July 12, 2016
Okay I might be the definition of slacker. But I am dedicating this day ( only because we tried sailing to a new anchorage but had engine problems so we turned back) to catching up the blog.
We have been busy, so much has happened! Okay I’ll finish what I started writing back in May, ready set go!……..
May 15, 2016
Our sail leaving Mexico did not start off the way I would have liked. We left the marina after a very smooth check out and headed into the wind and chop. The chop in fact had me questioning whether we made the right choice in leaving or not. Jon kept asking me ” do you want to turn around?” I wanted to scream at him “YES!” But the truth was, it was only slightly uncomfortable and the boat was handling it just fine. Plus the weather was forecasted to change in our favor in the next few hours.
Another lesson we have not quite learned, when has the weather ever changed in our favor? The 3 day sail down to the gulf of Fonseca was a bash. At times the wind would get so wonky that it would spin the boat around, leaving us dazed and confused. During the night we would have periods of calms between the squalls that only brought rain. We could see most of the squalls on radar and were able to bob and weave through them, watching the lighting filled clouds pass us a few miles away. Come morning though that would all change. At 7AM you could see the wind line and white waves coming our way. We always had enough warning to get the main reefed then we held on. The morning blow as we called it would last till 10 or sometimes noon, blowing 25+ knots on our forward quarter, luckily enough it as coming from a direction that we could still sail along our rum line and towards our destination.
Once we could make out Punta Amapala of El Salvador which marks the northern point to the gulf, the wind kept veering to the direction we wanted to go. Oh corse. We were almost there, getting ready to drop the sails and motor the rest of the way in. Sails up still and engine on, Jon heard a “tick tick tick” noise. Lucky he was able to register that noise with being an electrical shortage and quickly turned off the battery switch and told me to kill the engine ASAP. If Jon had not made the connection that the tick noise was a problem,even waited just a few more seconds maybe, then Prism might have burnt down right there at Punta Amapala.
Even before I killed the engine, when he turned off the battery switch, he said the battery switch was almost to hot to touch. He had the fire extinguisher ready as he went into search for the cause. When he opened the lazerette a small plume of smoke came out coming from the back of the battery switch.
The arsonist was the heavy 2 gauge wire coming from our windless to the back of the alternator. Little did we know the wire had wiggled its way loose and was rubbing against an engine mount, causing it to chafe though, eventually making a ground than shorting out. SCARY!
Jon was able to by-pass the switch for a few minutes so we could have at least the depth sounder to anchor by. We anchored pretty far out, leaving us exposed to the pacific swell. So Jon worked for about 2 hours, he was able to rebuild the battery switch ( its old school enough that it just needed some elbow grease, and sanding of the contacts.) We added an inline long burn fuse ( that should have been there to being with), cut out the piece of wire that had chafed though, re-ran the rest of the good wire, zip tied it up and out way and then carefully tested the system. All worked. Few, that one had our blood going. We picked up our anchor and made our way closer in and tucked up behind the point for some much-needed protection. We slept like babies that night.
Punta Amapala is an easy stop over for anyone traveling along this coast. Luckily you can stop there without getting hassled about being checked into the country. Jon and I stayed there for 3 days, and then left. ( following the 3 day anchor rule, for those who do not know about the rule,
The 3 day anchor rule is : if you are anchored in an area with no other boats around, but there are locals ( not all locals are bad, but there are rotten apples everywhere in the world) you should only stay there for no more than 3 days. Most thefts happen on the 3rd night of staying at an anchorage. The 2 nights and 3 days has given those rotten apples the time they needed to scope out your boat.
We did not get the feeling like someone was going to rip us off, but the fishermen were every interested in our boat. One day 2 men who had set their long line just in front of our boat, came by to let us know their net was there and asked if we were leaving. They ended up staying for almost an hour, tied up talking with us. Well I was attempting to talk with them in my very broken Spanish. They were very sweet and were fishing for bait fish to sell to the larger fishing boats. They even brought us some nice sized corvinas to eat. When we tried to pay them for the fish, they would not take the money, but asked if they could have some water or soda. I invited them to join us in the cockpit as we drank the water and sodas. They kept saying we had a beautiful boat, and could not get over the wood work. At one point the younger of the men said he was beyond happy to be sitting on a “yacht” that no one had even invited them on before. We said our goodbyes to the nice fishermen and left later that afternoon with the flood tide.
Our next destination was Isla Tigre of Honduras, which was about a 14nm sail up into the bay. We rode the tide in and had a great sail with, get this… the wind BEHIND us! Yea that was nice. We anchored out in front of the pier, keeping in mind the 11 foot tides.
May 18, 2015
This town is so cute! To check in was so easy! Immigration and the Port Captain are located on the pier, but they are not there from noon till 2ish. We were told by some of the locals to come back around 2, so we did. The immigration officer was there and gave us a 10 day visa, ( we thought we were only going to stay 3 days) then told us that the port captain would maybe be back around 3:30. We laughed at this, but came back at 3:30 to get our boat checked in. It was a pretty simple process, the only time-consuming thing was he had to fill out a 30 day cruising permit, and had to fax it to his boss on the mainland and wait for his boss to sign and send it back. So he asked us to come back around 4:30. Okay…. We didn’t have any of the local money, and didn’t quite feel safe using the local ATM, so we went back to the boat to wait. At 4:30 we jumped in Falkor and made our way over to the pier and got our paperwork all set. We had officially check into our 2nd foreign country with Prism! And it was free! Yep, now there is something you never hear in the boating or cruising world… Free!
The little town of Amapala has locals who really have nothing to do ( they told us this) so when you get there they are lining up to get the chance to give you a tour, or ask you to eat here or there. The kids meet you in the water to help tie your dinghy up, and they even warn you not to leave anything not locked up. Jon and I made very good use of the free internet at the town square. It was free and the fastest we have seen since the states! We liked it so much we told Jess and Josh from SV Oleada to come join us! They left Chiapas 5 days after us, and had a completely different experience with the weather. Yea they got to sail downwind with only a few squalls to dodge.
Anyways, now with Jess around and her ability to talk fluently, we soon had a posy of 3 kids who accompanied us everywhere if they were not in school. We were told were a local woman could change out our US dollars for the local Lemperia at $21.50 limpera to $1.00 US. For the week we were there, we spent a total of $40, that was having 3 nice meals out, a lot of beer and cokes, and a small re-provision of fresh veggies and chicken.
We rode out quite the squall at anchor here. We could see the ugly front line coming down on us. We prepared the boat as we could tell this squall meant business. I mean if I saw this thing coming towards us at sea, I might had needed to check my pants. I mean it looked so nasty. And sure enough…. If the first water-spout 100yards away was not enough to scare the poop outta me, then the second 2 were. Yikes! Water spouts!! But they were short-lived, then the wind picked up turning the chop into white foam and the rain poured down. We held on and watched as the storm toppled over us and slowly moved north. Wow! That was exciting!
The island of Tigre was once a volcano, and you can hike to the top. The locals told us the trail was very “tranquillo” meaning chill or easy about 2 hours to get up the 2500 feet. Along with Jess, Josh and Uly we set off first thing in the morning, to get the hard part of the hike done Before it got to hot. ( it had been getting to 100 degrees that week, which is beyond stupidly hot for the area) After 2 hours of hard hiking on the loose gravel “road /trail” we had only made it up 1800 feet. At this point I couldn’t go any further. My hip started to act up like nothing I have ever felt before. Every time I lifted my right leg to bring it forward I would get a sharp pain that almost brought tears to my eyes. Even Uly was getting tired and wanted to stop. So instead of pushing on we turned around, and good thing we did too. On our way down Jess and Jon ( who both have bad knees) really felt the steepness of the climb and were in pain. Yikes what a bunch of old farts we are.
On our way down we were met by 3 local kids who had become our “posy”, they became some of the best tour guides for the rest of that day, stopping to tell us about each plant, tree, fruit, and what we could or could not eat. We walked down to the beach and realized we only had a little money, so we bought drinks and soda for the boys and shared a big bowl of fresh ceviche.
We walked back to the main town, and changed out some money. Jess gave the boys a tip as a thank you for being great guides. They deserved this, however the word got out. Next thing you know all the kids in town were asking for money. It became almost annoying. Then the beggars started to ask for money. The kids expected us to just give them money, then would pout and walk away when we said no. So just a warning… If you give anyone money as a tip or thank you, be prepared for the word to spread.
For a tour of the island in English call Carlos Zelaya 8969-5656
We stayed for a few more days, making good use of the Internet and uploading 2 videos. Jess and Josh took off a few days before us, they were heading down to stop at puesta Del sol in Nicaragua. Jon and I left with the outgoing tide and anchored at sunset in the protection of Guerrero bay at Isla Meanguera, which belongs to El Salvador. We stained only for the night and left at first light the next morning. Out next stop would be Northern Coata Rica!
Well after 2 days of beating into weather and a counter current we said F THIS! And decided to pull in for a good nights sleep at a stop over bay in Nicaragua called Punta Pie Del Gigante. This little bay has no formalities, which was good considering we did not want to check into Nicaragua. The little bay is filled with moorning balls which forced us to anchor a little closer to a reef than we normally would have liked. But we figured, what the hell we are only going to be here for about 12 hours. We set a stern hook just to keep us from swinging into the reef during the night.
After getting almost no sleep, as the little bay offered almost no protection we set off again, this time only having less than 30 miles to get to what people have referred to as ” the best spot in Costa Rica”.
Oh and not to mention that since we had left the gulf of Fonseca, we are technically in “papagyo wind” territory. Which has me on edge just as much as the T-pek did. Okay well maybe not that much, but still. These winds also known as the Gap Winds, can come out of nowhere and really send you on a wild ride if you are not ready for them. Oh and a bonus… The pick up at night! Like night sailing isn’t stressful enough. I spent my watches looking for any type of change that wind would start coming from off shore. Which now that I think about it, would have been nice as we had been beating into the wind and waves for 2 days doing about 3 knots. Having some wind on the beam would be really nice.
Oh the joys of sailing!