“It started off as a nice anchorage...but the ocean changed its mind.”

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Getting Spanked (not the fun kind)

(Date written DEC 22)
The little jaunt around Cabo Santa Elena is 15 miles. The problem is this area is in the vortex of a region famous for high velocity winds called gap winds. Having left San Juan later than we wanted because of the stupid kidney stone, we pushed up against the start of Papagayo season when these gap winds are at their worst. The forecast promised 20 knots in the "Papagayo Region". Well at Cabo Santa Elena you have to double the forecast and add some.

We started off sailing downwind in 20 knots, and ended up rounding the point turning upwind and being crushed by 40 to 50 knot headwinds. The seas were so steep they were like walls of water that flowed onto the decks and crashed over the dodger. We prepped the boat before hand for a rough passage around the point, but we had quite the battle reaching the anchorage which was protected from the waves, but we still had 30 knot gusts which heeled us over 30 degrees all night long.

Outside of the bight where we were anchored the wind blew so hard it created a fog of sea water--ripping the tops of the waves off and sending them vertical through the air. It was quite an experience and one of the slides on our main sail tore out from the beating we took.

Strangely the wind calmed down in the afternoon, so we plan to make our escape about noon tomorrow and hope for a calmer crossing of the Golfo de Papagayo, the heart of the gap winds.

On the plus side, we found out the why the engine was running strangely -- dirty fuel. So now we are changing filters and trying to get rid of the stuff. However the fix to the raw water pump isn't holding up so we're leaking water again (sigh).

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Spanked Again

Our clever idea of leaving around noon didn't work out. We still had some fierce winds howling out there, but the forecast only appeared to worsen over the next few days. So we sucked it up, tied stuff down and set out on the 20 mile crossing of the Gulf of Papagayo.

The scariest part of the crossing was we had to sail between a lot of rocks and islands in a solid 45 knots of wind with gusts in the low 50's. However we just flew the staysail and trimmed it so the boat was well balanced even for the heavy gusts. Once we steered clear of the islands and entered the gulf we were able to at least breathe and our plus rates dropped to a mere 150.

Out in the open gulf we started to enjoy the heavy winds because we could slam our way through the waves rather than get tossed around by them. As the wind got lighter we started wishing for more wind -- strange what you get used to.

Nonetheless we arrive in Playa Panama, a very calm spot, very tired and sore. This crossing probably had the strongest winds I've every sailed in anywhere. And the only wind I would say compared to this strength was the hurricane that almost hit Mazatlan last year. Pretty crazy stuff. The weirdest part is when we reached the other side of the gulf, we had no wind and had to motor into the anchorage. I'm sure the wind is still raging out at Cabo Santa Elena....


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Moving again

Posted on Thursday Dec 20, 2007

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Despite all our setbacks we are underway again. For some reason we keep running into problems:

Leaky exhaust system: 4 days and about 10 attempts before it was fixed
Leaky raw water pump: 6 hours and 3 attempts before fixing the seal (hope it holds)
Roller furling extrusion loose: Can't use the foresail, need a day without wind in a calm anchorage to repair (also need some metric set screws -- who carries metric set screws onboard?)
Engine running rough: No idea why. Was running great leaving San Juan, we adjusted the alignment and did lots of basic work to it, but now it's running rough.

Fortunately we've been able to sail most of the time so far in strong winds, so the staysail and main are enough and we can keep the disabled foresail rolled up (we can't even get it down due to the extrusion problem).

The good news is we're still going and we've seen some rarely visited spots in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Right now we are in the famous Bahia Santa Elena that is in the heart of Costa Rica's largest nature park. Lots of birds, monkeys, and we even had a humpback whale greet us as we sailed into the bay!

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Free!

Posted on Monday Dec 10, 2007

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The trying times are over. Today's $15 ultrasound shows the stone has left
the body. I'm still trying to absorb the fact that after almost 6 weeks of
drinking gallons of water and jumping up and down, we're free!

We'll need a few days to work on the boat, replenish the stores, say goodbye
to friends, do our official paperwork, but we're free!

"In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved."
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Speech, September 22, 1936

Back on the water

Posted on Friday Nov 16, 2007

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We've officially moved back onto the boat. That means the cats are here too. We're trying to get things organized and recover from the trauma of living on land.

We went to Managua yesterday to consult with my doctor about the Kidney stone. He was very positive that it should pass on it's own in about a week. He gave me some diuretic pills and some pain pills for when it tries to pass.

A cruising boat arrived here today, which is a rare event. It's nice to see some fellow travelers, however they seem to be in a hurry and we haven't had a chance to say hello. Not much else to say, I just really just wanted to send something from the boat to announce our return!

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Rolling Calcium Oxcalate Stones

Posted on Tuesday Nov 6, 2007

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The weather has finally improved dramatically. Lots of people say that
Nov. 3 is the magic day when the seasons switch. This year it was Nov. 4
when the winds did a 180 and the seas died down.

We returned from Managua yesterday after having an x-ray measurement of
the kidney stone. The X-rays show it to be 4mm x 6mm. The smaller 4mm
dimension helps improve my changes of the stone passing on its own. It's
at the bottom of my ureter right now and once it exits the ureter I'm
basically homefree. Most people are surprised to learn the ureter is
actually the most painfull and difficult section of the body for passing a
stone. Our fingers are crossed, but I can't shake the depression and
agony of just waiting.

Photos from splashing Sarana

Posted on Wednesday Oct 31, 2007

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First get two old russian cranes and put some straps around your boat (that's me on the left).

For an added bonus, the yard can swipe the ladder away from you and leave you and two other guys trapped on a potential death machine as they rotate the boat slowly out over the water.

Fortunately there were no equipement failures and we had plenty of water depth to escape without touching bottom.

After a crap load of work, we're now out in the bay hoping this stupid kidney stone passes quickly so we can get to sailing.

""

Green Coconut or Avacado?

Posted on Saturday Oct 27, 2007

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There was only one avacado in the market today and we almost needed a forklift to bring it home.

Two Cranes are insane

Posted on Saturday Oct 27, 2007

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Today we helped splash Ocean Lady back into the water. You can see the old cranes and the amount of extra man power needed to rotate the boat out over the water. It's a risky business but everything went without a hitch, there was even enough depth that they didn't touch bottom!

7mm shy of freedom

Posted on Saturday Oct 27, 2007

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Stress mixed with terror. That's about the only way to describe standing
on the deck of your boat while two 30 year old Russian cranes try to
rotate it 90 degrees, lift it out over the water and set it down. All
this, without tangling the mast, banging the hull or flat out dropping it.
It wasn't my intention to be on this death ride. I would have preferred
to watch the cranes from a distance, but while I was on deck helping
attach the cranes, they started moving it -- leaving 3 of us to figure out
where to jump if thing went wrong.

The story of getting our boat out of the yard is quite a drama. The boat
can only be put in during a narrow window during peak high tide.
Otherwise they'll just set you down on the dry beach. One of the crane
operators showed up 30 minutes PAST high tide, so we scrambled to get the
boat in the water before it was too shallow. Somehow inside of 20 minutes
we had the boat in the water, straps coming off and engine running. We
only lightly bumped the sand once, but another 15 minutes longer and we
would have been stuck there high and dry.

Somehow, someway, we escaped damaging our boat and got ourselves anchored
safely. After 5 months of sitting around in a house, it felt really good
to be on the boat. It was like we had never left.

You might be wondering about the subject of this post. Well, 5 days
before we were set to launch I had a minor kidney stone attack. It turns
out I have a 7mm stone (not too big). We debated about not launching the
boat, but due to the size of the stone, and how we'd have to wait 30 days
for the tides to be right again, we decided to splash our boat.

As soon as this stone passes we'll feel safe to head back into the wilds.
I'm trying to look at our long string a bad luck as a payment for the luck
of a safe transit in and out of the yard.