided to go for the stream. The bridge attendant would not have this, and offered us free service, he even held my hand to help me walk across his boat and was very gracious. On second search we did find a little money and a can of coke for him and we were all happy.
We had an early meal and an early night as we were heading for Drake Bay the next day leaving at 0600. With approximately 12 hours of light, and we like to arrive in new places in the light, we often leave at dawn.
Drake Bay, another really lovely place with hundreds of acres of National Park, eco-tourist lodges, nice anchorage, not much in the way of groceries, but Glen did manage a phone call at a little store on the shore. We didn’t realize it was Valentine’s day until the end of the previous day and we were away from phones. Glen stayed ashore that night, he needed to get off the boat and sleep in the proper bed and have a real shower. He had a very unique experience in a Hotel without windows or walls and no electric light in the rooms. He had dinner with a group of travelers all seated around the same table and thoroughly enjoyed himself.
Left Drake Bay for Isla Del Cano next day at 0730 arriving around mid-day where we really enjoyed the snorkeling. The water was fairly clear – Tony went diving there and Glen and I snorkeled. There were a lot of little stinging things in the water so I put on my luge suit and had a very enjoyable day.
We are in very hot country now and without being submerged in the ocean for a few hours each day the heat can be intolerable.
We left Isla Del Cano at about 1530 in a nice breeze and sailed until the wind died around sunset and motored the rest of the way to Golfito. We worked our usual 3 hour watches, Glen going on watch with Tony and motored through the night. There was quite a bit of boat traffic to keep things interesting, half a moon to give some light from midnight on, and a couple of incredible shooting stars, which shot horizontally across about 1/8th of the sky. Never saw that type of shooting star before.
As we’d made good way we had to slow down a bit when we turned into Golfo Dulce so that we could enter the channel in the light.
Our friend Gary on Pursuit II was already here, we checked out the possibility of mooring in a marina – no - $2.50 per foot, so here we sit anchored in very calm water. We take our dinghy in to a dinghy dock owned by Land and Sea, an enterprising couple of ex-cruisers, for $5 per day where we can shower and use their facilities, nice cool patio, beer for $1.50 and should be able to use internet.
Glen has gone now, he wants to spend the next part of his vacation sight seeing on land and has friends back in Jaco that he wants to visit. So we’re planning to move on to Panama on Saturday morning.What to say about Golfito, it’s a great stop-over, there’s about 15 sailboats anchored around us – some of whom we have encountered before in our travels. We’ve met a few cruisers here who cruise between Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvadore, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, and have been doing so for quite a few years. I don’t know why that seems surprising really, I suppose it’s a bit like the Med cruisers who continue to cruise the Med. There’s so much to see and mostly these countries are in-expensive as long as you don’t want to stay in a marina.
Our next post should be from Panama

Friday, February 6, 2009

Isla Tortugas to Balhia Herradura to wait for Glenn

Islas Tortugas to Bahia Herradura to wait for Glenn

At a leisurely pace we pulled up the anchor and headed for Isla Muertos, which looked like a pretty interesting anchorage (not just because its called the Island of the DEAD).
We were enjoying sailing under genoa only for awhile (leisurely) and made a decision to go out into the straight – the Gulf of Nicoya makes a fairly long straight not unlike the Georgia Straight but with a closed end – rather than zig zagging through the island passes so that we could continue to sail. Had we been cruising in our Gulf Islands we would never have undertaken this without consulting our tide tables and local weather station. BUT we did neither – we don’t have easily accessible tide tables and there are no local weather stations to tap into.
So we got out into the straight and into a lot of wind which was nice (for awhile) – but the tide against us was not – we were making about 2 knots working hard to get past the rocky promontory off Islas Negros. Putting up the main was out of the question – too much wind, but we needed something to help us point, PLUS we were still in that mode of thinking peculiar to sailors where we feel guilty if we use the motor when we have wind – and sails – that’s why we have these boats with sticks and sails, we’re supposed to love the challenge.
Anyway, with quite a lot of difficulty and finally resorting to Mr. Perkins we got to the Island of the Dead which was only about half a mile wide with 30 knot winds blowing around either side of it and water depth of about 15 feet – and those ominous skies that aren’t going to change anytime soon.
So we turned around and left, zig zagged through the islands to keep out of the wind until we found what seemed to be the only shelter which was between Islas Jesusita and Isla Cedros, it was actually pretty good considering the conditions.
That night the wind piped up to – God knows – lots, screaming wind which prevented any possibility of sleep on my part anyway. We set the anchor drag alarm on our chart plotter facing into the cabin, our depth display is also close by, and I resigned myself to a sleepless night. Those nights are very long, but they go by and it seems that as soon as the sun comes up the wind goes down and the sun makes everything alright.
When we first anchored – which incidentally was off a point of land with a gorgeous property – the type most of us could actually afford, just a lovely simple private house with a lovely beach facing west, a volley ball net in the garden, a lovely beach, lots of dogs running around and a strange little wild animal which is native to here – called a Coati, a bit like a raccoon without the bandit mask and a bit more pointy faced.
Yes, back to when we first anchored we saw 2 other boats anchored in what first appeared to be less sheltered than our spot, which of course starts to cast doubt as to our ability to make good decisions on anchoring, after all they must know better. Tony reminded me not to covet other people’s anchorages. The next morning after we had tried to get a couple of hours sleep, we saw that both of those boats were moving over to join us, not the mention the Fleur de Lis Frenchmen we had met back in Isla Tortugas.
And true to their form they dropped their anchor so close to us that we could actually speak to them without raising our voices. So of course one tries to be polite and not look into their boat – that’s hard to do, plus I have to keep myself covered up somewhat.
This day the winds kept up their torment and prevented us from going ashore safely aswell as tormented us with the knowledge that we were looking forward to another sleepless night.
We were a bit embarrassed to see a couple of local men paddling a row boat through the wind and waves, and a young fisherman brought his catch in an old canoe to do some business. $14 for a 5lb red snapper. In Canada where I have a decent freezer maybe, but not here.
We were delighted to see a man at the house fishing off the shore and when he caught a fish he fed it to the baby Coati - this was happening at a distance we needed binoculars to watch - and when the Coati finished eating one of the puppies on the beach attacked it and they tumbled around together for awhile. There were several men on the beach enjoying these animals playing together and they were aware that we were also so happy to watch them through binoculars. One of the men continued with his work, which was to clear up the palm fronds which had been blown off the trees onto the beach during the night, and as he dragged them along the beach the fronds in his right hands also dragged a puppy holding on with his teeth and the Coati on his left. THESE are the little gems that make a sleepless wind tossed night take second place in our minds.
And another sleepless night. This night we actually took watches so that I could put my earplugs in for a couple of hours and sleep. Those earplugs are worth gold. If I know that someone else is watching and I can’t hear the screaming wind I can sleep.
Next morning we decided to get out of there – we checked weatherfax and found that that a storm was in progress up in the Tehuantepec which was causing a gale to blow in the Papagallos – which is about 40 miles from here and it was going to continue for another 72 hours. We needed to get over to the other side of the Gulf to meet Glenn, Tony’s brother who is coming to spend a nice peaceful sun drenched holiday with us in Costa Rica (chance would be a fine thing). So we set out with all of the information we needed to know we were not going to have a pleasant trip.
Fortunately it was not too long – we left the anchorage at about 0615 and arrived in Bahia Herradura about 6 hours later. The winds hit over 40 knots, the seas came over our dodger a couple of times and I would not take the helm from Tony. I stayed below, navigated, fed us and tried to stop the water coming in all over the place – should have battened down a bit better.
So here we sit in Bahia Herradura, a little bit rolly, but a nice place. We are anchored next to a marina that charges U$3.50 per foot per night and $40 to bring your dinghy in to enjoy their facilities. We’re very low on water, but we can get ashore and have been shopping at local supermarket which is equal to Thriftys, we’ve bought beer and wine.
A fellow Canadian boat has pulled in next to us – not too close – its nice to see him again. This is Pursuit IV, a Canadian from Toronto who has cashed in and is sailing around the world in a gorgeous sloop with everything you could possibly want on a boat. We met Gary in Huatulco where he joined us to celebrate Christmas and New Years Eve and Tony’s 50th birthday. A nice guy, we like him.

Ballena to Islas Tortugas

Ballena to Islas Tortugas
Which actually wasn’t where we intended to go yesterday, 2nd February but we were given a nice gentle sailing breeze so rather than hurry along to the next destination which was to be Isla Muertos, we went slower knowing we had some options to stop at along the way. Islas Tortugas are 2 islands. One is called Isla Alcatraz and the other Isla Tolinga which does have a gorgeous white sand beach surrounded by palm trees and a thriving day tour business. A giant motorized catamaran brings about 50 people ashore – perhaps every day, as well as packed pangas. On the beach a person can rent beach beds, tables, umbrellas, buy souvenirs and beverages at a nice little store and have a great day in ‘paradise’. The catamaran pulls right up onto the beach and drops a ramp to let the people on an off. There is hardly any surf here, so it was pretty easy for us to go ashore.
The people all leave at 1600 hrs, and then we were looking forward to a lovely quiet evening with the anchorage mostly to ourselves. One fishing boat was anchored out a bit further.
Unfortunately that changed in short order, a much bigger fishing boat arrived while I was swimming around the boat. This boat arrived with one man sitting over the pulpit rail with his pants down at his ankles and his bare ass hanging over the rail – I looked away as I did not want to know what he was doing. They took about 45 minutes to drop anchor and raft up next to the other fishing boat. They really like Costa Rican Rap music, which I hate just as much as any other kind of rap. A little while later the Fleur de Lis sporting Canadian boat came along and anchored on the other side of us, way too close for the privacy which was already lost anyway.So here we sit at 0822 with the rap music blaring as much as is possible through the pathetic speakers they have on board. I’m thinking of a change in plans for today. We were planning to spend the day here looking for good snorkeling sites, now, maybe we’ll move onto our original destination.

Bahia Ballena

Bahia Ballena
Another physically lovely place with only 2 other sailboats in the vast anchorage. One American which left shortly after our arrival, and the other showing a Canadian flag where its club flag should have been and a Fleur de Lis where its Canadian flag should have been; hmm, wonder what that means? When we put the dinghy in the water we went over to ask them and found out they are French Canadian, shortly after they left and then there was just us and a few pangas. Later that day another boat came in proudly flying their Canadian flag. Sealise is the name of this boat and the people onboard, Paul and AnnaLise are from and returning to Vancouver after cruising on and off for the last 10 years. Their crew Inar is from Denmark and has been with them for some of their trip. We spent a couple of ‘happy hours’ with them, did a bit of trading and made some new friends.
The village we were anchored off consisted of a very unusual main street made up of houses built on stilts on the water side and larger houses built on the side of the hill facing them. From the water the stilt houses looked a bit shabby, but from the street side they were mostly very nice little homes with all the modern conveniences anyone needs.
The road through this little community turns into a trail which follows the shore all along to Montezuma. We walked for about an hour or so and along the way met Clemente, an ex-pat American who now has a house in Tambor, the neighbouring village. He has lived here many years and really likes the Tico people, though he warned us of the shanty towners who are not so trustworthy. Further along the trail we found the shanty town, which was similar to the other community except these buildings were made from plastic stretched over wooden frame, or rough wooden shacks just hanging together. There was no electricity here but there was water, quite a strong stream running down the side of the hill. A lovely little shack right beside it had a hose rigged up to give themselves constant running water into a big wooden sink standing right beside the stream. At the bottom of the stream on the beach was a woman doing her laundry using the smooth rocks to rub the clothes against, and all the water she wanted for rinsing. More than we have.
Continuing along the trail we came to a fairly jungly area where we saw no people, but we did see monkeys, lots of them. They were up a couple of very big mango trees. What got our attention was things dropping from the trees. Actually the things were being thrown from the trees. The monkeys pick the tiny mangoes, about 2” long – way too small to eat yet and very bitter. But they keep on picking them, bite them once and throw them away. So you can image these trees will get stripped pretty fast before the mangoes every ripen. We tried to take video of them but it didn’t work as they were too high up and quite wary of us.
Further along the beach we met Juan Lopez, a Tico man who explained something about monkeys and parrots in Costa Rica. The Government now protects both of these species and between them they are doing so much damage to fruit trees that the growers are giving up trying to grow them. Juan Lopez also told us how to catch langosta and what type of tool t use and he showed us the type of shellfish the people here eat. They catch a very big flat clam that they call oysters and a big shellfish which looks a bit like a conk.

Sharing food ideas is such a universal way to show friendship to strangers and new friends, Clemente told us what type of vegetables and fruit to look for in stores, Juan Lopez told us what to harvest from the sea, and earlier that day we met 3 very black Frenchmen from Martinique who showed us how to open the dried out brown coconut husks which are lying around all over the place. First he shook it to establish it worth opening, then whacked it with a huge rock, opened it up to show a nice little coconut, whacked that, tasted the milk to make sure it was good before giving it to us to drink and eat. Translating that into our more immediate world, don’t we women always want to share our recipes as a show of friendship.

Leaving Golfo de Papagallo

Leaving Golfo de Papagallo – some very beautiful places, but for us marred by too much wind and very swelly
We estimated we would need about 14 hours to get to our next anchorage in Bahia Carillo, which we had on good authority was around the corner and out of the windy zone. We like to arrive in a new place in the daylight, especially in areas that have many reefs – which most of the anchorages we have encountered in Costa Rica have – so we got up at 0300 hrs last Thursday (not Friday), 27th January. Leaving in the dark is ok because we had already looked at the exit many times while at anchor, plus we already had a track on our chart plotter to follow out.
So, peace of cake – until our mighty Lofrans windlass showed Tony its latest catch, another anchor and rhode with deflated, sunken marker buoy. The local panga owners here make anchors that look like multi tine grappling hooks out of rebar. By the time Tony extricated that !!!###****&&&*****//////! from our anchor he was ready to go back to bed, when one tine was freed up the bloody thing turned and caught again.
(the reference to Friday above? Some sailors believe that starting a trip on Friday is inviting bad luck. I was blissfully ignorant of that until about a month ago when I heard it for the first time – but now that the idea is successfully burned into my simple brain I never want to leave on Fridays).
We did have a nice brisk breeze for the first couple of hours of that day, but then alas we reverted to Mr. Perkins, who motored us to our next stop, an uneventful easy passage to Carillo Bay, and we arrived with time to spare before the sunset at 1745.
Where have all the dolphins gone?
Long time passing,
Where have all the dolphins gone?
I actually did see one dolphin in the whole 13 hour day, and because we have seen so many in our travels I miss them. But perhaps they only come around us when there’s a lot of nervous tension on the boat, and this was a very relaxed passage.
Carillo Bay
A beautiful bay with a long sandy beach, palm trees, passable snorkeling, quite a nice walk along the fabulous beach. We found an old abandoned bar/restaurant which had the best view in the whole bay – looking out into the anchorage, also looking directly west into the sunset. We don’t know how long its been since this bar/restaurant was a thriving business, but we ignored the ‘no entry’ signs and went in to look around and dream a little as to what we could do with such a place. The Tony/Nancy Bar – God, would we ever get any work done? We found a very small realty office down the road and made enquiries. Apparently the Costa Rica Government has bought back the leases on properties which exist along the waterfront in order to prevent what appears to be the inevitable touristization of Costa Rica. Particularly this part of the coast where it is very beautiful and there really isn’t anything to put tourists off. Though
we have been surprised at how few boats we are meeting along the way.
In the corner of the small bay which we were using to land our dinghy – a bit rocky but very little surf to contend with – is a group of small fairly run-down looking shacks, some of which seem to house families including all age groups and one in particular which houses Hector and an array of very new deep freezers and a very large stainless steel walk-in freezer. This seems to be the hub of their fishing cooperative. They also have a hose with good water. Actually all of the water is good in Costa Rica. So we spent a little time our last morning in Carillo bartering for some very delicious langosta – lobster tails, which though were too small to be included with the rest of their catch, which Hector was willing to pay for, were good enough to charge us $4 per kilo. Ah well they were very good dipped in garlic butter, a squeeze of lime and my home made bread.
A good lunch before setting off for a night sail to our next destination; Bahia Ballena about 40 miles away and around the corner into the Gulf of Nicoya.
Which brings us to another story.
We left at about 1730 hours motoring, watched another lovely sunset which always seem to look so much more dramatic when reflecting off clouds. Clouds? Quite a lot of them seemed to be accumulating. Towering cumulous which always make me nervous – Tony likes to assure me that they are just typical mid-summer type clouds which just dissipate – really? These did not seem to be dissipating and the further south we headed the thicker and deeper grey they became. Off in the distance we could see that they were raining. As it got darker the clouds did appear to thin out, and we were settling into our usual night-time routine. Tony was to take the first night watch from 0800 – 1100 hrs, so I went below to try to get some sleep, it was extremely hot and muggy. Yes that muggy word definitely applied to the degree of humidity and the feel of the pressure in the air.
So I tried to read myself to sleep, put in the ear plugs so that I could not hear the motor. By about 2015 I was still awake and had been conscious of the noise that the radar makes, a small distant bleeping sound (ear plugs remember) and then of Tony’s nervous activity. Then I noticed that I was feeling spray through the portholes, so I jumped up, pulled out the ear plugs and asked Tony if it was raining. He was still trying to make out why he couldn’t see much outside and the radar screen was showing solid white mass all around us. Raining was hardly the word. I ran around closing all of the portlights, ran up into the cockpit to see the deluge all around us. The canvas cover over our cockpit was not holding the water out - I guess it had become so dry that the fibres were not swelling up to close the in between holes.
Just to put this in perspective – we have not seen any kind of rain mostly since leaving BC and maybe a little on the Oregon coast. We have certainly not seen anything like the monsoon we were experiencing. So what does a smart sailor do with all of this rain? Strip off and have a very thorough shower, thank God that the boat is finally getting all of the crusted salt washed off, and wish it wasn’t pitch dark with no visibility at all, so that we could put out our water catcher and harness this wonderful free water.
It was a pretty exciting couple of hours. We were a bit nervous about our total lack of visibility, but we had all of our running lights on – so if there were any boats around us they’d see us. We did have some lightning and thunder, but there really isn’t much point in worrying about that – can’t do anything to change it.
We came into Bahia Ballena at about 0645, dropped anchor, had a bowl of cereal and then went to sleep.