Monday, April 8, 2019

Crossing Gulfo Nicoya, Costa Rica: Things Fixed, Enough Fuel?

April 4
9.4N 85.0W

We departed Bahia Elena early yesterday morning after Roy climbed the mast and reattached the wind instrument sensor. It turned out to be an easy repair. The sensor was originally mounted to the aluminum masthead with very short screws to avoid fouling the halyard sheaves. The short screws simply lost their bite over time and came loose, the sensor hanging on by two threads of one screw. Roy just put in slightly longer screws and we were on our way. Okay, he also climbed and descended a 60 foot mast in the tropical heat, but he seemed to enjoy the effort, so I'm discounting it.

As we headed to Playa de Coco to refuel, I fired up my fuel consumption spreadsheet to do some analysis (yes, I am an engineer). The spreadsheet allows me to consider various scenarios of remaining fuel range based on different assumptions. My base assumption is that the boat's fuel tanks are only filled to 95% capacity, a fuel consumption rate of one standard deviation greater than Intermezzo's historic mean (0.8 gph), an average boat speed of 5 knots, and a fuel reserve of 10 percent total fuel capacity. Based on these relatively conservative assumptions, we can make it to Golfito even if we have to motor all the way and use both engines 25 percent of the time, which we never do, almost always motoring on one engine. Winds are forecast to be light and not from favorable directions for us, so it is likely that we will motor most of this 230nm passage.

Despite having confidence in my analysis, there is always a lingering worry...will we make 5 knots speed?...did the bashing into head seas for 36 hours previously burn more fuel than assumed? I meditate these worries away when they arise. We'll deal with the very unlikely event of running out of fuel if and when it happens. We are a sailboat, for godsake. Besides, if it looks like we're cutting it too close, we can duck into Quepos for fuel, about 2/3 of the way to Golfito.

So now we're on our way to Golfito, crossing the Golfo de Nicoya. In 2016, I left Intermezzo in Puntarenas, located at the top of this gulf, for the summer. I find that as I pass these previously visited places, I am flooded by memories of who I was with, things that happened, my state of mind at the time. The memories of sailing with my daughter Hannah are the most pronounced and heartfelt here. It was the last trip we did together, just the two of us. She was still in college. She's grown up so much since then, living her own independent life, embarking on voyages of her own. In many ways, she's a lot like me, driven, focused, a planner, a do-er. These similarities mean we more often head in our own directions, seldom towards each other, something I accept, but with some sadness and nostalgia for when she was a child and we were very close.

Okay, enough reminiscing and reflection. Back to the sailing.

Yesterday afternoon, John and Roy repaired the bowsprit. The cutoff the aluminum end that ripped of its fitting with an angle grinder (glad I had one on board) and reattached it to the fitting with new screws. We mounted it back on the bow, hoisted the Code 0 and we were back in business. These two guys work great together, John's skills as a cabinetmaker complimenting Roy's mechanical and rigging background. I provide bits of structural engineering advice. Kim's at the wheel while we're all working, taking care of the boat and is a very calm, encouraging presence. We make a great team and I am so grateful for my crew's skills, sense of common purpose, how they support one another and me, and the collective optimistic attitude. It's amazing to me that I have found such great crew members online and did only minimal vetting, relying on answers to a few key questions and my intuition. I'm very lucky.

I am the ultimate do-it-yourself-er, need to be self sufficient, not depend on others, and have a solo-sailor's mindset. All the help and support I've received from those I've sailed with on this Voyage so far- Renee, Marc, Marci, Hannah, Roy, Pete, Kim, John- reminds me that it is much easier and better results are achieved when I relax my conditioning and open up space for other people to contribute.

This Voyage teaches me more than how to sail and navigate a boat.