Log #63k Nicaragua to Cost Rica

November 14, 2019 in Log Series 60-69, Logs by Series, Series 63, The Logs

Log #63k Nicaragua to Costa Rica

Quepos, Costa Rica

March 14, 2019

Hi Folks,

We are still here in Quepos, and will probably be here another week at least. The marina ordered the water pump last week. It was to be delivered to Miami and then to the marina here. However, on Monday (6 days after it was ordered) it still had not arrived in Miami! Time is flying and we may not be able to get down to Golfito but may have to leave Costa Rica from here. We have ordered a mirror cut to fit our heads bulkhead yesterday at 0900, and the co-operative chap said to come back about 4:00 pm. So back to the boat and returned at 4:00. Not ready, come next day at 4:00. OK, so Judy went in at 4:00 today and it was not ready yet. However, she stayed while he cut it to size, about a five-minute job.

We are getting quite frustrated with the situation here, including the public pier where we thought we could leave the dinghy while we went into town. One time we wanted to catch an early bus to the nearby national park. We arrived at the dock at 0520 to be told, no, we couldn’t leave it before 0600. Today when we went in to pick up the mirror we were told we could only leave the dinghy twice a week! This would restrict us to dropping Judy off at the dock or the sand bar and picking her up after a few hours in town. Aaarrgghh! Nothing is ever simple.

We thought we were lucky to be able to pick up the WiFi from the marina here at anchor. However, they changed their system and it is no longer available. So we will have to cart our laptops by dinghy in to a coffee house and use their WiFi.

At least I am getting caught up on my logs, and Judy is busy making a cover for the dinghy. The reconditioned fan we got from Eric on Shearwater a couple of weeks ago to replace our old one has stopped working and we will have to buy a new one in town, probably a 110 volt a/c fan as there are no chandleries which would have 12-volt fans. We have been looking for a solar light for the boat, but none of the hardware stores we have seen yet have had such.

However, the weather is hot (32° C) and sunny, and we can jump in the water to cool down any time. I have to watch my exposure to the sun as my shoulders and arms are sensitive. Judy is OK, a result of Mediterranean ancestry, as opposed to my northern European ancestry.

We are considering a trip inland while here if we can arrange a water taxi, as we could not leave the dinghy at the town dock overnight.



Log #63k Nicaragua to Costa Rica

Quepos, Costa Rica

March 11, 2019

 While in Puesta del Sol about 0400 one morning I happened to be up and saw the port red mast head light of sailboat out in the shallow bay, and went with a flashlight to signal the outer dock was available for its use. The boat went down a wrong channel and seemed to go aground. I got on the VHF radio and cautioned them about the shallows and encouraged them to come alongside the available outer dock. Instead, the boat dropped anchor and waited until daylight before coming in.

It was the Diamond Head, an American yawl with graceful classical lines, headed for the Caribbean with a young delivery crew (a skipper and two young women). The boat initially only wanted to refuel and continue to Costa Rica, but was informed no fuel could be given without entry formalities. So they had to come alongside and pay the higher initial fee ($1.25 per foot) to enter the country the first day, and then to complete the formalities to exit the country next day when the three of us (Veleda, Shearwater, and Taliesin Rose) had the officials back down for our exit formalities.

We weighed anchor at 0550 next morning before sunrise to make our way in the dim light of the approaching dawn (sunrise at 0625) out of the bay and down the coast for 140-mile passage to Bahia Santa Elena in Costa Rica. We were headed southeast motoring into light SE breezes until early afternoon when the wind shifted to the SW, and we hoisted the main and unfurled the genoa to motor sail for a half-hour when we realized we could actually sail without the engine on! We sailed in quiet harmony for a few hours before the speed dropped below three knots when we dropped the main and once again turned on the engine to motor sail with just a reefed genoa up for night sailing.

Dolphins at the bow

 We were visited a couple of times by pods of dolphins, always an enjoyable experience, especially when they come over to play around the boat.

We basically motored all night long, the light breezes not sufficient to give us any lift with the genoa. I love night passages in calm weather, even if we have to have the engine on. The sky is always clear down here off the coast of Central America, and the panoply of stars at night, especially before moonrise, is awesome. With our hard bimini, I cannot just look up at the sky but have to stick my head out the side, or as I frequently enjoy, I stand forward of the bimini just inside the open companionway so I can see half the celestial sphere. Sometimes I will turn off the navigation lights for a few minutes to allow my eyes to adjust to this spectacle above the undulating sea. If the sails are up, they reduce the available visibility somewhat but contribute their own pale ethereal curtains to the panorama.

The ink-black sea also has its own beauty, with the phosphorescence rippling from the bow waves, and periodic ghostly sheens of currents undulating over the surface, or the sparkling diamond white surf of breaking waves, or the silent stars reflected in the water, or the shimmering white path of the moon across the water, or the silent pale shadows of fish or dolphins as they swerve through the depths, or the Tinkerbell trail of sparks in the wake of the boat; all have their attractions at night.

By 0250 the wind picked up a bit, and Judy set the genoa to give us a bit of extra power as we continued to motor-sail. We furled the genoa just after sunrise at 0607 to motor into Bahia Santa Elena where we dropped anchor (10° 55.056′ N, 085° 47.302′ W) at 0658 after a 25-hour 140-mile passage. However as I was attempting to put Veleda in reverse to set the anchor, the gear did not want to engage, and I snapped off the gearshift lever. To set it in reverse I had to use a pair of slip lock pliers. 

As both Shearwater and Taliesin Rose also anchored in this bay, we had Eric from Shearwater come over to help with the transmission. No luck; it looked as if we needed a new transmission cable.

Santa Elena is inside Parque Nacional Santa Rosa and is in Costa Rica. A bit illegal as we had not checked into the country. We hoped we would not be queried by park or immigration officials for the one night we spent there. In the morning at about 0630, Judy took the dinghy ashore to try, unsuccessfully, to find the trails advertised in the park. We left at 0823 in the morning, as we had a weather window to avoid the Papagayos winds. Judy had to climb down into our port cockpit locker to put Veleda manually in gear before we could depart.

 The winds were already up to force 4 (11 to 16 knots), but from a good direction. We hoisted the main and the genoa for a fast broad reach as we angled around the cape and across Bahia Potrero Grande towards Playa del Coco. Each alteration we made to round the cape and cross the large bay was met with good winds allowing us to sail on a broad reach, close-hauled and finally on a full run, wing on wing with the genoa out loose-footed on one side and the main on the other. It was the best sailing we had all season. As we were accompanied by Taliesin Rose and Shearwater, we took pictures of the other boats under full sail. Taliesin Rose was a bit too far ahead of us, but we got some good shots of Shearwater (above with Vicki standing at the bow as a figurfigurehead

On a bit of a historical note, one of the points in a shallow bay inside Bahia Potrero Grande favoured by surfers is called Ollie’s Point. It is not named after a surfer dude but named after Col. Oliver North (U.S. Army) as this was the stretch where he landed smuggled supplies in support of the Contras in Nicaragua with hidden illegal funds from the Iran-Contra affair. Costa Rica was not involved in the situation except as an inadvertent landing spot for the arms, thanks to Ollie. Costa Rica has had NO MILITARY since 1948 and has instead plowed the extra funds into infrastructure (You can actually drink the water from the taps!), national parks and tourism (especially since the coffee market has slumped).

 We dropped the anchor in the wide Playa del Coco (10° 33.719′ N, 085° 41.633′ W), a popular beach area by 1610 (4:10 pm) after an energetic eight-hour passage. Taliesin Rose and Shearwater were nearby in this crowded anchorage. In the picture above, note the panga on the right with its bow out into the surf. Landing a dinghy on this beach was difficult due to the surf and long sandy beach on which the dinghy would have to be carried above the high tide line. More about Playa del Coco and down to Puntarenas in my next log.