Thursday afternoon. What an amazing past 3 days of sailing these have been. Except for a quick tack to avoid an 8 mile long (at least) fishing long line marked by empty plastic bottles, we've been close reaching on a starboard tack the entire time. The wind velocity (8-20 kn) and direction (SW) have been rock steady, allowing us to sail a straight line directly to Ecuador. Not at all what was predicted. Seas have been moderate for the most part, though this afternoon the wind has increased to 15-20, and we're sailing closehauled to make our destination....a bit of a rough ride. But no rain or lightning for 3 days!!! We feel a real difference in the weather on leaving central America behind.
You may recall on our approach to cross the bar in El Salvador that we needed to slow down to arrive at high tide. Well, the Rio Chone estuary that we'll be entering in Ecuador is much the same. We will have a pilot come aboard to guide us in, and high tide is at around 11am tomorrow. We're now (3pm) about 90 miles out. Since we don't want to hang out at the mouth of the river in the dark, it means arriving in the window between dawn at 5am and 10am to be there to meet the pilot. So yesterday we began to slow the boat down, flying our staysail instead of the big genoa. Even so, our 24 hour noon/noon run was 110 miles. Now we're boogeying along at around 5 knots, perfect for our morning arrival.
Had a weird encounter yesterday afternoon. We were sailing along, about 130 miles off the Columbian coast, when we saw an open panga boat approaching at high speed. Cindi called me up on deck, "ummmm...Adam....we've got company...." This after not seeing any boat traffic even on radar for 3 days! It was a pretty jazzy panga, with twin 115 engines and a snazzy paint job. Not your typical run-o-the-mill coastal boat. No fishing gear evident. 2 guys aboard, with fishing foul weather gear on. Came alongside us. We were thinking, "this can't be good!!!". As they were motoring alongside, the guy in the bow does a smoking motion, evidently asking for cigarettes. When I said "no tengo", we don't have any, they goosed their engines and disappeared into the 6 foot seas leaving a huge roostertail behind. Like I say.....pretty weird!!!
We're getting pretty excited to cross the equator. We're now at 0 degrees 47 minutes N. latitude, and we should cross sometime a bit after midnight. King Neptune awaits to welcome his newest "shellbacks", leaving our "pollywog" status behind!!!
Assuming the passage continues to go well, we'll make landfall in the morning, and check in with the authorities tomorrow. South America awaits!!!