Playa del Coco, Costa Rica

Wednesday July 2, 2008

The last few days weīve been scouting out outboard repair places with no joy. Finally yesterday we ran into an expat American guy who, after regaling us about his epic sailing voyage to Australia, told us the only place to get parts was in San Jose. So today we contacted the business in San Jose and they are sending the repair kit by bus tomorrow. Robin figures he needs a carburettor rebuild kit. Crossing our fingers that this does the trick. Tao 8 still havenīt left San Juan del Sur as Angie has fallen sick so it may be a while before they get here. Hopefully we will have it fixed before they arrive. Anyway we ran around sending bank drafts, faxing proof of payment and the order to San Jose, grabbed some more provisions for the boat and really thatīs about all weīve accomplished. Each day Robin does a bit more work on the dinghy engine, and the days disappear quickly.

Thursday July 3, 2008

We went ashore around midday to find out what time the bus arrives from San Jose only to learn it doesnīt arrive until 7pm tonight. Guess weīll be collecting the package early tomorrow morning. We still havenīt managed to get the propane filled as even here in Coco they want to swap our gas tank and we wonīt part with our original ones. We know for certain they donīt leak and they have special safety valves in them. Hopefully we wonīt run out of propane before we find somewhere to get the bottles refilled. Every afternoon a thunderstorm rolls into the anchorage and today it was magnificient. The lightening and thunder was so loud, situated right above us, and it made your hair curl. All portable electrical goods went in the oven in case we got fried by a bolt of lightning but we came through it all just fine. Robin is still wincing everytime he thinks about it though. The thunder and lightening in addition to the semi-regular heavy downpour, is usually preceeded by a wind front of 20knots which makes getting off the beach quite a challenge so we tend to go ashore early to mid-morning and try to be back on the boat in the early afternoon. Washing day is another challenge. All the washing gets hung on the rails to dry but the weather is so humid you really have to pick your wash day carefully or you end up with damp clothes that you just canīt get dry and which end up smelling dank and musty. Sailing is such fun!

Friday July 4, 2008

This morning we went ashore very early and picked up the outboard parts. Michelle waited at the dinghy so that we didnīt have to drag it all the way up the beach as the tide was extremely low, the beach extremely steep and the dinghy extremely heavy. Robin was back in 20 minutes with the package in hand. It literally fit inside half the palm of his hand. So much fuss and bother for such a little item. Back to the boat he began work right away and just before dark he pulled the start cord and bingo the engine ran. We shut it down and went ashore to celebrate. We found a local restaurant which served up two wonderful and quite different seafood dishes and we just finished dinner in time for a massive downpour to escort us back to the boat. Drenched again but the dinner was definitely worth it!

Saturday July 5, 2008

Robin arose early this morning (a rare occurence) and first thing he did was pull the starter cord for the dinghy and guess what? You guessed it.. no go. He groaned. He moaned. He groaned some more. He said I give up. I have no clue whatīs wrong with the damn thing and he went back to bed and sulked for an hour. Finally after Michelle had mollified him somewhatly with breakfast in bed he crawled out and started fiddling with the motor again and finally he found a fault in the off switch in the handle. It had a little bit of corrosion and a 10th of a drop of funny orange blanc mange type stuff so he cleaned that all up and bingo. Engine started without a hitch. All that time working on the carburettor and it turned out to be a fault in the offswitch. It had nothing to do with water in the fuel or the carburettor which heīd worked on for 2 weeks. We just had to laugh. So finally the engine goes back on the dinghy tomorrow and into the water for a test run to make sure it really is fine. Guess weīd best not count our chickens yet.

Sunday July 6, 2008

Finally the red tide has cleared today and we feel we can go swimming off the boat again. We continue to have rain almost every day although yesterday we had the most amazing convection come overhead with plenty of wind, lightening and thunder but it didnīt let loose a drop on us. We thought we were in for quite the downpour. Today the dinghy went back into the water and Robin took it for a few test runs. It ran like a dream. Just like our old faithful engine again. You can imagine how ecstatic we are to have it back in operation.

Monday July 7, 2008

We were debating on whether or not to leave today and head back to Potrero but it looks like Tao 8 will be here on Wednesday so we have decided to hang around for another few days to catch up with them since theyīre so close. Robin began work on patching the dinghy today which has had a slow leak in it for the last couple of weeks. Actually it turns out it has 2 slow leaks. The front tow handle had also worn through along with the two side lifting rings. Then there is the seat lugs on both sides which need repairing. It seems our dinghy is requiring some TLC. First job will be to repair the front towing bridle which needs to be glued and then sewn to make it strong enough. That should keep us out of trouble and off the streets for the next couple of days.

Wednesday July 9th, 2008

Yesterday Michelle got the washing done and dried, and Robin did some more patchwork on the dinghy. We finally braved going ashore late last night after the daily thunderstorm had passed and took dinner at the locals end of the beach at a local cantina. There wasnīt a gringo in sight. Tao 8 arrived today and we were so happy to see them. They arrived just in time for the regular afternoon downpour and after it had blown over they hopped over on Warrior for a late afternoon get together and we caught up on all the goss. Larry and Angie are always so full of great stories and interesting news. Itīs always wonderful to catch up with them. We were all so starved for company we basically talked non-stop for hours. Before we knew it it was 11pm and well and truly past our bedtime.

Thursday July 10, 2008

Itīs amazing to see the mussels that have grown along the waterline of the boat. Just sitting still for the last couple of weeks has played havoc on our hull again. Michelle got in a scraped off everything that looked remotely alive and sponged the bottom paint down to about 3feet below the water line. It looks pretty until you dive under and see the other 7 feet below the water line that needs to be cleaned. We ferried Larry and Angie ashore this morning as it was a bit far for them to row and we had chores to do ashore anyway. Larry conveniently had a copy of the Mercury Outboard repair manual and we wanted to get a fair chunk of it photocopied. While at the photocopy shop, Michelle jumped on the computer quickly to check email and received the news that Robinīs brother Glenn had passed away. That was a wee bit of a shock and thus we were a wee bit glum until we could phone home. The phone lines in Costa Rica decided not to cooperate fully which made things difficult but we finally got hold of some of the family and said weīd try again tomorrow. Itīs certainly tough being so far from home and in the middle of nowhere and more or less out of touch.

We ferried Larry and Angie back to their boat and they kindly invited us aboard for drinks and dinner figuring we wouldnīt really feel like cooking for ourselves tonight. Thanks to the both of you, we really appreciate all you did for us, not to mention all the ship to ship emails over the SSB to help us figure out the dinghy problem.

Friday July 11, 2008

We have another boat in the anchorage this morning, David a single hander from Canada, although heīs originally from Germany. He jumped in the water and swam over to us while Larry had come over to show us his new beaut diveyak, a sturdy kayak that divers use which can port tanks and dive gear. We were truly impressed by it and are going to look into getting a couple if they still make them. We all decided, as this would be our last night in Coco, to gather on Warrior later tonight for snacks. Robin took David ashore since he didnīt have a dinghy and Robin needed to phone home again to Australia anyway so it wasnīt a problem. The rain arrived early today before they actually went ashore and we were beginning to wonder if it was going to have to be executed entirely in the rain but finally it cleared and that was it for the evening. We all spent a pleasant night on the boat, David regaling us with various stories and the fact that heīd sailed down the coast managing somehow to skirt three hurricanes in the process which he didnīt even know where there. We just canīt figure how these people can sail without knowing the weather, especially in hurricane alley. Makes no sense.

Potrero, Costa Rica

Saturday July 12, 2008

We up anchored around 9am this morning and slowly bobbed our way out of the bay in about 5knots of wind. Took us almost 5hours to sail the 15nm back to Potrero but it was a nice day and a nice enough sail. For the third time we threaded our way between the peninsula and Brumel Island and it was still as spectacular a sight as the first time. Scattered Lava Rock spires and small islets make for a very picturesque part of the Costa Rican Coast. We arrived back in Potrero, dropped the anchor in the same place as last time, loaded the loaned outboard motor in the dinghy and it immediately poured with rain. We had to wait an hour and a half for the shower to pass by before we could get ashore. Robin ran up to Claudieīs office to check where the outboard needed to go and it turns out we were to offload it on a catamaran anchored out in the bay. That was easy enough. We deposited said motor then returned to the beach and wandered up to the pizza bar below the travel agency and Michelle and Claudia sat and had a couple of drinks while Robin phoned home to Australia again. Claudia also informed us sheīd managed to get time off work and therefore could come sailing with us for the next five days which was great news. So we will have company as of Monday for the trip down the coast. Robin ran to the ATM machine and came back with his tail between his legs. He was a bit slow putting his money away in his wallet and finally the ATM machine figured heīd wandered off without taking his card so the card was promptly swallowed back inside the machine. He then proceeded to fret for the next hour as to how to get it back without it taking a week. Michelle tried to convince him all would be alright but he managed to worry and fret about it for the next two days. Tonight we went back to Karaoke and caught up with Mark and Isabel. We thanked them profusely for loaning us their outboard for the last two weeks, and letting us cart it off to Playa del Coco. Amazing trust those people had. Weīre not sure we could be that trusting to strangers. We finally managed to pay them for the jerry can of fuel they had bought us and somehow they managed to buy us a round of drinks before escaping. We never seemed to be able to outgive those wonderful people. May they have many blessings in life. Mark and Isabel had also saved for us the article that had appeared in this weeks local newspaper about us. We had already received a copy from Claudia earlier this afternoon and had eagerly devoured it. Iīm not sure how Ralph managed it but it actually sounded reasonable. We will get a copy of it posted under the who are we section of the website for you all to read. So now weīre famous. We were walking around Flamingo earlier today when a guy stopped and says, I know you two. I read all about you in the newspaper. Then at Karaoke we met another guy that said, yeah I know all about you two, I read the newspaper. These people must be seriously starved for news and we are instant celebrities. Itīs definitely time to leave. Too many people know us. Anyway thanks Ralph for introducing us to your community.

Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Monday July 14, 2008

Claudia arrived on the dot of 8:30am. Just as Robin and Claudia were about to head to the bank to recover one missing ATM card, Mark arrived and they grabbed a lift. They were back at the dinghy in no time, one ATM card recovered with zero difficulty. It was waiting for Robin on a bank desk. We said our last goodbyes to Mark who was working on his panga on the beach and headed back to prepare Warrior for sailing today. Claudia was so excited she was a delight to watch. We diddled around for the next hour or so and finally got underway around 11:00am. We had a fairly reasonable sail down the coast towards Tamarindo, although it was a wee bit of a challenge trying to sail around Cabo Velas. The wind always seems to want to suck you into a point making life difficult. We were a little trepidous about anchoring in Bahia Tamarindo because of the numerous reefs in the vacinity, one guide book keeping mute about it entirely, the other giving dire warnings about how difficult it was. We got there, established our bearings and found it not all that difficult to negotiate the reefs and channel into the anchorage. Low tide definitely helped in that it defined where most of the problem areas were. We dropped the hook and sat back admiring the spectacular sunset out over Isla Capitan and the very rocky reef off its northern end. Storm clouds make for wonderful sunsets. We noted the local sportsfishing boats using the small channel between Isla Capitan and Wreck Point, the southernmost tip of the bay. The charts said that there were often breakers there and we had no idea of the depth so we vetoed the idea of exiting that way in the morning. If weīd been at all serious we would have tossed the dinghy in the water and got out the trusty handheld depthsounder but we figured we would exit the same way we entered since weīd hit nothing on the way in and felt fairly confident retracing our steps. Claudia had cooked a pork gulash for dinner so Michelle got the night off from cooking. What a treat!


Bahia Carillo, Costa Rica

Tuesday July 15, 2008

We got underway at dawn this morning as we had 35nm to travel today and needed to be in the anchorage fairly early in the afternoon if possible to avoid the worst of thunderstorms. We alternately sailed and motored down the coast in light variable winds, Robin fairly frustrated at not being able to do any sort of decent sailing. Rounding Punta Guiones was another one of those challenging points where the wind is variable and sucking you in so you have to tack back and forth to gain ground but otherwise all went well. We arrived into Bahia Carillo and found a spot to anchor in the very rolly anchorage. Swells were breaking magnificiently on the reef outside. Tonight was not definitely not going to be all that serene. We more or less knew that this anchorage was going to be rolly as it faces directly into the sourthern swell, which is predominant during the middle months of the year. The reef juts out from the westernmost arm of the bay almost to the middle, otherwise it was a pretty straight foreward entrance. The bay itself is lovely, although the water wasnīt super clean. We are finding the further we progress towards the Gulfo de Nicoya the more polluted7muddy the water. Sadly it seems many people makes for much mess. Anyway we had a picturesque, if rolly, anchorage, a sandy beach, although blackish sand, borders the entire bay along with a spectacular avenue of royal palms. Numerous white buildings belonging to Hotel Guanamar sprawl along the hilltop on the southeasternmost part of the bay. They apparently welcome yachties so we are going to spend the day tomorrow at the resort on the hilltop.

Wednesday July 16, 2008

We got going kind of slow this morning, Robin cooking the girls breakfast which they enjoyed in bed. Talk about spoilt. We headed into shore around 11am and up to the resort which provided a panoramic view of the entire bay with Warrior at anchor. Naturally we had to snap a shot of the photographic old gal. We enjoyed the afternoon, lunching, swimming and finally grabbed a few provisions from the local store before heading back to hang out on the boat. It was still as rolly as hell on the boat but at times we managed to point into the waves which proved not too bad. It could have been way worse it weīd been side on to the swell. It will be nice however to get to a quiet anchorage for a while. We enjoyed the twilight evening watching yet another rain squall pass us by then turned in early so as to be up for a dawn departure in the morning.

Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica

Thursday July 17, 2008

Claudia put in her order for the day: Dolfins, then whales, a few turtles and fresh fish for dinner please. Michelle laughed and said well, dolfins quite possibly, Whales nah uh, turtles are scarce but doable, fresh fish /sigh we havenīt seen one for eons. Wouldnīt you know it. She got the turtles, dolfins and 2 breaching whales. Talk about blessed. However we still didnīt catch a fish. Guess 3 out of 4 ainīt bad. The sailing today was almost non existent except for the run up to Ballena once weīd turned the corner at Punta Blanca, the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula which marks the western entrance into the Gulf of Nicoya. Bahia Ballena is located 12nm northeast of this point and the wind finally arrived from the east and stayed constant for at least 10 of those miles. Ballena also had a detached reef off Punta Piedra Amarilla which needed a safe clearance otherwise the entrance into the bay was straightforeward. We dropped the sails and motored slowly over to anchor just northeast of the fishing pier. Weīd finally arrived at a place which wasnīt in the slightest touristy, a large group of local Ticos fishing off the pier, and a fishing co-op business in full swing. It was a busy social place for the locals. Landing on the stairs of the concrete dock was quite a challenge as there was still quite a swell entering the bay but we managed to crawl ashore, and Robin finally managed to secure the dingy in such a way that it wouldnīt get caught under the concrete stairs if the tide rose while we were ashore. We located the local establishment, aptly named the Ballena Yacht Club. Well there were numerous pangas and a couple of small sportfishing boats moored off the cement pier, and one very tiny yacht which seemed like it was in residence so I guess yacht club was applicable. We sat down to a wonderful meal and a few drinks and then decided to thrash each other at 8ball. Michelle managed to lose every game by going in off the black ball. Robin one most of the games, Claudia one a couple. It was a fun way to spend the evening.

Friday July 18, 2008

Today we really wanted to go snorkelling. That was the plan. Of course we woke up to rain. More rain. A dreary overcast sky and then more rain. We looked at the water and it was chocolate brown. Guess weīre not snorkelling folks. We finally got ashore in the late afternoon and managed to climb the concrete steps of the pier without killing ourselves. It really was quite challenging to land in the surging water and it took Robin about 20mins to secure the dinghy in such a way it wouldnīt wreck either itself or the other pangas nearby. We hiked around the water front along a sandy/muddy track to the main village where we found a small supermarket that was surprisingly well stocked in all but meat and even then you could get basics and probably more on certain days. We didnīt enquire as we didnīt need a whole lot. On the walk back, Claudia pointed out the flowering teak trees which were around one property. Teak plantations are still productive in Costa Rica on the penisula in particular. Pity Robin doesnīt want to do a teak floor in the boat. Too common he says! We took our supplies back to the boat then decided to spend another night at the "yacht club". Michelle still didnīt win one game of 8 ball. In off the black seems to be her shot du jour. We were back on the boat by 8pm and sat out enjoying the rest of Claudiaīs last evening with us.

Saturday July 19, 2008

Robin took Claudia ashore at some ungodly hour of the morning this morning and then came back to the boat and slept till midday. Guess the girls wore him out. We hung out on the boat today doing the odd chore and tidying things, cooked dinner and did some reading on what we wanted to explore around the Gulf of Nicoya. I doubt weīll be seeing an internet connection for quite a while as none of the islands or small villages on the penisula side of the gulf have internet. Weīll eventually get the logs posted somewhere.

Isla Tortugas, Costa Rica

Monday July 21, 2008

We decided to start exploring the Gulf of Nicoya Islands today. There are several groups scattered off the eastern shore of the penisula and although some forbid access because they have been classified as biological reserves, others readily allow you to anchor and explore ashore. Our first stop today would be 5 miles north, Islas Tortugas, named for their once prolific turtle population. Alas we saw no sight of any today. The two main islands of the group are Isla Tolinga which we anchored off, and Isla Alcatraz. Breakers entering between the islands pointed out the large shoal area, a definite no go zone. The area was quite busy due to turist boats so we temporarily anchored off the steep beach and waited for most to depart, around 4pm. The water here although slightly clearer was still not good enough to snorkel in. Once most of the day boats had cleared out we relocated to the anchor spot pointed out by Charlie in his cruising guide. It was difficult to find enough of a ledge to anchor in as the water went from 60feet to 18feet in just a few boat lenghts. We thought weīd gotten it right anchoring in 37feet of water but this would prove wrong around 11pm tonight when we found ourselves sitting on the bottom. We jumped out of bed and spent the next hour trying to kedge ourselves off and finally managed to work our way out into deeper water. Michelle insisted on anchoring in 60feet of water after that and kept a close eye on the anchor for the rest of the night. Ah the joys of cruising. We shouldnīt have relied on the crusing guide and rarely do. If it werenīt for the worn out parts of the dinghy used for hoisting it on and off the deck we would have checked it ourselves. The dinghy will just have to take the hit from now on as we canīt afford to do that too often.

Isla Cedros, Costa Rica

Tuesday July 22,2008

We went ashore at Tortugas quickly this morning but you canīt wander far from the beach area and there is no refreshments to be bought as all the tourists come via prepaid all inclusive packages which require no money to be transferred once there. Oh well.After last nights episode we decided to move 4 miles further north to the next group of islands which allowed anchoring. We navigated our way through the very tiny pass between the penisula and Islas Negritos, which is a Bioligical Reserve. You can dinghy back and visit this island with permission but youīre not allowed to anchor here. We wended our way around the north shore of Isla Cedros and then entered the channel separating Isla Cedros from isla Jesusita. OMG out of the swell at last. It was flat calm, very peaceful, the only sounds a few pangas going by. We found a nice hole to anchor in which was 27 feet deep with enough swing room at low tide to keep us out of any shallows. There is habitation on these islands but you are hard pressed to see it. The dense foliage comes right down to the waters edge hiding any sign of habitation. We discovered there is also a school on Isla Cedros, a small local village school and fathers deliver and collect their kids to/from school via panga. The islands were inundated with flowering teak trees and dozens of parrots flew overhead each evening, chattering at the tops of their voices.

Wednesday July 23, 2008

We dinghied over to the peninsula this morning, more or less straight south of Isla Jesusita. There one can catch the ferry to Puntarenas and there are a couple of eating places and a touristy type shop. We caught a taxi into the main village of Paquera, a 5km trip on a very windy road, as we needed to do a bit of grocery shopping. We arrived to find a team of well-matched oxen hauling a wooden cart down the main thoroughfare, not flinching in the slightest at the traffic having to negotiate around them. A slight flick of the switch stick and a word or two directed at the beast on the right controlled the entire enterprise and they stopped, started and turned corners with very little difficulty. We could have watched them for hours but we needed to get our business done. Leaving the dinghy on the shores of Costa Rica is a huge gamble. You never know if youīre going to come back to find it or the outboard motor gone. We found a place to gobble down some lunch, Robin eating beef tongue done in a spicy sauce, and then headed to the meat shop and grocery shop for supplies. We hailed a taxi and arrived back at the dinghy to find it safe and sound. Phew!

Thursday July 24, 2008

We decided to hop over to Puntarenas by ferry today as we really needed to fill a propane tank. We were down to one and even it must be cooking on fumes. We should have taken both but of course we werenīt thinking and just took one. We chained the dinghy up at our previous spot yesterday and said a prayer or two that it would survive until we got back. The ferry is enormous, capable of carrying huge trucks and many cars. One flatbead truck carrying an enormous pile of bricks boarded on the trip back from Puntarenas, a phenomenal load in itself without everything else that came aboard. The passengers use the two top decks on the crossing which takes roughly one hour. The thrum of the engines can be heard for many miles across the bay and we often awoke at 4:30am and said there goes the ferry as the throbbing hum echoed across the water.

Puntarenas is an historic area although itīs almost completely devoid of historic buildings or monuments to denote this. Itīs only the guidebooks that fill you in on the history of the place. Apparently the Spaniards in 1517 established their first outpost in this area, although just three years later the settlement was relocated to Nicaragua. Nothing much happened around here till the 1700s when the advent of coffee changed the face of the entire area and Puntarenas became a comercial port. One wonders how when itīs so shallow and other areas along the bay would have been far more suited. Puntarenas itself is a narrow spit of land the pokes out from the eastern shore of the mainland into the middle of the Gulf of Nicoya and is only a block or two wide at its narrowest point. There is a lagoon behind the sand spit where fishing and cruising boats can navigate a very narrow and very shallow channel but we opted not to attempt it for now. Looking across the lagoon from the ferry, we couldnīt see one channel marker, and the one that was supposed to be on the point off the sandspit isnīt even there anymore.

The ferry dropped us at the very end of the sandspit and we walked out of the terminal where a friendly local taxi driver saw us porting a gas bottle and immediately said itīs 10km to get the bottle filled. We groaned and wondered whether or not to believe him when he opened the boot (trunk) and showed us that he also runs on LPG. So we bit the bullet and hopped in and were driven along the entire length of the spit and around towards the south more or less following the beach. Then we turned off onto a very hard to navigate dirt road on account of all the recent rains and finally arrived at the LPG plant. They locate these plants way outside urban areas on account of the danger. Guess itīs a good idea other than itīs slightly inconvenient to get there. 10mins later the tank was filled and we were on our way back into town. Total cost to refill one LPG can of gas: 50 dollars. Most expensive gas ever but we were desperate and desperation leaves you fewer choices.

We had the taxi driver drop us off at the yacht club which was at the opposite end of the sandspit to the ferry terminal. As luck would have it the manager wasnīt there so we couldnīt ply him with questions about the haulout facility but we looked around and noted that it was a pretty small 10 tonne crane and way more trouble than it was worth to navigate the boat through the lagoon to the haulout facility. So we have totally given up the idea (if we ever really had one) of doing a haulout in Costa Rica. We will aim for getting it done in Panama. After lunching at the yacht club we hailed a taxi and headed back into town to grab a few more groceries then we hiked the 2km back to the ferry terminal. We arrived back at the Paquera ferry dock to find our dinghy still there and whispered silent thanks to whatever guardian angel was looking after it.

Sitting out on the boat cooling off after our epic trek today we had a local paddle across in his canoe and ask if weīd buy two of the tiniest frozen lobsters weīd ever seen for 4,000 colones or about 8 dollars. Robin just couldnīt do it but we asked him if he had any fish and he said heīd be right back and returned with two frozen fish which we succumbed to. Hopefully they will be edible.

Isla Gitana/Muertos, Costa Rica

Friday July 25, 2008

Robin got up early this morning and cooked fish for breakfast which we had thawed out overnight and it was surprisingly good. We havenīt eaten frozen fish for so long we were really dubious about it being any good. Weīre becoming fish snobs! After breakfast Robin did a shore run to pick up one jerry can of diesel and one of dinghy fuel. It was another quick taxi ride into the outskirts of Paquera and back. As he was tying up the dinghy to our faithful spot an old guy sauntered past and shook his finger and his head at Robin and said donīt leave it there, it or the outboard will get stolen. Robin showed him the big chain and locks we had on it and the guy shook his head sadly again and mimed the action of bolt cutters. He had no choice as we really needed dinghy fuel so he took yet one last gamble that it would be there for the 20 mins needed to catch a taxi there and back. Again we were lucky and it was still there on returning. However we were lucky enough to escape all theft. As he was returning to the boat he noticed the strobe light which is attached to both the life ring and the man overboard poled, lying in the water and thought, "thatīs odd, maybe someone tried to steal it". Anyway he got the dinghy back on board then walked around to put the strobe light back in itīs holder and the bastards had actually pried the light out of the canister. Ticos always blame the Nicaraguans for stealing and giving them a bad name but this is such a sheltered spot tucked out of the way with only local fisherman coming past, itīs sad to think that they would actually take safety equipment. So after that our quiet anchorage didnīt seem appealing anymore and we upanchored and headed further north.

We motored out of the bay, there being not a breath of wind, and headed towards Islas Pajaros which we needed to bypass to the north. We decided to see if we could get into the protected anchorage between Isla Muertos (aka Isla Gitana) and the mainland penisula. The entire bay is inside the 10fathom line but since the charts have been wrong before we figured weīd go check it out. We managed to edge our way slowly into the bay until we were just opposite the gap between Isla Meurtos and Isla Patricia. The depth here at low tide registered 12 feet and thatīs as low as we could comfortably go. Both the guides of the area mentioned you could anchor in 18feet of water but we never found it. Maybe the area has silted up since the guides were written. We felt a little exposed if the wind came directly from the east as wide expanse of water could kick up quite a fetch but we would be totally sheltered if the wind came from any other direction. Fortunately for most of the time we were here the wind came directly from the Southwest or West. It was a pretty bay again surrounding by lush verdant mountains cascading down to the waters edge. Isla Muertos was named for the cemetary found on the island but the locals call it Isla Gitana (Gypsy Island). At low tide you can walk around the entire island. Once upon a time there was a palapa type bar but it has now totally collapsed and the cabana-style bar bears witness to the many cruisers who came by here and carved their names and left mementos of their visit. There is supposed to be a resort on the mainland penisula which we will track down tomorrow, although there is no sign of it from the beach. It is certainly well hidden if itīs still there.

Saturday July 26, 2008

Our one interesting piece of gossip for today is a trip ashore to locate the resort that was sposed to be opposite Isla Gitana. At first we couldnīt find it and finally asked some local fisherman and they pointed the way. We beached the dinghy, chained it to a tree and wandered through the grounds of a very soggy property to be met by a gentlemen of Octogenerian years who was the owner of said resort. George Perrochet has owned the property for over 20 years and his manager has been with him for the last 13 years. Sadly he had just sold the resort, which was fairly run down, and they were in the process of packing up. However they still had a skeleton crew and he was able to provide us with lunch and both he and his manager dined with us and both shared their history of sailing, ending up in Costa Rica, running the resort, Georgeīs former life as a lawyer (please donīt hold it against him he says) and many other interesting tidbits. We spent a lovely afternoon, took a shower under the most amazing water pressure weīd enjoyed in eons, and borrowed a couple of DVDs for tonights entertainment. It is a shame they will no longer be here for future cruisers visiting the area and Iīm sure their hospitality will be sorely missed.

Isla San Lucas, Costa Rica

Sunday July 27, 2008

Robin went ashore around 9am to return the DVDs and exchange a couple of books and while pulling the dinghy up the shore (he didnīt put the wheels down and took the full weight of it - when will he learn?) did his back in again. Michelle wants to smack him but it wonīt do any good. Low tide would be 3:30pm this afternoon and as we didnīt want to fight the outgoing current and rips we waited until 2pm before upanchoring to head 8 miles further north into the Gulf to the next island of San Lucas.

We had a lovely afternoon sail, with just enough wind to keep the jib full. The only thing we really miss in this very pretty area of the gulf is clean water. The constant rain keeps the water muddy and thus snorkelling is impossible. We arrived at the very protected bay on the western side of the island and settled in to 15feet of water at low tide. There is an old prison on this island which we hope to explore and a fishfarm which seems to be a joint operation between the Taiwanese and Costa Ricans. Attached to the fish farm is a floating restaurant which prepares crispy fried Pago (Red Snapper). We shall have to investigate tomorrow. Michelle cooked dinner tonight and we sat out under the canopy watching a spectacular sunset through the storm clouds. Looks like the rain is going to miss us tonight, skirting to the North.

Tuesday July 29, 2008

We spent the last couple of days doing some chores, Robin working on the dinghy again, Michelle planning our proposed itinerary through the Pacific Islands and trying to work out what time to leave, what visas needed for each Island Group, what extra information we need, what supplies we need etc. It seems like a long way away but January is approaching at a great rate of knots, no pun intended, and we have various projects to complete before heading out across the big blue wobbly thing. The task seems a little daunting at this point in time.

Herradura, Costa Rica

Friday July 31, 2008

Sailed to Herradura. Left in a downpour. Had enough wind to sail entire way. Slop was unbelieveable but we at least sailed it. We were so much faster than Tao 8. Michelle will never complain again about being so slow!