Saturday August 1, 2008

Larry and Angie lent us their Diveyaks today to give them a test run and we thoroughly enjoyed them. They are very sturdy, can carry a ton of weight being designed for divers with all their gear and are easy to get on and off. They also ride waves and swell with great stability. We will definitely be on the lookout for a couple. After splashing around the bay we took the kayaks back to Tao 8 and then we all piled in the dinghy and went ashore for the afternoon. Los Sueņos Marina facilities are very nice but ridiculously priced. Robin, being the curious lad that he is, decided to enquire how much it would be to use the dinghy dock and he fell out of the office door laughing histerially. We finally got him to tell us they wanted $40 US dollars per day. Come on people we arenīt that daft!! We did the only thing sane people could do under those circumstances. We retired to an upstairs bar overlooking the marina and drowned our incredulity in a couple of refreshing ales! After that we decided to retire back to the boat Tao 8 joined us for a mushroom risotto and a nice bottle or red. Total cost: 8 US dollars for 4!

Sunday August 2, 2008

Said our farewells to Tao 8 early this morning. They are headed back up into the Gulf of Nicoya where they will spend the next month with their grandkids who are flying in from Canada. We managed to get ashore just before the rain settled in for the afternoon, tying the dinghy up at the entrance to a small estuary in the corner between the beach and marina. We throught we could then walk along the beach to the small town but it turned out to have a very deep estuary which we couldnīt navigate as the tide was too high. So we backtracked to the marina bar weīd visited yesterday. Half way back the rain came down in force and we ran and dodged under as much cover as we could find. Robin was so soaked when he arrived at the bar he went immediately to the menīs room and wrung his clothes out. The bar staff lent us a towel and we dried ourselves off a bit. We settled in to watch the rain and have some lunner (what you have when you miss lunch and are a tad too early for dinner). The lightening and thunder was fairly spectacular but we werenīt really paying attention to it as well weīve been living with it constantly now for a while. In the midst of that nonchalance we suddenly heard this BZZZZZZZT like the sound of electricity underneath relay stations and then this enormous CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK BOOOOOOOM. Lightening had struck one of the boats just below us in the Marina. It was so loud and so electrifying we sat there stunned. We never want to be that close to a lightening strike ever again. We tried to outwait the rainstorm but it just didnīt want to let up so finally with the light failing fast and knowing if we didnīt run for it weīd never get the combination on the padlock undone we emerged back into the wet night. The noseeums on the beach were ferocious and we were totally covered in bites by the time weīd unlocked the dinghy and waded our way beyond the beach break. The things we do for jollies.

Quepos, Costa Rica

Monday August 3, 2008

Our next jump down the coast will take us 32nm further southeast to the small town of Quepos. We left at 8am and figured the wind would fill in about 10 or 11am. It was not to be. The wind was so light, variable and fickle we had to motor sail the entire 32nm. Yesterday there seemed to be plenty of wind but we had stayed in harbor. Today of course there was none. Typical eh?!

Dark storm thunderheads built up over the mountain range about 12miles inland from the shore and we prayed that it would stay there and not come screaming down from the mountain tops and out to sea. Our wish was granted and we crawled into Quepos around 4pm only to find that the swell entering the anchorage was untenible so we upanchored and headed another 1.5nm further around towards Punta Quepos and found a spot to tuck in. The swell was much mitigated here although not eliminated. There was one other small yacht in the anhorage but noone was home so we ate dinner and curled up for an early night. Robin awoke around 11pm and poked his head out to find we had a rocky reef about a boat length away from the boat. How the hell did we miss that ? Ah we completely misread the chart thinking that the sandy beach constituted the entire bay when in fact it was one tiny corner of it. DOH. So up came the anchor and we moved out into deeper water. Two mistakes in a matter of weeks. Not a comforting thought.

Tuesday August 5, 2008

We dighied the 1.5miles back to Quepos this morning across the incredible slop that was the ocean. At this time of year the SW swell is relentless and one wonders how anybody can be moored here. Quepos is getting a new marina, which according to all the guides should have been finished by now but of course is only half built. This has meant that all the boats who were moored and anchored behind the old jetty which afforded some shelter were now anchored/moored out in the open. The swell coming in was mercilessly tossing boats left, right and center. We made it to the old pier and offloaded Michelle on the stairs but Robin had to tie up the dinghy on the other side to a mooring line then climb a verticle ladder 50 feet back to the pier. They donīt make it easy. We found out later that a taxi boat would have come and picked us up and taken us ashore. Oh well. Anyway we walked into the town center and scoped out the supermarket, fruit/vege and meat shops as our provisions were running low. Then we bought another diesel jerry can which gave us the ability to ferry 10 gallons at a time of fuel to the boat. A taxi ride took us 5km out of town to the gas station and then we headed back to the dinghy. The slop was even worse and we slowly motored our way back towards Warrior. We had to almost get the entire way before gaining any relief at all from the rough conditions. The rain was late this afternoon so we managed to sit out on deck and enjoy the afternoon and early evening before it finally arrived and forced us downstairs.

Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

Wednesday August 6, 2008

We woke up this morning to a perfect blue sky, a few puffy white clouds. Itīs the first non stormy sky weīve seen in eons. It probably wonīt last long but it was a very nice change. We upanchored about 9am and motored around Punta Quepos and into the next bay which needed to be carefully navigated between rocks and reefs. We dropped the hook and the anchor seemed to grab which was kind of a surprise since the guidebooks said there was only 2inches of sand over hardpack here. We backed down on the anchor pretty solidy and it seems likely to hold in at least 15knots of wind. As there is no wind today we feel fairly good about going ashore and leaving Warrior to behave herself.

Michelle has been so looking forward to visiting Manuel Antonio Park, her main mission is to locate a sloth. The park consists of mangrove swamps, rainforests and marshy woodlands and is bordered by beaches, cliffs. The animal life is supposed to be supurb being a haven for over 100 mammal species including the highly endangered squirrel monkey, or mono titi. So armed with this information we pack dry clothes into our drypacks and swim ashore. Itīs amazing how far 1/4 mile is. We were a wee bit exhausted by the time we reached the beach. The rip along the shore was also interesting. You felt you were going to never get out of the surf. Anyway we made it, dried off and got dressed. Then off we trot to spot the wildlife. Well, we saw lots of wildlife but of the two-legged variety. There must have been over 2,000 people in the park and probably a lot more. We hiked around to one of the bays further south, spotting groups of monkeys which are always fun to watch. Then we decided to head up to a lookout point which we figured would at least thin out some of the twolegged inhabitants. Along the way we kept asking for sloth sightings but none were seen. Disappointed and figuring we just werenīt going to see much wildlife with this many people running around we headed back down the mountain. Back at sea level a park ranger/tour guide had set up a telescope and called to his group to come have a look at a sloth way up in the top of the canopy. We managed to get a peak after his group was done. So technically we did get to see a sloth but really you couldnīt see anything except a blob in a tree. Even a koala looks more intersting. Oh well so we decided to go grab a bit to eat and then do an overnight sail down to Drake Bay.

We went looking for a food stall and suddenly found ourselves exiting the park. Uh oh this is going to be interesting. The boat is anchored in the park. We are outside the park. We headed off and found a cafe, grabbed a bite to eat then headed on back to the boat. Sure enough they stopped us at the entrance and said we wondered who owned the boat. You need to pay to anchor the boat there plus you need to pay to enter the park. Michelle says oh sorry, we asked around at Quepos and they said it was fine to come anchor here. The girl said, sure it is but you have to pay. So Michelle says well weīre not staying we just stopped to grab a bit to eat, and weīre not even in the park weīre outside of it. So they let us go on condition we were going to leave straight away. We were just glad we didnīt have to pay for the joy of watching a few thousand people mash their way through a national park.

We got back to the beach stripped off and started the long swim back to Warrior. Robin got so tired half way back that some guys on jetskis came and gave him a lift back. Michelle declined the offer of a lift and made it back to the boat but her legs were definitely jelly by the time she got there. We had a few minutes rest, then organized the boat for an overnight sail and slowly sailed out of the anchorage.

Drake Bay, Costa Rica

Thursday August 7, 2008

We had an interesting overnight sail. Storms chased us all the way down the coast. We prayed we wouldnīt hit one of the numerous logs floating in the water. We had enough wind to keep sailing but at times we had to motor to dodge the full brunt of storms. It was exhausting and we crawled into Drake Bay after heaving to waiting for daylight. It was a rolly anchorage but we were too tired to care and having made sure we were anchored securely promptly went to bed. Later on after that refreshing nap we finally managed to take in our surroundings. Drake Bay is our second last stop in Costa Rica and lies on the northern end of the Osa Peninsula. The tiny town of the bay is actually one of the most inaccessible places in the entire country and famous for first being discovered by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 during his circumnavigation of the globe. England actually sent out a monument which is supposed to be situated on the westernmost point into the bay but when Robin went ashore he couldnīt locate it. This area is the beginning of the ‘biologically intense’ Parque Nacional Corcovado. It purportedly has the tallest primary rainforest on the planet, and is home to many endangered animal and bird species as well as a huge number of indigenous wildlife and flora. We would have loved to visit biological reserve of the Isla del Caņo which offers some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in Costa Rica. However being the rainy season the water is pure mud. You canīt see six inches below the surface so snorkelling is sadly a complete waste of time. We are definitely in Costa Rica at the wrong time of the year to enjoy the water. We spent the rest of the day vegging and getting ready to do another overnight jump down the Osa Penisula and into Gulfo Dulce, and the tiny town of Golfito where we will be for the next couple of weeks.

The worst part about Drake Bay is our dinghy engine once again decided to throw a tantrum. For no apparent reason it just decided to not run again with all the same symptoms as last time. Guess weīll be rowing for a while.

Golfito, Costa Rica

Saturday August 9, 2008

We finally got underway yesterday morning and were hoping to run from a rain squall coming down from the mountains and screaming out across the Bay. We tacked out heading towards Isla del Caņa and wouldnīt you know it, a wind shift. We tacked back and forth for over an hour until finally Robin, being completely fed up, turned on the engine and we managed to finally clear the point. After that we had a nice sail down to the bottom end of the Oso Peninsula. Just as we entered Gulfo Dulce the wind died and Michelle bobbed along taking a few hours to cover just 4 miles. Finally she had to admit defeat and turn on the engine or we would have ended up heading back out of the bay on the outgoing tide. We made it into Golfito around lunch time, entering a picturesque bay within a bay. This will be home for the next couple of weeks while we catch up on a few chores. What else?!

Saturday August 16, 2008

A week has gone by already. Robin has worked on the dinghy engine a few times with no success. In the meantime he is getting fit rowing to shore and back in the often times strong current and wind. Michelle began work once again on the mold, doing a complete every three week mold elimination of the boat. Itīs mindless work but other than getting the entire interior repainted which isnīt an option in this weather, thereīs not much can be done except keep at it. The town of Golfito is pleasant enough. Itīs virtually only a strip wide with soaring mountains a few hundred yards back from the shore. It was a major southern port until the mid 1980’s. It was a major banana growing region, and the United Fruit Company had its headquarters here. Sadly UFC closed down and this town suffered from the enormous economic loss and unemployment. Nevertheless it is managing to claw its way back via tourism, and is slowly rebuilding itself. This was the viewpoint of Tim who is running Land Sea services to cruisers, offering a place to dock the dinghy and grab a beer, check email etc. Looking around town, there are a hell of a lot of housing which would be considered shanty shacks anywhere else in the world. Golfito has a terrible reputation for theivery but so far weīve not really noticed anything too outlandish and our wallets have survived our forays downtown.

The only other news for the week was Content finally caught up with us, Nick and Marls from Aussieland. They have made a side trip out to Cocos Islands and Marls took Nick on a night dive with a few hundred sharks. He was so nervous he couldnīt keep his torch still. Finally he tells the story of almost wetting himself and just taking off for the surface leaving Marls lagging far behind without a light. Not sure diving with a few hundred sharks is something we want to add to our resume.

Thursday August 21, 2008

We got up early this morning with the intention of catching the ferry across to Jimenez to catch up with both Dayle Parrot Bay and our friends from Moss Landing, Brad and Marianna and little Claro who own Viking Spirits. We havenīt seen Brad and Marianna since they left Moss Landing 2 1/2 years ago so should be fun to see their faces when we drop in. We are totally unexpected. We missed the first ferry, Robin watching it depart and figured the next one must be around 11am. As he went upstairs a little while later he saw another ferry leaving and says, well damn! We eventually caught the 11am ferry, the 8mile journey taking just 20mins. This sort of speed could go to oneīs head. It was dead low tide when we arrived and we noted carefully all the shoal water in case we decide to bring Warrior over for a couple of days. Dayle met us on the beach and we hiked into town, via a very convoluted route, and after searching the small town for 15mins located Mariannaīs shop, Natura. Robin says, gīday Marianna, gypsy of Viking Spirits, howīs it going. She looked at him and says geeze I know you from somewhere but where. Then she looks at me and goes oh my god and squeals. It was fun to see her get so excited. We spent an hour gossiping as you would expect then decided weīd head over with Warrior and spend a couple of days with them. The last ferry of the day is around 4pm so we had not much time left so grabbed a quick bite to eat with Dayle and in the midst of a typical afternoon downpour headed back to the pier to catch the ferry.

The weather had become quite choppy this afternoon and there are no cleats on the pier for the tiny ferry to tie up to. So the boys trailed it back off one edge and using bare feet, kept kedging it off the dock. Robin grimaced every time he saw them thinking one tiny slip and they were going to lose their toes. It was mesmerizing and horrifying to watch all at the same time. For some reason the ferry was delayed for almost an hour but we sat quite comfortably reading our books, bobbing up and down in the chop. At least we donīt get seasick. Some people refused to come aboard as they couldnīt cope with the motion. We hardly notice it anymore.

Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica

Friday August 22, 2008

We decided to take Warrior over to anchor off Jimenez today so we slowly flopped our way across Gulfo Dulce under jib alone so that we didnīt have to take down the main canopy. Taking down the front canopy this morning had depressed us. 3 of the fiberglass poles had started to split already and weīve only used the Shadetree canopy a few times. You just canīt seem to get anything that lasts these days. Anchoring off Jimenez is difficult. There is a very narrow shelf that goes from 100 feet depth to 12 feet in just a few boat lenghts making for nerves of steal. A 9 foot draft definitely complicates matters. If we get swung back onshore we will find ourselves sitting in the mud no doubt at low tide, the current tide swings averaging 10feet at the moment. Fortunately there is no wind so we are sitting pretty at the moment. We were supposed to head down to Matapala and maybe stay overnight but we are very nevous about leaving the boat here in this anchorage. We will see.