My Boots n Me is your inspirational source for hundreds of day and weekend trips around Vancouver and British Columbia, Canada. For families and photographers British Columbia has something to offer everyone. Stop awhile and savor what Mother Nature has in store for you.
You will never be disappointed.

~~Karen Cooper~~

BC, Rain and Waterfalls

Monday, May 5, 2008

Lake Nicaragua, Central America

Lake Nicaragua in Central America, is called the "Sweet Sea" or Mar Dulce, because of its fresh water. Sea is no exaggeration as Lake Nicaragua is huge. Over 8,000 square kilometers. You can't see the opposite side even on a good day.

Lake Nicaragua has all kinds of pirate tales connected to her. Because of the San Juan River in the south that connects the lake to the Caribbean Sea, ships navigated their way into the lake and sacked the city of Granada a few times. Blood and mayhem always make for a good tale or two. Even a few blockbuster movies.

Before the Panama Canal was built, engineers had looked at making a canal using Lake Nicaragua, calling it the Nicaragua Canal. Great idea but it never came to pass.

Today, Lake Nicaragua is home to the only fresh water shark in the world. This isn't just a rumor. I have seen the fins slicing through the water on a trip I took to Ometepe Island. No one seems to be particularly scared of the sharks as people swim all the time in the lake. Never heard of anyone disappearing. So far.

There is a lot of history here on the lake. From Ometepe and Zapatera Islands and their petroglyph's, to tales of William Walker and various pirates of the Caribbean, Lake Nicaragua is steeped in mysteries, old and new, waiting to be discovered. And its a great place to cool off on a hot afternoon in Granada.


Anonymous said...


My contribution to the renaissance of a cultural technique

by Ferdinand Hofer,

Nicaragua, the "Land of Lakes and Volcanoes" is one of the most prosperous places in the world. Do you know what kind of abundance we speak about? One of this country's resources may not gain the attention it deserves. Perhaps we can't see it, though it certainly can be felt – and it would be wise to use it. You may have guessed by now, it's the wind.

One of the most creative uses is being moved by it. Sailing is an original technique that is still being used. Some nicaraguan fishermen make use of sails in their everyday lives - without getting that much attention...

"Con mi abuelo salimos al lago a vela" ("With my grandfather we went out sailing") tells an elder man. This same man has now worked for more than a half year in Nicaraguas first sailing school. Here is how everything began...

1999. As a young Austrian male citizen I was called for duty and opted doing a 1-year lasting social service abroad in a country somewhere in Central America, close to Costa Rica named after the Nicarao tribe. Trying to get a little bit around in my few days off, it didn't take long to fall in love with Lake Nicaragua, also named Cocibolca.

Breathtaking ferry trips, bewildering waves and sunsets over the darkgreen horizon – Lake Nicaragua was showing off its beauties sometimes making us believe that we were offshore. In all this harmony, I unconsciously missed something on this paradisaical freshwater sea, something I couldn't name at those moments.

After finishing my service and having returned several times to Nicaragua, on one late afternoon's ferry trip it dawned on me: I got the answer to my personal question. The answer the lake could not reveal for such a long time. Sailboats. The ferry had not yet arrived the port when I had a clear idea:

"If there are no sailboats in this sailor's paradise then it will be me who is going to bring some and teach people how to navigate". So far the quickest but most profound decision I have ever taken – o.k. I am not married :-)

2008. After a long and exhausting preparation phase the dream of sailing on Lake Nicaragua has become true. The "Velago Nicaragua" sailing school celebrated it's first birthday. A great moment also for a lot of friends and learners whom I have taken out so far to introduce them into the art of dominating the wind's enormous power.

The sailing waters of Lake Nicaragua

This is not the place for bull shark ferry tales (internet and tourism propaganda are full of it). Isn't it way more important to know that the Cocibolca's dimensions allow us to sail away from civilization being out there alone, you and her? With more than 8.000 km² this lake offers quite a lot of possibilities for escaping your everyday life.

All year around stable wind conditions have never let me down. Winds out in the open waters even force you to shortening the mainsail.

The rainy season (officially from June to November) is said to be less windy, one more of these funny things told by those people who are never out there anyway. It's a matter of fact that in this season there is still more wind occurring than you would really nee to sail the specific highest speed your boat is built for – and the America's Cup has (still) not reached lake Nicaragua.

Granada with it's islets is not only a unique but challenging yachting area. Conditions are diverse here. Only six blocks east from the heart of the colonial town's center you have a shallow beach receiving and average of 3-5 Beaufort and 7s occur several times a week in the late afternoon. Mother nature must have been very patient evidently waiting for humans to invent Catamarn Sailing and Kite-Surfing in order to pay tribute to this extraordinary conditions, thank you!

The southern part of the beach gets a lighter wind since the islets south of the beach extenuate the average wind speed. For learners it should be better to start off at this section of the beach.

Would your friends call you a fool if you told them that on a sailboat you can receive wind from two or even three directions at the same time? Well here is where you can proof them that you were right: Main wind direction on Granada's beach is Southeast to East, depending on the time of the year. Wind diversion and jet effects from the islets will let you doubt the concepts of physics you've had so far. Not enough yet you get the third wind direction from the overwhelming and all mighty Mombacho volcano. Thermal gusts fall down from the higher altitudes in the late afternoon. Got it?

The adjoining islets to the south (Isletas de Granada) are a minimundus of caribbean lifestyle. From the sailboat you can watch the rich and famous as well as the "ordinary" people in their everyday lives as fishermen, boat builders or housewives doing the laundry. Discretion and silence are the keywords, not horse powers. Birdwatching and taking pictures is just one more reason for taking a silent and elegant transportation vehicle.

Sailing around the archipelago gives the saying "The journey is the reward " a new meaning. Leaving Granada behind one has the magnificent view on the cities architecturetecture while to the south there is the assembly of islets, Mombacho volcano, Zapatera island, and even sometimes both volcanoes of Ometepe island. Sailing southward along the islands, waves and wind can get quite challenging. The reward for this effort is the lagoon of Asese with scattered islands and cleaner water, deep enough for a sailboat. Enjoying the flushing green of the time before sunset can be the coronation of your trip.

Setting up a sailing culture

The above mentioned dream has become true in a small scale sailing school and boat rental with two teachers, the before mentioned elder men, who turned out to be a great sailor on modern boats, and myself. Three 16 feet jolly boats with roller furling genoa sail and a 14 feet Hobie Cat constitute the current sailboat fleet. The main aim is to teach people the skills of sailing and seamanship. From tying the right knot to the man-over-bord maneuver, the courses give a deep insight and feeling for sailing culture. Whatever we do – safety comes first and even experienced sailors have to wear faint proof life chackets. The courses are given in Spanish, English and German and include a final theoretical and practical exam. Those who just want to endulge a sailing trip without getting too much into sailing can take an excursion for the same price as bare boat rental, we do the skippering as a courtesy.

The main target of Velago Nicaragua is to offer an alternative to the trend of "driving" luxury motor yachts or jet skis. Apart from the ecological point of view creating an awareness for the beauty of the landscape, the right for silence, and the respect for other people using the lake.

Problems arised

Due to the enormous changes in water level the given infrastructure of existing marinas with stonewalls for mooring was inapropriate for sailbats. Solving this problem was only possible by building a floating pontoon.

Signing of shoals has also become a major task. We did it in several parts of the Asese lagoon with trunks of Chilamate trees, which grow roots after beeing implanted on the ground, even in 6 feet deep water. Help from the ministery of water transport (MTI) was and is not expected. The MTI charges tax for every boat though.

"Side effects"

Dispite a 14 hours working day I would declare myself as a lucky person being able to achieve two goals at the same time: Sailing and the passion for boats are one thing; giving a smart job to several people is not only a side effect but part of the master plan. Isn't it great to watch local people identifying themsevles with the idea, guiding a boat with visitors through their islands where they grew up, showing the tourists a way to preserve the beauty? Honestly it is better for the often damaged self-esteem of Nicaraguans to skipper a Sailboat than cleaning and watching other people's houses.

by Ferdinand Hofer,

Anonymous said...

Fascinating history, I always thought the Caribbean pirates stayed clode to the coast so they could get away quickly if needed.

S-V-H said...

Very nice and so romantic, this photograph Karen! I love it.

Anonymous said...

awesome shots diamond,and thanks for comment in Canadian geographic cc appreciate it..

Unknown said...

Beautiful picture and nice post.

Best wishes.


-Liane Schmidt.

lavinka said...

I like such a climate, at me in the country such area, Mazuria are. Many lakes and boats.