Cruising with Playpen
Leg 2 - Installment 7
Nicaragua to Isla Muertos, Costa Rica 2/23/03 to 3/4/03
2/23/03 Nicaragua lay day
Today was check-in day. Three Customs agents came and sat at a table in the under-construction palapa. Then 7 Immigration agents came and set up chairs in a semi-circle. The "Main Man" supplied the captains with beer or soda before interviewing each one. Bob translated and told the agents their fees were too high. They were $88.00! Bob is going to the minister of tourism to complain. El Salvador’s fees totaled $20.00, and paperwork was a snap.
We all got together for dinner on Playpen’s back deck, and Bob expounded even more on his plans for this community. It’s quite a dream! He’s changing the whole culture.
2/24/03 Nicaragua to Bahia Santa Elena, Costa Rica 10 55.01N 85 47.37W 143nm 22.5 hrs
We left Puesta del Sol around 9am with Annie and Alyssa and planned a slow overnight cruise to Costa Rica. As usual, it was a beautiful ride with porpoise entertainment. This time they stirred up the phosphorescence and looked like neon green torpedoes coming right at us! Even the neon-looking fish scattered at the sight. We picked up a southerly current, slowed down to 1200rpm and were still doing 5 kn. When it was light enough to see we entered Bahia Santa Elena, a large, almost landlocked harbor, surrounded by wooded and cactus/scrub covered hills. The book said to look for birds, monkeys, and wild cats. We only saw a few ordinary birds. Around 9am the wind picked up and blew 15-20 all day and into the night, but the anchorage was blessedly calm. Too windy to kayak or put the dinghy down; so I explored via binoculars.
2/25/03 Santa Elena to Playa Panama, Bahia Culebra, Costa Rica 10 35.61N 85 39.32W 50nm 6.5hrs
Sometime overnight the wind settled down and we awoke to another beautiful morning. Annie and Playpen departed at 0630 to try to beat the winds around the Gulf of Papagayo. Alyssa had bypassed Santa Elena and headed for Marina Flamingo to pick up a friend. We anchored in Playa del Cocos for the Cha-Cha—a lengthy procedure, but it resulted in a National Visa, and presumably we don’t have to check in anywhere else in CR. After the cha cha we motored around the point to Playa Panama, a pretty quiet anchorage off a long beach.
2/26/03 Playa Panama to Bahia Potrero 10 26.45N 85 46.98W 16.7nm 2.5
Dan & Ann gave us a lift into the beach for some walking exercise. We visited a small hotel pool, then headed back, weighed anchor, and proceeded to Bahia Potrero, location of Marina Flamingo. The marina had seen much better days, but there were fishing boats, a sailboat, and our friend Alyssa secured (?) to the rickety docks with no power or water. We sat in a very pleasant anchorage. Alyssa was staying at the marina while Chris and Judy went inland to pick up a friend and do some sightseeing. Dinner at the hangout, Marie’s, was delicious.
2/27/03 Potrero to Carrillo Cove 9 51.97N 85 29.73W 69nm 7.5hrs.
We had a lovely ride to a beautiful cove. The beach was lined with palm trees, we finally had lush jungle hillsides, there was a fishing resort on the point, and we anchored inside a rock reef with breakers. Couldn’t have been more picturesque! We anchored at low tide, and rolled a bit, but it was ok. When the tide came in and covered our protective reef we really started rocking!
2/28/03 Carrillo to Bahia Ballena 9 43.07N 85 00.62W 47nm 6.5 hrs
Carrillo wins the prize!! It was the rolliest anchorage yet. By 0100 we had had enough and got up, started the generator, and fired up the computer. But it was too rolly to raise the anchor; so we hung out and waited for dawn and low tide when the reef offered a little protection. Fred says we stopped for "R&R"-- rocking and rolling. Don said it was an "Elvis" night—shake, rattle and roll.
We anchored quietly in Bahia Ballena and took Don’s dinghy into the "dinghy dock". The dock was really broken down concrete steps that came almost to the water at low tide. We somehow scrambled off the dinghy onto the steps, but then had to figure out how to secure "Fanny." After a few unsuccessful tries at tying the bow 20 feet up and securing the stern to a mooring buoy shared by several pangas, a local "Tico" came to our rescue. He dove into the water and secured the stern, then took the bow line up to the pier and tied it to the railing. We were then off exploring the village of Tambor. We walked through "town", then walked the beach to a little outdoor Swiss restaurant. After dinner we hiked the road back to the dinghy. It was dark! We had no trouble releasing Fanny from the pier and enjoyed our night at a still anchorage.
3/1/03 Ballena to Isla Jesusita 9 50.37N 84 53.51W 20nm 4 hrs
We went to the prime Gulfo Nicoya snorkel site at Isla Tortuga, but the water was too cloudy to see anything. While we were hanging out at anchor on Playpen a local fisherman came up and sold us 4 large lobsters, a doz. huge oysters, and a bag of large scallops. We moved to a pretty, quiet cove at Isla Jesusita where Don & Fred enjoyed the scenery on an anchored go-fast boat. We had Ann & Don over for a seafood dinner. The oysters were tough, the scallops weren’t great, but the lobster was delicious. We watched phosphorescent fish jump around the boat under a sky full of stars.
3/2/03 Lay Day—Jesusita
We took a busman’s holiday and caught the ferry into Puntarenas. Aboard we met a lovely couple from Annapolis—small world! Puntarenas is a busy, hot, small city with a lively, lovely beach. The locals were enjoying picnics and beach volleyball and patronizing the many sno-cone vendors. We had lunch and strolled the malecon (beach promenade) before heading back to the ferry and our quiet anchorage.
3/3/03 Jesusita to Playa Naranjo to Isla Muertos 9 52.69N 84 55.69W 24nm 4 hrs
It was a beautiful day for a slow cruise to the anchorage at Playa Naranjo. We went ashore and had lunch at a small resort. We were the only patrons. As we entered the palapa we heard "Hello" and looked up to see a pretty green parrot greeting us! We strolled around the lovely resort then weighed anchor to cruise to Isla Muertos for the night. It was another quiet anchorage, but the smell of burning garbage permeated the night air. So far we’ve been disappointed with Costa Rica. We expected it to be more wild and lush. This is the dry season; so there are many bare, brown trees and we’ve yet to hear monkeys or birds. There’s no visible sea life except the small neon fish at night. We’re looking forward to some inland travel later this week.
3/4/03 Muertos to Los Suenos 9 39.00N 84 39.91W 18nm 3 hr
A wonderful breeze accompanied us to our 1st real marina since Barra Navidad, a month ago. Needless to say the boat and our clothes needed a good washing! Los Suenos (the dream) is a brand new marina filled with huge state-of-the-art sport fishing yachts. They’re still building ashore, but we saw a large beautiful pool, restaurant and pretty grounds. We met Hans & Judy of the 48LRC, Dutch Master, on their son, Jeffrey’s, new custom built 68’ sportfisher. Speculator left Palm Beach one Sat. and arrived in Costa Rica the following Sat. It’s a gorgeous yacht! In the small world dept: A few days ago we called Jeff’s office to see where Hans & Judy were, and we were told they were on their way to Costa Rica to meet their son. When Fred asked where in Costa Rica, the secretary said, "Someplace called Los Suenos." Hans & Judy greeted us on the dock when we arrived! We went with them, their 2 sons, daughter-in-law, adorable 11 mo. old granddaughter, and Capt. Brendon to a beautiful restaurant for the sunset and dinner. It was quite a high-class evening for us "gunkholers."