Thursday, December 27, 2012

Nicaragua and Costa Rica and the Papagayos

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.
Last night we met a fisherman who took shelter here in his panga for the night. We managed to trade some beer and pop for a few small red snappers and a lobster. His 2 sons got the pop, and a few packages of Halloween red licorice. The fish and lobster were cooked right away. What the treat! We are expecting company later on today. Beverly J and Risk Taker should be on their way from San Juan Del Sur. The weather predictions state that by the weekend the Papagayos will be back to full strength so we will be departing here by Wednesday at the latest. 22:00, 20 Dec, Anchored offshore, Playa de Coco, Costa Rica Another calm and quiet anchorage; well, after 21:00 it is. There must be some kind of ordinance that ensures silence after a set hour. Last night it was closer to 22:00, after some fireworks and loud music coming from one of the shore establishments on the beach. Tonight it was lower key with a live band playing Christmas carols until closing time of about 20:00. Sunset here is about 17:30. We arrived here with Nautimoments, Beverly J and Risk Taker yesterday just before noon. The latter 2 boats had joined us, as expected, in Bahia Santa Elena and we sailed in company very early yesterday morning, hoping to get a respite from the Papagayos. They had been a bit gentler over the past few days and we were hoping the trend continued for this crossing. We had following winds and seas for the first hour but our track then took us south and, just like our trip from San Juan Del Sur, we had the wind on the beam at 12 to 25kts for most of the way. We managed to get some sails up for about an hour near the end of the passage as the wind decreased to 15 kts. As entered the bay we saw a large commercial barquentine, The Star Flyer, anchored off the town. It is a small passenger vessel offering the “sailing” experience to those who want something different in a cruise. When she left last night she was all lit up, a nice sight as she left the bay.
Today was a very busy but rewarding day. We began our in-routine into Costa Rica with a visit to the Port Captain’s office. From there we went to the immigration office, back to the Port captain and lastly to the Aduana (Customs) office near the Liberia airport. We were pleasantly surprised at the efficiency of all of these officials and the lack of any charges, so far. We must return to the Port captain after our stay at marina Papagayo, on the 27th to get our national Zarpe (travelling papers). Fishing licenses on the other hand, were a disappointment. Costa Rica is still working on a system similar to what Mexico was using 6 years ago. Everyone on board has to have a permit and the vessel must be licensed, the total would have been about $375. We can buy a lot of fish for that price so we opted to stow the fishing gear until we leave Costa Rica and hope that Panama doesn’t have any such regulation. We did manage to get money from a bank machine, do some shopping and find an internet cafĂ© where we caught up on a week’s worth of traffic. So far we have found that Costa Rica is the most expensive country we have visited in Central America. Prices are quite similar to what we are used to back home. Even fuel is upwards of $1.35 per litre, beer at happy hour prices is $1.65 and coffee, over $2.00. Their currency trades at 500 to one, so, for $100, we got 50,000 colones. We’ll be watching our pennies more on this part of the trip. 21:00, 26 Dec 2112, alongside marina Papagayo, CR Another crystal clear, moonlit night. We have been in much different surroundings for the past 2 nights. This is relative luxury over what we have experienced for a long time, in fact, since the El Cid marina in Mazatlan a few years ago, but it comes at a price that we haven’t seen since the marina at Cabo San Lucas in 2008. At $2/ft/night this is not our normal choice in a marina but for 3 nights (one night free) we decided to splurge and spoil ourselves for a few days. With unlimited fresh water, power, WIFI, laundry facilities and a pool we are not wanting. The marina is only a few years old and, actually, there are very few boats here. There are 3 super-yachts, Legacy with a helicopter, Sea Wolf with a 35 ft. sailboat and a large powerboat on its stern, Morning Glory, a 165 ft ketch,originally built and, commissioned by Rupert Murdoch and now owned by, non-other than the ex- Italian Premier, Silvio Berlusconi (rumoured to be hiding out hereabouts) the biggest of all, Pegaso, believed to be owned by a Mexican, telecommunications mogul. (Could that be Cartlos Slim?). It boasts a 9 mtr submarine among other amenities. We feel kind of humble being in the same marina as that kind of talent but, I guess that’s why we are paying the big bucks…..
Yesterday our four boats were joined by August Moon, another Canadian boat that will be accompanying us south. They are longtime friends of Ken and Carol and have been speeding down the coast from Mexico to catch up. Christmas was a blast here. The wide docks were perfect for dock parties for Christmas Eve and another yesterday. If you think we don’t enjoy the same fare, think again. We had Pollo Navidad (marinated chicken), turkey, ham, mashed and fried potatoes, beans and carrots, 2 different types of stuffing and another two of gravy - oh yeah, and rum cake for dessert. We waddled back to our boats.
Gosling's Christmas tree.. The
wind actually blew it over whenwe were setting it up and JG had to dive for the top portion. Luckily the water is only 25 ft deep.... Yesterday as we were setting up for the dinner there was a shriek from Nautimoments. We looked over to see a swarm of bees just above their dodger. We immediately started to spray them with hoses and that resulted in the swarm attaching itself to their yardarm flags. No amount of water could shoo them from there so the call went out to the marina manager, who called the local fire station. They arrived some time later after the bees had migrated to Nautimoments mast and looked like they were going to set up a hive on their deck light fixture. The firemen sprayed it with AFFF foam getting many down but reassured us that they would have to return several times to complete the job. Finally, after the third application and a shot of insecticide by a fireman in a bosn’s chair up the mast we think they are gone. We’ll be able to tell for sure tomorrow morning. Apparently this is a common occurrence and the firemen are the experts. Only Betsy was stung and their boat was the farthest removed of the group.
Tomorrow we will water and fuel up and move back to Playa de Coco. Friday morning we must get our national Zarpe from the port captain before he closes shop for the week. We will then be free to leave and travel anywhere in Costa Rican waters.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't like the sea snake either but still wish we were there with you all. Looks like a good time was had by all...Pospero Anyo Nueva. Mexico just days away for us now..not soon enough!
    Anne & Dick