Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy Birthday Papa Craig!!!!

View of Gratitouille from Hotel La Joya del Golfo

Jodi and I wish you a very Happy Birthday and hope all is well in your tropical paradise. We have left Honduras and arrived in Nicaragua. We made one quick stop at another beautiful little island called Meanguera, in the Golfo  de Fonseca as we had heard a rumor that they had internet. After a month of unexpectedly not having internet we wanted to send some birthday greetings (several by that time belated) and check in with family. 

Growling at the bank website's antics
 However, even in paradise aggravations have a way of finding you, especially with the modern world of computers. So the relaxing afternoon of catching up with friends and family we planned turned into a day of challenges on the computer. The good news is - even though it seems every one we use a password with thought we were compromised, it all looked good once we passed the hours of tests to get in. I guess not everyone changes their country of residence every couple of months.

Hotel La Joya del Golfo from Gratitouille
 All is well and to ease the day’s pain we celebrated with the splurge of splitting a nice lobster dinner at the wonderful La Joya del Golfo (Jewel of the Gulf). Ahhh, life is not too bad. (Though no pics, as we were still on Skype fighting to get into our bank account at the time!) We really enjoyed our day on Meanguera, websites not withstanding, which was made special by the welcome we received from Isaias, the manager (and great chef!) of the hotel and his mother. Although they were busy remodeling the hotel, they went out of their way to make us feel welcome and be sure we enjoyed our stay. 

The island was much cleaner than the mainland partially due (as Isaias explained while he personally led us to the two tiendas in the village to look for the vegetables we asked about!) to the fact that the local village has a young mayor who is into solar power, recycling and other progressive ideas. It would have been nice to stay longer, explore the island further and visit with these wonderful, generous people more.

The next day we were up early (really early!) and off we went with the tide. After almost a year of fighting currents it was so nice to be going out with the tide. As we rounded the corner of the Gulfs southernmost cape we said goodbye Fonseca and hello to Nicaragua (and back into the opposing current!). 

Time to change the courtesy flag again!  
 Hola Nicaragua y adios Bahia de Fonseca.


The northern Nica coast was beautiful and dramatic. Lots of red and orange cliffs covered in lush green growth and large sandy beaches with forest and mangroves growing right down to the high tide mark. Or as you see in the photos above, growth down to the top of the bufadero (Spanish for blowhole - those fountains of water that climb the cliffs - some 100 feet tall!) splash! 
Not much wind though, so sailing was slow, at one point we spent over 2 days to get around a reef. In the day we would gain 6 - 10 miles then drift backwards 3 - 5 miles in the currant at night. Finally, we broke down and motored for the last 4 miles to get to where we could anchor and rest for the night. Other than that we usually averaged 10 -17 miles a day and then just pulled up to a beach and anchored in 25-35 feet of water when the wind died in the afternoon. Not too bad, but a little rock and roll sometimes. 

            With the ending of the hurricane season the cruise ships are starting to return and workers on the ocean are getting back to their need to keep the port channels free of sand. The dredge workers were very friendly, as we passed them we traded waves and they gave us a warm welcome to Nicaragua over the radio. Among other things, they asked us where we were from and when we told them, they replied in the one English phrase of the conversation with a hearty "God Bless America!".
We, of course, responded with "Y Nicaragua tambien!".

As always there were the numerous amazing sunsets that are seem to be everywhere we go.

Once past the pueblo of El Transito things begin to change as we are entering the area where the Caribbean trades blow over Lake Nicaragua and accelerate over this part of the ocean. So of course as soon as the wind hit 25 knots we caught dinner.  No complaints here, but it has been a long time since we have even had 10 knots of wind and now we had a fish on too. Well, the fish was great and that afternoon we cruised along at 4-5 knots!  WOW you can really cover some distance when you make more than 2 knots and there is no current in your face.  What a great day that was.

Darren surfing Playgrounds!

That night we pulled into one of the famous surf spots here called Playgrounds. We anchored in 23 feet of water just off the beach and could jump off the boat and swim over to the surf break. Throughout the day pangas would come with pasty white surfers from the surf schools and provide us with a free show. Then, once they left, we had it all to ourselves. So much fun!

 We needed to get on down the road to San Juan del Sur (SJdS) and check in to the country, so the next day we were off again, and again we had wind. It increased as we got closer to SJdS and by mid-day we were making 5-6 knots! We made the 27 miles to SJdS and still had time to check in with the officials, it was the most mileage we've made in months! The coast here was a mix of unspoiled rolling hills and crazy big hotels.

Thirteen days after checking out of Honduras, we approached the nice little harbor of San Juan del Sur with Jesus de Cristo looking down over us and hoisted our crisp new American flag so we would look sharp. It’s a small town full of surfers and expats and, well, a bit of a culture shock. We are not used to seeing other gringos - or hearing English for that matter.

So Jodi got the ships log caught up and I set the boat up for our week or two stay here before we are off to Costa Rica. There seemed to be still a little rainy season left here so I set up the rain catcher on the side deck to stave off the inevitable back and forth with the dinghy to get water out to the boat. No marinas in this part of the world and showers are so nice here in the tropics.

What a 40 cent pineapple looks like.

Part of our stop here is to get some of the last few projects done and get the boat provisioned before we head south to Costa Rica where it is very expensive. We will see how much we can stuff into the boat as we get closer to the big Pacific crossing we have planned for mid-February.

SJdS - Ice cream shop is lower right red roof!

Happy birthday Dad, we miss you much! We are enjoying the sights here and thinking of you.

Darren and Jodi