Kids, Don't Try This At Home!

Hi, and welcome to the adventures of "Triton", a 45' Robertson & Caine Leopard catamaran we purchased in July of 2007, in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. We sailed her back to Emeryville, California, located in the lovely San Francisco East Bay area, worked a few more years, then set off cruising in the fall of 2014. This journal is the story of our ongoing adventure, the folks we've met along the way, and the hardships and joys of that journey. Please read along and let us know what you think!

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here to start from the very beginning of the entire adventure. You can navigate from post to post simply by clicking the NEXT or PREVIOUS phrases at the top or bottom of each page. To find out what we've been fixing, changing, upgrading, click on the Triton Boat Work link under Related Websites. If you want to subscribe to this blog (and get emails letting you know whenever we update it) just click on the icon that says "subscribe to: posts (atom)" at the bottom of each page.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Leaving Cocobeach, Enroute to Nicaragua


There are many breathtaking moments at sea. Mental snapshots that will live with you forever, a slice of natures stunning beauty and amazing versatility that are often impossible to convey with words. I've watched sunsets so overwhelming they made me cry, storms so severe I cowered at their power, giant manta rays leaping ten feet out of the sea, one after the other, then slapping back down with a splash, thousands upon thousands of phosphorescent jellyfish, that flashed in eerily green explosions beneath the water's surface as we passed them by. I've swam with sharks the size of small torpedoes, gliding lazily around past me, and watched chameleon like octopus changing colors as they moved about. I've floated with barracuda hanging just off my peripheral vision, that would dart up and back as if to challenge me, their teeth arranged in a menacing smile; I've seen eagle rays and turtles so close I could pet them, seen whales not far off in the distance breaking the water's surface and listened to their sound beneath it. Best of all, I've had the pleasure of watching my friends and crew mates as they too enjoyed many of these moments along side me, but nothing has come close to this evenings spectacle.

We had been sailing through rough seas in blustery weather, when we noticed that the phosphorescence was particularly strong this evening. Perhaps it was due to the new moon and heavy cloud cover, leaving the sky almost black and the water's surface a charcoal gray, but we could see everything clearly outlined in light. We were leaving twin greenish trails in our wake and everywhere the whitecaps were glistening with a whitish blue foam that seemed to glow from within. As we sailed along I heard the popping/sucking noise of a dolphin breaking the surface, and then saw this magnificent animal just off our bow. It was a ghost, completely outlined in a brilliant phosphorescent glow, streaking through the water around the boat, completely visible and starkly outlined in the dark waters, leaving a shimmering trail behind that lasted for minutes. Soon, many more of his kind arrived and we watched, mesmerized, as they flowed around our boat, danced in our bow wake, played amongst themselves and darted off, only to rejoin us seconds later. We could track each dolphin's path as they wove around us and each other--all of them outlined perfectly in thousands of pinpoints of green-blue light that blurred and faded as they sped along.

On every leg we've been presented with some new treat, each one amazing in its own right, but this has been the best to date, and I'm glad my friends got to witness this with me. These pictures just don't capture the incredible beauty of the moment, but we were there, and saw it, and we will always treasure that time, standing on the deck, watching these graceful creatures streak and blur around us, all the while being able to follow their phosphorescent contrails as the shot away, spun or dove, and eventually returned. It was a very special moment for us all.

The next morning was blustery, and the previous night's entertainment had started to fade a bit. It was colder, but still warm by San Francisco standards. By the mid day we decided to stop for a swim and jumped in, only to discover that even now we were still plagued with jellyfish. We worked on scraping the hull a bit more, and got off most all of the barnacles, then had lunch and relaxed as we motored on. Towards the afternoon the wind was picking up a bit and seemed to be veering around to our starboard. As it did we unfurled the headsail and began to pick up speed. The cat sliced through the water and soon we were moving along at eight, nine, then ten knots, in rough chop that we barely felt. It was smooth as silk, with only the occasional bump from a rogue wave against our hull. Nice weather, if only it would last.

It didn't of course, as the day wore on the thermals that generated it were dying off, and the wind faded. We motored some more, eventually arriving at the Nothern most headlands of Costa Rica around 4PM, long before the sun would set and with plenty of time to find the anchorage. At least we thought. As we approached the coast, using an older chart book whose GPS coordinates for the beach didn't match it's description, we found ourselves a bit confused as to exactly where we should land. There appeared to be several possibilities, and we all disagreed about which one was most likely. We decided to head inland and Eastward, but after a few miles the area seemed less and less likely to be what we were looking for. As we did, the wind picked up, and the waves began to grow. The various chart books we'd read had warned that there were many unexpected shallow areas and that the charts weren't always correct. "Beware of the reefs!" it said, and we could see large expanses nearer the shore that developed breakers as the waves picked up. I positioned Jacob and Robinson up on the bow as lookouts, put Ian at the helm. and asked Roxanne to monitor the depth gage as we approached closer. In an odd moment, we realized that more terrifying than the reefs, was the distracting sight of two butt cracks off the bow. "Roxanne", I said as the cockpit crew chuckled at the butts off our bow, "go get your camera!" Without even hesitating, she disappeared below, then surreptitiously began taking shots as she walked forward. Ah, good times, good times. If either of these two ever decide to run for office, the black mail money alone should cover the cost of my trip.

As we motored along, trying to determine our position but still quite lost, a fishing ponga came by and we hailed the three young men fishing from it, asking them for directions to the harbor. They assured us we'd overshot our mark and pointed us back to the original headlands we'd passed by on the way in. We motored quickly back, keeping an eye on the depth sounder until we found what we assumed was the entrance. A large mono-hull motor-sailor was making fast time for it as well, coming in from the North West. So, doing what any two boats must do if their paths are even slightly parallel, we raced along with them, entering from the East, trying to beat their speed and be first into harbor. To our dismay and shame, they had the advantage of wind, current and waves, plus a bigger motor, faster boat and better captain, and eventually we had to admit defeat and bear off, tipping our hats and waving as they went past our bow.

Eventually we found our way into the harbor, and dropped anchor a bit west of the main area. The bottom was sandy and seemed to hold on the first try, even after backing down on the anchor pretty hard. The harbor isn't much to speak of, with a few main roads that run along side it, and a small town of limited tourist attractions. There is no dinghy dock or wharf, and any going ashore must brave a beach landing. Fortuately the shore is pretty forgiving, and the waves moderately short and small.

Since it was late in the day we decided we'd wait until morning before attempting to check out, postponing the inevitable ordeal of Customs and Immigration. The rest of the crew were anxious to see the sights and grab a meal, so I ferried them into to shore, and then picked them up later that evening. They'd eaten at what was considered to be the best restaurant in town, and came back pretty unimpressed. It was expensive, with poor service and only mediocre food. Even Robinson, who tends to be pretty gracious about just about everything, was pretty down about it.

The next morning we set about checking out, which was a convoluted process that involved first going to the Port Captain's office (he wasn't there but his secretary was, and she was incredibly helpful) then next buying some sort of stamps, then going to Immigration, then over to the bank (where we waited on line for over two hours before being able to pay to leave the country) then back to the Port Captain's office. All in all it took over five hours, and although everyone was quite nice and very helpful, by the end of it we realized that we'd actually have been better off waiting in Golfito until Monday and just checking out of there directly. If I had to do this over again, given the better shelter, ease of entry and better amenities, I'd definitely make Golfito my first or last stop between Nicaragua and Costa Rica and avoid Playa Del Coco entirely.

We are leaving this evening and will head straight up the coast for Nicaragua. There is more distance between us than we want, we're all a bit tired and just want to get home now. This is certainly beginning to feel like work instead of fun, and I hope that Puesto Del Sol turns out to be worth the effort.

That's all for now!



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