About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi


"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844


Friday, June 29, 2012

Passage to Ecuador, days 3-5

Thursday afternoon. What an amazing past 3 days of sailing these have been. Except for a quick tack to avoid an 8 mile long (at least) fishing long line marked by empty plastic bottles, we've been close reaching on a starboard tack the entire time. The wind velocity (8-20 kn) and direction (SW) have been rock steady, allowing us to sail a straight line directly to Ecuador. Not at all what was predicted. Seas have been moderate for the most part, though this afternoon the wind has increased to 15-20, and we're sailing closehauled to make our destination....a bit of a rough ride. But no rain or lightning for 3 days!!! We feel a real difference in the weather on leaving central America behind.

You may recall on our approach to cross the bar in El Salvador that we needed to slow down to arrive at high tide. Well, the Rio Chone estuary that we'll be entering in Ecuador is much the same. We will have a pilot come aboard to guide us in, and high tide is at around 11am tomorrow. We're now (3pm) about 90 miles out. Since we don't want to hang out at the mouth of the river in the dark, it means arriving in the window between dawn at 5am and 10am to be there to meet the pilot. So yesterday we began to slow the boat down, flying our staysail instead of the big genoa. Even so, our 24 hour noon/noon run was 110 miles. Now we're boogeying along at around 5 knots, perfect for our morning arrival.

Had a weird encounter yesterday afternoon. We were sailing along, about 130 miles off the Columbian coast, when we saw an open panga boat approaching at high speed. Cindi called me up on deck, "ummmm...Adam....we've got company...." This after not seeing any boat traffic even on radar for 3 days! It was a pretty jazzy panga, with twin 115 engines and a snazzy paint job. Not your typical run-o-the-mill coastal boat. No fishing gear evident. 2 guys aboard, with fishing foul weather gear on. Came alongside us. We were thinking, "this can't be good!!!". As they were motoring alongside, the guy in the bow does a smoking motion, evidently asking for cigarettes. When I said "no tengo", we don't have any, they goosed their engines and disappeared into the 6 foot seas leaving a huge roostertail behind. Like I say.....pretty weird!!!

We're getting pretty excited to cross the equator. We're now at 0 degrees 47 minutes N. latitude, and we should cross sometime a bit after midnight. King Neptune awaits to welcome his newest "shellbacks", leaving our "pollywog" status behind!!!

Assuming the passage continues to go well, we'll make landfall in the morning, and check in with the authorities tomorrow. South America awaits!!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On passage to Ecuador, days 1 & 2

We fueled up and left Golfito on Sunday morning. After motoring for a couple of hours, the breeze filled out of the SW, and we had a fantastic 6 hours of beam reaching in the 12-18 knot wind. We even had good current, to keep our average speed over the ground at a tasty (by 'Bravo' standards!!) 7.5-8.5 knots. But as evening came on, the squalls began. Wow, what a nasty night. Up until about 2 a.m. we were continually trying to evade the rascals, often without success. With winds up to about 40 knots, intense lightning, ear splitting thunder cracks, and rain so hard we couldn't see the sails, the 'Bravo' crew were busy campers indeed!!

Eventually we passed through this area of squalls, and motor sailed in a 5-7 knot breeze for the remainder of the night. No harm, no foul, at least not to us. The 6 flying fish that we found on deck in the morning may have told a different story before heading to the happy lagoon in the sky!!! One hit our windscreen so hard that it sounded like a pebble hitting the car windshield on the freeway! Those critters can FLY!!

Fishing report: Big event yesterday was the 'catch of the day'. After trolling our favorite 'magic' lure all day without a bite, all of a sudden the reel was screaming!!! Looking aft while grabbing the rod, we saw an amazing sight as a 6' sailfish was tail walking and leaping high in the air. Like a scene from "Old Man and the Sea", Papa Hemingway would have been thrilled. I know we were. Adam fought the beautiful fish for nearly 30 minutes before bringing it alongside the boat. What a spectacular creature!!! Happily, unlike the big fish in Papa's famous missive, a quick slip of the knife cut the line, and off swam the sailfish to make more little sailfishes. The hook of the magic lure will rust out quickly, and he/she will just have a good fish story to tell his buddies about his ill fated lunch.

We continue to work our way south, mixing motoring with sailing when the winds die. Although we're motoring slower than normal to conserve fuel, we still managed 140 miles on our first 24 hour noon/noon day. Day 2 is slightly less, at about 135 miles. So far, anyway, the sailing has been better than predicted for this 600 mile passage.

Getting into the passage rhythm, we'll pass Columbia-owned Malpelo Island this afternoon, and should arrive in Ecuador on Friday or Saturday.

This post is via radio link, so no photos, sorry.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Adios, Central America

We'll start this post off with one of our "Mystery Photo Quizzes".  Identify it, and claim the prize!!!  (answer at the end of the post)

Well, we've completed our paperwork cha-cha with the authorities to clear out of Costa Rica, and with exit "zarpe" in hand, are preparing 'Bravo' to head to Ecuador later today.

The past couple of weeks have been most enjoyable, hanging out in the little towns of Puerto Jimenez and Golfito, both located on the calm shores of the Golfo Dulce (sweet gulf).

Daily storm clouds gathering
Here at Golfito, we've been anchored in front of Land and Sea Services, a funky club house hosted by Tim and Kate, former cruisers themselves.  With a great exchange library, an honor system beer fridge, comfortable chairs on the shaded deck, and 5 friendly dogs (well, actually 4 friendly, 1 not so!!!   sorry little guy, we call 'em like we see 'em), we really enjoyed our stay here.

Golfito itself is a unique spot.  The town, once a United Fruit banana company town, was abandoned in the 80's when UF pulled out.  Now subsisting mostly on exporting palm oil, fishing, and a tiny bit of tourism, it has a real local small town flavor in a spectacular setting, with the jungle coming down the steep side of a ridge behind, right to the waters edge.  The town is shoehorned in between, somehow.




 

Another load of palm oil pumped to the holding tank farm above.
Yup, it's HOT hiking in the jungle!!!
One morning, a great hike behind the town took us to the top of the ridge for spectacular views out to the bay and gulf beyond, and yet new opportunities to spot monkeys (squirrel monkeys this time) and amazing flowers.  Some felt like a visit to the set of "Little Shop of Horrors"!!!   But especially it felt great to stretch our atrophying legs on the 8 mile hike.







"FEED ME SEYMOUR"

Wild orchid along the trail

Another morning we hired a panga, and along with crews from 'Camelot', 'Shellback', and 'Sabin', headed up the gulf to visit with Trudy at her beautiful botanical gardens, "Casa Orquieda" (Orchid House).  She gave us a great tour of the incredible spot that she and her husband have carved into the jungle.  The diversity of plants was unbelievable, and we enjoyed munching on fruits that we'd never seen or heard of.  The 70 acre property is home to 100's of species of plants, birds, and other animals, and WELL worth the $8 price of admission!!!  That even included our first toucan spotting in Costa Rica!!!
Wild pineapple, not quite as big as the hybrids we know.

Bromeliads everywhere


Mangostine on the right, and a ???? on the left (tastes like lychee nut)

NOT a stuffed animal!!!

Cindi at the duty free checkout....A happy customer!!!
But it's now time to head to South America.  We've made our requisite trip to the duty free shopping mall to stock up on, well, "sundowner fixings" for the next year or so (alcohol in Ecuador is taxed 100% duty!!!  and French Polynesia is no better)

The upcoming 600 mile passage to Ecuador is known as being rather unpleasant, with fluky or non existent winds, squalls, and a contrary Humbolt current often running up to 2 knots on our nose after we cross the equator.  We've even picked up an extra 18 gallon plastic diesel tank as we expect to motor much of the way, according to the weather forecasts.

We've thoroughly enjoyed our nearly 3 month visit to Central America.  The people that we've met have been wonderful, and eager to share their lives with us.  Their pride in their countries is evident everywhere, and they wanted to pass that on to us.  While they were often poor by US or even Mexican standards, they enjoy a peaceful, content existence that we can all learn from.  "Pura vida", indeed.  Thanks for sharing.

(answer to "mystery quiz"......This is a sprout growing in our cockpit from under the teak.  Yeah, it's rainy, hot and humid here.....and yeah, it's time to boogie south!!!)




Monday, June 11, 2012

Costa Rica......continues to deliver the goods!!!

We've spent the past several days working our way south from Quepos/Manuel Antonio Park to explore the wonderful Osa Peninsula.  Home of the Corcovado National Park, National Geographic describes this place as "the most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity".   From what we saw anchored in our base of operations, Bahia Drake (pronounced "Drah-kay"), we'd be the first to agree!

Our stay at Bahia Drake proved to be one of our favorites.  The bay is remote from any major population centers, and is home to several "eco-lodge" resorts catering to folks from all over the world who come to explore the park.  As we are here in "low" (read "RAINIEST") season, the lodges are nearly deserted, and along with other cruising boats Espiritu and Swift Current, we feel as though we have the bay to ourselves.




There's a beautiful trail that wraps around the entire peninsula and park.  Better traveled in the "dry"  (read "not as rainy") season, we nonetheless spent a few hours hiking the jungle.  Cindi and I came upon a troop of white faced capuchin monkeys, sitting in a mango tree enjoying lunch.  

















Cindi was sure she saw this guy extending a little middle monkey digit.....time to move on!!!
After about ten minutes of hanging with the little guys, a couple of them started acting a bit aggressively, and we figured it was time to move on before things got ugly!!










The jungle itself is surreal, it is so GREEN!!!  Receiving over 220" of rain annually, this peninsula is the wettest spot in Costa Rica.....and that says a lot!  (For perspective, Seattle receives 37" per year!!) 

Typically, we have an afternoon rain, with dramatic lightning storm.  The rain can be intense.  We're started collecting rain water in our tanks, using soft dive weights to create a dam to divert the water into the deck fillers.  The other day we got 30 gallons in less than 10 minutes!!!










These pangas strap empty barrels to their sides so that they don't sink from rain!!
Scarlet macaws are a common sight in the trees around the bay.
Isla Cano, about 15 miles west of Bahia Drake, is a biologic reserve, famous for it's abundant marine life.  We've been looking forward to scuba diving on the island for some time, and planned to head out to the island with Bravo.  However, there's no good anchorage at the island, the best dive sites can be hard to identify, and the more we asked around, the better it sounded to hire a dive guide and a small panga to run us out there.  

So together with the Swift Current and Espiritu crews and our fantastic dive master Kike (pronounced "Kee-kay"), we headed out to Cano for two exceptional dives.  While the visibility was only so-so, at around 35-40 feet, the quantity and diversity of fish species was great.  
On our second dive, we had the magical experience and good luck to be joined by 3 giant manta rays.  These beautiful fish with their 15 foot wing spans swam around us, gliding gracefully through our bubble streams as we watched in awe.  Kike said we were indeed lucky, as the mantas are only at Cano for around 3 months each year before heading to the open sea, and he said they'd be gone in the next day or two.  Wow, what an amazing dive!!!
 

Jungle living agrees with Cindi!!!!
Employee parking lot in a surf town.....this was behind a little street restaurant in Manuel Antonio.
We're now in Puerto Jimenez in the Golfo Dulce.  The former gold mining town is now a hub for backpackers and biologists exploring Corcovado.  We'll explore the shores of the Golfo Dulce for a few days, before heading into Golfito, the capitol of the region, where we'll get ready to leave Central America and sail to Ecuador.


Monday, June 4, 2012

"Lions, and tigers, and bears.....oh my!!!"

Actually, with apologies to 'The Wizard of Oz', the title should read "Monkeys, and sloths, and agoutis, WOW!!!"

We're anchored off the town of Quepos, Costa Rica, where we've been for the past 3 or 4 days.  Only a 10 minute bus ride from Manual Antonio National Park, we've been using it as our base of operations to explore this amazing place. 

The park is a real treasure.  One of the smallest in Costa Rica, it's density of critters is nothing short of fantastic.  With several miles of hiking trails to follow, it's possible to see the park in one day.  All of the guidebooks warn about the density of tourists as well, but they're here for good reason.  So we decided to join in the fray.

Yesterday we hired a naturalist guide.  Armed with his 60x Leica spotting scope, Pablo gave us a terrific 4 hour tour.  And his ability to spot critters was nothing short of clairvoyant.  We'd be strolling along a trail, talking, and all of a sudden, Pablo is snapping his scope tripod legs open, aiming into the trees to share yet another critter encounter.  We saw so many it was hard to keep track, but the following gives some idea:

2 toed sloths
3 toed sloths
Howler monkeys
Capuchin monkeys
Agouti
Racoon
Tent making bats
Probiscus bats
White faced bats
3 types of spiders
Black iguana
Jesus Christ lizard (real name!!!)
Ctenosaur lizard
Several unique birds

Afterwards, we went back to do it again, and even knowing what we were looking for, it was tough to see how Pablo had been spotting the diversity that we saw.  The critters are so well camoflauged....

Here are a few of the many photos we shot walking around the park.

The zig zags are made from wings of dead prey, and are said to attract female spiders......hmmmmmmm.

Male 3 toed sloth.....the males have that unique stripe on their backs
Awwwww.......mama and baby 3 toed sloths
2 toed sloth.....he's got a little Star Wars "Wookie" look going!

Sloths were a lot more fun to take pictures of than the monkeys because.....well..........they're SLOTHS!!!  Means they don't move very quickly!!!



Probiscus bats

Jesus Christ lizard.
Amazing cammo blends into the forest
Howler monkeys everywhere


Ctenosaur cutie

Agouti.....a guinea pig on steroids
Black iguana says......."THAT'S ALL FOLKS"!!!

We'll hang out here for the next day or two before heading south to Bahia Drake on the Oso Peninsula, home of the Corcovado National Park.  More adventures around the corner!