It was a hard beat out of Providencia due to a sudden change in the forecast. We left anyway because we had already checked out and we like to minimize contact with the officials. The way I see it; every contact with the authorities is another opportunity to land in jail.
BIKA and Velella were leaving as well. BIKA headed north toward Grand Cayman and Cuba but Velella and TimeMachine were bound for the Miskito Coast. A midmorning departure on the 24th was timed to allow us to reach the Gorda Bank by the next morning. We gave Velella a head start but not enough and we closed on them quickly as we pounded North. We got NNE instead of the expected ENE so it was slow and uncomfortable.
By the afternoon of the 25th we were Northwest of the Arrecifa de la Media Luna and could finally fall off a little. However, it wasn’t much better. The current passes over these shallow banks flowing north against the wind which causes short steep waves. I noticed we were heeling and burying the downwind ama more than the conditions really seemed to warrant. At some point a wave had ripped off the ventilation plate on the ama and it was nearly full of water! We hove-to to pump it out. There seemed to be at least 200 gallons in there. Luckily we had an extra screw in cap for the inspection plate so we were back underway in about an hour. We learned that the boat can still sail fairly well with the downwind ama completely flooded. Also, we should remove the ventilators and seal the amas when making ocean passages.
A wet squally night brought us up to the Vivorillos at around 3 in the morning. We hove-to again to wait for light. It’s a remote and beautiful spot, but we don’t have it to ourselves. Like Providencia, it seems to be a popular stop with cruisers traveling between the Gulf of Honduras and Panama. We’d barely dropped anchor before some fishermen came by to see if we had cigarettes. “Lo siento, no fumamos.”