Thursday, December 27, 2012
07:00, Monday, 17 Dec, 2012 Anchored in Bahia Santa Elena, Costa Rica It is absolutely calm and windless for the first time since we arrived last Friday. The Papagayo winds that buffeted us on the crossing and here at the anchorage had begun to decrease yesterday and suddenly shut down last evening. What we are left with is a beautiful mirror surface broken here and there by surfacing fish and the occasional seabird diving for a meal. Had we been up at sunrise we would have heard the parrots in the trees ashore but we’ll have to wait for sunset to enjoy that again. Fran was up at 02:00 and was amazed at the reflection of the starry sky on the water and the pop of phosphorescent particles, a truly magical scene. Our departure from San Juan Del Sur wasn’t without drama. Our newfound faith in Central American bureaucracy was dashed during our out-routine when both the Port Captain and the immigration official (different individuals from our entry processing) demanded another payment, but, what can you do? Luckily we had enough US cash to cover the extra $75. Funny, that only the cruisers get charged these extra fees. If you drive or fly into the country this never happens. We (with Nauti Moments) motored out of the bay hoping for the predicted decrease in the papagayos but, alas, it continued to blow 25-35 kts all the way across. The 4-hour washing machine-like ride was quickly forgotten when we entered this pristine bay. Our welcoming committee was a large school of rays feeding on the surface as we entered. We anchored in the lee of the northern shore in 25 ft. with a good mud bottom. With the papagayos still gusting up to 30 kts we needed a good holding and this is the best. This peninsula is part of an extensive national park system and is maintained as such. Normally we would be charged for being here but there are no attendants on this side so we get it gratis. Over the past few days we have been limited in our exploration of the bay by the high winds but today should be a much better day to see some of the more distant beaches. Yesterday we hiked up to a waterfall that was described in the cruising guide. It was a short hike mainly along a stream bed but the small waterfall and swimming hole made it all worthwhile. Later on Fran and I went snorkeling in a bay close to the boat but the sand and mud bottom was uninteresting. Earlier we had seen rays and barracuda hunting in the same area. The guidebook claims that there are hundreds of wild and exotic animal and bird species in the park but we only saw a few large cat tracks on our hike to the falls, a few hawks and some green parrots. The parrots only fly overhead at sunset, probably so that the hawks can’t see them clearly enough. They always fly in pairs but there are a few loners who squawk constantly as if to say “wait for me, wait for me”…. Fran wasn’t impressed to see a 3 ft. sea snake beside the boat one morning.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
22:00, 11 Dec 2012, at anchor in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua It is still HOT. If it wasn’t for the brisk, Papagayo winds blowing across the bay it would be unbearable in the salon. We have been here since yesterday morning after a comfortable, albeit, mostly windless 2-day motorboat ride from Bahia Del Sol. Our departure wasn’t nearly as exciting as the entry 8 months ago. Fran really enjoyed her early birthday present, a ride out on the back of the jet-ski that the guide, Rogelio, uses to lead the boats in and out. Fran was his radio operator for the morning, escorting our 3 boats out and 2 others into the bay. She hasn’t stopped talking about how much fun it was since we left.
Friday, December 7, 2012
21:00, 6 December, 2012, Alongside Bahia del Sol Marina Another few days and we’ll be off and away from this backwater. If it wasn’t for the efforts of Bill and Jean, the El Salvador rally organizers, there wouldn’t be anyone here, and for good reason. It is a barely decent place to leave a boat and, as of this year, the choices are diminishing. Island Marine is up for sale and who knows what will become of the buoy field opportunities there. The buoys at the Santos facility are of poor quality and he doesn’t offer much in the way of preventative maintenance during the summer months. That leaves the marina docks. After the storm last April and observing the way the docks lost most of their flotation, cleats ripped out and decking washed away and the lack of commitment by the owner we realize that the marina is not a priority. Naughti Moments had quite a bit of gel coat damage when a cleat let go and she rubbed against the dock and Ken was told that he was lucky the hotel didn’t pursue him for ripping out the cleat….. The repairs to the facility were only superficial and it is a disaster waiting to happen…. again. But, people will keep coming, attracted by the $1 cervesas, discounts on food and mooring, but is it enough when you consider the ride in over the bar, the crappy facilities, filthy river water, and the 1 ½ hour, $90 taxi ride to El Salvador to get decent groceries and supplies? Yup, I’m ready to go. Gail and Mark (Mangareva) arrived this afternoon with the dinghy parts so that item is crossed out. While Fran went to San Salvador with a number of others for last minute shopping I stayed and tended to some last minute items. Yesterday I decided that the water-maker re-build kit had taken up enough space in the bilge so the water-maker was broken down and rebuilt with new seals. It was re-installed today and it seems to be working much better and with less leaks. All fuel tanks are full and tomorrow we top up our water tanks and check everything for departing. Fran will be busy with Immigration and Customs in the morning and tomorrow night we have a dock party. We have heard from Alan (Beverly J) a few days ago. They had gone into the Gulf of Fonseca, where El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua share the waterfront. They were boarded 3 times by the 3 different nations and finally chased out of an anchorage by the Nicaraguan navy. They motored down the coast to Corinto and didn’t find much so they are now on their way to San Juan Del Sur. After their story the 3 boats leaving Saturday have revised our plans and will most likely follow them to that port. The guides indicate that it is a pleasant anchorage with good facilities. 2100, Friday, 7 December It was a really nice pot luck dock party. The food and company were great. The work is done and the 3 boats are ready for sea. We leave on the full tide tomorrow morning. Fran will try to hitch a ride on the jet-ski that guides us out of the surf line. She’s been itching for that since we first crossed in March. @ boats have announced that they will be arriving tomorrow, Rathscallion and Precious Metal. We’ll be boats passing in the morning…. Next stop will be San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua, but first we have to cross the infamous Papagayo region where the gap winds from the Caribbean pick up quickly and can blow up to 50-60 kts. We’ll tell you how it went in the next blog.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Friday, 30 November, 2012, still at the buoy. It is pitch black out. The moon is just starting to rise behind some heavy clouds and we have had a bit of light rain in the past few hours. The bay is flat calm and the fish are jumping all around the boat. Friday night brings the weekenders to the beach so there is a bit more music playing from the western shore and most of the properties are lit up, some with Christmas lights. The eastern shore is mostly dark. They rely on generators and batteries there and few can afford such luxuries. Apart from the barking dogs and an occasional flash of a flashlight glow there is very little activity. Before I start the new chapter I must add a PS to the last one. While in Antigua we discovered something everyone from our generation would appreciate. Remember the Lone Ranger and his sidekick Tonto? Well, we had found out a few years ago that Tonto means stupid in Spanish. Fran was mortified and I was a bit disappointed that Hollywood would show that kind of blatant discrimination. Well last week we discovered that Tonto name for the Lone Ranger was Kimosabe. OK, close but no cigar. It was actually Quien no sabe, or, loosely translated, he who knows nothing…. Who knew all those years ago that the two were passing insults back and forth. I have to watch a few episodes again. We just got back from having supper at Mary Sol’s restaurant with Colette a little while ago. We had the best fried whole fish ever! Colette’s guidance really helped since we gringos didn’t have a clue where to start. It was a 2-3 lb red snapper baked crispy, just the right size for the 3 of us. Who knew that you can eat the skin and tail…. Colette is leaving Sunday and this was one of the last chances we had to have a nice quiet time with her. She has been the ideal landlady as we have occupied one of her buoys and we certainly hope we’ll see her again in Canada during our summer’s home. Our ranks are beginning to thin out. Last week Beverly J left and today Whiteshell (Comox) departed for points south. Naughti Moments has gone to the marina dock for a few days and we’ll be following soon for a few days of last minute preps alongside. It will be nice to have shore power for a change and lots of water to wash the decks and hull before we depart. It looks like we are on schedule, so far. It has been a busy week. The lines are all where they are supposed to be, thanks to some help from Ken who helped me get to the masthead to sort out broken messenger lines and a loose steaming light. The sails are bent on and the forward head is back in operation….. The last item was an unexpected one. The smell of sewage was beginning to get strong in the Vee-berth and we discovered that the holding tank was full and overflowing something we had experienced on our maiden voyage. We still haven’t figured out how the Y-valve was in that position but it was making quite a mess. Once we had all the valves back in order we had to pump the tank out with the hand operated pump and it broke on the first pump. I was not looking forward to this repair but I had most of the day as Fran was going shopping. The job wasn’t as messy as I had anticipated. The poopy water wasn’t up to the pump so I was able to remove it and do a jury rig repair with a screw and some 5200, the cruiser’s best friend when a difficult gluing job presents itself. The pump held together while I pumped out the tank and, hopefully, will last for the next few years as we don’t expect to use it much. The cleanup was a bit more daunting but was completed by the time Fran arrived back. Steve and Linda (Warren Peace) are still adding up the list of items that they will have to replace due to their lightning strike. It looks like most of their electronics have been fried. Thank goodness that they were insured. There are so many cruisers who do not have any insurance. They will be delayed but they will leave here with a complete fit of up-to-date electronics. There is a silver lining to their cloud…. We are now convinced that the problem with our inverter/charger was caused by the same strike. Warren Peace was only about 75 ft. away from us at the time. Lightning is very unpredictable and will cause the weirdest types of damage. After some investigation we have counted out the microphone problem on the VHF radio as lightning caused. Looks like the repairs we had done to the radio last summer caused the issue so we are now discussing the problem with ICOM. If and when we replace the radio we’ll be looking for another brand. Way too many issues with ICOM products. Monday, 2 Dec, alongside the marina dock. We moved Gosling to the dock yesterday. A few days before I removed the bags that we had wrapped the prop blades with and cleaned the bottom as best I could. The bag idea worked well. There was very little to scrape off and the hull has survived the summer remarkably well. There are a few barnacles but, overall, it is not bad. The extra copper we put in the bottom paint in Guaymas has paid off. We shouldn’t have to do another paint job till Cartagena. We have had a minor problem with the dinghy. There has been a slow leak and we narrowed it down to one of the valves. When we tried to fix it the inevitable occurred; it broke, so we scrambled to find a way to get parts delivered from the US. We found out that Gail and Mark (Mangareva) are arriving Friday so we ordered the parts and had them shipped by the fastest means to their place. Hopefully everything will fall in place and we’ll be ready to depart on Saturday. Saturday we attended a pig roast on the Island. Ian (Blyth Spirit) had bought a piglet s few weeks ago for the event, a benefit for one of the young men on the Island who is trying to make his mark on the local boat maintenance scene. The proceedings are to purchase a VHF radio so he can communicate with the cruisers. It was turned into a potluck at Jan’s place, a local gringo lady who has lived here for some years. The pig was slowly cooked over a coconut fueled fire and was absolutely delicious.