Now that I have gotten a bit of the past taken care of I will try to slow down and give a bit more detail. Punta Galera was about as much fun as we have had in our travels. None but good people around, the sun always shining, surf as much as we could handle and lots of food and drink, not to mention the music. The anchorage there was a bit on the rolly side, but by setting a stern hook it was not unbearable. The surf break was at the mouth of a huge estuary system. Bonnie and I took the mighty dingy “Jake”, in company with Saranaâ€™s crew and skiff “Puff” up into the mangroves for a little tour.
Here they are working our way through a tunnel of green and life, it was awesome. We managed to get in and out with no mishaps, which was a good thing, being rather remote and all. No worries we had water, beer, some snacks and a knife or two I believe, arrrrrr.
Here are a few shots for our good friends Debbie and Andrew.
Well, it is not exactly out in the middle of nowhere I suppose, but damn close to it. You know what, every single person we met there was smiling and gracious in their own way. These fellows were just tooling along smiling and laughing with us at the day and how good it was; well, thatâ€™s what I figure they were doing, and I agreed with them.
Onward, south and east some more, next stop Huatulco, Mexico and the first marina Willow had been in since San Carlos months before.
Hmmmm, I have just taken a look for some great shots of Huatluco, but can come up with none, hang on, just remembered one.
Ah yes, here is Ryan with his very cool parents on board Willow while tied to the dock in Marina Chahue. We had good fun with them and everyone we met there. Part of the reason for going into a marina was to give the boats a real good fresh water wash down for the first time in months. Another part was just the luxury of showers a short walk away, resupplying with food and fuel and all sorts of fun things like that. Also, the next leg of the trip was to be crossing a notoriously bad stretch of water call the Gulf of Tehuantepec. We wanted a nice spot to sit and listen to weather forecasts, helping us make the decision of when to make the crossing.
We did not have to wait all that long really.
Wait, back up. Tara, Godspeed and Willow left Punta Galera together, Ocean Lady, Sarana and Get Lost stayed there a bit longer, and we have not seen them since.
So, there we are. We talk to this guy, listen to that guy on the radio, look at the various web sites dealing with the forecast for the Gulf of Tehuantepec and make our move. This time it is just Tara and Willow moving on, in company with another boat named Sunshine. (A father and daughter team on a great trip).
I had better tell this little tale, just to illustrate the small community out here and how our paths seem to cross when not expected. It has to do with S/V Sunshine. A year and a half ago Bonnie and I had just gotten Willow to San Francisco with or friend Jason Rose on board to help. We tied up at the San Fran municipal marina, directly in front of a small boat named Sunshine with a little girl and her father as crew. We had a brief interaction and a few laughs one day and they took off, southbound the next day. That was that, never heard of them again, until we are tied up at a dock in southern Mexico and there is Sunshine. The fathers name is Lou, but this time it was his older daughter, Eden with him, not the little one I met before. He is still going strong and loving the life.
Anyway, there it is. They left with us and we took the deep breath and headed off to see what the Tehuantepec would deal us. It was a very uncomfortable motor sail for two day working our way north and east into the gulf. We stayed near shore, avoiding the wind that was still blowing, biding our time and waiting for it to moderate. Well, at some point the hardy crews of Tara and Willow said, “looks good to me, what to you think”, “yep, looks good to me, lets go”, and we turned east, straight across the gut of the thing.
Well, very quickly, as we left the beach, the wind built to a fresh 30+knots, or so. We do not have an anemometer (wind gauge), nor does Tara; so, you will just have to take my word for it. Willow was reefed down, with only two panels of each sail flying. The only other time we have had to do that was in a two-day gale in the north pacific, trying to make way in 40 knots. Tara had nothing but her storm staysail up, mixed in with a bit of double reefed main. We both fell off to take the winds and seas just aft of the beam to ease the motion. Now, the wind was not dangerous and would even be considered nice sailing wind, except for the seas that had built up. I figured them at about 8-10ft or so, not so crazy really. However, the wave period was only 3-4secons. That means, every few second we were getting hit by another wave, and another and another. The boats handled it just fine, no real danger, but it was sure as hell not very comfortable.
This is Tara, dealing sweetly with the conditions. We did not think to take a picture, and I cannot say why, will work on it.
I have to admit, it was awesome to see Willow maintain 7.5knots for long periods, over 8knots at times. All I could think at times was, “unreal, we built this thing and it can deal with this craziness, and goes like stink on top of it, I love this boat and the beautiful, stout, incomparable junk rig.” (or something like that anyway.)
Needless to say, we made it in fine form and very quickly after the winds mentioned above, we were motoring our way towards Guatamala. So it goes. Once again, Bonnie and I failed to take any pictures of the coastline as it slid by. Partly because our little camera simply cannot take effective pictures like that, but mostly because we do not think to do it. I can tell you that Guatemala is a very volcanic part of the coast here and it must be amazing to travel upland there.
Bound for Costa Rica.
Our plan was to go nonstop into Costa Rica to meet up with my brother, Dan and then our good friend Jim, who would be traveling with us for 3 weeks. We had a goal, and goals are good, they give you something to focus on and work towards, I reckon.
Well, we got into Nicaragua and the wind started building, opposing us and we were already tired and we were going nowhere. I decided to plot out some potential spots to hide out and realized something very fortunate. We were 5miles or so from a place called Puesta del Sol, Marina-Resort. Niceâ€¦â€¦. Did not take much convincing to talk Ben and Nikki into it. We waited for daylight and made our approach and entrance and very soon we were in one of the most beautiful spots we have been to.
Here I am suffering through the heat by the pool on the inland side of things.
Here I am recovering from the walk from the inland pool across the peninsula to the pool overlooking the ocean. Never fear, I suffered no long-term harm.
We became good friends with some of the local boys. That canoe is a true dugout. That is to say, it used to be a giant tree that was cut down, hollowed out by burning and carving and such and walla, a very heavy canoe. This thing was very old and these young fellows new how to handle it with style.
They just loved Bonnie, all smiles and smooth talking to woo her, what fun.
The canoe crew multiplied. It stared with four. Then I gave them a tow back, up stream from a fishing expedition and was a star. Next thing we know, there were 5 and eventually 6 or 7.
They were as polite as you could imagine well-raised lads to be. All they asked for outright was some clothes, which we gave gladly.
The binoculars were a big hit, wish we could afford to give them away as well, but they were fine with taking turns.
Ben and Nikki gave the crew two pairs of sunglasses, which were by far the coolest thing they could have acquired from us. Well, that left 4 or 5 of them with no styling shades, so they came over to Willow.. They were good buddies by now, so the formalities were dropped and they asked if we had any to spare, which we did. So, we gave them all some glasses from our sack of cheap glasses we had acquired along the way, and they were psyched. This crew will for sure be running the place in another 10 years or so.
Here we are on the walk back from the beach. We met the crew of another boat and had a good time with them.. The are Brad and Nikki, they were crewing on sv Inherit the Wind, however, that is not their boat, they were helping a friend. Their boat is named “Wind Thief”, and will be headed south from San Diego in another year or two. We were very glad to have met them and hope to see them again in the future.
Ben finally came through for us and captured some new crew for Willow. Dogs and cats are out, the only reasonable thing came down to critters that were real small and ate bugs. So, he snagged this tree frog as well as two geckos, we brought them back to Willow and let them loose. The geckos immediately disappeared. The frog was an up front kind of critter. It would launch from one spot to the next. Upside down, sideways, what ever. It really seemed to like our hair. We quickly decided on the name Splat for it and it was accurate. Within about an hour, I stepped on it and Splat was no more. Sorry buddy, but the floor is not place for a creature as big as my little finger.
Splat, about to go aerial, it was a good pet while he made it.
Another Ben shot, he as an affinity for creatures of all sorts.
Eventually we decided we needed to leave Puesta del Sol and move down the coast of Nicaragua into Costa Rica and brothers Dan and Jim, so we left, and it got really windy.
It was only about 150miles, but it took us a solid week to cover. The wind never fell below 20knot, right on the port bow. Usually it was over 30knots. The only way we could make any way at all was to stay within about half a mile from the beach, motor running hard, deeply reefed mainsail sheeted in. If we got even a mile offshore the fetch was enough to kick up the seas to a condition that was completely untenable. It is amazing how comfortable you can get with running a Frisbees toss from the beach, in 30+knots of wind, down a coast that has not really been charted all that well. We were happy to make 20 miles in a day. We would then go do our best to find a somewhat sheltered spot, drop the hook and hope nothing gives way.
The wind was relentless, we were on edge and it did not let up for nearly 3 weeks. Below is one of our first anchorages in Costa Rica, on the western end of Punta Descartes. Notice the white caps. The boats are anchored only about 150yds off the beach, behind a big hill. Still, they would get hit by gusts that would put us rail down and mast vibrating. Eventually Tara and Willow were sitting nicely with two anchors set.
One thing about a windy place that is fun, kite boarding. This is a mecca for it. People come from all over the world to ride in Bahia de Salinas. Here are Tara and Willow anchored in the lee of a mostly submerged reef near the launch beach. The reef gave no protection from wind, but did lessen the wind waves. None-the-less, we were never comfortable leaving the boats out site and only stayed there for two days I think.
We did in fact meet up with my brother Dan there. He had been in the country for nearly a month and was taking some lessons here from the guy in red, Kent.
Bonnie, hiding out from the sun as best she could out there.
Ben and I had mixed luck with the kite boarding. We are both just learning the sport and that was a lot of wind to learn in. Ben had a really sweet ride across the bay; I had a gear complication with one of my launches that was a bit unnerving. We survived, but needed to get the boats to a more protected spot as the wind was predicted to pick up even more, and it did. We sat at the above-mentioned anchorage for about a week in up to 45knot gusts and the never ending howl of the papagayo winds.
Eventually our friend Jim showed up as planned and we geared up to head further south with him on board as crew and chief party planner. He has done a stellar job of it so far; the time has gone by far to quickly.
We had a windy rounding of Cabo Santa Elena, but no problems there. Then the wind regrouped and really let us have it in a place that I would have sworn would have been in the lee and out of the brunt of the wind. So, we stayed put at a place called Key Point, just east of Santa Elena and got absolutely blasted for two days straight. For sure we had gusts over 50knots and I was sure we were going to pop loose of the anchor and head out to sea. (Which would probably have been more comfortable than what we dealt with at anchor.)
All held fast and we got the hell out of there when we felt it had come down to 30knts or so. Off we went across the Golf of Papagayos, bound for El Coco and the official check in point to Costa Rica for visiting vessels. I will skip the logistics of checking in, unless someone writes to ask in particular. Just lock everything up while there, there are many, many characters running around, obviously on serious drugs and looking for more.
That about gets everyone up to speed with us to date. We are currently in a fantastic spot called Bahia Garza and love it here. Good people, beautiful scenery and lots of creatures. Here is our first sighting of monkeys since arriving in the country.
Jim has been the king fisherman on the boat and here is the first fish he caught on the rod and reel. Crazy thing, we did not eat it. These cuties will kill you after all.
The only restaurant in Brachia Garza. The folks here have been super friendly and helpful to us. Refilled water tanks from their tap and leaned a lot about the area.
Bonnie always makes friends with the children and animals of the local spots.
Arghhhhhhhhh, where next, time to goâ€¦..