Sailing from Providencia Island in Colombia to Rio Dulce in Guatemala

Me Sailing Wing-on-Wing

Me Sailing Wing-on-Wing

This sailing trip taught us lots of lessons. We had all kinds of weather during a total length of 600 nautical miles from February 15 to February 20, 2016. It took 113 hours averaging 5.3 miles/hour. It taught me again that sailing is “The sport of fluid dynamics and geometry. Also the sport of weather.” There are many variables that affect sailing: wind, waves, currents, sail location, wind angle, sail sheet (line) tension, and many other factors. Like any other sport, to be the best like an Olympian, one needs to spend countless time practicing.

Sailing Bad Bunny Breaking Wave

Sailing Bad Bunny Breaking Wave

Leaving Providencia, we were flying and falling into the rhythm of sailing thinking this is what sailing is about. Sometimes, sailing is like meditation for me. There is nobody around, just the sea and sky. Listening to the sound of the wind surrounded only by blue sky and blue water, I sat quietly at the cockpit and started meditation. Going into to Zen moment, I certainly heard tremendous bang and noticed the Jib sail was flopping like crazy. The jib sail sheet had broken. The Jib sail is the driver moving the boat to windward. Without a working jib sail line, we couldn’t continue sailing to our destination. Now what! Should we motor back to Providencia where we left? If we can reach the tip of the jib sail line where it tied with Jib sail, we can replace the line. How can we reach it? It is too high and flopping in 22 knots of wind. Brainstorming… and a solution found; after heaving to, we managed to lower the jib clew and remove the broken line and replaced it with a spare one. No problem, all under control. The wind is a little too much (20-25 knots) and the waves are 6 to 9 feet high but everything is back under control. Soon the auto-pilot is driving the boat and each of us are enjoying reading our Kindles. Another horrible ‘Bang’ sound! The other side of jib sail line has broken! How could it be possible to have the same problem within 10 minutes? The line should hold up to 10,000 pounds, yet we managed to break the line twice in 10 minutes. We can only guess that the line was tired, as it was lying in a locker since John had bought the boat. We replaced the line entirely and no more problems with jib lines breaking.

Broken Jib Sheet

Broken Jib Sheet

Water… We live on a boat which is on the water all the time. Sometimes, seeing water inside of the boat scares us, especially while sailing. I found some water under the floor in my cabin, and we immediately tried to find where it came from. The first thing we did is to taste the water to find out if it is salty or fresh. Salty water means the water might be from the sea to inside of the boat. The water under the floor didn’t tasty salty. Where is it coming from, then? In order to track the root cause, we took out stuff from the storage rooms under the floor and also removed my mattress from my cabin. There was a leak from the hot water tank T fitting. This emptied one of our fresh water tanks which is also a concern because we need to carry sufficient water for drinking, cooking, and washing. We have two other separate water tanks, and we were only going a week so no big deal, but any problem isn’t a good problem. We were tired, so we decided to clean up and take care of the problem tomorrow. When we were ready to start, we got a bucket from the cockpit, and started sponging the water out of the first bilge. The bucket had a crack and was dripping water on the floor also. Well… three bad lucks! We were okay after that and John fixed the hot water pipe problem next day.

Free Fish 'Dorado' (a.k.a. Mahi Mahi or Dolphin)

Free Fish ‘Dorado’ (a.k.a. Mahi Mahi or Dolphin)

Passing around and through the ‘Nicaragua Bank’ seemed to take forever. The Nicaragua Bank reaches a long way out from the land, over 100 miles, and there are lots of fishing boats. We were informed that is safer to stay well away from shore. Previously, there were incidents of piracy in this area. It might be only one sour apple rotting the rest of the apples; but how do we judge which one is bad? We monitored other boats at sea on the radar and also with the original mark one eyeball. When one of the fishing boats with six men approached and said something loud to us, we were very tense. They might be just curious, or trying to sell fish or lobsters, or they might jump onto our boat and harm to us. Since we don’t know them, we were alert and cautious. I looked at John, his face was red. When they went away, we were relieved. What a moment of stress! It could be a life and death matter. Or, it could be a humanitarian love moment.

A bird sailed with us all night.

A bird sailed with us all night.

At night, we saw there were three or four fishing boats back and forth checking their fishing buoys all over the bank. We decided to turn our navigation lights off and sail invisibly to them while watching their movement. Moonlit was bright enough to see the sea but when it disappeared around 4 am, everything was dark except the stars. For the next two hours until day break, I was busy checking the dark sea. Watching the stars, I tried to identify them. The only thing I definitely know is the Big Dipper.

Our cat 'Swat' came out when sea was calm.

Our cat ‘Swat’ came out when sea was calm.

It has been many days in a rough sea. We have been in motion nonstop. We need a rest. We thought about stopping by Guanaja Island in Honduras but we read the anchorage is rolly. How about Roatan or Utila Island in Honduras? We decided to keep going to Rio Dulce as planned! Almost 5 days after leaving Providencia, we arrived at the big bay near Rio Dolce entrance. In order to cross the Rio Dolce entrance, we need to wait for high tide because it is not deep enough for us. Bad Bunny needs at least 6.4 feet. The deepest area at the entrance is 5.5 feet at low tide. Timing with a high tide to enter the Rio Dolce, we decided to anchor near the ‘Bahia la Grasiosa’ which is about 10 miles away from the entrance of Rio Dulce. After we are settled, I looked upon the Spanish word. ‘Grasiosa’. In English, ‘Grasiosa’ means ‘Funny, Attractive, Charming’; a happy word to remember while dosing away…


Where are we now?

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