- Port of departure: Bahia Santa Elena, Costa Rica
- Departure date and time: Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 8:00am
- Port of arrival: Playas del Coco, Costa Rica
- Arrival date and time: Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 6:30
- Total travel time: 10.5 hours
- Miles traveled: 42.7 nm
- Engine hours: 1161.5 begin - 1163.5 end - 2 hours
- Fuel consumption: 46.7 begin - 45.9 end - 0.8 gallons used
- Fuel economy: 53.4 mpg
- Weather: We were able to make contact with some friendly folks on the Maritime Mobile Net (via our HAM radio) who told us the forecast predicted 12-16 knots of wind from the E/NE on both Saturday and Sunday. Given that it's Papagayo season and we were also rounding a Cape, we were expecting sustained 20 with gusts to around 30. In other words, a fairly exciting day sail.
- Tides and currents: The flood tide started at around 7:30am, so it was working against us for the first little bit, though the current wasn't significant. We entered Playa del Coco at the end of an ebb tide.
- Navigation notes: Playas del Coco is FULL of boats and should be approached with caution at night.
- Maintenance notes: Repaired a torn seam in the main sail.
- Lessons learned: 1) Music makes everything better. 2) Corelle dish wear are breakable in the right circumstances. 3) Sewing projects and sloppy seas don't mix.
We knew we were in for a bit of a ride with a forecast of 12-16 knots around Cabo Santa Elena. The wind and wave effects around headlands are notorious and in this part of the world, if the gap winds are blowing across Nicaragua the effects can be more pronounced. So even though the forecast seemed mild, we were expecting some lumpy seas and gusty winds. Which is exactly what we got.
As soon as we left the protection of Bahia Santa Elena we had 15-20 knots on our starboard quarter. Anticipating gusts we decided to just fly our working jib (our smaller headsail) and increase sail on an as needed basis.
Unfortunately the doctor went on the fritz as Jeff was hoisting our anchor...and I forgot to pass along this little piece of critical information until we were well on our way. Not that it really would have changed our decision to round the cape since we had a 2 week old international zarpe (that listed our next port of call as Corinto, Nicaragua rather than Playas del Coco, Costa Rica) and were eager to get our paperwork straightened out. Long story short, hand steering was in our immediate future, which was a-okay since it was only a 40+ mile day and the waves might have been a bit much for the doc anyway and it's good to get reacquainted with the tiller every now again.
I took the first shift while Jeff counseled the doctor below, attempting to understand and relieve his maladies. With only the working jib up we were flying along at 5.5 - 6.5 knots in 20-25 knots of wind, gusts up to 35 knots and 5-6 foot wind waves. I put on some John Legend and grooved with the waves.
Jeff worked his magic on the doc whose synapses had corroded (Jeff probably has a more detailed, technical answer), but the waves were still a bit much for him and we were going to start taking waves on the side as we rounded the cape. So Jeff selected his album of choice, The Builders and the Butchers, and rocked out on the tiller.
I went down below to make us some lunch and managed to break one of our Corelle dishes when a particularly big wave sent everything from the table hurtling to the floor. I'm happy to report, however, that it's the first dish I've broken since we started this journey - don't ask me how that's possible...I'm chalking it up to dumb luck. After lunch I made the very unwise choice of trying to work on a sewing project in our very sloshy cabin. After about 20 minutes of that I was feeling a bit "green at the gills," as Jeff puts it, and my upset stomach left me in a bit of a sour mood.
Once we rounded the Cabo Santa Elena the wind died down and waves calmed significantly, primarily due to the diminished fetch. We were now going more or less upwind in 10-15 knots with gusts to 20, so we raised a reefed main and still managed between 4-5 knots.
At several points the wind died down to around 5 knots, prompting us to shake out the main...but then eventually it would pick back up and start gusting to 20 againlk. Full sails in 20 knot gusts are completely manageable, sometimes it just catches you by surprise.
What tends to happen as we near any destination, especially if nightfall is approaching, is that every time we look at our charts we are exactly one our away from "being there." If we have five miles to go, we're making about five knots. ETA: One hour. If we have 4.2 miles to go, we're making about 4.2 knots. ETA: One hour. Only 3.5 miles to go, we're making 3.5 knots. And so on and so forth until we just decide to put the motor on and hopefully get there with some scrap of daylight left.
The sun sets early these days, at about 5:30pm, so by the time we pulled into the anchorage all we had were stars and moonlight. It was hard to see, but we could tell the bay was more or less full of boats so we decided to anchor just outside of the parking lot in about 40 feet of water.