On June 11 at high tide, 9:15 a.m., Slow Dancer and our friends on Nilaya left Bahia del Sol to cross the infamous river bar. We were led out of the marina by Bill, the local bar crossing guru driven in a panga by a local driver. Several of our friends helped us off the dock and waved good bye. It is always bittersweet to leave people that have shared a part of your life, but in this cruising life you never know if you will meet again.
We were on high alert as we headed toward the opening that so many boats had suffered damage due to high seas and a shallow bar. Bill kept in contact through the VHF radio and guided first Nilaya and then Slow Dancer across. A couple of good sized waves while watching the depth sounder and we were over!
Freedom! And how beautiful! The seas were minimal and the winds light as we motored south. We dodged a few branches and tree parts that had washed down the estuary. Probably some that had scraped along our boat as we were tied at the dock.
After a few hours of motoring, the wind picked up enough to fill the sails. We had a three day and two night passage ahead of us, so we settled in hoping to sail more than motor. A couple of hours into our sail the wind picked up and with it the seas grew. We turned in toward shore to try to minimize the waves, but still they grew and grew. The winds also picked up to 28 knots. We dodged fishing lines with tall black flags. Thank goodness it was still light! As night fell, the weather deteriorated and lightning flashed all around us. It was as though El Salvador was giving us a royal send off.
We trudged through the night not able to go in anywhere because of the dark. At some point during the night we became separated from our buddy boat, Nilaya and lost radio contact.
Sunrise was a welcome sight and the seas and wind settled a bit, but still no Nilaya. We were now passing down the coast of Nicaragua. We stayed within 12 miles of the shore as the seas were less than farther out.
As seems to usually happen, things picked up around dark. With the added wind and seas, Dale also experienced a bout of seasickness, reminiscent of the coast of California. And on we went through the night, also dodging lightning….and no Nilaya.
With sunrise on day 3 came a beautiful day with light wind and seas. We enjoyed a beautiful sail toward the coast of Costa Rica and Bahia Santa Elena. About 10 miles from our destination, we headed into a cell of storm clouds. We doused the sails in preparation. Good thing! The winds picked up to near 30 knots and the rain came with it. We are almost there!!
Just as we cleared the storm we saw the entrance to the beautiful bay. And….we heard from Nilaya! They were a day behind us and would meet us the next day. Wow…..Costa Rica is going to be great!