(February 22 to March 2, 2021) Each night, we stopped at a different anchorage in Costa Rica, leaving after sunrise and arriving in mid-afternoon at a new place. One day, we had to leave at 4 AM at dark (no moonlit) from Bahia Ballena (Whale Bay). Luckily, when I flashed the light on the water and John noticed water breaking on the surface, we quickly steered the wheel not to go over the barely visible rocks. These rocks were not on the chart.
On the day approaching Tamarindo anchorage, we started getting flies. After anchoring, we were immediately swamped by countless flies. All I can think of is that maybe there is a landfill nearby, many dead fish, or animals on the shore. Previously, I had bad experiences with flies when we sailed somewhere in North Carolina and New Jersey shore. Since then, I make sure we have “Fly Ribbons” on the boat. This was helpful. In five minutes, I saw a bunch of flies stuck on the fly ribbon. By a bunch of flies, I mean 50 or more. We emailed our experience to another boater who sent back a picture of a cat saying “You call them houseflies, I call them Sky Raisins”! It really raised our spirits and both of the cats had a great time chasing the things around.
Slowly but surely, we are getting close to the Nicaraguan border. We emailed the marina in Nicaragua. Since leaving Panama, we haven’t been to shore for many days and haven’t talked to anyone except ourselves. The Marina in Nicaragua, informed us that we must submit a valid negative result of RT-PCR COVID test prior to 72 hours of arrival. What!!! We thought being at sea many (17+) days, we would be accepted to take a test when arriving in Nicaragua.
What should we do! We cannot go to a clinic in Costa Rica because we haven’t checked into the country. We found a local medical clinic in Costa Rica. Our conclusion was to visit the clinic in Costa Rica even though we didn’t check-in. We paid $160/person and confirmed that clinic email our results directly to the Marina in Nicaragua. Next day, we left Costa Rica, or so we thought. However; when sailing, we noticed our auto-pilot was not 100% correct. It enjoyed making left hand turns but didn’t want to turn right. We decided to stay another night at another anchorage. This will make our arrival in Nicaragua more than 72 hours after our COVID test. Let’s worry about it when we arrive…
After spending a half day, we replaced a new part of the auto pilot. All is ready to sail into the “Papagallo Jet” or “Papagayo Wind”. Simply describing, Papagayo Jet occurs strongest around November through March. It is like a balloon of strong air out with a narrow opening. Both Costa Rica and Nicaragua have Volcano Mountains. Nicaragua also has a huge lake close to Costa Rica. So, the hot air from South close to Equator comes up and goes to North. This air meets cold air from North America. In Gulf of Mexico in the Caribbean, it gets mixed up. Then, it comes back through on the low Nicaragua Lake in between Volcano Mountains. It is basically a very strong and unstable wind. Sailing was very tiring here. It took 34 hours at sea from the last Costa Rican anchorage to the Puesta del Sol Marina (Sunset Marina) in Nicaragua.
Right as we were entering the Puesta del Sol marina (waiting for high tide and slack water) I saw two humpback whales jumping out of the water. It was a really cool thing to see for real, WAY better than watching it on TV. I just happened to be looking at the right place at the right time. Sometimes the best things just happen when you least expect it.
COVID changed our journey. We are in Nicaragua. We are looking forward to know more about this country. But first, we have some boat work to do. There is always boat work to do! We should be done with all of it by the end of next week, and then we can go and play.
PS: John is convinced that this COVID thing is going to be around for quite a while as a LOT of money is changing hands with all these un-needed, and expensive tests. We spent less than 5 minutes with the nurse who swabbed our noses, 5 minutes for 160 dollars adds up to an exceedingly high profit margin.