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Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 25, 2014-Sailing to Puntarenas

Clouds over Puntarenas

The motor’s broken and we need a mechanic. Puntarenas should have one, probably several; we need to go there and try to get our broken motor fixed.

The distance from Ballena Bay to Puntarenas is 25 miles but there is a good anchorage about 18 miles away and we think we can break the trip into two days. On Friday we will leave.


At sunup we are watching the bay for any sign of wind. At 10:00 there are a few ripples on the water, then a light breeze. It’s only four knots of wind but we can sail this. We immediately weigh anchor.

The breeze is an easterly, so it’s upwind, and we set the main and genoa and haul sheets out of the bay. We expect to have to tack to get around the heads but a lift is showing and we clear into the open water on one tack.

Now the wind frees and fills a little and we ease sheets and crack off to northeast. The speeds are good. We’re seeing six knots of wind and Wings is going better than 5 knots as we pass Isla Tortugas.

The wind vane steers and we concentrate on trimming the sails.

At noon, looking at the chart and the time, we decide to go for Puntarenas, now only 16 miles away.

This is not a race but we sail like we are racing. Trim, steer, watch the tides, follow the shifts. We’ve done this before; we know how to make a fast passage when we need to. The wind has shifted further around to the south and even though Puntarenas is north we are reaching towards the NE to keep the apparent wind on the beam. The computer program says to jibe when the mark bears 335, which we do, and the wind comes around to the beam on port side and we hold our speed.

And Wings performs. Even in five to six knots of wind we can make 4-5 knots of speed. In 11 knots of wind we are over six, almost 7.

At 3:15 PM we are a mile out and approaching the shallows off of Puntarenas. We drop the jib.

Thirty minutes later we come head to wind behind the point and drop the main; we’re in the harbor at Puntarenas.

It’s been a good sail today. Tomorrow, at high tide, we’ll go into the marina.


At an hour before high tide we weigh and motor slowly up the river the three miles to the marina.

We’ve topped the oil in the engine and we think we can run the motor that long.

Judy navigates us and though there’s less than 1 foot under our keel at times, she keeps us off; we don’t touch. Luck is still with us.

At the marina they are expecting us and they help us into the slip, which is tricky in the strong river current.

The mechanic says the motor sounds and looks fine; he says the problem has to be the oil cooler, can’t be anything else. He’ll come back Monday with tools to take the oil cooler off and into a shop for a pressure test. After he leaves we shrug; what can we do?

Meanwhile we watch the depth of the water in the slip; it’s the deepest berth they have but as the tide goes out we sink into the mud. I rock the boat to see if we are aground: if the boat moves we’re floating.

It does.

We decide the bottom is pretty soft. We’re OK.

So, here we are: the motor's still broken, but we're in a marina with a swimming pool, bar and restaurant, and we can float at low tide. We’ve got the mechanic going on the motor, and things could be worse. We’re fairly positive.

And we’ll keep you updated.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Puntarenas

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