Following is the log of the Voyage of the Ocean Dance.  The log will be posted in reverse chronological order with the latest entry on top.  To read from the beginning of the log, please scroll to the bottom for the first entry and read up. 

Also, to view larger images just click on the individual photos and a larger image will appear in a new window!

Marina Barillas, El Salvador to Playa del Coco, Costa Rica

April 28, 2009

Ah yes, we have heard of the paper work cha cha when cruising in Mexico and Central America but had not experienced it as yet! But, all that changed today when we arrived for our scheduled appointment at the port captain's office to meet the customs inspector. The customs inspector did not appear and after a few frustrating phone calls to his office at the Liberia airport he decided it would be best if we came to his office at the airport to clear customs. No problem he said, just come out to the airport and he would have the necessary papers ready. No problem? Hell the damn airport is 20 miles out of town and a bus ride would be required, or we could opt to pay $45.00 for a taxi. So the intrepid crew set off for the bus stop with local currency in hand (fare per person was $.75) and caught the local bus to the airport.

After a 45 minute ride through the villages along the route, the crew departed the bus about a mile from the airport terminal, the closest bus stop to the airport. Waving down a Budget Rent a Car van, the crew piled in and paid the driver a propina (tip) to deliver them to the airport proper. Finding the customs office and the proper customs inspector, the Captain presented the ship's document, immigration papers received yesterday, his passport and the always required photocopy of the passport. All was well, well not quite. The customs inspector informed the Captain the photocopy of the passport required the stamp of the immigration officials and of course the photocopy did not have the stamp! Feigning ignorance, the Captain implored the customs inspector to find a copy machine at the airport (an airport built by the United States as part of the Iran Contra affair by President Reagan) and eventually the inspector relented and found a working copy machine to solve the problem.

After receiving the required customs documentation with all the proper stamps in place, the crew caught another rental car shuttle van to the main highway and caught a tourist bus back to Playa del Coco. Next hurdle would come when the crew attempts to clear out of Costa Rica for Panama

The crew returned to the Ocean Dance by dingy and spent a quiet and relaxing day aboard. The Papagayo winds returned in the late afternoon with gusts up to 35 knots but the Ocean Dance was secure on her anchor

April 27, 2009

Location: Play del Coco, Costa Rica



Distance Traveled: 254.4 Nautical Miles

The Ocean Dance arrived and dropped anchor at midnight. The crew did a wonderful job guiding the Ocean Dance through the darkness into a safe anchorage at Playa del Coco, Costa Rica.

When morning arrived, the crew piled into the dingy with luggage for Tom and Ron as they would be departing for the States today. The would certainly be missed and the Captain looks forward to their return on future legs of the voyage of the Ocean Dance.

Arriving though the surf on the dingy, the crew was met by Dan and Debbie Lowell, the newest crew members who will be joining the Ocean Dance for her voyage from Costa Rica to Balboa, Panama.

The crew found the Captain of the Port's office and commenced the checking in process for the crew and boat. Ah, this would soon get interesting as the young lady informed the Captain the port captain would process their required paperwork and then the crew would have to go to the local immigration office for them to process their paperwork and once that was completed they were to return to the port captain's office the next day to meet the customs inspectors! You gotta love the separation of responsibilities in this country.

Finally, after traveling all over Playa del Coco to obtain photocopies of passports (of course the port captain's office did not have a copy machine) the required clearances were obtained with the exception of customs and the crew set off for the Liberia airport in Dan Lowell's rental car for Tom and Ron to catch their flights home. Arriving at the airport, once again the failed workings of the Costa Rican government AND Continental Airlines combined to screw up the travel plans for Tom and Ron. An employee of Continental Airlines had the pleasure of informing Tom and Ron that check-in for their flight was closed and they would have to rebook for a flight the next day! The end result of the run around the crew had received in Playa del Coco was that the crew arrived at the airport 10 minutes past the cut off time imposed by the government of Costa Rica AND Continental Airlines to check into flights. Rather than travel back to the boat in Playa del Coco and then take another dingy ride in the dark in the morning, Tom and Ron opted to get a room at the new Hilton Express Hotel next to the airport for the evening. Their flight was scheduled to depart at 7:00am and they did not want to risk arriving late and being denied boarding in the morning.

The crews spent an hour or so at the Hilton enjoying a "happy hour" before the Captain, Dan and Debbie said goodbye to Tom and Ron and returned to Playa del Coco.

Returning to Playa del Coco, the Captain made several trips back and forth between the Ocean Dance and the shore to ferry luggage ( a ton of luggage!) and the provisions obtained at the local supermarket. Dan decided to take a few minutes to return his rental car to the local Budget office next to the port captain's office so Jim took Deb and the last load of groceries to the Ocean Dance and returned to the beach to pick up Dan.

Jim waited and waited just offshore for Dan to return from the rental car office. It was at 3:15pm that Dan left to return the car and by 6:00pm both Debbie and Jim were very concerned about Dan's safety. He failed to return to the pick up spot and never called to let his wife or his Captain know what he was up to! Finally the Captain made the decision to return to the Ocean Dance as it was now totally dark and too dangerous to be on the water in the dingy. He returned to the Ocean Dance and started to make phone calls first he called Tom at his hotel in Liberia to see if the hotel would contact the rental car company to ascertain if the car had been returned. It was discovered the car had in fact been returned to the airport rental car location at 4:00pm and that Dan had caught a bus back to Playa del Coco! So, where the hell was he at 8:30pm?

Finally, Dan called the Captain from a local internet caf in Playa del Coco and he was informed that it was too dangerous to bring the dingy ashore in the dark with the pounding surf so the Captain gently suggested to Dan that he find a hotel room in town and he would be picked up in the morning!

This was the first time the Captain had "lost" a crew member and to say the least he was not at all pleased with Dan's decision to take off without informing either his wife or the Captain where he was going. Needless to say, a lesson in communications was scheduled for early the next day to go over a few rules when being part of the crew of the Ocean Dance

April 26, 2009

Having checked with the various weather sites prior to departing Marina Barillas in El Salvador, the crew was comfortable in the knowledge their journey down the coasts of El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica to their destination of Playa del Coco, Costa Rica would be a smooth albeit breezy. It wasn't until late in the afternoon that the crew realized ALL the weather sites had really missed the mark on their forecasts! The seas began to build and the breeze "freshen" to report winds speeds of over 37 knots!

What a wild ride! The winds picked up and the seas continued to build and the anemometer decided it had had enough and was not going to report any more wind speeds on the weather station! The seas built to 8-10 feet on the nose but the Ocean Dance seemed to love being in the heavy weather. She rode the waves perfectly while the autopilot kept her on a smooth and steady course. The crew was not impressed with the faulty weather predictions but soon came to the realization that after traveling from Everett, Washington to Costa Rica they were due to finally voyage in a little heavy weather.

April 25, 2009

The Ocean Dance departed Marina Barillas at 1:00pm in order to take advantage of the high tide and the entrance of the bay. Following a Canadian sailboat which would be turning north to Huatulco, Mexico at the harbor entrance, the Ocean Dance arrived at the entrance to the bay at 2:30, a good two hours before high tide! It was a crazy ride once again around the sand bars as the Ocean Dance could not travel at more than 6 knots as it was following the slower sailboat. Finally clearing the last sand bar and heading out to sea, the crew realized that had not tipped the panga driver for leading them out of the bay from the marina! No problem, the Captain suggested Ron put some money in a plastic baggie, blow it up and wave to the panga driver to get his attention. The panga driver realized what Ron was up to and quickly changed course to come behind the Ocean Dance to retrieve the baggie Ron had tossed overboard

The Ocean Dance turned southeast and began the next leg down the remaining coast of El Salvador, past Honduras and Nicaragua and finally to Playa del Coco in northern Costa Rica.