“How does the wind know to always stay on our bow?”

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Happy New Year from Nicaragua!

Posted on Tuesday Jan 5, 2010

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We've been enjoying San Juan del Sur as usual! The resturants are still great and a few new ones have sprung up! There are more surf shops here now and it seems like there are a lot more tourists, but this is the first time we've been here during the xmas/new years season.

As usual most cruising boats skip Nicaragua and that's their loss because this rough and tumble little town is still a hidden diamond.

We were overjoyed to have xmas and new years (a day early) celibrations with our sailing friends Scott and Liz who now run Rancho Cecilia (rated 4.5/5 on trip advisor!) They have built a jungle paradise from scratch and are only 10 minutes from the surf. It's amazing! Here we are at xmas:

And the night before New Years we sort of outdid oursleves. We had a great meal at Colbri and drinks just about everywhere. Here's a nice New Years Prelude photo:

Of course it wouldn't be a complete new year if we didn't have something break on the boat at a bad time. You see the winds here blow often and hard. It isn't a big deal because they come off the shore so the waves are pretty flat. However sometimes your anchor won't hold and you have to be prepared to move the boat and re-anchor to avoid dragging out to sea or onto the rocks.

So one windy day we went to start our engine because we decided we wanted to anchor closer to the beach. No go. Not even a click. Now this is a problem I've had occur randomly for the past year or more. But on this evening unlike in the past, trying again didn't solve it.

That night was a bit unerving because the wind blew into the 40's and if we drug it would be a very bad bad bad bad scene.

The next day I ripped everything apart, climbed in there ready to test for the electrical failure, told Sherrell to crank it...and it worked first try. Damn. Tried again and again. Only once did it fail and thing I was measuring worked during that test. At least I knew it was something else.

So we stripped everthing apart, starter, solenoid, relays, and switches. Cleaned tested and put it back together. I still can't find the problem or get it to repeat now. So I'm going to wire in a completely redunant starting system (assuming the starter is still good because during the failure the solenoid didn't click) until we can buy some replacement Yanmar parts.

We can't have the engine not start, that would suck in these strong winds where it is impossible to sail upwind against it if we needed to.

Needless to say we're going to spend a little more time here getting that sorted out and looking for a weather window before departing lovely San Juan del Sur.

Photos from Costa Rica and Arrival in Nicaragua

Posted on Sunday Dec 20, 2009

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The winds have been blowing very hard for almost 2 weeks. We had a surprise while in Santa Elena, our friend Ira on PAPAGAYO sailed in to the bay. He is usually hanging out in San Juan but he decided to take a trip to Costa Rica and it was really cool to have a friend to hang out with while we waited for the winds to calm down. After about 10 days there was a slight lull where the winds were below 30 knots. We didn't want to miss our friends xmas party in Nicaragua, so we slammed our way through the waves to San Juan del Sur.

During our time in Bahia Santa Elena we found a few more places to hike and saw more wildlife (parrots, large deer, dead bright blue snake, a 5' long crocodile, and monkeys to name some of them). Here are a few photos, including one from a very naughty monkey:

Parrots cry out "WACK-CAH"

Crocodiles lurk in the mangroves

Playa Blanca was beautiful.

Capuchin Monkey that threw a stick at us.

Falling Booby

Posted on Wednesday Dec 9, 2009

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The leg from Playas del Coco to Bahia Santa Elena is always exciting during this time of the year. The strong offshore winds blow very hard. The prediction for our rounding was expected to be 10-15 knots, so we expected 20-30 knots against us. Not ideal, but it is the lowest prediction we've seen for days.

About 2 hours into the Golfo de Papagayo we had about 5 knots of E wind. I was hoping we picked the right window. As we were motoring along with part of the main sail up there was a sudden CRASH! I looked up to see a booby on the dodger tumble down through the open companionway hatch and into the boat. I shouted to Sherrell down below, "Help! Help! A Booby just fell inside!" Sherrell looked over and saw a black heap of something at the base of the ladder. It quickly righted itself into the shape of a booby bird and just stared at Sherrell as if to say, "now what do I do?". Remembering hearing about how sharp their large beaks are, she quickly threw a towel over the bird and passed it up to me. I took it up to the bow and released it. It seemed perfectly healthy but you can never tell with birds. It flopped around a bit and clumsily hopped over the boat into the water. It seemed ok, and we hope it does fine. Jordan, on the other hand, was a bit disappointed her new playmate left so quickly. She spent the next hour sniffing around the boat trying to find where we hid it.

The winds remained light until we got almost exactly to the halfway point -- you know the point where you don't really want to turn around. The wind quickly built and of course it switched to the NW directly in front of us. We soldiered on.

The wind continued to build to about 20-25. We began hitting large waves that would slow our progress to about 2 knots (less than walking speed) and we started to dip the bow below the waves and take on lots of salt water and spray.

Determined to make headway we kept fighting the waves and wind...for hours. Each turn around a point of land only found the wind to turn directly against us again. Progress was slow, uncomfortable and wet. While certainly not the nightmare conditions we endured 2 years ago, it was still hard earned mileage.

We are now anchored in the magical anchorage of Bahia Santa Elena, where it is calm, where we can sleep and where we were almost exactly 2 years ago to the day.

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Gap Winds Are Not Fun

Posted on Sunday Dec 6, 2009

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We've been moving along -- four anchorages in three days. Well, ok, one was a marina where we stopped for fuel and water. But we?¢â??¬â??¢ve been trying to move fast to beat the gap winds which as I speak are blowing about 25 knots and making some chop in the bay?¢â??¬¦so that?¢â??¬â??¢s not working out too well. We are just at the start of the season where they start blowing and they have all been 30 knots or less so far.

We went from Potrero to Guacamaya to Marina Papagayo to Playa Mata de Cana where we anchored yesterday. Now today we are in Playa del Coco. We are going to clear out of the country tomorrow and wait for a weather window for going around Cabo Santa Elena. Last time we went around Cabo "Satan" Elena the highest winds I?¢â??¬â??¢ve ever experienced and damaged two sails. We have a little more time to wait for better weather than we did last time. It was a nightmare?¢â??¬¦we don?¢â??¬â??¢t want a repeat this time.

Last time we were in Tamarindo I really wanted a sunset photo of the sun going down over Isla Capitan. I don't know why, but I really really wanted the photo. Now that I have it, I know why. It's fantastic! Or as Sherrell put it, "Uhng, just another sunset photo, big deal."

P.S. Jordan seems to be back to her normal self! Phew, dodged that vet bill :)

Bahia Potrero

The surf went flat the day I was planning to hit the waves in Tamarindo.  That brought me down.  Not wanting to just sit around and moan about it we went sailing about 20 miles up the coast to Bahia Potrero.  There are many nice beaches here and a smattering of expensive cafes and restaurants with good food.  We did a little shopping, rode the bus around some and had some lunch.  I found a good map of the area to expand the guidebook with too.

For some reason the beaches here are really clean.  It makes the whitish yellow colored sand and the blue clear water almost hurt your brain it is so pretty.  We’re waiting here a bit for the Papagayo winds to calm down so we can head around the corner to get some fuel, water and check out of the country.

Jordan is sick.  In case she gets worse we want to be where we know there is a vet.  She horked up a hairball yesterday but hasn’t been able to keep her food down since then, despite her eagerness to keep trying by stealing Jez’s food.  We keep giving her special medicine for it and try to keep her from eating until her stomach is better.  She seems like she’s a little tired but she acts normal otherwise.  We’ll give her a little food tonight and see how she does.

Bahia Ballena

Posted on Saturday Nov 28, 2009

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We're back in one of our favorite anchorages with howlers, the organic market, groceries and a nice beach. Sherrell really wanted to post some photos from Southern Costa Rica and some of the sights so far so here's a few of the goodies.

Fiery-Billed Aracari Toucan

Scarlet Macaws

Sunset Out on the Ocean

Bad Kitty on Watch!


Island of the Dead

Posted on Wednesday Nov 25, 2009

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Once a hot-spot for sailors, the Fantasy Island Yacht Club lost its sparkle when the owner died in 1997. Now in the hands of new owners whom are suffering through the failing economy, it has yet to see new life. This is a shame too because the location is beautiful. One can easily see the attraction to the palapa bar and pool, but it is fast becoming a ruin.

We did some tours around the bay in the dinghy checking way points and depths for the guide book and seeing what else has changed. This anchorage is like a lake surrounded by green jungle.

While we were hiking around we spotted howler monkeys! A whole troop of them were carrying on in a large tree. This is the first time we've managed to see them, rather than just hear them, in over 1 year! I've been practicing my howler monkey call and it was quite a crowd pleaser with the monkeys.

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Was that a water balloon full of bird crap?

We woke up to find our boat plastered with white smelly goo. I quickly found something else to work on while Sherrell cleaned it up. I'm always amazed how much crap those sea birds carry around, it's a wonder they can fly.

On our way from Drake's Bay we did a lot of upwind sailing and motoring. To add to our anguish we had to fight a 1 to 1.3 knot current. But later in the evening the wind quiet, the seas calmed down and the current changed. When life was looking good, the squalls rolled in on us. They were small and didn't pack much punch, but you never know. It's enough to keep you on your toes and hope that lightening doesn't strike. As we approached the bay there was a wide array of flashing lights. And that means trouble. Fishermen had set long lines out, but there is no way to tell which end is which, so you have to just charge ahead. I caught two of them and had to pop them loose with our boat hook in the dark.

Nonetheless, we arrived in Bahia Ballena and are now happly anchored. Jordan is sniffing the new smells and waiting for the birds to try to land. Now to catch up on some lost sleep....

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Slogging away

We spent about 5 days touring the Golfo Dulce to see some of the places we hadn't seen before. One of those places was Casa Orquedea. This botanical garden is packed with all kinds of plants, fruits, herbs and veggies. We got our first glimpse of the Firey-Billed Tucan and some great photos. The additional bonus is we can now update the guidebook with the best anchoring spots (yes there is a good spot!) and the exact location of the garden. We also checked out a wildlife refuge along the coast and bought some bagels in Jimenez.

The swell has been too small to try surfing so we skipped those plans and headed back out into the ocean. The winds and currents weren't very kind to us so after about 14 hours we decided to stop for the night in Drake's Bay. It was a bit rolly but pretty calm compared to the last time we were there.

Sherrell is outside trying to take a picture of a booby (that's a bird gutter-brain) who keeps trying to land on our boat but can't manage the dynamics of approach/landing. Our goal is about 25 hours away at Bahia Ballena where we will rest a bit and then go into the Nicoya to visit one of the last islands we didn't see on our trip through Costa Rica last time.

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Going Again

Posted on Tuesday Nov 17, 2009

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We found it difficult to leave Golfito and our friends there but Costa Rica's customs keeps a tight tab on how long we can be in the country before they want us to pay a huge amount of tax. Our summer in Golfito was probably one of the best. We had a great time there and got a lot of work done on the boat too.

Now we are across the Golfo Dulce in Puerto Jimenez doing some last minute shopping (they have bagels here) before we check out a couple new spots and start heading north again.

Since we will be underway most of the time our access to the internet will be limited and sporadic. We will post updates to the slog while we are underway as usual via radio email.