It’s been a little while since my last post. I decided to take a break, do some sailing, dive a bit – and completely blow off the limited responsibilities I have (like posting here). I’m better now, so here goes and thanks for bearing with me. This post is actually being curated from a small group of islands in San Blas, so things worked out…
Best Laid Plans
I had Richard and his girlfriend come out to my catamaran. The plan was to spend a ½ day sailing, to work out the inevitable kinks. Afterall, I was taking off to San Blas in a couple of days and I hadn’t had the catamaran fully operational yet.
There’s always been some nagging deficiency…
I’ve always known planning things around boats and weather is tough. Sometimes though, planning moves from tough to impossible. The mechanic is chronically late, the internet access is intermittent, the weather changes hourly, and even the wind switches direction a couple of times a day.
So when Richard and his girlfriend arrived onboard, it really wasn’t a huge surprise when my port engine didn’t start. I monkeyed with some connections – but then it was starting by itself, something I just fixed on my starboard engine. Bummer.
I traced it back to the wiring harness (no surprise there). So what had started as a day of sailing and trip preparation, quickly degraded into running new engine wiring for my port engine.
The good news is that I had enough wiring and connections onboard, and since the starboard wiring was fresh in my mind – I was able to do it myself. Thankfully though my guests pitched in, and in a couple of hours we had the old wiring out and new wiring in. By the time the mechanic arrived we were almost done.
It was late by the time I got my guests and the mechanic back onshore. But I needed diesel and water, so I spent the next couple hours lugging big cans of heavy liquid. Then a quick dip in the ocean and change of clothes put me back at the local cruiser bar/restaurant for some beer and dinner.
The idea that my catamaran might be fully functional was enough to allow me some sleep.
Out of Puerto Lindo, Finally
So the day came when I was heading to San Blas. Kind of a maiden voyage really… I was a little nervous.
For one I was getting a late start (long, uninteresting story), but also I was setting off into building seas. They were 8-10 when I last looked, building to 12 footers. I’m happy to report that a Lagoon 380 can, in fact, handle 12 foot (and higher) seas – even with a novice captain. The wind, though, decided to blow right onto my nose. I tacked a bit but I was wasting time – something that I didn’t have much of if I wanted to enter San Blas in the daylight. Entering at night isn’t a great idea, even if you’re a pro (and I’m not).
So I cranked the engines, dropped the sails, and started making straight lines to San Blas. About two hours out I was starting to feel a little queasy, and it became clear that I wasn’t going to make the anchorage until an hour after dark. I started searching for an alternative anchorage (original plan was Chichime) – no dice. I was stuck with Chichime. I was a little anxious, a little queasy, and generally not in a great mood.
The silver lining is that I pulled in a Blackfin Tuna on the way, so I was going to eat well for a couple of days.
Chichime In the Dark
After some searching of charts (and soul) I decided to risk the anchorage in Chichime after dark. It was tricky, but I had previous GPS lines in and out from my last trip to San Blas. And the alternative was spending the night rolling around in 12 foot seas.
I turned out all the unnecessary lights onboard, dimmed the GPS, slowed the engines and started in. There were plenty of boats to run into in the anchorage, so it wasn’t as easy as it could have been. No doubt they weren’t pleased when I hit them all with my spotlight – but I’m sure it’s better being hit by a spotlight than by a catamaran.
I managed to get the anchor down in a decent spot, with an appropriate scope and conservative swing radius. Then I set an anchor alarm and had a beer. It was another two hours before my nerves were back to normal. I slept fitfully, worrying about pulling anchor. But the anchor held, the sun rose, and Chichime looks much less daunting in the daylight.