Golfito to Ecuador (Day 4)

The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Tue 26 Nov 2013 13:19

25 November 2013   Golfito to Bahia de Caraques, Ecuador (Day 4)


00:57.13N 081:34.29W


Our electronic charts show that the minimum depth on the entrance to Bahia de Caraques is only 0.6 m, so it's essential that we go in around high tide which is 2.3 metres at 10:40 tomorrow.  We'd like to arrive at the pilot waiting area two hours before high water at half past eight.


The morning GRIB file showed that the wind was forecast to drop slightly to 15 knots and to veer by 10 degrees during the day.  It should drop further to 10 knots tomorrow night.  With 260 miles to go, we're going to have to average 5.5 knots if we want to arrive in time, so we need to keep piling on the pressure.  If the wind drops then hopefully the seas will calm down and we can motor-sail to make up the time.


Unfortunately, the cute little Swallow that we locked in the front heads was dead this morning.  It's no great surprise.  We've had quite a few of these birds hitch a ride over the years and they always die overnight.  I reckon that they get sucked into thunderstorms, become disorientated and are irrecoverably exhausted by the time that they land on us.


We had a pleasant sunny day - sailing hard on the wind, but the seas weren't too bad.  I put out a couple of fishing lines in the afternoon, but no joy.  Instead of fish, Glenys rustled up a nice chilli for dinner sprinkled with fresh cilantro and some home-made guacamole on the side - very nice.


At sunset, I put our usual precautionary reef in the main-sail and I was glad that I did because by midnight it was blowing 20-25 knots and I had to put another heavy reef in the genoa.  On the positive side, we were hammering along at about 6 knots managing to stay above the rhumb line to our destination.


An hour later, it was gusting to 30 knots, we were heeled over to 30 degrees and taking big walls of water over the bow.  Gritting my teeth, I put on my swimming shorts, groped my way forward and put a second reef in the main.  After that, the motion was much better and our speed increased - result!  It calmed down a little on Glenys's 1 to 4 watch and by dawn we'd shaken out the reef in the genoa. 


At seven o'clock, we passed through 1 degree North, just 60 miles from the equator.   It's grey, overcast and surprisingly cold.  I actually had to wear a fleece during my 4 to 7 watch - first time for ages.


Our eight o'clock log showed that we'd done 530 miles in 4 days, with 115 miles still to go.  We're still hoping to get to the entrance tomorrow morning, but we seem to have a 0.5 knot current against us now and the wind has backed again, so we're dropping below the rhumb line.  I guess that if we miss the tide window, we'll have to go 20 miles north to Cabo Passado, which is a poorly protected anchorage, or go back out to sea overnight.