Saturday, April 21, 2012

What happens when you cross the equator?

In reality…not much other than you get a little drunk and sentimental.

We crossed the equator for the first time with Ustupu at the picture perfect moment- sunset. With the mandatory Neptune and jumble jangle of random things hanging off a bungee cord costume, we were ready for the adventures that await us in the South Pacific!

That imaginary line represented the end of our Latin American jamboree and the beginning of a new journey. For the next 7 months, we will be crossing an ocean (well part of it), exploring remote deserted islands in the middle of nowhere and pretty much trying to avoid civilization as much as possible.

To celebrate our big milestone, we put on those lame costumes, drank a bottle of our favorite bubbly, dunked our feet in South Pacific water, ate way too much delicious food including Wild Pacific salmon pizza and homemade cinnamon buns, watched the sunset over the horizon and dreamed about those islands that await us in the South Pacific. Doesn’t get much better than that!

Not far from the equator Dan radios a fishing boat: "fish boat fish boat, this is the sale boat of 1 km. I would like one fish. I have pack of Marlboro cigarettes." The fishing boat agrees and Dan says ¨come here".

Minutes later we had delicious sashimi. Chopsticks and all. 
Preparing for the much anticipated equator party.

Our guest of honour. This red footed boobie stayed with us for a few days, pooped off the side of the boat and protected us from other boobies claiming a free ride. Very courteous guest.

Drying off our best linen for the countdown.
The Equator!

King Neptune

Not sure... Enthusiastic sea monster?

The moment we were waiting for - Champagne and cheese!!!!

This is how we will remember crossing the equator.

Spanish Bloopers

One of our goals before setting off for Latin America was to improve our Spanish skills. Although our Spanish is much better than it was before we left, we are, by no stretch of the imagination, fluent. In fact, we can manage to start a conversation, and have mastered this, which results in the Spanish speaking person being fooled into thinking that we can converse and starts talking very fast, about what, we still don’t know. 

We have tried and by trying, have managed to say some pretty ridiculous things. We wanted to share some of those. These are a few that we can remember- I’m sure there were others.

Blooper 1
As we are arriving in Mazatlan, Dan calls the port captain and wants to check in “el bano Ustupu”. After a fairly long pause, the Port captain responds in English. Dan asked to check in the bathtub Ustupu (bano means bathtub or bathroom) which obviously does not make sense.

Blooper 2
After eating a delicious order of ceviche, Sylvie shouts enthusiastically to the waitress “Nice to meet you!” instead of telling her it was delicious…

Blooper 3
We were in a taxi and Dan wanted to tell the driver that he was not rich so he shouted out “I am not delicious!”. The taxi driver had a great laugh.

Blooper 4
The following is a short conversation that has been translated. Dan was talking to a Park Ranger at Isla del Coco and wanted to ask whether we could take a few coconuts with us.
Dan “Hello. You have many coconuts on the land. I would like for us”
Park Ranger “uh. Ok. How many?”
Dan: “uhhhhh…4?”
Park Ranger: “ok”
Dan: “Much thanks!”

Isla del Coco- a visual delight!

Our best buddy boat buddies from Saltbreaker. You can see our boats in the distance looking like little floating white peas with masts. They are inseperable.

A beach lunch before our hunt for the waterfall. Looks like Dave Green hasn't eaten in months... 

The trek to the waterfall was a success! Delicious cool crisp water to temporarily wash all the salt off.  I loved this place!
On the hunt for the perfect snorkel spot. Who´s driving this thing?

And here it is. The pefect snorkel spot. 

This is Nick. Nick can dive deeper than I thought humanly possible. 

I am a free diver in training. This was logged at my deepest...about 2 feet.

This is a bridge that has been constructed with materials that Park Rangers have confiscated from boats fishing illegally around the island. Walking accross made a really loud clinkidy clankety sound. It also led to a great swimming hole in the river. Bridges don´t get better than that.

Dan on the run from what he desribed as a large, scary orange fish. 
Ahhhh...A beautiful sea turtle!!!! Time for a shout out to Alex on Saltbreaker who gave  us all the underwater shots. They are fantastic!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Paradise costs $100/day

It took us 5 days to cover the 300 miles of water between Costa Rican mainland and Isla del Coco.
We started out relatively quick doing 5-6 knots (nautical miles/hour) on day one but were soon becalmed except for the occasional squall.  Here's something I wrote after our first squall:

"I sailed a bit, albeit 90 degrees away from our destination.  Between 9 and 10pm the wind was light so I motor-sailed until about 11.  Then at 11 all hell broke loose.  Lightning was striking in all directions around Ustupu.  One blast that was directly overhead and lasted 2 seconds made my forearms and hands flap up and down uncontrollably until the sky darkened again.  Easy hands, everything's gonna be alright.  Then the wind built, and fast.  I threw a double reef in the main sail once we hit 6.5 knots (pretty much our max speed), but we didn't slow down so I slowly reefed the jib until it was totally furled in.  With just the double reefed mainsail we were still doing 6 so I tried to drop the sail.  The wind had done a 180 and was now behind us.  The main wouldn't come down.  I knocked like an irritated UPS delivery guy on the deck until Sylvie came out to help.  Once we doused it the torrential downpour started and lasted 45 minutes.  It was wild.  I hid inside until the thing passed.  It's over hands, I told you it would be ok.  Also, the lightning was so bright and strong that it was turning our solar panels on.  Crazy."

We arrived at Coco unscathed and unelectrocuted.  Within minutes of tying up to our mooring buoy we were snorkeling.  There were fish everywhere.  Shortly after we were visited by the park ranger to pay our $100/day fee.  He brought an informative dvd to our boat but no player to watch it.  Obviously it didn't work on our laptop.  The main thing he told us was not to swim where we'd just been swimming as that's where the Tiger Sharks hang out.  Sheeit.

The following day we snorkeled first thing in the morning.  Coco is a national park and not fishing is allowed within a 12 mile radius.  This has allowed fish species to thrive and adapt under normal circumstances.  Of the endless species we saw here are a few: half moons, starfish, white & black tipped reef sharks, spinney lobster and a truckload of colourful tropical fish.

We did a beautiful hike from our bay, Chatham Bay to the next one Wafer Bay.  Surrounded by cliffs, boobies, frigates and unspoiled nature.

The following day we repeated the process.  We were told there were harmless Hammerhead Sharks around but only one was spotted as it zipped by.  Neither Sylvie or I saw it.  We then hiked in the warm rain to a waterfall with a swimming hole.

The island was absolutely perfect and was exactly what we set sail for.  It was a shame to have only spent 2 days there, but at $100/day paradise is a bit pricey.

Sent from our boat,

Dan, Sylvie & Ustupu