We chose to do another two night passage to get past the Papagayo winds. Like the Tehuantepec, the Papagayo winds originate in the Caribbean and intensify when they funnel through the mountain ranges of Central America. Passing over Lake Nicaragua and into the bay winds can top 40 knots and we wanted no part of that. We also heard the winds can pick up unexpectedly. Picking a long calm window, we scheduled our bar crossing for April 15th at 9:30 am. As with entering Bahia del Sol, we had to leave on a high slack tide with a pilot escort to get safely over the bar. Our exit was much less dramatic than our entry and we motored out through a few large rollers. Other than hitting some confused seas for four hours, the passage was uneventful. Was sorry to pass Nicaragua by, but we plan to sail up the east coast of Central America so will catch it then.
We arrived in Bahia Culebra 268 nm away in 46 hours. Checking in to the country on the northern end is a bit of a hassle. You either anchor off Coco Beach, dinghy in through the surf hoping not to get tossed out, run around town to the various offices including a taxi ride out to the airport for immigration or for $350.00 work with an agent who brings immigration and the port captain to your boat at Marina Papagayo. I’m all for saving money but it was pretty much a no brainer for us to hire the agent. Since the agent needs 48 hours notice and you can’t get off your boat at the marina until you are checked in (we are so not in Mexico anymore), we opted to anchor out the two nights before our appointment enjoying the warm clean waters off the boat. We were in a little bay 2 nm across from the marina, but for some reason we didn’t have cell service. We are so happy we invested in the Iridium Go satellite connection. Not only does it provide us weather during passages but I was able to secure the services of the agent, email him all the information needed to complete our paperwork, and I let the marina know we would be arriving two days behind schedule. And using the free minutes our plan provides, I had a phone conversation with our sister-in-law, Bonnie to get an update on Gary’s Mom. Being in contact with family is important and this is a great backup when we have no cell service.
Marina Papagayo is probably the best kept facility we have been in yet. We have a nice pool, small restaurant, laundry, gym, TV room with more channels then we care to watch and a pool table. The only downside is we are not close to town for grocery shopping. We have a few boat chores to do, Gary needs to get over a cold he somehow caught and we plan on renting a car and seeing this country. We have wanted to visit since the 80’s and we are finally here.