Posted by: catamarantwooceans | April 23, 2009

Cocos island – the full version

14.04.09 – Tuesday –  Leaving Puntarenas – We untied the boat from the moorings and turned towards the fueling dock. We had to maneuver between all the closely moored boats and that’s how I found that the starboard motor was stuck in 2000 RPM. Each time I put it into gear I heard a bad crunch. Steve suggested revving up and then closing the throttle and it worked. Got to investigate! But first – filling up and then following Walter, my favourite Marinero, through the channel out of Puntarenas. Months of preparations, a lot of work and money spent to get to this moment. The forecast – light SW for the three days ahead. This means motoring but also flat seas and easy going. We caught two Bonitos – back to the sea – and a Mahi Mahi who got himself free 2 meters from the stern and then nothing. On this sector there is a current of half to a full knot, so it seems that we will only get to Cocos Friday morning.

15.04.09 – Wednesday – During the night each of us did an uneventfull three hours watch. Morning came with flat, oily seas. We did some odd jobs on the boat, read books or just relaxing with the engine droning in the background. I was surprised by the relative lack of sea life. Is this the way it is deep into the ocean? I was partly answered close to sunset when we saw more birds, two big ones sitting on top of turtles and finally caught a Mahi Mahi.

16.04.09 – Thursday – Basically more of the same until the afternoon when the wind came and gave us better speed. Sea life was getting better with birds, a shark crossing our bows and a whale blowing less than 100 meters from the boat.

We got to Cocos island at 2300. I came head to wind and Steve opened the spinlock to lower the main. Nothing happened; the sail was stuck up the mast. I tried pulling it down with the reefing downhauls – didn’t budge a single centimeter. I put the boat through a series of turns – nothing.  It became clear that we willl have to send somebody up to investigate and solve the problem but surely not in the middle of a black night… There was no alternative but to sail slowly, “holdind” near the island until morning. We devided the time into two hour watches, Zvi being the first and retired to our cabins. About 45 minutes, after the boat went up a wave and went down with a bump, Zvi noticed that the sail released itself, woke me up and together we took it down. I could immediately see that, again,  the two headboard sail cars parted company with the mast track! Thinking back I remembered tightening the main sheet at one time, but shouldn’t it be stong enough to take it? Anyway, all hands on deck, both engines forward and we entered the bay with the rising half moon lighting the scene. We could see the Sea Hunter on it’s mooring, a big catamaran and another monohull. We dropped anchor, Zvi and I had a drink to counter the effects of high adrenalin level in the blood (Steve had a coffee) and went to bed.

17.04.09 – Friday – I woke up first, looked around me at the green, lush island. It is said that the book “Treasure Island” was inspired by it. I find myself short of superlatives to describe my surroundings. After having used “another beautiful day in paradise” more than once, where else can I go linguistically?

Chatam bay -Cocos

Chatam bay -Cocos

Glancing over the side, I marvel at the clarity of the water. With mast and fins I entered the water and was greeted by a whole lot of fish that found refuge beneath our bridgedeck. 12 meters below a few sharks cruised lazily, This was what we came here for. The guys woke up one by one, right in time to see the panga from “Undersea Hunter”, with three people on board, come over. They introduced themselves: Wilson, Jose and Pepe, explained the diving arrangements for the day and suggested that we take the mooring close to their ship. They then left to take care of their onboard customers.

At 1100 the panga picked us up. We did a checkout dive not far from the boat. The underwater scene was… what superlative do I use now? It reminded me of the Sinai before it developed to what it is today. Simply fantastic! We recieved a visit by the park rangers, who gave us the information on the park rules and collected the fee for our stay. Not inexpensive at 260$ for two days but money well spent.

Rangers

Rangers

We did another dive at 1400 on a site by Isla Manuelita with dive master Leo and captain Jose driving the two big Honda equipped panga. Jose is one the company’s captains and a watermaker expert. “Can you come and take a look at our unit?” “Sure, I’ll come right after the dive” he answered. We went into the water. Sharks, rays, a turtle and topping it all a small fish resembling a plant, moving as if swept by the current. Awsome!

Divemaster Leo

Divemaster Leo

Back on “Two Oceans” Jose started working on the watermaker. It was immediately evident that he knew what he was doing. He decided to take the pump over to their workshop to finish the job. Steve joined to observe. In the evening we had a working watermaker. I paid twice as much in Golfito for a repair that held for just a few days. This time I’m positive it will hold much longer. Oh, I found one fly in the ointment in this almost perfect island; In reality there  are many of them. Small flying insects that crawl over every exposed part of your body, not biting but a nuisance all the same. Some time during the day I went up the mast to check the damage and possible solution for the mast track problem. It became clear that we will have to replace the upper section of the track. Luckily I have the old sections that Doron took down in February and by using the good parts we’ll be able to do it.

18.04.09 – Saturday – Early in the morning, before any wind will come up, I climbed the mast to dismantle the upper track section. There was no wind, but some swell did enter the bay, rolling the boat and hurtling me from side to side. I succeeded in opening all the screws exept for one that held the top of the section to the mast. After being up there for more than an hour I was too tired to continue and the guys lowered me to deck. Steve went up, armed with WD 40 and in a few minutes the section was in the cockpit. Now

It was time to go diving again. The site was on the eastern side of Manuelita. Again, the underwater scene was magnificent. We were looking for creatures we did not see on the previous dives, barely noticing the multitude of sharks lying all around to rest or perhaps to be cleaned of parasites by smaller fish. An eagle ray flew gracefully by, we saw a moray eel, lobsters and many more tropical fish. For the next dive Leo and Jose took us to “Dirty Rock” thus named because of all the sea birds droppings covering it. On the way we passed Wafer bay and what a breathtaking view it was, decorated by a high waterfall which we hope to hike to tomorrow.

copy-of-seahunter

Sea Hunter in Wafer bay

Scores of boobies accompanied us, skimming at low level on all sides of the fast moving panga. We went down to 25-30 meters,took position on a rocky ledge and waited. We did not have to wait long. Hammerhead sharks started a parade in front of us, one of them, a 2.5 meters beast, came as close as a meter and a half away from me. He looked like a pack of muscles, big eyes on the canard shaped protrusions on the sides his head, watching us unblinkingly. Big rays glided by, a school of barracudas hovered between huge boulders. To top it all three dolphins joined the party, coming so close we could almost touch them. For the decompression stop Leo took us toward the big blue, where it was not possible to have a reference point or object so as to judge if you were diving straight or upside down. Looking up at the surface and then back at Leo prevented vertigo. Truely one of the best dives ever!
After the dive a little rest and then back to work. Steve went up again with the track parts he prepared. We were back in business. We were invited to dinner on the UnderseaHunter which was an opportunity to thank the crew.The way they treated us was outstanding and we showed our appreciation by putting a large tip in their box.

19.04.09 – Sunday – Can you believe that only three weeks after painting the antifouling we already had some muck sticking to the hulls? That was probably stuff from the water at the Puntarenas mooring. The three of us went into the water with scotchbrite and cleaned as best we could. We want every fraction of a knot on the long way west. After that we motored to Wafer bay, where the main rangers and coastguard camp is. Came ashore intending to hike to the waterfall. Pablo, one of the rangeers who visited our boat was there.”Sorry, the track to the waterfall is closed because a pump of the hydroelectrical plant exploded” “What about the hike to Chatam bay?” “I don’t have an available guide now”. He did take us to see the hydroelectrical plant, to which one had to pass a bridge made of ropes and other discarded fishing equipment.

Bridge

Bridge

Around that time a group from a big English monohull came ashore wishing to do the  trek to Chatam. Pablo agreed to guide us all there but at that time a big, thretening cloud appeared above. We did not close all the hatches on board and feared a deluge so we turned back to the boat. At 1100 we raised the anchore and started our voyage to the Galapagos. Looking back we saw the heavy rain we escaped shrouding the island. As we left the western tip of Cocos, seven dolphins came to accompany us, playing near the bows. Always a good omen. Wind was light so it was mostly motorsailing. In the evening we ate the last of the Mahi Mahi and went into the regular watch routine. As always, something on the boat malfunctions. This time it is the fridge, that was serviced before we left Puntarenas. We’ll try and find a refrigeration technician in the Galapagos.

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