Thursday, April 14, 2016

Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua

Well, I successfully escaped from Bahia del Sol and sailed Intermezzo here to Puesta del Sol (no relation) in Nicaragua.

I wasn't able to interest anyone in crewing for me so I decided to sail singlehanded. It's only 100 nm and the weather forecast was benign. My only worry was what it would be like crossing the bar to leave B. del Sol, but that turned out to be a complete non-issue as there was virtually no swell or surf.

I left B. del Sol at about 5:30 pm on Monday and arrived here the following afternoon around 2. I felt pretty good, despite having sailed through the night. During the night, I would take a look around and check the radar, set a timer, and take a 15 minute catnap. When the timer went off, I would wake up, take a look around, check the radar and, if nothing was about, set the timer again for another nap. I'm really good at taking naps and getting the most out of them, so this strategy worked great. I probably got a good six hours sleep this way, albeit in 15 minute increments. The only issue I had was being a bit groggy when responding to a ship that contacted me to arrange how he was going to overtake me as we both dodged three fishing boats up ahead. I knew enough to give the ship sea room, have it pass on the outside and let me deal with the fishing boats, but I don't think I explained my intentions coherently on the radio. Fortunately, the captain of the ship had the same idea and was articulate and polite in explaining his intentions.

The marina here in Puesta del Sol is located in a very pretty estuary, When I arrived at the entrance, I asked the marina to send a pilot boat, but they didn't have one available, so I had to navigate the entry on my own. There are no detailed charts available, but once inside the entry, the channel is well marked by bouys. The tricky part was figuring out where the channel was outside the entry as I closed on the beach, which is a well known surfing venue. There were no breaking waves anywhere close to the entrance, so I just watched the depth sounder carefully and tried to stay in 30 feet-plus of water. It turned out not to be a difficult entrance at all, but it was the point in the passage when I felt most alone and on my own.

Marina Puesta del Sol is a very nice the middle of nowhere. There aren't half a dozen guests here, the restaurant-bar is almost always empty, as is the pool, and I had three miles of beautiful beach all to myself this afternoon. I find it ironic to find myself in such a beautifully secluded spot with nobody around when I am feeling so very much alone. I like the place a lot, but it would be so much better with good company.

The estuary here is huge and really magnificent. In fact, this north-central part of the Nicaraguan coast is dominated by protected wetlands and nature reserves, including the Estero Padre Ramos Reserve, and the Isla Juan Venado Reserve. The water is very clean and clear and the mangroves seem dense and healthy. Except for fish and birds, I haven't seen much wildlife, but I bet I would if I ventured out into the smaller channels. I would have to be careful not to get lost, though.

As it is, the staff significantly outnumber the few guests here and I find myself seeking them out during the day for brief friendly conversation. My conversational Spanish is getting much better, although grammatically I speak like a three year old and I sometimes find myself inventing words to fill in blanks in my vocabulary. About 50 percent of my invented words are comprehended correctly, often with some amusement. The other half just result in puzzled looks that prompt me to try again, start miming the word, or change the subject.

My social situation will change soon, though. I'm picking up a rental car tomorrow and plan on spending the rest of the month touring Nicaragua until Hannah and, hopefully, Renee, arrive on May 1-2. My first stop will be the city of Leon, which Lonely Planet describes as "drop-dead gorgeous (in a crumbling, colonial kind of way)".  I am also looking forward to the nightlife where, "Leon's university students fuel the diesel-charged party". I plan on being the drop-dead handsome guy at that party, in a crumbling, grey-haired kind of way.

After Leon, I'm heading to the Northwest highlands to get out of the heat and see some volcanoes and old-growth rainforest. I'm looking forward to exploring the country and finding out how I like solo travel. I haven't done that for a long while.

View of Marina Puesta del Sol from Intermezzo's dock

One of the three small hotel buildings at Puesta del Sol

A pile of termite nests removed from the trees on the hotel's grounds. 
The trail to Puesta del Sol's beach 

The beach I have all to myself, looking northwest

The beach I have all to myself, looking southeast. The entry into the estuary through which I navigated Intermezzo is in the distance.

The palapa bar, infinity pool and beer I have all to myself.

The small fishing village near the marina. 
The other infinity pool I have all to myself, with Intermezzo and the marina in the background.

Ready for the party scene in León, in a greying, crumbling kind of way.