About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi

"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

High Stakes Game of "Whack-a-Mole"

We arrived yesterday in Bahia Santa Elena, Costa Rica, after sailing for the past 2 days and nights down the Nicaraguan coast. We left Bahia del Sol at high tide on Friday afternoon, escorted again through the surf by the dynamic jet-ski pilot duo of Rogelio at the helm and Bill on the radio. This crossing was more boisterous than our inbound crossing of the bar. The pilots read the wave sets well, though, telling us when to hold our position while waiting for another wave to break before applying full throttle to get through before the next set began. A bit tense, but not to worry, it all worked out fine. Hopefully will have some pictures to post when we are next connected to the internet (this post comes via Winlink on ham radio).

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.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Guys,

    Living vicariously again by reading blogs. We are still in La Cruz. I am wishing we had gone south with you guys, Judy is wishing our FM3's get here soon so we can get north.

    We went to a seminar on surviving summers in Banderas Bay the other day. One of the topics was how to protect a boat hit by lightening. The current (no pun intended) thinking is to drop welding lines into the water, much as you have done. The experts recommend connecting wires to multiple shrouds, dropping the wire ends just a few inches beneath the surface. This is the important part: just beneath the surface. Apparently the charge is dissapated better at the surface of the water. Also recommended was that the wire strands be flared out to help the dissapation. This a bit of a change from a few years ago when the mantra was to route the current thru the mast to a strip of copper connected to the hull. Apparently the thinking is now to keep the current outside and as far away from the boat as possible by using the shrouds.

    Also recommended was disconnecting valuable electronics and moving them several feet away from any boat wiring, or removing the hot and negative wires a couple feet away from those components you can't move.

    Sounds like you missed the big blow in Behia del Sol. Many boats broke loose with some major damage.

    SV Grace