Monday, November 24, 2008

Golf USNA Style

Jack, Dave, Sherry, and Jim

To round out the weekend, we went to the Cypress Wood Golf Course, a mile or so from Meg and Jack Moody's house in Winter Haven.

Mark (not shown) opted to just ride around and watch. Dave and I paired up against Jim and Jack in a 'Best Ball' competition. Dave was hot on the first 9, and we ended up several holes ahead. But then he got REAL cold, and Jim got hot. We ended up getting beat by 2 holes at the end of 18.

It was a BEAUTIFUL day on the golf course. Sunny, cool, not too windy. I love Central Florida at this time of the year!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Plant City Pig Jam

We have been doing a lot of stuff since we got back...Madly running to and fro to doctors and West Marine and Walmarts and eBay. We were scanned, prodded, poked, analyzed, and innoculated last week. But we managed to break away for a day at the Plant City Pig Jam.

Some of Dave's Naval Academy friends were having a mini reunion in Orlando. One of the guys is a videographer for BBQTV, and was going to be at the Pig Jam filming the BBQ teams. So he told us to come on down and we could hang out in the judging area. We learned a lot about BBQ competition judging, and got to experience the 'grazing table'.

Jim Neale with the Plant City Babes

All the Way from Alvarado Texas with Custom Smoker

These Guys are SERIOUS about their BBQ

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


We had an easy trip home from Golfito.

The hardest part was catching the 5am bus in Golfito, which picked us up in front of Tierra Mar. It was a nice 'express' bus, that goes direct to San Jose. Only $12 U.S. per person, each way.

We arrived in San Jose at the bus terminal about noon, and took a $2 taxi ride to our hotel in the Amon area of downtown San Jose. We had researched hotels and our choices in San Jose were $25-80 downtown or $50-$200 out by the airport. We opted for a $28 double at Tranquilo Backpackers. It was an OK place, price and location were great, beds were OK, and it comes with a free breakfast (cook your own pancakes and free coffee), but it was kind of run down and unkempt. But we like the backpacker places in general, because they are full of young eager budget travelers, and they are a great source of information for us in our budget travel.

Dave found another hostel just up the street, only $2 more a night, but much nicer. The Fairamon Hotel. We booked ourselve in there for the return trip in December. And, a bonus, they will buy our bus tickets in advance for us, for our return trip to Golfito. The bus company will only book 8 days in advance, and we were trying to figure out how to get bus tickets without being there.

The Spirit Airlines flight was OK, except of course for all the extra add-ons... $15 for the first piece of checked luggage and $25 for the second (for each person). $15 to reserve our seats ahead of time ($10 for an aisle, $5 for a center, and $15 for a window), and $5 for a can of apple juice on board. But the plane was new and well maintained, it left and arrived on time, and the landing was good.

We were excited to see the 'Welcome to the United States of America' sign as we entered Customs. I'd love to post a picture of it here, but I almost got arrested last time trying to take a picture of that sign with my cell phone. No picture taking allowed until you've exited Customs and Immigration!

We landed at 5:20 and by 6pm we were on the road in a Budget rental car. Our first stop was the BBQ place on SR 84 near I-95. Mmmmm... full rack of BBQ ribs! Easy drive up I-95 and arriving in Satellite Beach by 10pm.

Hugs all around for Nicki and Phil, whom I'll be staying with while Dave makes a quick trip to see his aunt and cousin Bryan in Largo. I have to report for jury duty on Weds, so I have to stay in the Melbourne area for this week at least. (Lucky timing, eh?)

We're looking forward to seeing all our Melbourne area friends at the ECSA meeting on Weds night and the MYC TGIF on Friday night. And I'm especially looking forward to sailing with her old crew in the ECSA Women's Race on Sunday.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Getting Ready to Leave the Boat

We have been working like dogs for the last week getting everything ready to leave the boat for 6 weeks, while we go for a visit in the U.S.

Things like 'pickling' the watermaker, putting all the sacrificial halyards on, putting covers on everything, and making lists and ordering stuff in the States. Plus of course, making travel reservations. For me, it also means making backups of all the computers and transferring myself from my big 17" laptop to the tiny laptop we travel with.

We have also been spending a lot of time working on our presentation for the SSCA Gam. We are on the official agenda for the 'Western Caribbean'. Not content to just do a travelogue, Dave has been driving us both crazy trying to put together a really good presentation about preparation, weather, etc. He is doing most of the work, but I'm his technical adivsor.

We have to catch the bus at 5am tomorrow for a 6 hour ride to San Jose. We could fly from here, but it's about $225 for the two of us, one way. For $25 we can take the bus. We'll still have about 24 hours in San Jose to look around a little.

So we spent all day today packing, unloading the fridge and freezer, and shutting down the boat.

Fortunately the ever-present torrential rain gave us break today. Everyone keeps telling me that October and early November are the worst months, and by late November it gets a lot better. By mid-December when we get back, it should be pretty good.

We are leaving the boat in Tim's at Land n Sea's capable hands, it is on a mooring, and it will be locked up tighter than a drum. So we're not too worried about leaving Soggy Paws. It'll be just another Quantum Leap for us, going back to the U.S.A.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mileage Update

So Far in 2008: Miles 2,983 Engine Hrs: 510
Since May 25, 2007: Miles 4,224 Engine Hrs: 685

Total Nights: May 25 - Oct 31 499
Nights Spent On Passage: 10
Nights Spent on Anchor: 229
Nights Spent on a Mooring: 10
Nights Spent in a Marina: 277
- 'Traveling Inland': 67
- In the U.S.: 58

These stats were originally started as a progress update sometime early this year. But I finally went back through our logbook and filled out a proper spreadsheet on a month-by-month basis from the beginning of the trip. We'll try to keep it up monthly. You can see the result at

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Gators 49 - Bulldogs 10

Photo courtesy

We enjoyed listening to the Gators stomp the Georgia Bulldogs (an internet Gator Radio Network feed). I am happy.

Unfortunately, the Seminoles fumbled their winning touchdown in the endzone with 45 seconds to go. Dave is sad.

Golfito, Costa Rica - First Impressions

Current Position: 08-37.280N 83-09.153W

Our first impressions of Golfito are kind of mixed.

The Good: It is a wonderful protected anchorage. No rolly stuff here. The hills are very green and when the sun shines it is a beautiful place. It is wonderfully cool at night. U.S. Dollars are accepted as readily as Colones, the local currency.

The Bad: The sun doesn't shine often! And the town is a little squalid. This is an abandoned banana town--Created by United Fruit when the workers got too uppity on the Caribbean coast. When the bottom fell out of the banana market in the 1980's, they left here abruptly. The town now survives off of tourism, a free trade zone, and fishing. The coming of the gringos has provided jobs, but has also caused prices in Costa Rica to rise, so it's no longer an inexpensive Central American country.

As for the rain, it IS rainy season here. But I'm told that there is no 'dry season'. There is a 'less rainy season'. But that's what feeds the rainforests and the eco-tourism that Costa Rica is so famous for. It's just kind of miserable to have overcast and drizzle all the time.

We are on an $8/day mooring at Land n Sea. This is a tiny establishment run by a former cruiser, with a small dock, about 8 moorings, and a help-yourself bar. If you are on one of their moorings you get free wifi ;) and free cold showers :0

During rainy season, most cruisers that are hanging out in this part of the world move to Ecuador, south of the equator, where it's less rainy. And the boats that ARE here are mostly empty right now. So there isn't much 'cruiser social life'. No potlucks, no VHF net.

We leave for San Jose on the 9th, and fly to the U.S. on the 10th. We will hire Tim at Land n Sea to watch over our boat for another $2/day. There is a fairly high crime rate in Golfito, but Tim lives on the houseboat right next door, and he says he has a reputation among the locals as a crazy man with a machete.

Our check-in to Costa Rica in Golfito was a bit of a nightmare. There are 4 stops you have to make (and some backtracking), and none of the 4 places are within walking distance of each other. And none are within walking distance of the marinas. We did: Port Captain, Copy Place, Immigration, Agriculture, Customs, back to the boat for paperwork shuffle, back to Customs, and then a final stop at the Port Captain. We hit a snag at Customs when the lady checked our boat documentation and noticed
that it was going to expire the next day. We explained that the new certificate was with our mail in Florida, and we were going to Florida next week to pick it up. Then she started talking about having to bond the boat and other things we didn't understand (in rapid Spanish). We asked if we could have the new certificate faxed down, and that wasn't good enough. Finally I asked if a color scan of the new certificate, emailed to us and printed out for them, would be sufficient. She relunctantly
agreed. Then it was 3 phone calls to Bryan, Dave's cousin (who couldn't figure out how to scan the document in any format larger than 4x6). But finally Bryan got us what we needed and Dave had to report to Customs at 8am with the update.

There were no fees except the $43 'quarantine' fee at the Agriculture office. They (fortunately) don't come out to the boat or do anything but fill out a few more forms. She wanted to know how many refrigerators we had and how many trash cans. Dave protested the fee, but she was adamant that it was the law. (But Tim at Land n Sea says the boats coming south into Costa Rica don't pay that fee).

So now we are trying to catch up on our internet (correspondence, banking, blog pics, travel research and arrangements), prepping the boat for our absence, and getting ready for America.

But today...we are hoping to find a bar in town where we can watch the Gators stomp Georgia this afternoon. GO GATORS!