Passage to Ecuador – Part 3

227 miles to go…

The last two days have been really rough. We expected an increase in wind on Wednesday, but the forecasts looked like we would be south of the strongest winds and wouldn’t see over 20-25 kts. Weatherman total fail.

Starting Tuesday afternoon the winds started blowing 40 kts out of nowhere. The already big seas built to at least 20 feet with short periods creating some really steep waves. Those are not conditions a sailboat ever wants to see. And, it lasted for 36 hrs!

We shortened sail as much as we could with a triple reef in the main and just a tiny bit of the jib out. That was enough to keep the boat balanced and stable, let the Hydrovane steer, and keep us from being tossed around in the waves like a toy. We were moving southeast at 2 kts, which was the only direction we could sail. We hunkered down in the cabin to wait it out, not knowing how long it would last.

Thank God we had the Hydrovane, because hand steering through those waves would have been exhausting. Most of the time we would go up and over the swell, but occasionally we would get broad sided by a wave, or bury the nose in a wave, or rise up over a wave and slam down in the trough on the other side. One time I was in the cockpit and saw a wall of water coming out of the corner of my eye that just pooped the cockpit drenching me and leaving a pool in the cockpit that took several minutes to drain. We also discovered that our hatch over the salon table, which doesn’t usually leak, is not waterproof when it is buried by a wave. We ended up with water raining down in the salon.

We’re exhausted and every muscle in our bodies is sore. It takes considerable effort just to stand and not get tossed around. We’ve both fallen a couple of times. This is one of those times that we don’t go out without the life vests and harnesses on. But, through it all we are still maintaining good spirits and trying not to let frustration take hold. I think we’re doing everything we can given the circumstances.

Finally at 6 am this morning the wind started to back off to a more manageable 15-20 kts. The seas are still a mess but not quite as big. We were finally able to tack to head more westerly, as we were getting pushed east toward the Colombia and Ecuador border. We still need to make it around the point at Esmeraldas.

We’re still hoping for a Saturday arrival, but it really depends on what happens with the weather. We are both looking forward to a long shower and cold drink. At least we will have a story to tell about this one…


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