Monthly Archives: September 2014

The view from the breakwater



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Electric Avenue

We were so bummed about not being able to have air conditioning while we’re at the dock that Scott, the yard manager, sent a hand over to pick up our cord with the bad plugs (which appeared to be saltwater damaged and not burned) and returned it a few hours later with a new plug on each end.


We plugged it into the air/con side and flipped the switch, and ….. Woo-hoo! I let out a yell. In minutes the temperature inside EV went from 100 (I’m not exaggerating) to 80.


After a few days of air everything is finally drying out and we’re no longer fighting mold and having to shower every couple of hours. And here’s what we love about our boat. We have two electrical systems, AC and DC, as most boats do. Our AC side has two circuits. The central air conditioners (two units) are on one breaker and everything else is on the other. We just fired up the air conditioner side and left the other side off, which means the rest of the boat is still operating on DC power charged by our abundant solar panels. No need to run a battery charger or use any more shore power than what’s needed for the air conditioning. Cool.



We still have a new shore power cable coming from the states and when it arrives we’ll swap this one out for the new one just to be on the safe side, although we think this one’s just fine now.

On the repair front, Mack Sails is busy packing up all our stuff and as soon as the mast shows up it’ll head for the shipper. We’re not sure how long the shipping, customs clearance and transport to Quepos will take but we’re pretty excited that finally things are happening.


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Around Quepos

The one thing we were excited about being in a marina was the chance to plug into shore power and fire up the standard-equipment Manta air conditioning. The heat and humidity in the rain forest has made the whole boat feel damp and we really looked forward to drying it out and cooling ourselves to boot. So where is that shore power cable? It’s been so long since we plugged in that we had to dig out the heavy yellow cable from the bottom of a locker and when we handed it over to the dockhand he took one look at the plugs and raised a wary eyebrow.

“Do you see this?” He held up the end to show us a very blackened plug. Damn. Jack thought it would be ok, but when I flipped the breaker in the boat I heard unusual clicking sounds and switch it off immediately. Our dream of AC vaporized in the searing afternoon heat. We checked the minimalist onsite chandlery but they only had one that was half the length we need and at three times the stateside price plus tax. We asked Scott about a loaner and ordered one from West Marine, which may arrive in 2-3 weeks. Did I say it’s hot?

We learned about the local farmers market that starts Friday afternoon and runs through Saturday, so after having been underway and without any fresh fruits and veg we walked through the dusty boatyard (why are they always dusty?) and along the malecon to the market. Holy cow! An actual honest-to-goodness market! We haven’t seen one since Martinique last December!



We were so excited to see some of the variety we hadn’t enjoyed in months. Golfito is a beautiful spot but a Mecca for foodies it is not. We enjoy seeing the crafts at the market, too.


We’re exploring the town little by little each day, trying to stay out of the worst of the heat. Although Quepos is a larger town and much closer to the population center of Costa Rica, it’s still in the jungle, with a jungle river running through it.







Back at the sport fisher ranch we thought we’d check out the onsite bar. It was pretty empty in the middle of the day, but nice enough. If this were a sailors bar there would definitely be more people here all day long. Not that we drink more, mind you, just that we seek out company as often as we can. And we see that unlike sailors bars which are normally festooned with club burgees, this one is adorned with caps. Lots and lots of fishing caps.





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Strange Brew

As usual, dear Escapees, we find ourselves in a strange place. I suppose you could ask how could a brand new shiny-pants marina feel strange to a long distance blue water cruiser? We never hang at marinas, new or otherwise, so this place just feels weird. The first thing is the cost. You’d be hard pressed to find rates this high anywhere in the US, but wait there’s more! They’ve got a fifty percent up charge for catamarans. This leaves my poor math skills gasping for air. Needless to say we could not be here without the generous help from Seaworthy, our insurance company. We are tied up stern to the dock which is a mere fifteen feet from a large stone jetty which is so big that they’ve paved a road on top of it so at night we see car lights whizzing past our cockpit. Oh and just beyond that one hears surf, big surf, surf big enough to, well, surf. At low tide we can’t see anything but a stone wall right behind us and a huge sport fisherman to our left and another one to our right.


Night time entertainment also includes armed security guards with serious flashlights, two pairs of handcuffs, and clipboards into which they make copious notes as they pause by our boat. I admit it, I’m curious. Don’t they approve of my knots or have we broken some arcane marina rule? I’m a little sensitive about my knots anyhow. Who knows, they never say anything.


To avoid being swamped in the surf, large fishing boats run into shore just on the other side of the stone jetty, maybe twenty feet or so away, until they’re practically on the beach then they turn hard to port and run right along the beach, avoiding the worst of the surf, until they tuck in behind a bight of land that protects their fishing boat marina from the swell and surf. Needless to say this requires a lot of faith in one’s motors, tide tables, and oneself. I’ve watched several waiting for the right moment to run the gauntlet in the morning. Amazing.

So, as I was saying Pez Vela Marina isn’t finished. The marina is protected by coffer dams and stone jetties to try to keep the Pacific swell at bay, which we are really thankful for because even with a dogleg jog into the marina there is a constant swell in here. Not bad, but constant. It should be interesting setting the mast.


With almost nuts-to-butts sport fisherman it was a surprise when Scott, our man in Pez Vela, said hey, do you want to go for a sail? There couldn’t be more than four sailboats in the whole marina. Why yes, Scott, we’d love to. Turns out a young family wants to checkout their fifty foot Beneteau and Scott had work to do, and could we help out? We ran down the dock. Lovely family, great to sail a monohull again and in a dying breeze we zigged back through the entrance feeling a little bit better about life.





So it turns out I can stop looking for the pool, five o’clock happy hour, the laundry, descent WiFi, oh, did I mention that they haven’t built the pool yet? Ah, effing grand.


Let’s all hold hands above our portable media devices Escapees, and WILL that big box to Pez Vela, before Costa Rica kicks us out of here too!

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The view from the back porch


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There goes the neighborhood

We’re settling in at Marina Pez Vela and looking forward to getting the work started. It’s been so long since we’ve been at a marina for any extended time it feels very strange to us. We stayed one night tied to a ferry dock in Puerto Rico last January to visit Jack’s sister Deb, and we spent a little over a week at the marina in Panama preparing to transit the canal, but in both cases we weren’t plugged in to shore power or water and couldn’t wait to get back out to anchor.

When Jack and I were planning our cruising life we couldn’t imagine how difficult it must be to live at anchor. What a pain to have to schlepp water or dinghy ashore to go anywhere! After nearly two and a half years of living at anchor we can’t imagine any other way and find marina life odd. Here’s why:

First of all, there’s the obvious one, expense. Many marinas cost as much as staying at a hotel, but there’s no daily maid service, no breakfast buffet with omelets on demand.

Second, a boat that’s tied up to a dock moves funny. Every little change in wind direction or tide tugs at the docklines and jerks the boat in odd and sometimes uncomfortable ways. It’s unpredictable and sometimes when I’m below walking across the cabin I lose my footing or lurch to one side, almost as much as at sea. A boat at anchor swings gently with the tide, and generally lies head into the breeze.

Most of all, we don’t have the privacy we have at anchor. Even in a crowded anchorage, boats are far enough away that you don’t feel the need to lower your voice, or keep the radio turned down, or be concerned that someone can look into your windows at night. Every anchorage is like living in the country and your neighbors are across the meadow, a dinghy ride away. A marina is like a trailer park, with the boats just feet apart. Luckily in this marina there are few occupied boats, and we don’t have a boat right next to us on one side so we have a little breathing room.

Still, we’re grateful to be here because it means we’re making progress and because the anchorage outside is completely unprotected from the Pacific swell. And because we’re meeting people we wouldn’t normally run into out in the anchorage, and that’s always a plus.


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