05 February 2014 | Nicaragua
28 January 2014 | Barillas, El Salvador
19 January 2014 | Chiapas, Mexico
18 May 2011 | Bahia Aqua Verde - BCS
11 May 2011 | San Evaristo Anchorage - May 11-14
10 May 2011 | Isla San Francisco to San Evaristo
08 May 2011 | Ensenada Grande to Isla San Francisco
05 May 2011 | Isla Partida - Cardonal and Ensenada Grande
22 April 2011 | La Paz, BCS
21 April 2011 | La Paz, BCS
18 April 2011 | Mainland, BCS
16 April 2011 | Isla Isabella to Los Muertos
16 April 2011 | Mantachen Bay to Isla Isabella
Manuel Antonio Park, Drake Bay, Golfito, Costa Rica
07 April 2014
We did see monkeys and sloths at the park - but, as sad as it is to say it, the park is over-rated and way too touristy for me. I think there are far to many other locations for viewing wildlife that would offer a far better experience. But of course, I'm glad for the opportunity and still consider myself fortunate to be able to visit these amazing places.
Our next anchorage was Drake Bay where we obtained our permits for Isla Cano.
As challenging as it was to obtain these permits for simply anchoring at Isla Cano, we decided that it would be in our best interest to purchase a couple of dives with a local dive operator and not mess around with this important event. I needed to go diving !!! We booked our dives with the resort 'Aguila de Osa' and were super-happy that we had chosen them for our dive trip. We had the nicest dive boat in the bay - complete with plenty of shade, knowledgable PADI Divemasters, and a head !! The island is a very well protected National Park, and because of this, we could not just 'anchor and dive where we wanted'. I don't disagree with this system, as many don't understand the affects of an anchor on a reef system. I'm glad the Costa Rican government sees clear to protect the real beauty of their country. Our dives at Isla Cano were really awesome - and, well, very much needed. It was 'instant' peace as I descended. It's amazing how all the stress just floats away when you dive.
The schooling fish were 'off the hook'. I love it when you swim with them, they surround you, and you quickly feel like they are adopting you as one of them. You either see hundreds of eyeballs or tails. Love it!
The first dive had dozens of huge stingrays - and you could get close enough to them to see the colors and details of the cleaner fish (within a foot !)
The second dive was at 'diablo del bajo' (devil of the deep- even so it was not really deep) was great!! There were a few of the bigger mantas (10-12 ft) swimming around for the entire dive. It was very 'swelly' and lots of current - perfect for the mantas to feed. Unfortunately, I had practically filled my data card on my GoPro on the first dive and didn't realize it. So, I was able to just enjoy the view without looking at an LCD screen. Nice!
No Whale Sharks yet ...
After diving at Isla Cano, we moved on to our last Costa Rican port of Golfito. Here, we found the best cheeseburger so far this season - at the Banana Bay Bar and Grill !! It was almost too big for two people. They also had really really cold beer, so every one was happy. Tim, at Land and Sea was great too. We brought him 4 large bags of laundry, which he managed to wash, dry ad bag for us before the big storm rolled in. Luckily, we missed this huge thunderstorm - other cruisers at the dock commented that it was the worst storm in years of sailing. I'm glad I saw that one on the radar screen and not on the deck. Within two days, we managed to provisioned nicely in the amazing fruit and veggie market - had our provisions delivered to the dock for us and complete all the necessary 'check out' procedures. Golfito is lovely, but doesn't offer much more than that.
Costa Rica - put a pin in it !! (as Art says).
Panama, venimos !!!
Quepos, Costa Rica ... and Points further south
02 March 2014
We arrived to another picture perfect anchorage about 9 am. Tired, but thankful we didn't need to make that journey in the heat of the day. There is a brand new marina here called 'Pez Vela' (sailfish marina) - it's a lovely spot for the rich and crazy ! They charge 2.75 per foot per day, plus 30% tax. That would cost us almost $200 per night. It's bad enough they charge $25 every time you enter the marina with the dingy and $25 to leave again. Lucky for us we decided to make one trip to do some laundry, and provision a bit - we arrived on 'Quepos Day' - the 'one' day every year that the town celebrates !! There was over 200 horses in a competition (in the streets) and I'm sure all the people from that pueblo and all the surrounding villages to watch this competition and parade ! Cowboys in cool shirts and boots, girls in sexy tank tops with heels(talking on cell phones!), and adorable children with amazing smiles - all riding and showing off their horsemanship skills. We were all thinking how crazy it was that of all the days we arrive .... To arrive on Quepos day !!
It's raining now... it just started. Finally, a sprinkle from the sky. Our boat is so salty I hope it pours all night. But just to have that cooling feeling that you only get with a rainfall. We have not had rain in the last month - so it's a welcome change. I have to admit that one can get board with sun, sun and more sun every day. I know, I know, how dare I admit that - while people are shoveling snow just to get to a j.o.b. !!
We are on our way to Manuel Antonio National Park - hopefully to see monkeys and sloths ....
Pura Vida !!
Puesta del Sol to San Juan del Sur
05 February 2014 | Nicaragua
Sun Feb 2
Puesta del Sol to San Juan del Sur
Our next passage from Marina Puesta del Sol to San Juan del Sur will take approx 21 hours. To avoid running aground on the sandbar as we exit the estuary, we depart at 3:30pm when the tide is high. The outgoing tidal current is 'rippin', and we need to use extra RPM's to navigate thru the channel markers and make our way out to the ocean.
While in town, I was lucky and discovered fresh basil at the grocery store - so dinner tonight is simple and yummy. The fresh basil, olive oil, and tomatoes on pasta fill our bellies and we settle into our night-watch routines. By 9:30 we are past the fishing fleet at Puerto Sandino and the sky has filled with millions of stars. We have flat seas and 16 knots of wind.
9:40 pm -The dolphins come to play with Endorfin - and, for a split second, I am startled by their arrival. They are glowing with phosphorescence and come darting towards the boat. Amazing !!
The wind has increased by the time I come up on deck at 6am. Even thought the forecast predicted the 'papagayo winds' to blow 15-20 knots per hour, we are heeling over in 30 knot gusts. Our small main and storm jib are plenty of sail in this wind. But, at 11:30 in a gust of 32 knots, we blew the clew out of our main sail. The stitching has finally given out after too many years in the sun. As Capt Ron says ... 'if it's going to happen, it's going to happen out there'.
We will have to wait for a calm day to make the repairs. Until then, we continue south with only our headsails.
By 12:30 pm we are anchored in the famous surfing hangout of San Juan del Sur and looking up at the giant statue of 'The Christ of the Mercy' on the northern end of the bay. Only moments after calling the Port Captain on the VHF radio, the friendly officials have arrived at Endorfin. I offer something cold to drink and give them our documents. Our paperwork is in order, but we still need to visit the immigration office. Since the wind is still cranking and gusting to 25 knots, Dan decides to stay on the boat while Kim and I head in to town with the water taxi.
'San Juan del Sur'
It's a quaint place and a surfer's paradise.
But for Savannah, it's a chance to play with another 'cruising kid'. We spot s/v Eoni as soon as we pull into the anchorage and hope that Ethan, Nancy and Zada are not on a week-long land tour. We first met this lovely cruising family in the Sea of Cortez in 2011. Later that night while sitting in the cockpit, I look up to see them zooming along in their dingy. I yell and wave to get their attention. They are as happy as we are to meet up again - seems that their 8 yr-old Zada has been 'kid starved' for over a month.
The next two days, Savannah and Zada play happily on each other's boats and enjoy some beach time with icecream!! Before departing, Savannah receives three brand new 'Littlest Petshops' from Zada for her birthday. I am happy to have found 'Pan de Vida' (Bread of Life) and stock up on hearth-baked multigrain! SO good!! The other memorable moment for us was meeting a baby spider monkey. It was being cared for by this eclectic lady from Beverly Hills (gone rogue and now living in Nicaragua)who helps the little cuties if their parents have been killed. Such a beautiful little creature and full of love as it cuddled with Savannah.
We are anxious to move on from this windy anchorage and south to Costa Rica. Clearing out at the Port Captain's office is simple - I complete a bit of paperwork and we are issued our 'internation zarpe'.
Carlos takes us on our last water taxi ride back to the boats. Within minutes, provisions are stowed and I hear the anchor chain clattering as the windlass lifts our trusty CQR.
San Juan del Sur to Costa Rica
05 February 2014
Feb 5 - Mar 12
Our month in Costa Rica was many things ....
As you can imagine, Costa Rica is beautiful and we finally found our green paradise with squaking scarlet Macaws.
Our first anchorage was Bahia Santa Elena. With it's perfectly flat water it was much appreciated after the very windy and bumpy passage from San Juan del Sur.
We enjoyed several peaceful anchorages as we made our way to the very busy Playa del Coco. Here, we officially entered the country after a 6-hour check-in process. Oddly, the only fee was a $60 taxi ride that we shared with s/v Eternal Bliss and s/v BlueJacket. But, that's where the free ride came to a sreaching halt in Costa Rica !! Most everything else has inflated prices making California and Canadian prices seem reasonable.
At 'Rich Coast' Diving we met Brenda and Martin who sold us a BCD for Savannah's 8th birthday. With limited time in Coco, they joined us that evening on Endorfin for a happy hour and we enjoyed refreshing cocktails as well as 'dive' conversation.
After Playa del Coco, we anchored in Tamarindo (nicknamed Tama-gringo) and enjoyed a very affordable, and not surprisingly, delicious lunch - thanks to the recommendation from Amber on s/v Rockstar. For $5 we filled our bellies with chicken, rice, beans and fresh green salad. Homemade ice tea was included as well. That was our first 'good deal' in Costa Rica.
Traveling the 40 miles from the Tamarindo anchorage to Bahia Samara was some of the most enjoyable miles so far. My third fish for the day was a sailfish, which of course got away - and, with my white lure and all the line on my reel.
We encountered tons of dolphins, turtles and even a Mama and baby humpback !!
We made a quick stop at Bahia Ballena only to find the 'yacht club' has been closed for several years and the Saturday morning organic market is a thing of the past. The 'cruising guide' is proving to be inaccurate in many ways. I guess we need the updates !! ☺
Our next favorite anchorage was at Isla Torguga where Savannah made her first scuba dive !! She was a natural and enjoyed breathing underwater and blowing bubbles with Mama !! She'll be ready for the certification course by the time she is 10, but for now, she is happy with being a PADI 'Bubble Maker"!!
While lounging on chairs in the shade of palm trees, we met the owner of the island !! Mario invited us to join him under his palm for oysters, scallops, tortilla de patata and cold beers !! This was another most amazing and memorable experience. I learned how to clean and prepare these tasty treats.
After the tide came in and almost washed our chairs into the sea, we made our way back to the boats for more swimming and lounging.
At midnight, our tranquil anchorage turned ugly on us and we had to make a quick departure if we didn't want to end up on the beach.
Shea (flying in for a week on s/v Eternal Bliss) would be waiting in Quepos, so an early departure would guarantee that we wouldn't miss his arrival.
Our midnight run was uneventful (I think) and by morning we were anchored outside the new Pez Vela Marina in Quepos.
02 February 2014
Tues Jan 28 to Fri Jan 31
3 Day Passage to Nicaragua
Day 1 - Marina Barillas to Punta Amapala
I turn on the stove to brew a pot of coffee for the boys as well as a cup of tea for myself. It’s 6 am and we are slowly making our way down river, towards the ocean, to begin our passage to Puesta Del Sol Marina in Nicaragua. We have about 105 miles to cover and will make two stops on the way.
Kim starts his timer when he sees that the coffee is perking. My kettle whistles and soon I’m sipping my hot tea. Our 10 miles trip back thru the estuary will take about 2 hours as we closely follow Walter our guide. We have plenty of time to relax and enjoy our morning beverages.
Blue Jacket (with Geoff and Sue) are first behind Walter, then Art, Jen, and Lavonne on ‘Eternal Bliss’ are in front of us. They seem happy with the feel of their boat -now that weeks of barnacle growth has been cleaned off their prop. Our first anchorage at Punta Amapala is only 45 miles away, and we plan to be there in time for happy hour. I hear Art calling on the VHF to arrange the fishing bets for the day. Before long, my favorite pink and white lure is in the water and we hope to hear the whining of the line paying out … At 1pm I have a ‘fish on’ and manage to bring it in with less profanity than last time. I can only be thankful for the fish that my cheap rod and reel are allowing me to catch. We are all happy to see a Pacific Sierra – perfect for grilling and ceviche. Dan cleans our catch and then leaves it for me to cut up and prepare. We hail Eternal Bliss and Blue Jacket to announce the catch and invite everyone for happy hour and fresh ceviche. Hey Art … don’t forget the cash ... 20 bucks for today !!
The sun sets over the hills of Punta Amapala as we enjoy each other’s company on the bow of Endorfin.
Passage Day 2 - Punta Amapala to Isla Meanguerra
Isla Meanguerra is only 10 miles from our current spot and allows us to enjoy a lazy morning at the anchorage. Seems like a good day for French toast and breakfast sausages. We have real Canadian maple syrup ! -thanks to Caroline on s/v Day Break Oceane, who traded with me last spring, for pesos to pay for her laundry.
Geoff is busy scuba diving and completing search patterns to locate the ‘lost’ flopper stopper. After numerous attempts in almost ‘zero vis’, they come to the conclusion that the expensive stainless device was perhaps stolen while they tossed and turned in their bunks. We happily offer ours until they can get a replacement.
After the short 10 miles to Isla Meanguerra, we drop anchor in Guerrero cove. The island is reminiscent of the San Juan’s with it’s rugged cliffs and scattered trees. The beach is dotted with small fishing huts and coconut palms. We decide to stretch our legs a bit and meet at the beach for an afternoon walk. LC (the puppy on Eternal Bliss) is thrilled for a chance to roll in a dead fish and play with other 4-legged friends. We meet up with 3 young boys who are on their way home with what appears to be dinner. They giggle when I ask them if the iguanas are alive or dead. We laugh and comment how it will taste like chicken.
Back on the boat, a swim cools us off and we are careful not to be stung by jellies. There are lots of them, and we’ve been told by the local fisherman that their sting is painful.
A quick shower on the back deck and we are ready to enjoy the shade on the bow. We’ve had plenty of sun for one day.
Passage Day 3 - Isla Manguerra to Puesta Del Sol Marina, Nicaragua.
We need to arrive at the marina in Nicaragua at high tide, so our departure from Isla Meanguerra is at 5 am. Dan and Kim manage the anchor and I am happy to prepare the morning coffee.
At first light, my lure is in the water and the bets have been placed. Today, it’s $25 for first fish, and $20 for biggest. You can imagine I am thrilled at 9 am when I hear that lovely sound of a fish trying to run with my lure. It’s only a small Pacific Jack – but worth $25.
He’s happy to be released and quickly disappears from our sight.
The wind is picking up and at a perfect angle for sailing on our desired course. We unfurl the jib and main, throttle back on the engine to save fuel, and enjoy the movement of Endorfin as she reaches nicely towards the next port.
Ten hours after departing Isla Meanguerra, El Salvador, we arrive at Puesta Del Sol Marina in Nicaragua. Dorian advises there is lots of space and Dan maneuvers Endorfin –stern first- into the slip.
Cleaning the boat is always first on the list after a few days at sea. With everyone scrubbing and rinsing to remove days of salt and dirt, it’s not long before Endorfin is shiny and clean again. We have been given permission to leave our boats and wait in the pool until the officials arrive to clear us into their country. We have worked up a sweat and look forward to a quick dip before the paperwork begins. It’s an easy check in as each official completes required forms and collect their fees. The office is not air-conditioned and soon we are hot and thirsty. A palapa bar at the end of the marina looks breezy and inviting, so we make our way there for a few cold ones.
Welcome to Nicaragua!!
Nicaragua ! Deacachimba!
01 February 2014
Nicaragua - 31 Jan to 3 Feb, 2013
As the story goes, 'a few cold ones' always turns into 'it's too late to cook dinner so order something' and we devour a few 'Nicaraguan sampler' dishes. The fried cheese is delicious and reminds me of tofu, but Savannah prefers the fish fingers and fries. Before 9pm can roll around, I am cozy in my bed with Savannah snoring on the settee beside me. Yeah, she really did snore! We are all super-tired after our last passage of 45 nautical miles.
Our first Nicaraguan adventure takes us to 'Flor de Cana' (flower of sugar cane). Better translated as 'the oldest rum producer in Nicaragua'. Ten of us pile into the air-conditioned van and Louis takes us to the Flor de Cana factory and museum in Chichigalpa. The tour is interesting and we enjoy a sample of the 18 year old rum. Did you know?? If the rum is pure, you can pour a little in your palm and rub it around (much like a sanitizer) without any sticky residue!! Don't attempt that with our much loved Capt. Morgan!! We are now educated rum drinkers and shop a bit in the boutique ☺
BTW, Flor de Cana is available in the United States and Canada, as well as many other countries around the world. Don't forget your limes. Vive la cuba libre !!
"There's This Place"
More memorable than the rum tasting is our late afternoon meal at 'Joe's Place'. Yes, it's really called that. But you won't find Wile E. Coyote lurking around here.
It's a surfer hostile / hangout that everyone will love. We devoured the 'pollo a la plancha' served up with 'gallo pinto' (but just call it 'pinto'), salad and fried plantains. It's a typical 'Nico' meal and for $5 it's the cruising bargain of the century.
When you walk thru Joe's gate, you'll be greeted by a few 4-legged friends. Feel free to bring your pooch along as it's not only very cruiser friendly, but canine friendly too.
Joe's is easy to find and only a 10 min walk from the marina. Head out thru the main gates and hang a right at the 'Joe's Place' sign. Another right, then a quick left. It's on the right and you can't miss it. You'll be glad you ventured off the beaten path and into Joe's little piece of paradise.
Come for breakfast, lunch or dinner ... or perhaps for just a few cold Victoria's, but be sure to chat with Joe. He's happy to share the story of how Joe's place came to be.
For $7 / night you can rent a bed in the 3rd floor of the hostile. Surf reports are written on the white board and visible from the hammocks strung up in the shade. And of course, Joe has WiFi.
The ceiling fans hum and keep you cool, even on the hottest of days in Chinindega . Bring a book, or your laptop and stay a while. Reservations not required.
After filling our bellies with Joe's good eats, we visited Naomi and her daughters (next door to Joe's, but only in the afternoon). They were frying up some fresh plantain chips and tasty enchilada tacos. As Art says ... 'Lavonne, get a picture! That's a National Geographic moment!'