Friday, April 5, 2019

El Astillero, Nicaragua: Resting, Letting the Wind Subside

April 5

Last night was a long night of motoring against strong wind and choppy seas. In the middle of it all, somehow, while on their joint watch, John and Kim were able to spot long lines of clear plastic bottles in the water being used as floats for fishing lines in the dark and not run through them and tangle up the prop. Multiple lines of bottles seemed to be everywhere and curve around themselves. Kim woke me up to help figure out how we could extricate Intermezzo from this confusing maze and continue on our way. John used a spotlight to trace the lines of bottles and I tried to figure out a way to steer around them. It took a while, but we found the end of one line of bottles and then headed further out to sea to get ourselves beyond the line of fishing boats to which the bottles belonged.

We arrived in the small anchorage of El Astillero around 0800, strong wind blowing off the beach as we dropped anchor. The anchorage is a shallow crescent-shaped cove fronted by a sandy beach with dry scrubby hills behind. A fishing village extends along the mile-long beach, a mix of mostly smaller and some larger rustic houses. At the southern end of the crescent, up on some low bluffs is a huge villa that looks a bit like a glass spaceship, standing out oddly in prominent opulence. There is an active fishing community here with two dozen brightly-colored fishing pangas pulled up on the beach. We haven't gone on shore as we aren't cleared into Nicaragua and want to keep a low profile, but it looks like a friendly place, the fishermen waving to us as they pass by in their pangas and a bunch of kids playing soccer on the beach. There is a surf break to at the northwest end of the cove and I saw a few people carrying surfboards along the beach, probably surf-tourists.

We spent the day resting after four days of nonstop sailing and did doing some light chores. The wind blew strong with some powerful gusts most of the day, but it is subsiding now as the evening approaches.

One of the big gusts this afternoon had a funny result. I had the small stern portlight open in my cabin for ventilation. This portlight opens to Intermezzo's covered cockpit and is in a very protected location. Somehow we hit a wave last night in such away as to bury the sterns of the boat enough so that water surged up into the cockpit to dump a mug-full of water through the portlight onto my sleeping head. It woke me up. It also got my pillows wet in a couple of spots.

So, today I put the pillows out on the front deck to dry, lodging them against the windows of the salon so they wouldn't blow away. Well, when I went to retrieve them, one had apparently blown away. I was bummed. That is, until Roy came out of his cabin carrying a pillow asking, "Who threw a pillow on me to wake me up?" How a gust of wind was able to carry my pillow three feet forward, five feet to port and then stuff it down a two-foot square hatch is beyond me! But I am certainly grateful not to have lost my pillow overboard.

We'll leave here early tomorrow and make another unplanned stop in Playa de Cocos in Bahia Culebra, Costa Rica, about 80 nm further down the coast from here. We burned more fuel than expected bashing against wind and waves and before that, motoring in light airs, so we now don't have enough to be confident that we'll make it all the way to our planned refueling stop in Golfito, near the border with Panama.

The last time I stopped in Playa de Cocos for fuel in November 2016, it was a bureaucratic nightmare and I barely got Intermezzo out of Costa Rica. It ended up being a funny story (search the blog, it's one of the most popular and commented-upon posts), but also very stressful. This time, all my paperwork should be in order and hopefully all will go smoothly.

The crew seems to be enjoying this unplanned rest break and they deserve it. They have each done a great job looking after the boat and keeping us moving along safely and in good company. I'm very fortunate to have them on board.