Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Golfito and Panama!
After Isla del Cano was Puerto Jimenez. This was a sleepy little town with a calm anchorage. The people were once again very friendly and inviting. After several days our approaching visa expiration could not be put off any further and we were off to Golfito the last port of entry/exit on the southern pacific side of Costa Rica. We ran into our friend Greg from sweet dreams again in this perfectly flat calm ancorage. As it turns out, we wished we could have spent more time here since the anchorage was full of sailboats and the shore services were great. Tim and Katy from Tierra Mar (former cruisers) provide a dinghy dock, laundry service, showers, and internet. We met Julio, Livia, Theo, and Valeria a family on Ilha do mel, who had sailed from Brazil and several other colorful characters. We filled our propane tank, got groceries, cleared out of the country, fueled the boat, and had a great potluck dinner before setting sail for Panama. We were hoping to travel with Greg until Panama City, but 2 hours into our trip he radioed to tell us that “something big broke” in his engine. We offered to help, but he turned around solo and we hoped all was well. The setting sail part was rather optimistic since we motored all day to Punta Balsa, which was surprisingly calm. Our first experience with the locals was a breath of fresh air. An elderly man greeted us at the beach to welcome us and shake my hand. After a walk down the beach in a torrential downpour, it was back to the boat and off to Isla Parida the following morning. After a 2 hour sail, a 6 hour motor and another downpour, we rounded the corner of the island towards our anchorage to find a dinghy headed right at us. Lo and behold, it was Greg! His big problem turned out to be an alternator bearing that only held him up for a day and $60. He left overnight and headed straight for the island and we managed to pick the same anchorage. Isla Parida is a picturesque location with clear water, beautiful beach and lush jungle. There are several other islands within dinghy range and we enjoyed snorkeling, hiking and a picnic lunch. After Isla Parida was Isla Cavada in the Secas Islands. This Island was as beautiful as the last and we finally found what we have been looking for all along: countless islands, pristine beaches and endless snorkeling reefs with an abundance of fish. We next headed to Ensenada Pixvae which was a small local town. There was one phone in the whole town and more kids than we have ever seen in one place. We walked through the town with a local who kindly offered his guide services. We were actually looking for some produce, but found only fruits...on the trees! So, we got a few cokes, beers, 45 bananas on the bunch (still not ripe a week later by the way) with some fresh limes thrown in, 4 coconuts including a how to open with a machete demo, fresh sugarcane, and some locally grown and hand separated brown rice (very, very whole grain...read tasted like dirt)-all for about 10 bucks including a bag of candy that we passed out to the local kids. Greg has been having more luck at the fishing than Brady although she did catch a 3 foot spanish mackerel. Greg, meanwhile, has reeled in three tunas and some mahi mahi. Next was Playa Benao, which was where we were supposed to wait for a weather window to pass around Punta Mala (bad point) towards Panama City. This was a terrible rocky rolly anchorage, but ashore was more paradise. There we found a beautiful beach side restaurant owned by a great couple with four kids. Their family recently sold everything in California and bought the entire beach for a different life. They now have a bar/restaurant along with some rooms to rent in a little boutique hotel. Our kids played for hours with theirs on the beach and the trampoline. We took a bus to the next town called Pedasi and Brady is officially ready to put Panama at the top of our list. One more sleepless night and we opted to head for Punta Mala with a favorable weather picture. This turned out to be the best sail of our trip. As we rounded the point the wind came around behind us at around 25 knots, and with spinnaker alone we managed to sail for 14 hours straight at up to 10.5 knots. We covered the 130 miles to Isla Tobago in about 20 hours. This anchorage is also beautiful and has a pretty big town on the island. From the boat we can see all the ships at anchor waiting to transit the canal and the very dramatic Panama City skyline. We will be moving over to the city in the next day or two and will get our fill of all that it has to offer before my dad and sister visit for two weeks.