Adios El Salvador!

Sailors say that starting a trip on a Friday is bad luck but we were cleared out of El Salvador and the weather heading south looked good so were headed out of the estuary at Bahia del Sol and crossed the Bar early Friday morning. Fate struck quickly as Mike found a very small leak in an exhaust hose a few minutes later. We did a 180 and anchored off the beach. The bad luck didn’t hold because we were able to repair the leak and were back underway in a couple of hours and had an idyllic sail that afternoon. We entered Nicaraguan waters and spent most of the night dodging the local pangas. The next day the Papagayo winds picked up. The Papagayos are “gap winds” that funnel the wind from the Caribbean through gaps in the mountains in Central America and create high winds and large, steep wind waves along certain parts of the Pacific coast. We had timed our departure when the forecast was for minimal Papagayos. We were seeing 15 – 25 kts of wind, more than the forecast but we stayed close to shore where the waves kicked up from the offshore winds were still small. We were going to make landfall in Costa Rica before dawn the following day so we decided to stop and drop the anchor so that we’d arrive in daylight. We pulled into a bay called El Astillero just before dark where we spent a windy night but the bay was well protected from the ocean swells and sea was flat. We were planning on heading out early the next morning but before we got underway the Nicaraguan Navy came out in a panga. The officer who came aboard was very professional and courteous, inspected out papers, asked where we were headed and told us to have a nice trip. He seemed to be making sure we had no one else aboard. We headed out before 8:00 am and encountered winds blowing 25 – 35 kts with some higher gusts. Close to shore the waves weren’t bad so we reefed the main, buttoned up the cockpit to keep out the spray and headed south. Mermaid handled the conditions like a champ and by noon the condition started to mellow and by the time we made landfall we were having a fantastic sail in 15 to 20 kts of Breeze. We made landfall in Costa Rica in Bahia Santa Elena, a beautiful, well protected bay where we anchored in the lovely bay and watched the parrots fly overhead.
We really would have loved to spend more time in this beautiful anchorage but the Papagayo winds were predicted to be bad and we had not checked into the country. So, we hoisted anchor and headed out of the bay. On the radio net we were told to throw out a line because the fishing was great. We did and just as we caught a fish we were promptly visited by officials telling us that we could not fish here… Oops! After a lovely day of sailing we arrived in Playa Panama and dropped the hook.

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