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
AWAY to the ANDAMANs


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?”