Passage to Ecuador – Part 1

547 miles to go…

I’m laying in my bunk writing this as I have wedged myself in diagonally to keep from falling out of bed with each swell we go over. We have had an eventful last 24 hours.

We left Panama City Friday morning to head directly West to Vista Mar to fill up on fuel and water. We decided to spend Friday night at the dock as we poured over the various weather forecasts we had downloaded. The predictions were that the next few days were going to be a bit rough with winds in the 20’s and large seas. But, the conditions were going to get worse near the Panamanian coast later in the week with winds over 35 kts! So, we had a choice to make. Either we left now and tried to get as far south as possible as quickly as possible to avoid the coming weather, or we wait out the winds and seas in Panama for at least another week. After much discussion, we decided to go. If it got too rough, we could always turn around and run back. It is a lot easier to handle the wind and seas if they are from behind, which is what would happen if we had to turn around.

We left Vista Mar Saturday morning to head south toward Punta Mala. The wind was almost directly on the nose with confused seas. Because we knew we had to get south and outside Punta Mala, we decided to motor-sail for 12 hours and just bash through the seas. We finally cut the engine south of Punta Mala. We had roughly 20 kts of wind as projected. The wind was not an issue, but the big swells kept slowing us down as the bow of the boat continuously buried in the waves. Unfortunately, that meant a great deal of seawater was getting into the anchor locker and down into the bilge. Our dutiful bilge pump kept kicking on to pump it out.

Adagio has handled the wind and seas beautifully. We have a double reef in the main, the staysail is out and just a piece of the jib. With the boat balanced properly, the Hydrovane is steering easily, and we are making a lot of southward progress. Although the boat sails just fine, it is definitely a bumpy ride! Just getting up and down the companionway stairs is a challenge. And, if you need to use the toilet, you better hang on! So, needless to say, neither of us have had too much sleep. I’ve been eating a lot of ginger to keep from being too queasy.

This morning has been much of the same with the occasional squall coming through. At least the rain and clouds are keeping things pretty cool on the boat. We did have some other excitement today. Mike had one trolling line out in his continued quest to catch a yellowfin tuna. The line screamed out and we knew we had a big fish. Mike saw the fish jump and thought it was a marlin. We worried for a moment that we were going to get spooled. But, Mike worked hard to get the fish up to the boat. It wasn’t a marlin, but we’re not sure what it was. It looked like a sailfish but with a short bill, not a long one like a marlin. It was brownish in color but had purple vertical stripes on it.  We let the fish go, and I told Mike he was done fishing for the day. It is way to rough to be dealing with a fish.

What the heck is this fish???

The new forecast today looks a bit better than what we saw on Friday. It looks like if we get through the next 24 hrs of rough conditions, we should be far enough south that things will start to smooth out. Let’s hope so!

Will keep you posted.

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