EMAILS FROM THE FRONT-COSTA RICA TO PANAMA
MARCH - APRIL 2004
March 30, 2004 Costa Rica, Playa Cocos Arrival
Mom, John and Kelly: (plus, a few cc's for fun...)
Arrived Costa Rica just now.
0130 Central Time (0730 UTC/GMT (-6 GMT in Central Time))
Playa Cocos, Costa Rica
N 10. 33'
W 85. 41'
Wind: 15 kts
Wnd Dir: 90
Anchored. Kids asleep (as usual!)
Final sail into this anchorage, south of Bahia Santa Elena, was uneventful. No winds greater than 18 kts, usually 10 kts. We dodged the Papagayo winds for now. Probably a bit more weather down the coast a bit, but worst is over. Anxiety unnecessary.
Sorry, no great sea stories to regale you with this time!
Playa Cocos is a required port and the first Northern port city in Costa Rica for sailors coming from Nicaragua.
Traveled with yacht Gitane, who left a day earlier than we did from Las Brillas Marina Club, El Salvador. Two 20-something couple traveling from Los Angeles to Maine, same as us. They are a 30-something footer, we are 42 feet. They radioed to us the conditions every couple of hours until we passed them at the headlands. We didn't realize they don't have radar nor electronic chart plotters so they are 9 nm behind us and are unable to come into the bay for refuge until morning due to rocks. We offered to help guide them but they are 1.6 hours away at 5 kts avg speed. They will have to wait until morning. Leaving for Golfito, farther south in Costa Rica, either tomorrow afternoon after sleep, or following morning.
Actually expect to make Panama by original date desired, 5th of April. Couldn't know until we passed this weather phenom. We are approximately 400 miles from Panama by the crow, but about 600 miles by sea near the coast. We do avg. 160/nm day. You figure, along with a couple of overnights or a one stop for a few days in Golfito. Already did the Costa Rica jungle tree thing in Mexico, so no need to do that again!
Thanks for keeping tabs on our log points for safety.
Letitia et. al.
April 1, 2004 Costa Rica, Playa Cocos to Bahia Herradura
April 1, 2004 (no kidding!)
0725 Central time
Speed over Ground (SOG): 5.4 kts
Course over Ground (COG): 075 degrees magnetic
Waypoint Bearing: 077 degrees magnetic
Compass course: 77 degrees magnetic
Time To Target (TTG): 03h:18m
Target: Waypoint 5 miles off Bahia Herradura (northern portion of Costa Rica, past "the horn")
Winds: 5 kts true*
Wind direction: 0 degrees (from the north)
Trip Log distance since started yesterday, March 31, 2004 from Playa Cocos: 122.25 nautical miles
Left in 25 knot winds from Playa Cocos approximately 1:30 pm after rescuing other yachters stuck in dinghy unable to row back to their boat (Gitane, whom we met in last port....)
Hit changing winds until nightfall, all within that range. Sailed mostly after they became sustained.
Just prior to dusk a 3 mile wide squall appeared on the radar and we went right for it!
Who knew you couldn't see boats coming at you when radar wiped them out by rain blotches! (we kept eyes out instead!)
Washed the boat down good for 10 minutes (we actually chased it by heading 20 degrees off shore to encounter it!)
Kids loved it! No lightening!
April is beginning of rain in these here parts. However, it is NOT the RAINY SEASON, which begins in earnest in May and will be pretty unbelievable in its amount of rain that falls.
Rest of sky perfectly clear.
Moon gaining size and making journey more fun until new moon. Sets during my 1-4 am watch.
Will write later. Much love to all.
Letitia et. al.
Costa Rica, entering the Golfo de Nicoya en route to Bahia Herradura. Expected landfall now 3 hours.
April 2, 2004 Costa Rica, off coast
We just got under way and are having a beautiful day sailing.
Time: 1441 central time (-6 UTC/GMT)
SOG: 6 kts
COG: 125 degrees magnetic
DATE: April 2, 2004
5-7 miles off coast of Costa Rica opposite Punta Guapinol.
Spent the night on the boat at Los Suenos Marina.
$2.50/ft/night includes 110 electric, cable t.v. (we hook up our cable, kids love it!) in English, telephone (we don't have one that plugs into docs, though we could.) The diesel was $2.09 U.S. a gallon and we took 75 gallons. Our filter test indicated no need to filter the fuel. That is the beauty of a marina that caters to Sport Fisherman from all over the world. They have large, expensive, well-cared for yachts and they would never permit bad fuel. Price was about what we paid in Cabo San Lucas.
Los Suenos Marina is a remarkable place. It is extremely well-cared for, very clean, the bathrooms and showers were nicer than any hotel we've stayed in, except maybe a Westin! It is a high-end sport fishing marina located next door to the Los Suenos Marriott Hotel and Resort. Though they share the same campus, if you will, there is no reciprocity. Los Suenos also has an award winning restaurant under a palapa, which cost us about $100 U.S. with a glass of wine each and was some of the finest food we have ever had. For the general cruiser, which is usually on a budget, it is not a place to put in. The place is teeming with Sport fisherman and women and the night lift at the Hook's Up bar and restaurant last night and today, serving 3 meals a day, was lively and March Madness was all over the 10 televisions they have in their open air bar!
Meagan and I went into the town of Jaco yesterday afternoon and Kelvin and Marked surfed in front of the Marriott Hotel and Resort. Both the Los Suenos Marina development and the Marriott are selling condos in this area. We would buy one in a flash if we knew we could get back here. Much to do and I have the brochures for the local juants.
It was fun last night to take the trash to their very neat and clean trash room, and find red land crabs, the kind you see in that National Geographic Christmas Island T.V. special, scampering all over at night! They were on the steps of the restaurant this morning, just basking in the sun.
It was great! The stores that are part of the Los Suenos Marina included an Omaha Steaks store! Yippee! Who knew you could go in in Costa Rica and buy a box of filet mignons for $69! We did, and Mark cooked them for the kids. Kelvin said his did not have enough flavor so we won't be wasting disgustingly expensive meat on him anymore! Then, Mark took his wife out to dinner. We actually showered and dressed. Hmmmmm, what a pleasure. The kids stayed on board and watched Smallville!
We are hearing of unfortunate East coast weather and we feel for you.
We are headed directly to Golfito. This is a check-out-of-the-country location. We will get there sometime tomorrow about noon. We will stay over night once again. Then, we will be departing for Panama, and most likely we believe that we will be heading straight for the canal, which should take two days.
Here is the log:
Los Suenos: Left April 2, 2004, 1 pm
Golfito, Costa Rica: arrive April 3, 2004, noonish
Golfito, Costa Rica: leave April 4, 2004 noonish
Panama Canal, Balboa Yacht Club: April 7 or 8th, 2004 (330 miles from Golfito to Panama Canal, we do 160 nm/day, however, we will be running against the current, and the tides increase inland to 21 feet twice a day).
We will keep you posted.
Have already seen this morning a bat ray flying several times through the air. Never seen that before. Kelvin and I caught 4 10-lb skipjacks yesterday and threw them back. One of them, while I was waiting to get the pliers from Kelvin to remove the hook, spit up a whole 5 inch fish into the water. Then, while we were watching, threw up another undigested 5 inch fish! This is only a 10 lb fish! Kelvin and I then looked into its open mouth and saw something in its throat. It thrashed again and out came a squid! Ew! Yuk! It stuck to the side of the boat. The little fishies that flew out of its mouth were not alive and did not swim away. Three of our four fish lived. The first one had a rough time letting us let it go! They aren't the greatest food to eat, too much tough dark meat on top of the small amount of filets we would get for the bloody work. So, we throw them back.
Anyway, crabs, bat rays, skipjacks...not bad for a 24-hour period!
More information later.
April 3, 2004 COSTA RICA, Golfito leg
Set to arrive in Golfito, Costa Rica this morning, amid large thunderheads shooting up everywhere. Coast is finally lush and green and a low fog runs along the water at the coast's edge.
Uneventful motor through the night from Los Suenos Marina, Herradura, Costa Rica. Expected to arrive Golfito about 4 hours from now. 2 hours until we turn North and go up into the gulf to Golfito.
Mark asleep for his 7-10 time off, Kelvin and Meagan on deck in underwear. Is there no shame! Time for pancakes!
April 3, 2004
0738 Central Time
Speed over Ground (SOG): 6.5 kts
Course over Ground (COG): 103 m
Trip Log (nautical miles this trip): 129 nm
April 3, 2004: Golfito, Costa Rica
Arrived Golfito, Costa Rica 1300 central time. Saturday. Tide coming in on way in so didn't get slowed down. Getting to full moon and we expect an 18 foot tidal change tonight as we get closer to the spring tide. (Spring tides are larger than normal and occur at the new moon and the full moon). Panama on the Pacific side has a 22 foot tidal change on average, greater at the spring tides! Atlantic side has only a foot, maybe two at tides and is mostly a mud flat we hear.
Very beautiful, very tropical, very hot.
Everyone hungry and tired! Not sure if they have internet here, but will try to find the requisite internet cafe to check on my yahoo.com email account (and Mark's).
Feel free to email here as well as I will check it this afternoon, tonight, and tomorrow.
Realized that the week we intend to be in Panama for crossing is Easter weekend. What a bad Christian I am!
Must stay here until Monday afternoon as check-out (the Zarpe) for this country cannot occur until Monday. If it stays this hot and humid even AFTER the motor and all its heat has escaped, meaning tomorrow, we're looking for a room somewhere!
Wind is blowing, canopy trees everywhere growing up the sides of the volcanic mountains. Beaches are black for volcanic sand. Good PR program by Costa Rica. Looks just as we would have expected. Moored at the Banana Bay Marina (and yes, it is bright yellow). Town was originally part of the Banana Republic, as many of you may remember your history of this area. It was once a bustling banana-port. It still exports bananas, but when the United Fruit Company lost their monopoly, in 1986 I believe, but I don't remember, these countries were devastated economically. They have established a duty free port here to try to make up for the lost revenue and devastation here, so many things at the north end of the gulf are duty free...perfumes, appliances, etc. You know, all those things I've needed for the past 6 months!
It is also one of the only locations where every single book says that one should not leave ones dinghy, or anything else, unattended, anywhere. Hmmm. It says that poverty is still poverty and an unlocked dinghy still represents several years labors for a family. Okay, we are warned.
Caught 3 mackeral on our way into the bay. Two at the same time which caught us all by surprise. They were approximately 12 pounds, 2 of them, an the one that got away was at least 20. It was amazing. So, we have mackeral (sp?) for quite some time, filleted, washed and in the freezer. So, we're going out to dinner. Hmmmn.
Anyway, more later.
Letitia et. al.
Golfito, Costa Rica
April 3, 2004
April 5, 2004 Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica to Panama
I hate when people send emails to a bunch of people and include me, so again, I don't send every up-date, usually every 3rd or 4th, except to our parents....so, if you hate it as much, just let us know!
Sun has just set in the Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf, Costa Rica) and we are exiting the gulf having left Banana Bay Marina two hours ago. What a great place that was. It was so hot, however, that we rented one of their 4 rooms last night, really for the air conditioning. And, we decided to research getting air conditioning in the boat in Florida, or having one of the new 13,500 btu portables, air-cooled, sent to Panama. It is really really hot down here when you have to move at all. If you just lie in your bunk with 3 fans on you half-naked, with screens in, even with a sea breeze in the windows, you can sleep a regular night's sleep. But, the water temperature has increased to 90 degrees! Can you believe that! That affects many things...not the least of which is you can't get a cold shower when it is hot!
The water on the Pacific side is not clear and in the gulf from Mexico to Costa Rica, it is surely not clean! The runoff simply from the rains in Costa Rica make the water very murky. No one would jump in and swim. Even out to sea it isn't the clear crystal water of the Carribean side. We await that pleasure, however and the kids remember it from our sailing trips in the West Indies...you could see all the way to the bottom. The kids can't wait, and neither can we!
Next destination...Panama Canal....3 nights, 2 days sailing...our longest leg yet. I'm sure we'll be "wasted", however everyone says that the first 2 days are the hardest, and so far, that is all we have done. I relish the night watches, mine from 7 to 10 pm and 1 to 4 am, where I am alone with the swish of the ocean, and periodically, the dolphins that come up along side the boat. The moon will be almost full this evening.
Monday, April 5, 2004
Just off Punta Banco on southern end of Golfo Dulce, Cost Rica
1805 Central Time (no time change here....-6 UTC/GMT) which is now 2 hours from EST and 1 hour from PST.
WINDS: 12 kts true; DIRECTION: 240 degrees
One reef in main already as agreed by us before nightfall every night regardless.
SOG (speed over ground): 8.1 kts due to amazing tidal changes exiting the gulf with us. (won't last!)
2300 RPMs due to potential overheating of engine at 2500 RPMs because of increasd water temps here!
COG (course over ground): 148 degrees magnetic
Wpt Brg: (waypoint bearing): 136 degrees magnetic. Will turn more toward Wpt Brg as soon as I pass this point.
Kids made caramel popcorn just now. Mark made them Mac & cheese for dinner and is on the "net" (single sideband radio weather group) getting info and weather for next 3 days and discussing different areas where other cruisers are giving their locations and conditions for us to track. VERY helpful to cruisers.
Spent the day provisioning in town, attempting to get our exit papers (Zarpe) from COsta Rica, having to pay $20 extra for each of two of the offices (immigration and customs) that are closed this week for Holy Week, and trying to get dollars as we got down to nothing! Hopped in the taxi hoping to get money, knowing without getting it, we couldn't really pay the driver! lucked out! Visa advanced $200, and the grocery store took Visa! Yippee!
More stories to tell, but don't want to bore anyone. Haven't been able to up-date web site since Acapulco, though it is ready to be FTPd to the site. No access to a computer with Front page, a CD rom, or any ability to plug mine in. However, probably staying at the most wonderful Gamboa Rain Forest Resort at the Canal as waiting times for yachts under 65 feet is running 5 days from when you have the admeasurer measure and certify your boat. So, why not spend a few sheckles (sp?) and stay at the best....with lots of educational stuff there!
www.gamboaresort.com Check it out!
Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica en route to Balboa, Panama Canal. Expected arrival: Thursday, April 8, 2004....
P.S. Church all picked out in Panama for Good Friday services and Sunday services. Oh, Mark got a letter he sent about the absence of church information in the December 2004 Lattitudes & Attitudes cruising magazine....in this month's April 2004 issue! He pontificates about the meaning of Christmas and the need to help cruisers find churches wherever they go! What a guy! His letters always get published! Not mine...but then again, he is an amazing writer...and funny too. Mine, I'm sure, are just complaining about something! Hmmm.
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