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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Day 5, Ecuador Passage

0600 Saturday, May 10

Now I know why those cruisers less delusional than me looked at me doubtfully when I described our plan to "bounce back and forth between Ecuador and Costa Rica/Panama just like we've done with the Sea of Cortez and mainland Mexico." Because once you've done the passage to Ecuador you'd have to be insane to do it again (no offense Iwa and Secret o' Life). It might be more comfortable and less of a strain on a boat and crew in a bigger, more weatherly boat than Nakia, but here we are again, bashing into head winds and seas, going nowhere very slowly. My current knee jerk reaction is to live in Ecuador permanently, sight unseen, or bash back to Mexico next spring. But I sure don't see any more long distance passage making to unknown ports in my future.

How on earth do really old people do this (no offense old people)? It's a huge effort just to move about the boat, hanging on with both hands and still getting slammed into things. I washed my face at the sink with one hand Friday morning so I could brace myself from being thrown across the cabin with the other. Going to the bathroom requires strength of will, let alone doing something more complicated like making a sandwich. It's bad enough just motoring, where you have basically two motions - forward pitching and side to side rolling. But when you add hard on the wind sailing to that equation you get a herky jerky motion in the extreme heel on top of the rest that's enough to knock you off your feet. The bow coming off the top of a big wave slams into the water with a bang as if we've hit one of those logs we saw earlier in the trip.

John anxiously pores over the weather faxes and files in an attempt to figure out what to do to get us out of this mess while lining up the best possible outcome for the final days before landfall. We don't want to go too far east yet in case we get more south winds before we've gone far enough south. And there's a wicked north bound current as we close with the coast that we don't want to be north of either. It's almost like reading tea leaves, you just can't predict what's going to happen.

There are also issues with where we planned to spend the summer once we arrived in Ecuador. We have a reservation for a mooring in Saiananda, which is a couple of miles up river from Bahia de Caraquez. It's a quiet retreat with a smaller community of boaters, lots of animals and birds on the premises, and secure moorings, and we were really looking forward to making this our summer home. If you have a Yahoo account and are interested in reading why we may be forced to stay at Puerto Amistad instead, go to Yahoo Groups and pull up the Southbounders list. Follow the recent thread on "Entry Procedure for Yachts in Bahia de Caraquez." Needless to say we are extremely bummed about this turn of events because we foolishly based most of our decision to go to Ecuador on the premise that we would be staying in Saiananda.

So if we'd had a crystal ball to see the events of the past couple of weeks, would we be where we are now? No, we'd probably be in the Sea of Cortez enjoying another summer in Mexico. However we're hoping Ecuador will turn out to be as fabulous as everyone says it is, making it all worth it.

Ziggy refused his kibble Friday night for the first time in his life. Not sure what the problem is there. He managed to eat half a small squid later that he found in the cockpit. He's become quite the flying fish and squid alarm. He manages to hear the fish hit the side decks and races for the nearest porthole and then out the companionway. He has to be out in the cockpit to see the squid hop in since they are more slippery silent. It's too bad all this action occurs at night when we keep him on a tight leash in the cockpit. But it keeps us on our toes when we hear his little bell jingle.

Distance traveled: 95 nautical miles
Distance made good (towards our destination): 74 nautical miles
9 hours motoring, 14 hours sailing, 1 hour hove to

Linda and John