June 21, 2014-Back to Bahia Ballena
wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Gulf of Nicoya
It’s twenty seven miles from Puntarenas to Bahia Ballena, less if you could go in a straight line but you can’t, Isla Negritos is in the way, and besides, on most days this time of year it’s a beat, and it was for us today, so you have to tack; you wind up going twenty seven miles.
That’s a long day if the wind is light, which it was. Longer if the bottom is foul, which it also was, and the boat is heavy with fuel and water, and which definitely we were.
But we made it. Even after waiting to leave until the wind filled in at 11:00 we got to Bahia Ballena by 5:30, well before dark.
There was a long starboard tack, a lift as the wind clocked to the west in the afternoon. We sailed easy, letting the wind vane steer, and we drowsed in the cockpit, taking turns watching for ships, never touching the sheets or the helm.
When we tacked to port for the leg into Ballena, Judy spotted the other sailboat.
“There is a sailboat,” she said, “behind us.”
I put the binoculars on it. A sloop, close hauled on starboard, with a tall mast and flat sails, looking good. They had been behind us all right, on a course to weather of ours, inside on the long lifted tack I thought, with some irony. I wondered how long they’d been tracking us, if they were, probably for a while. They could have been back there with an eye on us for a long time. We hadn’t seen them. Asleep at the switch. Lulled by the lazy day. We hadn’t seen a sailboat out here sailing in a couple of months so we’d become complacent. We let them sneak up on us.
We crossed ahead; there was that, at least.
The other boat tacked soon after we did and fell into an easy course to leeward. For an hour we sailed on parallel courses. I expected to leave them in our wake but it didn’t happen; they hung in there, neither gaining nor losing.
After a while I got irritated by their presence. I started to trim more aggressively. I cracked off a little and eased the sheets. I got on the helm. The speed went up, and we did not fall down on them. So it helped; we started to move, even starting to work up to weather of them. We were sailing better. I guess it takes some competition to make you sail better.
The wind continued to shift to the west. On this tack it was a knock. The other boat was benefiting by being on the outside of a knock, but by now it didn’t matter; the wind was lightening and they had sagged down quite a bit.
When it came time to tack they rolled up their headsail and turned on the motor. We sailed on to Bahia Ballena. They peeled off to the Tortugas.
I got out a beer.
Puntarenas is a province, not just a town. We took buses and traveled around a bit, to Jaco and Quepos. We saw some of the sights of Puntarenas, the province. We visited Manuel Antonio Park and saw sloths and howler monkeys, and a few hundred college kids from the US down here on break. We also saw a crocodile cruising just off the popular swimming beach in the park and a few dozen would be bathers gathered on the shore. The people and the croc eyed each other; a stand off. Once we took a long dingy ride up the estuary behind the marina and there were hundreds of fishing boats tied to small wharves and piers, and there were crocodiles.
In fact crocs are common in Costa Rica; we saw them often, besides when we were driving around in the dingy, but that part was the un-nerving bit since they are as big as our zodiac and have been known to be aggressive towards boats. After that we put the dingy away and stuck to tours we could take by bus.
wingssail images-judy jensen
Fred watching the game
And we joined with a lot of enthusiastic Ticos to watch Costa Rica win its first two matches in the Soccer World Cup. That was fun.
Now, however, we have departed Puntarenas.
Next stop, Plays Cocos, Coco beach
Click here for images of Puntarenas
Click here for photos in town.
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Bahia Ballena