Another Nordhavn owner wrote to me this morning asking about Costa Rica as a place to leave your boat for months. Costa Rica is perfect in many ways, as it is outside the hurricane zone.
Unfortunately, I know a lot about this topic. My response to him follows…
Costa Rica is perfect in many ways, as it is outside the hurricane zone.
There are only two options currently, although more marinas are under construction.
I’d especially recommend the marina we’re now in: Banana Bay. Bruce, the owner, is an American, and a former captain. He is doing a good job keeping an eye on my boat. He has been able to go onboard several times to help me diagnose power issues. He also has a diver and a guy who does boat cleaning.
The marina next to the Banana Bay, Fish Hook, is also a good option, newer and easier to get into – although Bruce’s English, and captain background, is a definite asset.
Downsides are: The power in all of Costa Rica is flaky, regardless of the marina. You will see power outages at least once a day, and sometimes outages that last 8 hours or longer. The water in Golfito can be somewhat stagnant. It’s a very shallow bay, and swimming or diving, would be a bad idea.
Also: The water is very warm – 90 degrees. If you leave anything running on the boat that is moving water through the sea chest (air conditioning), the hoses and strainers will need cleaned every two weeks.
Access to the airport for flying in/out is a problem. There is a short 1 hour flight to San Jose, but it is VFR only, and they have frequent storms. Expect delays during the rainy season.
Golfito is the loading point for Dockwise and Yachtpath.
There is no surge in the marina, as it is a very well protected bay.
On the downside: Golfito is a very small town. There are few restaurants and little nightlife around. Nor is there much in the way of tourist infrastructure.
There is a lot of surge in the marina. I would only leave my boat if I could find a space deep in the marina (near the fuel dock would be best).
There is an American who operates a boat repair service in the marina. I forget his name, but he is eager, and can be tapped to watch over your boat (ask the marina about the guys with the “red shirts”.
Los Suenos is difficult, but not impossible, to get into.
One nice thing: It is a 2 hour drive to San Jose, so getting in/out is simpler.
Also: You are an easy drive into Jaco, with much to do. It’s a great place to base yourself for tourist activities (golf, exploring). There are some who find Jaco dirty and even dangerous.
Overall, in a comparison of Los Suenos versus Golfito to leave your boat for months – if you are living aboard you would probably want to be in Los Suenos (if things to do, and ease of getting to/from the US are the dominant issue), or if you are just leaving the boat alone – I’d opt for Golfito.