Thursday, May 24, 2007
All's well that ends well.
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This will be the last adventure post you'll see from the Triton, at least for the next two months. We won't sail again until the end of July, but we're always looking for good crew, so if you think you'll have a couple of weeks around then, drop us a line.
We've arrived safe and sound in Golfito, a well protected harbor in a bay off the coast of Southern Costa Rica, near the Panama border on the Pacific side, and will stay here a bit to regroup and wait out the hurricane season.
Our travels getting here were pleasant but uneventful. We stopped once or twice along the way to go swimming in the ocean, which was nice - but the water is getting colder and dirtier the further north we go, and the jelly fish were still a nuisance.
The weather wasn't great, but the wind was in our favor some of the way there, and we enjoyed a few spectacular moments sailing (enough to satisfy the crew that they actually got to sail a boat for real) before we arrived at our final destination.
Golfito itself is stunningly beautiful, with lush rain forest climbing up into hills that disappear into the clouds. There is abundant jungle everywhere, with the squawks, shrieks, chirps and hoots of birds, frogs and mammals providing a constant, soothing soundtrack. Sadly, the bay waters themselves are polluted from industrial and agriculture runoff, a non-existent pollution control policy (a lot of sewage and garbage just gets thrown into the bay), and a local government that seems more interested in the quick buck than preserving the ecosystem. We were amazed at the beauty of the land,even from several miles away, but were sad to find that as we approached the mainland the water seemed to get more and more muddy. We then started seeing bits of vegetation go by and the water became brown, with a reddish tinge to it.
By the time we reached the bay there was a steady stream of jetsam going past us, and as we entered the harbor the water went bright red from a plankton bloom called "Red Tide". It is a very dangerous condition where a micro-organism in the water reaches dangerous concentrations. It causes massive fish kills, disease and dysfunction among mammals such as dolphins or humans, and with enough exposure, even death. I had several insignificant, superficial cuts on my hands when I first arrived. Within a day they were all infected and swollen, just from the exposure of handling the wet lines, even though I would wash them immediately after exposure. It's bad stuff and (I believe) a result of the pollution levels in the local water.
We anchored in twenty feet of water just off of a marina called "Land And Sea". They provide great facilities for cruisers, including moorings, showers, laundry facilities, WiFi, and are fantastically helpful. It is run by Tim and Katie, a lovely West Coast couple that stumbled into Golfito over ten years ago while cruising. According to Tim, they just couldn't believe how amazing the place was, and he felt as if his whole life had been about waiting for that one moment. They fell in love with the bay and settled in. Back then there wasn't much to the place, and they've worked hard to promote it ever since. From our point of view, they have done an amazing job and the area is just starting to become popular, largely due to their efforts. Land prices sky rocketed a few years back, and the sports fishing industry also moved in.
If you'd like more info about Golfito, or Land Sea Services, you can contact them at http://www.marinaservices-yachtdelivery.com/
Since we arrived late afternoon on Friday, we needed to rush to try to get our boat cleared in, inspected by the agriculture board, registered with the harbor captain, and checked into customs. That meant several hours of dashing about a town we didn't know, spending a lot on taxis and probably not accomplishing it all in time.Katie arranged to have all of them (save customs) come to the marina instead. We hung out chatting with Tim, learned a lot about the local economy and where/how to get things done.
Eventually the various representatives arrived, all of whom were all extremely polite, courteous and efficient. It was such a change from the attitudes we'd experienced in Panama or Trinidad. These officials couldn't have been more helpful. Or, in the case of one of them (a beautiful woman) more sexy. She was wearing a very well cut naval style outfit which only enhanced her appeal. I think she captured Jeff's imagination and it was the first time I've ever seen him appear shy or stumble with his Spanish.
After we'd finished, Katie and Tim boughtthem a round of sodas, and we all sat around talking, as best we could, through our blushing interpreter. It was quite cute. And then it started to rain. This is now the rainy season in Costa Rica and it comes down in buckets. There was at least five inches of rain in the dinghy by the time it stopped. During this half of the year, each day the sky will be bright blue for several hours in the morning, then cloud up around lunch time, then start to drizzle around three, and may or may not deluge the rest of the evening. There is no shortage of fresh water available; you need only set up a tarp and you can collect as much as you'd like for free. We all took lots of fresh water showers at the marina, and felt clean for the first time in days.
The next day Holly T. and I went into customs. The process took less than ten minutes, they made photocopies of some documents for us, and there was no charge for doing so. We were amazed. I'd heard that Golfito had the best customs process in that part of the world, but I've never been so impressed, especially since it was Saturday morning when we checked in. It is really incredible how much "red tape" can spoil your trip to a country. Costa Rica clearly wants tourists, especially cruisers, and they've made it very easy to enter the country. Afterward we walked around a huge "duty free" zone, where you can get almost anything you'd want for about half price. It isn't clear why this is so, but we saw folks carting off refrigerators, microwaves, cases of J&B scotch, everything. All for cheap.
We then went back home and moved the boat to one of Land & Sea's mooring balls.
Once we'd moored the boat (and added our own second anchor to it, along with backup lines) Jeff and Thorny decided to head into "The Jungle". They jumped on the local ferry, went over to the other side of the bay, and hitched rides on the "Collectivo", a sort of pickup truck converted into a mini-bus, for a ride into the bush. They came back telling tales of wild adventure, fantastic animals, unbelievable sights and sounds, car crashes, getting completely swamped and were both extolling the virtues of the forest. Whatever it was (you should read their blogs for a more detailed account) it did them a world of good. They came back smiling, happy and energetic. I don't think I've ever seen Thorny so beaming.
The next day Holly T's boyfriend Nick arrived, and all of us spent the next few hours getting the boat ready to be left for a while in the care of Land & Sea. That meant sealing up the hatches, closing off the seacocks, stowing the gear, locking up the outboard, and the general routine of making your home mold proof. Everyone worked really hard, and it took four hours longer than we anticipated, but eventually we got it all done.
Holly & Nick are headed off for their own jungle trekking, and Jeff, Thorny & I rented a car and drove over the mountain to the capital city of San Jose. We all had a wonderful dinner the night before we left, and it was really hard to say goodbye to such great crew. Holly & Nick plan to stop back at the boat on their way back out of town in a few days, so at least they'll be able to check on things before they leave. Jeff is headed for Columbia, and Thorny said he wants to spend more time in the jungle. I think they are all bound for exciting times ahead. I gave them all hugs as we left, but I just don't think I'm very good at saying goodbye. It never feels like I've said enough, and I don't know if they understand just how much I've appreciated their company.
It has been only a few hours since we parted ways, but already I'm filled with nostalgia for this trip. Deliveries aren't supposed to be fun. They aren't supposed to include fabulous meals, great conversations, stunning vistas, amazing sites, and more laughs per hour than you can find anywhere else on the planet, but this one did. I was truly blessed with the great good fortune of having wonderful friends whose company I treasured, who quickly became a highly competent crew I could count on.They all worked well together, always pulled their weight, and most importantly put up with my eccentricities as we sailed from Trinidad to Costa Rica. No captain could ever ask for anything more. I wish them all the best, and owe them a huge debt of thanks, from the very first crew (Mota, Jeff, Jen, Mike and Mary Ann) that worked so hard to launch the boat in Trinidad, get everything ship shape, then bash their way to Panama via Aruba, to the folks (Jeff, Thorny, and Holly) who took Triton from Panama up the coast to Costa Rica, and then worked so hard to pack her up in Golfito. I couldn't have done it without their help, but then again, I wouldn't have wanted to either! It has been a marvelous journey, and their efforts have made our lives all the richer for it. As we say in New Jersey, "Youse guys is da bestest!"
I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention My Better Third, the Admiral of the fleet (aka She Who Must Be Obeyed), love of my life, my reason for getting up in the morning and sailing north towards cold weather (now that is true love): AnnMarie Powers (who worked eighty hour weeks as a contract accountant when she wasn't on board) and who cooked, cleaned, captained and crewed along side me when she was. She is an amazing woman whose talents, beauty and charm are beyond my mere words, and I love her with all my heart. No sailor ever had better. Thank you babe. I've missed you so and can't wait to see you again!
Lastly, I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to read our posts, who sent us encouraging emails, and who helped support our efforts to bring Triton home.We aren't finished delivering her yet, and there will be more miles to come, but your encouragement meant a lot.Thank you all for sailing along with us in spirit if not in person. I look forward to seeing you all at Camp'N'Sons, and hope you'll all join me in a toast to my crew.
Wishing you all flat seas, calm anchorages, and a chandlery that always has what you need.
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