Back on Bamboleiro - Preparations to leave - "turtleing" in the night
On October 14th, loaded with bags full of new gear after a long but smooth trip through LAX, Mexico and Guatemala, we stepped on board Bamboleiro, cut off the tarp suncovers and opened the companionway hatch. After 4 and a half months on a mooring in the estuary Bamboleiro was exactly the way we left her besides some minor mildew, a couple of ruined pillows and on small leak on the cockpit seat drain that left a bit of water stain on the tile in the galley. We set to work cleaning and stowing or new gear and settled in for the night.
We’ve been getting her back in sailing shape for the last two weeks, checking and installing the sails. During our haulout last spring the roller furler track on the forstay was bent so we were unable to raise the jib. We moved to boat to the marina where we’d have more space and be more secure climbing the mast and spent the first night worrying and imagining how we’d fix the problem. We imagined taking off the whole forestay at the dock, but that would mean climbing the mast, setting up a temporary stay and removing the furler. We also imagined having to ship in new furler track pieces. We’d spent the previous two days bending stainless steel tubing in our home built bender for our new dodger so we decided that before removing anything, Cristina would winch me up and see if I could bend it back in shape by hand. Fortunately I ate a good breakfast that morning so by using my climbing harness and some climbing straps I was able to set my feet on either side of the bend and pull up with the strap over my shoulder to bend the aluminum back straight. I then used a file and 300 grit sandpaper to smooth the scratches from the travel lift until the sail car slid smoothly over the spot. We waxed the spot and hauled up the sail and now we’re ready to sail.
All has not been work without play however, we went Tortugeando (turtleing) with our local friend Rogelio one night. In the dark the Golfina turtles come up on the beach where they lay their eggs and return to the sea. We walked the beach well after sunset with our flashlights looking for tracks in the sand. All along the beach we saw flashlights and the orange glow of lit cigarettes showed us we weren’t the only searchers in the night.
The concept of wildlife preservation is relatively new here, two years ago they opened a hatchery where they buy the turtle eggs from the locals to discourage them from eating the eggs. They pay $2.50 for 14, so when each turtle lays 80 -100 eggs, a person can make a serious bit of extra cash if they find a turtle or two a week.
There’s quite a bit of competition for a turtle so the beach is full of people at night scanning the incoming waves for the animals. When you spot a turtle you don’t shine your light or else someone else might get it first, then you’ve got to run out and grab it by its flippers, carry it up to the beach where you make it a hole in the sand. Then leave it alone until she starts laying. Once the laying has begun you sneak back, dig a hole behind the turtle into the nest and you pull out the eggs as she lays them. Once she’s finished and has thumped the ground and buried the empty nest well the person stands by with their bag full of eggs to make sure the turtle makes it safely back to the water.
45 days later the eggs hatch in the Hatchery and in the morning on an outgoing tide the caretaker brings the baby turtles in a bucket down to the shore where he sets them in the sand so they can crawl out into the water where they’re swept out to sea. Check out the video Cristina put together. It truly is an amazing event.
We’re now at anchor finishing our new dodger waiting for a calm day and a high slack tide to depart the estuary when we’ll head south looking to stop next in Nicaragua. Stay tuned…
Robbing the nest as a Golfina turtle was laying her eggs
One nest holds 80-100 eggs
Baby turtles released on their way to the sea
These turtles take 10 years to reach maturity when they'll return to lay eggs on this beach
Baby turtles see the water and start crawling for it