Saturday, March 24, 2012

The end of the first quarter

We have just completed the first leg of our trip.  It ended somewhere around southern Costa Rica and marks the end of our Pacific noodling of the Americas.

Three significant things have happened since the ¼ mark.  My parents came to visit and put us up in swanky hotels in Monteverde and La Fortuna.  We painted the bottom of our boat and most importantly, the barber of Sylvia cut my hair.  Oh, and I turned 30.

The visit with the parental units was great.  We ate well, slept well, travelled well and all around felt well.  It was really a vacation from our vacation.  We first went to Monteverde, a rain forest in the sky.   It was cold and blustery and the roof of our hotel was constantly on the verge of re-joining its friends in the forest but somehow it held on.  We did every tour and activity offered by the joint, each costing $20-$50.  Because my parents were putting us up and we were only paying for the occasional wheel of cheese they must have blown their entire retirement fund on these activities.  Ziplining, suspension bridges, a night frog tour at the Frog Pond (if you consider looking into a bunch of glass cases of frogs a tour, and there was definitely no pond), wilderness hikes, etc.  The activities were great but we wouldn’t have seen a damn thing without my folks.  We then drove to La Fortuna in our 4x4 to see the great Volcan Arenal.   Well we saw the base a whole lot but never the peak.  We wanted to see a volcano so bad that we drove 5 hours out of our way to see Volcan Poas.  But when we got there they told us it was so fogged in that we wouldn’t see anything.  Do you still want to pay $50 to enter?  No, we didn’t.

We returned to Puntarenas where we’d abandoned Ustupu at a dry dock.  We were two days into painting the bottom before we left to meet up with the ‘rents.  My folks stayed in Puntarenas just long enough to see what a dump it was.  Sylvie and I called it Poopeyanus as the place had about as much charm as an overflowing garbage can.

We’d spend the first two days working on the boat by scraping the bottom; we got about half way through the scraping before we had to leave.  We were now back and had a serious time crunch so we hired the fattest guy at the work yard to sand the bottom for us.  Willy be’s his name.  The first time we saw him we were sceptical as to whether he did any work at all, but work he did.  He brought in two buddies and they took turns with one overheating sander and finished the job in one day, each inhaling 1/3 of a life’s worth of lead paint dust.  I spent the next day patching holes that barnacles had made with epoxy and putting a fresh coat of fibreglass on the bow.   Our skin was highly irritated and so were we.  It was time to get the hell out of dodge.  The fact that we were commuting from the boat yard to our dive of a hotel (literally the cheapest place in town) was making us very anxious to get on the water.  One coat of primer, two coats of antifouling paint and we were back in the water.  Aside from a bunch of fresh paint that was pulled off by their boat lifting machine and a near collision once we were back in the water, we were quite relieved.  Some brief goodbyes to our pals at the work yard and we were off.  We never did get to say goodbye to Willy….. sigh.

The hair cut.  After great debate I asked Sylvie to give me a trim.  See below for greater detail.

Also, I just turned 30.  Now that I’m 30 I never say stuff like Poopeyanus anymore.  I use words that can only be found in the dictionary.  Not today, but most days.  The celebration of the 30th itself was a masterpiece only Sylvie could have organized.  For many days before my birthday Sylvie had to be inside the cabin alone to work on top secret projects, the hatch was draped in a pillow case and I was not to look below.  During that time she managed to prepare a two birthday cakes (one sky-high pile of cookies and a Boston cream pie), a brunch with homemade croissants, two birthday cards, a number of small gifts and a piñata the size of a small child.  Not only did the piñata look exactly like yours truly, but it was wearing a t-shirt based on an ‘up and coming’ business idea of mine. 

Sylvie then organized for our friends aboard Saltbreak to meet us on the beach for a fish bbq over a bonfire. We drank rum, destroyed the piñata, set off countless cheap Mexican fireworks and were all in bed by midnight.  The perfect birthday.

What’s shaking now?

We are currently in a little bay called Drake Bay, accessible only by boat.  We’re spending a week here to recover from our painting debacle.  From here we plan to stop at Isla del Cano for an afternoon of snorkelling on Sylvie’s birthday and then sail to Golfito where we’ll do some final prep for our crossing. 

From Golfito we’re planning to stop at Isla del Coco, the largest uninhabited island in the world, chalk full of sharks, fish and no humans.  From there we go to the Galapagos and try to finagle the Ecuadorian gate keepers into letting us stay for more than the obligatory 72 hours.  And finally after stalling as long as we can we’ll sail to the Marquesas island in French Polynesia.

We plan to stay approximately 6 months in the South Pacific and then sail to Hawaii in October of this year.  We’ll spend something like 8-9 months in Hawaii and then head back to Vancouver.  At this hour of this day that is our plan.  But it changes from day to minute.

Wish us luck on our passage. 

Dan, Sylvie & Ustupu

Photos in no particular order...........

B-day brunch.  I wore my finest Gap shirt for my 30th.

My effigy.  Anyone want to buy a "Mergers & Acquisitions" t-shirt?

I'm not actually drunk yet.  Just appears that way.

The finishing move by Alex

What else would one do with their own effigy?  Burn it.

Growth on the bottom of our boat.

More bottom gunk.

Sylvie taking a break.  She got the 'black lung'.

Our crew of sanders.  Willy on the right.  Would you hire him?

Sail repair at our sweet motel.

Almost stuck with the mullet. It was beautiful.

Still not quite right.

The final product.   Why the creepy face?  

Hanging out in Guacamaya

There's a monkey in there somewhere. Elusive buggers!

I can't even explain myself.  Sorry.

A typical Schroeder scene.

Sylvie, David and Linda

Hatching butterflies.

Ziplining!! YAY.





Like father like son.

The roots

Oh, there's the monkey!

The final product.