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Costa Rica, 2016

We could have been mistaken for thinking we were back in the Baja - tall barren rocky islands, and a conspicuous absense of habitation were our first impressions of Costa Rica - not the lush jungle we had imagined. This is typical of the far north. But the green jungles complete with screeching scarlet macaws and the dawn calls of howler monkeys we found south in the stunning bays of the Golfo Dulce.

Enjoying the Costa Rican jungle

It was an unusually windy February, and we spent most of the month in the protected Bahia Ballena - complete with our own private beach and anchorage. After the busy Mexican anchorages it was a surprise that we were the only cruising boat in Costa Rica during this time. This is hardly an exaggeration: we only met 3 other yachts in 2 months - and they had all just come through the Panama Canal and were making brief stops before heading back to Canada. Bahia Ballena was a good base for us - a safe harbour with a lovely mangrove river to explore, friendly campground owners who let us fill water, a little shop that sold bread, eggs, beer and ice cream, and a shady beach with calm water to swim in.

Hut building on Bahia Ballena beach

Together with Abi and Rich and baby Ash we day tripped to the Tortuga islands and Puntarenas where the kids found a noisy jukebox and I found the best little soda (Costa Rican cafe). Rice, beans, fish, salad, potatoes, fried plantain and freshly squeezed carrot and orange juice all for $5. About as cheap as it gets in Costa Rica. Rebecca, Aaron and their 3 girls joined us for a week and we sailed to Isla San Lucas (a former prison colony), Tortuga islands, back to our favourite Bahia Ballena, and to Curu National Park where we saw monkeys, and dozens of colourful butterflies and birds.

Dylan feeding a capuchin monkey a peanut

Satay and drinking coconuts in Playa del Coco

Jay found a giant beetle

Jayden turned 8 in Costa Rica, and as a gift from my parents we took the boys on a true Costa Rican tourist pursuit, a canopy tour - ziplining through the jungle, with a waterfall jump and swim midway through. Great fun, though I think Frans was more scared than the boys!

Excited for the ziplining!

Leaving Bahia Ballena to go south with our next crew, Simon, Flavien, Michelle and Courtney, and the weather got hotter with each mile we sailed. We are less than 500 miles fromthe equator now and it really feels it. We had a lovely few days in Manual Antonio National Park, watching the scuttling purple and orange halloween crabs, gentle sloths, cheeky capuchins and an endless procession of leaf-cutter ants. Surf landings, hut building, river trips, some great hikes, an all too brief snorkel at Isla De Cano, and a star filled night sail and we arrived in Golfito - a small charming town tucked under rainforest clad hills, where toucans and parrots patrol the skies alongside frigates and black vultures.

With Courtney and Michelle on the beach in Uvita

Simon and Flavien cooling down in a rainshower in Bahia Drake

And from here, back into the South Pacific, where we spent many wonderful years on Moet. First stop: Marquesas islands, 3600 miles west-south-west. We hope to arrive in May and will update from there!