Posted by: Sailing Camelot | May 8, 2012

May 7th – Seven Anchorages in 10 Days!

No, we’re not running from the law… And we’re in no hurry, either. We’re just enjoying our “freedom from the docks”, taking short trips down the Costa Rican Coast and stopping anywhere we please along the way.  Sometimes just for the night, other times for a few days if we like the place.

Since leaving Marina Papagayo we stopped at seven anchorages.

Playa Conchal in Bahia Flamingo was our first stop, if only for a night.

Approaching Bahia Flamingo

Lady Natalia, lonely fishing boat and only sign of life we’ve seen all day.

Next was Bahia Samara, a gorgeous and secluded little bay hidden behind the small island of Isla Chora.

Entering Bahia Samara

Sunrise at Bahia Samara – Isla Chora on the right.

Despite the beauty of our surroundings, after two nights rolling like pigs in the mud we decided we had enough and moved on.

Our faithful “Bicycles of the Sea” at rest on Isla Chora

Looking at Samara Bay from Isla Chora

Seven hours later we plopped anchor in Bahia Ballena –the official entrance of the Golfo de Nicoya, smack in the center of Costa Rica.

Bahia Ballena, also known as Tambor Village.

Local early riser

Not much happening here and the lagoon-green water did not look inviting, but it was a nice, flat-calm place to spend a restful night.

Sunrise at Bahia Ballena – Fishing fleet already in position

At this point I was wondering when and if we’d ever find nice blue waters to swim in.

I got my answer just a few hours later: Islas Tortugas.  

Approaching Islas Tortugas: Isla Alcatraz to the right and Isla Tolinga to the left.

These two small islands, Isla Tolinga and Isla Alcatraz, are called Turtle Islands after the turtles that used to come here in droves to give birth. Somehow, that’s not happening anymore, but the name remained.

First sighting of the Beach at Isla Tolinga

The narrow channel separating the two islands

Clear blue waters, lots of little bays perfect for kayak excursions, and even a nice white sand beach lined with palm trees! Paradise found.

Tom intently surveying his new surroundings …

…And finding them perfect! The smile says it all.

We anchored off Isla Alcatraz and soon were in our kayaks, paddling to the inviting beach of Isla Tolinga. We found a fully-blown touristic operation ashore. Neatly lined-up beach chairs available for rent, along with kayaks, jet-skis and all the toys needed to enhance your day at the beach. A little too developed, but still wonderful.

Colorful Toys: the kayaks available for rent at Isla Tolinga

… But we brought our own, thank you all the same.

A huge catamaran brought big groups of tourists most every day, but the island never felt crowded. They were kept busy with snorkeling trips, horse-back excursions, banana-boat rides and would leave the island by mid-afternoon.

Perfectly relaxing view

Turquoise is fast becoming my new favorite color…

Postcard Pretty

We befriended a few of the really nice guys working there and Tom invited them on Camelot for after-work cocktails. Adonis, Ernesto and Marlon came by kayak, easily covering the half-mile distance between our boat and the beach.

They were such great company, it was only fair to have them stay for dinner… They were very appreciative and happy to be on the boat, saying that in nine years of working there no visiting boaters ever invited them. I guess they’ll remember us for a long time…

Our new Tres Amigos. Adonis (left), Ernesto (center) and Marlon (right).

What else but an Italian Dinner on Camelot… Mangia, mangia!

We stayed three days in this enchanted place, got up close and personal with some of the local fauna and even managed to take a horse-back tour of the island.

Meet Tom’s newest wild friend: Filomena, a Collared Peccari. She’s yawning here…

Tom / St Francis working his Beast Magic… Filomena is actually kneeling!

Tom with Arturo, the Baby Croc who kept trying to snuggle under Tom’s armpit.

… And here’s my namesake, much cuter than me!

Man, it’s been ten years since I last rode a horse… I should do it more often, it’s so much fun!!

Tres Caballeros: from left Adonis, Tom and me with the silly pigtails…

The night before departing our friends came aboard again for a farewell dinner. But this time they brought two big fish and rice cooked two different ways, to let us sample their local cuisine.

Ernesto got busy in the galley, showing me hot to fillet a fish. I now have a new skill!

Ernesto teaching to a very interested Lori

He made it look so easy, but it’s not!

We had great food and a great time; I was really impressed by the fact that these guys, after a long and hard working day, came to our boat and cooked us dinner. I guess we’ll remember them for a long time, too…

It was not easy to leave Islas Tortugas, but we had high hopes of finding some other beautiful island to explore.

View from above: Camelot is easy to spot, being the only mast around…

So we went further up in the Golfo de Nicoya and stopped at Isla Muertos, an ancient burial site. The anchorage is pretty, but it’s another calm lagoon with muddy green water. There was nothing we wanted to see on the island itself, so we left the next morning.

Thankfully, all these islands are pretty close to each other, so our little trips never lasted more than two hours at most.

Tom was intrigued by Isla San Lucas -a penal colony that operated from 1873 until 1991- and wanted to visit the prison if possible. So off to San Lucas we went.

The weather was overcast and the water still muddy green, so I wasn’t impressed by San Lucas either.

 A short dinghy trip to shore and we were on correctional facility grounds.

The only access point to the Prison: by water.

Prison’s buildings: The Dispensary and the Infirmary further up.

We met a ground keeper and asked for permission to walk around. His reply was unclear and there was a feeble attempt at asking for a “fee”. I shrugged and opened my arms in the international gesture for “whatever, dude, name a price” without saying a word. He shook his head and told us to walk around all we wanted. No fees.

It didn’t take long to tour the facilities or what’s left of them.

The Excercise Yard

Tom peeking in one of the dormitories, trying to imagine what life was in here.

Honestly, I couldn’t wait to get off that island, it gave me the creeps. Tom instead, maybe because of his law-enforcement background, was totally curious about the place.

There’s some interrupted attempt at restoring some buildings, although the jungle is slowly but surely reclaiming the land.

The Administration Office -an aborted restoration job- and the Old Church.

That Old Church must have hosted some troubled souls in its time…

Nowadays the only occupants of San Lucas are the howler monkeys feasting on the many mango and coconut trees.

We hightailed it out of there the next morning.

Camelot in San Lucas, bracing for the daily afternoon rainstorm.

It’s time to get out of the Golfo de Nicoya and continue down the coast of Costa Rica.

We had a five-hour trip ahead of us to get to out next destination, Bahia Herradura.

About half an hour into our trip we noticed a strong vibration shaking Camelot’s aft end like a leaf in the wind.

Not willing to continue motoring – possibly creating some bigger problem – we decided to anchor briefly in front of the town of Puntarenas so that Tom could quickly dive and check out what was wrong.

Sure enough, he quickly found the cause of the tremors: the propeller caught a long twine, spun it around and around weaving it tightly around its blades.

It didn’t take long to free the propeller, the worst of the ordeal being the 2.5 knots current that Tom had to fight while working under the boat.

We soon resumed our way. Relief! No more vibrations and a smooth trip.

Bahia Herradura, a well known sport fishing center, was home for one night.

Approaching Bahia Herradura, view of the expensive Marina Los Suenos ahead.

The narrow Beach behind us at Bahia Herradura

Pretty, but not pretty enough to stay any longer than that.

The Mooring Field, a popular choice given the Marina’s prohibitive prices.

Adios, Marina Los Suenos… You’ll see us “En Tu Suenos” !

Early the next morning we left for Quepos, a location of much interest for its proximity to the Manuel Antonio National Park –possibly the best natural  park of Costa Rica. It was listed by Forbes among the world’s 12 most beautiful national parks, so I MUST see it…

Six hours later we finally arrived at the Marina Pez Vela (Sailfish) in Quepos, yet another luxury Marina.

Marina Pez Vela / Sailfish Marina, preparing for the Daily Downpour.

I still find beauty even in this threatening, ominous cloudiness…

We plan on staying here at least three days, should be just enough time to re-provision, visit the Park and catch up with a few chores.

Also, slowing down a little would seem like a good idea… You know, just to catch our breath.

The rain comes down so hard, it makes the water look like it’s boiling!



  1. Tom and Laurie,
    We are enjoying your blogs. Hope to follow you along.
    Howard and Lynn

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