Patrero Grande

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With the successful pick up of Rachel’s sister, Rhianna, in Bahia Santa Elena we could begin moving further south and on to the famed surf spot of Ollie’s Point, or Patrero Grande. As had been the case for most of our sails lately, the wind was up and blowing 20-30 knots. The constant barrage of high winds finally took its toll on Agape and we had our first casualty.

As we headed out of the protection of Bahia Santa Elena again, Agape met the full force of the wind racing down the gulf. When the boat powered up and started to heel I suddenly watched the headsail come racing down onto the deck and into the water. Rachel quickly took over the helm so that I could run forward to pull the jib back onto the foredeck and lash it down so we wouldn’t lose it to Neptune. Once I was sure the sheets (ropes attached to sail) were all out of the water I gave Rachel the ok to fire up Mr. Perkins and point us into the wind while I raised the main. This was our excitement for the trip around point and other than being a little slower and less balanced, it was a fine sail around to Patrero Grande.

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We made a quick lunch stop once around the point in the protected waters near the Mercielagos Islands. Well, Rachel made lunch while I restitched our head sail, it turned out that the webbing at the head (top) of the sail had just disintegrated, most likely from the sun. I think the high winds and a little too much halyard tension probably didn’t help.

An hour, 3 broken needles and a few curse words later we were full and ready to sail the last 10 miles to the anchorage.

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Patrero Grande, also known as Ollie’s Point, is one of Costa Rica’s most famous beaches, if not for it’s perfect wave, perhaps for it’s history. This is the place where Oliver North delivered weapons to the Contras, Nicaraguan rebels, at an airstrip just inland. North made headlines for weeks as he gave televised testimony about his and the CIA’s involvement in drug and weapons smuggling in Central America and abroad. This was one of the first times, but not the last that the CIA was linked to the sale and distribution of weapons and drugs on and off American soil, and its involvement in using unsanctioned government funding to support gorilla warfare in Central America.

But enough of a history lesson... Years after the gunfire stopped and the secret airstrip was abandoned, this little strip of beach is still earning fame. From Endless Summer to Surfer Magazine and every surfing publication in-between has written, photographed, or dreamt of this amazing and secluded right point break.

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Only accessible by boat, this wave is often uncrowded during the offseason (November until early March). Though at times during the high surf season (March to mid-December) you might find 20 or more people here fighting for the one point break.

Luckily for us, not only did we have a boat to access this secret little spot, but we were here at just the right time and had it all to ourselves.

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 Carrying the dingy over the new sand bar and into the estuary.

Carrying the dingy over the new sand bar and into the estuary.

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 Exploring the mangroves and looking for crocodiles and wild parrots.

Exploring the mangroves and looking for crocodiles and wild parrots.

John and Becca on Halcyon had sailed over with us, along with their friend Cat who was visiting. The six of us spent a couple of days here exploring, hiking and surfing. This turned out to be one of my favorite places in all of Costa Rica. Good surf, estuary tours, fishing, fun beach days and we had it all to ourselves!

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 In search of butterflies.

In search of butterflies.

 Once an entomologist, always an entomologist.

Once an entomologist, always an entomologist.

Ollie’s Point is surrounded by the Santa Rosa and Guanacaste National Parks, which means that not only is this area already remote but the protection ensures that this wild and secluded beach will stay uncrowded and resort free years to come.