Posted by: catamarantwooceans | March 6, 2009

To Puntarenas

1.3.09 – Sunday – I woke up at 0155 and said to myself:”Why not?” Started the engines, raised the anchor and in five minutes left for Costa Rica. My friend Itzik, who consented to being my weather man send the forecast: westerly 7 knots, sea less than 8 feet. This meant a lot of motoring. First I had to extricate myself from Punta Balsa, where the depth instrument went Loco, showing 5.6 meters where the chart suggested 730 – 1050 meters. I was worried about small fishing boats operating without lights and kept the radar on as long as it was dark. With light and far from land I allowed myself a few 20 minutes naps, utilizing the trusty kitchen timer. The timer is good but on one of the occasions I woke up about 10 minutes late not hearing the thing ring! The day passed slowly, I enjoyed a book that Doron left on board:”Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri, really a good one. I think I mentioned my intention of stopping on the way to Puntarenas. Looking at the Costa Rica e-guide that I have I noticed the sentence:”Bahia Drake can easily entered at night”. This made up my mind for me; There was no way with the current forecast that I will be able to reach any anchorage before dark. Nearing destination I passed Corcovado Rocks, dramatic view with the light of the setting sun and the breaking Pacific swell.

Corcovado rocks

Corcovado rocks

The sun sets early with the CR clock of UTC minus 6 hours, ten minutes to 6pm, the golden sphere kissed the horizon and just as it did a single dolphin came to visit. Another unwelcomed visitor was a crate, barely floating on the surface, with a metal framed lid, that passed not more than a meter from the starboard hull. We were lucky not to hit it and I shudder to think of the possible damage it could have inflicted. Darkness fell, a new moon gave a little light and I was navigating with the GPS plotter, the radar, the depth instrument and the binoculars. The waypoints the guide provided were accurate and at 2030 I dropped the anchore. Another 20 minutes to cook fish and rice with fried onions, a cervesa and to bed.

2.3.09 – Monday – I liked that stop for rest on the way to Puntarenas, so I said to myself:”Why not another one?” and made my way to Punta Quepos 52 miles away. The shoreline curves here in a way that if you go direct you are far from the coast. With almost no wind, I motored along on calm seas, with no human presence in sight. The going took up a dreamlike quality, with me looking up from my book from time to time, seeing dolphins hunting and boobies skimming the surface at high speed. Getting closer to Punta Quepos, I could see the Manuel Antonio park area, with vertical cliffs, big rocks off shore and jungle on land. The guide book warns about rocks on the entrance  but still I was surprised by a huge one so close to anchorage, uncharted and below water at high tide, right when I was going in. Three day charter boats were on moorings, but by the time I finished securing and checking the anchor, they went away and I had this beautiful bay all for myself. With Mozart’s Requiem making the musical background,the sun went down and the “Green Flash” appeared for an instant. This rare phenomenon happens at certain atmospheric conditions at the exact moment the top portion of the sun disappears below the horizon. A fitting end to another good day.

3.3.09 – Tuesday – Puntarenas is almost 60 miles away, so another stop is required, this will be the bay of Herradura, near the town of Jaco. Again the day started with little wind, again a lot of dolphins came for short visits. Splashes in the distance drew my attention. What might those be? The answer came in just a short time as a manta ray sprang out of the water, then two of them in formation, making a full loop, splashing and disappearing below the surface. This went on and on, but as much as I tried to take a picture, the camera and my reaction time resulted only in images of turbulent water. On the way I checked the tide situation in Puntarenas, since you can only get to the yacht club at high tide. It turned out that high water is at 0748 and having to sail 22 miles or so from Herradura meant that I will have to go out at 0300! Oh well, not a big deal! In this bay there is a large marina, Los Suenos, dedicated mostly to the sportfishing fleet. The guide books say that it is very expensive – almost 4$ per foot per day, more than 150$ a day for Two Oceans! When I came into the bay, the marina seemed full of boats but come 1600 a procession of fast sportfishermen started entering it. There were tens of them and one wonders about the quantity of fish they take out day after day!

Los Suenos marina

Los Suenos marina

4.3.09 – Wednesday – I woke up at 0150 feeling the wind through the hatch. I went to check it and saw 17 knots on the instrument. 17 in the bay will be even more out of it, so I decided to go out immediately in order to keep the ETA for Puntarenas. The moon has already set and it was quite dark. I went out using the plotter and radar. Outside the wind was stronger and the waves…Short and steep they were and in combination with the wind slowed the boat considerably. The bows were going up and down crazily, in what is known as “Washing machine sailing”. Using both engines, though the starboard at lower power fearing overheat, our speed hovered around 3 knots, more often below that figure! The wind was too strong and it’s angle too close for using sails and tacking was out in that kind of sea. I kept motoring in the hope that maybe the conditions will improve. This did not happen, on the contrary – the wind rose to new hights, gusts reaching 30 knots true. After two hours we only made 4 miles in the right direction! As I was pondering alternatives and dates, thinking about the friend who is joining me on the 8th, schedule mentality doing overtime, the wind gave me a strong hint. I don’t remember the exact number on the dial but it did make me utter some profanity, disconnect the autopilot and turn 180 degrees back to Herradura. Later I checked the wind instrument feature recording the maximum wind encountered and found 42 knots! Even the downwind run was unpleasant! Entering the bay, I aimed at the same place I anchored before. It was now close to five o’clock and light started appearing in the east. I was very close to the position I wanted to anchor at when the port engine quit, alarm sounding and at the same time I felt a tug – We caught a rope on the prop. (Rope around the prop – a rock title!) The flashlight revealed a red mooring buoy nestling on the port hull, close to the engine position. If I had to find it in the dark I probably would have never succeeded and now it found me!I was afraid that the rope also entangled around the rudder and immediately put my trunks on and took out the mask and fins. To make sure the boat will not run away without me once I, hopefully, release whatever was restraining us, I tied myself to the boat with a line and jumped in. Luckily it was only the prop that was fouled by the leader line and small float of the buoy. I was able to disentangle it very quickly, boarded,let “Two Oceans” drift away and positioned her for anchoring. Truly the whole operation left me very tired. After regaining my strength through sleep, meditation, coffee and granola, I sat down to consider the options. Please remember – I did not enter the country formally yet! First thing – get weather info. I spoke with Itzik, my designated weather router, and he checked the UGRIB and Weatherunderground internet sites for me. Funny thing! According to Ugrib the wind on the way to Puntarenas was only 10 knots! I tried calling the Puntarenas marina. Spoke to the manager, who let me understand that yes, today was not good, tomorrow “no problems”. Didn’t sound very proffesional. Next I called the guys I know in “Undersea Hunter” diving company over there. They said the eather in Puntarenas was absolutely fine! My e-guide book mentions a phenomenon the author calls “Thermal Papagaio”. Papagaio is a wind named after a bay of that name in which the northeasterly wind of the Carribean funnel down the mountains into the Pacific attaining high velocities. He thinks that as the day progresses and the land mass heats up, the Papagaio loses it strength. I decided to put this idea to the test, go out around noon and if everything will go to plan, I’ll reach Puntarenas at sunset, two hours before high water, which will give me sufficient depth to enter the marina. 1145 – out again, hoping for better luck this time around. I’ll make it short – some people told me the sailing accounts are too long – it started good, continued very similiar to the first try and ended, the last 5 miles, with flat sea and 5-7 knots wind. Five and a half hours to do the 22 miles. This tells the whole story. Calling the marina on the phone, they had a difficult time deciding whether they want me to go in today or tomorrow and after a while asked me to come Manana. I didn’t really mind. Now, after having dinner and a coffee, I think I’ll have me a wee bit of the single malt whiskey Moshe brought for special occasions, read a few pages and call it a day, a very tiring one too!

5.3.09 – Thursday –  A yellow panga (name for small boat here) came to guide me in. The entrance to the yacht club is shallow and has many submerged wrecks.

Lead in

Lead in

Puntarenas is all about the fishing industry. Coming in I saw a lot of fishing boats and what goes with them – from the ice factory to the many sea birds all around. Check this pelican colony on this one!

Pelicolony

Pelicolony

Getting closer to the yacht club, Karlos, the manager, came on the VHF:” You cannot go into the marina, you must proceed first to the harbour master to do the entry clearance”. When I reminded him that he specifically told me that the procedure will be done in the marina, he took a little time, probably to get the authorities permission and allowed me in.

CR yacht club

CR yacht club

I will not go into the bureaucracy saga again! It will bore you and infuriate me. I will only say that the hope that doing the entry in Puntarenas will circumnavigate the time limit set by Golfito customs shattered to pieces. We will now have to fake a mechanical problem to stay beyond April 1st.  That is not a problem… We always have them!  One secret of the saga will be told. I had to go to Caldera harbour, 15 minutes drive, to customs. The taxy driver, Christian, who crossed himself thrice each time we passed the local cemetery, was very helpful.  His taxi, though, was falling apart. Evry time he went in he had to close the door in two parts.

broken door

broken door

On the way back he took me to a big supermarket where I did my shopping for the next two weeks. Finally found some Jalepanos, Avocado and Cilantro. Mexican food is coming!

6.3.09 – This was a day of work and no play. I found the location of the “Undersea Hunter” diving tours company, owned and operated by two Israeli guys that I was lucky to meet on my last home visit. Avi and yossi offered their assistance and I thankfully accepted. One of their men there is a Costa Rica born Israeli, Roberto, a really nice guy, helped me find an electrician to try and make the watermaker work and a company that will do the antifouling work when the boat is out. He showed me around town, pointing out places of importance, like the chinese hardware store, where they sell stuff for boats, the port captain etc.  Nelson Diaz, their dock master, gave me a copy of the chart for the Cocos island.

Nelson and Roberto

Nelson and Roberto

He also took me to see their facilities and their vessels, including a deep diving submarine, all very impressive.

Undersea Hunter

Undersea Hunter

I could see that they give their clients a 5 star experience, a far cry to what Gili and I had when diving in the red sea and Belize many years ago. In the latter we spend four or five days on a converted shrimper and slept on deck… Another thing I had to do is the National Zarpe, the local sailing permit. I then waited for Carlos the electrician who was supposed to come at 1400 and came right on time at 1500. Got to get used to the local time management. He checked the watermaker electrical system and concluded that it might be something with the motor brushes. Took it home and promised to come back manana at 0800. The thing is, I need to leave with the tide not later than 1130…    I then found Fernando, the guy that will, hopefully, do the antifouling. He has no English at all and my Spanish does not cover his line of work. He then suggested that I send him an e-mail and somebody will translate. That’s interesting!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: