Posted by: catamarantwooceans | March 5, 2009

Sailing with Avital and Mickey

23.2.09 – Monday – As we woke up in the morning we saw that the tide was running out and that it was almost low water. This meant that if we went down the river we were going to encounter shallow spots and as the tide turns – a contrary current. I thought it better to wait for high water and then go. We used the time to do some shopping in the tienda of Lidia Melamed, a jewish store and restaurant owner here.

Lidia Melamed

Lidia Melamed

 We then took the bus to Santiago, where we could get internet and buy things that were unavailable in Puerto Mutis. Back on the boat at 1300 we started down river. At a point 15 miles from our destination of the day, Isla Gubernadora, the wind suddenly got strong and made our speed lower in a way that would have made us get there very close to sunset. Quick look around – why not anchor right here near Isla Leones, 2.5 miles away? Went there but found choppy seas and strong wind.We resumed sailing to our original target and guess what – the wind abated and changed direction in a way that permitted motorsailing, seas got smoother and the boat speed rose. We got there 45 minutes before sunset and dropped the anchor. The anchorage there is protected to the south which is where the wind was from as we came in. Just as we were finishing dinner and thinking about going to bed the wind turned, became northerly at 12-14 knots and made short waves which had the boat bouncing almost all night long. The idea of moving to the south of the island was discussed, but the night was pitch black, the electronic chart not that accurate, so we stayed put. Avital did not feel well inside and chose to sleep in the cockpit. At about 0500 the sea calmed down and we all slept relatively late.

24.2.09 – Tuesday – On to Bahia Honda, a place we could be sure to have flat, calm anchorages. Pleasant wind from behind propelled us along, we caught and released two Bonitos. When the third one insisted coming on board we kept it, deciding to give it to Domingo in the bay. We had a visitor, a brown booby, who glided gracefully across our bows and perched on the starboard pullpit.

Booby

Booby

Anchoring in Bahia Honda, we had the regular visits from Domingo and associates, who like always, asked what fruit and veg we wanted and brought only the stuff they had at home.

Domigo

Domigo

Domingo took our two jerrycans and brought them back full of water. With three people on board, one of them a woman,you need a lot of water. I dived to see if the water ingress apertures in the starboard drives were  blocked, causing the inadequate cooling water flow and engine overheat. I cleaned the area, inserting a length of stiff plastic to try and dislodge any foreign material that may have been there. We’ll see tomorrow wether it did any good. David, who is still in the bay came to trade books again and have a drink and a chat. Had a vegeterian dinner and hopefully will have a quiet night.

25.2.09 – Wednesday – There is no place like Bahia Honda for a good night sleep. Wakeup call was the howling of the monkeys and chirping birds. We went out to go to the island of Cavada in the Islas Secas. The flow of water out of the starboard engine’s exhaust seems to have improved but we still operate it at relatively low power, 1800-2000 RPM. We caught a nice Tuna and a not so nice Bonito that was released. Real close to the anchorage a pod of dolphins joined us. There were at least 15 of them and they formed a sort of spearhead in front of us, not unlike a  motorcycle mounted police guard of honour! At 4pm we anchored in the company of three other yachts, one of which – Encore – I already met, can’t remember where. We all went swimming, I snorkelled the reef, found myself surrounded by a great number of small Jack like fish. I saw colourful puffers and many other reef fish. The sun set and an impressive silouette of rock and coconut palm appeared on the west. Good vibrations!

sunset in Cavada

sunset in Cavada

26.2.09 – Thursday – Early in the morning, with the tide running out, I went for a swim. The underwater life here is quite rich. Right a the beginning four small yellow pilot fish took position ahead of my mask, following my every move. Trigger fish, puffers and a 4 foot moray eel were out looking for breakfast and in one crevice I saw a stone fish who ignored all my provocations and did not budge. Later I took Avital and Mickey to the beach on the west, where the ebbing tide revealed rocks and tidal pools with all sort of fish, underwater snails (nudibranchs?) and a lot of hermit crabs.

Avital

Avital

Mickey

Mickey

We then motored to the resort on the south side of the bay and were surprised by the shallowness of the water. We had to row and then walk dragging the dinghy along. On shore we found four people; Keiren, the owner or operator of the resort, a couple of his friends, Jim and wife (forgot the name) and their four month old baby boy Theo.

Theo and parents

Theo and parents

Keiren said that right now there were no guests. Keeping such a place must cost a lot of money so no guests seems to be a terrible waste. We left for Isla Parida 20 miles away with light wind on our port quarter (120 degrees from the left). We were motorsailing along when we spotted a sailboat in the distance, carrying a blue driffter or Jennaker. Hey! Why don’t we fly a spinnaker too? Up went the spinnaker and our speed went up with it. Great sail! Approaching Isla Parida, we decided to anchor on the west bay to be protected from the northerlies that spring up during the night. Right now the wind is from the west and we are rolling a bit. You can be sure that if I go to the bay on the north – the wind will follow and make life miserable for Avital, who has not acquired her sea legs yet.We took the dinghy ashore in search of water and internet. Water – yes, internet – no. Back on the boat I cooked chicken with potatoes for dinner but Avital did not eat at all and Mickey decided to have the leftovers from the veg dinner we had on Tuesday but did consent later to taste a bit of my stuff. I was worried about Avital, especially in view of the longer legs to Costa Rica and got the impression that she was not willing to continue. I spoke to Mickey about it and he said they will decide and let me know in the morning. A word about the Costa Rica plan: while normaly I would have made the entrance in Golfito, the customs people there, as you may remember, were counting days and giving me hard time. I spoke to the manager of the Costa Rica Yacht Club in Puntarenas, to find out if he could do the “Bonding” procedure for “Two Oceans” and he suggested strongly that I enter CR in Puntarenas and not Golfito. This made sense so I decided to follow his advice, making a stop at a point in the middle of the way – Isla Cano or Bahia Drake.

27.2.09 – Friday – Mickey and Avital decided to leave the boat. Avital suggested that Mickey will stay on board but the loyal husband did not want to part company with his wife. It was agreed that they will disembark in Puerto Armuelles, where we were going for the Panama exit procedure the very same day. On the way Avital was feeling fine and as we were reaching destination, I could not but overhear her telephone conversation with her sister, in which she said that if she had a day of rest ashore she might consider going on to CR. I did not mind waiting a day for them, so after we all went ashore and struggled with the local bureaucracy, they departed by taxi to whatever place they fancied and I sailed on to Punta Balsa anchorage 12 miles to the south for the night. As agreed, I called them later that evening to hear their decision. “We are not coming back” said Avital. What a pity! They are such a nice couple and I really enjoyed their company. I cannot but think about my first meeting with them, in which they told me about their dream of buying a yacht and living on board, sailing with their three children for two year. I wonder whether that’s going to ever happen. As for me – Solo to Costa Rica!

28.2.09 – Saturday – At ten am I was at the harbour master office and started the exit procedure.

Omar - harbourmaster

Omar - harbourmaster

It took almost two hours and cost 81.90$. Panama is a great place for cruising and I enjoyed it immensly, but I was happy to leave; Time for new places. I will anchor again in Punta Balsa and depart around 4am (3am CR time) with the hope of making it to my first stop in 18-19 hours.

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