By: Chris Foster
A few weeks ago Embajador and a skeleton crew consisting of our friend Roger Wist, Alex and I departed from Puerto Chiapas leaving behind our years of cruising adventure in Pacific Mexico and The Sea of Cortez (click for a photo gallery) crossing into Central America. The departure was somewhat bittersweet as we love Mexico, but are ready for new adventures!
A Straight Course
Given our desire to get clear of the hurricane belt, we elected to make the 500 +/- mile transit to Costa Rica without stopping along the way in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras or Nicaragua, passing up about 35,000,000 people in the process and undoubtedly some beautiful coastline. Admittedly , stories that we had heard about criminal activity in the region had some impact on our decision as well. We couldn’t help but wonder what happened to the people who had been aboard an abandoned panga that we found floating way out at sea.
The Fish Were Biting
The crossing was not without some excitement as we hooked up with two more large Blue Marlin and several Dorado off of Nicaragua and El Salvador. Both were hooked on a green and black skirt no more than 25 or 30 feet back from the port rear corner.
First Stop – Santa Elena Bay
The journey took about two and one-half days with predominantly smooth to moderate seas. We chose to stop first in Santa Elena Bay, just south of the Nicaraguan border.
This big beautiful bay is almost completely enclosed by jungle hillside. It was as smooth as a lake and we had it all to ourselves.
There was a cool mangrove river at one end which we investigated by dinghy as we sipped on white wine that we picked up in Chiapas.
The following day we headed around the point to Bahia Murcielago, anchoring off of Playa Colorada. The trip took less than 1.5 hours. The bay is surrounded by Santa Rosa National Park covering 59,515 hector acres. In actuality, boats are not supposed to anchor off of Costa Rica at all until checked in at a port of entry. The next morning park officials came by and ordered us to move on.
On arrival the afternoon before, we elected to do some snorkeling in the open bay. Sea life was abundant. Alex caught a curious Nurse Shark less than a foot away from his leg sneaking up while he was looking under a bolder about 20 feet underwater. He told us that when he turned around with a startled look at the thing, it swam off without incident. Still, it left him with a bit of an ery feeling for the rest of the time we were in the water.
There was a lot to see.
Marina Papagayo and Peninsula
The next day we were ready to settle into Marina Papagayo where the boat would stay for several weeks.
An Accident On The Way In
I arrived about one-quarter toe short after a large hatch in the cockpit came crashing down on me and spent the remainder of the day and night in a local hospital. The Costa Ricans operated and took good care of me. Interestingly, neither the accident nor recovery was very painful. Still, it was a reminder that serious things can happen without warning…
The Marina and Surroundings
Marina Papagayo and its surroundings are amazing. It is connected to properties owned by the same people who own the Four Seasons and Andaz resorts as well as the massive luxury residential development in between on 1400 acre Peninsula Papagayo. Truly a sight to be seen! Alex and Roger took a bike ride along the 13 miles of bike/nature trails spying all sorts of monkeys and other creatures. Check it out, (really)!
Some of the other boats in the marina were remarkable, including the 215 foot yacht behind us (pictured above) apparently owned by a Hong Kong real estate magnet .
Until Next Time
I am just about healed and ready for a return to Papagayo next week. Until then, we wish you your own adventures and as always, thank our sponsors at Black River Caviar (order some today!).