Night. Scary. REALLY SCARY! In all my years of living in lightning country, tonite took the cake. Both Ron and I agreed it was the worst lightning storm either of us had ever lived through. For the first time ever, I covered my eyes and ears with a pillow to avoid having to deal with it all, in true ostrich fashion. Hours and hours of strikes directly overhead, and miracle of miracles, we didn't get hit. God was giving it one last go - GET OUT OF PANAMA OR ELSE!
Sunday, July 21st
We did, and left bright and early the next morning. I admit to trepidation. Our last attempt to make it to Ecuador didn't end the way we would have liked, but as we all know with sailing, you need to adjust expectations periodically. It was sunny, and although we were motoring with the main up, all was well. Then, of course, clunk, clunk, THUNK. Ron threw the gear lever into neutral, went below to check "stuff", and came up and said "we have to go overboard to check the propeller." Now, anyone that knows us knows that in this case, "we" means "Heather". Adrenaline stampeding through my veins, I tossed off my clothes while Ron found the snorkeling gear. Stark, raving naked (funny phrase - must you always be stark and raving if you are naked, one wonders?) with flippers and a mask on (can't you just picture it? - you shouldn't, but.....). Sure enough, a tree sized branch, combined with 55 miles of various diameter line, had wrapped itself around our propeller. Ron threw me a fancy/schmancy Japanese saw used to removed teak plugs flush to the deck, and I proceeded to cut away the offender. No harm, no foul, and 20 minutes later we were underway again. Just another day in the life.....
Monday, July 22nd
Our routing was a point of discussion. Everyone has an opinion. The last time we went out, we were told "go west, go west", in order to avoid a north-setting current along the coast. We did and got the snot beat out of us due to swells. This time, Ron had done a bit of research on currents, and found an interesting link on the NOAA website, http://www.oscar.noaa.gov/. Very enlightening and basically showed a highway running from north to south that we could follow. This changed our routing from our last attempt to this one and we were much happier. The winds were still on our nose, and we closehaul motor-sailed, but at least we were making 4-5knots. All good.
Tuesday, July 23rd
It's now been two nights out, and not a hint of lightning. We are very grateful. We had a moment (brief) that we shut the motor off to give it a break, and actually got out the genoa for a few hours. Still cloudy, and we would still like a bit more wind, but I say it quietly, just in case I should jinx our conditions.
Wednesday, July 24th
Crap conditions today. Should have known better than to ask for more wind. We got it, directly ahead of us. The staysail was the hero today, giving the engine a bit of help, but not much. Big swells coming also from the southwest, so terribly uncomfortable. 8-10' breaking waves, WTF? Not again!!!! We're following 80 degrees west, so at least the current seems to be helping, rather than hindering. Crossed the Columbia/Ecuadorian border. Spotted a sailboat in the distance and made contact with Frangapani, a boat we had identified a few weeks earlier in the Las Brisas anchorage. They too had been miserable....Told us about a spot that they were headed to called Punta Same, to see some friends, just slightly south of Esmereldas. We thought that might not be a bad idea.
Thursday, July 25th
Arrived Punta Same. It was rolly, but what the hell, we were used to it. Looked exactly like the Las Hadas area of Manzanillo, Mexico, albeit with no sunshine.
A few black flags to avoid, fishing lines, and 30+ pangas returning back from sea in the morning. Had a great breakfast, and wandered the decks doing a bit of tweaking with some of the shackles, and bits. Lazy day.
Friday, July 26th
A not-so-bright, and early start to the day. Put on a pair of pants and a longish-sleeved shirt for the first time on the boat in 3 years!!! Bigger winds today, 15-20 knots, more swells, blah, blah, blah. But we had a party to look forward to.
|Captain Ron is now a Shellback|
|Yes, we drink and sail|
We had made sure to stock up on party supplies prior to our departure from Panama City, as we knew that we needed to do it up as we crossed the equator. After much searching I finally found where I had stashed the Champagne (in the clothes cupboard, where else?!) As it always happens, it was at an unfortunate time of 11:53pm. But the hats came out, the bottle was popped and poured. Ron was channeling his inner Minnie Pearl (can you spot why?)
Saturday, July 27th
We had sent Tripp, owner of the mooring field at Puerto Amistad in Bahia Caraquez, where we hoped to pick up a ball for our stay while in South America, an email the day prior informing him our intended arrival time. Unfortunately, we missed the high tide but were able to hang out at the mouth of Rio Chone, until the next high at 6pm. As it was going to get dark quickly, we just threw out an anchor after we literally threaded our way through the mouth. Not for the faint of heart, so we were glad to have Pedro, our faithful Piloto aboard guiding us through the VERY thin water. Dead calm water......welcome home.