Wednesday, April 16, 2008

This bus stops here.

We are safely tied up and fendered to a dock provided by Fishhook Marina in Golfito.

First look shows us it is a mix between a quiet little town that supports a small local fishing fleet, and a town that wants to grow. Nothing here is very big except the wharf. They must get the occasional large ship in here for something. Being a protected bay without swells Yacht transport services like Dockwise makes a stop here to load boats for piggybacking them elsewhere. Right across the street (I think it's the ONLY street) is a very packed cemetery that might be neat to check out, then the trees and dense jungle pretty much take over the rest of the hill. Everything is covered by this green mix of vegetation.

Golfito is also a port of entry. Being so close to the border of Panama, cruisers are in here for provisions as well as checking in and out of Costa Rica. Aside from the low water pressure and the painfully slow internet, it has everything we need for our stay.

Now the real work starts:
Yesterday was consumed by the complete tear down, clean/wash, and re-sort of the inside and top of the boat. Today, we will finish going around the outside and maybe even a bit down under the waterline. I know of a few things up the mast that need tending to and I hear the never ending job of varnish upkeep will also start soon. Best not to rush into too much tho.

Somewhere in there we will have to get in to the center of town to explore a bit more too.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Day Hopping

The last couple of nights we have been day hopping down the coastline. We have been up early and try to get in and set by 4pm just to make sure we don’t get caught in any bad weather. The hops have been from 30 to 60 miles. The thunderheads have been looking quite intimidating and seem to be quite consistent as they form every day. We didn’t get into any of the downbursts, but it wouldn’t have been too difficult to get caught by one. Leaving in the calm of the morning means we don’t have wind. We fire up Roger(the detroit wind) and he pushes us along instead. There hasn’t been enough breeze in the afternoon to hold the sails out, so we just motor. Oh well. There will be more in the Caribbean!
Quepos (KAY-pohs) - Sat April 12 - This first stop is a busy little bay. It’s noisy because they are in the midst of some major upgrades. There are 3 huge cranes in the harbor doing dredging, setting pilings (which is a really rattly job), and something was making a racket like a landslide every 10 minutes. They must have been dumping riprock somewhere I couldn’t see. This went on till fairly late in the night, and when they did stop, they left their huge construction lights on all night. When they get done with this place, it should be a busy new port. From the water we could hear a really loud dance club rocking away most of the night.
Bahia Drake- Sun April 13 - Cutting straight across a notch of coastline brings us to Drake. It is almost a private looking anchorage that is surrounded by just a handful of modestly sized retreats tucked into the trees. The cruising guide mention there are some eco-adventure lodges in there too. It looks like a good place for something like that. The two mountain peaks visible behind Bahia Drake are supposedly the rainiest places in Costa Rica. They register 220 inches annually.

There are a few sportfishers on moorings and pongas zipping around in support. It’s alot quieter here, but again, we hear the beat of music drifting across the water carrying the entertainment for the evening. Sunday must be karioke night. Yep- it’s pretty obvious.

Just before getting in this afternoon, we hooked up with another spotted mackerel. I just had enough time to strip it down to fillets and wash down the deck before the anchor dance made things more complicated. Excellent timing. We had burgers already set to grill this evening, so the fish will keep for another night. Yes, the burgers were really tasty.
Puerto Jimenez (he-MAY-nayz) - Mon April 14 - Getting around the Oso Peninsula and up into Golfo Dulce took us most of the day. We go into a bit of chop going around the bottom end of the point, and had a build of wind but it was on the nose. We can’t get this sailing thing right. Another spotted mack threw himself onto the hook, and we were glad to put the extra fillets in the fridge. Now I guess we can have some friends over! Did I mention how tasty that fish is?

The port is on the edge of Corcovado National Park. There is a frequent line of ferry boats from Golfito and what seems consistent timing of turbo-props landing at the airstrip carrying backpackers and eco-touristas. Since it is just a quick ferry ride right across from where we will be for a while, We can easily get back here to check this place out for sure.

The marina in Golfito is expecting us in today [Tues 15], so we will up the anchor shortly to make sure we get the tide for the entrance.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Out from Los Suenos

Fri Apr 11
Tomorrow we head out again and see how far we can get down the coast. It looks like we have 130 odd miles to Golfito and that should be 3 days with night stops. We could do it in 2 but the tides will be wrong for entry. So we take our time on the last jump- no worries. We topped off fuel in the main tank today, and have most of the extra cans filled if we need it.

We have some spotty t-storms again tonight. I can see flashes around us but not close enough to hear thunder for most of them. Makes for a neat evening on deck.

Posts will follow.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Los Suenos

Thurs Apr 10
Yesterday we motor sailed the whole way and we managed to somehow dodge a good brewed up storm along the way. It might have had something to do with the panic of not having the storm covers installed and the frenzy of installing them underway when we saw the ugliness in front of us. Once we got them in place and remaining gear lashed down, it all drifted off to the side and we had calm seas the rest of the way.

We got into the anchorage right as predicted, converted over to lounge mode, and enjoyed the evening in the anchorage among a few other large sailboats and a few powerboats on anchor. We couldn't fit in the actual marina if we wanted to. It is filled with superfishing powerboats. There might be some sort of tournament going on, or perhaps just the market down here. There is quite the parade out in the mornings, and back in at sunset.

We spent the day over at the Mariott lounging around the pool. It was nice. REALLY nice. The pool is not just a big hole in the ground with chairs around it. It is more of a long narrow snaking channel that winds itself around several sculpted patio areas with each one being diffferent, exotic planters, and under foot bridges. While floating around, there are alcoves designed in to sit and chat, a jet section like a jacuzzi, a bigger pool with a v-ball net stretched across, a section with waterfalls, and exentually you will find the swim-up bar.

Where in the world are we today?
Here are a few handy g-maps that give the rough idea.

Bahia Carillo

Wed Apr 9 - Bahia Carillo
9 50.30 N - 85 29.45 W
Charlie’s Charts (one of the cruising guides we have been using) suggested this was a good place to tuck in for a night. It is fairly exposed and has a tricky entrance dodging some rocks only visible at low tide. The shores were well groomed and occupied by a hotel, what looked like condos and private houses. There is a small area mooring some nice sportfishers and what looked like a service area I wold hesitate to call an actual marina. We found it too crowded to anchor in the first suggested area and it was getting shallow way too fast, so we went across to the second suggested anchorage and found it rolling with swells. We ended up dropping right in the middle and found it quite pleasant.

This was one of the few places we didn’t get a hint of a wifi trace. I guess we are starting to get really far out. We also broke out of the 10 latitude range. Currently we are cruising 9 deg 45 mins N. I tried to find the North star last night but it was lost in the horizon haze or even behind the cliff of this cove. We didn’t get rain last night, but lightning was on the horizon with no thunder. It must have been way off.

Every cove we get into seems to have it’s own different little world built in. Right at sunset THOUSANDS of little tiny fish about 2 inches long swarmed in pockets around the boat and were surface feeding. We could barely get a glimpse of them because they were moving so fast. It rippled the surface and sounded like rain.

We have about 58 miles to get to Bahia Herradura and get into Los Suenos Marina.
9 38.20 N - 84 41 W

Sails up again

Tues Apr 8
We grabbed an early start again. We have about 40 miles to get to the next port. The idea is to get off the water by the afternoon thunderstorm. Cruising along the coastline we find it continuously dotted with some fairly nice estates and more resorts even still being constructed. Every now and then we round a point and find a hidden beach with someone’s retreat barely visible amongst the palms. Some without any obvious roads must be only accessible by boat. The vegetation is getting thicker and turning more green.

Bahia Potrero

Mon 4.7
10 26.700 N - 85 49.173 W - Bahia Potrero
Morning found us really busy. We got in a last run to the super mercado and had to go to the official holding the fishing licenses. He was almost surprised that someone was actually taking the time to do such a thing.

We left out of Coco late morning and went down the coast to our first stop. It was just a 15 mile shoreline run down to look at Bahia Potrero. Its’ shores and hills are lined with high end homes and larger resorts, but for some reason the actual Marina Flamingo has gone bankrupt and is in a ghostown state of disrepair. What is left of the main dock heels to a severe angle and disappears mid length then reappears further down it’s length. The end is only occupied by birds and two boats that have not seen their owners in a very long time. There are no water based services here. No problem, we were only here to set anchor and stay the night. The outer anchorage/mooring area was filled with mainly six-pack sportfishers in very nice condition. There are rumors that someone is rebuilding the marina but we did not see anything that supports them.

We were treated to a very pleasant breezy afternoon sipping pina coladas ala “Lancee”(lan-say) and watched the daily thunderstorn roll our direction. Right on time we got in a brief shower at the dark of sunset. I donned my foul weather jacket to go preside over the “rail-o-que” to cook the chicken and the wind/rain stopped. All is good.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Playa del Coco

We are anchored down in Playa del Coco.

Yesterday, we tidied the boat and converted it over to anchor mode while Richard went ashore to check us into CR.

It's a neat little anchorage, and offers a mid updated fishing/resort village for support. There is just enough protection in the little cove to harbor moorings and anchoring. It is very calm most of the time, but when winds turn around and come onshore it gets a bit choppy. There are no docks, so we do beach landings. The low surf supports the beginners just fine.

In town, there is quite a mix of locals, transplants, and tourists. First look shows it to be quite the nighttime hangout. Every other building seems to have some form of a club. The town probably doesn't have everything, but just enough of what people want.

With an airport nearby, it looks like we will be bidding adios to crewmember Amit. He has things he needs to do before heading home. He figures this is a good jump-off point. Looking at the map, we will probably be doing day hops the rest of the way, down so it works out OK for us too.

Yesterday afternoon another thunderstorm caught up with us and pounded the area. The boat got a nice rinse and all was calm a couple of hours later. I guess we are in one of the drier areas looking at the cliffs around us which are quite brown and dry. I hear it gets wetter from here on down.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Thurs Apr 3

Thursday 4.03 1200 hrs

10 53.13N - 85 57.38W

cse 144 - Sp 8.6 - wnd 17.9 - 2 reef main, stysls, jib -

The morning puff clocked around and turned into a bit of a papagayo condition. The morning sail plan had the countertops clearing of the bits that accumulate the day before, but quick adjustments on deck put things back to the normal state of tilt.

Normally my watch starts off with taking down everything and firing up Roger(the motor). My reputation as "captain motorboat" is not accurate today. Things are currently looking good for "CM" as we have been cruising along mostly in the 8's with a little water on the decks. We even had a brief escort by a pod of dolphins. Welcome to Costa Rica! (well, not just yet)

We are cutting across the Golfo de St Elena and are roughly 6 mi from rounding Cape Elena and have to dodge a few little islands for lunch. Then we cross the Golfo de Papagaya which is about 25 miles.

If we can keep the speeds up, we might make it just in time to set anchor before the sun goes down.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Schooning along

Wednesday 4.02 1200 hrs

12 47.36N - 87 37.50W

cse 132 5.2kts - wind 5.1 SW - staysails - Motoring

Next stop: Costa Rica

We got underway this morning put all 5 sails up and had a great sail for several hours. We were just skipping along in the 9's and not even splashing the deck. Now handed off to me, I had to round a point (Didn't want to hit Nicaragua) and it all just DIED. Oh well, I get to drive the motorboat again!

For the past 3 hours the winds have been building and are more than enough to launch some more laundry. It's lunch tho and good smells are coming up from the galley. We will be nice to the cook and not beat her up too much until she gets out. Paula's watch is next.

We got out and launched the advanced fisherman(a little bigger sail). With it topping off our sail plan we have been hitting the 10's. That's the way to schoon!

Our next port is Playa del Coco in Bahia Culebra, Costa Rica.
10 33.8N - 85 42.1W - Nav says it is about 175 miles give or take a couple of zags for tacks. That will be our port of entry into CR.

Rest stop- Pnta Ampala

Wednesday 4.02 0000 hrs

13 07.06N - 88 17.20W

At Anchor - Punta Ampala in Golfo de Fonseca

We got here just in time to set anchor, have a "rummy-punch" and watch the sunset. It's a neat anchorage that appears to be lined with houses(some of them fairly nice). We have been the detour of quite a fair amount of pongas that come over to toss a wave and a "Hola" of appreciation. Fresh fish (caught two more s-mackerels this afternoon) went on the grill right away and again were very tasty.

Morning came a bit too soon when a squall came through at 4am. I just happen to be up watching the lightning in the clouds and felt the wind change and smelled dampness on the breeze. Then I heard what sounded like a low flying jet coming our way. I slid all the hatches closed and pulled back the storm covers right as the rain started. I was tempted to stay up on deck for a nice personal rinse off, but rain stings coming in that hard! At one of the good gusts I saw around 46kts. The anchor was set and doing it's job from blowing us up on the beach, but Richard decided to get out before the waves got big(we were very exposed at this point). Right when we all got on our rain gear, it all stopped and went totally calm again. There were more storm cells on the radar, so Richard stayed up till sunrise and we all went back to our bunks.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Out of El Sal

Tuesday 4.1 1200hrs

13 07.06N - 88 17.20W

cse 84 - 6.5kts - wind 8.4 NE - #3 jib - staysails - main - Sailing

It is a wonderful day to get started. We dumped the mooring and left Barillas Marina this morning, motored 2 hours to get out, but set sails on calm seas and heading south once again.

Our target for the day is Punta Ampala. It is a small point down the coast about 28 miles. It offers a bit of protection for the average sea and normal breeze but not much more. We'll see what the day shapes up to be, and what it looks like. There are others we can duck into if things go bad. Otherwise we might just keep sailing. We can't go ashore anyways because we officially checked out from ElSal, and we don't need to check in for anything new. We are all good to go.