May 30, 2006 Letter

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May 30, 2006

We started this month in Huatulco, Mexico.  This was our last port in Mexico before taking off for Costa Rica.  We stayed in Marina Chahue (cha-way) which is a fine marina except for the incredible surge.  We put out all of our fenders to protect the hull and used all our dock lines to secure Aquila.  It was just like being in a rolly anchorage except that we were smashing into the dock every 10 seconds, rather than just swinging around on the anchor.  Our friends on m/v Tesla, a 62-ft motor yacht, popped two of their fenders under the pressure.  We tied a couple of dock lines to the cleats on the dock next to us to hold us away from our dock, and that helped.

A group of us decided to visit the historic town of Oaxaca for a few days.  After learning that the bus trip would take 8 to 9 hours, seven of us rented an air conditioned Suburban with a bi-lingual tourguide/driver for 3 days.  It was perfect.  We had a wonderful trip with good friends Anton (s/v Sukha), and Fran, Greta, little Fran and Patrick (m/v Tesla).  After a day long drive across the mountains, with fabulous views, we arrived in this little town that felt like it was frozen in time, a long time ago.  We stayed in a quaint old hotel right on the zocalo (main plaza),  toured the museums, and visited the ancient ruins of Monte Alban and Mitla, both thousands of years old.

After returning to Huatulco, we spent several days preparing for our trip to Costa Rica.  Mike did boat maintenance and arranged for the delivery of diesel in jerry jugs.  Linda did grocery shopping and internet communications.  We shared most meals with our new second family and looked forward to staying close as we all travelled south. 

It would take us 6 days and nights to cross the Tehuantepec, bypassing Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and ultimately arriving in Costa Rica.  We stayed about 50 miles off shore and only saw 2 or 3 other boats the entire trip (freighters).  The first day we had clear skies, perfect 16 knot winds and sailed all day.  At 10 p.m. we lost the wind and motored for the next day and a half on totally flat, calm seas.  Hot sun all day and full moon at night.  Mike put out the fishing line again (he'll never give up!).   Something really big took the bait and ran with the line until the reel was actually smoking it was going so fast.  It jumped out of the water and we saw that it was a sailfish.  The line finally snapped and we lost another lure.

On our third day out, we stopped the boat and took a swim in the middle of the ocean.  It was so flat and calm and we were so hot.  The water was 92 degrees and it still felt good!  We saw many turtles and dolphins and birds on this trip.  In fact we had a red-footed boobie hitching a ride on our pulpit for the first 2 days.  This day we decided to try to fish again, so Mike threw over the hand-line on his new hand reel (a gift from Fran).  Once again, something very large took it and the line snapped quickly.  Another lure gone.  For you fishermen out there, we were using 100 lb line.

All night we could see lightning and dark clouds in the distance.  In the morning the seas were building and the wind got stronger, until we had 25 to 30 knots on the bow, with 10 to 12 foot breaking waves.  The current was also working against us, so much of our headway was lost.  We were using too much fuel, so we altered course to be able to sail.  We were heeled way over on a close reach in sloppy conditions which caused the headsail to scoop into the water and throw it up on us as she jerked to right herself.  This went on for 2 days and the sky ahead was black with massive lightning bolts every 2 seconds.  It was frightening, but amazing to see.  We altered course to avoid going through the middle of it, but we still got hit with the rain.  Finally, at midnight on the 6th day we arrived in Costa Rica and anchored in Bahia Panama.  It was flat and calm and the moon was full.  In the moonlight we could see our friends Rick and Judith on s/v Dreamweaver anchored there.  Mike had a beer (he never drinks when we are underway and he was thirsty!) then we slept soundly for the first time in a week.

We moved over to Bahia del Coco (bay of the coconut) because that is where we had to check in to Costa Rica with the Port Captain, Immigration and Customs.  It is a little town with a perfect cruisers hangout.  The Coco Palms Hotel has free wireless internet, a pool to swim in, a covered patio with tables and chairs and great sushi.  The patio even has electrical outlets to plug in our computers.  Everyone sits around in their bathing suits, checking email and eating sushi!  This is the beginning of the wet season here, and it has been raining about every third day.  If it isn't raining, it is very hot and humid.  But it's beautiful and we love it here.

We sailed to Bahia Huevos (eggs bay) a remote anchorage with s/v Dreamweaver and s/v Sukha to spend a few days snorkeling the reef around the islands and looking for monkeys in the forest.  A local boy named William came up to our boat in his little panga to introduce himself.  We told him we were interested in seeing monkeys and the next morning we heard coming over the VHF radio "Miguel! Miguel! Miguel! Leenda! Leenda! Leenda!  MONKEYS!"  We jumped in our dinghy and motored over to the little beach and he motioned for us to follow him.  We weren't expecting to get out of the dinghy, so we weren't wearing shoes.  I had my camera though, so we trekked off barefoot into the forest with him.  We spotted a family of howler monkeys.  They make an incredibly large sound, like King Kong.  We expect to see many more during our time here.  It was very exciting.

Over the next few days we snorkeled around the island, saw the caves and blowholes, took Anton's dinghy on a jungle river ride, kayaked, walked on the beaches, dined with Judith, Rick and Anton, and read books in the cockpit when it was raining.  When we felt ready for an internet and sushi fix, we all sailed back over to Coco.

We are now exploring another anchorage in Bahia Murcielagos (bats bay) called Key Point.  We've had high winds gusting to 30 knots while here.  The wind howled all night and got us swinging around so fast, I thought we were underway.  Fortunately, there is no fetch, so we just swing but not bounce.  This reef is known for excellent snorkeling but we found the water murky.  Lots of fish down there but limited visibility.  Maybe the wind has things stirred up.  Anton and his boatguest Mike arrived here tonight and joined Rick, Judith and us for dinner and drinks on Aquila.  Several bottles of wine later, they all found their way back to their boats by starlight.  No moon tonight.  Mike's 2 million candlepower spotlight also helped them navigate their dinghies in the right direction.  In the morning we headed out into 25 knot winds gusting to 40 knots!  After an hour of fighting that, it calmed down and we motored on to Playa Hermosa (beautiful beach).  It is beautiful here.  (click here to view the May Photo Album)

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