Finally On Our Way

Well after a planned two or three day stopover in Costa Rica on June 2nd for fuel and rest we’re finally on our way south. Needless to say Costa Rica is gorgeous and we can’t wait to come back in the winter. We didn’t see too much since we both had colds the first two weeks. But it is beautiful.

Right now unfortunately we’re motoring into 5 knot headwinds. Even if they weren’t on our nose, we have a hard time in the big ocean swell making headway with only 5 knots. We don’t have enough fuel to motor the whole way, but expect some wind tomorrow. The ITCZ is far south of us right now so hopefully we’ll have a couple of nice days before it heads back north again and we cross into the southeasterly trades from the southern hemisphere (which technically don’t stay in the southern hemisphere, they just stay south of the ITCZ).

All is well onboard. I prepared and froze dinners for 2 weeks so we don’t have to do too much cooking underway. Maya is doing just fine and sleeping in her bed right now – thankfully she’s less bothered than either of us on passage. That’s all for now.


Yohelah is here

In the Middle of the ITCZ

The ITCZ definitely moved north yesterday and we got a full dose of it last night on passage. Rob went down to rest about 6:00 and I started watching the radar light up with squalls. They turn bright yellow and blue and are kind of fun to watch. In the past we’ve been able to navigate around most of them. Not last night.

I realized you could make shapes out of the radar returns for the squalls like you do for clouds. First there was a cute little puppy. Then Amy Winehouse was there singing. I know it was Amy because it had the full beehive. She was off to starboard. Then, unfortunately a huge squall started to materialize forward of our port bow. I thought I was going to be able to sneak between the monsterous blob and Amy Winehouse, but no joy. The two squalls merged right into each other as I tried to squeeze in between.

And then it poured. And poured. For over an hour. So hard the water was white. And there was lightening all around. It didn’t make sense for Rob to come up and get soaked too, so I tried to wait it out. But we just couldn’t get out of it. No matter which way we turned it was always “just two more miles” ahead of us. It was just insane. Finally it slowed down enough for Rob to come out and we put a reef in the main and sent me down to bed. He was in rain nearly all the night.

Today I tried again dodging them but no luck again. It rained for a couple of hours. But now it’s finally done. We’re hoping this is our last night of it and the ITCZ stays where it is for a couple of days while we get south.


Yohelah is here

We Found The Wind

We did finally find our way out of the ITCZ. Night before last there weren’t squalls and we didn’t see any lightening. But still no wind. Yesterday morning we were still motoring along. Which might be all right, but we don’t carry enough fuel to make it all the way to Ecuador. I thought the wind would be just south of the ITCZ, which the high seas forecast said yesterday was all the way up at 10 degrees, and we were at 5 degrees.

So late in the afternoon I was on watch and an enormous squall was in front of us right in our path, of course. And I was just tired of driving around the darn things for miles and miles. The worst wind we’d seen in them was 20 knots of wind, and there was no wind at the time at all. So I adopted the “take your medicine like an man” plan and decided to take the shortest path right through the middle. Well you have to know where this is going. God immediately decided it was time to get out the humility stick and give me a big ‘ole whack.

So into the middle we head and the wind starts building and keeps building. Suddenly we’ve got 30 knots on our nose and it’s still building and I know there’s no way we’re going right through the middle. We’ve got a reefed main up, so I turn down as far as I can without gybing the main and decide I better run with it for a bit. About this time the skies completely open up and it starts pouring. Rob is up from his nap but we decide he should just stay inside and not get wet since I’m already soaked (is there a pattern here?). Also about the same time I get hit up alongside the head (literally) with a huge wave. But running with it is not getting us out of it because we’re now just traveling in the same direction as it is. I really need to head up and work my way out. As luck would have it, it was raining so hard the seas were totally flattened out. That was amazing to see.

So after about 20 minutes more we finally scooted out the south end of it. And there was the wind we had been waiting all day for. It must have been just getting sucked into this massive squall and up over the top of us.

We set the staysail since it was getting late and we like to sail really slow and conservatively at night. And it was gorgeous last night sailing along. It was blowing 18ish, so the staysail and a reefed main were perfect. This morning when I came on watch at 5 the wind slowed down and the staysail wasn’t powerful enough to keep momentum in the big seas that had built up. So now we’ve got a double reefed jib and a reefed main and the windvane is driving us like a champ.

We’re still 3 or 4 more days from landfall, but the boat’s moving along beautifully and we’re not worrying any more about running out of fuel on the way.


Yohelah is here

Making Ground Southward

We’re making ground south, slowly but surely. The wind is conveniently coming from the southwest and not the south, so we’re on a lay line for Bahia Caraquez. Theoretically we should be trying to stay as far west as possible because the winds come up the South American coast and our last day could be a total bash with wind and waves completely in our face. But we’re hard on the wind and headed exactly where we want to go, so it’s hard to turn off and head west at this point. Plus, the forecast for Monday says that there should be light westerlies in that area anyway, so we may be completely spared.

Right now we’ve got 240 miles to go and are chugging along at about 4 knots. We figure we’ll make landfall Tuesday morning. High tide is at 7:56 am, so we need to be there and ready for our bar crossing or else we’ll have to anchor out overnight until Wednesday, which would be very sad after all this traveling.

Nothing new to report onboard. Rob and Maya are outside and Maya is playing with her toys in the cockpit well. She’s just never been bothered by passages and we’re extremely thankful for that.


Yohelah is here

Still beating south

We’ve just started the seventh day of this passage, making it our longest passage to date at a hopeful 9 days. Distance wise our longest will still be Vancouver Island to San Francisco in 2006; 880 miles in 6 days because we had favorable winds the whole way.

Another uneventful day sailing south. On the early watch yesterday evening we ran into another squall. Since we’re out of the ITCZ now they are much less intense than before, but still something to watch out for. The one last night seemed to have a mind of it’s own. The rain showed up on radar as a band 6 miles long but only 1 mile wide. Since we were approaching the narrowest area I figured we’d sail right through in 20 minutes or so. An hour and a half later we were still in the middle of it. While it seemed to be moving with us against the wind I suspect the rain was merely spreading in our direction. Hard to tell at night, we can see rain but not clouds on the radar. Anyway, I managed to get us out of the rain before waking Teresa for her watch, lest anyone think she’s the only one driving the boat in the rain.

The rest of the night it was a bit windy and since we left the jib up all night we made better time than our normal night at the cost of sleep. It’s hard to sleep down below when the boat is pounding into the waves at 5-6 knots. After pushing hard all day yesterday and into the night we are past fuel worries, we have enough left to motor the rest of the way if necessary.

It’s been a beautiful day today, our first sun since last Wednesday. We’ve had 10-15 knots of wind out of the south and we’ve been sailing under reefed main and reefed jib most of the day. Wouldn’t mind seeing a 30 degree wind shift to the West, but we can live with what we have, especially since two of the three weather forecasts expected no wind today.

With 140 miles left and a planned arrival on Tuesday morning we should make it in easily for high tide.


PS: We currently have 99.9 miles to our crossing of the equator. Teresa

Yohelah is here

Oh It’s Just Ugly Out Here

The forecast files we get online still maintain there’ll only be 10 knots of wind from the west today where we are. Yeah, not. It’s been blowing 20 on our nose all day. Luckily we’ve got what we still hope is plenty of time to get to our waypoint for a high tide entry into the estuary tomorrow morning. The waves are huge and the boat is just pounding through them, occasionally coming to nearly a stop as we take two or three in a row over the bow. We expected this to be the worst of it, and it is. We’re just all tired of this passage (even Maya’s looking really tired) and ready to get an anchor down and clean up the boat. It’s amazing what a mess the boat can become on passage.

We have a bottle of champagne chilling in the fridge right now for our equatorial crossing, which should be around 6:00 tonite. Our friends at the Puget Sound Cruising Club gave us the bottle as a gift when Rob gave his talk on underwater photography a few years ago, and it’s been in the locker waiting for today ever since. Somehow we just imagined our crossing to be this idyllic and peaceful moment, not a complete pounding!

But we’ll get through today just fine and are looking forward to enjoying some time in Bahia de Caraquez. Last picture I saw there were 33 boats in there, so we’ll have plenty of folks to visit with. We’re going to get some serious chores done on the boat too. And of course we can’t wait to meet Brittney in Peru in September for some travels.

That’s probably all for this intransit log. There’s wi-fi at the club where we’ll be anchored, so I’ll get the regular logs updated soon. When we leave here in November I’ll post again to this log while we make another passage back through the ITCZ to Panama. Then in February when we leave Costa Rica for the Galapagos and the South Pacific I’ll be posting here alot.

That’s all for now.


Yohelah is here