Five days waiting out the weather at Islas Casaya and Ampon

On the way over to Ampon, we put a line in the water to try and catch some supper. As we passed the small Isletas Caracoles, looking back we saw a Dorado chasing a Needlefish across the surface of the water. Really something to see when these fish, 20-30 lbs or more, swim at 10-15 knots and literally fly across the surface. Since Dorado is about our favorite "supper" I turned RHAPSODY around to go back over that spot to see if we could get a hit there (you can see the loops on the above map).

Well, as we were heading back towards San Miguel, all of a sudden we saw a big splash about 200 yards ahead and slightly off to the port side. It was a pair of Humpback Whales breaching the surface! We veered off a little bit to starboard so that we wouldn't run over them, and watched in amazement, grabbing cameras and taking pictures and making movies, as the whales repeatedly jumped up out of the water in display behaviour. At one point we were probably only 50-60 yards away when one of the humpbacks brought half his/her body out of the water, rising majestically and falling with a huge splash. Another time, one of them managed to get his/her tail out of the water and slap the water several times with it. What a display!

After 15 minutes or so, they were still breaching, but we had gotten far enough away from them to turn back to our original course. We continued to watch them in the distance. Their display seemed to slow down a bit and then finally disappeared as we got too far away to see them.

We needed to pay attention to the boat anyway, since we now had to make our way between a couple of partially submerged reefs to get into the bay at Ampon. By following the charts and radar, and using our depth sounder, we had no problem finding our way to good holding with a nice sandy bottom in the bay. We anchored as far into the southwest as we could, in about 12' of water at mid-tide. We cut it a little close, as the water got down to 7.5' at full low tide (we draw 6'), but it was good holding, especially with 200' of chain out!

There wasn't a lot to do in the little bay. Most of the beaches were only present at low tide. At high tide, the whole bay seemed to be surrounded by jungle that ran right up to the water. I tried taking the dinghy out fishing one time, but the shallow waters did not seem to be a refuge for tons of fish. I guess there wasn't much structure or cool undercurrents or something.

On another day, we took the dinghy out to one of the reefs and did a little snorkeling, but, although the reefs are potentially dangerous to boats, they are not particularly rugged or interesting. The visibility wasn't great either. Consisting mostly of large smooth rocks on a sandy bottom, there wasn't a lot of life to see, so after an hour or so of trying, we finally just went back to RHAPSODY to continue hanging out.

We ended up spending 6 nights in the anchorage waiting for, and then waiting out, the tropical wave that had been forecast. The first few days there were nice, and then as expected, the heat and humidity grew until we wilted, and then finally the wind started blowing and the wave, with associated rains and lightning, moved through.

We were glad we were in a good place. On the morning SSB net, they were saying that, since the forecast was for 20-25 knot winds, we could expect gusts of 30-40 knots. As the wind built up thru the day, in fact we did see steady 20-25's and an occasional gust to 30, but never anything over that. It rained very hard at several points, especially as it was being driven by the wind. We had decided not to put up the rain tarp because of the high winds, so we couldn't open any windows during the rainstorms.

We stayed inside reading, working on web pages, mending screens, and watching a movie or two to bide our time until the weather passed. After nearly 2 days of the strong winds, on Thursday it started relenting and the weather forecast for Friday showed a nice day coming, so we decided, after 6 nights at Ampon, to move on.

Islas Casaya and Ampon
Waiting out the weather