We began our journey March 24, 2016 to join the Aldebaran and crew with a red-eye flight from San Francisco to Managua, Nicaragua via Panama City. Upon exiting the airport, we found a friendly taxista named Henry holding a sign with our names, thanks to Kristian and Sabrina who pre-arranged the ride for us. We drove 3 hours directly to San Juan Del Sur in the south west part of the country, to find the crew ready to gather provisions for the next 6 days and set sail for Costa Rica with our family: my wife Kendra, and 8yr old son Asher.
We live in Santa Cruz, CA where I work in the financial services industry helping property owners finance energy efficiency upgrades and hit the beach with my family on a weekly basis to surf, swim and play in the water. Kendra is a kindergarten teacher at the local Waldorf School and likes to dance and cook, often at the same time! Asher is a 2nd grader who enjoys playing recorder, ocean activities, collecting football and baseball cards and will enter his 3rd summer of the city junior lifeguard program.
The first days had some high winds and rolling seas but thankfully no one got seasick – perhaps due to the steady ways of the trimaran. Each day was full of great experiences. Sailing out of choppy waters of San Juan Del Sur a pod of dolphins escorted us south, jumping in front of the boat, we could almost touch them lying down on nets. Tim, one of Aldebaran’s core crew members this season, taught Asher how to cast and he caught the first fish of his life on the trip. Might have been beginner’s luck but he caught more fish than everyone on the boat combined that week!
The deserted bays of Santa Rosa National Park were our home each night. On one bay, west swells created an A-frame peak peeling perfectly each way with head high sets. Exactly what I dream about! Dropping anchor with nobody in sight, a perfect wave with offshore spray, and sharing good waves with friends. The Murcielagos Islands, in the marine national park area, was amazing. We arrived late in the afternoon and hiked the ridge of the main island taking in the views, exploring the dry tropical forest. Kristian and Sabrina interviewed the Turtle Biologist on site, as part of the Green Coconut Run’s effort to share stories about protected areas along their route.
The water was postcard clear-turquoise with the best snorkeling of the trip. We snorkeled 3 different spots that next morning- a beginner, intermediate and advanced session, including an offshore pinnacle called Roca Negra. It was a day for all skill levels which was ideal for the family.
We’re all beginner sailors but one of the things we loved about the Aldebaran is how she sails relatively flat. Sea legs not required – at least not in the smooth seas we got! I had met Captain K back in Morro Bay ten years prior and had done a few trips to the Channel Islands on his first boat, a 29ft Columbia called Tabula Raza. The stability of a trimaran makes boat life much more comfortable than single hull sailboats.
Another highlight of the Aldebaran was sleeping on the nets in the bow area every night, waking at first light each day and making breakfast for the crew. Kendra and Asher slept inside the main cabin and were very comfortable. This was their first sailing and boat-life experience and they loved it and can’t wait to join the Aldebaran again (summer 2017 in Tahiti!). As a family we like to hike and camp in the Santa Cruz and Big Sur mountains and boat life is similar – simple living with the rhythms of nature guiding each day. The crew was a stellar group of folks making shared space fun and easy, including the core crew Sophie and Tim, who have experience guiding rafting trips in Alaska, along with captain Kristian and first mate Sabrina. Everyone was very kind with Asher which made the time together even sweeter.
We capped off the trip with surf sessions at a point break called Ollie’s made famous by the Endless Summer films. Captain K and I traded waves by ourselves, hooting and hollering. What a sweet finale! We pulled into Playas del Coco in Costa Rica on March 30th and checked in with immigration by noon. With a rental car, we headed into the mountains above the city of Liberia near the National Park of Rincon la Vieja, to celebrate Captain K’s birthday for 2 nights in an overland vacation, which made a nice contrast with the days at sea. Fresh water falls and lush jungle, warm springs in the cool air, toucans flying between foliage were our sights.
For anyone joining Aldebaran or going to the tropics, I highly recommend a hat with a chin strap and flap to cover your neck, lots of sunscreen, croakies for your shades, a hooded rashguard, and a go pro camera! When I asked Asher this morning what was the most important thing that he brought on the trip he answered with a smile, “Daddy.” I’d be happy to come with you if my schedule permits 🙂
The trip was full of lasting memories: the crew, the stars, the phosphorescence in the water, and the overall stoke and appreciation for the aquatic lifestyle. May fair winds blow the Aldebaran along its way and we look forward to reuniting in 2017!