The first night was relatively uneventful. We had light winds for the entire passage, never seeing more than 10 knots of breeze, and more often winds were in the 4-8 knot range. We saw a fair bit of lightning on the first night, but it was far in the distance, seemingly over land (we were typically 20-30 miles off shore). A couple of squalls appeared on radar, but also far off, and not in our path.
While on watch on the second night, though, things got interesting! Several convection cells appeared on the radar, some ahead of us, and some behind. As we altered course to avoid the cell blobs, with their major lightning activity, some would begin to dissolve, while others appeared, as if intentionally trying to block our path!! No matter which way we turned, we'd soon see a new cell starting to grow in our way. Left....right....more right....left.....Finally after around 4 hours we were through the area, and all of the lightning was behind us. Yeee-hah.....dodged another bullet!!!
The lightning was intense, some of the brightest we've seen yet, in what has become a nightly display. While in El Salvador, we made up a readily deployable mast ground wire. Using heavy gauge 1/0 welding cable with a big lug on one end, we have it bolted to the mast near the deck. When we see lightning, we throw the 15' long cable into the water, trailing it alongside the boat. The hope is that, should we be hit, this will provide an easy path for the jolt to get to ground, rather than arcing through the hull with possible unsavory consequences. Hopefully we'll never see it tested, but at least we feel that it may provide a bit of protection. Of course, we also put all of our portable electronics in the oven when entering "the zone" for extra precaution. Does it work????? Who knows, but it can't hurt (unless we fire up the oven and fry 3 laptops!!!)
So we arrived in this beautiful bay, Santa Elena, yesterday morning. It's a large bay, but deep, and completely protected from any swells or waves. We were escorted in by a huge pod of spotted dolphins, and more turtles (olive ridleys) than we've ever seen. One other boat in the bay, but a long way off. The jungle sounds are fantastic, as the area is known for it's parrots, sea birds, and others. We also heard numerous howler monkeys in the evening. Yesterday remained calm, and we lounged about, reading and catching up on needed sleep after the previous night's game of "Whack-a-Mole".
During the night, as forecast, the weather changed. We now have a "papagayo", a gap wind coming across from the Caribbean, similar to the "T-pecker" which we described a few weeks ago. It will likely keep blowing for the next several days, with typical gusts so far around 20-25 knots. No waves, though, so we're comfortable, and using the time to catch up with boat chores, reading, games and videos. Perhaps launch the dinghy tomorrow in the lulls, to explore some of the hikes on shore that we've heard about. The diving and snorkeling are supposed to be great around here as well, but we'll need to let the winds die down a bit before heading out of the bay.