At a backpacker’s café where we went for a late breakfast and I was introduced to the peanut butter and banana smoothie. Anything with peanut butter has a special place in my heart…this was so amazing that I had two. And then I drew the recipe into a letter to a friend (though I don’t know whether she likes peanut butter).
At the second bend in the steep gorge, the wind died. A strong current started to push us back, the sun was setting, and it was too deep to anchor. We tied Kehaar to a couple of trees growing out of the limestone walls of the gorge (to the scandalised rubbernecking of the herons) her mast grazing the branches overhead, and hunkered down for the night.
No people live around the gorge, and a spell settled over the river as darkness fell. The jungle came alive around us: the movements of animals rustled and crashed in the treetops. Unseen river creatures surfaced, splashing and glub-glub-glubbing around our boat. Big shadowy birds crossed overhead, silhouetted by the narrow strip of moonlit sky visible between the limestone walls, their wingbeats smacking the air. Something buzzed a few inches over my head that I will always think of as “the 2 lb. bumblebee.”
At midnight a torrential rain came down, blotting out the last of the moon’s light. The rain pattered onto deck from the trees overhead, and an army of ants began to cross over onto our boat from the branches, intent on moving into our dry home.
It was a long, long night.
Morning was glorious, though, and with our moods improved we went for a row around the banks of the river, getting in close to admire strange flowers and disturb the many snowy herons that favour this bend for fishing.
We waited most of the day, hoping that the wind would rise and we could sail out of that tight spot, but it never came. By late afternoon Kris decided that we would have to move upriver some other way.
“Warping, or kedging, is a method of moving a sailing vessel, typically against the wind or out from a dead calm, by hauling on a line attached to an anchor or a fixed object.”
Kris went for an exploratory row further up the river and came back with the news that yes, there was plenty of wind ahead, and it was coming from the right direction. We just needed to reach that point. So we tied several lengths of rope together and attached one end to the boat. Kris got in the dinghy with the bundle, rowed as far ahead as the rope could go, tied an anchor to the other end and dropped in the water. Standing at the front of the boat, I pulled Kehaar along this length of rope, arm over arm until my arms ached.
We had to do this three, maybe four times, to get out of the dead spot. Then it was dark, so we anchored, had dinner, and went to bed.
The next day the wind came, at mid-morning, and we sailed for a stretch. We came to a second hairpin bend, with the wind blowing from the very direction we wanted to go. This time, however, we knew better than to hope for better sailing conditions. We warped the boat right away, five times, and made it to where we could pull up the sail once again. Fishermen and passing water taxis cheered us on. By this time the word had gotten around that we had no engine and were trying to get up the river.
That same night found us anchored in Lake El Golfete, a wide open expanse of water with plenty of good sailing wind. From there the rest of the voyage upriver was beautiful, and we made it all the way to our final destination, a small marina on Lake Izabal, in one day.
Río Dulce is where we will be based for the next 4-5 months.