Golfito to Ecuador Day 3

The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Mon 25 Nov 2013 13:12

24 November 2013   Golfito to Bahia de Caraques (Day 3)

02:45.10N 082:50.51W


The morning GRIB showed the winds increasing for the next few days to 15-20 knots, and the effects of the ITCZ staying with us until we get to nearly 2 degrees north.  Sure enough, during the morning, we had a pronounced wind shift backing to nearly south and increasing to 15-20 knots.  This forced us hard on the wind on a course over the ground of 145 degrees, which is directly towards our destination.  I hope that the wind doesn't back any more, otherwise we'll have to throw in a couple of tacks.


We've settled into a routine now and, despite the bouncy conditions, life isn't too bad.  We have our three hour watches overnight, then I have a couple of hours' kip in the morning, Glenys has a couple of hours in the afternoon, then it's dinner at six o'clock, showers and I go back to bed at seven o'clock.  We hardly see each other apart from at meals.


It was a bit rough today, so I didn't do any fishing, mostly because I can't face the thought of cleaning the fish while we're bouncing around so much - maybe tomorrow.


Our main entertainment today was a small swallow who hitched a ride.  It couldn't seem to settle anywhere, trying to perch on winches, ropes, the cockpit sole, the side deck and it totally ignored the small, comfy nest that we made from a tea towel.  Eventually, it discovered the companion way down into the saloon and we had to keep chasing it out, sometimes having to physically grab hold of it.  It became such a pest that we finally locked it in the front heads with some bread and water - we didn't want swallow poo everywhere down below, thank you. 


As the sun went down, we were approaching a huge line of very dark clouds, stretching as far as the eye could see. There was no way to avoid it so we plunged straight in.  The wind increased over 20 knots and veered around, but surprisingly there was very little rain.  I stayed up for an extra hour to make sure that nothing bad was going to happen, then crashed out at eight o'clock.


It was still overcast and as black as the ace of spades when I got up at eleven o'clock, but at least the wind was back down to 15-20 knots, we were making good speed and our course over the ground was still 145 degrees.


The only good thing about it being very dark is that, as we crash through the waves, the sea illuminates with millions of bright phosphorescent specks of light.  At one point, we had a pod of dolphins join us and the streaks of light that they made in the water were spectacular.


When I came back on watch at five o'clock, I noticed that the foot of the genoa was vibrating badly, so I tacked, left the sails backed and hove-to.  What a difference!  We went from bucking bronco to calmly lying there, gently riding the waves. 


The velcro on the thin tensioning line for the foot of the sail has pulled away, so the foot of the sail was loose and flapping.  I lashed on a bit of 3 mm line and pulled it tight as a temporary measure - another job to do in Ecuador.  I left the sails backed, gybed and we were off again, crashing our way to windward.  I seem to have stopped the vibration of the genoa, fingers crossed.


Dawn revealed grey, overcast skies, but it was nice to see the horizon after such a dark miserable night.  Our eight o'clock log showed that we'd done 380 miles in 3 days, with 250 miles still to go.  I've emailed Puerto Amistad to tell them that our ETA is dawn on the 27th.  They should arrange for a pilot to come on board Alba to guide us through the sand bar at the mouth of the Rio Chone.