Passage Notes Feb 2018
BDS to SJDS
Crossing the Bar
Bar crossing was fairly straightforward (min depth we saw was 9.6ft)
Leaving before the actual slack tide still has plenty of current
Lumpy confused seas for first hour or two. This was a real pain in the butt with low winds and nothing to steady us out.
Seemed to have a counter current of over 1kt
BDS to Fonseca
Still had current
With lower winds and better seas we cut from Lempa shoals straight towards Puesta del Sol
Counter current for most of the crossing
Motorsail first half with lighter winds
Sail 2nd half w good wind (15-20kts)
About 20 miles offshore
When winds died later that morning we used the opportunity to motorsail directly towards shore. When the wind picked up again we were 8 miles out.
Nice light air sailing with small swell and 4-7kts wind
No fishing boats seen in this area (maybe because of commercial traffic that heads into Fonseca…)
Near Corinto – Night
Still motorsailing in low wind but put 2reef in main after a message from Carinthia about high winds to the south
Short time later a very quick change in winds to 20-25kts and short steep 4-6ft seas
We were still 8 miles out and so quickly turned 90deg and headed straight in for shore. Stayed (1to3 miles) It was night so we didn’t want to get much closer…
All winds on the nose (almost parallel to the coast) making sailing difficult if we wanted to stay close to shore.
Our experience was that fishing lines were all lit at both ends at night. This made them easier to identify and avoid. If you saw one, you would locate the 2nd light and avoid passing between them. This worked well for us. Maybe we were just lucky?
Corinto to El Astillero
This was a rough section
We were 1-3 miles out which we would learn later was still too far.
2reef main to steady us. Trying to sail kept pushing us offshore which quickly became less and less comfortable.
Winds were 25-30kts on the nose. Seas were 3-5ft very close. Mostly all just wind chop on top of small swell.
All this made for a tough 80 mile beat to El Astillero. Pounding straight into relentless wind and wave.
We knew we wouldn’t make SJDS before dark so we pulled into El Astillero to rest.
Lots of room and quite comfortable in the anchorage.
We were boarded within an hour by local officials. They checked our paperwork and did a quick search of the inside of the boat. At first it looked like we may have to ride in with them to check paperwork on shore but eventually they decided to just take pictures of everything and call it good. They did state that we couldn’t go ashore and need to leave first thing in the morning as we hadn’t checked into the country yet.
El Astillero to SJDS
With 25-30kt winds directly on the nose we decided to keep the sails packed away and just try to be a motorboat. We stayed very close to shore (1/4 – ½ mile) and stayed in 40-50ft of water. This actually worked out great for us.
It was noticeably less comfortable as soon as we got any farther out.
There are definitely obstacles to avoid when you are this close but the seas were very actually quite comfortable. There was enough wind on the bare poles and stack pack to keep us steady for any other side motion.
Unfortunately fishermen are actually harder to spot during the day and we did run over one net.
We actually saw the panga and had identified the buoy that was the end of the line. We went around the outside but there must have been a bunch of loose line out past it that we got caught on. We were able to cut it loose but the lesson was learned.
It really helps to identify if they are pulling in a net or just sitting around. If the motor is up and someone is standing in the front they are probably pulling in net. This make it better to go past the back of the panga (with a wide berth of course).
Regardless of forecast stay as close to the beach as you are comfortable navigating.
Wind in Nicaragua will be almost parallel to the coast towards Fonseca.
This wind will create a counter current of 1-2kts.
To do it again I would travel only during the day and in short hops. Daytime made it much more reasonable to identify hazards and to be so close to shore.
Get comfortable being a motorboat.
Marc and Laura.
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