Posted by: vlbyers | March 29, 2012

WOW Bahia Santa Elena

WOW, we are here in Bahia Santa Elena, Costa Rica. It is Monday the 25th of March and we arrived on the 23rd after leaving on the 21st. Our passage wasn’t horrible but we did have some challenges. The forecast was for settled weather through Saturday, the highest winds were to be 16, but with the papagayo effect can be doubled, I was expecting 30’s.
We cleared out of the bar at Bahia del Sol, El Salvador easily, through some very small breaking waves and out into the ocean for the first time in 11 months. That felt great in and of itself, it felt like we had broken out of prison, Rocinante was out in her element again and we had some re-learning to do regarding handling the boat and sailing. The first few hours were pretty mild weather wise, we were hitting some swell, making the boat rock quite a bit. The wind was about 5-8 knots, perfect for our re-learning curve. Getting the sails up kept us busy for the first bit, that’s when we noticed we hadn’t run the reefing lines.
Reefing lines are important, they make the sail smaller when the wind gets bigger, pretty easy to remember really, big wind, small sails. So we now had the main sail full and usually during the night is when we put 2 reefs in the main. As we lowered the main later we would deal with running the lines, for now we would enjoy the sail.
Prior to dark we put the reefs in the main, had a nice dinner, the wind had dropped so we were motoring, the wind was on our nose but we still had the main up and were about 10 miles offshore. The night was calm and uneventful until about 0500 the next morning.
I was awakened from my off watch, restless sleep with a soaking of cold saltwater right onto me and my bunk. Immediately alert, and not too happy, I looked to see where the water would have come from and noticed that I hadn’t closed the hatch just above my bunk! Since we lash the dinghy to the deck it covers this hatch and hadn’t gotten any water despite many waves crashing over the bow until now. Oh my we need a better checklist:) Swell period had shortened and was out of the ESE, the direction we were travelling, which meant we were bashing into them. The feeling is something like hitting a speed bump at higher than recommended speed, we may be able to go 5 knots but when we hit the ‘speed bump’ it takes us down to 3. It then takes several minutes to get up to our speed again and then we hit another bump, well that seems to be the theme for this trip. Wind continued into the 20s ESE, thankfully Rocinante points well and we were able to to sail mostly in the direction we wanted to go.
That evening, the 2nd day out, we double reefed again as is our practice at night when there are only 2 of us aboard, had a great dinner of homemade spaghetti. The seas kept building and by later that evening we had a good 5-6 foot seas with some rogue larger ones that would crash over the bow soaking the boat and anyone who happened to be out of the cover of the dodger. The wind had been steady 17-24 knots and we started to make our way inshore a bit to see if we could get some relief from the uncomfortable seas.
By about 0500 the 2nd morning we were feeling the effects of the Papagayos with winds steady in the mid to high 20s gusting well into the 30s. We had our double reefed main and Rocinante was handling the gusts heeling depending on the ferocity of the gust. Thankfully Larry had made our way to within 2 miles of the coast and this helped greatly with the sea state, we now had only 1-2 ft waves and the rogue waves that hit us on the beam were the only ones that would get into the cockpit. At this point I was talking to the waves that happened to catch me off guard and splash me, telling them that wasn’t very cool. Time to get to port hu?
Our destination was going to be Salinas bay but at the last minute Larry decided that we should go to B. Santa Elena, this wind continued as we crossed the bay of Santa Elena even as we hugged the coast as best we could crossing the bay. Entering Santa Elena we were greeted by a calm lush large bay, a few pangas on the shore and no other boats but we were expecting to see ‘Life is Good’ as they were about 10 miles behind us planning to anchor here also. We haven’t been able to contact our friends on The Elysium so we don’t know if they were able to head out of Bahia del Sol on the 22nd as planned.
We have been enjoying the bay here, the winds continued high until yesterday which were pleasant and allowed us to fresh water rinse out the linen and clothes and dry them quickly. It also contributed to cooling of the boat after having the engine on for so many hours.
Larry and I have been reveling in this calm, beautiful bit of paradise, enjoying the water, the wildlife sounds although some of the birds sound more like fighting than sweet melodies. Is it the satisfaction and peace we feel just being here, relief of a challenging passage, actually cruising again after being in Bahia del Sol for so long, anchoring easily the first time(it is an easy anchoring spot) or just what but we are thoroughly enjoying our time here. Yesterday we took a short hike, as it was too hot to continue, had a great lunch, went for a dinghy ride in the estuary at high tide and took a swim after dinner in the refreshing water, ohhh it has been too long. We have many blessings to be thankful for, this world is amazing and we are able to enjoy parts of it that many others will never see.
I am with my computer but my camera is at the boat so pictures will have to be downloaded later.


  1. Hi Rocinante…thanks or the update, life sounds wonderful and WARM!!! We are cold and awaiting spring. Please keep writing its great to know what you are up to.
    We leave for Maui on the 25th (Not on Lady J), Be safe and many blessings!

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