This blog will be a lot more interesting if you take a second to get a shared sense of what its like to sail/motor into 45 kt head winds.
Start by consolidating the entirety of your belongings into your bedroom, you might want to strap everything down. Now take the room, tilt it 30 degrees and give it a good shake. Every once and a while pick the entire room up a foot or so, then drop it. While you’re doing this turn a hose on and let it run down a wall into the corner of the room (don’t worry the shaking should get everything wet for you) and every once and a while go ahead and spray it around the room, being sure to get yourself nice and wet as well (oh, and make sure the water is good and salty).
After a few hours of this, open the door and get a mental image of the enormity of the mess you’ve created. Three days into our (planned) two day trip down the Nicaraguan coast we were looking at a pretty similar mess. We’d been battling Papagayo winds* for the last three days, and were getting pretty tired. With only 12 miles to go to our destination of Pie del Gigante we were anxious to push on … but perhaps more anxious for a nap, so nap we did, intending to continue the last few hours at the first sign of lightening winds.
Suddenly, the sound of an approaching boat managed to drag me out of sleep, and before even realizing it, two men in blue camouflage were jumping aboard asking for our paperwork. They took a quick look around (seemingly un-phased by the wet cushions and clothing strewn about the cabin attempting to dry) and began checking to ensure we were properly documented (we were).
Satisfied, they did a quick head count; Me, Lauren, Dave Green, Nick. Then turned to me and, trying to make sure we didn’t have any stowaways, asked “Just two guys and two girls on board?”.
I hesitated. Which of the three of us had they assumed was a girl? Regardless there was an obvious best answer: “Yes”.
“We’ll need to do a quick inspection”
“No problem, sorry about the mess. Strong winds.”
So far during every other “inspection” the designated inspector is more interested in making his boss think he did an inspection than actually carrying one out. Several have even explicitly told me that was the case while taking a quick glance around, starting some small talk, accepting a drink offer, slamming it like its their job, and voila inspection finished. During this one however, they actually started digging.
“Whats this?” they ask Nick.
“Its called a melodica, a miniture keyboard for kids.”
“What about this?”
“Also, for kids?”
“Yeah I guess.”
“What about this?”
This time he hit jackpot: the bag he picked up happened to be one of our dry bags loaded with prescription drugs.
“That’s our emergency medicine.” Dave Green was already digging through our files to pull out the actual prescriptions, which almost certainly was their next request.
He reached into the bag and pulled one of the prescriptions out. “Whats this for?”
Nick reads the tube, “Ummm … diaper rash.” (how do you explain that in spanish?)
Somehow satisfied by the explanation he ignores the rest of the meds and after flagging down the next fisherman for a ride back to shore they’re gone, leaving us to soak in what just happened. In particular, which one of us looks like a girl? And of all the prescription bottles why did he pull out a tube of diaper rash lotion?
Regardless, we had passed our inspection, and it was time to nap.
* We had been expecting these winds before hitting central america. They start as the Caribbean trades which, when they line up just right, funnel through the lowlands around Lake Nicaragua and accelerate to uncomfortable speeds (in our case up to 45kts), forcing boats to stay a little closer to shore than you they may normally prefer.
Other boats we’ve talked to have made it swiftly down the Nicaraguan coast never seeing anything over 20kts (lucky). We did not have such luck, and what was planned to be a leisurely two day trip down the Nicaraguan coast, turned out to be a strenuous four day battle with Papagayos.
Thankfully the majority of our time sailing isn’t like this (I would say 3%), and I think the description makes it sounds more miserable than it is!