To say we were excited is an understatement….
It is finally time for our trip south, We planned to be in Costa Rica by late November.
During the month of October Dan and I started our planning. We had to clearly understand our stops/marinas/anchorage and work to make reservations in the marinas we had identified. We also knew we needed some help for our long voyages. Dan and I figured we could go as far as Huatulco or Puerto Chiapas Mexico by ourselves. But the jump to Costa Rica was a big voyage and we needed someone to join us. Dan and I put out an email to our friends asking if anyone was interested. We got a hit from our Yacht Club friends Loren and Stephanie Hamberg. We were excited and started planning the timing & dates to pick them up in Huatulco. This helped us outline the stops and timing for our trip down the coast. We needed to be in Huatulco by 22nd of November.
On 29th of October we left Paradise Village Marina. On our way out we stopped at Marina Vallarta to fuel up and then planned our first destination, a close and fun one.
Destination #1 Banderas Bay, Playa Gemelas, 7nm, 3 hours, @ 8kts from Paradise Village Marina – This location is in front of our friends, Jane and Tony condo. We had taken Angelique to this location a month ago for a day trip, this time we were going to spend the night. It was an easy cruise across the bay. After dropping anchor we swam into shore to visit and spent the day on the beach We also were able to see the completion of their condo remodel. We had a great day, we will miss seeing them. We stay 1 night in this bay.
Destination # 2 Bahia de Chemala, Perula cove, 93nm, 11 hours, @ 8kts from Banderas Bay – A full day of cruising then anchored in a cove where we had some of our sailing friends Andrea & Ben on SV Bella Vie and Vicky and Mike on SV Bonzer. The bay was only partly protected from the waves/wind and we ended up putting out our stern anchor. This helps keep the boat pointed into the waves and prevents the wind from pushing us sideways, which is very uncomfortable position for the boat. Had a wonderful dinner on shore the last night with all of our friends with great food, margaritas and company. We stayed 2 nights.
Destination #3 Barra de Navidad Marina, 40nm, 5 hours, @ 8kts from Bahia Perula – Just a short cruise to the cute Marina & town. We were in a resort with pools and restaurants. We always enjoy ourselves when the marina is part of a resort and we get to enjoy some of the resort amenities. Took a water taxi over to town multiple times, had some great meals and saw some of the Día de Muertos “Day of the Dead”where they honor their friends and relatives who have passed. We also ran into a Columbia River Yacht club member Tom Nesbit while we were there. Found the hidden pool in the resort which is impossible to find, Don’t tell anyone! We stayed 5 nights.
Destination #4 Ixtapa Marina, 211 nm, 27 hours @ 8kts from Barra de Navidad – We had a full 1 day run to Ixtapa. Many times we see dolphins at our bow or in the wake behind us, today was no exception. We had to anchor out at Ixtapa Island for a few hours before heading in the marina because they had a working dredge in the channel. We arrived around noon to this very quiet & calm marina. Not much happening near here, so we took a shuttle bus (14 pesos = .70) ride to Zihuatanejo. We had lunch and met up with our friends from SV Belle Vie again. They were having drinks and chatting with some folks that were staying in a condo up on the hill. We got invited to go swimming at the condo the next day. The view was amazing and we had a blast! We also did a scuba diving adventure at some of the Ixtapa Islands with Dive Zihua which was fun. Dan had to do a repair while we were here, the heat exchanger for the power steering hydraulics was leaking seawater… time for a fix! We stayed 7 nights.
Destination #5 Acapulco Marina, 112nm, 12 hours @ 9.5kts from Ixtapa – Acapulco isn’t the best city to stay in with all the gang violence. You can read about shootings, gang violence and the struggle the law enforcement is having to keep control. We decided to not venture out much and use this as a resting spot and get provisions. Grocery store across the street was fabulous. Nice fresh veggies and full of all kinds of good food. Dan also had another repair needed to the generator raw water pump. We did do one taxi ride to the cliff divers and dinner at a hotel. What a great treat this was. Their were about 10 or 12 divers, they jump in off one side and swim across the gulch and climb up the rock face on the other side to their jump off spot. They have to time their jump perfectly with the incoming tide. The depth is only 12-19 feet and at the deepest point and they dive from 135 feet at the highest point. We stayed 5 nights.
These Pictures show.. jump in, Swim across, climb up and dive in.
Destination #6 Huatulco, 240nm, 29 hours @ 8.2kts from Acapulco – We anchored out in the bay because the marina in this area was closed. This is a holding spot for us to welcome our friends, Loren & Stephanie and wait for the weather window to cross the Tehuantepec bay. If you haven’t heard about the Tehuantepec winds, it is well known for its offshore winds up to 40+ knots. This is one of the riskiest locations to cross because the land is only 150 miles wide and the winds shoots across the land from the Caribbean sea to the Pacific Ocean. As you can see in the pictures of windy.com below. We stayed 2 nights
Destination #7 Puerto Chiapas (Puerto Madero) 224nm, 23.5Hours, @ 9.5knots, from Huatulco – The recommended route through the Tehuantepec bay is to keep 1 foot on the shore. Meaning travel close to the shore which prevents the winds from hitting you so hard. We had an awesome no wind couple days. With our friends aboard we pulled anchor and were off within an hour. It might not have been the best for our poor guests after their long flight from USA. They are troopers and did a great job with us on this trip. We had a great cruise across the bay with no issues. Our goal was to take some down time once in the marina to allow Loren and Stephanie to get some sleep, adjust to time and weather. Chiapas was a cute little marina with a restaurant close by and a fuel dock which we stopped at on our way in. We were boarded twice by the Mexican Federales with a narcotics dog, first time at the fuel dock when we arrived and just prior to our exiting the country. They are serious about checking the boats. This is standard procedures for everyone…. don’t go assuming stuff here. We stayed 2 nights here.
Destination #8 Papagayo Costa Rica 480nm, 64hours, 7.5knt from Puerto Chiapas – Our plan is to skip the 4 Central American Countries (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras & Nicaragua) We are purposefully skipping these 4 countries because of the unrest in these countries. Some boats go to one or more of these stops. We just decided that the entry and exit of each country is difficult along with unknown. We decided we wanted to spend our time in Costa Rica & Panama rather than these countries.
Yes, You must find and arrive at the “Capitania de Puerto” office when checking in and out of areas inside country, in addition Immigration and Customs office when arriving and departing from a country!
Our approach for this long voyage was to set up a watch schedule over a 24 hour period. With four crew members we each had 3 hours “on” and 9 hours “off” in a 12 hour period and repeat in the 24 hour time frame. Example: my shift is 3 to 6, so I have 3am to 6am and 3pm to 6pm. I sleep, eat and help out during the off hours. We try and have some food prepared and/or ready to eat. Crackers/cheese, veggies/hummus, hard boiled eggs, snack bars, peanuts, muffins, chips, sandwiches, pasta, guacamole. I try and make an easy dinner if the weather is good. We only had one bad night with very rough seas and we all skipped dinner and ate snacks. Our trip was mostly calm until we hit the Papagayo winds about 80 miles from our Marina. We were warned about this area and it didn’t disappoint us. It was a rough 5 hours until we got around the point of land and it calmed down. We arrived at approx 5am and slowed down until the first light at around 6:00 to be able to pull in to the marina safety. We stayed 7 nights.
BUT we MADE IT SAFELY to COSTA RICA BABY!! and we were all extremely exhausted!
WATCH for our next blog on our adventures in “Costa Rica”… #35