“Pura Vida” (Costa Rican saying): Part 1, Northern Costa Rica

Literally “translated as “Pure Life,” Ticos use Pura Vida, for “thank you,” “hello,” “goodbye” and “peace.”  As this phrase captures this peaceful country’s philosophy, the Papagayos drive Northern Costa Rica’s cruising pace and strategy.  The Papagayos, like the Tehuantepecers, are gale force winds that blow through the low land areas from the Atlantic side (in this case Caribbean Sea) to the Pacific coast.    Strong winds welcomed us to Bahia Culebra (Snake Bay) where we anchored off of Playa del Coco, Costa Rica’s northern port of entry.  Also welcoming us, with advice on landing our dinghy, was Darren from sv Gratitouille, a vessel we first met last winter in La Cruz, Mexico.  Darren and his wife Jodi, met us and the crews from Meridian and Carpe Diem III the next day in town and shared their travel story since our last time together.  After a day long clearing in process (moving from port captain, to customs, to immigration), we beat upwind against 25 knot winds to Marina Papagayo to refuel and refresh.  Strong winds kept us in the marina for several days, after which we departed for Golfo Nicoya and its anchorage in Bahia Ballena, and snorkeling in the Tortugas.  High winds frustrated our Tortuga plan; when the winds fell we made our way to Bahia Herradura where we anchored for the night.

papagayo

Yellow and green mark the highwinds.  Beginning in the upper left corner is Cabo Corrientes (which we transited several times last season and again in November).  Next comes the Tehuantepec, which we crossed early this year.  The red area marks Lake Nicaragua and the first of the Papagayo dominated coast lines.  The peninsula southeast of the lake forms the Gulf of Nicoya, Northern Costa Rica’s cruising grounds which can still be quite windy.

Culebra

 

The above chart shows our anchorage at Playa del Coco (lower left) and Marina Papagayo (in the upper bay).  The bay provides some protection from the Papagayos, but the winds still can overwhelm the area as we discovered.

Through papagayo 121

 

We rendezvoused with Meridian, Carpe Dien III, and Gratitouille at Coconutz in Playa del Coco.

MARINA_PAPAGAYOBahia_CulebraCosta_Rica

This albatross view down Bahia Culebra shows  Marina Papagayo and resort development on the peninsula.  In the distance to the left is Playa del Coco, where we cleared in to the country.

Papa2

Secure in Marina Papagayo, we monitored the wind, here gusting to over 46 knots.

Papa4

After performing our various boat chores, we enjoyed the marina’s happy hour, which featured half price cocktails, a half price entree and the ambiance provided by these bar stools.

Papa1

Eulalie and Nancy enjoyed the nearby beach.

nicoya

This map shows Bahia Culebra just north of Coco and our destination in the Gulf of Nicoya, Bahia Ballena, the small bay north east of Montezuma.

Papa3

We shared our anchorage in Bahia Ballena with this off-the-grid house boat.  Solar panels are installed on the roof.

Through Golfito 007

Nancy and Eric took Schooner to shore and walked to Tambor to provision.  They found a beautiful boutique hotel on the beach and ate lunch.  The next day we headed for the Tortuga Islands, but high winds again changed our plans.  We anchored in the protection of the mainland and then headed south when the winds dropped.

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