September 30, 2012
Saying Good Bye

September 15, 2012
Reflections on Our 27 Year Circumnavigation

September 01, 2012
Sea of Cortez Sailing

August 15, 2012
Back to the Sea of Cortez

August 01, 2012
After Circumnavigation: What to Take, What to Leave Behind

July 15, 2012
Mexican Booby Trap

July 01, 2012
Tackling the Tehuantepec

June 14, 2012
Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico

June 01, 2012
Sailing northern Costa Rica and Nicargua

May 15, 2012
Costa Rican Cruising

May 01, 2012
New Found Friends in Golfito, Costa Rica

April 15, 2012
It’s a Jungle Out There

April 01, 2012
Hunting and Gathering in Panama

March 15, 2012
Money.... Money.... Money

March 01, 2012
Feel Free Transits the Panama Canal

February 15, 2012
Transiting the Panama Canal

February 01, 2012
Feel Free is Back in the Pacific

January 15, 2012
Charter Skipper for a Week

January 01, 2012
Confessions of a Charter Cat Chef

December 15, 2011
Away to the Andamans Part 2

December 01, 2011

November 15, 2011
Sailing in a Freshwater Paradise

November 01, 2011
To Barf or not to Barf, that is the question

October 14, 2011
Remarkable Cruisers

October 03, 2011
The Sea of Cortez, Another World

September 15, 2011
Panama Canal Here We Come

September 01, 2011
Sailing for Humanity

August 15, 2011
A Hard Lesson on the Hard and Reflections on Boat Work

August 01, 2011
Here Come the Lion Fish

July 15, 2011
The Joy of Books

July 01, 2011
The Sailors of San Blas

June 15, 2011
The Good Life in Kuna Yala

June 01, 2011
The Dirt Dweller in Paradise

May 15, 2011
People of the San Blas, Then and Now

May 01, 2011
Cruising in Kuna Yala

April 15, 2011
Near Disaster in the San Blas

April 01, 2011
At Last in the San Blas

March 15, 2011
Chilling Out in Cholon

March 01, 2011
Ah, Cartagena!

February 15, 2011
Cruising the Cape Horn of the Caribbean Part 2

February 01, 2011
Cruising the Cape Horn of the Caribbean Part 1

January 14, 2011
Aruban Interlude

December 30, 2010
Hunkering Down for a Hurricane

December 15, 2010
A Day in the Life - Our Passage to Aruba

December 01, 2010
Stuck in Curacao

November 15, 2010
Stormy Night Sailing

November 01, 2010
Sailing In The Sticks

October 15, 2010
Safety, Security and Circumnavigating with some tips on how to stay safe

October 04, 2010
Feel Free Transits The Suez Canal

September 15, 2010
Red Sea Sailing

September 01, 2010
FEEL FREEs Voyage Into the Red Sea

August 15, 2010
And just a little further, to Curacao

August 01, 2010
Bonaire Diving

July 15, 2010
Then To Bonaire

July 01, 2010
Cruising Remote Venezuelan Isles

June 15, 2010
Cruising St. Vincent

June 01, 2010
Right Place, Right Time

May 15, 2010
The Spice Isle

May 01, 2010
To the Grenadines

April 15, 2010
We Be In Barbados Mon

April 01, 2010
Atlantic Passage Part II

March 15, 2010
Atlantic Passage Part 1

March 01, 2010
Provisioning for the Atlantic Crossing

February 15, 2010
Atlantic Crossing Preparations

February 01, 2010
Cruising the Canary Islands

January 15, 2010
Out Of Africa

January 01, 2010
Come With Me To The High Atlas Mountains.............

December 15, 2009
Two Years Of Mediterranean Sailing

December 01, 2009
Moving On To Morocco

November 18, 2009
Leaving The Med

November 13, 2009
Reaching The Rock Of Gibraltar Milestone

October 15, 2009
Sailing Spains Costa del Sol

October 01, 2009
Sailing Spains Costa del High-rise

September 15, 2009
Sailing The Spanish Isles

September 01, 2009
At Sea Or On The Hook, These Recipes Travel Well

August 15, 2009
An Interlude At Menorca

August 01, 2009
A Pleasant Passage To Menorca

July 15, 2009
The Agony And Ecstasy Of The Tunisian Coast

July 01, 2009
Tripping Around Tunisia

June 15, 2009
Tales From North Africa

June 01, 2009
Dont Freak If Your Fridge Fails

May 15, 2009
Into Africa

May 01, 2009
Meandering Around Malta, Then Off To Tunisia

April 15, 2009
Low-Tech DIY Ideas For The New Economy

April 01, 2009
The Med Set A Few Cruiser Profiles

March 15, 2009
That Sinking Feeling

March 01, 2009
Thailand to Oman: Three Passages, Three Ports

February 15, 2009
Doing Hard Time in Malta

February 01, 2009
Pirate Alley Part 2

January 15, 2009
Pirate Alley Part 1

January 02, 2009
So Many Islands, So Little Time

December 15, 2008
Cruising With The Bear

December 01, 2008
Versatile Vinegar, The Boaters Friend

November 15, 2008
What I Did In This Summer -- Dock Masters In paradise

November 01, 2008
Over The Top Of Oz

October 16, 2008
The Tumultuous Tasman

October 01, 2008
Sweet Memories Of The Splendid Surins

September 15, 2008
And Then We Were In Malta

September 01, 2008
Feel Frees Siracusan Story

August 15, 2008
The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

August 01, 2008
All Tied Up In The Ionians

July 15, 2008
A Greek Odyssey Our Journey to Ithaca

July 01, 2008
Anatomy of a Near Catastrophe

June 15, 2008
Good-bye Turkey, Hello Greece

June 01, 2008
More Winter Cruising in Turkey

May 15, 2008
Winter Cruising in Turkey

April 15, 2008
Talking Turkey: Marmaris Marina Living

April 15, 2008
The Joy Of The Side Trip

April 01, 2008
Return to Marmaris, And The Budget

March 15, 2008
Passing Time And Dodging The Meltemi

March 01, 2008
Home Sweet Home

February 15, 2008
A Little Working, A Little Cruising

February 01, 2008
Working Our Way Around The World

January 15, 2008
Welcome Aboard Feel Free

January 01, 2008
Liz Tosonis and Tom Morkins Feel Free

January 01, 2008
About Tom Morkin and Liz Tosoni

January 01, 2008
About Feel Free

January 01, 2008
Voyage Itinerary

April 15, 2012
It’s a Jungle Out There

By Liz Tosoni

Golfito Costa Rica

It’s a jungle out there. Yes, Feel Free and crew have arrived in lush, luxuriant, Costa Rica. We are anchored in Golfito (“little gulf”) at the southern end of the country, nestled securely, enveloped by steep, thickly forested hills that spill to the water’s edge, but for a narrow road fringing the shoreline.

Dotting that shoreline are colourful houses, restaurants and small marinas in tones of lemon yellow, pale peach, rust orange, mint green, eggshell white, blanched and weathered by the rays of the ever present tropical sunshine.

It’s a place of much activity with of local fish boats and fancy sports fishers alike, coming and going, the constant hum of cicadas buzzing, birds flying overhead, looping and diving.

Once ashore and hiking in the forest, it felt as though we’d been transported to the Garden of Eden.

Impossibly beautiful, exquisite flowers burst forth, seemingly everywhere.

Birds, large and diminutive, in flashes of bright color, chatted and darted, as if playing hide and seek. Monkeys also played games to avoid being seen, squabbling and communicating noisily, squealing and screeching.

The town of Golfito has her share of stories to tell, having been set up in 1938 by United Brands as a major banana port. Schools were built and doctors and police recruited, bringing prosperity and affluence to the area. The Company pulled out suddenly however, in 1985 because of “muchas problemas” to do with labor unions, social unrest and fluctuating banana prices. Then followed more problems in the form of rampant unemployment, alcoholism, prostitution, abandoned children and unruliness.

It was not so long ago known as one of the most unsavoury places in Costa Rica but today, it’s safe, clean, very friendly, and best of all for us, has a very secure anchorage. On a coast where many of the anchorages are open roadsteads, one that is protected from all directions is very much welcomed.

The distance from our anchorage in Panama, Las Brisas de Amador, to Golfito Costa Rica is 350 nautical miles. We did it comfortably in 12 days, making seven stops along the way including four islands, Otoque, Cebaco, Cavada and Partida, and three stops on the mainland side, Benao, Bahia Honda and Pavones .

We oozed along in variable winds, sometimes sailing, sometimes motoring. Occasionally the current was with us, occasionally against. Seas were gentle, skies blue, benign puffy clouds or wispy ones sometimes showing up as decorations, in quirky patterns like a painting by Escher. Nights were mostly calm, mornings generally brought easterlies, afternoons, westerlies.

Arriving in Pavones, our last stop before Golfito, was a bit hair raising. The day started at 0400 when we upped anchor, continuing on at a lazy pace with the usual easy conditions all the day long. We had reached Golfo Dulce (“sweet gulf”), and were about an hour away from dropping the hook at 2100 in the pitch black with only a finger nail moon, when winds picked up substantially and seas became choppy, really choppy, and then, a rain squall. Bad timing! Feel Free became a bucking bronco at the end of her long day. Tom steered us to what seemed to be a good spot in 30 feet on a falling tide while I dashed below in search of my seldom used foul weather jacket, then raced forward to wrestle with the anchor at the pitching bow, and finally dropped 150 feet of chain, then Tom put it in reverse to set it, under a curtain of rain. Aside from that little drama, sailing from Panama to Costa Rica was pretty peaceful.

With few boats making this run up the coast or down for that matter, it was a rather solitary existence with very little human contact. There was a cruising boat Libertad, at Benao, waiting for favourable conditions for their trip around Punta Mala and on to Panama. We chatted with them for a couple of hours. Then there was Domingo, an amiable, talkative (a mile a minute in Spanish) elderly gentleman who came by Feel Free in Bahia Honda, with bananas, lemons and coconuts for sale. The beach at Isla Partida was overflowing with guests from a small cruise ship, enjoying a shore lunch, so we had brief chats with a few of them as well.

Aside from those few human encounters though, Tom and I were on our own. Except for the dolphins, that is. We have entered the realm of the dolphins! I declared one day after yet another school swam alongside for a visit.

Feel Free was a dolphin magnet! They arrived sometimes in pairs, sometimes in small groups and sometimes in pods, dozens at a time, jumping out of the water like acrobats, cavorting, appearing to have a gay old time. We know that dolphins have to come to the surface to breathe but often, they seem to take advantage of the moment to leap high and clear, then plunge back into the water in perfect form, like they’re practising for the Olympics, or maybe just showing off for us?

They also appeared to get a great kick out of riding our bow waves. We’d see them off in the distance heading one way, then suddenly they’d change direction in unison, as if released by a latch, "they’re at the gates, they’re off"; then they’d gravitate, straight for the bow of Feel Free, engulfing us like a mob of zealous disciples, remaining, surfing, sometimes for a good half hour before resuming course, getting tired of the game.

That dark night, while heading into Pavones, just before the rain squall, we enjoyed a dolphin show of a different variety again. There was much phosphorescence or bioluminescence surrounding the boat as it moved through the water, at the bow and amidships, ribbons of sparkling light cascading in streams as ripples were made. It’s a dazzling sight to behold, and I am always thrilled when it happens but that night, some dolphins got in on the action. As they made their way toward the boat, their forms became lit up like giant Christmas tree lights. Once alongside, our dolphin friends swam as usual, taking occasional breaths, but this time they were luminous, their bodies glowing, sleek, moving light bulbs. It lasted only a short while but it was mesmerizing, magical. The wonders of nature never cease, so many hidden surprises.

Here’s a reflection of me in the water, taking a picture of Flipper (Flipper’s grandchild?). Which one is right side up? Tom and I were very confused when we first saw it, so I rotated it 180 degrees. Doesn’t Flipper appear to be returning my look, smirking, as if he knows me, saying ”Hey, long time no see. How’s it going guys?”