Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Countown to reality

22:40, Good Thursday, 5 Apr 2012, Anchored, Bahia del Sol Things are definitely winding down on Gosling. Much of our prep work to leave the boat for the summer is completed. Today Fran was sealing some of the foodstuffs we are leaving using her Food Saver. The vacuum sealer does an excellent job. We will be using a similar method for our clothing, bedding and towels when we get the bags in a week or so. Ken and Carole have returned home to BC for 2 weeks and have a list of items to bring back including the bags. Several boats are going through the same storage routine. Steve and Linda on Warren Peace are almost complete. They are at their summer mooring already and are well advanced. They will be leaving soon to take Spanish lessons in Guatemala before heading for home. There are still a number of boats that are prepping to continue down the coast for Panama. Tomorrow, Tom and Laurie on Camelot will be leaving and they will be followed by Hotspur and others as they continue their voyage. Ken and Carole have not decided whether they will continue this year or not. They feel that they are going too fast and missing too much so they are now considering leaving the boat here and continuing next season. It is still very hot during the day and cools down slightly overnight. We are at full moon and the highest tides of the year will be occurring next week. The current is 4-6 kts at times and actually gives anchored boats a bow wave and a wake. The locals seem to relish the heat. Conditioning must be the secret. Semana Santa (Easter week) has begun and the beach residences are full to overflowing. The resort here is sold out but we are spared the big crowds who would rather spend their time on the beach side of the resort rather than the estuary side where we are. 2300, 7 Apr 2012, same location What a light show we are having!!! Thunderstorms have been predicted for the next week and every day we have seen a build-up of clouds and some distant sheet lightning by nightfall. Over the last 2 evenings the thunder clouds have been forming closer and closer. Yesterday at about 5PM we saw a funnel cloud emerge from a big ugly black cloud just to the west of us and by nightfall we could see lots of lightning to the west. Well, tonight those clouds (minus the funnel) are overhead. At dusk we saw the first lightning and since then it has been a continuous show. So far it has been contained in the clouds above us and the thunder is muffled. It was absolutely still, not a breath of wind until a few minutes ago and now it is whistling through the rigging and making the awning flap wildly. I had to put up some frapping lines to keep the awning in control but that has only limited effect. 20 mins later: It is blowing 30-40 and raining like hell. Now we have forked lightning and real thunder claps. Rosie is hiding somewhere on the boat. She seems to find little cubby holes in the Vee berth when she is really scared. We weren’t completely caught by surprise but things are wetter onboard than planned. It was so hot that we waited to close the hatches until the last minute but fell asleep. Oh well, another lesson learnt. It’ll be hot and drier tomorrow. 1200, 8 Apr 2012 same location Everything is dry again but we will probably have a similar downpour tonight. We are in the transition period between the dry and the wet seasons. Jean (Mita Kuulu) says that this is the typical weather pattern for the transition period but it is a bit early this year. It has put quite a damper on the Semana Santa party-goers. For many this is their last day; tomorrow is a holiday only for the federal employees so most of the holidayers are on their way home. Soon we will be back to normal at the resort with only the cruisers using the facilities and keeping the bar staff employed. 2300, 22 April, 2012 At Colette and Murray’s Mooring, Bahia Del Sol I didn’t think I’d have much to write about during the last few weeks of preps to depart but we have had another interesting event to break up the monotony. Some of you may remember an incident I wrote about 3 years ago, about a microburst that hit us with high winds while anchored in Barra De Navidad. Well, a case of Deja-Vu last night. In late afternoon we had watched the build-up of nimbus clouds to the north of us, nothing abnormal about this and getting to be quite commonplace. We were expecting a light show and were not disappointed. As dusk arrived there was a lot of distant sheet lightning to the north. By 8 PM the wind picked up and rain started to fall. Our dinner guests, Ken and Carole, fresh from their 2-week trip back to BC, decided to get back to their boat before it got worse. Luckily for them they made it with minutes to spare before we were hit with what must have been another microburst. Our wind meter started at 30 kts and during the following 30 minutes it rose steadily reaching 73 kts at its peak. Our mooring field has 8 boats in it and 5 were swept away, with their mooring clumps. I was watching a Beneteau 45, next to us, lit up by almost continuous lightning as it wind-vaned beam on to the wind and begin its drift. An amazing sight! Luckily we had taken precautions when rain seemed likely but nothing prepared us for the maelstrom that followed. Our only loss was the gas tank from the dingy and a tear in our canopy. Other boats weren’t so lucky. 2 boats from our group drifted into each other and caused some damage to wind vanes, pulpits and railings while others suffered mainly torn sun shades and canopies. As soon as the wind had died down I was able to go out with Carlito,the caretaker of our mooring field to assess the condition of the boats. We discovered 2 local fishermen hanging on for dear life on the mooring cable of one of the boats. Their wooden canoe had flipped over and, lucky for them, they were upwind of the mooring field otherwise it would have been a much more tragic outcome. Boats at the other mooring field and the docks weren’t so lucky. One got a few small holes punched into her from an anchor on a drifting boat that broke her mooring line. One of the anchored boats, a J-36, ended up on a concrete dock and was severely damaged, and is now considered a write-off. Docks were damaged, cleats pulled out and panicked owners did everything they could to minimize damage. This morning we were able to better assess the damage. Cruisers are a remarkable breed. They have an inbred spirit of cooperation and are always willing to assist where assistance is needed. It certainly showed today as everyone pitched in to help those who were worst hit.
Tolerance - write-off
Island Marine's dock We have only 4 more days to go. We hope that will be the last excitement before we leave. Ken and Carole (Nauti-Moments) will be joining us in the moorings in the next few days. We are close to completing our preps. Fran has been packing things to go and things to stay. Her vacuum packer has seen a lot of use. She has also been vacuum packing large items using special bags that Ken and Carole brought back. She uses the vacuum cleaner for those. We are not taking any chances on mold so any linen, clothes, pillows or anything else liable to be affected is getting bagged. All surfaces on the boat are being wiped with a vinegar or chlorox solution. To back these precautions up we have a wonderful staff here at the moorings that will open up the boats regularly to air them out and check for excess moisture. Yesterday we were finally able to confirm Rosie’s flight arrangements, however, a SNAFU with the airlines will have her arriving 3 hours after we do in Phoenix. 2330, Same location Just a few minutes ago I was sitting on the bow in one of our folding chairs just enjoying the ambiance. There is a crescent moon setting directly in front of us. The tide is ebbing, we are pointed west, the current is about 3 kts and is burbling at the mooring chain. The only other sounds are dogs barking and occasionally, the sound of a small boat engine as they zip up and down the estuary. On the starboard side the shore is dark. There is no electricity supplied to the island so all we can see are small solar lights and the occasional bobbing flashlight as someone walks along the path by the shore. A few people on the Island have generators but by this time they have shut them off and gone to bed. The other side of the estuary is the narrow strip separating us from the ocean and the main road leading to the Pan-American highway. They have electricity on that side so there are lots of lights. With the right wind and tide we can hear the sound of the waves crashing on that shore, but not tonight, it is absolutely quiet. Earlier you could hear the bus announcing his passage by a blaring horn. Somewhere in the dark is the dock where our ever-faithful guard is watching over us. Every once in a while he turns on his million candle power spotlight and sweeps the beam over all of the boats in his charge. There is a slight odor of smoke in the air probably from sugar cane fields or trash burning. Since the storm there has been a lot of that. This is our last night aboard so I have to soak it in as best I can. It will be another six months before I can do this again. Tomorrow we finish our preps onboard, give our keys to Carlito and get a ride from him to the resort where we will spend the night, or part of it. We have to be at the airport by 5 AM so it will be a short night. It has been a great season and, as usual we have enjoyed our time on Gosling. We have left the Mexican comfort zone and are on track for Panama and what lies beyond. We’ll be leaving Gosling with some trepidation. This is our first time leaving her in the water but we will have the Island marine staff looking after our baby. This is probably our last entry of the season, Hope you have enjoyed reading about our adventures. Hope you follow us next season. Cheers, J-G, Fran and Rosie