On the Road Again

This song holds a special place in the Gremel heart, so it came as little surprise that when my sister texted our sat phone, “on the road again!”, I’d already been humming the tune for 30 minutes.

Our extra check-in-and-out of Mexico provided more than just déjà vu. The repetition helped our Spanish skills and understanding of customs and immigration, and doled out a nice lesson of patience and perspective. We shared a giddy adios with the officials at the port captain’s office, passed along small gifts and thank you notes to marina staff, and had time for a nice breakfast in the town square.

Silver linings aside, it felt so sweet to untie the dock lines, wave goodbye, and be underway again. We were headed 575 miles southeast to Amapala, Honduras – our longest passage of the trip so far. We timed our start with a low wind crossing of the Gulf of Tehuantepec for safety and then would cross into the fickle winds of Central America. Our diesel range is ~300 miles, so we needed to sail as much as possible. Happy to report we only used of half our fuel!

Passages slip by in the rhythm of four-hour watches. This one held many brief, miraculous sightings and a few dicey moments. We read books, watched TV, played video games, and ate lots of snacks. Is ocean sailing a teenager’s dream or what?

February 23
1340 – exited the channel, sails up, and discovered the autopilot won’t hold a course. We debugged this at the dock, but the issue persists.
1700 – sloppy seas, settling into the watch schedule. Scott solved the AP issue by jumping to our backup: Tiller Pilot connected to the Wind Pilot wind vane system. Huzzah! The under-deck autopilot that was installed when we bought the boat (and our mainstay all down the coast) seems to have a drive issue.

February 24
0330 – motor sailing into the isthmus of Golfo de Tehuantepec! Beautiful moonrise.
0530 – accidentally woke Scott by running the blender for mango smoothies.
0930 – smooth water, no northerly wind yet, Cypress hanging out under the dinghy.
1212 – sampled this month’s kombucha batch and sighted at least 100 sea turtles. Received sat phone text that Russia declared war with Ukraine. Surreal.
1700 – saw a huge patch of jellyfish shaped like jumbo olives. Nearly across T-pec danger zone!
2200 – engine back on after lots of nice slow sailing. Rolly. Beautiful stars.

February 25
0130 – great stars and bioluminescence. Quiet and flat. Good stuff.
0400 – motoring toward the moon. Finished reading “A Friend of the Earth”. Alls well.
1000 – snagged our first long line. Ash jumped in and unwrapped it from the propellor. Boo illegal fishing!
1200 – a patch of birds sitting on sea turtles. Birdles! Gave the cockpit a bath. Heading into shore to catch some cape effect wind.
1400 – engine off. Cypress says good riddance to that big noisy monster.
1800 – Guatemalan waters! Caught and released two black skipjacks.

February 26
0100 – quiet sailing with only jib. Sailed past a semi-lit fishing boat.
0430 – motor back on. Waning crescent moon and Venus straight ahead.
0540 – engine back off! Flat upwind parallel to the coast. Cypress came to visit/oversee.
1000 – tacked to move closer to shore. Nice sailing! No fish yet.
1300 – pointed a bit higher to put “money in the bank” and creep closer to route line.
1800 – sloshy sailing! swell from both sides and ahead, meh. Nice sunset though.
2230 – motor back on. Seasick. Diesel at 3/4 tank.

February 27
0100 – drawn-out crossing. Why don’t powerboats ever take the stern?
0600 – beautiful beam reach, then exciting times double reefing the main. Calmer now.
1030 – hard time making headway so started up the engine. Hopefully breeze fills in.
1400 – speedy upwind bash. Made more smoothies. Reading “The Sea Around Us”.
1858 – 10 miles off El Salvador – can see the lights at night. Another awesome sunset.
2235 – fireworks off Bahia del Sol. Uneventful motoring shift otherwise.

February 28
0130 – quiet sailing, main only to prep for stronger forecasted breeze in a few hours.
0530 – keeping an eye on a non-AIS boat ahead. Spicy sailing at start of shift, calm now.
1000 – big breeze and swells, supposed to lighten and shift. Approaching Fonseca!
1430 – autopilot kicking to standby repeatedly – need to stay on sail trim to help it.
1600 – great sailing, volcanos on the left, beautiful weather, caught a fish!
1900 – 30 knots apparent wind. Both up for the final stretch. Tacking without progress, heading close to shore to motor the rest.
2000 – tricolor light dangling off the mast = disco time! Add it to the project queue.
2100 – rounded Punta Amapala, using the spotlight for obstructions, wind 20-30 knots.
2130 – anchor down! Tidying, minestrone soup, snooze.

Published by Ash

Knitter, sailor, and sewist on the move from San Francisco to the Chesapeake Bay aboard a 36' sailboat named Azimuth.

2 thoughts on “On the Road Again

  1. What an incredible journey! I’m learning so much through your eyes and words – it brings the Garmin tracking to life. 😍 Love the hat tip to Grandpa G too. Keep on keeping on.


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