Our TERRORIZING Cruise to Panama, It is a Nail Biter!…37

It was time to check out of Costa Rica and head to Panama. Checking out of a country is a bit complicated. You have to check out of customs and immigrations in addition to the normal port to port check in/out. We were in Golfito, Costa Rica at Banana bay. These guys made it as easy as they could, Thank you Andrei.

This Map shows planned route and areas we stopped with black “X”. Red “X” is at Punta Mala (Bad Tip) and our difficult nail biting path with red line.

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Map from Golfito to Vista Mar Marina, San Carlos Panama

Our plan was a 3 leg jump to Vista Mar Marina in San Carlos Panama. Our first leg was Isla Parida, Bahia Catalina. This is a nice quiet cove protected from wind and waves. We had some dolphins off our bow multiple times during the day and we had our fishing lines out. (see dolphin video at end of blog) We caught lots of Bonito, which we don’t really like, so they went back in. But mid afternoon we caught a Dorado which is Mahi Mahi. img_5308We were so excited, sorry no pics of the catch. It is really hard work with just two of us catching fish. Not only do we have to take care of getting the fish into the boat, cleaning and packaging, someone has to drive. Luckily we are in a big wide open ocean and Dan was able to help me get it in. Then he cleaned it and I preparing it for packaging while we switch off driving. I saved some for dinner and froze the rest. We had a great dinner with a fresh homemade pineapple salsa. It was awesome.  We had a nice evening.

Next morning we were off to Isla Cebaco. This island had a nice cove for us to pull into. It was calm spot for an evening at anchor. The only issue was the water was deep close up to the shore, making it hard to anchor. This caused us a bit of an issue, as we like anchoring in about 25-30 feet of water but that was only a few hundred feet from the shoreline. When we put out the anchor we were swinging way to close to shore. Time to pull it back up and try again in a different spot. Second try was a success, we were still a bit close to shore then we would normally like, but we put on our anchor alarm & depth alarm to assure we didn’t get pulled too far. We had a nice evening and we were all good, all night long, with our anchor spot. We had decided to sleep in a bit because our next run was going to be a 24 hour run, so there was no need to hurry.

We left the anchorage around 9:00 am. The first 8 hours were pretty uneventful, we had fishing lines back out, but didn’t catch anything worth keeping. Around 4pm the waves started picking up a bit, but it was no big deal, it happens often, just a little rough water. (start of the red line on map above) We decided to pull in the fishing lines. It was getting almost dinner time, dark would set soon and it is no fun catching & cleaning a fish when it is a bit rough & dark. The waves and wind continued to pick up, it got worse and worse. By 6pm it was dark and we were getting hit hard with waves head on.

Funny thing about bad waves in the dark, you can’t see them coming, they just hit you!

Normally Dan and I do swaps “on watch” where I sleep between 10-2ish, then he sleeps and I watch until sunlight. So we started our normal routine. Dan went to rest sometime around 7 so he could take over about 10pm. Dan was starting to not feel well.

We were taking the waves pretty hard straight into the bow of the boat. I decided I needed to talk to Dan about it. We discussed  and we decided to turn a bit east taking the waves at a 20° angle on our port bow. This did help a bit but the waves were really big. Dan took over watch and I went and attempted to rest a bit but could not sleep. I could hear Dan getting sea sick and decided to let him take a rest. For a while he just crashed on the floor at the helm, but he eventually moved to the couch in the salon. I was in auto pilot, standing at the wheel, holding on for dear life. I used my legs as springs for up, down, side to side over and over again. It was exhausting. These waves were about 8 feet tall and we were taking green water over the bow on each hit. You have to understand that this was not a easy run and we had no choice about going forward. There was no turning around or a bay to hide in, as the nearest anchorage was exposed to the open sea. It was go forward, slowly, period!

The waves were now increasing in frequency to about 4 secs apart at 8 feet high.

If you are a boater, you know the golden rule about square waves. If the frequency is 4 seconds, you want the height of the wave to be much less than 4 feet. When height is taller than seconds, it is not fun.

Well, we were in a considerable amount of discomfort at 8 feet, 4 seconds. I was just focused on doing my job and not focusing on any fear, won’t do any good to be afraid! WELL, until a crazy unexpected wave hit us so hard, BANG, CRASH, BOOM! it is dark and I couldn’t see a thing. I was very concerned, I wasn’t sure what broke but something did!! Then the water started to pouring in on me at the helm. The side helm doors were closed, so it wasn’t that. It was coming down the flybridge hatch over my head. Water was just pouring in and I’m now standing in water and was really frightened of what could have broken.

My first thought was, the sink in a cabinet on the flybridge, maybe it broke loose and the water pipe broke.

Whatever happened I was going to need Dan and quickly! I hollered for him to come see what happen up top. (he didn’t tell me at the time) but said later, the flybridge had a couple inches of water moving around up top. BUT, It wasn’t fresh water, it was sea water. We had taken a wave so big and at such an angle that it hit over top of the flybridge windscreen, 20 feet above the waterline. Ok, now I was frightened!!! My fear was related to, what happened if more waves hit us in the same way. We cleaned up the floor, but we were still not close to being out of the woods yet.

We realized, as the bow of our boat was down at the bottom of the wave a another big wave quickly hit us while we were at a vulnerable position sending water over the flybridge window and down the hatch at the helm!

Dan went and laid back down and I kept at it. We turned a bit farther east. Dan came to check on me around midnight. I was tired, my feet hurt, my nerves were rattled and I hadn’t had any sleep yet. Dan was planning on going back to the couch, since he was still sea sick. But I had another idea and told him I couldn’t take it any longer, I was just too tired. Dan had to take over, vomit bag in hand. Yay.

I slept for 3 hours, pretty hard sleep, even in the rough seas. We had discussed earlier in the evening that as we passed Punta Mala, translations: bad point/tip (red x on map), and cut across the bay, we were expecting a bit calmer waves/wind situation. Obviously NOT!! When I woke up around 3am the waves were still big but had adjusted a bit to our benefit. We were still not counting our chickens before they were hatched! Dan went and laid back down to sleep some more and the sea condition continued to get better & better.

By 5:15-ish the sun was starting to come up, the waves continued to get better and I cracked open one of the side helm doors for some fresh air. I saw our life ring laying on the side deck. I didn’t want it gone, so I pulled open the door a bit more to grab it. img_5312Then I saw something else, I wasn’t sure what it was and had to get a flashlight. I understand now what the noise was when we took that big wave over the flybride. Our heavy dock box that was filled full of cleaning supplies was picked up, flipped over and shoved down the side deck.  Underneath was part of the life ring, cushions from the bow seat piled around the box. WOW, the bow seat had a cover over it. I wondered where that went along with the other cushions and all the contents of the box and anything else that was on the bow. I opened up the other side door to find our heavy stern anchor and rode laying on the other side. I could see another cushion, but wasn’t going to get it yet.. still too dark. I was sure we lost many of the pillows/cushions overboard along with cleaning supplies & the bow seat cover. Who knows what else?? 

As the sun came all the way up, Dan woke to see how we were doing. We found some items that had slid all the way along the side deck to the back door. We picked up some cleaning bottles that survived, a couple cushions/pillows and found our bow seat cover too. I was feeling pretty good we didn’t lose too much. We still needed to take inventory once in the marina. Dan was doing a bit better and we headed into Vista Mar Marina, San Carlos in much calmer seas on the last hour of our trip. 

We were both pretty wiped out after arriving at the marina and were really happy nothing worse happened to us or the boat. We lost some items, but with all the inventory done we had just a few items gone. Feeling very lucky that all my cushions and seat cover were all recovered. Later when Dan analyzed the snaps on the seat cover to see why it came undone. The dock box had hit many snaps and destroyed them and the wind/waves took it the rest of the way off. We were grateful for our Hatteras, she performed well in such rough seas!

We also should have been more prepared. We didn’t take the rough seas and dark night as seriously as we should have.  We just didn’t think it was going to be that rough. We are always so cautious and always take safety first. We just needed to be a bit more diligent about it, remembering the items on the bow.

The prediction of the waves and wind were off…as we all know, they are just predictions. We do the best we can with the forecast we have. We feel lucky and keep focused on the positive side…. We could have lost more items, the rough seas could have lasted longer than our horrible 14 hour journey, the dock box could have slammed into the helm window and we could have both been sick. But we made it, we learned stuff and don’t ever want to get caught in that rough seas, for that long of a time again!

We are grateful for you as readers and that we are both safe and sound to report back to you of our adventures. The good and the BAD!

Next Blog… A Panama Transit, A time lapse adventure on film! And photos too, of course.

Dolphin video…that I mentioned about above. If you watch closely you will see a mom and her baby side by side.

 Thanks again for your continued support!

The crew and owners of Angelique CPMY

Side Note: We fixed the snaps on the seat cover, installed padeyes to hold the dock box in place and stowed the rest of the items.

 

 

 

Pura Vida, Costa Rican Culture, Mangroves & Dolphins…36

We learned a lot about Costa Rica in our short stay, about 45 days. We knew it would be different than Mexico, but we had gotten so use to Mexico that the changes seemed bigger or more monumental. So here are a couple unique things about Costa Rica that you might not know. img_4890

Costa Ricans sayPura Vidafor everything. The word actually means Good Life,  but today it can mean just about anything, at any time and any place. So the meaning isn’t always that clear! Here is an example I found hanging in a restaurant. ⇐⇐⇐

You might hear someone talking about going to a Soda. A soda sounds like a drink in a can to us gringos. But a soda is a family-run restaurant where the menu could be changed each day and/or written on the wall. It is a casual, comfy place that the locals go to get their favorite food and us foreigners to get a taste of their food.

What is the Costa Ricans favorite food? It is a traditional meal called Casados.  The word actually means “married men”. It clearly doesn’t mean that in this context. It is said that the term for this meal might have originated when customers asked to be treated as a “Casados” (a Married man), since married men ate such meals at home. This meal consists of; rice, black beans, salad, meat (chicken, beef, pork, fish etc.) and plantains. It is delicious!

Coming from Mexico where service and cost of product is very inexpensive, we had a bit of an awaking with the “cost” in Costa Rica. Everything is just a bit more expensive than Mexico. Also when you go to a restaurant they add in “10% for gratuity” automatically . It is the law that they have this on the bill. You can tip more but you don’t have to. After being in Mexico for so long, we forgot that it isn’t always that cheap everywhere!

img_4956Costa Ricans have a unique way of keeping animals and people in/out of their land. “Living tree fences” are made with real trees planted in a row with some type of wire between them. It is very effective and much nicer looking then what we think of as a fence. There are sometimes large ditches to catch the rainfall. They put these in the towns too. Just ask me because I fell as I was stepping over one. I was fine, just a bit shook up.

In Costa Rica you can see right away how important palm oil is. “Palm Tree plantations” are abundant in particular areas of the country. In the Quepos area they were just about everywhere. What we learned is that these plantations are huge in size and in the middle of the plantations is a small town with locals that live and work the palms. They consider towns to have 3 things, a Church, a School and a Bar. These small towns looked similar to any other small town, they just had majority of the workers and their families. The process for picking the fruit is done on a rotation of every few weeks to get the ripened fruit bunches, they are very fast growing. They are cut down with a long pole and/or men climb up the trunk. A different person picks them up and hauls them to the local processing plant not far away. They also have to groom the trees and remove dead leaves and any old fruit. Hard Work!

Costa Rica has huge Rainforest and its beauty needs no word

After our return from our holiday with our family and friends in Portland Oregon, we started preparing for our trip to Golfito, Costa Rica. Yet another step towards the Panama Canal. Golfito area is the closest marina to the border where you can check out of the country. We left Pez Vela Marina mid-January and had decided to take one stop along the way at Bahia Drake. We stayed a couple nights, it was a nice anchorage. img_5177-1On the second day we put our dinghy down and took a cruise around the bay. We were told that at high tide you can get your small boat up a river to see monkeys  . It took us a while to actually find the entrance as it was very hidden in the forest. We cruised up as far as we could and got lucky to see a couple monkeys along the suspension bridge.

The next day we headed to Golfito for our final check out of the country. We arrived to a small marina called Banana Bay Marina. It had a cute little cafe at the top of the dock and other boaters that are part of the “Panama Posse” were there, and we got to meet up with them. It was fun to meet people we had only chatted with on-line.

The Panama Posse is a group of boaters that are heading to Panama (all on their own schedule). By joining this group we get discounts at Marinas and learn from others that have done it before. We also have a chat line available to ask questions or get info.

img_5197We stayed stayed 5 nights at Banana bay Marina which allowed us to get all our paperwork done and get some provisions loaded before leaving the country. We did one adventure while we were in Golfito, we took a trip with a local guide through the mangroves to see all the birds, crocodiles and vegetation. He then took us to see a huge dolphin pod. We have seen so many dolphins I can’t even count…but this time we were down low in a small boat… a different point of view.

We were now ready to head to Panama, we had called Marina Vista Mar in Panama to let them know we were coming and would be taking a couple day to get there. It was approximately 300 nautical miles to our destination.

Watch for our next blog: Our Terrorizing Cruise to Panama”. It is a Nail Biter for sure!

 

Costa Rican Poisonous Creatures, Rainforest, Volcanos, Wicked Rivers…35

Our arrival in Costa Rica was a joy. We LOVE Mexico, but it was time for a change, a totally new place was exciting and we made progress down the coast towards the Panama Canal.

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In our last blog, Leaving Mexico, Costa Rica Here We Come! , you will remember that Loren and Stephanie helped us cruise to Costa Rica. They were with us 3 more days and we really enjoyed ourselves. We were located at Papagayo Marina which is a resort area and we were able to use the pool and enjoyed the drinks and food at the “Dive Bar” at the marina.

We decided to go have dinner at a nearby resort restaurant, “Andaz Costa Rica Resort”. This required us to walk a mile or so on a small paved path. It was a nice evening, the sun was just starting to set while we walked through the forest vegetation along the path.  We had flashlights in hand and it felt good to walk after a long transit. We end up at a cute & friendly spot for dinner, “Restaurante Chao Pescao”.  All of the restaurants are open air with some combination of barely covered roofs. We had an awesome dinner, all of the food was fabulous, way too much food to finish. As we were preparing to head out the waitress said she would “called us a shuttle to get back to the marina” She then warned us of walking in the forest in the dark. (yes, it is a forest, but with the paved path & flash lights, we didn’t think it was dangerous). She said that the snakes, scorpions, and spiders in the forest are mostly poisonous and are abundant at night and we should NOT walk the path at night…. GOOD THING to know! Right? So Glad nothing happened!

img_4451We also signed up for a volcano tour at “Rincón de la Vieja National Park“. It was a bit cloudy and rainy the day we went, but we had an excellent time. Got to see all the bubbling water holes, smell the steaming sulfur gases & enjoy the interesting nature all along the path.  Throughout our hike the tour guide was very detailed explaining what we were seeing, educating us on the animals, vegetation, & volcano activity, he was awesome. We also got to see a small group of monkeys high in the trees. It was a good day in the rainforest.

The next day we did a beach day at a nearby location. The marina office told us that we had the ability to visit this beach for free, normal cost was $50usd a head. We decided to take advantage and spend the day, have lunch and relax. We had food and drinks and got to sit on these unique “beach bed couch loungers“. (mouth full huh?) We had a great afternoon of relaxation, but the wind decided to pick up and we got hit with a bit of sand flying in our faces… so as we were picking up and getting ready to leave the white-nosed Coatimundi animals came out. They are smart like raccoons and know how to steal food from the humans. img_4554It was pretty funny watching them and how smart they were. We now realized the reason we were served food in a large bowl with a covered lid.

Our time with Loren and Stephanie was coming to an end and we were sad they were leaving. We had to say goodbye to our friends and crew helpers! Couldn’t have done it without you two! Thanks for all you did!

A few days later we left Papagayo Marina headed to Pez Vela Marina down the coast.  We had decided to do it in a couple jumps and anchor out. We get to see more of the countryside and don’t have to run all night! BONUS!

Our first stop was at Bahia Portero. It was a short run and very good choice. The bay was quiet and calm.  A small resort near a small town and a accumulation of small boats across the way by the resort. We stayed one night and slept well. Up early to head to our next location Bahia Ballena. We had to leave early as the run to Bahia Ballena was going to take about 12 hours. We wanted to anchor before it got dark. (Always a good thing) We had a pretty calm run for about ¾ of the time. As we transited down the coast we hit a bit of unpleasant waves but we kept pushing as we didn’t want to lose time and miss our anchoring window. We arrived with about 10 mins to spare as we dropped our anchor. It was a pretty deep bay and we anchored over by the fishing village. Cooked some dinner and crashed from a long day of travel.

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Pointing which way to go around

We got underway the next morning about 8am and had a 7 hour run to Marina de Pez Vela. As we left the bay we saw rows and rows of fishing nets. We had a hard time deciphering which way to go to get around them. The locals place floats with nets hanging down stretched out from float to float for a mile or more. We don’t want to hit them.. 1) we can get it caught in our props and cause issues. 2) this is their livelihood for food and income. Sometimes we were lucky to see a Panga (small fishing boat) to direct us around their nets, other times we just guess. I stood out on the bow and pointed out flags while Dan drove around, and we attempted to miss them. It was a good 2 hours + of time to get out of all of the net areas going slowly. Afterwards we had calm seas and made good progress.

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Map of our trip & stops from Papagayo to Quepos

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We arrived at Pez Vela Marina around 3pm to a very nice slip and dock hands to help us. When Dan went to checked in, he was told that they were doing a Christmas celebration in the marina that night and the boats would be lit up with lights. The marina is popular with the nearby town of Quepos. Many local folks come to the nice restaurants and join in the activities that are located at the marina. Dan and I found a sports bar that was on the 3rd floor with a great view of the marina and enjoyed the food and watched the boats turn on all their lights. By the time we got back to the boat we were both exhausted and crashed early that evening. We were woke up an hour later with fireworks all around the Marina going off over our heads. Not quite as regulated as the US.

We had new guests, Molly and Scott Bradley arriving in a day.  Molly is one of my good friend from my IT Job. I am grateful for our friendship and we were eager to see them. We planned on staying in this marina until after Christmas, as we were going to fly home to spend time with our friends and family. This allowed us to just enjoy the town.

We scheduled some cool adventure trips near Quepos with Molly and Scott. We enjoy the city, mountains, ocean & rivers with our friends and of course all the good food and drinks. We did a couple guided tours where we paid for a guide. Our first one was a white-water rafting trip with “PRO Rafting“.  This trip was amazing and I highly recommend it. We all had a blast and were thrilled, scared and laughing the whole time. The crew on the boats were top notch and we would do this again if we ever come back. Thank you, Marcelo, Felipe Rambo, Chris & Moises!

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Our second tour was a zipline in the tropical forest. We took a bus to the top of a mountain top where we crossed a suspension bridge. We have done multiple different zip lines in other countries. This one was fun, lots of lines and a good stopping system. The weather didn’t cooperate at all, we had low clouds and rain which prevented us from seeing the views. It was fun and I’m sure it would have been better if the clouds weren’t so low. We had a fabulous traditional Costa Rican lunch that was provided by the company.

We did some amazing snorkeling off our own dinghy out in the bay which was fun afternoon. Our dinner was at “El Avion” a historical, actual, real airplane. It is a C-123 cargo plane which the US CIA purchased in the 80’s and used with the Contras then abandoned in San Jose, Costa Rica. If you remember the scandal that involved Oliver North and the illegal selling of arms in Nicaragua, this is one of the planes! The owners purchased the plane for $3,000 and made good use by transforming into a bar/restaurant. The sunset from this location was amazing and we got to watch monkeys climb around in front of us. It was a fun evening. img_4843-1

A few days after Molly and Scott returned home, we also headed home to Portland, to spend time with our family and friends.

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We had another reason to celebrate! Our daughter Kylie got engaged. We are excited to have Ryan join our family.

We had a fun time at home during the holiday season with all our family home. We also had fun with an escape room WIN for the family with only 1 min 34 sec remaining! We pulled it off just in the nick of time!img_5020

We are truly bless!

Thank you again for following our adventures!

Stay tuned for a bit more about Costa Rica and Our Terrorizing Cruise to Panama…It’s a nail biter!!