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We stopped at three locations in this supposedly more developed country. Flamingo turned out to be completely closed on Christmas day. We therefore only turned in for half a day - enough for an extended walk and a Christmas dinner (Hamburger at one of the tourist hotels). Not to waste too much time by waiting for things to open the next day, we decided to head on south right away. Winds were rather light than sufficient so that we suddenly had to find an anchorage close enough to reach with the amount of gasoline left aboard.


Cruising Central America

The story on how I sailed on a small vessel around Central America.
Go to the start.


Our only choice was Bahia Ballena (N09.43, W085.00) around the corner in the Golfo de Nicoya. About 5 miles before reaching the anchorage, we ran out of gas and had to sail at less than 2 knots for the remainder of the day.

At last light and exactly when the wind died completely, we entered the bay and drifted as far inward as we could before dropping anchor. Aside from us, there were three other sailing boats anchored, and when we rode our dingy ashore we saw a German flag on one of them. As we approached the dock, a tall western looking gentleman helped with the lines. I immediately spoke German to him and 10 minutes later Folkmar, his family and brother in law and the two of us were having beers at the local 'Yacht Club' (which was nothing more than a restaurant located at shore).

We spent a lovely evening together, first at Frank's Shak, then on the German boat with lots of drinks and fun, chatting about sailing, Germany and the US. I had the feeling of having made great new friends. Surprisingly it was 2 in the morning when we finally returned to our ship.

Frank's Shak turned out to be the best location for food in town. Frank, originally American, had been living in Costa Rica already for years. He was married to a local 'Tica' who was the excellent cook of his little restaurant. Even though he officially was closed for breakfast, he prepared the best ham-and-egg sandwiches I have ever eaten. We took off not without buying a loaf of his self baked bread.

A lonely shrimper at the start of his nightly fishing journey

Our next stop, Golfito (N08.36, W083.09), was 130 miles away. A smooth sail brought us into the Golfo Dulce at a perfect time for a late afternoon approach into Golfito. Land fall is always the most difficult and dangerous part of a sailing trip. It requires close navigation and frequent depth checking. Preferably, it should be done during the day - especially in unfamiliar harbors. "Out at sea there's nothing to run into." That's why sailors prefer to stay on the open ocean.

Rounding our most Southern point on New Year's Eve at midnight

Unfortunately, the wind faded away again and our ETA moved to late night. While crossing the golf, a heavy rain squall came up, bringing us a powerful sweet water shower. Fixing the GenuaMike and I grabbed our shampoo and soaped in the rain on deck. We were not able to see farther than a few hundred meters. Luckily, the approach to Golfito was well marked and offered range lights and buoys for navigation.

Fixing the Genua to get ready for the Atlantic
at Balboa Yacht Club, Panama

We anchored in front of a restaurant being run by a French sailor who had stayed in Costa Rica after a circum navigation. After the usual re-provisioning and gas run (which included a short rain forest walk) we were back on our way for the last stretch to Panama. The canal is a 4 to 5 day sail away from Golfito. The route goes mostly south-eastward until it reaches its most southern point at N 07.10 and W 080.49. We rounded this cape exactly at mid-night New Year's Eve. On the radio we heard the ships in the area wishing one another a happy new year. Mike got up earlier so we could have a drink together. From then on, we were going north again.

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2014 by Joh. Hennekeuser - Last update: 09-Nov-2014