We left our Portland slip Tuesday, July 10, 2012.  We’ll be updating this journal with descriptions of our adventures aboard Cetacean, our Tayana 37 cutter, as we make our way south and then east.  The sailcetacean blogsite includes other pages (ships track page, writings and gallery) for you to explore. Hopefully you will find the writing and images amusing, informative, maybe thoughtful. Stay tuned.  We welcome your feedback and comments. 

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Marina Life (in Costa Rica)


We are at a marina in Bahia Culebra in Costa Rica  as a base to explore the interior of Costa Rica;  wait for some necessary mail from the States and most importantly, locals we’ve talked to say the Papagayo winds here are the strongest they have seen in 25 years, so a marina is a good place to let nature blow herself out.

windy ridge at the contennental divide
windy ridge

At this time of year, the north part of Costa Rica is normally windy but when we see large, decades old trees blown over or cracked and while driving, roadside billboards twisted like origami gone mad you know winds are something special.

These winds are named Papagayo, they are winds from the Caribbean blowing through gaps in the mountains, my names are not as poetic. We saw 45 mph coming across the bay.  And I think I speak for all the sailors/boaters down here, we are tired of them.

Living this life we are more keenly aware of weather in general and winds specifically than if we were living in a suburb or city. There is a more tactile blatant if not sobering bond that connects us to weather. It is visceral and physical. In a few months it’ll be rain and thunderstorm season; the strong winds will be a distant memory but only one worry is allowed at a time.

While waiting we rented a little Toyota Yaris and headed out into the interior.

Our first trip was to the Monteverde cloud forest. Monteverde saddles the continental divide between the Caribbean and the Pacific sides of Costa Rica. The moist Caribbean air, pushed up the mountains by the trade winds (that originate in Africa) cool as they rise in altitude  and condense into clouds as they creep over the ridge to the Pacific. The results are moist, lush jungles almost always blanketed in clouds and mist . The fauna and critters and the whole damn place are very different from the Costa Rician low lands.

Jungle of Monteverde


The area was originally settled for dairy and lumber by Quakers from Alabama in the 1950’s and the area is still well known for its cheese. But the immigrant’s children became environmentally conscious and worked with the Costa Rican government to protect the land. Sixty years later we enjoy those lands as  parks and protected reserves. Where cows used to roam has reverted to jungle. We elected to hire a guide for a short hike in the reserve; he is the son of one of the original Quakers and would point into the jungle where as kids they would play in open fields or the hollowed trees that made forts.

We saw hummingbirds sit on your fingers to feed, coati mundi walk under foot. We saw ediphytes  that grow on other plants, without harm to either. We saw many of the 500 species of orchid that live here. A unique place but If you go, do rent a vehicle capable of dirt and bumpy roads as the last 30km is dirt. Once up there accommodations range from hostel to luxury, and the  small town of Monteverde has all the basics.


CR_too-6780Our little rented Toyota Yaris aged about 10 years over the week we had it. Costa Rica has a thing for dirt roads. On another drive to a hot spring we were two hours into the trip before turning around just because of the road was so steep and rutted. Four wheel drive would have been useful/necessary.

After a week of exploring with the rental we monteverde_cr-6817returned to the more mundane tasks of readying ourselves and the boat for the next legs. There are lots of chores to do but also enough time to play with the website, photos,

writings, and ukulele.  Even walking and bike riding. If we walked along the road toward the marina entrance, maybe 100 yards from the boat, there is a trail leading off the right to a beach, 30 feet into the trail there are usually some Howler Monkeys being lazy and eating. There is always something to do.

We have roughly 700 miles to go before the Panama Canal entrance. The coast runs mostly east, past another time zone into the US East Coast.  I keep thinking we are heading south.

Howler – these little guys make a load roar


We will take our time, probably spend five weeks going the distance, taking time along the way to explore the cities, islands, and beaches. There are probably 10 large-ish cities/town along the way to re-provision so getting supplies won’t be a problem. And the diving and snorkeling just get better along the route.


After roughly, the first 60 miles we’ll not be feeling the Papagayo winds anymore so light winds will be our companion. Then near one of our more anticipated destinations, the Las Perlas Islands in the Gulf of Panama  modest trade winds pick up again.

. So it looks like sometime in March we will be transiting the Canal.

Back at the marina It looks like a weather window opens on Thursday or Friday. We’ll need to go to the Port Captain in Playa Cocos (another car rental) to get our national zarpe, our official permission to boat in the country that we need to show the various port captains as we travel along the Costa Rica coast, then trade it for an  international zarpe as we leave Costa Rica for Panama.

I’ve created a new photo gallery of our Central America so far, please browse on over there and have a look.


//WL2K Bahia Potrero Grande

We’ve arrived at a tranquil spot to spend the night called Bahia Portrero Grande in Costa Rica. Its sheltered from most Papagayos and protected from the swell so a welcome change from both our boisterous last night at Bahia Elena and the rollicking ride we had to get here. Potrero is surrounded by a beautiful…

//WL2K Bahia Santa Elena

St. Elena was a righteous person and the bay named after her here in Costa Rica is also righteous. There really aren’t too many places left on this earth where mankind has not left a mark; where no signs of civilization are visible, where the feeling of isolation and aloneness is tactile and visceral, Elena…

Puesta del Sol, Papagayos, San Juan Del Sur

Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua The afternoon of December 4th, we arrived in Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua after two blustery, sometimes much too exciting days of transit from Bahia Del Sol, El Salvador. Puesta del Sol is where the Pacific Nicaraguan sailing adventure begins. You must check in to the country here and then check out…

El Salvador to Nicaragua

We left Bahia Del Sol in El Savador with regrets. The warmth of the community and the  natural beauty were both unanticipated and magnetic  making it  harder to to leave than expected. A lot of cruisers get “stuck” for a season, some for a year, and for a few people, a lifetime. We felt the…

Nuestro regreso a Marina Chiapas (our return to Marina Chiapas)

Our October 15th flight from Portland back to Marina Chiapas featured a lot of check-in mayhem involving 120 pounds-plus of stuff packed into two oversized duffle bags; one disintegrating “rolly-bag;” and, two taped-together cardboard boxes containing a new linear motor for Cetacean’s auto helm (aka “Otto”) and a replacement main membrane filter for the watermaker.…

Cruising Season Preperations

Portland, Or. Our preparations are under way to get back to Mexico. We’d started a bring-back-to-boat list way back in October of last year, so you can imagine how long that list had grown over the ensuing 8 months. Lately the UPS guy and us have been best friends — the total weight delivered is…

Denver and some other stuff

We’ve rented an apartment near Denver’s LoSo section (lower downtown), and  it’s pretty centrally located for getting around downtown Denver and near our granddaughter and her family. The miles long 16th Street walking mall is one block from the door of the apartment building.  Like the PNW, good beer, coffee, sidewalk cafes and restaurants  are  everywhere;…