Our proposed passage south to Ecuador would be against prevailing south winds and also current flowing north due to our late spring start. Weather fronts, known as northers, originating in the United States and flowing southward across the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea had just about ceased their winter terror. We left La Playita anchorage motor-sailing southwest to await a hoped for norther at Isla Contadura and accomplish last minute preparations for our actual sea passage. We were fortunate in not having to wait too long, five or six days before being graced with a front on or about April 10th.
Nancy had made a few motor-sails back and forth to the Las Perlas islands and one short sail from Taboga Isle to La Playita, but had not yet made an overnight passage just under sail. Ecuador, at a distance of about seven hundred miles would exceed our fuel range by about three hundred miles, so this was not to be a motorboat ride. The weather system allowed us to escape the Bay of Panama, sailing downwind, wing on wing, that is the main sail on one side of the boat and the yankee poled out on the other. Our monitor wind-vane, an ingenious mechanical device, handled the steering chores as we headed south. After two days we lost our favorable slant, but free of the Bay, we were able to reach westward away from the Columbian coast and the unpleasant storm systems that sit there much of the time. Our goal was to be two hundred miles offshore and then head south, leaving Isla Malpelo on our port or left side.
Here I will digress to tell you that Nancy was a trooper all day long…. but come night time she was terrified. Greatly disappointed to hear the Coast Guard would not come to fetch her, she unhappily acquiesced to continuing south rather than turning to beat into the substantial seas generated by the north wind. The good news was we suffered no squalls, high winds or high seas and arrived outside the River Chone ten days later, no worse for wear. Landfall on my birthday was the perfect gift. We anchored off the mouth of the river to await a pilot to guide us across the shoals at the river mouth at slack high tide on the morning of the 21st. Voyage over!