Three generations together in Florida! This picture is of us Skyping our son Ty in the Netherlands; technology sure helps when you can't be there in person! May everyone enjoy peace and contentment this holiday season, wherever you are! And to our many sailing friends, fair winds and following seas in 2009!
at 8:12 AM
Well, let's see. After passing our HAM tests, we then went to Orlando to see our kids and grandkids. We spent one night there (thanks Jen!) and then went to the SSCA gam in Melbourne. What a great time seeing some of our old friends, making new ones, and co-chairing one of the roundtables Sunday (Cruising the Western Caribbean) along with our buds Dave & Sherry. Meeting author and world cruiser Jimmy Cornell was one of the highlights of the weekend! From there, we stopped back in Orlando, but not before coming across the Toys for Tots motorcycle rally going from Merritt Island to Melbourne. We've never seen so many bikes. Thank goodness we were going north and they were going south! Once back home, we had to apply in person for our TWIC (Transportation Worker Identification Credential) cards that are now a requirement to renew our USCG Mariner Licenses. First there's a phone interview that prequalifies you to go to your regional office. That took us on a chase to Tampa before we finally found the temporary office that's been set up to fingerprint and photograph applicants, and then even more paperwork had to be completed. We still have to return to Tampa, as the completed photo ID cards have to be picked up in person. Holiday parties have given us the chance to see many of our friends again. We've had the usual house upkeep and have had to do a lot of shopping for the house, the boat, holiday gifts and personal items, and are shaking our heads at our growing pile of "stuff" we need to get back to the boat. Our e-mail has been overflowing, and about now our heads and credit card are spinning. At the end of this week Michael's sister is coming in for a visit, and the kids and grands will be here also. Our neighborhood's annual boat parade takes place this Sat, so we're having a party here. By next week, we'll be back in Orlando again for a visit and will have our Christmas celebration there with everyone. Shortly after, we'll be back home hunkering down and packing for our return to Panama. Whew! Are you as tired as we are?!
at 6:45 AM
We both passed our Technician and General Ham license tests tonight! Yea! We started studying the AARL stuff a few months ago and had the new question pool printed out at a small shop in Centro Commercial in Cartagena. Without much internet service we couldn't do much online studying, but we reviewed the materials whenever we could. We're looking forward to participating in the various HAM nets available, as well as a Winlink e-mail address. We'll keep everyone updated when we get our new licenses and address. We leave to visit our kids and grandkids in Orlando tomorrow morning (Thurs), and then it's on to Melbourne for the SSCA gam Friday.
at 8:26 PM
We took the bus to Panama City today, bringing our EPIRB with us to get a new battery for it. The rain has not stopped, even on the other side of the isthmus. Denny from Jubilant came with us to replace his EPIRB battery also; he'll return to the marina with both EPIRB's, saving us from lugging ours to the US and back to Panama. We've got a few days to relax before carrying our 50 lbs of books and other assorted stuff we've taken off the boat back with us to Florida.
(The picture is the view from our hotel room.)
at 9:14 PM
We're here --thank goodness-- before the fronts that brought a lot of rain and squally weather. The weather report reads 'squalls indefinitely!!'....our one night in Portobela was not very restful. The waves and swells are building....we're happy to be enjoying the comforts of a new well protected marina. The pool and jacuzzi were just finished last week! The showers and bathrooms here are not like any other 'marina' quality we've seen. A real treat! Nov. is one of the rainest months here.
We limped in with a split in our exhaust hose....the mess to clean up is never 'fun'. We took our Vernalift muffler out for repair too. The doubled up dock lines are a good thing for now! We've got a few projects to work on...a torn up boat once more!
The picture is coming in through the smaller Manzanillo breakwater--we haven't come in the main ship channel yet.
at 11:32 AM
We enjoyed the company of Bruadair from Baru to Nargana. We hope to rendezvous with Damon and David again someday!
After departing Nargana we returned to four anchorages we visited when we were first in the San Blas in Aug. While in the Holandes we organized a snorkel trip out to the grottos ...we had six dinghys join us. It was high tide this time, so we could skim over the reef to see where the caves connect without having to dive through!
On to Linton. We motor sailed 40 miles-- the wind always seems to be on our nose. Seas were calm, thank goodness. We're waiting out a few fronts that need to pass through before we go into Colon and Shelter Bay Marina. It's nice to hear the howler monkeys again. There's about 20 boats in the anchorage--some with owners away--which makes anchoring near them nerve wracking when squalls come through. In Linton, boats dragging has been known to happen because of the soft mud bottom. One really exciting thing was going aboard the vessel Joshua, Bernard Montessier's boat. (The red ketch in the middle of the picture is Joshua). We have many (all?) of his books aboard, and being aboard and exploring the nooks and crannies brought back many memories of his life and philosophy. We took lots of pictures I'll post in our web album section, eventually!
We took a dinghy trip through the mangroves to Panamarina with Patrick and Rebecca from 'Brickhouse'.
at 7:29 AM
09deg.25.2 N 078deg.28.8 W
We enjoyed 3 nights at Snug Harbor before moving up the island chain here. We caught a nice jack on the way. We've been dragging that line everywhere we go with no hits...finally!
My 6am call from Michael was to see a 6ft. alligator swimming by our stern. He was swimming to the mainland. Must have gone to town to eat last night!? The ulu's head out for work at that time...it's awesome to see the parade of them glide by.
at 7:10 AM
The drum music started at 4:30...it's a holiday celebrating Panama's independence from Columbia. With the sun rising and setting at 5:30, our early to bed early to rise habits have fit right in.
We are in the rainy season, so cloud watching has been great...the overcast skies offer a nice change from the heat. The river run off from heavy rains brings lots of debris and flotsam. Evenings are actually cool! We need to run the engine every day to charge our batteries, since solar and wind aren't helping now. We're upgrading our battery charger, alternator, and adding a Honda generator to our wish list when we get back to civilization. We're still figuring out our energy needs and 'what works' as we live aboard full time. It's been a fun process.
The local Kunas have been very friendly. The rain or weather doesn't keep them in. Father's take their sons in the ulus at a very early age. We've seen quite a few kids around 5yrs. old out fishing alone.
at 7:02 AM
This town has a hospital on it...and a nice concrete slab next to the school where the kids play basketball. The wooden back boards don't have nets...but a painted circle.
Kuna Indians have their villages on islands...the mainland is used for their crops, and along the river banks they bury their dead in their traditional way. The villages seem so crowded-they live in close proximity to each other--the wood/bamboo huts all crammed in close together. One room for cooking, another bare room for living. A small stool to sit on, and they unroll their hammocks at night to sleep. Outhouse over the water. The people have been very friendly...the women traditionally dressed. The paths are so narrow and palm roof fronds so low, we have to duck and turn sideways to get anywhere. Kuna are supposed to be the shortest people other than the pygmy, but this village has some tall men in it. On Mamitupu we were brought to the main building, the congreso, where we met the spiritual & cultural chief, or sahila. He rules the village from his hammock in the middle of the large stick building--all roofs are thatched. The benches for town people all face in toward the middle. There are 3 lower 'chiefs'--their hammocks were rolled up as they were not there. Michael and another cruiser went into their weekly meeting one early evening along with an interpreter. (They ring a bell to summon the town folk--attendance is mandatory.) It was democracy in action, with everyone having their say. It seemed like a lot of yelling and gesticulating to get their point across. The chief still got things his way! He has many duties in the overseeing of island life. He even gives or denies permission for people to travel to other islands, and doles out 'fines' for any society infractions. We pay an impuesto (tax) to have the privilege of anchoring by their island; charge is $5-10US for up to a one month stay. Kunas pay the same tax to visit other islands too.
at 8:53 AM
We motorsailed the 18miles from Isla Pinos with Bruadair today. We enjoyed our stay at Isla Pinos...the eastern San Blas have the more 'traditonal' Kuna villages. We're enjoying the reasonable lobster/crab/fish offers from the hard working fishermen that go out in their ulu's daily. David on Bruadair is an amazing cook--last night we enjoyed crab bisque aboard their boat. The picture is of David, Michael, and our 'guide' Horatio Martinez.
Mamitupu is an island---the guys travel to the mainland before first light to tend to the fruit/veg. coconut plants, and 'get off work' at 1pm. They stop by to say welcome/hello and sell their goods on the way home. Limes, cocos, bananas...we don't have to go looking for too much.
at 6:21 PM
We're heading out for a 150nm sail to Isla Pinos in the San Blas at first light tomorrow. We've had a great time here in Bahia Cholon...We celebrated PIP the wonder dog's 15th birthday on the beach with a picnic, a swim,and a game of boce ball. (Have you ever met a sailing Australian cattle dog?)... Another trip to the town of Baru was a lot of fun... Yet another cruiser potluck at the Crow's Nest...And a music sing along aboard Queen Mary; their CSY 44 didn't seem crowded with 13 of us aboard!
We'll be traveling in the company of Bruadair, a Hans Christian 33 with Damon & David aboard, to the San Blas. We probably won't have internet until we're at Shelter Bay Marina the end of Nov. So SailMail it is!
at 7:20 PM
Columbia celebrates Dia de la Raza--the discovery of America. It's Columbus Holiday in the States. We celebrated by motor sailing back to Bahia Cholon, Baru. We're happy to be back to this clear, quiet anchorage. We hear the cows moo, the donkey's naeee and the roosters crow in the morning. And the many birds make a ruckus mornings and evenings. We've got an invite for dinner aboard Que Linda already tonight...nice.
We spent yesterday morning getting Michael's crown glued back in. Being a Sunday, and holiday weekend, we thought we'd have problems. We walked to the dental clinic to get their phone #'s. When we called they said they'd be there in 1/2hr. No problem---We didn't want to wait till Tues. (Mon. holiday) since we've got our zarpe out of the country.
We'll enjoy our time here while we wait for a good weather window for our overnight sail to the eastern San Blas. We'll be traveling with Bruadair.
We had a nice visit with Manuel, a nice gentleman we met while wheeling his squash from his garden. The school kids showed us how to eat the anon fruit growing from the tree we were sitting under.
We came back to check out of Columbia (get our zarpe), and to have internet (phone) to hear the news of the arrival of our 3rd grandchild. Luka Michael was born this am. Way to go Jenny & Sean---what wonderful news--we're looking forward to meeting him in Dec!
The anchorage is much more crowded---though we found a spot near the marina where we can get internet aboard---very convenient! Our friends Judi & Dave (FIA) invited us to join them for lunch in Old Town at La Mulata....a very busy place with excellent food. After shopping and getting last minute things, we'll head back to Baru area and wait for a good weather window to do an overnight back to the San Blas islands.
at 8:30 PM
We enjoyed a great cruisers potluck at Robert and Carmen's - the 'Crow's Nest'. The view from the ridge up there can't be beat. Another afternoon there was music by Brenda & Gene, (Queen Mary), along with Sonny (Valentina) on harmonica. Queen Mary has been cruising for many years....their CSY holds the keyboard, guitar and amps just fine. Why do I feel so cramped with what I have aboard? The anchorage is peaceful and the company is great. I can see why some boats stay awhile! I've been trying to add pictures to the albums while I have internet.
at 8:36 PM
After a month at Club Nautico Marina, we made the break from our ties in Cartagena and after filling the tanks with diesel motorsailed the 20miles to this beautiful, protected bay. This area, along with the Rosario's and the San Bernardo's are a part of a national park system....and a playground for rich Columbians. Five other cruising boats are here---Queen Mary, Valentina, Qué Linda, Bruadair, and Wet Bar. We now have clean inviting water, a nice breeze down the hatches, clean air, and calm water. What more can we ask for? Oh the company is great too. Happy hour aboard the trawler Wet Bar let us meet the folks we hadn't met earlier,and get better acquainted with the others. Robert and Carmen have a large house on the ridge where we're going for potluck dinner tomorrow. (See it behind Infini?) He's an ex cruiser, retired LA motorcycle cop who's been in the area for awhile. So, the dinghy's back in the water ready to explore...we're studying for our Ham test...and getting back into the 'cruising mode.'
How can something so cute be such a loudmouth? Lola is aboard the boat next to us with her family....Mom, Dad, and a 1yr. old. She does more barking than any other dog here....more so when her family is off the boat. The boat on the other side of us is getting a total refit....work is going on down below all the time....the workers are very pleasant.
Carmen walks the docks daily calling out "mangoes, papaya's, pinas, aquacate's"; with fruits and veggies balanced on her head.
Unfortunately the harbor is very polluted, with oil spills, debris.....you name it. The marina has tried to seperate trash and 'recycle', but it is too confusing with different barrels in different places. No one seems to even try.
I've been posting pictures on Picasa, since we won't have internet again when we leave here in a few days. The direct link is: picasaweb.google.com/mhbscv, if you don't want to log onto this blog first.
at 11:58 AM
Well the old folks finally went out for a night on the town! Even though it was a Sunday...we had a good time. I felt right at home with '3 guys'....but how do you figure they're all bald? They all happen to be single handers: Kirk from Virginia, Paul from Australia, and Keith from St. Louis. Our first stop was on the wall surrounding Old Town, a bar/restaurant named Cafe del Mar. We followed that up with two more bar/discos. They played very loud electronic music, 'mix?' and there was dancing off all kinds. I can't remember the last time I came home at 3am!
at 8:34 AM
Our chain and 3 anchors we sent out for re-galvanizing are now back in their proper places aboard. The galvanizing looks good-we marked the 412' of 3/8 G4 HT chain with wire ties every 25ft, alternating black and white, double and single. Tutti, one of the expert woodworker's here at Club Nautico, took both forward dorade boxes off to put new dividers in, a new teak top on one box and rebed both boxes. We haven't had them off in the 10+yrs. we've owned Infini. Jorge helped us hand wash & wax the boat....sure wish it would look good like this forever! We've had to get our bottom scrubbed every 2 wks. to keep the barnacle growth under control. The through holes and propeller need special attention. When we leave here the first part of Oct. we'll stop in the Rosario Is. to check the bottom ourselves....we really don't want to go in the water here!
at 11:14 AM
We woke up in the night with a burning smell-like an electrical fire. We investigated; turned our shore power off and took our window a/c unit out of the hatch, thinking that was suspect....smell seemed to be coming from there. (It was---air inflow). We didn't notice any strong smell on deck, only below. When I left for my 7am yoga class, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Coming back, a boat only 2 slips away had been found to be burning on the inside. The owner (a pilot) left for 3mo., but left a few fans on down below. Apparently the one in the V-berth malfunctioned, and started a fire. Smoke was billowing out when a marina worker went by. Fast action by the marina workers prevented the fire from getting out of hand. Michael made a 'security' announcement on the VHF net to let other boats know. The Valiant 40 is a real mess, thank goodness the gas tanks on deck or the scuba tanks weren't involved!!!! What a nighmare for the owner to come back to. A lesson there---when storing your boat, leave it 'electrically quiet'.
at 2:17 PM
So much color and history here. The horse drawn carts, push carts, street vendors, motorcycle taxi's and colorful buses. This place is amazing. And the streets so clean compared to the previous countries we've visited. (But the water in the anchorage is one of the worst!). We'll have to make more than one visit to old town to really explore.
at 8:20 PM
We finally got the PVC and fish line off the backstay....one of many small projects we're doing. We sent off 3 anchors, (empty the lazarette again), and all our chain (400ft?) for regalvanizing. What a mess aboard Infini! The sewing machine is out again...the main salon gets real crowded with that. There are many boats who get major work done here- ie arch's, hard dodgers, interior refits, etc.
We'd feel more comfortable having more done if we spoke the language better. We'll haul out in Panama when we go back in Dec. to do routine bottom work.
at 7:13 PM
It was like seeing Miami Beach when we were coming into Boca Grande Pass to the harbor anchorage at Club Nautico Marina! This is Columbia's largest port, and Navy base (two subs across from us!) We're in walking distance to the Walled City, or Old City...there's so much history and beauty to explore. The sightseeing and good restaurants are on our 'to do' list. We hope to get into a marina; there are only two here...I'll write more when we have internet!
at 5:26 PM
We anchored at 4:45pm, at N10º10.8, W075º46.4 after a 180mi. run from the San Blas Islands. It was lake conditions (motor sailing), until the last 40mi. when the black wall of a squall hit us and stayed with us most of the way in. We saw 34 knots of wind on the meter; picked up our speed nicely, and Infini did just fine. We're happy it didn't happen at night! We had our usual guests hitching a ride...thank goodness the cleanup when they leave is minimal!
The Rosarios are part of a national park, and they have an aquarium on one of the sm. islands, with dolphin shows and all. We aren't staying this time around...you can't see everything! This area is another great place to explore, with 27 small islands surrounded by coral reef. Many boats spend weeks here. We'll be on our way after a single night's rest to Cartagena, about 20mi.
We had a great conch fritter feast aboard Soggy Paws (SP) before Ty left. We bought 8 big conchs, and 4 HUGE crabs for $25. A feast for 7 of us. Ty was tan and quite relaxed when he boarded the commuter flight for Panama City. We were asked to move Infini, as our mast was an obstacle for the once a day flight. We thought we were clear, but I guess we didn't factor in a chance for pilot error.
We had a wonderful dinghy trip up the Rio Diablo with SP yesterday. A great jungle river...no pollution!...the Kuna's have burial grounds along it, and small areas where they harvest bananas, yucca, or corn. The wildlife watching is great. We had to portage over shallow areas, and go around logs/trees in the way. We cooled off floating down a short area of shallow rapids...and found a 90' vine to swing out on Tarzan style. All was great until the vine broke on Ty's second turn! It brought back memories of the Weeki Wachi.
at 8:11 AM
We motored the 6 miles to W. Coco Bandero Cays, following Soggy Paws; cloudy skies, in light intermittent rain. The black rain squalls have been missing us- we could use a heavy downpour to fill the tanks. This is another group of scenic islands, with towering palm trees, white sand beaches and crystal clear water. We hope the weather clears to explore the wrecks and reefs in the area...many within swimming distance from the boat. Yesterday Ty put scuba gear on to scrape the barnacles and scrub the bottom of Infini with a brush. We've been keeping up with the water line growth...but any time spent in marinas and harbors is hard on boat bottoms. We've had a few afternoon volleyball games while at the Swimming Pool--the net is strung between two very tall palms. A big danger is falling coconuts...one fell directly on a straw hat...thank goodness it wasn't on the owner's head at the time!
at 7:52 AM
We're anchored in what the cruisers call the "swimming pool" here in the Eastern Holandes Islands. The water (10ft) is so clear you can see the fish swim by, and 'barbecue island' as the gathering place is a popular hang out for cruisers. We snorkeled "the caves" yesterday (a series of rock ledges, or grottos which communicate with each other). I never seem to tire of swimming among the many incredible things to see...different corals, anenomes, tropical fish, etc. Ty & Michael went to a wreck to try to shoot some dinner. No luck yet. Soggy Paws has been to these places and led us and another dinghy using their hand held GPS.
The names of the islands are a tongue twister. Banedup, Ukupsuit Tupu, Miriadiadup, Nuinudup, Uchutupu Pippi, and 300+ more!
We've spent a night at the East and West Lemons, only 8miles from here. Short day hops to the next group or reef area to explore. We'll be slowly working our way to Nargana, where Ty flies out next week.
at 1:53 PM
Our first anchorage in the San Blas Islands of Kuna Yala is Chichime. We've been visited by the local Kuna Indians coming out in their ulu's, one selling lobster, another mola's, and even fresh fruit and veggies this am. We were visited by master mola maker 'Venancio'--his work is collected worldwide. He will 'sign' (sew) his name on if you ask.
We previously spent two nights at Isla Linton, meeting up with our friends on Soggy Paws who are picking up their daughter & her boyfriend...and hopefully joining us back here in the San Blas. Ty met the sloths. I'll have to post pictures when we get internet. The bilge hose has been changed, the rode to the Danforth anchor has been switched out....it's time to get the dinghy in and go snorkeling. This is really a picturesque area with many small islands, some with grass huts, white sandy beaches, and palm trees. Over 340 to explore!
at 3:26 PM
We've been officially slothed....we visited 'Summer Place', a beautiful home close to the dinghy dock in town, owned by Roger & Bennie. (Ex cruisers)
They've got 3 spoiled sloths now living with them (from infants) as 'pets', the youngest just a year old. They are the strangest creatures, only because they're so foreign to me! They don't shed, don't smell, are potty trained, move very slowly, don't make a lot of noise, and like to hug! What can be better than that? We'll post some pictures when we get internet access.
We took a day road trip to Panama City with Owen & Betty from 'Hiatus'...they keep a car in Puerto Lindo. The 2½ hr. drive is an adventure in itself. It is always so nice to go to a big city with someone who knows the lay of the land. We got a case of Perkins oil filters...M's a happy camper!
We're heading toward Colon; will keep the boat a few nights at the PCYC (Panama Canal Yacht Club) while we meet Ty in the city.
at 4:07 PM