Thursday, November 4, 2010

What’s Been Occupying our Thoughts Lately

The reports out of Central America, but particularly that paradise known as Costa Rica, recently are not pretty for cruisers.  Thefts are on the rise, and the saying goes that in Costa Rica it is no longer a crime, but rather it’s an art form.  The police are said to be corrupt and in on many of the thefts.  Dinghies have been stolen right off of the davits (those are the arms that stick out at the back of your boat that hold up your 300 lb. dinghy out of the water with rope). Just a couple of weeks ago, there was a piracy reported as follows:

“Last night was both exciting and costly for us here in Costa Rica. We were anchored off the beach at a resort town of Quepos. About 7:30pm while it was dark and we were below watching a movie, we were silently boarded by 6 or more heavily armed bandits carrying shotguns and pistols. They had been observing us for two days it appears. We were duck taped and because they were worried about me I received extra tape plus electrical ties and had two armed guys watching me. They took our 3 computers, cash, and all the boat electronics including radar, chart plotter, 2 ham radios, boat vhf radio, 2 handheld vhf radios, a Pactor modem, inverter, 3 cell phones, 2 handheld lights, and our copy machine. One of the bandits was crazy and probably on drugs, waiving a knife and pistol and constantly making threats. They also took our large dingy but I was able to recover it on the rocks by the beach later. They tried to steal the engine but it was too heavy. We have filed the police reports but have little hope of seeing the items again. The most important thing is that Clark, myself and a guest are still alive especially since I gave them a hard time. Our plan is to initially get a handheld vhf and gps. With those and our paper charts we can continue. We will gradually replace the stolen items as we progress along. We will also now move at least every two days in case we are surveiled again. To say we are disappointed in Costa Rica is to put it mildly. Until I get a new notebook computer we will be limited to Internet cafes- Until we replace the Ham radio we will be off the net.
Just another exciting day!
Crazy Bruce and Clark
Two Amigos - a lighter boat now.”

The report was made with a bizarre tone, and there is speculation about why this particular boat was targeted, but nonetheless, it is a frightening prospect.  The cruising forums for Central America have been discussing deterrents, such as alarm systems being used a boat, weapons being kept at various locations on the boat, and not leaving your boat after darkness.  Hmph. That is not the way we had hoped to spend our cruising time.

We have begun to seriously reconsider our plans.  We could just stay in Mexico, which has been ironically safe and friendly to cruisers (in direct contrast to what the American/Canadian media report), and take our time making our way back up the Baja peninsula to bring the boat back to northern CA.  Or, we could continue heading south into Guatemala and El Salvador, and then turn around and head north, making our way back up the Baja peninsula to bring the boat back to northern CA.  Or, we could continue heading south into Central America, dash through Costa Rica and end up in Panama, which is supposed to be beautiful and safe and interesting and fun.  With this option, we’d have to figure out what to do with the boat at the end of August 2011 as we wouldn’t have time to bring it back to northern CA by sailing it.  And finally, there is the option of heading to the South Pacific.

This last option is our favorite.  The problem is, as with so many things in life, the lack of time.  It would take us 3 weeks to get there (yes, that’s right, 3 weeks at sea without seeing land).  Plus, we couldn’t leave until mid-March at the earliest due to weather and seasons, and that would leave us only 4 months to travel about 7500 miles total.  Likely 25% of that time would be making passages to the next destination.  Do we rush through what may in fact be the most beautiful part of the world, a part we may never again have an opportunity to visit, or do we go south and hope that we get to the South Pacific at another point in our lives? We have put out ‘feelers’ into the ‘Pacific Puddle Jump’ cruising forums to hear what people have to say about this plan.  So far, it’s run the spectrum from ‘absolutely – take what you can get’ to ‘no way – you’ll be wasting your time if you rush through this part of the world’.  If we do decide to go, it will take a bit of preparation time to get all the right charts, cruising guides and spare parts.  It’s not nearly as neat and tidy as preparing for cruising in Mexico where there’s one guide.  We’d hope to end up in Australia with no time left to explore it. This is where we would put the boat up for sale and fly home.

In the meantime, as we consider all this, we are trying to sort out the mumbo-jumboed names of these various islands and island groups: The Marquesas, Hiva Oa, Nuka Hiva, the Tuamotus, Fakarava, French Polynesia, Tahiti, Bora Bora, Huahine, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Suwarrow, Society Islands, Fiji, Tonga, New Caledonia, and the list goes on.  

The adventure continues.

-Barb in comfy, familiar, easy La Paz


  1. You could ask Jonathan about some of those islands...there are a lot of Survivor locations on that list. There's never a dull moment with you guys. We look forward to reading about where your travels take you.

  2. Can't wait to find out wherever you decide... we've got our packing gear ready for you...