17.-18. April 2010
Said goodbye to an excellent shell beach at Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua. Hoped for a dawn departure on 17.April but port & immigration officials did not arrive from Corinto to clear us out of Nicaragua until 1130, coincidentally at low tide. Day was hot & windless, left after lunch, no problems exiting Puesta del Sol's well-buoyed entrance channel. Motored more than 50% of the 145 miles to Costa Rica's Bahia Santa Elena. Arrived next afternoon & anchored in 32' without incident in west bight of large Santa Elena bay. Swam in the relatively cool (79F) water. Nice. 10deg.55.712'N/085deg.49.034W.
GB took another morning swim. When back on boat, he noticed an 18" yellow-bellied sea snake swimming past the boat. And a second, bigger one...and a third. Many individuals & groups of up to 9 sea snakes, to about 2+ feet in length, surrounded The Fox for most of the day. Possibly breeding activity. "Fishes of the Pacific Coast," Gar Goodson,
Bahia Santa Elena to Bahia Huevos, Costa Rica. 42 miles. April ("wintertime" in these parts) continues to be hot & rainless throughout Central America. Much of the trees & shrubs ashore are brown & dry. Anchored in center of Bahia Huevos but afternoon SW fetch impelled us to reanchor in the calmer east cove in 18.8'. Howler monkeys barked at one another at sunset. Calm night. Delightful anchorage.
Drove 10 mi. shortly after sunrise from Bahia Huevos to Playas del Coco to officially check in to Costa Rica. Anchored just outside mooring field NW of bay's center reef. Seas calm, anchorage comfy - from what we hear, that's unusual. Announced arrival on VHF 16 with port captain, then dinghied ashore to exchange documents with Port Captain, then Immigration, who likes to see all members of crew to match faces to pictures on passports. After Immigration, took taxi (US $40, split 50-50 with s/v Curare who was checking in at same time) to Customs office near Liberia airport. After Customs visit, back to Port Captain to exchange more documents & receive national zarpe for travel within Costa Rica. No fees charged for Immigration or for national zarpe. Total time for entry: 4 hours.
NOTE: As of 23.April 2010, Port Captain, Immigration & Customs in Playas del Coco operate only from 0900-1600 M-F. If you arrive like we did on a Friday, start your entry/exit process at 0900 so that you can complete it in one day & before the weekend office closures. Use a taxi to get to Customs office, which is located a white building about 3 km from Liberia airport.
After provisioning in Playas del Coco in the a.m., headed SE 10 mi. to Bahia Guacamaya. Anchored in center of bay in 25' without incident (10deg.31.183'N/085deg.47.535'W). Seas calm. Snorkeling marginally adequate: few fish, limited diversity. Eco-lodges & many howler monkeys on shore. Picturesque bay, calm overnight with slight rain/thunder/lightning - rainy season soon coming.
Discovered The Fox's refrigerator had failed. Much meat sacrificed to Neptune's minions.
Decided to continue SE despite lack of refrigeration. Propane Chef has dry/canned stores aboard sufficient to reach Ecuador a few weeks hence. Raised anchor, exited bay. GB then discovered that alternator packed it in too - is now draining starter battery instead of charging it. MS reviews options, considers imminent heavy weather forecast within the next 7 days, reviews distances to towns with potential availability of mechanics, assesses potential prices for moorage & mechanical services, and diverts The Fox 20 miles back to the NW and to Marina Papagayo in Bahia Culebra - the nearest, most secure, least expensive option. At US $2/ft./night. Turns out, one gets lavish treatment for lavish prices. Details soon coming.