1) Picture of the week

Vistamar Marina, Panama on the last full moon.
From the Free Spirit Crew

Jon, Kristi & Crew


2) Puesta del Sol Marina, Nicaragua

Nicaragua is very special to us. We have been traveling to Northern Nicaragua to surf for the past 4 years. The first time I arrived in Aposentillo to my friends’ surf camp, I fell in love with the people, the tranquility, the beauty, the beaches and the surf. We went on a boat trip in the estuary and as we passed Puesta del Sol Marina I said “someday I’m gonna bring my boat here” and four years later we made good on that promise.
Puesta del Sol is worth the stop. Nicaragua has some big city problems but out at the beach, an hour away from the nearest city, you would never know, it’s muy tranquilo.
The entrance to the estuary has plenty of water but the channel is narrow and winding and some of the channel markers have gone astray so be sure to arrive during daylight. Try to email Juanita at the marina at least two or three days ahead of time if possible. When you approach the channel hail the marina on the VHF it may take a while to get a response. It’s a pretty sleepy operation. A lot of the marina crew does double duty as security and maintenance staff as well. Either way you will be met at the dock with extra hands to help you tie the lines. Port Captain, Immigration and Customs come to the marina for a very easy check in… It’s all pretty casual. They don’t get a ton of cruisers so just be sure to double check that all the passports have been stamped and name of vessel is correct, etc. Juanita speaks English and will stand by to help with any questions or clarification.
The marina facilities are beautiful and well maintained. The staff is extremely friendly and helpful. Juanita manages the marina and hotel and she is the most wonderful lady.  The marina showers are inside the main building behind the office. The restaurant serves a variety of delicious food. It closes as 6pm. The bar overlooking the estuary is open later. Be sure to go get your complimentary welcome drink (Toรฑa Beer or Rum and Coke). There is a self service laundry room behind the main building. It takes US quarters. There is 24 hour security. The wifi  was complimentary when we were there. Make sure to walk out to the Beach Palapa. You will probably have it all to yourselves. You can bring your own snacks and swim in the beautiful infinity pool overlooking the ocean. The security guard has a fridge full of cold beers and sodas and you can charge them to your marina account. The tennis courts are fun if you have your own gear. One of the best things about Marina Puesta del Sol is the well stocked veggie truck that makes deliveries straight to the marina on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Just be sure to tell Juanita you would like to get veggies and she will tell the security guard to flag down the veggie truck as it comes through town. It usually comes between 11:30 am and 1pm. Some days a little later. You know… Nica Time.
Within walking distance of the Marina… If you go right just outside the marina gate on the main road towards the fishing village you will see a tiendas on the right just across from the school. It’s owned by an American expat named Bodhi. He can also arrange boat trips for fishing or checking out some of the many surf breaks near by. The tienda is well stocked and he can order anything in from chinendega if you have a few days to wait. He also has horses for riding on the beach and surfboards for rent. Also in the fishing village are Joe’s hostal serving cheap local food and a small bar across from the panga landing with pool tables and a juke box. Dirt floors, very local flavor. If you go straight out of the marina gate on the main road first on your right is a well stocked tienda. Next on the right is Badaboom hostal, great for snacks and drinks at somewhat local prices. Right next to Badaboom is Tanya’s Fritanga (or Nica style BBQ). Tanja sets up tables in her back patio and is open most nights. The food is delicious, cheap and filling. Bring a to go container for leftovers. Further up the road on the left is Pedro’s. He’s got WiFi and can fix cell phones, set you up with a sim card. The breakfast is yummy and the smoothies are so good. He also rents motos and bicycles that have surfboard racks. For local entertainment try to catch a baseball, kickball or soccer game on Sundays at the field across the school in Aserradores or down the road in Manzanillo. Also check out Badaboom Hostal for weekend festivities. While we were there they had a new years party, bocce ball tournaments, volleyball tournaments and what is best described as Nica Style Highland games with pig wrestling where the prize is the pig you wrestle, and pole climbing where you work as a team to get the bottle of rum at the top of a slippery telephone pole. Las Dunas beach resort has salsa night on Thursdays.
Further afield but worth the effort… If you get yourself a moto or a car it opens up so many possibilities. A nearby surf spot is at Playa Aposentillo. You will meet friendly locals and expats on the beach and the waves are good for learning or longboarding. At Nahualapa Bay the waves are a little bigger but the rides are longer. Perfect for longboarding on a small day. After surfing spend an afternoon relaxing at Tapas and Surf. Good food, good drinks, good vibes. If you crave carbs and good drinks head up the hill to Al Cielo. Owned by two French guys, they make awesome pizza, pasta, infused rum drinks and keep a well stocked wine cellar. If you ask nicely, they will even send you home with fresh french bread right out of the oven. The views are spectacular so make sure to get there to watch the sunset.
Chinendega is an easy 45 minute ride by car. Longer but much cheaper on the chicken bus, ask Juanita about bus times. You can get most anything you need there. There is a Maxi Pali and for imported grocery items, La Colonia. There is a municipal market where you can score on prices but even the locals keep close tabs on their wallets here. The banks are all on the same intersection in middle of town and if you are looking for a yummy local lunch spot, try La Parrillada. Buffet style, cheap and delicious. Just outside of Chinendega is Flor de Caรฑa Rum Distillery. They do a great tour for $10 USD per person. And if you have time, try to catch a baseball game at the stadium. It’s a hoot and you can get box seats where the bartender comes to you for $15 USD. The most fun game I’ve been to. If you are up for a hike and some adventure, head to Leon and try volcano boarding on Cerro Negro Volcano. Leon also has a french bakery and the mojitos at Bigfoot hostal are delicious. The main plaza in Leon is beautiful and you can go up to the roof of the white church for some awesome rooftop photos.
If you are into volunteering, there are definitely opportunities. We threw a Christmas party for the kids at the school in Aserradores. There is an organization called Waves of Hope that does a ton of work with the local schools. Or just bring a trash bag with you and do a beach clean when you go surfing. 
A few last things. The sailing off the coast of Nicaragua has been some of the most pleasant and enjoyable we have had since, well since leaving California. Steady fresh breezes, comfortable wind angles, clear blue water. We waited for good weather windows and were rewarded with really fun passages. We even snuck out of the marina to go booze cruising with friends at sunset a few times because the sailing was that good.
We have since moved on to Costa Rica, but will definitely returning to Nicaragua for mas olas, amigos, y Toรฑa time!

Pictures 1. Here’s a picture of the salt water pool at playa Aposentillo, look for it near the rocky point at low tide.

2. Beisbol game at the stadium in Chinendega with Pati and Eic from SV Shearwater. Vamos Tigres!

3. The view from the marina pool with San Cristobal smoking in the distance.

Victoria, Rowan & Crew


3) Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Shearwater got their burgee delivered !

4) Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, MX
Want to give a shout out to two local businesses and their proprietor’s.  Pariso Escondido in the playa Norte anchorage of Isle Grande is owned by Juan, his family started in 1950’s.  He was a great host and makes everyone feel at home in short order “Tequila” Tina was great as well.  Good seafood under the palapa great staff.  They hosted our daughters 15th B day party got us a great cake and had great zarendiado snapper.  It’s a easy water taxi ride to the town and a great surf spot at playa Linda.  Juan also introduced us to the Verboonen’s a Las Gatas family who have had restaurants on the playa for multiple generations.  Hiram is a pro Mexican surfer as well as his daughter Pamela.  They were nice enough to take our daughter Violet surfing on multiple occasions.  Hiram and His wife Erika were wonderful hosts.  Their families have several restaurants at Las Gatas beach.  We ate at Hirams family restaurant “Che Arnoldo”  without a doubt this is the best seafood we have had in Mexico and possibly some of the best seafood ever.  Unique presentation and dishes in a amazing setting.  Can’t recommend it enough great stuff!!
La India Huatulco, MX

We hoped to stop in Puerto Angel but the harbor is more or less filled with panga moorings and the open areas are all exposed to the swell.  We continued on to La India which we had not been in for 15 years.  we were happy to find it in the same state as when we had left.  The reefs are buoyed off to keep people from anchoring on but it is still a great spot to sit out the weather in the gulf on flat super clear clean water.  A bow stern is advised and there is room for several boats.  The tourist boats fill it up in the day but keep crew on board so not a problem.
Chiapas, MX

Had a great visit loved the Puebla Madera and Tapalachula.  This is a true big city and very easy ride from the marina.  Can get pretty much whatever you want or need, a whole city block of dentists.
Bahia Del Sol, El Salvador

Nice people, great spot to work on the boat in flat water.  Would not approach the bar here in anything other than mild conditions.  The northern and southern options to hold over make a foul or questionable wx crossing here unnecessary.  
Off to points south soon.

Timothy โ€œJakeโ€, Burgandy & Violet


5) Isla Grande Ixtapa, MX

Rick & Diana ( headshot & pictures please – part of next years posse )

Tiki Notion

Wednesday, May 1st – Panama Posse Labor Day Party @ Golfito Marina Village an IGY Destination, Costa Rica
Saturday, May 25th – Season Finale – Panama Posse 18-19 Yacht Fest @ Vista Mar Marina – Panama
For the list of all Sponsors please go to

7) Huatulco Waterfalls, MX
Did the Huatulco inland waterfalls and old coffee farm tour with Enrique Pinacho’s crew and enjoyed it enormously. A few notes to add tho. Tour was in a taxi, no big deal to us, but it might mater to you. Coffee farm does not appear to be really active with coffee, but they make a killer Tamarindo pork!  The waterfalls we’re super fun! Good day away from the boat before we jump on a four day passage!

Juan & Michelle

Ay Caramaba !

8) Chiapas, MX

We just arrived outside Chiapas, drifting until the marina opens to give us a slip.  Dep Acapulco 0945 23Feb and sailed/drifted until we arrived off Puerto Angel the night of 26Feb.  Still no wind on the 27th, but we continued sailing very slowly toward Chiapas until we snagged a poly long-line at approx 15-30.7N 96-08.5W.  Fortunately, we werenโ€™t motoring at the time.  The fishermen came up in their boat and were able to cut the line, remove it from the prop and tie it back together.  We started the engine and headed toward Chiapas a little faster.

We came across several more long-lines in the next 5-10 miles.  I think the best strategy is to look for the flag at the end of the line, then head directly toward the flag until you can determine which side of the flag the line is going and then steer around the correct side of the flag.  You can see the flag from a couple miles away.  You cannot count on the fishermen being anywhere close to the line.  Three times they were – once, they unhooked us, the next guy pushed two floats together to drop the line enough for us to pass and the third guy just watched us go over the line without giving us any direction – (fortunately, the line was low enough for the boat to pass over).  About three other lines were totally unmanned.

We sailed when we had wind and motored when we didnโ€™t and took about 48 hours to cross the Tpec bay and arrive here; timing it to arrive after sunrise.  The forecast was mostly accurate.  When the wind came up at first, it was directly astern.  The beam wind didnโ€™t start until we were close to the center.
We sailed  a straight line from Puerto Angel 15-35.397N 96-30.536W to 14-41.608N 92-25.497W.  Doing it over, I would probably go 5nm further offshore from Angel and maybe we would have missed all those long lines. Once we arrived in Marina Chiapas and waited for the customs, Puerto de Capitanรญa officer, and Navy to inspect the vessel.  You have to go through the inspection before checking into the marina office and going to the fuel dock.  We heard that the concrete dock of the fuel dock is too far out of the water except at high tide.  If the tide is low, there is a possibility that the bottom of the concrete would be above the toe rail.  So weโ€™ll need to fuel tomorrow.

We also learned that we have to travel to the Guatemalan boarder to have our TIP cancelled.  About $1,000mx for that trip.

We plan to stay for at least a week and probably longer to do some touring of the area.  The restaurant in the Marina is very good with a unique Piรฑa Colada recipe with cinnamon.  They also hand-make the salsa at the table with mortar and pestle.

Wi-FI in the marina is NOT good.  The restaurantโ€™s free wi-FI with Facebook check-in was very good, so we may be spending some time over there.

Fuel dock in Chiapas. I would highly recommend going at high tide. These pics were taken at high tide.

Robert & Carol


9) Mechanic in Playas del Coco, Costa Rica

Simple Life, on the hook at Playas del Coco. Plenty of wind last few days, all offshore, nice flat sea. Landing on beach not so bad, if one is prepared to get wet. Had a few things to fix here – replace steering cable, fix fuel supply issue. All good now, so Iโ€™ll head out next day or so.

If anyone needs a mechanic in Playas del Coco, Alan at Coco Marine will tackle anything. Heโ€™s done some good work for me on replacing steering cable, and solving a tricky engine fuel issue. He also works on outboards. +506 8410-8419
Eamonn & Catherine

10) Punta Cabeza Negra, MX
Anchored in Punta Cabeza Negra with stern anchor to point us.

18ยฐ36’N 103ยฐ41′ WBig 8’+ seas from Zihuatinejo entire 25 hrs. Super Dog Sam needs a beach break!

Phillip Jay & Kelley


11) Panama Canal, Panama
My Panama Canal advice…FWIW….

Work with Erik Galvez ( note he is our official Panama Posse Canal Agent ) 

Everything was done in Panama City and it would have been easier to just go there directly but the marinas are very expensive and anchorage are rolly. Balboa Yacht Club was $40/night for nothing but a mooring ball and boat to shore service.
Now that Iโ€™ve done it and had time to reflect I think Iโ€™d do this:
Go to Panama City directly and anchor on east side of Flamenco Island. Email Erik and tell him youโ€™re there and want Measurement the next day. Dinghy in to Flamenco Marina and check in with Port Captain and Immigration. In the same building and easy. Apply for cruising permit at Port Captains office. Can take 1-3 days (!) so itโ€™s good to be close. Go to Playita Anchorage next morning by 7 AM for Canal Measurement and expect to wait 1-5 hours. Easy process once they show up by boat. Go back to Flamenco anchorage then to Port Captain to check on Cruisers Permit. Expect to have to come back the next day. Go explore Old City. Keep going back to port captains office until you get Prermit. Go to Vista Mar Marina for best rate in world and prepare for Canal transit. Eric


12) Please reply to this email with … anything really

– your updates
contenders for picture of the week links to your favorite SONGS
– relevant blog posts – and of course your valuable suggestions

and we’ll include it in the next FLEET UPDATE – Keep em ‘coming

Dietmar & Suzanne


13) opt-out from the Fleet Updates simply reply with “REMOVE