Most “snow-birds” come to Costa Rica during the dry season (normally December through April) and go back home during the rainy season (normally May through November). But Gayle and Paul Sommers have a unique twist on the concept. Read about it below.
We have been sailing for most of our married life and have owned a number of different sailboats over the years. My husband Paul’s dream was to split our time between a home ashore and a home onboard a sailboat. He retired in 2011, and we “tried out” Costa Rica, moving here in 2012.
A little earlier, on the internet, Paul saw a wonderful, funky, Kiwi-designed and Nova Scotia-built 30′ steel junk-rig sailboat in, of course, Nova Scotia. It was 30 years old and needed some repairs, having sat idle and unloved for a couple of years. Paul had some repairs done before we got onboard, and then as we made our way south, took care of more repairs along the way. We spent about 4-1/2 months sailing down the east coast, from Nova Scotia to Florida, leaving her “on the hard,” (on land) after moving to Costa Rica.
“Dragon’s Wing” is not spacious by any means, but has about everything we need. The man who fitted her out was an engineer, so there are some very clever design elements we’ve never seen anywhere else, like counters that slide to reveal other spaces. Dragon’s Wing is a very comfortable boat for the two of us and our dog and cat, though when the “ship’s dog” lays down, she takes up nearly all the available floor space! Dragon’s Wing has an ice box and two-burner propane stove in the galley, and secure bins filled with pots and pans.
Splitting time between our home in CR and our boat does make for some duplication: we have bedding, pots, pans, dishes, etc., on board. Clothing, other than foul weather gear and cold weather clothes we have no need for in CR, we take back and forth, but that’s really about the only thing that goes from home ashore to home aboard.
The best time to cruise in the Caribbean avoids the hurricane season, December through March, which is also the nicest time of year to be in Costa Rica. This year we’ll be cruising during that time, but this trip really covers new territory for us: we’ve never been to the Caribbean, not by sailboat, not by cruise ship, not by airplane, so other than what others have told us, we have no idea how we’ll like it.
But in the meantime, Dragon’s Wing patiently awaits us in Florida, and this year we hope to head to the Caribbean. Next year, depending on how much of the Caribbean we see this season, how much we like it, and how affordable it is, we may head further east, crossing the Atlantic. This mix of a house in Costa Rica and a sailboat ready to go offers us the perfect combination of both a settled routine and the cruising life. It’s not for everyone, but it’s worked for us, and we love being able to come back to Costa Rica, as well as our home aboard “Dragon’s Wing.”