Costa Rica

Bahai Drake was our next stop. It was close to a national park but we couldn't get ashore as it was low tide during the usable part of the day and there was no water at the dinghy docks! We waited 3 days but would have had to wait 4-5 more days to get the tide we wanted so we left for Quepos. Quepos is a small town catering to tourists and surfers. Manuel Antonio National Park is close by. Again when we arrived there were no other cruising boats. The anchorage area recommended by the cruising guides is very small now that the Marina Pez Vela as been built. There was a dinghy dock used by a water taxi and tour boats but due to the swells, was not viable for cruising dinghys. Because we wanted to tour the park, we went into the marina for 3 days. The staff was wonderful and recommended a very reasonable tour company for our park experience. Unfortunately the park had only 1 trail open due to recent flooding and washout of other trails so it was very crowded with nature lovers and beach goers. Our guide was excellent and without his good eyes we would not have seen anything by ourselves other than the playful monkeys and white tailed deer.

 
 
 
 
the colorful back of a 3 toed sloth through the spotter scope

 
 
Howler monkey

 
 
White-faced monkey

 
 
park beach

Bahia Herradura was next. It is a beautiful place with resorts around the bay and the fantastic(beauty,$,restaurants) Marina Los Suenos where we docked for 4 days to try and get help with a watermaker problem and have someone change out our starter motor. We got the watermaker part but they didn't have time to help with the starter. There was a large sportfishing tournament underway and they were working on one of the boats. Everyone was very friendly and the service was first rate. The marina is part of a resort complex of Marriot Hotel and condo units and the grounds were immaculately groomed.At the marina Byron talked to some of the sportfish skippers who were complaining that they were not catching any dorado or tuna because Equadorian fishing boats were inside the 200mi limit. Now I don't feel so bad in not catching any dorado once we got to Costa Rica. We made a brief stop in Punta Leona cove but the water quality was again bad for snorkeling but tried anyway. We also drug anchor when the norther blew through one night but we caught the problem with 2 feet under the keel. We also realized our error in how we were setting the anchor alarm as in I have never set it properly. Someone has been looking out for us.

 
 
Spotted puffer fish

 
 
purple starfish

Punta Leona is at entrance to the Bay of Nicoya which encompasses a large area the major city of which is Puntarenas. We visited several islands mentioned in the cruising guide. We anchored between Isla Jesusita and Isla Cedros mainly because it was protected from the North and East. Unfortunately, the red tide was in and we could not make water because the plankton fouled the watermaker strainers. The temps were in the 90's and we did not swim in the smelly water. There were several fish farming areas that lost most of their young stock to the poor water conditions. While there we met John and Susan, from Michigan, who have a vacation home on Isla Cedros, spent a nice day with them, seeing local spider monkeys, and thoroughly enjoying having a conversation in English.

 
 
out of focus but these guys walk like humans

 
 
feeding the spider monkeys

 
 
mother and baby on her back coming down for the food

We still have not seen other cruisers. I had been looking forward to visiting Islas Tortugas and clear water for snorkeling but it was not to be-red tide there also. As we made our way out of the bay towards the Pacific, the water became clearer and we hoped to make water in Bahia Ballena.

Bahia Ballena was a beautiful wide open bay that had streaks of red tide that was worse on some days than others. We spent 3-4 days there waiting for more favorable conditions to go north. There was a fisherman's pier where boats were tied to but it was located in the part of the bay that took the full brunt of the wind and the wind chop was too much to feel safe leaving our dinghyt there let alone trying to get out of the dinghy on a moss covered ladder.

Bahia Brasilito was our next stop. On the way we were boarded and inspected by the GuardaCosta- the Costa Rican coast guard. They were very nice but we were stopped for almost an hour. They seemed to have a problem with our not having zarpes showing our port clearances from Quepos and Golfito but with the boats log to document our progress and the last zarpe from Los Suenos they were finally satisfied. But the captain of the GuardaCosta had to come aboard in the end to see our navigation tract on the nav computer. Brasilito and the next anchorage at Bahia Potrero had red tide so swimming was out. In Bahia Potrero, we finally blew up our inflatable dinghy that has not seen the light of day in 2 years, put on the beaching wheels and played around with where to stow it on deck and the best way to get it in and out of the water.The top deck is very full now that 2 inflatable dinghys are living there. Finally we made it to shore and visited a local grocery store for fresh veggies and fruit.

 
 
Bahia Brasilito with its shore break

Motoring by several anchorages where the water was full of red tide, we arrived in Bahia Culebra and anchored off Playa Panama. Here the water in the morning was clean and we could make water. Unfortunately that lasted only for 2 days as the red tide comes and goes-totally unpredictable as its presence does not seem to be affected by wind or current.

The end of March we entered Marina Papagayo in one corner of Bahia Culebra as our son David came to visit and we took an inland tour to Monteverde. The area is beautifully green due to the fact it is located on the continental divide and as such is affected by weather systems from both Caribbean and Pacific coasts and for much of the time is in the mist. March and April are the driest of the year and it was pleasantly warm during the day with cooler nights.The last 30 mi before we entered the town of Monteverde were on a gravel and dirt road and any road off the main street were the same. When we asked a local why the roads were not paved he replied that it was on purpose to make Monteverde harder to get to and keep the riffraff away! He didn't want large city problems in his community. We walked a lot up and down the hilly roads at around 4500 ft. elevation visiting the Butterfly Garden, the local cheese factory, the Bat exhibit, a night walk in the forrest, and ziplining above the canopy. Restaurant food was excellent and and reasonably priced. Ziplining was exhilarating, something I have always wanted to try but don't think I will do again. I was freaking with the height. Returning to the boat after 4 days, Byron found that our battery charger for the windless had died which made anchoring impossible. So our plans to visit some recommended snorkeling spots with David were smashed and we stayed in the marina and used the dinghy to search for clear water while awaiting replacement parts.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
forest surrounding the zipline park

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
As with everything, the good comes with the bad. We had a freak accident with our dinghy and thankfully no one was badly hurt. The dinghy was along side and Byron was throwing the painter up to me on the top deck so we could bring it out of the water. The engine was still on because the the wind was blowing the dinghy around. Anyway, the painter line caught on the throttle handle and the boat took off at full speed as Byron was thrown off the back into the water. It cleared our boat and then turned left down the channel and hit the rocks with a large bang. The rocks punctured a large hole in one bow tube and also the fiberglass hull. Amazingly it missed hitting any boats. Byron had some rope burns on one hand but was otherwise ok. With the help of the marina personnel, we got the engine turned off and the dinghy towed back to our boat without sinking so it is now back onboard until we get to Puerto Vallarta and hopefully a repair facility. Otherwise the closest Nautica facility is in San Diego.

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