Golfito to Ecuador Day 5
26 November 2013 Golfito to Bahia de Caraques, Ecuador (Day 5)
The morning GRIB file showed that the wind was forecast to remain around 15 knots, then back a little in the evening and drop to 10 knots around midnight.
We had a rough day with strong winds and waves big enough to stop us dead every so often. By midday, we had two reefs in the main and 20-25 knots winds, but occasionally the sun peeked out from behind the clouds brightening our spirits. We were making good progress - by three o'clock, we had 80 miles to go and were just managing to hold a course directly to Bahia de Caraques. If we could just maintain 5 knots, we'd be there by seven o'clock in the morning.
The wind dropped off to 15 knots while we had dinner. I went to bed at seven and got up an hour later to celebrate crossing the equator with Glenys. The Royal Navy has a very elaborate ceremony to honour Neptune, the god of the sea - ours was a much more subdued affair. We counted down the approach to the equator like you would do at New Year and then popped open a celebratory beer, giving half of it to Neptune as an offering to look after us. We're now in the southern hemisphere!
It was all go at our ten o'clock change of watch. There was a ship on our port side about to cross in front of us and fishing boat with what looked like a mile long net to starboard. To add to the excitement, the wind picked up gusting to nearly 30 knots, forcing us to reef the genoa - a hectic 20 minutes. We were now 43 miles from our destination, romping along at six knots, feeling confident about making our approach at dawn.
Three hours later, we were only 27 miles from the pilot meeting position, so Glenys rolled away the genoa to slow down and we bumbled along at 2-1/2 knots with a very heavily reefed mainsail and the staysail. By four o'clock, the wind had dropped, so we were motoring and came across a fishing boat with some bright vertical white lights and a green and red flashing light. There was another boat with the same sort of lights about a mile away. This looked suspiciously like they might have a net strung between them, so we circled around the outside of the nearest one.
We anchored outside the entrance to the river just after seven o'clock to wait for the pilot to come out to us. We're about a mile from land, the sun is shining, there's a nice, light breeze and Glenys has just made a cup of tea. Lovely.