Tag Archives: passage

Love these city signs. Quepos with me and Sugar Shack in the background, see arrow

Cinco de Mateo in Quepos

We were up early again this morning as we had another 50+ mile passage to Quepos.  We readied the boat and had the anchor up by 0615.  It was another beautiful day, flat seas, clear skies and no wind.  Matt made an attempt to look like a sail boat by raising the main.  But, frankly, it just bopped side to side as the winds were mostly under 5 knots.

It was a truly an uneventful passage as we both tried to hide from the sun and the heat.  Kind of hard to do on a boat, but we did our best.  Even though we had the fishing poles out, we did not drop a hook as we were going fairly slow and were only in 25-40 meters of water (not very deep).

Quepos (pronounced kay-pohs) used to be a sleepy little village with a high built peer for loading bananas, pineapples and sailfish.  This was once a bustling banana exporting port, but the town was crippled by the demise of the banana plantations in the mid 1950’s.  Evidently, there was a banana disease that overtook the banana plantations in Panama which severely impacted exportation in Costa Rica.

Today, there are thousands of acres of palm oil plantations just beyond the beaches which are controlled by Palma Tica, Inc. (formerly United Fruit Company).  However, palm oil has a dubious future resulting from the concerns regarding cholesterol.  So, the town of Quepos is reliant on tourism which has been booming.   Quepos has over 7,000 inhbitants, a large marina (Marina Pez Vela), hotels, and vacation villas lining the beaches.

We anchored just outside the marina entrance as it was fairly shallow (8 meters) and a wee bit more protected than where the fishing boats were anchored.  When I say a “wee bit” I mean barely at all.  It was a a little rolly during low tide, but during high tide it got darn right uncomfortable.

The marina has a large jetty that is made of large, semi-circle, concrete forms giving it an unusual look from the outside.  Dozens of small fishing vessels anchor in front of the marina but come and go in the opposite direction of where we anchored.  Behind us, there is a long sandy beach backed by green lowlands that rise to a beautiful mountainous terrain beyond.

Quepos in front of MPV Marina.

Quepos in front of MPV Marina.

We had an unobstructed view of another very pretty sunset.

Sunset in Quepos

Sunset in Quepos

Matt wanted to spend his birthday walking around the small town of Quepos.  But first we had to find a way to get to shore. There is a large banana pier that has been converted to a commercial dock so we started there first (see above collage, bottom photo). They were very nice but told us we could not leave our dinghy there. So, we headed to the marina.

First, we passed a guard gate at the channel entrance who took our boat name, called into someone on the radio and told us to go to the to the fuel dock by their marine store.  From there, we were pointed to the office.  On the way to the office another guard stopped us on the street and pointed to the office. Then a third guard let us in to the marina where the office was located.  Tight security don’t you think.

At the office, the ladies could not have been nicer. They told us that the banana pier is under construction and not available for us and that they don’t have a dinghy dock. They normally charge $25 for 30 minutes to pick up and drop off (can you believe that rate?).  But, they allowed us to pay the fee for the day as long as we moved the dinghy close to the office and promised to be out of the marina before they close at 1700.  Sweet.  We had to give them our boat and clearance paperwork, passports and boat insurance.  Keep in mind, this is just to leave our dinghy for a few hours.

We meandered through town, had a late breakfast, caught up on a little wifi, shopped at the fresh fruit and veggie market, walked through the grocery stores, and then celebrated our day with a birthday beer.  Pretty cool little town!

Love these city signs. Quepos with me and Sugar Shack in the background, see arrow

Love these city signs. Quepos with me and Sugar Shack in the background, see arrow

At the fresh fruit and veggie market, there was a man squeezing sugar cane which was pretty darn interesting as I had never seen this done before.

Squeezing the sugar cane

Squeezing the sugar cane

We found a new little eatery called Love Shack…unfortunately, we had already eaten so we did not stop in.

Not Sugar Shack but the Love Shack

Not Sugar Shack but the Love Shack

They have a huge 3-4 meter tide here which exposes pretty dramatic shallow spots.  The top image is Sugar Shack in the bay just beyond the river and small sand bar.  Then middle shot is the view to the right where another small marina lives.  Boats have to hug the shore and follow the river to avoid the sand bar.  Bottom image is the view to the left toward the MPV marina.

Low tide exposing a river between the shore and ocean

Low tide exposing a river between the shore and ocean

Manuel Antonio Park is a biological reserve and is only 10 minutes away from Quepos making this another great tourist attraction.  This is Costa Rica’s smallest park at just over 4,000 acres and was established in 1972.  This is a tropical wet forest that receives over 150 inches of rain each year.  There are over 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds.  We hope to visit this park on another visit, so stay tuned for more to come.


  • Total distance: 55.22 nm
  • Total travel time: 9 hours 13 minutes
  • Top speed 7.8 kn
  • Average speed 6.0 kn
Radar showing Sugar Shack in the middle of a storm

Overnight Passage to Golfito, Costa Rica

Before we began our overnight passage to Golfito, Matt wanted to secure our wifi antennae which is located at the top of the mast.  He had noticed it was a bit wobbly the other day and didn’t want to risk losing it at sea.  Fairly easy process…hoist him up our 70’ mast, tighten a bolt, and bring him down.

Matt hoisted up our 70' mast to resecure the wifi antennae

Matt hoisted up our 70′ mast to resecure the wifi antennae

We planned on leaving around 1800, just as the sun was setting, but Sugar Shack had other things in mind.  Matt went to start the Starboard engine and a belt was making a racket.  He spent the better part of an hour aligning, hammering, tweaking, and fixing things before we could get going.  Not a big deal.  This passage should take us between 13-16 hours and we need to arrive in daylight.  So, an hour or two delay didn’t impact us much.

The first 3-4 miles out of Isla Gamez required the most vigilance due to the surrounding reefs and random shallow spots.  It was an art of dodging and weaving, but not too difficult.  Once safely through, we set the course for the first 40-miles of our journey.

The first 90 minutes were uneventful, but around 21:30 we saw and felt a storm coming our way.  We tried to avoid it, changed course and slowed down, but to no avail.  Each time we tried a new tactic, the wind shifted and put us smack in the middle of the storm again.  Rain is not too much of a problem, just annoying.  But the lightening is frightening.  The last thing we want is to be struck by lightening and it was all around us.  We have a 70’ stick that attracts energy and we were terrified that something awful would happen.

Lucky for us, the bolts did not strike us.  The storm delayed us by about 1-1.5 hours, took us several miles off our track and soaked us, but nothing else.  Whew!

Here is one of the shots of our radar showing us smack in the center of the storm.

During my early morning shift, 0100-0400, the moon came out to light our way.  Even with the storm clouds, the moon shown brightly illuminating the sea.

We pulled into Golfito around 0900, about 15 hours after we left.  Perfect timing as it was bright and sunny out, channel was clearly marked, and the bay was not too busy.  We anchored in front of Land and Sea, a very, very small marina and started the massive clean up from the night’s passage.


  • Total distance: 87.3 nm
  • Total travel time: 15 hours 35 minutes
  • Top speed 7.8 kn
  • Average speed 5.6 kn
Sugar Shack at Islas Secas Anchorage

Bahia Honda to Islas Secas to Isla Gamez

As we made our way to the Islas Secas, we went through a narrow cut between some reefs and islands.  Up on the top of one of the hills in this cut, hidden behind a canopy of trees was a house overlooking the bay.

This journey took us 5.5 hours to motor sail 33 miles from Bahia Honda to the Islas Secas, which means “Dry Islands.” This chain is made up of 3 small islands: Isla Pargo, Isla Cavada, and Isla Coco.  The largest island, Isla Cavada is privately owned with an airstrip and an expensive eco-resort called Islas Secas Beach Resort.  Evidently, you can rent a luxury tent for $600 per night with all amenities.  We tried to snoop, but when we went ashore, we were told they had VIPs on property and we would need to come back in 2 days.  Since we saw the helicopter land earlier, we figured it wasn’t a fib, plus they were really, really nice.

Isla Pargo, the island to the South of Isla Cavada has one anchorage, a white sandy beach, small stream, and a trail that leads you from one side of the island to the other during low tide.  Isla Coco is the smallest island with a poor anchorage.  However, it is known for its amazing diving and snorkeling.

We anchored near Isla Cavada (which means Concave Island).  When we arrived a Navy boat and a small monohulls were already here.  By dinner time, the Navy boat left, the storm rolled in, and another catamaran anchored on the opposite end of the bay.  It was a peaceful anchorage, but we set three alarms due to the precarious anchorage.

When we set the anchor, we were in 10 meters of water.  However, with the storm and wind shift, the boat shifted over 3 meters of water.  We can easily float in 1 meter of water, but with the tide changes, we don’t want to be anywhere near a 1-meter spot.  So, we set a depth alarm, wind alarm, and proximity alarm.  Several alarms went off during the night which meant a disturbed sleep.

The next morning, we got up and took the SUPs to one of the beaches on Isla Cavada.  It was a pretty beach tucked into the side of the hill that is submerged under water during high tide.

Image below: Top view of beach coming in on SUPs, and view of Sugar Shack from beach.  2nd Row view of beach and blossoming rock.  3rd Row Amazing air plants growing in a tree and view of beach on opposing side.  Bottom row one of the many hermit crabs playing with my toes and Matt resting on his SUP on the way back to the boat.

After resting a bit on the boat, we hopped in the water to explore the underworld surroundings of the Islas Secas.  It had been awhile since we were able to swim and we did not want to miss this opportunity.  We could tell that there are a lot of coral heads in this bay, but we did not know what else lies beneath the boat.

There was a very abundant coral life growing strong and healthy, but not too many fish.  We did spy (2) puffers that were black with radiant blue spots, a bright yellow puffer, and several pretty large trigger fish.  It’s hard to be impressed when you’ve been diving in Bonaire, but this was pretty and unique.

The next day, we decided to hit the road early to get to our next destination, Isla Parida.  A short 22-mile journey took us just over 3 hours.  We had planned on anchoring at Punta Jurel, but when we arrived it did not look anything like the guide book.  So, we moseyed on over to a neighboring island called Isla Gamez that showcased two beautiful beaches.  And, there are 4 more beaches on surrounding islands that are easily accessible.

We arrived before lunch, dropped the hook and admired the Sunday Funday going on with 8-10 tourist and local boats.  After lunch, we decided to take the SUPs over to the island to join the fun.  It was a lovely little beach, pretty water, and good music.  We did not stay long as each group seemed to be doing their own thing, but everyone was lovely.

Later in the afternoon, we took Sweetie out to explore some of the other beaches on Islas Secas.  We found one hidden beach with lots of palm trees in a little bay that would be delightful to stay for a week or more.  Unfortunately, we needed to get going, so we packed the boat up and headed for Golfito.

Coming Up:

  • Overnight passage to Golfito
  • Golfito
  • Clearing into Costa Rica