First, the usual disclaimer...sorry about the lack of photos...this post comes via ham radio, and the bandwidth just allows for text....Will post photos when we next get online with a good internet connection.
We're now in Bahia Ballena ("whale bay"), and while we've not seen any whales recently, the hills around us are ringing with the loud moans and groans of howler monkeys. The howlers' calls coupled with daily thunder are our normal lullabies these days. Love the monkeys. Could do without the thunder!!!
We left Playa del Coco (yes, after visiting our friendly Capitania del Puerto to check out of his geographical reign of influence) and headed to a beautiful, undeveloped bay, Bahia Guacamaya. Nicely protected from the prevailing swell, we dropped the hook in some of the clearest water we've yet encountered. We could clearly see the anchor chain, 25' below. Time to go check out the reefs! After first doing a couple of snorkel recons, we assembled our dive gear and headed in the dinghy over to a rocky island nearby. Dropping down to around 50', we saw a huge assortment of fish, and a school of spotted rays swam around to check us out. As we moved up to around 30', we saw a large turtle ahead, chomping on some coral. We approached slowly, as they've been so skittish on the surface, but he was totally focused on his feed, and didn't seem to worry about us at all. I guess if I was munching on a nice meal of algae covered coral, I wouldn't care about much else either!!! At any rate, we stayed and watched him eat for 2 or 3 minutes, then reached out and pet his rear flippers. He looked over his "shoulder" at us, but just blinked and went back to his coral lunch! Really a special encounter, at least for us (I doubt that he even remembers us today!!!). Having our new dive compressor has been terrific, as we are able to jump in with full tanks whenever it looks promising, and don't have to think, "is this spot worthy of a tank of air??".
After Guacamaya, we did a couple of long days, 55-60 miles, as the central Nicoya Peninsula really has little in the way of good anchorages to explore. We spent one night at Bahia Samara, a pretty little bay, but even with a large reef blocking much of the wave action, a VERY ROLLY anchorage indeed! Tough to sleep, even with a flopper stopper deployed.
Arrived yesterday at Bahia Ballena. A nicely protected bay, without too much development, though we can see a couple of resorts along the north shore (we're anchored in the south corner, by a little fishing village), and we've seen private planes landing on an airstrip behind them. We'll give it a miss!!!
But our anchorage is hardly resort fare. The fishing village reminds us of tiny hamlets in Alaska or B.C. With more monkeys! We went ashore today to explore. The "yacht club", a bar catering to yatistas is closed, and we walked up the road to Tambor, the nearest real town (town is here defined as having 1 grocery store, 1 hardware store, a few houses, a smattering of little eateries, and a couple of tiny hotels). The jungle is all around, though we've not yet had the pleasure to see any of the monkeys we hear in the evenings. Perhaps tomorrow...
The weather, too, reminds us of Alaska, though it's around 90 degrees, 75% humidity in the afternoons. We're now at 9 degrees N. latitude, and we've entered the ITCZ. The ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone, for those of you who asked!) is a region of squalls, fluky winds, and heavy overcast skies, what is commonly known as "the doldrums". It's always located near the equator, but it's location is a moving target. Moves north with the sun, in spring and summer months (in the northern hemisphere). Usually it's not seen until, say, 6-7 degrees, but, well, I guess we've lucked out!!! The one good thing about working through it before we head offshore is that we can still fill our fuel tanks when we need to, and the ITCZ makes us thankful that we repowered 'Bravo' before leaving Seattle. We've been motoring a lot, in the 3-5 knot winds. The first layer of our patch on the water injection elbow in the exhaust system has worn through, so I HAD to drink another beer to get more patching material....the things we suffer through to keep our ship's systems in tip top shape...