Offshore: Sailing with Karaka from Costa Rica to Mexico with No Engine

For pics from this section please see my flickr album of photos mostly by Alex from karaka because my camera died. You can see them by clicking here.

So as of December 16th, 2010 we were heading off shore with land slowly disapearing on the horizon until there was nothing left but blue connecting the sky to the water and the water to the sky.
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At first I was a little nervous about the fact that we were not going to be touching land again for 30+ days but as the days went by i couldn’t be any happier out there on the open ocean.

Life is so simple while at sea. You can engage in a philosphical conservation about how we came to be as humans and where we will end up and then go read a novel about the adventures of Huckleberry Fin.
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Time sometimes just flew by and sometimes just too forever. A morning tuna or dorodo can be a highlight of the day and then the time it takes to prepare, eat it and clean everything up would mean its time to sleep. We caught a few fish but not too many since our speed was kind of slow considering we were sailing close hauled into the wind most of the time against a current. Even in a solid 15-20knot+ wind traveling at a spend of 4.5kt would have been good

We also played a lot of a card game called “Canasta” which beans basket in spanish that occupied us between our watches. Many evenings we gathered around a lap top and watched a movie.

In terms of watched we had six of us so we had a nice even # and would do the same two hours in the PM and AM and we rotated every week.

Some days we had wind and some winds we didn’t. I even went paddling and said hello to a sea turtle in the kayak
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In terms of out food. We bought a lot of it and it cost a pretty penny… more than we expected but eating good and healthy was definitely important to us.

We bought a lot of things in cans: corn, chickpeas, beans, mixed veggies, spinach, mushrooms, chicken and tuna. We also got canned fruit of peaches and pineapple. I think we bought 3 large 2.5kg bags of cereal with lots of UHT(Ulta high Temperature) Milk that didn’t need to be refrigerated but needed to be consumed that day after opening each morning. Eventually our giant stash of the UHT Milk ran out and we resorted to milk powder which i don’t mind at all… ofcourse the cereal didn’t last the whole time either and we also ate oatmeal or had pancakes, crackers or just cooked a big pasta earlier…

We ate incredible amounts of pasta with tomato paste and whipping cream with an assortment of the above listed cans. We also had rice stir-fry on occasion but i found we ate a ton of pasta meals. We usually cooked one big meal in the mid-late afternoon for everyone and then either made instant noodle soup, left overs, ate crackers and tunawe all took turns cooking and cleaning. We occasionally had home-made tortillas which were excellent. Crack-attack was also a great snack (this is crackers, tuna and usually corn mixed with mayo).

We caught a few good sized Dorado which fed us for many meals until we just couldn’t stomach anymore… We also caught a variety of tuna… skipjack, bonito, and yellow fin. Yellow fin was by far the finest… eat it fresh right off the fish and it just melted in your mouth. We also accidentally caught a shark and a sea turtle… once or twice we had a giant marlin eat the tuna right off the line or just take the lure with them.

We ate pretty good all around but definitely too much sugar and wheat… i got my blood tested upon return and it scared me to find that i had an unhealthy acidic level in my red blood cells… this scared me and since i am limited my sugar and wheat intake…

 

So after about 30 days we arrived at Isla Clarion in the Revillagigedo Archipelago went and anchored in the bay on the south shore. Upon arrival we caught a glimpse of some humpback whales. The geology of this volcanically formed remote island was just spectacular.
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We met these exceptionally nice mexican people  who were stationed at the island as well as some fishermen who gave us lots of beef. The stationed men were very nice to us giving us fresh water, eggs,vegetables and candy. They also took us fishing for lobster and octopus.
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The reefs are so abundant with life here… so pure… We actually were not allowed to wander around the island but the nice people made an exception and let us go for a short walk on the beach to stretch our legs after being at sea for close to 30 days.
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We ate so much lobster and beef and great food here i think we all gained like 10 pounds… We spent a little less than a week at this beuutiful anchorage and then continue on. We made this little memento below for the great people who were stationed on this island.
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We saw tons of dolphins on this route and caught a really nice yellowfin tuna.
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We arrived to the ridiculousness of Cabo San Lucas and anchored for the night. The next day when we woke up we were in the shadow of 3 monstrous cruise ships who were constantly shuttling tourists into the town to shop around etc.
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tried to check into mexico but was too expensive to dock boat and was just too crazy. Alex and I had to change our flights as the crossing took much longer than expected but thats the way it goes when your sailing.IMG_2307

We left and on our way out we saw a few humpback whales and watch the sunset or el arco on the most southern tip of the Baja peninsula. We were on route to La Paz. My flight was changed to fly out of Cabo on the 7th of February so i had plenty of time to relax and enjoy a few more weeks in Mexico.
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We arrived in La Paz around on the 23rd of January after a cold and windy sail in the sea of cortez around the safe harbour in La Paz.
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Our plan was to stay in La Paz for a little while, check into mexico officially and relax and enjoy the beauties of life on shore. We anchored as close as we could to the malicon (waterfront) of La Paz. It is a fantastic city and a very active couch surfing community. We decided to host a party to celebrate our arrival and my birthday on January 26th. We had a fantastic turn out of local couchsurfers and travelers. Matiss actually was back in Baja to visit his lady friend we surfed with back in November… craziness… so he was hanging out with us and staying on Karaka quite a bit. We immediately became friends with a great crew of people and hung out every day with them. We hung around the town a lot, checking out nice bars and restaurants… eating and drinking a lot, going on some side trips to beaches and an overnight sailing to out to nearby Isla Espirito Santo…  was truly awesome… time just flew by and it was very hard to leave…
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On route to take the bus to the airport my wallet was stolen! but i met a really nice guy who worked for NOLS and knew Ramon who we got our sea kayaks from from our kayak trip in November. He let me use is phone to call my folks and credit card companies… I also had a nice couple from Edmonton give me some money for food so it wasn’t so bad.

I was excited to see Natalie and my folks after so long.

Karaka is continuously up to more adventures… hard to keep up with them but check out their blog http://karaka.voila.net/log2.html on their website for updates… I think their plan is now to buy another boat and sailing it to Australia to sell it. Wish i could go but life is pretty good right now!

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Costa Rica Coastal Sailing: Golfito to Playas del Coco

Through December 1st to 15th we cruised the Costa Rican coast as we got to know each other on board Karaka. Sher and Laura, both from Australia joined the crew for most of this leg.

December 1st-5th:

Our start was very rainy with nasty currents, and wind opposing swell. We had to motor quite a bit unfortunately to maintain movement in the right direction. Most of the crew got quite sick during the first few days… i took a few gravol but never did any hurling…

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We made our first stop for a few hours at Isla del Cano on December 3rd after getting one of the fishing lines tangled in the propellor. We had also ripped one of the jib sails and were hoping to maybe fix it while in mooring at this beautiful national park island but it was quite exposed and not worth the risk of more extreme weather coming it.
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Most of us went to shore for a few hours and walked along the palm beaches of paradise. We chatted with the park officer, Alberto a little bit who was stationed there by himself and was very friendly offering us food and coffee. He waived the mooring fees for us and let us walk around the island.

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Before it got too late we went back to the boat and took off into a beautiful pacific sunset.
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The next day we experienced some extreme calm weather… ended up just hanging out and drifting for a long time.
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We eventually noticed we has some Dorado circling the hull of the boat. Tom jumped in a one point with his giant spear-gun and shot one of the big male fish which was almost as big as him.
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The other two Dorado just kept swimming around the boat occasionally chasing and hunting the flying fish in the area. These awesome little fish can fly for close to 200m just above the surface of the water. Occasionally the would land on the deck and be a nice meal for Kat.

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This fish served the 8 of us and Kat well for a number of meals.
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Current kept pulling us slowly into Golfo de Nicoya. It was a nice slow drift but quite enjoyable… nice hot day in sunshine, swimming and relaxing watching dolphins jump and another epic sunset.
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Finally in the evening after over 24 hours of drifting we got some wind and tacted back and forth through the next.

December 5th:

This morning Tom decided to motor us the last 15 miles or so to Bahia Bellenas, the town of Tambor on the Nicoya Penninsula.
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We anchored in a nice spot not too far from the fishing docks. We did some hull scraping and went to the marina bar to do some internet.
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Due to the fact that it was sunday and elections or something were happening in Costa Rica, everything was closed but we managed to find one place open and got some basics, got the BBQ burning and had a nice pizza night. So far we have travelled 253 NM.

December 6th:

After scraping the hull and stitching the sail, Martin and I went adventuring on land, got some burgers and ice-cream, beer and chicken.
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We had some mis-communication about dinner with the others who went to the clinic to take care of Alex and Laura’s skin infections and were tired. We went to bed relatively early… the wind picked up quite extremely in the middle of the night and we had to tie everything down.

December 7th:

We woke up to horrific winds still… NE winds. We missioned Laura to shore through the wind in the kayak. She needed to leave to get back for her work. We said goodbye and got the boat ready to go. By noon the winds had died considerably but we still managed to move well by wind and current around Isla Cabo Blanco and on northward through the night.
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I had the best watch between 4-6am and 4-6pm where i got an epic sunset and sunrise over the open ocean.
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December 8th:

Caught three skipjack tuna this morning. Not the best tasting kind of tuna but still nice to have some fresh fish. The wind was strong and we were healed over pretty well… most people were feeling sea sick but i managed to cook the fish up. We arrived in Playas del Coco around 6pm after another great sunset cruise.

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December 9th:

We had a full day in town which started with a nice morning beach walk down the bay.
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The environment in Northern Costa Rica is much drier than Golfito area in the south. There was even Cacti in some places.
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We then all met up for lunch town and discussed our plan to scout out local grocery stores for the best prices to do our big shop for the long crossing to mexico.
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December 10-12th:

We did some scouting for groceries, thought about food for the trip but mostly we relaxed, enjoyed cocos night life, and connected with some couchsurfers.

We had to go to this marina which was inconveniently located away from town to dock the boat and fill up our water tanks. Soon enough we got kicked out for using too much water when we started showering on the dock.

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We then went and anchored out a few nights in a remote bay called Bahia Huevos that is in on the other side of the larger Bahia Culebra just north of Coco. It is quite a nice spot with a beautiful beach, cave and cliff lookout.

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We had a nice beach fire and played music in the evening, watched the sun set from the nice cliff lookout.
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The next morning i woke up extra early to go for a nice kayak paddle into the mangroves nearby. I actually found a wooden paddle on the beach near the aweful Four Seasons golf course… they always seems to be everywhere you go in the world causing such destruction of the natural landscape… anyways my paddle was very nice and i went in and through the mangroves and it was beautiful and sunny day yet again.

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I came back to the boat and hung out on shore, tried to spear some fish with no luck. We all did our own thing, on the beach, on the boat or out in the dingy or kayak for the rest of the day and we motored back during sunset to Coco so we could get up the next morning for the big shop.
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December 13th:

So today was the day of the big shop. We spent over $1000… quite a bit more than we had expected. I mailed some post cards off, we loaded the boat and made like 6 trips of stuff, did some more internet, went for some happy hour margaritas and cooked a feast of burgers for sher’s last evening with us.

December 14th:

We made a list of things we still needed and went a got them… spending more money ofcourse… more happy hour margaritas, found a place to make free phone calls to Canada/USA so i called a bunch of friends and family. We got checked out at customs and decided to motor off right away once we returned to the boat and went back to our anchorage at Haeveos for the evening.
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December 15th:

Woke up early and got the boat all ready. We packed and organized all the food and were off in the afternoon.

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We motored and then sailed off to Ollies Pt. in Parque Nacional Santa Rosa. This is a world famous surf spot and when we arrived at 4:30pm Tom immediately hopped in the water with his board and paddled towards the waves to catch some surf. On the way in we caught a small bonito tuna and saw some giant manta rays.

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The rugged cliffs were just spectacular

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Martin and I kayaked to shore with Kims surf board. I caught some surf and just barely stood up once… got slammed the rest of the time… The waves were not that big but still pretty powerful.
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Martin decided to wander off and by this point it was really dark. I thought he might have swam back to the boat but obviously he just wandered way down the beach out of yelling range in the dark. I had a hard time getting beyond the break with the kayak and surf board on my own and ended up getting slammed a few times pretty hard… ended up breaking one of the little fins on Kims new surf board and felt so horrible about it…

I settled into the V-birth bunk finally comfortable and slept well since it was a little cooler with a nice breeze out where we were anchored.

December 16th:

9:30am we were off with pretty light winds we drifted a lot through the night and into the morning… we were now offshore with no land in sight.

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Golfito, Costa Rica – Aboard Karaka

So after a very long flight on the 25th of November from La Paz, to Mexico City, to Panama City to San Jose Costa Rica… i arrived at my Couchsurfer Carlos’s apartment in San Pedro, the University district of San Jose Costa Rica… i soon met up with Martin the Spanish guy on the karaka trip and we went for some beer and pizza (click any photo below to see full album).

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Costa Rica is much more expensive than Mexico… Martin and I decided to stay an extra day in San Jose… went shopping and went on a wild goose chase to find a decent rain jacket for him… we finally find the only store that sells anything decent, North Face rain jacket in all of Costa Rica. I also decided to get a new headlamp since my old one died.

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We met some of Martins friends who work for the government and went out for drinks and salsa dancing. Unfortunately later that evening i felt incredibly sick…. the most sick i have ever been in my entire life…. i didn’t want to get up at 6am to catch an 8 hour central american bus all the way from San Jose to Golfito that morning but Martin convinced me and we made it after frustrating cab rides… cabbies really try as hard as possible to rip you off here so you just have to give them less than what they ask and run off…

So we arrived in Golfito in the pouring rain and got soaked after the worst bus ride of my life and made it onto Karaka and met the crew. I felt so bad and it was a horrible way to start this adventure and meet all these great people from so many Nationalities… (first view of karaka below in the pouring rain)

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So as for the crew on Karaka from left to right in picture below we have Greg who works for a Gay and Lesbian News Paper in Dallas Texas USA, Captain Tom originally from France who found Karaka in Hong Kong 6 years ago got her for $1 and has been sailing her ever since, myself, Alex from Stockholm Sweden who sails around the islands there, Martin from Spain who’s sister previously crewed on Karaka and then we have Kim who grew up on the coast of Australia mostly in a remote island tree-house who joined the crew about 2 years ago and eventually fell in love with Tom (You can check Karaka’s website for more information about karaka http://karaka.voila.net/).

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Shortly after my arrival onboard and meeting everyone I ended up getting sick again that night and thought i might have to go to hospital… thought I might have had malaria or Hepititus… such a horrible fever and losing so many fluids…

After a good nights sleep I felt quite a bit better and the next day I went on a hike through the rain forest with Martin and Alex. It was quite nice though i didn’t feel that great. We saw a sloth, a poisonous frog, spider monkeys and squirrel monkeys, and a fantastic view of Golfito Bay….

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If you look closely in this picture below you can see Karaka anchored in the Bay.

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Found some nice locals who cut coconuts off their own trees and gave them to us at the end of our hike. Deliciously refreshing!

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Back on Karaka

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The morning are usually the only time it is sunny here… I thought it would be nice to take the Dug-out canoe for a paddle with my camera to take some nice shots…

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I got some very nice shots… but this was a bad idea because i was not aware at the time that the dug-out canoe was not designed for someone of my size and i sunk with my camera and these shots above were the last photos it ever took… Luckily i still had my Sanyo waterproof video/picture camera with no working screen but could still take pictures.

I have been feeling much better, went kayaking all day today after getting fueled in karaka and it was great… some of the heaviest rain i have ever paddled. Used the nice little sit-on-top kayak they have and paddled around and out of the Bay.

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we then went shopping for the first week, had another two australian girls join us… Sher who was on the boat next to us and Laura who worked saving sea turtles on the island. We leave tomorrow (December 1st) for northern Costa Rica, Playa del Coco where Cher and Laura will get off and it will be just six for the big crossing…

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So yeah… i know it is a bit rushed but i got something up… might get to update again in a week or so but might not…

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to all!

check our progress on the spot beacon to see how we are doing but we expect to get into La Paz, Baja California early to mid January…

all the best and nobody worry about me! we got all the safety gear and all is well!

cheers,

zack