Monday, February 6, 2017

Shakin’ It Down At El Rincon, Golfo Dulce –- February, 2017

We have returned from our four day “shake-down cruise” to El Rincon (The Corner), a cove at the northwest corner (hence the name) of Costa Rica’s Golfo Dulce. Our trip was a success in every way – including the identification of a problem (or, in biz-speak: a challenge) that we want to address before we depart for Panama.

More on that later. First:

Enjoyment Factor - High

This little trip reminded us of how much we enjoy sailing and being at anchor in a calm, relatively secluded location.

A Nice Corner Of The World

The wind wasn’t great or consistent, but it drifted above seven knots for short periods and we were able to sail . . . a veces (sometimes) . . . on our way to and from El Rincon.

The cove was very calm and we anchored near shore in 50’ of water (a bit deep for us, but as good as it gets at El Rincon).

Parrots, scarlet macaws, howler monkeys, crickets, neighborhood dogs and the bass speaker from a far away restaurant provided background music. Now and again the exotic, sweet smell of a ylang ylang tree would perfume the air. 

We swam and read books and waved at tourists who stopped to take Abracadabra’s picture. A small cruise ship named Polar Star (clearly lost) anchored in the cove. Its passengers were taken to shore for an excursion. We became “charming backdrop” for their posts about their jungle vacation.

We ate dinners in the cockpit and discussed the fishing techniques used by the few small boats drifting around the cove.

We watched a fellow chip the paint off a small boat using a machete. Probably not OSHA or EPA approved.

And Those Paint Chips, Sir?

One afternoon we rowed the dinghy (see below for why we rowed) around the little cove. We explored the signs at what we thought was a fish farm and learned that it was, in fact, an oyster farm.

El Rincon Oyster Farm

As we peeked through the foliage on shore we were amazed to see the remains of an airplane - a fuselage, tail and, we think, part of a wing - visible in the jungle. A fairly large single engine airplane. There had to be a story. Bryce asked an elderly guy (you know, about our age) sitting on the beach whether we had seen an airplane on shore.
Yes, it’s an airplane.
Do you know the story of the airplane? Was there an accident?
No, no accident. They used to fly here. Sometimes even helicopters.
Clearly we would get nothing further from the taciturn chap, so we thanked him, wished him a good afternoon and rowed on. We contemplated the possibilities: who were “they” - an airline, the coast guard, a tour company (?); why would anyone attempt to land a plane on the narrow, heavily forested area between hills and sea; or had the plane been drug to that spot for disposal, and if so, why - ?

Freed by our lack of information we concluded we had seen a reminder of the wild and woolly drug-running days of the early 1980’s. Go ahead – we dare you to make up a better story!  

Skill Building – Medium

Anchoring had been easy, even in 50’ of water; weighing anchor - not so much. Apparently over our three nights drifting gently back and forth in response to the 10-foot tidal change and the occasional bits of breeze the anchor or chain or both had snagged on . . . something down there. Ahhh - our first fouled anchor.

More adventurous sorts might have put on their diving gear and attempted to identify the problem. We don’t have any diving gear. We armed ourselves with patience.

We motored forward tentatively. We motored back. And again. Finally, Bryce was able to ease - bit by bit - the anchor chain and, finally, bring up the anchor itself. Un-fouling an anchor without dive gear: Check!

By the time the anchor was off the bottom Abracadabra was snugged cozily into the cove at an angle that suggested backing out would be a good idea. The last time Molly backed out of an anchorage was in 2011 and she’s happy to report she was able to do it again -- without backing into the nearby oyster farm. Loving that re-built engine!

Challenges Identified – Low

In case you haven’t already guessed, we were rowing the dinghy on our tour de cove because the dinghy outboard (aka the Suzuki Possessed By The Devil) did not perform as well as it might. We are told it needs more carburetor work. There have been so many nagging problems with this motor over the years that Bryce is now convinced it was manufactured on the Monday following the 2011 Super Bowl when all the workers were hung over.

Keeping on the sunny side of life: we now have an excuse to depart Golfito more slowly. Slowly enough for Bryce to tackle a couple of third tier projects like installing a cockpit shower. At anchor we were reminded how nice it would be to have a post-swim fresh water rinse in the cockpit. Maybe by our next anchorage we will.

That’s today’s story. More next time we have something to report!

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