Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Off the Coast of El Salvador: Heading Into a Papagayo

April 3
13.0N 88.8W

We're sailing in a nice wind, but into head seas again, about 15 nm off the coast of El Salvador. The wind is putting us on a course for the Golfo de Fonseca, the big gulf where El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua meet.

Strong winds, called Papagayos, are forecast along the coast in front of us and at our destination. Just like the Golfo de Tehuantepec in Mexico, these winds originate on the other coast of Central America and blow across the narrow mountainous land, build velocity as they cool down and descend to this coast. Papagayos can be very gusty, up to double the forecasted wind speed, so we have to be careful.

We'll hug the shoreline, which provides some shelter from the winds and avoids the big seas that can develop further offshore. I have identified several anchorages along the way along the Nicaraguan coast that we can duck into if we decide to wait for better conditions. I'll be monitoring the weather forecasts very closely from now on.

Based on the current forecast, we're expect to start feeling the stronger winds on Thursday afternoon and on into Friday. Until then, we will likely be motoring in calm, light wind conditions once the wind we're in now dies down this evening.