Saturday, September 23, 2017

Golfito marinas research

So I took a a surf trip to southern Costa Rica this month, was supposed to hang out with a good friend I hadn't seen in quite a while and hoped for good weather and surf.  I got none of the three...

- Hurricane Irma required my buddy to head home to Florida
- Rainy season started in earnest
- Surf forecast turned to crud after just 2 days there

So lemons into lemonade?

I booked a return trip home 2 weeks early but took an extra day to go and visit Golfito, check out the town, the stores, the bay for anchoring, and the marinas.  Here's what I gathered:

Golfito is a major check in or out port, with cutoms, immigration and a port captain.  Have at least 5 copies of boat docs, insurance, passport etc. when you go to check in or pay about $300-400 to have an agent assist you.  Checking out ran about $25-30.

Golfito Bay hosts a duty free shopping zone in the very north end of town frequented by the people of Costa Rica where you can find great deals on all sorts of things but as I walked the area what stood out most was all the appliances.

Fuel dock was easily accessible and nearest Golfito Marina in the north end of the bay, adjacent to the commercial shipping dock.

Exchange rate for USD and cost of diesel

Anchoring is fantastic.  Incredibly well protected from winds of all directions with good holding, mud mixed with stones.  Room for hundreds of boats so not too worried about crowding.  The entrance is well defined and marked by lit markers and deep enough for tankers and cargo ships to enter.

The town has everything that you might need, or ability to get from a larger town within a few days.  While I walked the streets I saw a small chandlery, a Yamaha (outboard and generator) shop and a Suzuki outboard store.  Restaurants and hotels and markets were readily available as well.

There were 3 marinas in Golfito that I visited.  On the map below is 1) Golfito Marina, 2) Banana Bay Marina, and 3) FishHook Marina.  I visited each place for about two hours, I walked the docks and spoke to residents and the dock masters at each location.  One thing I found in common with all them was that the depth was more than sufficient, even at low tides as the area has tides that change +/- 12-13'.

Here's the details I collected on each:

Golfito Marina

Golfito Marina is very new, opened earlier in 2017.  They have grand plans for a full on 'village' with plenty of land to expand with houses, condos, and other buildings and amenities.  If you visit their website you'll see what I'm talking about.  On my visit in September 2017 they only had the docks and security building built.  The docks were new and very sturdy with about 20 double slips (so about 40 in total) with plenty of room for the larger sized vessels, 100'+.  They were building quite the extensive building to include bars, restaurants, shops, offices and bathrooms / showers.  I was told it was due to be opened in 1-2 months.  Slip rates can be found on their website.  Here's a few pictures:

Golfito Marina docks on a rainy day

Golfito Marina future bar and restaurants, etc.

Under construction

Golfito Marina in the distance to the left.  On the right is commercial dock for the tankers and cargo ships

Banana Bay Marina

Banana Bay has been around here for a long time but looks they have spent a lot of money to upgrade everything from the restaurant to the docks.  In fact, while I was there I met with the owner and they are adding more docks to get to close to 30 slips (from the current 20).  The restaurant and bar were great, food was excellent and the airy openness of the sitting areas made for a fun place to sit and watch the world go around.  Wifi worked well for me checking emails and ESPN for scores.  They had 5 rooms which ran $65-100 / night depending on season and how many people.  Potable water and 110/220v modern connections.  Here's a few pictures:

Banana Bay from the street

Banana Bay hotel and restaurant

Banana Bay slips

Banana Bay docks

Banana Bay breakfast menu

Banana Bay menu

Banana Bay rooms
Banana Bay slip rates

FishHook Marina

Looks like this place has spent some money recently as the bar, restaurant, and docks were all very fresh and clean.  Wifi worked well for me checking emails and ESPN for scores.  The docks were sturdy with potable water and 110/220v power connections.  They offered 5 rooms for rates of $65-100 per night depending on season and number of people.  Slip rates are in a photo below

FishHook Marina from the street

FishHook docks

FishHook bar view

FishHook bar

FishHook entrance and game room

FishHook menu

FishHook breakfast menu

FishHook happy hour

FishHook office

FishHook rooms

FishHook slip rates

Monday, September 4, 2017

Hooray for dogs!!!

OK so here's a follow up blog post to a previous Facebook post that became a bit more circulated than I would've suspected and started a small chain of sometimes irrational responses.  Yes, we were surprised by how a lot of places in Cabo specifically, wouldn't let us sit there and have a beer because we had our dog with us. And no, I'm not some crazy dog owner who thinks that dogs need to be on every flight, in every store, and have equal rights to people, but in Cabo we were stopping at restaurants with chairs in the sand on the beach (with stray dogs running here and there) which wouldn't allow us to sit and buy a drink.  They're making enough money that they can turn us away, good for them, I am a capitalist after all.  I wrote that post because it was a stark difference from what we had experienced in the past at those same locations, I was just disappointed it had changed.

But to show that not all's lost for pet owners in the Mexico I've grown to love for almost three decades, we've been having an amazing time in Marina Riviera Nayarit and the town of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.  Couldn't be more pet friendly!

Then there's this first week of September where Dad has taken time to come visit us. He's staying in his timeshare so we decided to get a room at the pet friendly Westin Puerto Vallarta next door.  What a pleasant surprise this place has been!!

While advertised as pet friendly, I couldn't have been more pleased than when I asked the pool attendant "are we able to sit by the pool with our dog?".  For the record we have never really tried asking this, because one - we don't' stay at many hotels, and because two - frankly, we just don't expect it to be allowed.  Well.... His answer stunned me. "sir, we are very pet friendly, your dog may go anywhere she likes on a leash as long as it's not in the pool".

Awesome!! Kudos to the Westin Puerto Vallarta!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Selden in-mast furling system halyard swivel blowout

So our first real broken part on SeaGlub since leaving the USA was a broken halyard swivel.  Huh?  What?

So..... on our boat we have an inside-the-mast mainsail.  The sail literally rolls up inside the mast.  I'm not trying to start a debate on best or better systems (we happen to like ours) but all systems have some flaws.  With our system we've had trouble with the sail not rolling up correctly and bunching up or folding as it goes in.  In an attempt to remove one of these 'folds' I tightened the halyard to straighten out the luff of the sail.  A week later the swivel at the top of the mast which allows the sail to roll up literally blew up sending ball bearings down the mast and scattering across the deck.  We were entering Mazatlan when this happened and still wanted to be in Puerto Vallarta three weeks later.  Good thing was the next 200 miles was downwind and so we just sailed with our big genoa and still made 5-6 knots towards our destination.

Top halyard swivel cracked and separating
So if you look closely, where the blue circle is drawn in, you can see there's a missing piece cracked off.  Also at the top you can see the two rings are separated and where the bearings began to fall out. 

So how did we fix this?

Well, first we called around to rigging experts and were told that the normal fix was to remove the mast!!  Ouch.  Money and time we didn't want to spend.  After several email and phone call exchanges with Selden (very helpful btw, thank you!) we figured that we could possibly remove the furling motor and drop the top swivel all the way down and out the hole where the motor was installed.  But success wasn't guaranteed.  What we had up our sleeve??  Our very good friends, the Kepner family, who operate Tradewinds Sailing in Richmond Ca, were visiting and not only delivered the part but helped to install it.  Thank you so much Matt and Brandy!

Tools and parts all laid out

New on the left, old on the right

Game planning the attack strategy

Furling motor was where we hoped to remove and replace the swivel

Furling motor and mast removed

Thankfully we were successful, in much less time than I would've predicted I might add.  One item crossed off that infinite boat project list!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

First Two Months in La Cruz -(Puerto Vallarta - Banderas Bay)

Phew time is flying by.  When you have nothing officially to do, you sure seem to find a lot of things to do!  Here's a recap of our first month in the Puerto Vallarta area:

Here's the view from our slip in the marina

So first off, for those not familiar, we are in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, about 10 miles north of Puerto Vallarta at the northern area of Banderas Bay on the way to Punta de Mita which is at the end of the point.  Between us and Puerto Vallarta there are two other distinct towns with their own vibe so there's some separation between us and the busier, more tourist focused area of Puerto Vallarta.  Also, Puerto Vallarta is in a different state, Jalisco with a different time zone, and we are in the state of Nayarit.  La Cruz is a great town maybe a little more rustic than the cruise ship areas and high rise hotels of downtown Puerto Vallarta, which isn't to say we don't enjoy that area as well, it's just different than where we are.  La Cruz has historically been a place for the local fishermen to bring in their catch and sell to many of the nearby restaurants, bringing in lots of fresh seafood everyday aboard dozens and dozens of pangas, and during the high season (Nov-Apr) there's a fantastic Sunday market. The town itself has a great square shaded by several large Huanacaxtle trees, the streets are cobble stoned and lined with at least one of almost everything you might need, boat chandlery, canvas work, sail shop, electronics, veterinarians, laundry service, mini-markets and of course restaurants, and the list goes on and on.  As the warmer and wetter summer months approach, much of the area is preparing to close up shop as business slows, but we managed to arrive just in time to catch the tail end of several regular events, including the Sunday Market.

Image result for sunday market in la cruz mexico
La Cruz Sunday market

We've spent time here getting to know our surroundings (just outside the town we're in we have major grocery stores, movie theaters, WalMart, Home Depot, Costco, etc.), working on a few needed boat projects, like the sunshade over the boom, and meeting our new neighbors.  We've decided to live in the marina over the summer as the rates are reduced significantly, and this offers us a more confident feeling as we approach the upcoming storm season.

Image result for la cruz mexico marina
La Cruz Marina Riviera Nayarit and the pueblo of La Cruz in the background

We've had lots and lots of visitors (23/31 days in May we had friends in town!) so we've been busy exploring the area with them.

Jordan and Sarah Hymowitz, my former employer in San Francisco.

Surf lessons with Jordan's daughter

Kalvin and Scooby visit from San Diego
Of course the Kepner family was in town, we suspect we'll be seeing this family regularly as we cruise on...
Megan shows up everywhere we go, we always have her room ready!

I got some golfing in when friends got a place at Punta Mita for a 50th bday party

Buddy Eric, yep after 37 holes you finish barefoot
We were in town for the La Cruz Days, their annual fair (which includes lots of fireworks so can be a bit loud), but the partying is insane, they don't really get started until about 10pm and they end around 4am.

La Cruz horses

$2 you call it cocktails at an outdoor bar for the fair

$0.60 tacos!  Um yes I'll have 6!

Greatest carnival game ever, throw rocks at beer bottles, win a 6 pack!

We've met some great new friends here, some jumped the Pacific and are now in the Marquesas, but many will be around all summer and we look forward to getting to hang out with them more.

Jesse and LeAnn left La Cruz and and 30 days later arrived in the Marquesas, super happy for them and look forward to catching up to them at some point.
Of course we have found some down time to just chill and eat and drink, the restaurants here are great and low priced, one of go-to places has become La Cruz Inn with their daily specials.

Still working on our ample wine supply, got to work as in this warm weather this wine won't last long in the bilge

La Cruz Inn daily special, $5 includes the beer

Tessa loves her cool grass....

....and her cooled down outdoor movie nights.....

....and of course naps!