Golfito to Ecuador Day 2

The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Sun 24 Nov 2013 12:55

23 November 2013   Golfito to Bahia de Caraques (Day 2)


04:37.25N  084:12.06W


I downloaded a GRIB file and there wasn't much change in the wind forecast.  It will be around 10 knots from the west until we get far enough south to be clear of the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), then the prevailing winds will back to the south. 


I reckon that we'll be free of the ITCZ when we reach 3 degrees north, probably  tomorrow night, so we'll stick to the plan of heading south to south-west for another day, which will leave us with a south-east heading to our destination.


The morning was pleasant, plodding along at five knots in fairly calm seas. The wind direction was good to us and we were able to ease the sheets a little bit. 


Last night we had a Blue Footed Booby hitch a ride with us.  It perched on the pulpit for a while, but sometime during the night it moved and squatted on our solar panels, which make a lovely landing platform.  Now I normally like to see nature up close, but do you realise how much guano a huge booby can produce?    The bloody thing had covered 25% of my lovely solar panels in thick, dried bird  poo.  It was a mission to get it off, balanced precariously on the edge of our arch.


In the early afternoon,  a nasty looking squall line appeared ahead of us. We rolled away the genoa,  turned on the engine, then altered course to try to avoid the worst of it, but we still got some heavy rain for an hour.  Fortunately, the system didn't have any strong winds or lightning.


The afternoon remained unsettled and there appeared to be another big squall line in front of us as darkness fell, but it seemed to dissipate before we got to it.   These huge weather cells are an unfortunate (and scary) part of sailing through the ITCZ - I'll be so glad to be south of it all.  We've had nearly six months of dealing with these systems and I'm weary of it now.


On my 10 - 1 watch, we approached a brightly lit fishing boat.  I turned 30 degrees to port to avoid it, but then saw a couple of white lights ahead of us.  I wasn't sure if the lights were other boats a long way away, or if they were  fishing buoys at the end of a long net close to us.  It's a nightmare trying to figure out what fishing boats are doing. 


The International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) specify that fishing vessels should display certain colours of lights to indicate if they're actively fishing with nets or trawling, but I've never been able to figure it out.  Fishing boats normally have so many deck lights on that even if they displayed correct lights it would be difficult to se them.


Anyway, we were only doing three knots through the water, so I kept altering course to avoid passing between the lights and the fishing boat in case it was a fishing net.  After twenty minutes of stress, I finally worked out that the small white lights must be other boats travelling away from us, a long distance away, so I was able to come back onto our original course.


Half an hour later, I caught up with the small white lights which turned out to be a huge ship heading in roughly the same direction.  He must have been embarrassed that a mere sailing boat had caught him up because as I got to within a mile, he increased his speed and disappeared over the horizon.  We're 200 miles from land and it's like rush hour.


Glenys had a fairly quiet watch apart from when she was hit in the face by a flying fish - she popped her head around the spray hood to check for other boats and Wham! Fortunately, it was only a little one.  A slightly bigger one landed on the port deck, which I'll be using for bait when I'm allowed to fish.


By daylight, we were surrounded by rain showers and being forced onto a SSE course by the backing wind - a little earlier than I expected.  The wind had picked up and so had the waves making for a bouncy motion heeled over at 20 degrees.