The trip from the Pearl Islands to Isle de Coiba took about 36 hours. It was an easy passage, as due to a lack of wind we motor sailed most of the journey. Therefore we could use the autopilot, so being on shift meant just hanging out on deck, reading, walking around, and checking the course and surroundings from time to time. The sea state was fairly calm, although the Pacific seems to constantly have large rolling waves. But due to their size, they are spread out and not as noticeable, despite being much larger than the Atlantic. Not sure how to explain it, but its definitely a different feel than the Caribbean side. Being that we only had a short passage, we stayed fairly close to land and most of the journey could see land off to our starboard side. I enjoyed being able to see the land- tall mountains with their peaks covered in clouds and small islands scattered along the shore. The morning we arrived to Coiba Kyle was on shift and I was on deck with him. It was a quiet morning and hundreds of dolphins, about 4 or 5 pods of 20-30 dolphin, were all around us. These were dolphin I had never seen before, not sure the official name, but we called them spotted dolphins as they were covered in white and gray speckles! Their top fin was much smaller than a bottlenose dolphin as well. They swam so close to the bow and the ones in the distance would jump and do flips in the air. It was a wonderful greeting to a beautiful island. Coiba is a preserve so there is no development other than the ranger station, and some old prison ruins. Approaching the island we could instantly hear the loud howler monkeys from the shore. Waking Max and Itai we chose a spot to anchor and dropped the hook.
We spent that day exploring the beautiful beach. Jungle lined the beach where we saw a couple monkeys, lots of birds, and climbed trees to get fresh coconut water. At low tide Kyle and I found a tidal pool under a cliff and cautiously walked across the rocks, marveling at the thousands of water snails covering the rocks. Little crabs with one huge claw scurried away from us as we walked the rocks. I loved how untouched the beach felt, other than our footprints, there seemed to be no evidence that anyone else had ever been there. And as soon as it rained, there would be no evidence we had ever been there.
The following morning we motored 3 miles to the other shore where we could see ruins from an old prison. The history of the island and the prison that was there up until a little over a decade ago is rather interesting, learn more here: https://the-line-up.com/coiba-island-prison/ Itai wanted to stay aboard and fish, so Max, Kyle, and myself rowed over to the shore hoping to explore the prison ruins. We were greeted by a Panamanian Military man who was nice and told us we couldn’t explore the ruins ourselves, but then called two younger guys over who weren’t dressed in uniforms but carried guns, to guide us around the ruins. For the next hour or so we wandered around the old prison and attempted to have conversations in our broken Spanish and their little bit of English. They were both very kind and we ended up picking mangos, these other really yummy red fruits, and drinking fresh water coming from a stream. I didn’t get many photos, but we were able to take a few at the end with the nice guys who guided us around. Waving goodbye we rowed back to the boat.
The plan was to leave around midnight that night so that we would get to Costa Rica during daylight. So I went to bed rather early in hopes of getting some rest before my 11pm shift. A storm rolled through around 5pm and brought loud thunders, amazing lightning, and lots of rain. I didn’t want to be on shift during the storm, so Max agreed to leave a little later, and around 2am Max and Itai lifted anchor and headed out in the tail end of the storm. By the time I was on shift next the rain had gone and the sky was clear. Again, we had little wind, so we motor sailed most of the way to Costa Rica. Halfway there, the engine shut down and there wasn’t a stitch of wind. While Max trouble shot the engine, we bobbed in the rolling waves. He found the problem to be dirty fuel, which caused the fuel filters to clog. Fortunately he had all the spares needed, and within an hour and some hot, smelly work on Max’s part the engine started again. This happened again, about 15 hours later, and he had to change the filters again. We found out that somewhere along the way we must have picked up dirty fuel. I was very thankful that Max was not only able to fix the engine underway, but had enough spares to get us safely to Costa Rica. Somewhere between the engine troubles our fresh water pump broke as well (clearly High Climber has traveled over 2,000 miles!) and again, Max had spares and Kyle was able to install a new water pump giving us access to our fresh water again. Other than those mishaps which were all quickly fixed, the journey was rather uneventful.
At 11pm Max woke me for my shift as we were just entering into the channel leading into Costa Rica. Although it was dark, I could make out the shapes of the mountains surrounding us as I guided us between the light houses marking the entrance. My shift was enjoyable as the stars were vivid and plenty above me. When I awoke around 7am we were just entering into the bay leading to Golfito. By 10am we were ashore, checked in, and enjoying free coffee, wifi, and showers at Banana Bay Marina.
Lori a sea turtle who has been visiting Banana Bay Marina for 10 years and loves bananas!
**We have been in Golfito, Costa Rica now for about 6 days. Itai left to head back to Isreal on Tuesday and Max, Kyle, and I took an awesome excursion to the rainforest which I’ll write about later. So far this is my favorite country we have visited and I am looking forward to spending the next 3 weeks in Costa Rica!**