Gerardin Travels        

Sunset at Playa Panama

On the bottom at low tide

Feeling better at high tide

B Dock Alumni News - Volume VIII

        Welcome! 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 France 2001 Net Result 1999-2000 Net Result Ventura to San Diego San Diego to Cabo San Lucas Cabo San Lucas to Puerto Vallarta Puerto Vallarta to Barra de Navidad Barra de Navidad to Acapulco Acapulco to Barillas, E.S. El Salvador E.S. to Playa Panama, C.R. Playa de Coco to Golfito Golfito, C.R. Misc. Items

Playa de Coco - Golfito, Costa Rica

Jun 27 - July 15, 2000

We ended up staying in Playa Panama for a week. We were in regular contact with Chuck and Jeanette while they were

in Bahia Sta. Elenea as they caught up on doing the bottom and resting after their long trek south from El Salvador.

When we arrived at Playa Panama, it was hot and late in the afternoon. We were anxious to set the hook and jump in to

cool off. We scurried to put the boarding ladder in place and dove enthusiastically into the water. As we hit the cooling

water and surfaced at the same time, we looked at each other with a shocked look asking "are you being stung by

something". Both of us nodded our heads in consent and swam as fast as we could back to the boat. Bummer, there's

jellyfish. No swimming here.

On the second day we hitched a ride with Leslie & Jay onboard "Kestrel" into Liberia, the "bigger" town in the area.

Coincidentally, Jay was a graphic designer and was excited to find we were in the same field. It was the first time in I

don't know how long that we felt we were in civilization. Enjoyed a leisurely lunch as we shared our experiences of

cruising since we left home.

Chuck & Jeanette were leaving and heading south in our direction on Sunday and we said that we'd round the corner and

meet them in Playa del Coco as it would be an easier spot for them to check in on the Monday. The anchorage there is

not nearly as calm as Playa Panama. It was a cloudy grey day as we headed out from Playa Panama to Coco (about 1

1/2 hrs). We pulled in at the same time as they did and anchored, hesitantly, as the wind had picked up and the swell

was running straight into the anchorage contributing to all the possibilities of an uncomfortable night at anchor. After

both of us were anchored we sat for about 20 minutes as the wind blew. We radioed to Chuck and Jeanette that we

were headed back around the corner to Playa Panama as the anchorage there would be much more comfortable. They

said they were right behind us. What a good decision, as the anchorage was much, much more comfortable at Panama

than at Coco.

The next day we cab'ed it over to Coco to show Chuck and Jeanette around and help them with their check-in. Now, the

Port Captain is kind of a stickler about protocol and somewhat of a chauvinist also. He wants to deal only with men AND

insists that the boat be in the anchorage at Coco. When we checked in a week prior we had subscribed to the "say as

little as possible" information approach. Don't commit to the exact location of "Net Result" unless explicitly asked her

location. It was successful for us so we tutored Chuck & Jeanette on the same approach. The only thing was that their

boat is a stand out -- a 50' power yacht with a 225 lugger engine as compared to our little boat. So when the customs

agent turned to Chuck (who knows very little spanish) and said "vamanos a veer", we all gulped as Chuck and the

aduana agent headed out the door towards the anchorage. All Chuck could do was raise his eyebrows as he seemed to

have learned somehow just what the agent said. 10 minutes passed as we all anxiously waited inside the port captains

office for him to return. When the door opened, we all shot nervous glances at him and found comfort in his slight

shoulder shrug and eyebrow twitch. He had tried to explain to the aduana agent that the boat wasn't in the anchorage as

the seas were bad the prior day and on, and on until the guy said "donde? Playa Panama?" and Chuck in his best

Spanish replied "si". After some mumbling he reluctantly stamped his papers and the trauma was over.

We said our good byes to Chuck & Jeanette the next day and headed out for a short sail/motor to Bahia Brasalito. Jeff &

Ann on "High Drama" with two friends visiting from the states were there as well as Carl on "Andante". Cocktails on

"High Drama" filled us in on the anchorage. The morning radio nets had claimed that this anchorage was supposed to

have the clearest of water anywhere in Costa Rica. The beach had soft, soft powder white sand that you sunk in up to

your thighs and I found a black sand dollar. Snorkeling was fun off the rocks on the south point. I took some bread that

was going stale (as it does in minutes in the tropics), and we snorkeled amongst the colorful fish and rocks. It was a bit

surge-y but we were thrilled to have been able to finally put our snorkel gear on! It's a windy, exposed anchorage and

helps to put out a stern anchor. After we'd explored the beach and snorkeled we were anxious to move on as the nights

at anchor weren't all that comfortable.

Our next destination was an anchorage on the south side of the Gulf of Nicoya - Bahia Ballena but it was quite a

distance and would require an overnight sail which we weren't too inclined to do as a tropical wave was due to pass

through and with that comes lightning at night. (Is this starting to sound a bit repetitive?) The morning radio nets

reported an anchorage a long day sail away - Bahia Carillo, that during the summer months was very, very rolly. People

reported "gunnel to gunnel" rolling all night long. To me, this was preferable to sailing through lightning and we were

very comfortable setting a stern anchor and at least getting some sleep in what we thought would be very similar to a

Channel Islands anchorage. There were two options for anchoring in the bay. One was close to the rocky edge with

other boats on moorings and the other was on the other side out in the open, but still somewhat protected by the reef

that extended across from the south western point. We opted away from the other boats as it was close quarters, a

rocky bottom which might indicate poor holding as well as more back swell from the rocky edge. We dropped our stern

on the way in and set our bow and settled in for as much rest as we could get. "High Drama" came in after us and opted

to continue through the night to Ballena. They were not set up to easily drop a stern. We slept surprisingly well and

headed out early the next morning for Ballena. Arrived there in time to anchor and settle in before the afternoon

downpour.

Jeff & Ann on "High Drama" filled us in on the anchorage and we met Sid & Manuela on "Paradise". Sid was the morning

net manager. They had been at Bahia Ballena for a while. Manuela quickly informed us that the vegetable truck was

there and hurry, hurry cause the truck had the most incredible herbs anywhere! She was so anxious for us to see the

truck that they told us to hop in their dinghy and they'd take us ashore. True to her description, this truck had the most

incredible selection anywhere! Fresh basil, dill, cilantro, arugula and vegetables that were organically grown. The owner

of the truck is Honey Heart, and no other than the wife of the inventor of the Heart Interface system. She and her

husband and family sailed down to Costa Rica about 10 years ago when he sold his patent and ended up in Bahia Ballena

and haven't moved since. They and their children are now "ticos" -- Costa Ricans. Sorry Russ, but they weren't

interested in your complaints as they're no longer affiliated with the company. But we did think of you immediately!

Made fresh pesto that night. Yum! Spent the next day walking ashore and scouting out the area. Had the yummiest

lunch (massive!) ashore at Frank's place. Squid sautéed in garlic butter and I mean Ghaaa---rlic! and of course, we had

garlic bread. Frank bakes his bread fresh and makes the most incredible garlic bread we had to order seconds. Afraid

all the weight we lost the first couple of months of cruising is being returned with this kind of feasting. I had thought

that there would be more facilities onshore than what there really were and was a bit disappointed. As it was getting

close to our anniversary, I wanted to be able to have a chance to eat out one night and even maybe do a load or two of

laundry in a real washing machine. I had no idea that laundry would become such a hassle and priority once we left the

wonderful facilities of Mexico.

We'd heard of an anchorage on the morning radio nets that sounded like it had some pretty nice facilities, so we decided

to head to Punta Leona on the other side of the Gulf of Nicoya. We headed out at a decent time for the short motor

across the bay (5 hrs). Our only chore was to keep our eyes peel for tree trunks and garbage in the water. This kept us

busy as the current and tide creates a great deal of crap in the water. This, combined with the trash that the ticos chuck

in the water make it a pretty disconcerting sight. Arrived in Punta Leona mid-afternoon. "High Drama" hailed us and

suggested that we anchor near one of the moorings that we might use for a stern tie. There's a reef that extends from

the south part of the point (that's not well indicated on Charlie's) and the swell can make it a little rolly at high tide

when it rolls over the reef. This place was really nice. Nice clean beach, a local resort with two swimming pools and a

couple of restaurants. The resort welcomed boaters to use their facilities at no charge. Hotel Punta Leona Resort is set

on 750 acres of natural rain forest. The resort has been recognized for it's efforts to preserve the environment and keep

the area clean. They've done a great job! They print a list of weekly activities that boats in the anchorage are free

(read: no charge) to participate in. Their real emphasis was on their nature walks. A naturalist led walks three times a

day. One at 6:00am for 3 hours that focused on the wildlife (mostly birds) in the rainforest, one at 9:00am (2 1/2 hrs)

that focused on the plants and the structure of the rainforest, and one at night 7pm (it's dark by then in the tropics-even

in the summer) for two hours.

Chuck and Jeanette snuck in during the early, early morning of our second day there. I had gotten up and checked in to

the morning radio net and listed myself for traffic with them when Joe went out on deck to do something and popped his

head inside and said "hey, did you list for traffic with 'La Vagabunda'. Cause if you did, use the VHF as they're anchored

right infront of us." I had hoped that they'd alter their plans to be able to spend our anniversary with us and see them

for a couple of days before we headed south to the marina that was now confirmed for us. They weren't able to get in

so they were going to linger in the northern part of Costa Rica. We signed up for the 9am nature walk the next morning.

We were told to bring insect repellant and meet at reception. So we presented ourselves at reception unsure as to what

this adventure would hold. The four of us were attired in shorts, t-shirts, tennies and sprayed with insect repellent

feeling fairly confident we were prepared for the adventure....until Roy, our naturalist guide, stepped into the reception

area. Let's see if I can even attempt to describe our first 30 seconds. Roy had on camouflage tan pants, tan t-shirt (OK,

that's not too shocking), rubber knee high wellies (gulp), a pair of binoculars on a X-crossed strap across his chest and

a fanny pack with a bottle of water on either side (eyes are still rapidly scanning), and a knife strapped to his thigh.

Now, this guy was SERIOUS! Right, in we hopped to the hotel van (as it was just the 4 of us) to be taken to one of the

many trails in the area. We got out at the head of the trail he had selected and said goodbye to the van. The next 2 1/2

hours sped by filled with the most fascinating information that Roy provided. He pointed out various plants that could be

used as natural medicines, insects you'd never have seen if he hadn't pointed them out--leaf ants creating a trail

hundreds of yards long and filling us in on all the details of what they were doing right down to pointing out some ants

that were on top of the tiny bit of leaf and what their purpose was. It was clear that he'd found a way to live working

with his passion. He explained the structure of a rainforest and the differences between a primary and secondary forest,

as well as light gaps and how they're formed. Absolutely fascinating! We were so enthused by our experience that we

signed up for the 6am walk 2 days later. That one focused more on birds and the wildlife and Roy took us through a

different section of the rain forest. He pointed out tucans and white faced monkeys, and had a bird book to point out

pictures and shared his amazing knowledge of the birds we saw. One time he pointed out a tiny, tiny, little black bird

that was jumping up from a vine in the forest. It looked like a little jumping bean. Bip, bip. Just tiny little hops. He

explained it was the birds courting ritual and pointed out the female off on another branch watching fairly unimpressed.

We stood mesmerized watching and then were able to pick out others during the walk doing the same thing. This was a

much larger group as it was on the weekend. There were perhaps 20 people, and man, were these people serious bird

watchers! Roy seemed to really enjoy himself as he stopped from time to time to make bird calls contorting his mouth

or hands in particular ways to create sounds. Not sure if our chuckles or grins were noticed amongst the serious

group. :-) But boy was it fun! We particularly liked the one call that he pulled his lip way out and formed a point and

blew.

After a few more days we started to keep our eye on the tropical waves and weather faxes as we had penciled out our

arrival at the marina in Golfito around the 15th of July. We spent our last afternoon with Chuck and Jeanette on their

boat and headed back to "Net Result" to get to sleep early so we could head out at 5am for a long haul to Quepos. This

was just an overnight sleep spot as it was reputed to be rollier than Carillo. When we arrived the masts on the boats on

the moorings in the small exposed anchorage looked like metronomes keeping very fast time! Never mind, still better

than sailing at night. We set a stern and settled in before the afternoon downpour and spent a relatively comfortable

night. Quepos was supposed to be a nice town but the thought of spending another rolly night there pushed us onward.

We were now feeling like horses to the barn. We knew the marina was confirmed and the thought of getting out of the

rain was spearing us onward.

Another early, early departure ...5am and we were underway for a long day to Bahia Drake.These daysails/motors were

mostly uneventful but mostly with our eye always on the radar on the lookout for squalls, the sea was just OK, and I

can't remember the last time we'd seen even a patch of blue sky. This was starting to get depressing. No blue sky, rolly

seas, no clear water to swim, and rain every afternoon.... We made good time to Drakes and got in at 3:45p. Pretty

bay, with a little resort (rustic) that has launches that take you to Isla Cano for diving and hiking. There's a small little

river that we took the dink up at high tide and then took the oars out and drifted back out with the current. Pretty with

waterfalls, green, green plants coming down to the water and peaceful. It's pretty short trip as there are trees and

rocks blocking you further up. It was nothing like Tenacatita but a fun thing to do. Spent one full day there and then

were underway at 4:45am for Gulfo Dulce and Bahia Jimenez which was across from the marina in Golfito. We went to

Jimenez because it was just too far for us to make it all the way to Golfito in one day. Glad we stopped in Jimenez as

it's a really pretty anchorage and calm as glass. Arrived at the anchorage in the afternoon downpour in our slickers. Oh,

isn't this rainy season fun! There were a number of boats in the anchorage that were all leaving to head south to

Panama.

We headed across the Gulf to arrive at Golfito and the marina mid day close to high tide as we thought it might be

easier to get into our spot in high tide. Little did we know. :-) I radioed the marina as we entered the harbor and

rounded the first channel marker. Now, we were looking for a cluster of masts or at least a cluster of boats that would

indicate the marina and we were straining our eyes to locate it. As I spoke with the marina, the owner said it might be

good to pull into their fuel dock and top off before heading into our slip. We were still straining to find the marina, let

alone the fuel dock! So, tactfully as possible, I asked for assistance in locating the fuel dock. He responded that we

were pointed right at it! Joe and I looked at each other and then I took a few seconds before I keyed the mike and

asked for further directions. "I'm standing on the end of it and wearing an orange shirt" he said. My god, he was right in

front of us and we hardly saw him! We were just looking for something so much larger. We recovered nicely and pulled

in to the spot he indicated to top off with fuel and made our introductions. Joe kept reminding me as we were headed

into the marina that we had to keep an open mind and that we still weren't sure if this place would be OK for us to leave

the boat safely, so not to get set on the fact that we were going to be able to get out of the rain and go home. As I tied

the lines off, I kept repeating to myself, "keep an open mind, keep an open mind. This IS going to be OK." And boy is it!

Turns out the little place, I mean, marina holds MAYBE 10 boats MAX! The drawing below kinda shows you how it's laid

out and where we are. The ---- is the dock that the X's (which are boats) are med moored to. The 0 are two pilons that

we had to be pulled through and then rotated along the back side of the dock. Since there are 12+ foot tides it's pretty

shallow where we are. Actually a couple times during the month we are sitting in the mud on our keel.

It's run by an american who bought the place from another american a couple of years ago. His house overlooks the

dock and they have a really nice office and restaurant infront of the fuel dock. Bruce, the owner, is a super, super nice

guy. It's expensive $16/ft/mo but hey, it's the only game in town--in the COUNTRY for that matter. He's very well

connected in the community and very informed. His staff is wonderful and we feel very welcome and safe. Better yet,

we know "Net Result" will be well looked after. Now all we had to do was prepare her for our departure. This is very

tricky as in this climate, mildew and mold are the real evil and grow in minutes if not handled properly. Golfito has a

duty free zone where you can go with your passport and sign up for a tarjeta worth about $500 of duty free purchases

from the 52 stores in the complex including an allotment of 2 cases of wine and 1 case of spirits. After talking with

Bruce and a couple of other people, we made the decision to buy an air conditioner and leave it on while we were gone

to fight the evil demon -- mildew. We bought a little 5,000 BTU Samsung and Joe set it up right away. Made it soooo

much easier to work on the boat as when it rains, (as it did every afternoon), you have to close everything up and work

below. We have made arrangements with some people next door to the marina to boat sit "Net Result" while we're

gone. Tim of Land & Sea Services comes down and checks the boat daily, starts the engine regularly, and cleans the

bottom monthly. With Tim and Bruce looking after "Net Result" we felt very comfortable leaving her and heading home

to dry out and wait out rainy season. Now all we had to do was prepare her.

Everything, and I mean everything, had to be emptied out of all the lockers. All clothes, towels, etc. had to be washed if

it had even been worn once. Once cleaned, and dried, they were placed in 2 gallon zip lock bags with as much air taken

out of them as possible. All storage areas needed to be washed with a bleach solution or Fantastic. All food items right

down to spices, were inventoried, checked for possible spoilage, and restowed. We had decided now was the time to

sort out everything onboard. If we hadn't used it since our departure it was to be taken off and either given away or

packed to be taken home. This was the biggest chore, as poor "Net Result" is really low in the water because we've got

so much stuff onboard. Off came our spare jib, our spare staysail, our trawler oil lamp to name a few big items. Now,

we just had to figure a way to get them packed and hauled home! Yet another challenge, as Golfito is an 8 bus ride

through the mountains to San Jose International airport. SANSA the local airline has small planes that make the run but

Joe was not comfortable flying in them and they limit the amount of luggage you can take to one - count it, one bag

weighing no more than 25 lbs. As we sat looking at our three massive duffle bags, one huge soft sided suitcase and two

huge carry ons.... we racked as brains as to how we were going to get all this to San Jose?! Rental cars are pricey and

impossible from Golfito as they charge you a $100 delivery charge to bring the rental car from San Jose for you and

they cost $60/day!

Someone in the marina had guests that were leaving on the daily bus at 5am (no this isn't a typo) and said that the bus

stops on the side of the road to pick you up on it's way out of town. Now, this was VERY attractive as you need to be

reminded of the tower of luggage that was now sitting in the storage room of the marina. You have to go down to the

bus, ah, terminal?, station?, office? and pay a whopping $5.50 (not another typo) each for the tickets 2 days in advance.

It's then that you tell them you want to be picked up in the road. They staple a yellow card to your tickets and you stand

in the middle of the road and hold out this tiny 2"x3" yellow card for the bus driver to see in the dark at 5am as he

barrels by hoping that he'll screech on the brakes and stop to pick you up. Well, we're here today to tell you that it

works! There's loads of room below for luggage as most people take only hand luggage onboard. Glad he drove and not

us. It stopped a couple of times for the passengers and he had a VHF to talk to the other trucks and busses on the road

so he'd know when to pass them on the little road. The bus arrives in a rotty part of town and we quickly claimed our

bags and schlepped them to the closest taxi to take us to the airport where we'd reserved the Hampton Inn for the

night. Joe wasn't feeling too good as he'd dived the bottom of the boat 2 days prior and I think he was sick from the foul

water in the gulf! Tim says he gets sick every time he dives a boat and makes sure that he dives at high tide. Of

course, Joe dove at low wanting to check the clearance of the hull and the mud below it at the dock.

Bruce had recommended the Hampton Inn for the night and it was perfect. When we checked out at 5am to go to the

airport reception said if we didn't get on the flight to come back and they'd give us our room back as it was ours until

2pm that day. Guess that was the kiss of death, as there was a lot of cargo that went on the flight and no standbys

were allowed to be boarded as the plane was at maximum weight. We went back to the hotel, had their complimentary

breakfast and went back to bed until 11am when we headed out again to try for their 1pm departure. We got on but

there wasn't any empty seat on the plane when we left. Changed in Houston and got home to LA with minimal hassle.

Customs in Houston was a breeze even with all our luggage. We rented a car when we got in as it ended up being

cheaper than the shuttle as they'd increased their prices (substantially) while we were gone.

We've been home a week and it's really wonderful to be home and drying out! ...and not from alcohol! :-) Wrapped up

my next contract while on the flight home and it's now at the printers so I finally have time to catch up on all the other

things that I want to accomplish while we're home for a while. How long? 'Til the end of rainy season. How long's that?

Maybe the beginning of October. We'll most probably go down to Costa Rica once during the time to work on the boat

and do some inland touring as it's pretty impossible to do when you leave your boat at anchor. It's just not safe. This is

a real predicament for people cruising in Costa Rica. There just aren't facilities for cruisers to make it stop to see much

more than what's close-by. Yes, Costa Rica is very civilized and when in the larger cities there are good grocery stores

like in mexico but it's still hard work.

We've done a lot of analyzing and have decided that our priority is blue clear water that we can fall off the boat into

when we first get up in the morning and sailing conditions. We're still able to count on one hand the number of times

we've actually sailed since we left California and have had only two spots where the water was clear enough to want to

snorkel or even yet, get in the water and swim! Hence, we've decided to get into the Caribbean as quickly as possible

and omit the caribbean side of Central America. Our thinking is that if we return in October towards the end of rainy

season and head south into Panama we'll enjoy the anchorages and passages more than during the rainy season. Our

tentative plan is to leave the boat at Pedro Miguel Yacht club inside the second lock of the Panama Canal and come

home for Thanksgiving (if they have room for us). Upon our return we'll finish the transit of the canal, head to the San

Blas Islands and then into Cartegena for a haul out. From there we'll head into the caribbean. Which direction/route

hasn't been determined yet as there's lots of research still to be done with our change of plans. One more thing on our

"to do" list while we're home.

Adios amigos

 

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