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Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy 2008

We're enjoying Costa Rica. We've found a few hidden bays and secret short cuts around this area. We're in a popular and pretty spot right now called Bahia Huevos (Eggs Bay?). It's very protected in here and we have hopes of fixing our roller furling here as soon as we get a break in the wind. I don't feel safe sending Sherrell up the mast to work on the sail unless the conditions are very calm. She's itching to fix it, but I'm insistent we need the right conditions before trying it. We've made progress on the other problems, the engine is running better (dirty fuel) and I repaired the torn sail slide on the mainsail. Our raw water pump is still leaking, but Sherrell can bring back parts to fix it when she returns from Seattle.

Did I mention Sherrell is going back to Seattle for 3 weeks to help her mom? It will be the first time back in the US for her since we left 4 years ago, and she hasn't driven since then either. Clear the sidewalks.

The dry season is in full swing here and that brings mating turtles, rays, whales, and lots of sea birds. The water is clear and warm and this bay is nice and calm.

{GMST}10|38.364|N|85|40.695|W|Phew, no land developers here yet.|Bahia Huevos{GEND}

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Spanked Again

Our clever idea of leaving around noon didn't work out. We still had some fierce winds howling out there, but the forecast only appeared to worsen over the next few days. So we sucked it up, tied stuff down and set out on the 20 mile crossing of the Gulf of Papagayo.

The scariest part of the crossing was we had to sail between a lot of rocks and islands in a solid 45 knots of wind with gusts in the low 50's. However we just flew the staysail and trimmed it so the boat was well balanced even for the heavy gusts. Once we steered clear of the islands and entered the gulf we were able to at least breathe and our plus rates dropped to a mere 150.

Out in the open gulf we started to enjoy the heavy winds because we could slam our way through the waves rather than get tossed around by them. As the wind got lighter we started wishing for more wind -- strange what you get used to.

Nonetheless we arrive in Playa Panama, a very calm spot, very tired and sore. This crossing probably had the strongest winds I've every sailed in anywhere. And the only wind I would say compared to this strength was the hurricane that almost hit Mazatlan last year. Pretty crazy stuff. The weirdest part is when we reached the other side of the gulf, we had no wind and had to motor into the anchorage. I'm sure the wind is still raging out at Cabo Santa Elena....

{GMST}10|35.624|N|85|39.128|W|Calm anchorage and good sleep.|Playa Panama{GEND}

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Getting Spanked (not the fun kind)

(Date written DEC 22)
The little jaunt around Cabo Santa Elena is 15 miles. The problem is this area is in the vortex of a region famous for high velocity winds called gap winds. Having left San Juan later than we wanted because of the stupid kidney stone, we pushed up against the start of Papagayo season when these gap winds are at their worst. The forecast promised 20 knots in the "Papagayo Region". Well at Cabo Santa Elena you have to double the forecast and add some.

We started off sailing downwind in 20 knots, and ended up rounding the point turning upwind and being crushed by 40 to 50 knot headwinds. The seas were so steep they were like walls of water that flowed onto the decks and crashed over the dodger. We prepped the boat before hand for a rough passage around the point, but we had quite the battle reaching the anchorage which was protected from the waves, but we still had 30 knot gusts which heeled us over 30 degrees all night long.

Outside of the bight where we were anchored the wind blew so hard it created a fog of sea water--ripping the tops of the waves off and sending them vertical through the air. It was quite an experience and one of the slides on our main sail tore out from the beating we took.

Strangely the wind calmed down in the afternoon, so we plan to make our escape about noon tomorrow and hope for a calmer crossing of the Golfo de Papagayo, the heart of the gap winds.

On the plus side, we found out the why the engine was running strangely -- dirty fuel. So now we are changing filters and trying to get rid of the stuff. However the fix to the raw water pump isn't holding up so we're leaking water again (sigh).

{GMST}10|53.578|N|85|54.416|W|Waiting for calmer winds.|Key Point{GEND}

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Moving again

Despite all our setbacks we are underway again. For some reason we keep running into problems:

Leaky exhaust system: 4 days and about 10 attempts before it was fixed
Leaky raw water pump: 6 hours and 3 attempts before fixing the seal (hope it holds)
Roller furling extrusion loose: Can't use the foresail, need a day without wind in a calm anchorage to repair (also need some metric set screws -- who carries metric set screws onboard?)
Engine running rough: No idea why. Was running great leaving San Juan, we adjusted the alignment and did lots of basic work to it, but now it's running rough.

Fortunately we've been able to sail most of the time so far in strong winds, so the staysail and main are enough and we can keep the disabled foresail rolled up (we can't even get it down due to the extrusion problem).

The good news is we're still going and we've seen some rarely visited spots in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Right now we are in the famous Bahia Santa Elena that is in the heart of Costa Rica's largest nature park. Lots of birds, monkeys, and we even had a humpback whale greet us as we sailed into the bay!

{GMST}10|55.112|N|85|47.358|W|The wild life here is amazing.|Bahia Santa Elena{GEND}

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Monday, December 10, 2007


The trying times are over. Today's $15 ultrasound shows the stone has left
the body. I'm still trying to absorb the fact that after almost 6 weeks of
drinking gallons of water and jumping up and down, we're free!

We'll need a few days to work on the boat, replenish the stores, say goodbye
to friends, do our official paperwork, but we're free!

"In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved."
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Speech, September 22, 1936