Posted by: catamarantwooceans | March 10, 2009

Sailing With Shimon

8.3.09 – Sunday – My long time friend, Shimon Zimon, is coming today. Shimon and I first met in the Air Force flight school way back in 1959, went through the course, got our wings together in July 1961 and kept in touch ever since. After serving in the air force as a fighter pilot, shimon flew crop dusting and then joined the national airline, which I went into a few years later. shimon is a fun guy and I expect good times with him aboard. We agreed to meet in Quepos around 1400, so I left Herradura at 0545 in order to be on time. After losing the last Rapala lure yesterday, I looked into the fishing tool box and found a stainless steel spoon-like lure, cleaned and polished it with Brasso and sent it to the water with a prayer. Very quickly it took two Bonitos which I returned to the sea. I was waiting for a better catch but nothing happened for a very long time. I decided to take the lure out for inspection and as I reeled it in I felt no pressure at all. The lure disappeared. I put another fishlike lure that I had in the box and in short order I had a meal for two in the shape of a Spanish Mackerel. Enough fishing! As I anchored near the Quepos dock, my phone beeped an incoming SMS. Shimon was waiting on the dock. Took him with the dinghy and set course to the Punta Quepos anchorage for the night. Seeing the multitude of fish jumping around us, shimon suggested that I put some bait in the water. After half a hour, the rod bent and line was running out. I started lifting the creature and it was a 12 pound (5.5 kg) snapper. New stuff for Shimon to digest.

snapper

snapper

Shimon Zimon

Shimon Zimon

9.3.09  – Monday –  I started the morning with a swim towards a rock I saw not far from the boat. Although the visibility was not so great I saw some nice reef fish and topping it all – a big turtle, who swam near me with no fear. The Manuel Antonio national park, which is the main reason for stopping in Quepos is closed on Mondays. We used the day to visit the town, which is surprisingly nice, did some shopping – most importently for new lures and then returned to the boat. A guy from the boat next to us came over for a chat. I invited him to come with his wife later in the evening for drinks. ¨ We are going out fishing in the afternoon, and if we catch a fish I´ll think of you¨ I said. We sailed out trolled with the ¨this lure is very good¨ but caught nothing.  This is what happens when you open your big mouth. Back at anchor, I jumped into thy water to scrape the bottom some more and again had a small crab enter my ear! He too did not like my ear drops and scurried out.  Brian and Nancy came swimming for drinks and we had a nice chat. They came over from San Diego and are going to the Caribbean and Florida, planning to work a bit before continueing down the islands.

10.3.09 – Tuesday – We visited the park, walking it’s trails for two and a half hours. We could see a lot of groups of bird watchers stopping with their telescope equiped guides, looking at things that we could only imagine and all the time exclaiming names of birds as if they were sacred mantras. At one point one of the guides invited me to look through the scope and truly it was amazing to see this tropical bird as if it were mere centimeters away. We did see sloths, howler monkeys, racoons and a deer. It was also nice doing some walking around after being so long on the boat with no exercise.

11.3.09 – Wednesday – Out to Herradura on the way north. I was eager to show Shimon how we are catching fish. The “very good” rapala brought nothing so I replaced it with the red and white one and presto! Two bonitos in succesion, returned back to sea. I was on the phone with my son’s family and spoke to Ido, his youngest, who asked if we caught anything. A little wait – and then a crevalle jack who gave me a tremendous fight and a big spanish mackerel that shimon took out. Back in business!

jack

jack

Shimon's first

Shimon's first

12.3.09 –  Thursday –  Went into Los Suenos marina for fuel and water. Big marina but fuel moderately priced – 3.21$ a gallon. Then out towards Bahia Ballena 20 miles away. Good weather, flat seas and at the end we found internet so I can publish all this.

At one point I noticed that the time was 1630. Late! When we came ashore we chose a part of the beach that was relatively calm but a bit of a distance from town. We thought that the tide was at it’s highest so did not drag the dinghy up too much. Now when we came back we found out that the water has risen further, small waves were crashing where peace and quiet reigned before and the dinghy was full of water and black, volcanic sand. We opened the drain and let the water out, timed the waves and rowed out to sea where we could lower the outboard and motor back to “Two Oceans”. We did not like the anchorage near the fishermen dock and left to go to the northern anchorage 2 miles away, where we dropped anchor near a nice beach with palms and a stranded multihull. A small monohull was also there. We cleaned the dinghy, jumped into the water to cool off and then relaxed in the regular style, Pernod for Shimon and whiskey for me. For dinner I made the boat signature dish: Tuna Thai Satay, this time with spanish mackerel.

13.3.09 – Friday – We got up at 0500, with first light, because we had a long leg today and were not sure if the wind will cooperate. We had to go in a southerly direction to round Isla Cabo Blanco, before turning northwest to Samara bay, total of about 50 miles. On the way there we saw a few whales in the distance which is always exciting. The island itself is bare and rugged, the ocean’s waves pounding it, throwing foaming water jets high up the cliffs. We had good wind in the vicinity of the island and sailed fast, gaining miles. A few miles past the corner the wind went aft and abated, conditions suitable for a spinnaker. Hoisting a spi is a lot of work so it was a bit disappointing when after only 30 minutes the wind changed direction,making it necessary to take it down. But we were making good progress and entered Bahia Samara at 3 pm. I had a bit of a surprise when I found out that my Navionics Classic electronic chart did not cover all of the country. We were now navigating on basic GPS which is, of course still very easy. In the middle of the entrance three small fishermen boats were at anchor, fishing. I passed to port of one when I noticed something grey close on our right. A buoy? It went below the surface for a while and when it came up again I saw it was a big fin, connected to a bulky shape – a shark! I don’t think I’ll dive to check the anchor today!

14.3.09 – Saturday – A long day ahead again. Departed at 0545 to Tamarindo, reputed to be the “Gringo Central” of Costa Rica, with many Americans making it their home and a lot of services for touristas. It was a very nice sail, good winds and a lot of sea life presenting itself to us. We saw turtles, two stingrays in close formation and a manta ray jumping to unbeievable hight, probably escaping some predator. We entered the Tamarindo anchorage via what the guide described as an exit, saying that it is difficult to see the reefs coming from the sea. We approached cautiously, had no trouble coming in, although the sight of breakers on our right coming in was somewhat dramatic.

waves

waves

We needed to go ashore for shopping, internet etc but looking at the beach was a bit frightening, seeing waves rise and break just before the shoreline. Ever since Doron and I flipped with the dinghy in Trinidad I have fears of landing in such conditions. We tried to hail what we thought to be a water taxi but it was just a private boat. with no alternative we entered our dinghy and motored ashore. Just as we got close to it a local boat was also going to land. We noticed previously that the locals timed their landings, waiting for the right moment and then making the run to shore. We simply stayed in formation with the local guy and when we saw him open the throttle we did the same, getting safely ashore. We dragged the dinghy up to the high water mark, stuck it’s anchor in the sand and made our way into town. We had a Pizza, I spoke with Gili and my friend Gabi on Skype, checked the e mails and weather on the web and then went to the supermarket. Coming back to shore with our hands full of goods, we saw that the surf condition was much worse. The tide has risen to the maximum, the waves were much bigger, breaking on the beach with brute force. We dragged the dinghy to the water, waited for the right moment and frantically pulled her forward, Shimon manning the oars while I did my quickest outboard start ever and steered to deeper water before a new series of waves hit. Frankly – I’m not ashamed to say I was scared!

15.3.09 – Sunday – At night the wind followed the forecast, coming from the east at around 20 knots. I went out twice to check our position and all was well. At about 4 o’clock I woke up feeling a slight unfamiliar shudder. Went out again and found out that we did drag quite a bit. Woke Shimon and reanchored, waited for 15 minutes to make sure we were not moving an went back to sleep. The rest of the day is fit to be called: “Another beautiful day in paradise”. While going out of Tamarindo was a boisterous affair, with the wind blowing at over 20 knots, it later became moderate, allowing us to sail in the right direction on flat seas. We did have to tack, to pass an island before we could turn to our destination – Bahia Huevos (bay of eggs) – this brought us close to some wild rocks and islets, over which the Pacific swell broke unpacifically, making a magnificent scene.

Rocky

Rocky

We marveled at some trees on the otherwise barren rock, but when we came closer we saw they were cacti.

Rocky 2

Rocky 2

Cacti

Cacti

On our way we saw more turtles, dolphins hunting and manta rays looping. Going into Huevos bay, a big turtle was floating on the surface with a frigate bird circling above, perhaps trying to land.

Turtle and bird

Turtle and bird

We anchored by a quiet (after the jetskis went back to their resort) lovely beach. A very satisfactory day.

16.3.09 – Monday –  today we are going to Bahia Santa Elena, a bay towards the border with Nicaragua and a part of a national park. The guide promises dolphins, birds and whales. This area is also notorious of having a lot of wind, especially – so I understood – at time the Papagaio wind is blowing. This wind is produced by the Caribbean trades accelerating down the costa Rican mountains into the Papagaio bay reaching 30-40 knots with some gusts even higher. The morning was very calm and we did not anticipate anything like that. Our route will take us in a northwesterly direction, past the Murcilieras islands, turning around Cabo santa elena to the east north east to our destination. Reaching the islands we saw that there was some wind ahead but it did not seem to be very strong. How wrong can you be! From a light southwesterly it blew in seconds 28 knots from the north. We were struggling with reefing the sails to the second reef position while having to sail in a narrow channel between the islands and the land, taking care not to hit either of the two fishing boats that materialised ahead. The wind became even stronger, reaching 33 knots. I couldn’t lower the main because I did not have enough sea room to turn head to wind. a stressfull situation! When we reached the Cape and saw the waves on the other side it became clear that the only way to get to Bahia Santa elena against this rough sea will be motoring. So down with the sails and we started hobbihorsing in the same old washing machine motion, crippled in a way by the fact that I did not want to use the starboard engine at more than 2200 RPM, fearing it will overheat. No fun at all and we had 9.5 miles ahead. To cheer us up a legion of dolphins came from behind. There must have been more than a hundred of them, jumping all around us in a spectacular fashion. Best dolphin show ever!

Dolphin show

Dolphin show

We followed the curve of the shore and slowly the angle to the wind became greater and our speed rose. We entered the bay, where one monohull was at anchor. I breathed with relief when our anchor went down but this feeling turned into anxiety when strong gusts hit us every few minutes. The anchor held fast but just to be able to sleep well I lowered the second one too. After dinner we saw a long DVD movie and turned in at a relatively late hour – 2300! Last look outside revealed red and green lights of a big yacht that just came in.

17.3.09 – Tuesday – Morning light showed the late-comer as a big catamaran, also a Voyage design, I guess around 47 feet long.

Voyage

Voyage

The monohull seem to have left sometime during the  night. Today we are not sailing anywhere. We’ll do some jobs on the boat and try some of the hikes the guide recommends. One of the most anticipated tasks was making the SSB weather fax work. It came with power wires that I needed to connect to 12V. I had this idea of utilising one of the 12V plugs that used to power a portable fan that died a natural death. The thing was, I had to decide which was the plus and which the minus. The plug has black wires, one of them with a stripe and the SSB has red wires one of them also with a stripe. Connecting the ones with the stripe seemed logical but when we tried powering the SSB it blew the fuse. Iridium call to Moshe, my electrical advisor,plus a bit of common sense and multimeter use gave me the right direction. With Shimon assisting, I even soldered a small wire to the burned fuse and fixed it. some of you may think this is easy stuff, but for somebody who at 8 years of age put his finger in an electrical plug and stuck it in the socket, getting the shock of his life (up to that time…) all things electrical are a big challenge. The main thing was that the SSB worked! Next job was pickling the watermaker. You let the machine suck in a biocide instead of the regular sea water and this way you can store it for up to a year without fear of bacteria contaminating the membrane. The walk ashore was a bit of a disappointment. We could hear birds around us but not see them. Anyway, it was good giving the old legs some exercise. The catamaran left in the morning and we were left alone in the bay until the afternoon , when another mono came and anchored about 250 meters to the north of our position. I then noticed something starnge; We were still having those periodical gusts, while the area where the mono anchored looked completely calm. Was it a case of “The grass is greener” or is it the terrain’s influence? We’ll never know…

18.3.09 – Wednesday – At 0615 we left the bay to start our way back south. I was a bit worried about the weather outside but the waves were not big, the wind not too strong and anyway we were going with and not against them. Good sailing! Approaching Cabo Santa Elena the wind accelerated quickly to new hights, the pressure on the boat became too much and we had to lower the mainsail, remaining with tripple reef on the jib. Looking at the wind instument, I saw it recorded maximum wind of 43.8 knots. That’s the Papagaio for you, full of surprises. When we passed the Murcielas islands and the wind became light, we thought we were free but it did not take long for a repeat performance to take place. We reached Playa del Coco just after 1400, as predicted by Shimon. Here we’ll find stores, internet – a bit of civilisation that we need from time to time.

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