Thursday, November 24, 2016

Panama-Mexico Wrap Up

Sorry to have taken a break from blogging and leaving you all hanging in the middle of us preparing the boat for storage at Puerto Chiapas.  Here's the wrap up of our six week Panama-to-Mexico journey.

We finished with the boat with enough time to take a short land trip back to our favorite town in Mexico, San Cristobal de Las Casas. We rented a car this time to cut down on travel time, a five-plus hour drive versus a 10-plus hour bus ride. We found a great Airbnb, a spacious apartment with a rooftop terrace right in the center of town, $100 for three nights! We enjoyed the cool weather, walking around town, eating delicious food, good wine, good coffee, local hot chocolate and wandering around the handicraft market. It was a really nice way to end our trip and I used it as an opportunity to recover some from my birthday failure earlier in the month with Renee.

Renee proved her mettle once again while we were taking a short hike along a river just outside of town. We were standing on a little platform overlooking the river above where it entered a cave, about 12 feet above the water and Renee reached for her phone to take a picture. The phone fell out of her pocket and into the river where it sunk rapidly. I figured the phone was a goner and started to console Renee, but before I got any words out, she had stripped to her underwear and was wading in the cold water trying to recover the phone. I believed her efforts to futile and was beginning to get honestly concerned about hypothermia when she ducked under the water and came up clutching the phone in its waterproof case. Amazing! 

We drove back from San Cristóbal on Thursday, November 17 to take care of a few loose ends on Intermezzo, including removing the damaged port propeller so I can repair it back home. On Friday morning, we boarded our flights back to the US, Renee heading to California and me to the DC area for the Thanksgiving holidays.

On reflection, I really enjoyed this segment of our journey. It got off to a rocky start with so many boat issues to deal with while adjusting back to life at sea, but cruising the remote islands of northern Panama was fantastic. The weather was much cooler than I expected, there were virtually no mosquitos, the scenery was amazing and I enjoyed the peaceful isolation. Once we got north of the monsoon trough, the sailing became much more enjoyable and the weather was fantastic. Renee and I both enjoyed the multiple day passages north to Mexico and we both felt a bit sorry the trip was over as we entered the channel to Puerto Chiapas as the boat  and life on the water felt like home again. Getting the boat ready for storage again was again a rocky process for me (I realize now I don't deal with land-sea transitions very well!), but our short trip to San Cristóbal smoothed things out.

I'm glad to be with friends and family for the holidays, but not sure as to whether I'm back home here or away from home on Intermezzo. I'm grateful for it all, regardless.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Intermezzo being hauled out for dry storage at Puerto Chiapas

Heading from Tapachula to the cool mountains of San Cristóbal de las Casas

San Cristobal from the rooftop terrace of our Airbnb

Women from the village of Chumala in their traditional clothes

The wine bar Vino Bacca in San Cristóbal. A glass of a delicious Reserve Carmenere from Chile for $2.75! Warm, friendly, youthful energy, too!

Renee enjoying the wine bar

This place has the best hot chocolate made from local cocoa. We had cups after dinner every night. The friendly guy behind the counter remembered us from our previous visit in February.

The cave at El Arcotete, just outside of San Cristóbal.  Much cooler temperature than at the boat!

The platform from which Renee dropped her phone and the river from which she subsequently recovered it.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Puerto Chiapas: Preparing the Boat, Again

We arrived at Puerto Chiapas early Wednesday morning. It was an enjoyable passage and I was a bit sorry that it was over and that sailing is now over for a couple of months.

We had nothing but satellite communication for the election on Tuesday. All our news came in via short texts. We were shocked by the outcome. I am going to keep this blog completely apolitical, other than to say that I'm not sure I would be unhappy staying on this side of Trump's wall for the next four years. I appreciate how affordable everything is here after the peso's post-election plunge in value, but take no joy from the reason why.

We are busy preparing the boat to haul it out and store it on land until we resume sailing in February. The haul out is scheduled for Monday.  Today we washed the exterior of the boat, prepared the watermaker for storage, cleaned and covered the dinghy and made good progress on cleaning and "pickling" the interior of the port hull by wiping it down with vinegar to prevent mold and mildew. The pickling worked pretty well for four months in super-moist, rainy season Costa Rica, so I'm hoping that it will work really well for two months in less-moist, dry season Mexico.

Mexico seems so big, modern and affluent after spending so much time in Central America.

I'm sorting through pictures and will post soon.

Monday, November 7, 2016

In Route to Puerto Chiapas:: Delay, Squall, and a Sea Turtle Rescue

Officials were scheduled to arrive yesterday at Puesta del Sol at 8 a.m.. Just after eight, the marina manager let me know that they hadn't left their respective headquarters in Corinto and would arrive around 10. Then it would be noon. Shortly after noon, the marina manager looked at me apologetically and said it lo is like they might not make it today and you won't be able to leave until tomorrow. And then, just before three o'clock they showed up!

We cleared out of Nicaragua, topped up the fuel tanks from the pump at the fuel dock (no jugs, grunting, or moaning) and were out on the ocean at 4:30. Considerably later than planned and the good part of a day wasted sitting waiting on the boat, but a walk in the park compared to Costa Rica.

The sea was smooth, the sky sunny and clear, with a gentle wind that didn't help us or hurt us. We were treated to a beautiful sunset and enjoyed finishing the leftover gourmet Thai curry on the lanai. (Intermezzo's cockpit is more like a porch than a place from which one operates a boat.)

Around 10:30 that night Renee was on watch with me sound asleep below when she noticed big thunderclouds in the night sky and lots of rain showing up on radar. When she went below to shut a couple of portlights the wind was blowing seven knots. Several seconds later when she came back on deck, it was howling at 35 knots. Our first significant squall of the trip.

She called for me to come up on deck and I promptly arrived in my only underwear to assess the situation. It was windy, there were some decent wind waves, it was raining and it was chilly outside wearing only underwear, so I didn't stay long. The boat was managing well and while Renee was a bit apprehensive, she had matters well in hand so I asked her if it was okay for me to go back to bed. I would have stayed up but I thought it better to let Renee figure out that she was doing fine on her own. I got up about a half hour later to check on her and she was ar ease and confident, even as the wind continued to howl and the boat tossed around by the short but violent sea. I went back to sleep; I can sleep through just about anything save for the boat sinking or exploding or the jib sheets rattling in the way I just cannot stand.

The squall lasted about an hour and then was over almost as quickly as it started and the rest of the night was uneventful.

Today was a glorious day. Sunny, a light blue clear sky and a calm deep blue sea. The gentle wind was from the SSW a good part of the day allowing us to motorsail and run the engine slow and quietly. Renee caught four nice skipjack tuna that we turned loose because we don't really like the strong flavor and tough texture of this member of he tuna species. Our watches were pleasant and we got some naps, reading and writing in while off watch.

Just after lunch, Renee spotted a sea turtle tangled up in fishing gear and a plastic bottle float. She said, "Let's save it!" and we sprung into action. we furled the sail, I turned the boat around and Renee got her fishing lines in. I eased the boat up near to the turtle and Renee hauled in hundreds of feet of polypropylene cord to which monofilament lines with hooks were attached at intervals, bringing the turtle and the bottle float closer to the boat. The polypropylene cord was wrapped around one of the turtles fins, attaching it to the giant mess of fishing tackle now lying on Intermezzo's deck. The turtle was obviously in distress and the cord had cut into the flesh of its fin, but it wasn't too bad. Renee talked to the turtle to keep it calm, although I question if a turtle off the coast of El Salvador understands English. I would have spoken to it in Spanish. But that is my only critique. Otherwise Renee worked quickly, gently and efficiently, hooking the cord with t
he gaff (tip protector on) to lift it clear of the turtle's fin and then cutting it with a stout pair of scissors, her bare hand only inches from the turtle's sharp beak. (I added that last bit for dramatic effect. The turtle had been calmed by Renee's soothing voice, even though it was in the wrong language.) The turtle swam away, free and with only a minor wound. It was a very rewarding diversion on a beautiful day at sea We saved a rare creature's life and done a tiny bit of good for the planet, though I use "we" generously. It was Renee who spotted it, called us to action and took charge of the rescue. I mostly watched, took a few pictures and muttered a few comments about speaking the correct language to the animal. Renee earned the good turtle karma today.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Puesta del Sol: Good Times, Only One Leg Left To Go

Our passage to Puesta del Sol turned out great. We sailed nine hours of the 36 hour journey, a ratio we haven't achieved for...well I don't remember when! When the wind wasn't propelling us, it wasn't hurting us any. There was a gentle swell but otherwise the seas were calm. The weather pleasant night and day, with a beautiful sunset, a night sky of bright stars and a soft pastel sunrise with a volcano as a backdrop. The trip reminded me of why I love sailing so much.

We celebrated Renee's birthday en route. A pretty dismal performance on my part, as I had made no preparations, either before leaving for the voyage or while on shore at Playa de Cocos. The best I could do was cook her a nice dinner, toast her with a beer, pretend there was a candle on a coconut macaroon and sing her Happy Birthday in my best voice. I put everything I had into the singing. I wish I had a better voice. She was generous in her appreciation, but I feel guilty about coming up so short for the occasion.

Originally we had only planned to stop overnight in Puesta del Sol to rest and refuel. As we approached the mouth of the estuary, I remembered how nice a place it is. When I was here in April, I was by myself, feeling pretty lonely and while I enjoyed the large, pretty estuary and deserted ocean beach, my appreciation was subdued by loneliness. Now I had somebody to show around and it seemed like a good idea to take an extra day to do so. So we're staying two days and will depart for Mexico on Sunday afternoon.

Yesterday (Friday) after we arrived, officially checked in to Nicaragua (so, so, so much easier than Costa Rica) and got the boat squared away, I hung out at the pool buying Mexican liability insurance online over a very slow internet connection. It took a couple of hours but I managed to keep my cool. Partly by jumping into the pool. Renee decided to use the marina/hotel's washing machines to do laundry; why, I"m not sure, but whatever floats your boat. It turns out the washing machines worked about as well as the Internet connection, so we both burned up most of the afternoon. We took a swim at the end of the day and then had a satisfactory dinner at the hotel restaurant. We had a nice relaxing time but it is always a little disappointing to me when the food you get at a restaurant isn't anywhere near as good as you can cook yourself. Well, at least I didn't have to swelter at the stove and there we no dishes to do.

Today we spent most of the day walking along the mostly deserted beach, enjoying the opportunity to stretch our legs after so many days on the boat. We had a few miles of beach all to ourselves, save for a couple of surfers, a small group of guys playing soccer and half a dozen tourists who mysteriously appeared for a short while. The far end of the beach is an expanse of smooth rocks that form a network of tide pools. Renee hopped around the rocks collecting shells while I did yoga on a flat spot of dense sand. It was a good day.

Tonight, I cooked a nice Thai curry, using a fantastic curry past direct from Thailand and Red Boat fish sauce (the best!). Way, way, way better than the restaurant.

Tomorrow we start the last leg of this segment of our journey north. I realized a few days ago that I had reconnected with the boat, sailing and life afloat, everything feeling comfortable and natural again after a somewhat rocky start. I'm looking forward to getting back to the U.S. to visit loved ones and for the holidays, but know I'm going to miss Intermezzo and my seaborne life, too.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Playa de Cocos to Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua: What a Difference a Trough Makes

After taking a little time to recover from our Costa Rica Nightmare, we raised anchor in Playa de Cocos at 7 p.m. yesterday evening to resume our passage northward, the destination of this leg being Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua. If you have been following this blog since Spring, you might recall this is where I left Intermezzo to do a three week land tour of Nicaragua in April and where my daughter joined me at the beginning of May to sail to Costa Rica.

It's now Thursday morning (Renee's birthday!) We are about half way to Puesta del Sol. The passage has been calm and peaceful. We enjoyed two hours of quiet sailing under the Code 0, but the rest of the time it has been motoring with the engine chugging along at relatively low rpms.

As with a lot of things related to sailing in new places, I am learning about tropical weather patterns as I go. I have been reading weather synopses for this region, but it has been a bit of a learning curve to understand how the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and the Monsoon Trough relate to our local weather conditions and to draw a mental picture of where these two phenomena are located relative to our position based on a few latitude/longitude coordinates provided in the offshore weather report. But I finally think I figured it out.

The ITCZ is where winds from the equator and the subtropical high pressure to the north converge. This convergence results in the doldrums, where there is little or no wind and convection in this zone is one of the reasons for the thunderstorms we have been experiencing. The Monsoon Trough is associated with the ITCZ and is a line (usually not a straight one) of low pressure.

The Monsoon Trough is what has been affecting us the most. It is currently located between 8 and 10 degrees north latitudes. The difference and gradient between the high pressure areas to the north and south of the trough determine the strength of the winds. The pressure gradient towards the equator has been steeper than the pressure gradient to the north. Thus, when were south of the trough in Panama, we experienced the strong southwest-west winds that resulted in the spirit-sucking bash, bash, bashing. Now that we are north of 10 degrees latitude, in a much more gentle pressure gradient, the winds are much lighter resulting in calmer seas. If I had figured this out sooner, I would have known there was a light at the end of the tunnel while we were bashing our way northward.

From here to Mexico, the weather we need to watch carefully are the Papagayo winds. These winds originate in the Gulf of Mexico, crossing a narrow isthmus in Costa Rica-Nicaragua and blowing down the mountains into the sea from the east. These winds can be very strong, typically in the winter months. For us, it looks like we will get some good Papagayo winds this weekend,19-25 knots from the East-Northeast, which should make for a great beam reach sailing to Puerto Chiapas. That would be a great way to wind up the last leg of our journey.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Playa de Cocos: My Costa Rica Nightmare

Conditions on our passage from Golfito to Bahia Culebra continued to improve. They had started off miserable when we left on Sunday morning. By Sunday evening, they became tolerable. Overnight, the seas calmed and the wind shifted south, enough so that we got a nice boost from the jib and could throttle back the engine to reducing fuel consumption and noise, yet still make better than 5 knots speed. Monday evening, they became enjoyable, the wind now coming out of the southeast with a gentle southwest swell. For an hour, we actually turned off the engines and sailed downwind under the Code 0, which brought a smile to my face. The wind eventually died down and we had to resume motoring, but we had a favorable current and made 5 knots with one engine rumbling gently at 2,000 rpm. What a relief.

On Tuesday morning, we entered Bahia Culebra and headed to Marina Papagayo to refuel. It was a beautiful morning, Renee and I were in good spirits. Things were looking up. And then our Costa Rica Nightmare began.

Our intent was to just stop at the marina to refuel and then anchor overnight to get some rest, just like we did in Golfito on the way to and from Panama. Marina Papagayo is a pretty swanky place, so I hailed them on the radio to let them know I was arriving, wanted to buy fuel, and let them direct me to the appropriate fuel dock. Instead of being welcomed and accommodated, they asked me, "Have you cleared into Costa Rica yet?" I told them, no, I haven't because we are a yacht in transit and were stopping only to refuel, not stay in Costa Rica or go ashore. They told me that they could not provide any fuel unless I could provide documents proving that I had officially cleared into Costa Rica. I told them this was a surprise and a problem for us and asked them if they could make an exception. They told me no, in no uncertain terms, and that if I wanted to buy fuel I had turn around and go back 5 miles to Playa de Coco and clear in with the Port Captain.

I duly turned the boat around and headed to Playa de Coco, resigned to spending the day dealing with officials. There was really no legitimate option, as we didn't have enough fuel to safely navigate to our next refueling/rest stop in Nicaragua. I was a little bit worried because, technically, Intermezzo needed to be out of Costa Rica for 90 days before the boat was allowed to re-enter the country and it had only been 32 days since we cleared out of Puntarenas. I wasn't overly concerned because all the documentation I had received was all handwritten and the whole clearing in/clearing out process seemed very antiquated and didn't seem to involve computers, electronic records or databases with the exception of immigration, who runs a quick electronic check of your passport to see if you are a fugitive, terrorist or other "person of interest".

After anchoring the boat off Playa de Coco, we landed the dinghy on the beach during low tide, which meant we had to haul it 30 yards up the beach for when the tide came in. The dinghy weighs close to 300 pounds and we haven't put wheels on it (yet), so it requires the two of us dragging it through the sand with all our might, three feet at a time. A good analogy for our 30 yard struggle is like being offensive linemen in a football game blocking for three first downs of grunting short yardage running plays. Thankfully, Renee and I have the strength and stamina (and good looks!) of people 20 years younger and got our dinghy to the goal posts working hard, but without killing ourselves.

We cleaned ourselves up and proceeded to the Port Captain's office. I explained our circumstances to her (the first female Port Captain in Cost Rica) and asked, "Surely a yacht doesn't have to go through the entire clearing in process just to buy 50 gallons of diesel?" She answered, "Surely, it does." Bummer. Hannah and I had cleared Intermezzo into Costa Rica at Playa de Coco back in May, so I knew the process. It takes most of day, primarily because it requires a trip to the airport and back to clear customs which takes about two hours. Renee and I resigned ourselves to spending the day doing this and then refueling in the morning, comforted somewhat by the availability of good restaurants and a high quality grocery store on shore for us to visit.

Our first stop after the Port Captain was the Immigration office, a quarter mile walk up the main street. Getting our passports stamped and the other required documents went pretty smoothly, although there was a nerve wracking ten minutes spent dealing with the fact that one document from Panama said there was no crew, just a captain on Intermezzo and another listed Renee as crew. Hard to believe we might not have been allowed to enter Costa Rica due to such a technicality, but it took some serious negotiating in Spanish to convince the official that her nation's security would not be compromised by Renee stepping foot ashore. As to me, well, I was unambiguously listed on both Panamanian forms so she could confidently stamp my passport and then I could wreak whatever havoc I wanted to.

After Immigration, it was back to the Port Captain's office, stopping briefly for smoothies and wifi on the walk back. She prepared some more papers and then it was off to the airport to get clearance from Customs. The normal taxi fare for the 15 minute trip to the airport is $40, but I knew from my previous visit that this was the "gringo fare". It took us a little while, but Renee found a taxi that would take us for $20. We clambered into the cab and sped off.

Once at the airport, you need to know that to see Customs, you need to talk to a policeman at the exit for arriving passengers. I not only knew this, but I even knew the policeman, having chatted with him while I waited for almost an hour for Customs on my previous visit. This time, the Customs official, a very serious young woman, came out after only a 15 minute wait and I filled out the required forms and gave her all the required documents, upon which she returned to her official lair behind the doors. About 20 minutes later she returned looking even more serious with what to me was a distasteful expression on her face. Not good.

Apparently Costa Rica's Custom agency does have a database for visiting yachts and Intermezzo was in it, clearly recorded as having only been out of Costa Rica for 32 days, not the required 90. Ms. Uptight Customs Official told me that she could not clear the boat into Costa Rica. I explained to her that I wasn't trying to clear the boat into Costa Rica, I just needed to buy fuel so I could safely navigate out of the country. I only needed Customs clearance for a few hours, surely she could give me a document to allow that? She responded, "Surely, I cannot."

I explained to her the impossibility of the situation. I couldn't leave Costa Rica without fuel to get me to my next port. But I couldn't buy fuel until I officially entered Costa Rica, which she wouldn't allow. I explained that it is common for yachts in transit to stop to buy fuel without fully clearing in to a country, just like passengers in an airport make connecting flights without going through immigration or customs. She didn't budge. I explained that it would be unsafe for me as a captain to take the boat and its crew out to sea without sufficient fuel. She didn't care. She told me that it wasn't Custom's role to figure this out, that it was the Port Captain's. I will refrain any commentary regarding this fucking stupid ignorant irresponsible response.

We negotiated another "local fare" taxi ride back to the Port Captain's office. I explained what had happened at Customs. The Port Captain spent the first five minutes explaining how her hands were tied, that without Customs clearance, she couldn't issue the documents needed to purchase fuel, without those documents the marina wouldn't sell me the fuel and that I was, using my words, truly fucked. I looked at her and, with complete sincerity in my voice and expression, apologized for not understanding the regulations, making a mistake and for bringing such a problem to her. I told her I couldn't leave without fuel and asked if she could do anything to help me.

In reality, we could have just gone underground and abandoned proceeding legitimately. We still had documents from Panama that would allow us to enter another country. We could get our passports stamped for leaving Costa Rica without involving Customs or the Port Captain. We could buy fuel jugs and get a ride to a gas station to buy fuel. And then we could just leave. But I really didn't want to have to deal with jugs of fuel and there was a very slight risk that if we somehow got caught, the boat could be seized. I'm also not sure how I would have left the Port Captain's office without arousing suspicion that I was going to go illegal.

The Port Captain looked at me, realized how stupid the situation was and started making phone calls to figure out how to solve this ridiculous dilemma and send me and my boat safely on our way. She rolled her eyes at me during her calls to the Custom's office, clearly frustrated at their ignorance of maritime matters and safety. It took about an hour, but she figured out a solution.

Here is how you buy fuel in Costa Rica when your boat isn't allowed by Customs to enter the country, a nightmare to be avoided if at all possible:

1. Get another taxi to the airport. This time I was able to negotiate a $45 round trip, including waiting.
2. Send your crew off to buy fuel jugs in the pouring rain.
3. Visit Customs at the airport again. Have Ms. Uptight Customs Official, with a truly sour look on her face and with palpable resentment, issue a document that says Customs has no objection to your boat leaving the Costa Rica because her boss instructed her to do so.
4. Take the taxi back to town and meet your resourceful crew who has procured four 30 liter fuel jugs from the hardware store.
5. Negotiate with the taxi driver to bring you and your fuel jugs to the gas station just outside of town, fill the jugs, and bring you back.
6. Unload the fuel jugs in the rain that is now coming down in buckets. Take refuge in a beachfront bar to catch your breath and wait for the rain to subside, where the waiter ignores you the entire time and you give up on getting a beer.
7. Carry the four jugs, weighing 55 lbs each, the 150 yards to the beach.
8. Drag your dinghy in the rapidly failing evening light into the water, pull it through the breaking surf, help your crew member aboard and anchor it in chest deep water.
9. Carry each of the four 55 lb jugs 50 yards down the beach, through the surf, through the chest deep water and, with a mighty grunt, hoist them over the gunwhales of the dinghy for your crew to receive them.
10. Since you started the day wanting to look presentable for government officials, do all of the above wearing good clothes and getting them sweaty, soaking wet and tainted wth diesel fuel.
11. When the last jug is hoisted into the dinghy, with a final hearty grunt, hoist yourself into the dinghy and motor back to the boat in the now dark anchorage.
12. Unload the four jugs from the dinghy to the boat, with more of a low moan than a grunt for this operation.
13. Strip off your sweaty, wet, diesel-tainted, once-nice clothes and take a hot shower while your amazing crew member washes such clothes in an attempt to save them.
14. Gratefully permit your crew member to take a hot shower while you drink a glass of Scotch instead of eating dinner.
15. Have you stomach inform you shortly thereafter that drinking the Scotch after sailing for 48 hours, being awake since 3 a.m., dealing with the righteously sour and truly unpleasant Ms. Uptight Customs Official, lugging 220 lbs of diesel across land and through the water wasn't such a good idea and that you should either go to bed or puke. Go to bed.
16. The next morning, take the dinghy back to the beach, haul it for only one first down this time as the tide is going out and walk to Immigration to get your passports stamped for leaving Costa Rica.
17. Realize during your walk that you left your most precious hat somewhere the day before. Feel the loss, but admit that you are not a responsible enough person with respect to hats to become attached to one ever again.
18. Get the passport stamped, this time without controversy, but still over a 30 minute process involving filling out four forms, all with the same information.
19. While you continue to deal with officialdom, have your crew go to the high quality grocery store to buy provisions.
20. Go the bank to pay the fee for your "International Zarpe", the document that allows the boat to leave Costa Rica and enter your next foreign port. This involves first sitting at a desk while a bank employee fills out forms, then waiting in line to pay the fee, plus a commission to the bank for giving you such a pleasure in the morning.
21. Walk back to the Port Captain's office. Walk gingerly, because you spent the whole day yesterday and the morning walking in sandy flip-flops which have rubbed spots on the top of your feet painfully raw.
22. Enter the Port Captain's office to her pleasantly smiling face and her finger pointing to your precious hat sitting on her desk. You aren't responsible, but you are lucky with respect to your precious hat. Triumphantly inform her you have successfully completed everything per her instructions. She is pleased to issue you your International Zarpe, you thank her profusely and she wishes you a good voyage.
23. Meet your crew member at a restaurant for breakfast, enjoyed with feelings of great relief.
24. Walk back to the dinghy, stopping off to give a small box of imported chocolates to the Port Captain as a "thank you" gift.
25. Haul the dinghy to the water for two first downs, as the tide has gone out since the first quarter.
26. Siphon 120 liters of fuel from the four jugs into the boat's tanks without causing an environmental accident but succeeding in spilling small amounts of diesel on the deck that need to be cleaned up in a responsible manner. This is why I didn't want to deal with jugs of fuel and prefer fuel docks.
27. Clean up, stow the jugs and enjoy a cold beer.

This was my Cost Rica Nightmare, mentally and physically torturous and exhausting. All for no sane reason. In hindsight, we would have saved quite a bit of time and money by going "rogue". We ended up having to deal with jugs of fuel anyway going the legit route.

Costa Rica is a beautiful country. The people are friendly (save for a certain Customs official). But compared to its neighboring countries, it is an abjectly unfriendly place for boats due to its regulations, bureaucracy and high costs. All told, I spent over $2,000 in costs and fees just to satisfy official requirements with entering, staying in and leaving Cost Rica.

We're leaving Cost Rica this evening for Nicaragua. A much easier place to buy fuel on our way to Mexico.