Friday, January 11, 2013

Entering Costa Rica and Christmas/New Years

2100, 28 Dec, 2012, Anchored off Playa de Coco We are back at Playa de coco for a few days. We are close to where we were last time we were here, just off the club on the beach. Tonight there is a decent live band playing. Last night they were playing some New Age music that drove us nuts till 22:15. Seems like the noise ordinance was only pre-Christmas. We arrived here late afternoon after a rocky departure and a squally passage from the marina. When we left the wind was blowing 15-18 kts and we had some difficulty getting away from the dock and getting Gosling pointed in the right direction. She doesn’t behave when backing up so we have to resort to a backing and filling procedure to get her head around. Good thing we have a powerful engine, a big prop and rudder. The 21 inch prop can throw a lot of water and we have been able to get the job done in some hairy predicaments over the past few years. From the berth we had to go to the fueling dock so we had to repeat the process. This morning we got our national Zarpe, so we are now legal to travel in Costa Rica for the next 3 months. The process took all of about 15 minutes for all 3 boats and still at no cost. The fees are due on departure and we expect to pay about $25. We also obtained some WIFI capability for this country. Instead of having to pay for another “stick” we were able to get a SIM card for the I-Pad at a fraction of the cost. Hopefully that will serve us well for the next month. We also did our last minute shopping at our favourite grocery store. It does have great choices of food but on this day they had a few booths giving samples of a Costa Rican hootch (similar to vodka) while another was handing out samples of beer. You’ll never see that back home. Fran liked the shoes on the girls in red…..
Tamborito Girls
Tona Girls 20:00, 29 Dec 2012, At anchor, Bahia Zapotal We are anchored in a lovely little bay about 8 miles south of playa De Coco. The full moon is giving us sufficient light to see the outline of the low hills on the shoreline to the east. The Papagayo wind is howling through the rigging and we constantly check to make sure we aren’t dragging, but our faithful Danforth anchor is serving us well. We left Playa de Coco about mid-day as the wind was ramping up. Had we left earlier, conditions would have been much lighter but we were delayed by some last errands in town. By the time we weighed anchor the wind was up to the mid-teens. It increased to 20-25 with gusts to 30kts as we headed to this bay. There are so many nice little bays described in the cruising guides but this infernal wind makes many of them difficult to access. We are due to round Cabo Vela tomorrow, on our way to Tamarindo. The cape is stated to be the southern limit of the Papagayo wind tunnel; however, I expect the winds reach will be felt much farther. It will be nice to escape its clutches but, as in many situations, we are looking at feast/famine We checked in to the Pan Pacific cruisers net this morning and heard our friends, Gil and Lexi (Sunday) checking in from Panama City. They are on their way north and we are looking forward to meeting them again. We left them in Barra De Navidad 2 years ago as they headed south. 13:00, 31 Dec 2012, Anchored off Playa Flamingo, Brasilito, CR We have been anchored off this pretty beach since about noon yesterday. The Papagayo winds continue to blow in the 15 to 30 kts range and we have been unable to launch the dinghy. Thankfully the wind is off the beach so there is no fetch to bounce us around. The weather forecasters indicate that the wind is supposed to diminish in the next day or so to something a bit more comfortable, just in time for us to head south and out of its influence. The beach is quite active with New Year’s revelers enjoying the sun, sand and loud music coming from several venues.
We are preparing for a big pot luck dinner aboard Beverly J in a few hours. It is the only boat that can comfortably accommodate the 10 of us. Last night we had 6 in our cockpit for dinner and it was crowded. We saw our first whale yesterday, most likely a fin-back, quite close to where we are anchored. 19:00, 1 Jan 2013, Anchored at Bahia Zapatal Another day, another anchorage further down the Costa Rican coast. We are in a lovely protected bay 47 miles south. It is soooo quiet after what we have been used to over the past few weeks. I wish I had the words to describe what I see and feel as I sit with this laptop on the bow of the boat. Let me try: The only sounds I hear are muted strains of music from ashore, the distant sound of the surf on the reef in the middle of the bay and the rhythmic slapping of the running rigging as we slowly roll in the gentle swell entering the bay. Fran thinks she heard howler monkeys as dusk was settling in and, with her super hearing, anything is possible. We can barely see the outline our partner boats, Nautimoments and August Moon are just a few hundred feet from us but their anchor lights are bright against the starry sky. Gosling’s position is defined by two Rona solar blinking torches, unmistakable in any anchorage we have been in. The heat of the day has been replaced by a nice cool shore breeze promising a good night’s sleep. We arrived just before sunset after a hard day of motor-sailing and, finally some short stretches just under sail, our first quality sail time this season. It is so nice to be out of the Papagayo winds. We are not supposed to see anything like them until Panama as we near the Canal Zone. 24 hours later, same location It has been a quiet day. We explored the bay and the village. There are many Canadians and Europeans here on holiday. They seem more numerous than the locals but, when you look around the bay, there are not that many hotels and resorts to be seen. People seem to be looking for alternative holidays, staying in small hotels, taking the family stay option with their Spanish courses or just camping. There are many young people here on stops during the travel phase of their lives, an opportunity we never had but one our son Michael took advantage of in his late teens. One of the locals ashore told us that there is a big resort in the next bay (Carillo) and Tom Cruise’s mega-yacht is there. Also at the resort are Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones. This seems to be a popular destination for the big stars. Mel Gibson owns property here and Ringo Starr has been a visitor. We also learned a weird fact about the bay. In September 2012 there was a 7-3 magnitude earthquake centered just below this bay. Locals claim that the bottom of the bay was pushed up 7-8 ft, exposing some of the reef and changing the shape of the beach to a very shallow and gradual incline. This came from 2 separate sources but we will have to check it out ourselves. About noon, Jeff, a solo sailor with terminal cancer arrived in the anchorage on an Islander 30. We had heard on a SSB net that he was on his way from Huatulco to Golfito and to watch out for him. He is a courageous individual to be taking on such a voyage, but as he says, “what do I have to lose?” He has been beaten up by the Papagayo winds offshore, his autopilot failed and he was almost out of fuel for his only engine, an outboard. He plans to refuel and have a day rest before continuing on. He will be here a few days getting fuel and water and he is hoping to get crew to help him sail the remainder of the way.
Carol and Ken have been working on a damaged sail all day so we have all decided to remain here today. 24 hours later, 45 miles further. Anchored in Bahia Balena, CR Another quiet and well protected bay. We arrived here mid-afternoon after an 8 hour passage from Samara. We 3 boats left just after sunrise to take advantage of daylight. Our hopes for some decent wind were dashed early in the passage when the early SW breeze died off. For the remainder of the passage the wind was fluky and mainly, on the nose. Yesterday we took Jeff into town to get his laundry done and to introduce him to a couple of Swiss kids who are travelling the world. They seemed to be very eager in joining him for the next leg of his trip. Both are non-sailors so this will, indeed, be an adventure for them and a challenge for Jeff but he will be able to get some rest. We hope to hear back from Jeff when he reaches Golfito. It will be interesting to find out how the kids worked out. I will have to split this submission as it is getting quite long. I am writing all of these on my laptop so I must wait until we have a good WIFI connection to send them to the blog site. Hopefully we’ll be able to get that done in the next week.
Fran's happy feet

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