Farewell to the Tropics

View from the cockpit

Our last several weeks in Costa Rica have been spent readying the boat for transport and soaking in the beautiful surroundings.  We had fallen into the habit of having coffee in the cockpit at about 5:00 am (in southern Costa Rica the sun rises at about 4:30 am), and enjoying the relatively cool air until about 7:00 when the sun comes over the hill and it is time to seek shelter.  We have actually started losing our tans because it is just too hot to be out in the sun here.  But by 2:00 pm or so, the clouds build, and the rain comes which cools things off a bit.  Everybody carries umbrellas here – for protection against the fierce sun, and from the afternoon deluge.  Darkness comes swiftly, with the sun setting about 5:15 pm.  There is no gradual twilight period like you get in the northern latitudes. 

Baby iguana

We did fit in one more hike to the radio towers, the majority of which is fortunately in the shade.  Leaving at first light, we startled hundreds of baby iguanas in the roadside grass.  I couldn’t figure out what was moving, because they blend right in, but if you stop moving they do too, so I was able to get some nice pictures. The hike is actually just an unpaved access road which leads to a set of radio towers on the hills above Golfito.   But it’s as good a place to see wildlife as any of the famous (and expensive) national parks.  

Road to the towers

But you have to be quiet and be aware – you usually don’t see anything until you stop.  We stopped for a snack and a drink and saw a group of coatimundis playing in the trees.  

Coatimumdi in the trees

When we sat down on a log to eat our lunch, a group of curious squirrel monkeys gathered overhead to check us out.  But we were most excited about finally spotting some toucans – they are absolutely beautiful birds.  We were so busy

Squirrel monkey

gawking, I never took a picture, but found a good one online (photo credit: By chuck624 from Upstate NY, USA) – and yes, they look just like that.  In addition to the animals, the view from the top is awesome.   If you find yourself in Golfito be sure to check it out.  Any local can give you directions.

The elusive toucan

View from the top

 

M/V Happy Dover arrives in Golfito

Anjuli’s ride north, the M/V Happy Dover arrived right on time.  We stripped the head sails and lashed down the mainsail, solar panels and canvas covers in preparation for the trip.  In addition to preparing the boat exterior for possible hurricane force winds (it is after all now hurricane season on the Mexican coast), we had to make sure the water tank and holding tank were empty and minimal fuel was onboard (reduced weight translates to fuel savings for the carrier). We also had to empty out the refrigerator and freezer, get rid of any fresh food, and make sure the onboard store of alcohol did not exceed what was permitted for import into Canada (we were getting pretty creative with our cocktails there at the end).  AND we had to obtain an export permit for our cat.  While entering and leaving the country aboard a yacht is not a problem for dogs and cats, taking an animal into or out of the country on an airplane is a different matter.  Obtaining a live animal export permit meant several trips to the vet (after finding one that spoke English) for a series of shots, and then paying the vet to drive to the main customs office at the Panamanian border for the official stamped document.

At last our day to load arrived. Five boats were being loaded from Golfito, and we were the last to go aboard.  The process is pretty simple.  You come alongside and they toss down lines.  You take off the backstay (or wire between masts if it is a ketch) and the slings are slipped on from the stern of the boat.  You are taken off the boat by a small tender, which deposits you at the boarding stairs where you then go aboard the ship.  The crew comes aboard and places pads under the straps to protect the hull, and a diver checks strap placement on the hull before lifting the yacht.   The yacht is then lifted up and placed on the deck in stands which are welded to the deck.  You then go aboard and re-attach the backstay, and the crew lashes the boat down with numerous nylon straps.  The whole process takes about an hour.  The crew was very professional and friendly.  They were mostly Dutch as the transport company we used, Sevenstar, is based in Amsterdam.  The Happy Dover will take 12-13 days to reach Victoria, B.C., after stops in La Paz, and Ensenada, Mexico.  We will follow, mostly by car, and with a direct flight from San Jose, Costa Rica to Los Angeles, California.

Loaded and ready to go

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