Los Suenos Marina, Costa Rica…..

Dear F&F,

April 6, 2009

Scott is eager to get the boat repairs done by the two different mechanics
we need. He got referrals & has been in email contact with them. Main jobs:
remove & replace two broken bolts in our 24 volt alternators’ “Power take
offs”. These are the “mini generators” that charge our main battery system
when we are motoring. Additionally, we need to troubleshoot one funky auto
pilot. Who knows when they will be able to come & do the job? Will parts
need to be ordered? Scott tries to be proactive, always bringing whatever
parts we may need.

Los Suenos means \”Dreams\” in Spanish. This marina looks more like a dream
from Newport Beach, California than what we expected in Costa Rica.
We took the short dinghy ride into the marina. A guard booth is at the
entrance but we just zipped past & tied up close to the marina office (dry
landing). Another guard met us immediately & told us there was a fee to dock
our dinghy if we did not have our boat in a slip here. We explained that we
have a reservation & were checking in. The marina desk gal explained to us
the fee structure. A guy came out with a calculator to help us determine if
it made more sense to pay for just the 7 days Megan is with us or pay the
monthly rate, check in sooner & stay later. It turns out the \”break even\”
point is 13 days. So by paying for 13 days we could stay a month. We won\’t
be staying a month, but do plan to stay in this area 15-17 days. If we want
to leave the boat for day tours when at anchor there are security concerns.
We have been told we should hire someone to watch the boat. At a slip in the
marina we do not have to worry. They have very strict security. In fact each
boat that comes in & out has to check in & out on the radio to the guard
each time: name of vessel, how many persons onboard, where you are heading &
upon return where you have been. The best part of being on shore power is
being able to use our air conditioning. And since we need 2 mechanics, it
will be easier for them to do their work at the dock instead of out at
anchor. Especially if they need to run to their shop for parts, etc.

There are about 200 slips entirely filled with sport fishing boats of medium
to VERY large size. There is only 1 other sailboat here. This marina is
legendary amongst cruisers for being expensive, but we\’d heard the same
about Cabo so were prepared to pay big bucks. We had not been able to find a
cruiser that had actually stayed here recently, so had no way to get the
whole scoop.

We talked to the tour desk & there are a few things of interest within 2
hours drive. The nearest canopy tour here is by zip line (which we are not
interested in) or a gondola you can ride through the treetops. That may be
worthwhile. There is a boat tour up a river into the mangroves to see
monkeys. That sounds promising. Ka-ching ka-ching for everything. But all
touring will fit in secondarily to getting the boat fully functioning.

We fortunately bumped into the wife of a guy that works for the company with
one mechanic we were referred to. She gave us a ride the short distance in
her car to their office. It is a father/son operation primarily selling
power boats but they do have a mechanic on staff. Scott explained our need &
we were able to speak to Ben the mechanic via radio. If we can get into the
slip he may start the job tomorrow.

After a mediocre but pricey lunch (everything is US resort prices) we told
the marina office that we were prepared to pay the monthly rate & move to
our dock today. Unfortunately our dock is still occupied with another boat
who has paid through 4/14 although we were told 2 weeks ago we could have it
beginning 4/10 (how that works I don\’t know). Anyway, there is a rumor that
the boat currently at dock B-17 will be leaving tomorrow. There was a brief
hope that they would be leaving today & we could go there today. But no, it
will be manana. We hope not manana & manana & manana. But there is really no
other choice. We are comfortable out here in the bay on our bow & stern
anchors. Being secured front & rear helps us not rock around too much. I did
have to take a Bonine & sleep meds last night. We will probably run the
generator with the air conditioning for an hour or 2 before bed to help
knock down the heat inside. It is currently 5:00 pm & 85 degrees outside,
but still 88 inside.

Once we\’d reconciled to pay their price tag we expected to have a luxurious
setting & amenities included – not so. There is no pool affiliated with the
marina. The nearest pool is private for condominium owners, no outsiders
allowed at any price. It is a 15 minute walk to the Marriott hotel which has
a large pool filled with families with children since it is Easter week. We
can pay to use that pool & may, but it is an exorbitant rate. We are truly
shocked. The sport fishing boaters don\’t stay onboard. They stay at a condo
or the hotel. The annual rates are 20% less than the monthly rates, and
condo owners get more of a discount but we are still amazed to find this
level of decadence in Costa Rica. It is much more like Maui or Tahiti than
we imagined. But with less pleasant weather and fewer marina offered
services for the pricey place that it is. Scott figured that this is the
most expensive Marina ANYWHERE in the America’s. That includes San
Francisco, New York and L.A.!…Not even close.

I apologize for whining about prices. Obviously we must be rich to be
retired to this lifestyle at our age. My inner Bert Brians (frugal to the
point of miserly) is battling with my inner Suzanne Stolnitz (extravagant to
the point of irresponsible). Scott is going with the flow a bit more easily
than I am. His first focus is always our safety & full-function of all boat
systems. If we get in some sightseeing or take a dip in the pool that is a
bonus. I am trying to reconcile myself to enjoy the tourist luxuries, price
be darned. We talked to a woman from Pittsburgh that owns a condo here. She
told us there is a full supermarket only a $4 taxi ride away. That alone is
a big plus for me since I need to do major provisioning before we leave here
& head offshore. We are blessed to be able to afford these occasional
extravagances. I look forward to getting off of docks out in the South
Pacific where hopefully we will find more temperate climates with fabulous
anchorages & diving for free.

Project of the day: cutting a hole in the door to our fridge/freezer
equipment space to provide better ventilation. We will also install 2 fans
in there, but for today just cutting out & installing the vent is enough.
One more item off Megan\’s bed!

So that is it for today. We are at anchor again & hopeful to move inside to
the dock tomorrow. Maybe one mechanic will begin. We have heard from
multiple sources that the marine electrician is hard to get a hold of. We
will see if Ben has auto pilot experience, perhaps he can do both jobs.

Scott & Cindy