Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rica Costa Rica

It is said that there are three types of electricity: direct current (DC), alternating current (AC) and pure fucking magic (PFM). I experienced some PFM the other night during our passage from Nicaragua to Costa Rica when the weather unexpectedly turned against us. Despite all the forecasts and initial hours of mild wind and seas on our 20-hour passage, the notorious ´Papagallo´ winds - named for the low-lying land and bay across which they blow, from the Caribbean south to the Pacific - kicked in and started to kick our butts right after midnight. The 35 knot winds brought with them 6-8 foot seas, stacked up steeply on top of each other, making for an uncomfortable and sleepless night.

While ´lying´in bed - really just holding on - I started to notice that on big waves, but not every big wave, some light in my room would come on for just a split second. Never predictable enough for me to wait for it, never on long enough for me to locate it - the best I could do was narrow it down to a corner of the room. But without the light switch on, none of the lights in the room should have been getting power from the DC circuit. Magic, Pure F´ing Magic.

After three hours of abuse and perplexity (as the onboard electrician/plumber/mechanic, I was a little embarrassed about writing it off as magic), it was my turn to go on watch. It wasn´t until the next day that I figured out that the light was coming from inside the closet, which turns on when the closet door is opened (just like a refrigerator light) - so even though the door was latched closed, the boat was crashing into the waves hard enough for the switch behind the door to be activated...damn. In a way, I was sad to find such a rational explanation for the previous night´s mystery light. I´ve been trying to forget it and remember it as PFM - it´s a lot more fun that way.

Despite the abuse we took, the boat pulled through the weather really well - it was good to see that this boat that we´ll soon be taking across an ocean performs well under pressure - the autopilot never faultered and the stabilizers kept us much more stable than we would have been had we been in a sailboat or something smaller.

Now in Costa Rica, I´m poised and ready to head into ´the mountain´tomorrow - bought a small tent and a new camera today - for a night away from the water and other people. I´m looking at a hike and camping in the National Park of El Volcan Rinc√≥n de la Vieja - it´ll do me good to get into the clear cool air of the mountains and get my legs moving a bit again.

Pictures coming soon...

1 comment:

  1. PFM: That wasn't covered in AP Physics - Einstein and Tesla must have missed it - but I'm quite sure that I'm familiar with it. In fact, PFM is my favorite kind of electricity. Thanks for the story!

    PS: You can a closet with a light?? How posh! I wish I were there...