Our Mission: To boldly go until we are no more!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Latitude Interlude

We have a series of articles in Latitude 38 magazine (October, December and January) conveying some thoughts regarding our circumnavigation and the cruising lifestyle. For the complete Report ready for download follow this link: Circumnavigation Interlude

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Alameda Interlude

Ventura to Alameda was 34 hours dock to dock. We sailed a few hours yesterday but motored the rest of the trip to make it in during daylight. Good traveling weather with a light SW breeze. The Alameda draw bridges all opened like clockwork and we even made it thru before commute hours.

Miles sailed since we left Alameda eleven years ago: 55,495.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Underway Again

After 16 days in Ventura we are now underway again. The gale to storm force winds blowing down the California coast for the past two weeks have stopped and we hope to have a calm 36 hr motorboat ride to San Francisco Bay. The Wyman's were very generous letting us use their dock, house and car and the neighbors and the Ventura Yacht Club were also very hospitable. Interlude with her new paint job had all the canal SUPs, kayakers, electric Duffy boaters and BMWs gawking.

We had fun catching up with some folks we met cruising in Indonesia who are still living aboard their Sundeer 60 in Ventura. Katie could not resist shopping for more house items in her old home town mall in Thousand Oaks, at the art galleries in Ojai and in the Santa Barbara tourist shops. On Earth Day we walked to the Ventura Eco Fest along the beach.

All the usual oil rigs are still in the Santa Barbara Channel looming at us thru the fog.

1100 Local Position: 34d23'N, 120d07'W, COG 268dM, SOG 10kn, Air 70F, Water 55F

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Del Rey Ventura

We had a very nice time in Marina Del Rey and would like to thank Errol 'Deerfoot II', Jeff and Gayle 'Lazybones' and Fielding and Nancy 'Regatta' for showing us around and making us feel welcome. We had fun cycling on the beach bike path and seeing all the sights from Santa Monica to Manhatten Beach. Restaurants we can recommend: Sidewalk Cafe, Venice; Killer Shrimp, MdR; Tony P's, MdR; Rockin' Fish, Manhatten Beach.

Katie's birthday celebration on April 4 was part of a month long festival of reconnecting with old friends in ports all along the coast. Some Cheesecake Factory treats made the special day even more festive.

Yesterday we motored 50 miles up to Ventura and are now at Dave and Diane Wyman's house in the Keys with Interlude on their dock (34d15.6'N, 119d15.9'W).

The wind will be picking up over the next few days (its blowing 35 out in the Channel Islands now) ruling out any more hops north for a while.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Interlude

We are now in Marina del Rey where Interlude's sistership Deerfoot II is berthed. On the way in Friday we were greeted by 'Beowulf' another Dashew design and had her crew over for drinks. Yesterday we visited some of the Dashew family aboard Deerfoot II and had drinks at the California Yacht Club.

Also on the way in, the mega MV 'Air' was in the marina channel with her helicopter taking off. She probably had to move out of her berth to use the chopper.

The marina is part of a condo complex with boater dedicated bathrooms, showers, laundry and heated swimming pool. Interlude is in a vacant end tie berth known of by Errol, the helpful captain of DF II (33d58.38'N, 118d27.18'W, Basin 'A' berth 1623/1624 Marina Harbor Anchorage).

Today we plan to have Easter Brunch with Jeff & Gayle who we meet cruising in the Pacific, have their yacht in the Med and a home in Beverly Hills.

We wish you all a happy fertility celebration and us Christians peace of mind.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Southland Sailing

We are finally back in the US of A after leaving Newport RI in September of 2012.

After clearing customs at the SD Police Dock (had to give up some made in USA chicken in original packaging) we are now at the Southwestern Yacht Club where the bar and dinner await.

The Southwestern Yacht Club has gotten upscale since we last were there ten years ago (32d42.82'N, 117d14.06'W, 12 ft no charge). A new building with good restaurant, bar, showers, etc. was ours for three nights with very nice and helpful members. We declined borrowing a car and walked a couple miles to Trader Joe's to stock up the fruit, veggies and meats the US CBP would not allow in. We still ended up eating dinners at the yacht club because the food was so good and inexpensive.

The real estate along the beach was very impressive and we had fun walking in front of all the beachfront homes.  

Today we motored 60 miles to Newport Beach and chose to anchor in the designated anchorage off Lido Island. Freshly dredged, the anchorage is now open again and we are the only boat in it! The club CFJ junior program is in session and one of those water jet packs is flying around for rent.

Katie is studying the City of Newport Cruising Guide ( www.newportbeachca.gov/harborguide ) for restaurants with dinghy docks.

So far Newport Beach is looking pretty nice...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ensenada Escape

Ensenada has been a surprisingly fun stop. Our friends Jan and Ramona took us wine tasting in the Guadalupe Valley where we toured the oldest (Santo Tomas) and biggest (L.A. Cetto) wineries and had a great meal at La Hacienda. They also took us to La Buffadora (blowhole on Punta Banda) and shopping in town for art glazed flowerpots(!) for the house.

The Coral Hotel and Marina have nice amenities including indoor pool and spa with steam room and gym, clubhouse with pool table and big screen tv and the savings at the fuel dock paid for it all. The local morning net is on VHF 69 at 0800 M-F and 0900 Saturday, donuts at the Marina Coral clubhouse at 0930 on Saturday and don't miss the Sunday brunch at the Hotel.

Although outward clearance for US boats and US citizens may not be required to enter the US by CBP (depending on the US customs officer), we had the marina van take us to the one-stop office near the port where the marina agent took care of all paperwork for $25 plus a $30 fee for Interlude. He also took us back to the pottery shop for more pots(!) with one urn so big we had to stow it in the main salon because it wouldn't fit into a cabin.

Tomorrow (Sunday) we plan to sail 60 nm to San Diego, check in with CBP and then spend a couple day at the Southwestern Yacht Club guest dock.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Corralled in Coral

We are now moored at the end of B Dock in Marina Coral, Ensenada (31d51.80N, 116d39.66W, 12 ft). They were serving a big Sunday buffet brunch at the Hotel Coral so instead of fueling the boat we fueled ourselves! The marina was kind enough to give us a 10% discount card for the hotel restaurant, spa etc. normally only given to long term tenants. The Marina/Hotel complex is very nice ( www.hotelcoral.com ) and the weather is forecast to be cold and rainy in Southern California so we signed up for a week.

Our friends Jan and Ramona who we meet in the South Pacific are now based here aboard their 30 footer 'Jatimo'. They greeted us, gave us a tour and we joined them for the buffet. This area also grows grapes and is said to be what Napa Valley was like so some wine touring may take take place over the next couple days.  

On the way into the bay at dawn this morning we passed a yacht we haven't seen since Indonesia ('Dutch Touch' Sundeer 60). They have also circumnavigated and are also just coming up from Panama. Unfortunately the captain was injured off Cabo San Lucas and had to fly home leaving a delivery crew to sail to their home port near Los Angeles. They had no autopilot, ran completely out of fuel and were sailing into the bay where they planned to anchor and jug some fuel out to the boat.

We plan to top off fuel here tomorrow at high tide (there is apparently a shoal at the fuel dock) and the savings for fueling here vs. San Diego will pay our berthage for a few days.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Baja Bash Day 4

We did not stop at Turtle Bay yesterday afternoon and made it to the Northern tip of Cedros Island at sunset in calm conditions. Then coming out of its lee we hit 20 kn of cape effect wind and chop for about an hour before the headwind settled down to 8-12 kn for the night. Throttling back to a boatspeed of 7 kn for a smoother ride gives us a Sunday morning ETA at Ensenada. Fuel is said to be much cheaper there ($3.80 vs. $4.80) and we will be low again after all this motoring.

We plan to get a slip in Marina Coral ( www.hotelcoral.com ) for the night after fueling, check out of Mexico and then make our way 60 miles to San Diego for inward customs clearance and then a guest berth at the Southwestern Yacht Club (+1-619-222-0438).

1600 UTC Position: 29d40'N, 115d49'W (approaching 2 miles off Sacramento Reef)

The US Navy is advertising a live fire exercise west of the Channel Islands on VHF 16 and just reprimanded the USCG for hogging channel 16 while working a vessel in distress. Your tax dollars at work - sort of.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Baja Bash Day 3

We had the mainsail up yesterday to boost our motoring speed by about a knot. The wind picked up briefly to 10 kn but the trip remains a mostly calm motorboat ride.

We made use of the electric heat last night and are wearing watch caps and fleece. There was more fog in the early morning hours and the sea water temp is now 58F (starting to see floating kelp). With fog and hardly any moon it is strictly instrument flying.

We passed only three yachts and one ship - all heading south except for the Grand Princess. Quite a few whales on the humpback highway though.

1600 UTC Position: 26d58'N, 114d16'W

Turtle Bay is six hours away and we may stop for a day or so if it will be calmer later.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Baja Bash Day 2

Our nice sailing conditions across the Gulf of California continued almost all the way to Cabo San Lucas where we ran out of wind. That is a good thing going around this cape which can have quite boisterous chop and headwinds. Rounding just before sunset we had calm wind and flat seas which have now continued until morning. The Grand Princess was leaving the anchorage and is also heading for San Francisco - ETA 3 days (at 20kn+).

We are now off Bahia Magdelena in fog(!) with a chilly (for us) sea temp of 61F.

1600 UTC Position 24d17'N, 111d46'W

So far no Baja Bashing.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Baja Bash Day 1

We just shut off the engine after 24 hrs of motoring across the sea formerly known as Cortez. Cabo is still about 65 miles away where we begin the Baja Bash proper. For now we are sailing nicely under full main and code zero genoa in light northlerlies making wind speed on a close reach (7 kn in 7 kn).

Katie has prepared several meals so we have quite a menu to chose from:
Chicken Stir Fry with Brown Rice
Chicken Pesto Pasta
Bean Soup
Chicken Tacos
Pizza (ordered and frozen from Falconi's in La Cruz)
Banana Bread
Date Bread

Our freezer should be empty when we reach San Diego or Customs will confiscate all meat, eggs, fruit and veggies. Fish is OK and maybe some cheese bought on the US East Coast.

1600 UTC Position: 22d18'N, 108d50'W

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Leaving La Cruz

After a month in Banderas Bay, Mexico most of it spent in Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle with our Canadian friends Rod and Dar aboard, we are now underway to San Diego and have just left the anchorage at Punta de Mita (20d45.74'N, 105d31.19'W 30 ft) and have already spotted another whale.

La Cruz was a fun place to hang out (some people never leave) and our activites included:

Zip lining with Canopy River who have the longest line in Mexico (over 2100 ft and up 300 ft). Katie overcame her fear of heights on the 12 cables and mule riding knowing there was tequila tasting back at the end of the tour.

Kurt racing in the Mexico Masters Laser championship with a boat chartered thru PV Sailing.

A trip to the old mining town of San Sebastian with April ( ajsurfs66@hotmail.com )

Kayak racing in the marina (our new Hobie 14ti tandem mirage drive inflatable took second )

Shopping at the Sunday street fair/farmers market

Going out almost every day and night to eat and listen to live music:
Ana Banana
Octopuses Garden
Mariscos 119
Falconi Pizzas

Black Forest

We will see how long our weather window lasts. This has the potential to be a rough trip but we can pull over in a few bays along the way.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Cruising in to La Cruz

We are now berthed in Marina Riviera Nayarit La Cruz (20d44.96'N, 105d22.70W, 12 ft). We arrived yesterday afternoon with about 20 gallons to spare (out of 550) and went directly to the fuel dock in the marina ($4.08/gal).

Our friends Rich and Cathy Warner meet us on the dock. They are now retired and cruising Mexico on Bella Brisa, a Tayana 37PH ( http://sailingbellabrisa.blogspot.mx/ ). La Cruz looks like it will be very pleasant little town to hang out in for a while with a new marina, many small restaurant/bars, touring/hiking trips to Spanish Colonial and Indian sites, waterfalls, beaches, botanical gardens, etc. and of course PV nearby.

Last night we celebrated Katie's circumnavigation with the Warners at a place serving only steak tacos, beers and Mojitos. Although we passed Manzanillo on the way here, PV marks the official landfall where Katie closes the loop from ten years ago. PV is also where we set off for the South Pacific on her birthday in April of 2003. It will be interesting to see the changes in Mexico after ten years (there was no marina here back then).

Tomorrow our Canadian friends Rod and Dar (cruisers, met in the Pacific, now living in BC) arrive and will be staying with us for a couple weeks. We have already booked a tour for Friday to San Sebastian, a well preserved Spanish Colonial town from the 1600's with silver mines and and an old Hacienda.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Underway Day 4

Our rebuilt ISUZU engine has been running for over 80 hours now and if it were in a truck that works out to over 5000 miles. We did a fluids change before starting this leg and 24 hr checks show all levels OK.

There was some vessel traffic today with three sail and one powerboat heading down the coast. The Amigo SSB Net this morning gave us a chance to chat briefly with friends we haven't heard in a long time. On this trip we are bypassing some popular cruiser hangouts in favor of going where it is cooler and finding even more cruisers to hang with. Last night we passed Zihautanejo and Ixtapa and tonight we will be going by Manzanillo (Las Hadas), Navidad, Tenecatita and Chamela before the sun comes up. The last time we were anchored at Las Hadas (2003) we felt the boat vibrating from a big earthquake and immediately put to sea.

We are off the weather fax charts from NMG New Orleans, LA and are now getting charts from NMC Point Reyes, CA.

2300 UTC position: 18d17'N, 103d33'W (St. Elmo lighthouse abeam) about 24 hrs to go to La Cruz, Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta area). That puts us about half way from Panama to San Francisco.

Hope we have enough fuel...

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Underway Day 3

Still motoring non-stop although we did have a headsail up this morning for a half knot boost to 9 kn.

As some of you may recall Interlude had a mosaic of orca jumping in the sunset behind the stove. That mosaic was falling apart and was replaced by some glass and stainless clad tiles in a subway pattern during the Fort Lauderdale refit last year. At sunset yesterday some spinner(?) dolphins re-created the scene out the galley portlight and stayed with us for quite a while (photo next week).

This afternoon we passed close by Acapulco admiring the cliffside architecture and looking for cliff divers. This legendary city no longer holds the appeal for cruisers it once did and so we gave it a miss. No cliff divers but the jumping manta rays along the beach to the west gave us a good show.

2300 UTC position: 16d54'N, 100d09W following the beach 2 nm off.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Underway Day 2

We have been motoring continuously for over 30 hours and are now out of the Gulf of Tehuantepec with no weather incidents. At some point last night we confirmed the forecast of no gap wind and cut a few dozen miles off our trip by leaving the beach and cutting across.

2100 UTC position: 15d41'N, 96d47'W motoring into light chop and headwinds at 8.3 kn along the beach just past Puerto Angel.

Still only catching skipjack (two more before giving up again) but have sighted two sea turtles and some dolphins.

Checked in to the Amigo Net this morning (1400 UTC, 8122 USB) for the first time and spoke with net control in La Cruz (near Puerto Vallarta) where we are headed next.

We have about 72 hrs to go if we don't stop.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Underway Day 1

We are indeed on the move again. We got inspected by the Navy and their dog just before casting off in Marina Chiapas at 0900 this morning.

With the help of the marina staff, Chiapas was a great place to check in to Mexico. The unfamiliarity with yacht clearance in this border town has all but been eliminated in the few months that the marina has been open and all paperwork went reasonably smoothly including obtaining a Temporary Import Permit from the customs checkpoint on the road at the border with Guatemala (original registration documents required).

We had some fun with the cruisers in the marina at a sundowner potluck appetizer music jam session. Present were five guitars, harmonica, fiddle and percussion.

We are now crossing the Gulf of Tehuantepec, a potentially hazardous body of water with winds from the Caribbean funneling thru a gap in the Sierra Madres. Storm force wind and huge seas are not uncommon this time of year and breaks in this pattern are short and infrequent. We are hoping for reduced wind Wednesday and Thursday as we traverse the 250 mile Gulf. As a precaution we will hug the coast to eliminate the wave effects if the wind should pipe up.

Some friends are scheduled to fly into Puerto Vallarta on February 12 to spend time with us so we now have a schedule other than mother nature's. Also, we hope to make it 950 more nm to PV before fueling (we filled up just before leaving Costa Rica). Maybe we can use some of the coastal night breezes to sail a bit.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Chiapas Chacha

We arrived Saturday at Marina Chiapas in Puerto Chiapas (ex Puerto Madero) at the civilized hour of 0800. We were greeted by a pilot panga who guided us up a curved channel to a basin dug into the landscape. The place is only a few months old and quite empty but there are some cruisers here including the El Salvador ralley organizers on Mitakuuluu http://elsalvadorrally.blogspot.mx/

Like the ralley boats, most are headed south, which at this time of year means they are going to stay in Central America or get an early start on the South Pacific with Galapagos, Easter Island and Pitcairn. The rest of Polynesia will be in cyclone season until April. Ecuador just issued a piracy warning so we wish the best for our friends who headed there.

The marina staff has been very helpful with clearance procedures and when it is all done (finishing up on Monday) we'll let you know the details. Katie again had some staff help with washing the boat while Kurt changed oil on the ME and AUX as well as fuel filters and ATF. We change oil and filters every 200 hours. 'Memo' the assistant marina manager after driving us to the airport to see immigration, dropped us off at a huge shopping mall in Tapachula (the big town nearby) where we did some provisioning at Walmart. The town also has a Sam's Club, Home Depot, Office Depot, Auto Zone, as well as a naval air station and cruise ship dock.

A weather window is opening up for us to cross the dreaded Gulf of Tehuantepec (250 miles) mid week so we will be on the move again.

This afternoon we are going on a bus with some American cruisers to a Superbowl Party (Go Niners!)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Underway Day 3

We are having quite a time dealing with all the land effects on the wind and are not used to changing sails/motoring every few hours. We'll take mid ocean tradewinds any day over these 'gap' winds and 'thermal drainage'.

We are now off the coast of Guatemala (1430 UTC position 13d37'N, 90d35'W) and decided not to burn a bunch of diesel getting in to Marina Chiapas by sunset and instead come in Saturday morning. The 'owner' wants to be somewhere we an watch the Superbowl so we're still OK there.

Just started the engine again and have more spotted dolphins playing on the bow.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


We enjoyed our four days at Marina Papagayo: diving Monkey Head Rock ($90.00 pp for two tanks), dining at the Four Seasons and touring the grounds which included an Arnold Palmer golf course and several beaches and pools. The marina had a condo complex with pool, gym, laundry, lounge and reasonably priced restaurant/bar. It was fun to watch some small blue birds scoop a drink on the wing as we chilled in the condo pool at sunset and listening to the howler monkeys in the hills at dusk and dawn. Though expensive, using an agent to do our outward clearance paperwork was painless and we got to enjoy a day at the resort instead of driving around the countryside tracking down officials.

Our new Cedar plug lure with #10 hook was supposed to be skipjack proof according to Rick the sportfish charter skipper at Marina Papagayo. After catching three of these silly tunas within an hour and tossing them all back (barely edible only in cans and raw) we have stopped fishing for a while. Our captain says we have no time to waste in the Gulf of Papagayo, one of the 'gaps' in Central America where tradewinds from the Caribbean funnel into the Pacific. The other major gap winds blow into the Gulf of Tehuantepec where a gale is now developing. We are underway from the Gulf of Papagayo to the the new Marina Chiapas at the SE end of the Gulf of Tehuantepec - about a 500 mile passage. Puerto Chiapas (formerly Puerto Madero) is near the Mexican border with El Salvador and is a port of entry. Here we will wait for a break in the T-pecker winds to cross the 250 mile Gulf.

It is now the morning of day two and we are passing the Gulf of Fonseca (1400 UTC position: 12d34'N, 88d15'W) where El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua all got a piece of this natural harbor. We have been sailing about half the time with a 3/4 moon at night and escorted by spotted dolphins.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Flamingos & Papagayos

Twelve years ago Marina Flamingo in Bahia Potrero was a thriving sportfishing hangout with fuel dock, bar/restaurant/resort, etc. Interlude stopped here on Kurt's delivery of her from Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco Bay in 2000. It is always sad to see a place change for the worse and there is probably an interesting story why the place was shut down in 2003 by 27 armed police and taken over as a Coast Guard base.
We anchored just outside the old marina breakwater (10d26.56'N, 85d46.91'W, 30 ft) in Bahia Potrero and did not go ashore. There is still a small sportfishing fleet and a few tourist catamarans on moorings in the bay.

The new Marina Papagayo where we are now (10d38.40'N, 85d39'W, 35 ft) as part of the Peninsula Papagayo development project is ideally suited to take over for Flamingo in this part of Costa Rica. However they are not marketing to the sportfishers. In fact they are not really marketing at all and the marina is still almost empty after being open for four years. The investors appear to have deep pockets and construction of more buildings continues.

We employed two marina staff cleaners to wash the boat today ($15/hr) and tonight we are going out to dinner with our new Canadian friends at one of the restaurants at the Four Seasons (also part of the development) overlooking the Arnold Palmer golf course and the ocean.

The concierge here at the marina also helped us organize a dive trip tomorrow morning ($90pp two tanks).
We plan to be here for a few days and then use an agent to clear out:

Ernesto Conejo
Paramares S.A.
cel +506 8811 7290

The local agent for Paramares is Natalia +506 8856 5479

It is possible to rent a car from the marina or swim ashore thru the surf at Playa Del Coco and spend a day doing the paperwork with the various governmental agencies yourself but in this case we will pay the agent fee.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Underway from Tortuga

Today we got an early start on a 100 nm jump up the coast. We hoisted anchor at 0dark30 and have just rounded Cabo Blanco at 0730 heading for Bahia Potrero. Watch out for the long liners - we snagged one rounding the Cape. There are some rolley anchorages along the way but we prefer just to get to the nicer ones. For surfers this may not be the case - there are many famous surf breaks along the Costa Rica coast.

Islas Tortugas was a very pleasant three day stop. The first night's diurnal wind was the worst with the following two nights being only light from the North. The snorkeling was not very remarkable - maybe only to the numerous newbie day trippers. Some maintenance rounded out our stay with projects from the masthead (sticky anemometer) to the bottom of the keel (scrub).

We had a nice snork and walk on the beach with our new Canadian friends and plan to see them again along the way.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Islas Tortugas

Yesterday we motored about 60 nm northwest in calm conditions from Manuel Antonio Park to the Islas Torgugas on the West side of Golfo Nicoya (we spotted on 'tortuga' on the way in. We bypassed several rolly anchorages and expensive marinas to find flat water with a cool light breeze off a small beach at Isla Alcatraz (9d46.75'N, 84d53.75'W, 26 ft). This is a tourist area with day trippers going to the beach at Isa Tolinga and divers on the small islet (Turtle Rock)and rocks nearby. By 1700 they were all gone and we were left with only one Canadian cruising yacht also heading north. We bought three lobsters ($20) from some local fishermen and had a nice feast finishing off the evening with a couple episodes of West Wing on DVD.

At 0000 we awoke to a wind shift to the north piping up to 25 kn and within a short time had some two foot chop in the anchorage. The anchor reset itself well in sand after the 180 degree shift but we put on the chartplotter anchor alarm for good measure since the beach was now at our stern. If its not one thing its another - if its not swell roll its wind chop... In this case the wind chop was still better than swell roll for sleeping. The wind died back down by sunrise and is probably thermal drainage from the mainland.

Today we plan to go snorkeling on 'Turtle Rock' and get to know our new Canadian friends better. All the yachts on the Pan Pacific SSB net this morning are heading south so to find a yacht going north to Mexico with us is rare.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cano to Antonio

Diving at the Isla Cano National Marine Park was excellent. Known as 'Mini Cocos Island' only 17 miles off the coast it was to substitute for us going to the legendary Cocos Island some 300 miles further off the coast. Although we did not see any hammerhead sharks or find pirate treasure the sea life was spectacular. Permits to visit these National Parks by your own vessel are prohibitively difficult to obtain and you will be asked to leave if you arrive without one.

The panga ride out to Cano was about an hour and we had five divers, three snorkelers, driver, dive master, snork guide and a park ranger along for the ride out. There were several other pangas with divers/snorklers and we can see why they are limiting the number of visitors to 60 per day. Dives are limited to 45 minutes by regulation and you are not allowed to touch anything.

On each of our two dives we saw numerous white tip reef sharks, rays, turtles, moray eels, schools of barracudas, jacks, tuna, the usual tropical fish and even a yellow frog fish and a giant black manta ray with white stripes. There were some thermoclines with the cooler ocean water mixing with the mainland and even a little red tide causing visibility to be less than 60 ft in some places. The sharks were mostly inactive and sitting on the sandy bottom. The coral was unremarkable.

We have not seen this many fish diving since we were last in the Pacific six years ago. Its great to be back although all we seem to be catching over here is skipjack tuna - four more today (all thrown back).

Bahia Drake (named after the Sir Francis Drake who seems to have gotten everywhere) was just too rolley an anchorage for us to spend any more time in so we are now in an only slightly less rolley anchorage at Manuel Antonio National Park some 50 nm further along the coast. Named after a Spanish soldier killed by the fierce Quepos Indians on the beach here in 1519, 1700 acres were declared a Park in 1972. We are anchored tucked behind a headland off the beach where there are no tourists (9d22.97N, 84d08.90'W, 25 ft). The tourist beach is packed, has vendors and even a parasail boat. We see what look like small hotels on the hill further around the bay. Cheeky white faced capuchin monkeys are said to harass the tourists and since we have seen just about all the wildlife we wanted to see in Costa Rica we probably won't go ashore. There is supposed to be an anchoring fee and an entrance fee pp but some boats that came thru here last week could not find anyone ashore to take their

It is still very hot in the afternoons especially at anchor (95F air, 86F sea). Since we've seen quite a lot of what nature has to offer here in Costa Rica our goal now is to meet some cruisers heading north and cool off.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Drake Bay

After motoring 50 nm yesterday we are now anchored on the outside of the Oso Peninsula in Drake Bay (8d41.95'N, 83d40.04'W, 20 ft LW). Coming around Capa Matapalo at the southern tip of the peninsula we could just barely make out some of the lodge at Bosque del Cabo. Fishing was only good for skipjack of which we caught four and threw them all back. The anchorage is quite exposed the ocean swells so whe have our flopper stopper (Magma) deployed.

Here in Bahia Drake, there is another nice eco lodge, Aguila del Osa, where we meet Brad the owner who kindly arranged a dive trip to Isla Cano for us this morning ($130 pp 2 tank, incl. lunch and permits). The island, a national park, is about an hour panga ride off the coast here and not a good anchorage for us even if we could get permits. There is a new regulation theat went into effect last week limiting the number of snorklers/divers. The lodges here had no advance notice and many guests had to delay or miss their dives because of cruise ship snorklers taking up many of the slots.

Aguila's dock is just inside the river mouth in the SW corner of the bay. It is possible for yatistas to eat there with some advance notice.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Go Golfito

We have been power touring the Golfo Dulce area of Costa Rica for a week now and can say that the flora and fauna viewing is spectacular. Our three day two night excursion to the Oso Peninsula was well worthwhile and the Bosque del Cabo ‘eco lodge’ was a fantastic place to stay. Leaving Interlude at anchor in Golfito, we took a 0730 ‘local’ ferry ride across the Golfo Dulce and were greeted by the lodge driver for a bumpy one hour jeep ride along a rough gravel road that crossed three rivers. We saw and learned much more on guided walks that we did on our own and the accommodations and meals were very nice. We saw all four species of monkeys found in Costa Rica (spider, howler, white faced, and squirrel) right on the lodge property as well as three toed sloths and dozens of bird species including scarlet macaws and toucans. Insects, spiders, bats, snakes, lizards, frogs and toads were all identified and their importance to the local ecosystem explained. A canopy tour by zip line with 100 foot rappel to the forest floor was quite an exciting way to view the area. Started from humble beginnings as a surf camp by Phil, a young American surfer 23 years ago, the lodge is now an amazing property on over 750 acres of rainforest reserve.

A day excursion by hired boat took us to the Santuario Silvestre de Osa wildlife sanctuary (8d40.56’N, 83d19.48’W) and the Casa Orchidea botanical garden (8d39.45’N, 83d16.01’W). Although we could have taken Interlude and anchored off these locations it was faster and easier by panga.

The refuge was started in 1996 by Americans when injured wildlife and abandoned exotic pets began to outnumber the guests at their eco lodge. The foundation has around 90 animals is various stages of rehabilitation and has release over 300 back into the wild (adjacent Piedras Blancas National Park). Carol, our tour guide and founder of the sanctuary showed us the animals unable to be released including sloths, kinkajous (raccoon family), collared peccaries (similar to pigs), white faced capuchin monkeys, toucans, a tayra (weasel family), and a scarlet macaw. Carol greeted us with Sweetie, a female spider monkey who demanded the guests groom her in more of a dominance behavior than a physical necessity. She was the lowest in her troop’s pecking order and enjoyed being queen of the humans.

The Casa Orchidea, began when Ron and Trudy (+506-8829-1247) moved to Costa Rica in 1974. While trying to grow fruits for the local market they discovered their unique beach location was conducive to growing numerous indigenous coastal orchids and they started what is now a well established and maintained botanical garden. In addition to the unique plants we also saw two toucans about 6 feet above our heads resting in a palm tree.

Hiring a Land Rover and driver (chris.castellanos@gmail.com +506-8348-5158) for a day our first stop was a visit with Robert Beatham to tour his botanical gardens. Robert came down to Costa Rica in the 1950’s working for what is now Chiquita Banana and for the last 20 years has been growing palm oil that is processed and exported. He had quite an in depth knowledge of the medicinal properties of tropical plants and although in his 80’s looked and had the retention of someone 30 years younger. He is a bit of a free spirit having adopted and raised many local children that refer to him as ‘grandfather’. At the time of our visit he had about five rescue dogs and a pregnant German woman with her 7 month old baby living with him.

An hour further up the hills into coffee country we stopped for a self guided tour at the Wilson Botanical Gardens. Located at 3,900 feet the cool mountain air in the 70’s was a nice change from the 90 degree temperatures in Golfito. After a further 15 minute drive we had lunch at Lillianas, an Italian restaurant in the town of San Vito. Our diver explained that many Europeans resettled in Costa Rica after WWII paving the way for the current wave of expats in the 1970’s-present. However, this influx has pushed up property prices and a typical 1,500 square foot house now costs $80,000 in the Golfito region with mortgage rates in the upper teens making housing affordability difficult for the locals. With the cost of diesel at $4.60 a gallon the only real bargain left is the locally grown fruits and vegetables that taste organic and cost about one fifth of what we pay in the States. The latest big wave of foreign money coincided with Golfito being a stop for yacht carriers, including Dockwise, that can transport dozens of sport fishing boats here that previously would have had difficulty making it here on their own bottom. Currently there are fifteen million dollar sport fishing boats paying $200 to $300 a night for a berth ashore and burn up to 200 gallons of diesel an hour. With locals that make only a few hundred dollars a month completing for resources with owners of unlimited budgets we have been told that opportunistic theft is not uncommon and we keep Interlude’s decks free of loose gear and lock ourselves in every night. Additionally we hired a ‘boat sitter’ (Chama, +506-8834-8422) to stay aboard at night when we visited Bosque Del Cabo. However, we have found most of the locals to be friendly, happy and industrious.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Coasting in to Costa Rica

We arrived Golfito, Costa Rica at dawn today and anchored off the Banana Bay Marina (8d37.30'N, 83d09.24'W, 30 ft). Our yacht agent (Bruce +506 2775 0838 info@bananabaymarina.com ) checked us in and drove us around to get a sim card for the old Nokia (+506 8694 8765 if you need to call us).

There are two viable marinas here: Banana Bay and Fish Hook. Land & Sea (Tierra Mar) is a helpful place to land your dinghy ($5/day) if you are anchored out like us. Or jst patronize the marina restaurant/bars and they will let you tie upf or a few hours. Locked wifi is available ask at the bars or Land & Sea ($1/day)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Underway Day 2

We are having a fairly easy passage (so far) with mostly light winds except for a few hours near Punta Mala where it piped up to 20-25 kn on the beam. We have been motoring on and off and are now under power with 8 kn of wind on the nose.

1500 Local Position: 7d20'N, 82d03'W, (approaching tiny Isla Montuosa, Panama) course 300 M, speed 8.3 kn.

Ship traffic has been moderate but we have stayed inside the shipping lanes. Only the National Geographic MV 'Sea Lion' is skirting the coast.

Kurt checked in to a couple amateur radio nets including the Caentral American Breakfast Club (1300 UTC, 7083 LSB) and the 24 hr Maritime Mobile Ham frequency 14300 USB where we heard net control in Misssouri and the station he was talking with in Florida. The SSB Amigo net (1400 UTC, 8122 USB) in Mexico was still very light copy and the Pan-Pacific Net (1400 UTC, 8143 USB) was not readable today.

We still have about 110 nm to go and so should arrive in Golfito, Costa Rica early tomorrow (Wednesday) morning. The NMG weather FAXs out of New Orleans show a gale blowing in the Caribbean where we just left. Maybe that's why they call them the San Blas (Sand Blast) Islands :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Underway Day 1

We hoisted anchor at 0730 this morning, crossed the busy ship channel leading to the Canal and motored thru the ship anchorage before setting sail at 0900. The wind has been moderately light all day from the north allowing us to sail wing and wing toward Punta Mala. Most ships are also coming from or going to Punta Mala which we will be rounding in the dark. This is the easy direction with wind and current in our favor. It can be a nasty trip going to the Canal hence the name Punta 'Mala'.

1500 local Position: 8d02'N, 79d44'W, course 193 M, speed 8 kn.

It has been a beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky but the barometer has been falling quite steadily. Time to get some weather email...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Pacific Panama!

Friday we departed Shelter Bay Marina and transited three locks of the Panama Canal up to Gatun Lake where Interlude anchored for the night (9d15.57'N, 79d54.94'W, 50 ft). Yachts under 125 ft are no longer allowed to transit all the way thru in one day. Our pilot came aboard where we were stationed in the 'Foxtrot' anchorage AKA 'The Flats' at 1645 local and we transited after dark in the well lit canal anchoring at 2020. There was some finagling to allow us to go center chamber and not be rafted with other boats but our Pilot managed to arrange it. We were going to be side tied to an ACP tug but the tug only had one mooring line tying it to the wall and would not take us. So at the last minute on our first lock we had to tie to the wall ourselves behind the tug. There were no Canal workers on the other side wall to take our lines to hold us center chamber. The wall is nasty concrete and there was tremendous turbulence as the lake water filled the lock to raise the ships. We
managed to avoid any damage but it was not pretty. They did have some guys for us so we could go center chamber for the next two locks.

On Saturday our new pilot came aboard at 0800 (1 hr late) and we motored across Gatun Lake at 10 kn to make our 1045 time slot at the Pedro Miguel lock. We had a nice ride down to sea level in all three locks tied center chamber with only two other small vessels in the locks with us. We were thru by 1240 and the pilot was picked up shortly thereafter. Dropping off our crew and 12 supplemental tire fenders was easy at the Balboa Yacht Club using their water taxi (VHF 6 with a phone call ahead by our agent Tina McBride). Our line handler crew was a couple from another yacht in the marina, a 15 year old cruiser kid who had been thru the canal twice already and a 30 year old Estonian traveler with sailing experience in the med who has been driving his car all thru the Americas and now wants to crew on a yacht going across the Pacific. Having a yacht savvy crew as opposed to professional line handlers may have saved our new paint job.

Breaking up the transit into two days is not really a bad thing. The break on the Lake was welcome and being thru by midday gave us time to find a good spot to anchor and clean up. We are now anchored at the entrance to the Canal at La Playita de Amador (8d54.47'N, 79d31.49'W, 30 ft). The tides on this side can be over 20 ft (compared to 3 ft on the Atlantic side) so we have to be careful.

We already have our clearance papers so Costa Rica here we come!