Life is great! The opportunity to fly the Dancing Bones Spinnaker in a nice breeze off the coast of Costa Rica.
We left you last month celebrating Jan’s birthday (Slip Away) in Bahia Huevos, Costa Rica, after transiting some very challenging areas; One such area is known as the Papagayo region, which encompasses everything between the Gulfo De Fonseca (eastern El Salvador) to El Coco, Costa Rica. This includes the entire Nicaraguan coast. This time of year northerly winds are funneled from the Caribbean Sea into the Pacific side. But, it’s not always that way! Sometimes you get a nice little breeze off the beam with flat seas. Out comes the multi-colored spinnaker for a beautiful, lazy day of sailing.
After resting up a little in Bahia Huevos it was time to return to civilization, actually check-in to Costa Rica and make ourselves legal. Then head down the coast, slowly, towards the Gulfo De Nicoya. We made many stops in the gulf, then headed out of the gulf and back into another gulf; Gulfo Dulce. This was to be our last stop in Costa Rica.
Although we had been in Costa Rica for a few weeks our first taste of Costa Rican civilization was El Coco. El Coco is located on the southern (actually eastern end since Central America runs primarily west to east) of the Gulfo De Papagayo and is the first opportunity to formally check-in to the country. It’s a day long process of making multiple copies of boat documents/passports, going to the Port Captain’s office, and immigration. Fortunately, we were with friends from Slip Away and Loon III which helped ease the pain.
After the completion of our formal check-in into Costa Rica we decided to reward ourselves with a late lunch at Papagayo Seafood. A wonderful seafood meal was had by all. By the way, the blue containers by Carrie are water jugs to be carried back to Loon III’s for drinking water. A sailor’s work is never done.
A day of civilization was enough, so once again in the company of The Loonies (Iain and Aly) and Slip Away (Jan and Rich) we decide to head out to a secluded little bay named Bahia Guacamaya only 7 miles away. Well, we had sailed through the Papagayo and survived so we were feeling pretty smug. So…. with dinghy in tow (normally deflated and lashed on deck) we set sail early afternoon. By then the wind had clocked around to the north and was blowing high teens to low twenties. This allowed for a pretty good sea to build. Well, we won’t get into the details (too embarrassing), but suffice it to say it was the sail from hell. Once safely anchored in the tiny bay we licked our wounds and pondered our mistakes. Fortunately, the only damage sustained was to our egos. Very humbling indeed! Oh yeah, we could mention that Slip Away arrived about 15 minutes ahead of us. When we arrived we found Rich up on deck head in hand shaking. We asked: “What’s wrong?” He replied: “That was the sail from hell.” But, we won’t mention it since it would probably embarrass them. We were rewarded, however, with this beautiful little bay!
Our neighbor in Bahia Guacamaya waiting for the wind to subside. We found this type of fishing vessel throughout Costa Rica. All listing heavily to one side or the other. It amazed us that they stay afloat.
We spent 2 nights in Bahia Guacamaya recovering from our grueling 7 mile sail and then began the 24 hour sail to Bahia Ballena in the Gulfo De Nicoya. The sailing was good; mostly light winds. We were able to sail most of the way until we entered the Gulf. There the winds died and we had to motor the rest of the way into Bahia Ballena. We were once again accompanied by Slip Away. They kept following us. Capes are notorious for unpredictable winds and seas and are always approached with a heightened level of anxiety. This picture is of Cabo Blanco which guards the entrance to Gulfo De Nicoya. By the sea state you can tell that this cape treated us kindly.
After a very nice passage we anchored off of Heart’s Beach in Bahia Ballena. Aptly named, Heart’s Beach is the home for ‘Heart’, His wife Honey, and their family. Self proclaimed hippies, they sailed here in the early seventies and never left. “Heart” is a famous electronic designer for boat electronics. He founded Heart Interface. Yes sireee! We have a Heart Interface (DC to AC inverter) on board and it works great! The picture below is from the pier on the opposite side of the bay. Ballena is obviously a very beautiful place. No wonder the Hearts never left! P.S. Heart is still busily designing new goodies for us sailors.
Known as the Ballena yacht Club, this little establishment provided cold beers and good food and a great place to meet other cruisers. Pat had the largest cheeseburger he had ever seen.
The Ballena Yacht Club also houses the weekly farmer’s market. The veggies were great so we restocked the frig which made for many great meals. You know, we really haven’t touched much on cruiser cuisine. Well, cruiser’s love to eat and love to share meals. So, it’s common to have other cruisers over for dinner or to receive an invite to another boat. And the food is ALWAYS awesome! But…. stuff happens. The story goes like this: The Loonies arrived the following day and reported that they had the good fortune of catching 2 dorado. They offered the second fish to us and Slip Away. The plan was for Slip Away to clean the fish and for Carrie to make her now famous (to become infamous) Ceviche. Everyone, the crews from Hurrah, Sea Bird, Loons, Slip Away, were to meet on Terra Firma to enjoy Carrie’s ceviche. It turned out to be her best batch. Yum! But there was a price to pay. Later that evening, Carrie became ill and as we found out later all who consumed the ceviche were ill. Fortunately, it was short lived, but Carrie received a great deal of ribbing. She has since made ceviche without further incident. This event was announced throughout the fleet.
Every website update must have a sunset photo. This sunset is of the sun setting behind rain clouds taken from Isla San Lucas our next stop after Bahia Ballena.
Our final destination in the Gulfo De Nicoya was to be Puntarenas. This is the location to refuel, re-provision, live it up, and check out of Costa Rica for a planned voyage to Panama. But, we decided to make a few more stops in the gulf first. After leaving our mark in Bahia Ballena with Carrie’s ceviche we quickly and quietly departed for Isla San Lucas. Actually, we asked a few other boats to join us but they declined. Hummmm……. Then on to Playa Naranja, then finally Puntarenas.
Isla San Lucas is another very pretty little bay and home to a now closed prison. There are only a few caretakers left. The entrance to the prison is this pier. Terra Firma is anchored up in the far right corner of this picture. So you ask: Incarcerated on a beautiful tropical island. Sounds kinda nice to me. How do I sign up. Well, not all is as it appears! We behaved ourselves while there.
The caretakers on the island graciously allowed us to tour the old prison (well for a price). Inside we found the walls covered with some very interesting drawings, many too explicit for our g-rated website.
As the story goes, paints and other items necessary for expression were hard to come by. This bikini clad woman’s bikini was painted using blood.
Courtyard area of the old prison surrounded by the dormitories (cells?). Note the raised area with the hole in the center. More on this later.
If one misbehaved while in prison the punishment was to be placed down this hole for a few days or longer. What’s so bad about that you ask? Well, during every high tide the hole would fill half way up with sea water. No toilets and half immersed in sea water. Now you know why we behaved!
After the interesting but grim visit to the prison we needed something cheery. So we sailed a short distance to Playa Naranja. There is a small resort here that is cruiser friendly. Below we find our dinghy (the family truckster) tied to the resort’s pier. Terra Firma anchored off in the distance. We were the only boat there. SWEET…….
After a few enjoyable nights we finally sail into Puntarenas. Puntarenas is located in a river estuary. The Costa Rican Yacht Club is located a few miles up river. After picking up our mooring, relaxing with a cold beer Carrie screams: “Hey, something BIG is swimming up river. Get the camera. Well, as you can see salt water crocks are for real. This eight footer looked hungry. Wanna go for a swim?????
After playing with the crocks in Puntarenas, partying too much at the yacht club with the likes of Hurrah, Sea Bird, Loons, Sisiutl, Slip Away and many others it was time to explore other areas of Costa Rica. So we traded in our current zarpe for another internal zarpe. Zarpes are formal permission slips given by the Port Captain to cruise Costa Rican waters. The only reason we mention it is because it usually takes a full day and is generally a pain. We departed on the high tide so as to not go aground and sailed first to Isla Cedros for an overnight stay, then on to Bahia Leona. Again just overnight. Finally, we sailed out of the Gulfo De Nicoya and back into the Pacific Ocean headed for Drake’s bay. This time we were accompanied by The Loonies. This is about a 30 hour passage. We ended the first afternoon out with a beautiful spinnaker run. FUN! In the middle of the night we were chased by a large shrimper. We think he was bored. We arrived safely in Bahia Drake on December 23, 2006. Time to plan a Christmas celebration.
The Christmas Eve Party was held aboard Gary and Celeste’s spacious catamaran Sol Surfin’. The group includes the crews from Last Resort, Sol Surfin’, Slip Away, Loon III, Paladin, and of course Terra Firma. Everyone appears to be having a good time except for Rich (Slip Away) and Gary (sol Surfin). It appears we were keeping these old guys up to late.
Well, those guys woke up as soon as they heard that the food was ready. Here we find Pat the first to attack the table. We purposely chopped off his head because he was drooling. We told you cruisers could eat and eat well!
A gift exchange game was played after dinner. This game has been played by Celeste’s family for eons. Now it’s a tradition aboard Sol Surfin’. Terra Firma won a cool trivia game and explosives.
A view of the Golfito ‘skyline’, one of the wettest places in Costa Rica. It sure looked that way to us.
Sailing past Golfito ocean front housing on our way to our mooring.
Our final destination in Golfito. Land and Sea Moorings. The owners of Land and Sea, Tim and Katy are US expats that have settled in Golfito. Another one of those stories ; “we sailed in and just never left”. They do a great job of catering to the needs of the cruising community. The photo shows Paladin side tided in front of Land and Sea. We had a great New Year’s eve party at Land and Sea. Again, too much food and drink!
Land and Sea encourages all their customers to paint their boat name and/or logo on their walls. Carrie, the artistic one on Terra Firma painted the dancing bones along with our boat name. Pretty Cool! For those that don’t know, Terra Firma are huge Grateful Dead fans. The dancing bones are our tribute to them.
We don’t always want one, but we all have to have them. It was Carrie’s time!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY CARRIE! We celebrated at a Chinese restaurant with Slip Away, Last Resort and Barefoot. Is Rich (Slip Away) licking the frosting off the cake again?? Next update Panama.