Featured Adventure – Gone Sailing
I’m pretty sure this was the first time in my life a man ever looked at me at 9 o’clock in the morning and said, “Rum punch?”
I thought, Why not? It’s not like anyone expects me to drive this sailboat.
I’ve been on so many sunset cruises in Costa Rica that I’ve been recommended for Sunset Cruises Anonymous. In Playas del Coco I’ve been out on the Sea Bird, the Don Bosco and the Visión. I did the Antares in Tamarindo and the Zafira in Flamingo. I’ve been on three motorboat gulf tours in the Golfo Dulce out of Puerto Jiménez, and on New Year’s Day I did a trimaran cruise out of Quepos with Sunset Sails.
In any of these towns, you can hardly swing a cat by the tail without hitting someone who’s selling a sailing tour. And my advice is: Go for it. It’s hard to go wrong. I’ve never had a bad time on a boat in this country.
Guiselle and I were out for a recent morning ride on the Sea Bird, a 45-foot C&L Marine Explorer built in 1979 in Taiwan that offers sailing tours in Playas del Coco. We had gotten up early (for us) and gone to the beach to meet the proprietor of this business, Heather Lane, which I thought would be a good name for a lady detective, or a Beatles parody.
Once aboard the boat, we struck up a conversation with the captain, Sebastián, an old salt with a scraggly gray beard and remarkable piercings in his ears. He said he was from Nicaragua and was the black sheep of his family because he spent all his time at sea.
“That’s where I sleep,” he said, pointing to a nearby boat called the Sacred Dance. “This is where I work,” he said, lying almost horizontal in the cabin of the Sea Bird. “And that’s the bicycle I use to get to work,” he said, pointing to a surfboard.
As we set out to sea, I was expecting to hear expressions like “Hoist the jib!” or “Trim the sails!” But the most common expression I heard was “What would you like to drink?”
Most people opted at first for water — landlubbers — but for the second round many were ready for a beer. Guiselle, and quite a few others, were tempted by the mango mimosa. Because everything goes better with champagne.
Cruising toward our snorkeling spot, we saw a sea turtle, a whale and some dolphins. When the occasion called for it, we rushed to the bowsprit or the poop deck or whatever you call it to snap pictures. Then we returned to whatever seats we had found that allocated precious amounts of shade.
Guiselle spent quite a bit of time standing with her back to the sun, nursing her mimosa. “I’m working on those tan lines you like,” she said. Excelente.
I once went on a boat cruise in St. Maarten, and our captain anchored on a beautiful island, pointed to another boat in the distance and said in his island accent, “All the people on that boat are naked.”
Nobody on our boat got naked. Well, I didn’t keep a constant watch on the poop deck.
Guiselle had previously been on an all-girls sail on the Don Bosco organized by Michele Simmons, whom I would dub the Minister of Entertainment of Playas del Coco. We later booked a boys & girls afternoon cruise on the Don Bosco, a 68-foot sailboat made in France and named for an Italian saint.
Michele, a part-time bartender, started us off with bloody Marys — possibly the best in town, made with actual horseradish. We were accompanied by a dozen people from three Spanish-speaking countries, and everyone was laughing and snapping photos.
We went to Playa Huevos, where there are some cool little caves to explore. We also watched a vulture and a coati munching comfortably side by side on some garbage, like they were on a lunch date.
Back on the boat, after perhaps one beer too many, I said, “Are we sitting here idling and burning up fuel because we’re stopped to see some beautiful whales on the other side of the boat that nobody knows are there?”
Michele said, ‘No they’re pulling up the anchor.’ Then she roared in laughter.