Log #63o Tamarindo to Playa Curu, Costa Rica

November 15, 2019 in Logs by Series, Series 63, The Logs

Log #63o Tamarindo to Playa Curu, Costa Rica

Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada

July 5, 2019

Hi Folks,

It has been a long time since I sent out my last log of our travels in Central America. Mea Culpa! As you can see from the date I started this Log #63o on May 5, when we got back to Elliot Lake, I just today (July 5) completed it. Much has happened since May. We have just returned from a Holland American Cruise from Copenhagen to Norway, Iceland, Scotland and back to Copenhagen. As I said in my last covering letter of our plans: they were:

We have thus changed our plans, now intending to ship Veleda across from Mexico or Guatemala to the Gulf of Mexico or the Rio Dulce, and sail it up to Florida into the ICW in November or December. The next season in 2020-2021, we would return Veleda up the ICW to Ontario, bringing her up to Lake Huron and keeping her in the North Channel Yacht Club a half hour’s drive from Elliot Lake.

However, we found the cost for this would be double what we paid to ship Veleda from Texas to Washington State in 2010, so beyond our budget. Thus we are once again changing our plans; we will board Veleda in El Salvador in mid-December, sail her directly down to Panama, explore Panama’s Pacific coast, go through the Canal and then fairly directly to Jamaica. We would then be on a Go Home Run to get Veleda up to the Great Lakes and into our North Channel Yacht Club on Lake Huron some time in the summer (of 2020). I am surprised that Judy has acquiesced to this, as I thought I would have to get crew to help me sail Veleda down to the Panama Canal. I can’t think of a better crew member than Judy! We can go anywhere with Veleda!

This log has several pictures I think you will find of interest. Give me some feedback. Is the attachment too large for your system? More pictures or fewer?

Incidentally, do you want to buy a 1974 Grampian 30 sailboat? The one we have up here in the North Channel Yacht Club for sale, as I do not want to have two boats up here, and we prefer Veleda. If you know anyone interested, let me know.

All the best,



Log #63o Tamarindo to Playa Curu, Costa Rica

Elliot Lake, Ontario

May 5, 2019

 Feb. 10Th, we hunkered down now that we were back in Tamarindo, unwinding from the abortive attempt to leave only to be thwarted by the howling winds of the Papagayos. Later that afternoon we saw the crew of large steel ketch Millenium, on their bow raising the anchor. Were they leaving in this heavy weather? It seemed to take forever for them to get off, but they just seemed to relocate a bit further out. We couldn’t understand what they were doing. We were just content to stay put, and hope our anchor would not drag.

We were surprised to see some of the larger catamarans taking tourists out for an afternoon’s sail in this heavy weather. The tourists were brought out to the moored boats in pangas. Getting from the pangas into the catamarans must have been a tricky and dangerous manoeuvre. We noted that the pangas when loading the tourists from the beach would rotate stern first to the shore, with the outboard motor lifted and bow held out into the waves by a crew member up to his waist in the water. The passengers waded out, up to their knees in the water, to unceremoniously clamber aboard to be taken out to the waiting catamaran. We also noted they were not wearing life jackets. I guess they must be accustomed to this heavy weather.

 Next day the winds again were tantalizingly down to only 15 to 20 knots, but we were staying put. In the afternoon we needed some supplies, and so I took Judy ashore. The intent was to go in close to shore for Judy to hop out before we grounded, and I would back off and collect her later. However the waves were too high, and as I got closer to shore they were massive, threatening to swamp the dinghy. I yelled at Judy not to try to hop out and swiftly altered into a four-foot wave about to crest over us. The bow rose up into the frothing crest threatening to pitch us over backwards (the opposite to a pitchpole capsize) then pounded down into the following trough. Enough! I was not going to try to land Judy through this stuff. One of the pangas was coming in to shore, and we asked if Judy could board it and go into shore with it. OK, they helped her into their panga and proceeded ashore rotating the bow outwards allowing the passengers including Judy to hop out. I wasn’t sure how I would retrieve her when she called me on our portable VHF radio.

On my way back to Veleda I went out to Millenium to be invited aboard by Mark. After a beer, he showed me through the boat which had been originally launched in 2000 (thus the name Millenium) and registered in the Isle of Man (thus the Manx flag). Mark is South African and was awaiting crew. When I asked why they re-anchored the previous day, he said they dragged their anchor in the heavy winds and had to re-anchor. Wow! If a heavy boat such as his dragged in those strong winds, we were fortunate that we didn’t drag.

Judy returned to Veleda in another panga rather than call me to pick her up. We then went over to Millenium again to enjoy refreshments with their new crew. They planned to do a Pacific crossing in the next few days when the weather settled down. We were invited to join them for the crossing or later when they were over in Tahiti. Thanks, but no thanks; we have our own plans for sailing the next few years.

The winds seemed to settle down that afternoon, and we had a good weather forecast for next day. At 0600 the wind had died right down and so we left, motoring out into a light force 1 breeze. The winds were light all day. A couple of times we flew the genoa to motor sail for short periods of time, but most of our 40-mile passage was straight motoring. I caught an 18 inch mackerel that Judy had a hard time cleaning. It was dark meat that we did not like and had only one meal of it and threw the remainder out a few days later.

Even though the engine was on, the alternator was not charging, and our batteries were running low having drained to -132 amp hours. At -144 amp-hours the batteries are half discharged, and I do not want them to go below that level. So I brought up the Honda generator and started it up to charge the batteries while we were still under weigh. More alternator problems!

 In the late afternoon we anchored in Bahia Samara (09° 52.012” N, 085° 30.727” W) for the night only to leave at 0600 next morning for another long 48-mile passage to Bahia Bellena. This time I caught a nice 20” tuna, a more flavourful fish for us.

In Bahia Bellena (09° 43.188′ N, 085° 00.605′ W) we met up with Jane and Evan on Chantey. We last saw them last spring (2018) in Barra de Navidad where we left Veleda for the summer. Their boat is registered in Ipswitch, England, an area we sailed in 1999. The area has a special meaning for us, not only as we sailed there, but as it is the location for one of Arthur Ransome’s books, We Didn’t Mean to go to Sea. This series is one of the reasons Judy was attracted to sailing as it was about some children in the lake country of England who had sailing adventures, including this book in which they were swept out to sea from the Orwell River. These were some of the first books Judy read when she first learned to read at the age of four.

Next morning we dinghied two miles across the bay near high water to enter the un-named river, over its shallow bar to quietly dinghy a few miles upstream, enjoying the mangrove-lined banks and the birdlife. Judy saw 14 species of birds, including a first sighting of a Plumbaceous Kite. Below is a picture of a Whimbrel in the mangroves, and a floral bloom on the tranquil water in one of the side channels. Happiness is meandering up a tropical river! (and drifting down in the ebb tide)


We left early next day at 0545 (sunrise wasn’t until 0558) to motor 8.6 nautical miles over to Playa Curu, where we anchored (09 57.386′ N, 084 55.226′ W) near Chantey. The main purpose of anchoring here was to see the wildlife preserve dedicated to natural tropical forest and a splotch of agriculture (a banana plantation). It claims to have over 230 species of birds and numerous monkeys. We took Jane and Evan ashore to the long wide beach with us in our dinghy near high tide to tour the park. There was a small charge of $10.00 each. Most of the other visitors to the park, while we were there, had come by car.

We wandered through enjoying the tropical foliage, birds, deer, iguanas, and monkeys. Judy spotted 14 species including two new sightings (a Barred Antshrike and a Cocoa Woodcreeper). I didn’t get a picture of any of them but got a few others as shown below.


Iguanas in the park

Capuchin Monkey

                                                                   White-Tailed Deer

Jane and Evan had packed a lunch which we shared at a picnic table just inside the mangrove-lined beach. We liked the shade as it was a hot day. To entertain us we had a group of scavenging racoons, some of whom came right up to the table and put their paws on the bench beside us seeking a handout.


They were cute critters.

We enjoyed Jane and Evan’s company. In this picture they are with Judy checking out a small stream from a suspension bridge. Evan has an electrical background and offered to help us with the alternator problem before we left Playa Curu. Speaking of leaving, getting off the beach was another problem. When we emerged from the mangroves after lunch to go down the beach where our dinghy was located, we found it was now over 50 metres from the water, as it was low tide; when we arrived in the morning we had to drag it above the high tide level. Lots of fun to drag it across the sandy beach to the water’s edge! 

Even though there were four of us it would be a very heavy task. We thought about getting a couple of logs to roll the boat over the sand, but even then it would be backbreaking work. I saw a tractor by the work shed and thought it would be convenient (essential!!) if we could get a worker to tow the dinghy down to the water’s edge for us. When I enquired of one of the workers (he spoke minimal English and I have minimal Spanish, but he got the idea), he asked me to wait a minute and left. Then he and another chap came over with a four by four ATV, hooked up the dinghy painter and towed it to the waterline for us. They refused any offer or gratuity but just wished us well.

Towing the dinghy

 (Veleda and Chantey at anchor in the bay)

On a side note, another small cruise ship came into the bay, Le Champlain, which we next saw four months later, in June up in Iceland when we were on a Holland America Line cruise ship touring Norway, Iceland and Scotland.) That means this ship went from the tropics of Pacific coast of Central America to the Arctic Circle of the North Atlantic in a four month repositioning cruise..