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Brisa Elegante: The Journey

Brisa Elegante is the wooden sail cruiser in Marina Pez Vela in Quepos. She has become the landmark of the marina. It is an impressive sight when she enters the marina after sunset.

Hearing of Brisa Elegante’s heritage from Fethiye, Turkey, our guests regularly ask us how Brisa Elegante came to Costa Rica. Well, here is the whole story.

After her completion and initial operation in Turkey, she sailed from Fethiye from east to west through the Mediterranean and past Gibraltar to the Canary Islands. She crossed the Atlantic Ocean to St. Lucia in the Caribbean and sailed to her new home in St. Augustine FL, USA. This whole journey took her three months and has proven one thing—she is seaworthy!

In the Municipal Marina in St. Augustine, we took her over precisely one year ago, in April 2021. This was following a thorough one-week survey, crawling through the bilges, climbing on masts, and testing all systems. It was the highlight of the survey when she left her berth in the marina, sailing under the Bridge of Lions into the open bay for her sea trial. All systems worked, the bilge remained dry, and she moved confidently in the swell rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean. So, nothing stood in the way to take her over and plan her journey to Costa Rica.

Before sailing her to Costa Rica, some repairs had to be made and additional safety systems installed. The first and most crucial step was to find a shipyard with free space available for a 100 ft ship drafting 9 ft. And this was during the peak time when everybody gets their boats ready for the season! Rybovich Shipyard in West Palm Beach ticked all boxes. Brisa Elegante was by far the smallest vessel in this shipyard, and among the few without its own helicopter lashed on deck! We felt like the only non-billionaires in the yard. But the fun part was that, on the second day, everybody in this shipyard with over 50 vessels knew Brisa Elegante and her crew members by name.

The area from West Palm Beach to Ft. Lauderdale is a paradise for boaters. There is not one spare part that you can’t find and not one boat service that you can’t order. Need a swim crane? Will be alongside in 60 min!

After 10 days, Brisa Elegante was ready to set sail to Panama, the next port of call. Her route took her south to Miami, then across the gulf stream to the Bahamas. In the Bahamas, the crew couldn’t resist the turquoise waters and stopped on sea for a swim break. This was fantastic—for five minutes—until the first sharks arrived! We left the poor guys hungry and sailed on to the north coast of Cuba, then east to Haiti.

During the passage between Cuba and Haiti, Brisa Elegante got hit by short and high waves, rocking the boat quite hard. She remained unimpressed, having seen rougher seas and stronger winds, but not so the crew! The course was set to Jamaica to seek shelter until the seas would calm down. The Jamaican authorities allowed us into the bay of Port Antonio. As everything was under lock-down, we were only permitted to refuel and stock up our provisions. The crew enjoyed their first night of good sleep and excellent reggae music coming from the shore.

After five days of waiting and some maintenance work, the sea calmed down, and the journey to Panama could be resumed. Constant wind and currents helped Brisa Elegante to reach the breakwaters of Colon in less than three days. The crew could set foot on land in the Shelter Bay Marina—that felt great!

Shelter Bay Marina is an exceptional place. It’s mostly sailors planning to cross the Panama Canal for a circumnavigation meet there. The evenings at the bar in the marina are unique; there are few places around the world like this. We could witness the 50th anniversary of a Panamanian marine vessel next to us and our crew was invited to join the celebration. In the following, some senior officers from Panama returned their visit to Brisa Elegante.

The passage through the Canal was a story in itself. We had thunderstorms and gusty wind but passed through safely after 30 hours. Without stopping in Panama City, we sailed north to our next port of call, Golfito in Costa Rica! It was a great feeling to be home again and meet family and friends. The whole journey from taking over the vessel to the arrival in Golfito took two months. These were exciting, exceptional, and adventurous two months, bonding the crew together. Ask them when you meet them aboard Brisa Elegante during your next visit.

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