Monday, November 7, 2016

In Route to Puerto Chiapas:: Delay, Squall, and a Sea Turtle Rescue

Officials were scheduled to arrive yesterday at Puesta del Sol at 8 a.m.. Just after eight, the marina manager let me know that they hadn't left their respective headquarters in Corinto and would arrive around 10. Then it would be noon. Shortly after noon, the marina manager looked at me apologetically and said it lo is like they might not make it today and you won't be able to leave until tomorrow. And then, just before three o'clock they showed up!

We cleared out of Nicaragua, topped up the fuel tanks from the pump at the fuel dock (no jugs, grunting, or moaning) and were out on the ocean at 4:30. Considerably later than planned and the good part of a day wasted sitting waiting on the boat, but a walk in the park compared to Costa Rica.

The sea was smooth, the sky sunny and clear, with a gentle wind that didn't help us or hurt us. We were treated to a beautiful sunset and enjoyed finishing the leftover gourmet Thai curry on the lanai. (Intermezzo's cockpit is more like a porch than a place from which one operates a boat.)

Around 10:30 that night Renee was on watch with me sound asleep below when she noticed big thunderclouds in the night sky and lots of rain showing up on radar. When she went below to shut a couple of portlights the wind was blowing seven knots. Several seconds later when she came back on deck, it was howling at 35 knots. Our first significant squall of the trip.

She called for me to come up on deck and I promptly arrived in my only underwear to assess the situation. It was windy, there were some decent wind waves, it was raining and it was chilly outside wearing only underwear, so I didn't stay long. The boat was managing well and while Renee was a bit apprehensive, she had matters well in hand so I asked her if it was okay for me to go back to bed. I would have stayed up but I thought it better to let Renee figure out that she was doing fine on her own. I got up about a half hour later to check on her and she was ar ease and confident, even as the wind continued to howl and the boat tossed around by the short but violent sea. I went back to sleep; I can sleep through just about anything save for the boat sinking or exploding or the jib sheets rattling in the way I just cannot stand.

The squall lasted about an hour and then was over almost as quickly as it started and the rest of the night was uneventful.

Today was a glorious day. Sunny, a light blue clear sky and a calm deep blue sea. The gentle wind was from the SSW a good part of the day allowing us to motorsail and run the engine slow and quietly. Renee caught four nice skipjack tuna that we turned loose because we don't really like the strong flavor and tough texture of this member of he tuna species. Our watches were pleasant and we got some naps, reading and writing in while off watch.

Just after lunch, Renee spotted a sea turtle tangled up in fishing gear and a plastic bottle float. She said, "Let's save it!" and we sprung into action. we furled the sail, I turned the boat around and Renee got her fishing lines in. I eased the boat up near to the turtle and Renee hauled in hundreds of feet of polypropylene cord to which monofilament lines with hooks were attached at intervals, bringing the turtle and the bottle float closer to the boat. The polypropylene cord was wrapped around one of the turtles fins, attaching it to the giant mess of fishing tackle now lying on Intermezzo's deck. The turtle was obviously in distress and the cord had cut into the flesh of its fin, but it wasn't too bad. Renee talked to the turtle to keep it calm, although I question if a turtle off the coast of El Salvador understands English. I would have spoken to it in Spanish. But that is my only critique. Otherwise Renee worked quickly, gently and efficiently, hooking the cord with t
he gaff (tip protector on) to lift it clear of the turtle's fin and then cutting it with a stout pair of scissors, her bare hand only inches from the turtle's sharp beak. (I added that last bit for dramatic effect. The turtle had been calmed by Renee's soothing voice, even though it was in the wrong language.) The turtle swam away, free and with only a minor wound. It was a very rewarding diversion on a beautiful day at sea We saved a rare creature's life and done a tiny bit of good for the planet, though I use "we" generously. It was Renee who spotted it, called us to action and took charge of the rescue. I mostly watched, took a few pictures and muttered a few comments about speaking the correct language to the animal. Renee earned the good turtle karma today.