Our Slog (Ships Log) with a Satelite View
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Eric & Sherrell
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Posted on Monday Jan 11, 2010
The gap winds toyed with us. The computer models showed 20 to 25 knots for leaving southern Nicaragua and heading north. However the NOAA forecasters kept making references to a cold front up in Mexico that would make "fresh breezes" and "strong breezes" in the gap wind areas. While I trust the forecasters over the computer models, I wasn't sure if fresh and strong were 20-25. Turns out the models lied.
We departed San Juan del Sur with about 20 knots and started sailing north along the coast. The gap winds blow NE to ENE allowing for a nice sail if you're heading NW like us. They also come right off the shore so the waves don't build up if you stay close to land. The key is you have to STAY close to land in marginally charted waters. The problem was the wind built to about 35 knots and stayed there. Dust was blowing onto us off the shore and we were getting sprayed with salt water. All still good on board as we were doing about 6 knots with only about 1/2 of one sail up. Then it started to get gusty...really gusty! Winds were hitting the 40's and starting to really heal us onto our rail (which is hard on our fat boat). We reduced sail down to about 1/8 of its size to stay in control, but we were still hitting over 7 knots!
The fine line here is we had to stay in control enough to keep close to the shore. If something happed and we got pushed away from the protective land, we would end up in open water in terrible seas with no real way to fight our way back to land against those winds.
Then to top it off we started getting even stronger gusts in the 50's! With almost no sail out we were putting the rail in the water during those gusts! Fortunately we have a good guidebook (haha) and sought refuge in a nearby anchorage which had good protection and great holding. We spent the night there, but we only managed 25 miles that day and we were pretty nervous about getting pasted the next day because we still had 80 miles to Corinto.
Fortunately for us the wind was more normal running 20-25 and we trucked north the next day without seeing anything over 30 knots. We eventually sailed out of the gap wind funnel zone and the wind even died for while forcing us to motor some.
We arrived at the entrance to Corinto at 2:30 am and since it is a well marked commercial port with good charts, we decided to attempt the entrance. The channel was pretty easy and only one buoy was missing and one was lit the wrong color, but it was all good. We anchored, checked in and then met Ivan who took us up the estuary to his hidden spot. It is super calm here and we have some work to do on the boat before heading out again. More about this place with smoking volcanoes later....
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