Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Central Costa Rica passage

No Interweb for awhile now, so this is an SSB radio post- sans pics.

We held up an extra day in Plays del Coco so I could pickup some aluminum brackets I had made there. It was raining, so we hung out at a local restaurant, Woody's, with ok food, cool parrots and great wi-fi, till the brackets were supposed to be ready. I walked across the street and found a car masquerading as a taxi. 'How much to take me to the Metal Shop?' He says 1,000 colona, about two bucks. I say sure and jump in out of the rain. He starts to drive off and turn in the wrong direction. He had no clue where I wanted to go. We got that straightened out. He then starts to till me how dangerous it is to drive in the rain here. We showed up at the metal shop in one piece where they quickly said to come back in an hour. Back to town. After an hour I find the same taxi driver. This time he drives me straight to Metal shop. I head in, grab the parts, pay for them, and BS some with the owner about how hard it is to do business in CR. I walk out to grab the taxi and he has taken off. I never paid him for the second trip. The workers at the shop looked dumbfounded when I just said 'Costa Rica???' It was a long hike back into Coco.

One more crotch soaking and we were through the surf and back onto the boat. Next morning we took off for Playa Potrero, aka Playa Flamingo, aka Marina Flamingo. This place used to have a large marina and fuel dock. Today it is just an abandoned break water that you aren't allowed to land at. We headed here to see Kelvin on Le Bateau. He was busily trying to get his boat back together enough, after it's lightening strike in Coco, to move it south to Punta Arenas for a haul out. 'Busily' means it takes forever to get a simple job done. We went in on the bus with Kelvin so he could buy a fan belt to finish mounting his replacement alternator, the other having been fried. Two bus rides and six hours later we had acquired two fan belts.

The lightening strike did a couple odd things to Le Bateau. It blew the floor boards off onto the settees and sprayed water out of the bilge all over everything- presumably boiling at the time, thankfully they weren't on board at the time. He has a polished stainless steel Bruce style anchor; on one fluke and one side of the shank you can see the rainbow colors of steel having been heated way hot. The lightening must have exited down the chain.

Our plan was to buddy boat/escort Le Bateau to Punta Arenas, just in case anymore troubles showed up on the passage. Kelvin couldn't get the OK to move the boat from his insurance company. They wanted an inspection prior. Also, Ginny was not getting back in town for 10-days. We entertained Kelvin for two days and then abandoned him. Next we took off for an overnight sail to Bahia Balleena. Sail is a bit too strong. We motored all but 2 hours of it. Finally started seeing some commercial, panga, fishing again. There's been nothing since El Salvador. More little black flags with long lines attached just waiting to catch your keel.

Not much to be said for Bahia Ballena. It has a concrete pier that takes gymnastics and multiple tie off lines to off pier points to land at. There's a large bar/restaurant known as Bahia Ballena Yacht Club next to the pier. It wasn't open over the 2 days we were there. It did, however, nicely beam wi-fi into the bay. The town is a couple of mile hike in from there with a decent store. Our refrigeration is down till we can get some replacement washers in Golfito, so we picked up a couple of bags of ice. They were a lot lighter by the time we'd hiked them back to the boat.

A big south swell picked up, so our second night was rolly in the anchorage. We left early in the morning to cross the Golfo Nicoya on our way to Quepos. Just outside the bay at around 6am we managed to pickup a long line on our keel. This one put up a fight. We finally cut it loose, carefully re-tied it and took off, only to get retangled in the same long line. We cut that one loose, re-tied, and headed way, way clear of the black flag. Then as we got back on our course a couple fishermen in a panga came up beside us making the international hand waving signals for 'stop, stop'. I stuck the engine in neutral. He came close and I figured he was going to negotiate the damage to his long line. Instead he reached down and grabbed the long line that had gotten fouled, for the third time, on our keel. He opened his ice chest, pulled out a 2 foot machete and sliced the line. No attempt to re-tie it to save it. Just cut and throw it back in. Then it was Adios and we were off. The crossing of the Nicoya gulf was a little like sailing in British Columbia. Non-stop floating logs. After about 3 hours of dodging logs the waters cleaned up.

We made Quepos around 5pm,just before the afternoon rain storm hit. The swell had gotten larger and more cleanly formed over the day. It was clear that the anchorage in Quepos would suck. There's a new marina in Quepos, Marina Pez Vela. It charges something like $80-90 a night for transients-- ridiculous. Of course it is 3/4 empty. We took one look at the anchorage, as it sits right in front of the surf break, and headed straight back out. There's another small anchorage off Punta Quepos that was supposed to be more protected- because it's surrounded by reefs and rocks. As it got dark we dropped the hook in 35 feet of water with the swell cut down to a few feet. This made for another sleepless, rolly night.

Today we got fuel in Quepos and are heading south to Dominicalito anchorage. It is supposed to be a little less rolly than the next. But, until this swell lies down there aren't any decent anchorages for the next 100 miles. Makes it hard to enjoy the jungle and parks of central CR. We should be in Golfito in 4 or 5 days -laying in a flat calm anchorage.

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OK, we made it to Bahia Dominicalito. You anchor behind a rock reef that extends from the point. After some trials and tribulations we got bow and stern anchors down. This place is not going to go down as one of our good night sleeps. Even tucked behind the reef, there's still a 4ft plus swell shaking us around. Lucky we got a cold 6 pack of Imperial Silver, the local cerveza, when we got fuel and ice at the marina. Too bad we don't have any of our cruising buddies from Mexico or El Salvador to share them with. I think we'll be up at dawn and off to Bahia Drake in the morning, in search of a better anchorage.

Paul

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