Monday, December 28, 2009

After Three We Cried Uncle...

Puerto Ibarra
Isla Floreana, Galapagos Islands
01 16.5S 90 29.5W

Uncle Matt that is ...we have sushi for you, and wahoo too! A three fish day is a good day, and even better when combined with (1) a beam reach from San Cristobal, (2) a yellowfin tuna, (3) another yellowfin tuna, and (4) a huge wahoo. After three, we had to quit, pull in our lines, and dress the fish. The "pros" first (and immediately) kill the fish with a top of the head cut to halt brain function, and then pith the neural canal with a monofilament line, so we do that too. The fish is then (again immediately) bled and gutted to preserve the meat as the cuts are being made. We can attest to the high quality sushi that results, and for cruisers interested in more details and information, "The Cruiser's Handbook of Fishing" by Scott and Wendy Bannerot is highly recommended.

We arrived Floreana at 4 PM, and planned 2 full days of activities after a fantastic sushi/sashimi/spicy roll dinner prepared by Chef Gram with assistance from Zak. Described as a protected anchorage, all is relative and the anchorage is a bit rolly for our taste. Not "I've got to get off this boat...I don't care if I sleep with the sea lions rolly", but enough for an occasional grumble and some noise associated sleep disturbance.

Floreana is cool. It has the feel of a an out-island in Maine and reminds me of Matinicus with it's interesting and checkered history of settlement, failed colonizations, and disappearances. There are only 100 people living on the island and enforcement of park regulations is a bit loose. This did not mean we could move around unattended, but the locals here will act as guides and we could tour the island with them. We were met by Max, a friend of Manolos of Sharksky on San Cristobal, and Max took good care of us. Yesterday we did an inland tour, hiked the highlands, and visited the island's source of water near original homestead sites in caves in the hills.

Today was awesome, as we stopped for a delivery at Post Office Bay, dove the Champion pinnacle, snorkeled Devil's Crown, and visited Punta Cormorant. We saw great wildlife including one spotted eagle ray, two penguins, three pufferfish, 40 sea turtles in the bay, and as many of the pinkest flamingos you could count. Just ask Dolly! All in all, another great day in paradise.

Tomorrow we head for Academy Bay on Santa Cruz Island where we meet Uncle Matt, Aunt Dawn, niece Adrienne, and nephew Simon. We look forward to a great week together. And Sushi.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas....Cruising Style

San Christobal, Galapagos, Ecuador

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the boat
Not a person was stirring, and we were afloat.
The dive gear was hung from the pushpit with care
Drying from the dives at Espanola where,
Zak had his first dive, and mom a refresher
and we saw a white tip shark, but not a thresher.
When out on the transom, I heard a great thump
and rushed out to find two sea lions in the middle of a hump.
In case it isn't bad enough to clean up their oil and poo
now we would have to clean up their seamen too.
I yelled and I poked, and chased them away
but they kept coming back for a roll in the hay.
Eventually they left and I managed back to sleep
and I woke up at daybreak feeling a bit like a heap.
Off to the engine room I did jump
to find in my stocking a nice broken pump.
Apart it did come and amongst all the ick
a plastic bead stuck in the valve, causing it to tick.
Fixed and back together I now can have fun
after some errands in town we have to run.
Probably off to the beach while time flies by
I will give the damn sea lions the evil eye.
so on this equatorial Christmas where I learn the hard way of the birds and the bees
Merry Christmas to all, fair winds, and following seas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Galapagos Passage & Welcome - Jo

We left Bahia de Caraquez/mainland Ecuador after being there for about 10 was more of a cruising community than Puerto Lucia so fun to meet up with some boats that are doing the same stuff we are.  Other reason for going there was cheap fuel..the last we will see for a long long time.  Did alot of boat prep and a bit more provisioning, some relaxing and hanging out.  We left for Galapagos on Sat. the 12th about noon on a rising was hairy going thru the sand bar with waves crashing against us(I hid my eyes a little of the time) but ended up just West we go and off into the great Pacific.  The first of many passages on this big big ocean.  Our first day out was quite pleasant/reasonable winds and for a change little seas.  By day two that had changed and the winds came up pretty strong and as usual not in the direction we hoped for.  Seas were quite lumpy and we heeled to a less than comfortable degree.  By that night poor Zak was quite seasick so we were down to 3 for watch tho that is what we will have to get used to as Zak will be leaving us in early Jan. and going back to the states.  Still working out the details of what he will do to finish up this gap  year but boats, sailing and being out here so unconnected to the internet are not his thing and so all have decided that it best he ducks out here.  By day 3 we decided to motor sail as we could make it in the next day and not have to do a 4th overnight.  Did that off and on which did in fact allow us to spot LAND HO early am on Tues.  Nice sight to see the high mountains of the Galapagos on the horizon and we had a lovely bunch of hours in a comfortable sail towards San Cristobal, our first stop.  Back to turquoise blue waters but not nearly as warm as the Caribbean.  Friendly town here but we are finding that you really can not do much on your own without tours/guidesand therefore major expense.  Yesterday we did an excursion to a place called Kicker Rock and did some snorkeling.  Saw Galapagos sharks, sea turtles,some large fish,marine iguanas, blue footed boobies, frigate birds, and lots of sea lions.  There are so many sea lions here and they have no fear of people...we are having a hard time keeping them off our boat which is a no no due to oil,mess and such on the transom.  Thurs we had taken our bikes and gone for what we thought was a 10 km ride up to a volcanic crater lake...however it was more like 17 k and was basically a straight up ride.  So after 3 hrs and lots of complaining and huffing and puffing we aborted and headed back down...thinking we had experience the highlands and would take the taxi the El Junco(the crater) on our way to the other side of the island next week.  Upon arriving back in town we did find that we had climbed 2000 ft up on those bikes and should have listened to the girl tour guide who suggested taking a truck with the bikes a good part of the way up rather than the young/strong guy guide who said no problema...ride up.  It only took Gram 9 minutes to get down, while I took 15 not being gutsy enough to barely brake.  Have figured out a few more activities we want to do here and will most likely stay thru Christmas as this feels like a good anchorage and the next one(Santa Cruz) is a bit more uncertain though in a larger town. Bill's brother Matt and family(Dawn, Adrienne and Simon) fly in to S. Cruz on the 31st so we will have good reason for a New Year's celebration. They will be in the Galapagos for a week and we will all spend some time on Santa Cruz and then move to Isabella.  Wishing all of you a merry merry Christmas, happy Hanukah, and peaceful New Year.  We miss all our friends at home but are having for the most part a great time.  lots of love...Jo

Friday, December 18, 2009

(Sea) Lions, & Turtles, & Bear(icudda)s...Oh My!

Isla Lobbos & Kicker Rock, Galapagos

Well, we didn't actually see Barracudas, but Sharks, Boobies, or Sea Iguanas doesn't start with a "bear". Today we went on a snorkeling expedition. The first stop was the channel inside of Isla Lobbos where we saw many sea lions both on shore and playing in the water. We swam around with them while they played tag and were VERY cute. There were also sea iguanas who unfortunately had already eaten today, so they were all on the rocks sunning themselves and trying to warm back up after their morning swims. We saw some angel fish, some cool fish with yellow lips, and Mexican Hawk fish, who look like parrot fish with a large bulbous forehead. We then crossed over the bar where we saw a green sea turtle feeding on the grass. We were able to swim along with him for 5-10 minutes from just a few feet away.

We then hopped out of the water and headed over to Kicker Rock, so called because it resembles a foot. It rises from about 100+ foot depths to almost 600 feet high. The boobies nest here and hang out on the shear cliffs (think the cliffs of insanity from "The Princess Bride" which I happen to be reading right now). We ran around the rock in the boat first, then hopped in and swam through the channel between the two rocks. There we saw King Angel fish, some Jacks, and two nice small sharks, each about 4 feet long. The channel was about 50 feet deep, but I was able to get about 35 feet down and could see the sharks quite well. We then headed off around the wall of the smaller rock where we saw some REALLY cool red coral on the wall, another sea turtle swimming along, and some other larger schools of fish.

Back on the boat, we headed to a nice beach for lunch and a few hours of lounging amongst some more sea lions. One even came right up to Martina, our tour organizer who had joined us, and tried to steal her spot in the shade. Overall an amazing day.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cruising with Wifi

San Cristobal Galapagos

I am sure this will be a continuing subject as we meander our way try across the globe, but I thought this was a fine time for an update on our Wifi system. Generally I have been VERY pleased with our wifi system. The Port Networks 250 pulls in signals at great range and seems to do fine with a fair amount of rocking and rolling. Wifi availability has been pretty good. We had excellent wifi in Cartegena, both in the anchorage from Club Nautico ($) and in our marina from Club de Pesca (free). The San Blas had ZERO coverage, but they barely had electricity so no surprises there. We were connected in Panama at Shelter Bay ($) and on a mooring at Balboa (included with mooring) in Panama City. The Las Perlas were a dead zone as we were near uninhabited islands, but we got service from the Tropic Star Lodge (free) in Bahia Pinas at the southern border of Panama. Coverage was good in La Libertad around the Puerto Lucia Yacht Club (included with dockage) as well as in Bahia de Caracas from the Puerto Amistad Yacht Club (included with mooring). In Bahia we even could pull in several signals when anchored a few miles out waiting for high tide and our Pilot, but they all were either locked or MAC address restricted.

Here in San Cristobal in the Galapagos, the City has free wifi (see screen shot above) throughout the Malecon (boardwalk) and it reaches quite well the half mile out to the anchorage, coming in stronger than the onboard Linksys router (probably due to the fact the linksys is mounted about 3" above the waterline and the Port Networks antenna is 15 feet off the water while only separated by 25'). In fact, we started pulling in working wifi 9 miles from town (see screen shot below) and more than 2.5 miles from the nearest land as we came down the western side of the island. In the Harbor I can still see that same AP (verified by mac address) I picked up 9 miles out, though there are others closer by with better signal strength. They certainly have some high powered access points here, but it is still amazing that I am getting at least 4.5 miles of working range (and maybe more) while underway at sea.

Almost universally, this is a connection shared between MANY boaters and sometimes many on shore as well, so it tends to get slow from about 10 am till 10 pm. Generally at night the connections are decent with maybe 40 to 50 kbps pretty normal. Many of these have firewalls blocking useful services and websites (blogs seem to get mislabeled as adult content quite often) though sometimes you can get around that by not using their DNS servers and inputting your own. It will be interesting to see how the coverage compares as we head west and further from civilization. I will keep up with some occasional updates for others to reference as they follow in our wake.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


San Cristobal Galapagos

We are currently 9 miles from our first harbor in the galapagos and
are managing to Pick up wifi. The passage was a little rough bit not
too bad and we made great time.

I saw two sea turtles "doin it" and a whale spout so far. More later
once we see land and hopefully some cool animals.

Update: Photo of sea lions on Malecon in downtown San Cristobal. They remind me of drunk beggars in NYC.

En Route Galapagos

0600 15 December
South Pacific Ocean
00 29.3S
88 19 2W
Winds 13 - 15 kn South to SSE

Winds have been shifty, changing in speed and direction through the night. We elected to motorsail at a low RPM
as this helped keep our speeed through any lull, and maintained a proper course towards San Cristobal. We plan to sail come daylight, and have 87 nm to go. We anticipate a late afternoon arrival at (inappropriately named) Wreck Bay.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bahia to Galapagos Day 2

South Pacific Ocean
00 08.1S 87 01.1W

Today was a rather nice day out on the ocean. The wind was decent and far enough aft to fly the reacher for part of the day and we made decent time untill the wind died off in the evening. We decided to motorsail tonight to try to make it into port before dark tomorrow so as to not have to wait offshore overnight or come into a strange harbor at night. Hopefully the wind will be cooperative tomorrow and we can sail some more.

Last night was rather rough out here...not as bad as our trip down from panama, but not so great in any event. Not a whole lot else to talk about. Zak and I are in the pilothouse, listining to David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day and looking out at the sky full of stars.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

En Route Galapagos

1800 hrs
South Pacific Ocean
00 01.8S 83 40.3W
Winds 13-15 knots SSE @ 190m
Speed 7.8 knots
COG 273m

Now 190 nm into our 565 nm passage to San Cristobal Island, we left on schedule yesterday, but we were greeted with winds stronger than anticipated, and winds with a significant westerly component . The old addage still holds: the best predictor of wind direction is from the direction to which we go. Winds did ease and come more south by midnight, but we had 12 hours of lumpy bumps till then.

Morale remained high, bouyed by Jo's dinner feast including Chicken Marbella, cous cous, green salad, and fresh strawberries with whipped cream for desert. Last night was uneventful with nary a ship in sight, but the wind today has continued to be more forward of the beam than ideal, and we have sailed close reaching nearly all day in 14 - 18 knots of breeze. Seas are modest, and this has been quite manageable...although I find myself falling asleep dreaming of south-easterlies.

Another first will occurfor us tonight as we have our first high speed potatoe latkes - consumed at 8 knots. At this point, we continue to hope for arrival Tuesday evening around dusk, but it will be close. We'll keep you posted.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bahia de Caraquez

Captains Log
Bahia de Caraquez
00 36.4S
80 25.3W

Today is the day we begin to head west as we will depart Bahia for the Galapagos Islands at 11:30 AM today. Our departure time is determined by the high tide at 12:40 PM; we will "hire" a pilot to navigate us out and over the sandbar, as we did on the way in. After we pass the bar, it is essentially a single port tack sail as we head barely south of west. We have been checking weather and delayed a potential departure yesterday as our Expedition program predicted a 12 hour period of stronger winds than we desired at the outset. It was a good move as we would have beem close hauled for the initial hours with winds up to 16 - 18 knots true, which is not a good way to start a passage...besides it was a Friday!

Today we anticipate SW winds 8-10 knots as we exit the bar and expect to be close hauled early on, but the wind should shift more southerly as we head west tonight, and we anticipate beam sailing around 10 knots for the remainder of the 560 nm. trip.

We will check into the Galapagos at San Cristobal Island, Puerto Moreno Baqueriz and we will plan daily updates.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Leaving for Galapagos

We leave tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 11:00 (high tide) for the Galapagos. It should be about 4 days which will leave plenty of time for some posts. Bahia has been OK, with the highlight being that I have played tennis 3 times with some of the other cruisers, including today for 3 hours starting at 11:30 in the heat of the sun. Lots of fun, but I didn't have near enough water with me.

Looking forward to seeing some boobies (the blue footed variety) in the Galapagos.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fixing Your Boat in Exotic (?) Ports

Bahia de Caracas - Ecuador (NE of Manta)

Well, Bahia may not be that exotic, but we came here with some chores in mind and the last two days we got a lot of them done.

The first big job was unexpected as our second AC refrigeration circulating pump failed in one month. There seems to be some design flaw with these new jabsco pumps that eats through impellers and lip seals like there is no tomorrow. We replaced it with a spare March pump that we had for the AirCon and it works great in harbor, but I am afraid of using it long term as it is not self priming and the engine room isn't that far below the waterline. We will know more by the time we get to the Galapagos next week.

Our biggest job was replacing the membrane in the watermaker which entailed preserving the old one in "pickling" solution, flushing the system, and installing the new one. It actually went pretty quickly and we even had time to finally finish screwing the watermaker base back down into place.

The other big chore of the day was getting fuel. A big reason we came to Bahia is that the fuel is cheaper there, but not the easiest to get. We ordered about 300 gal which comes in 100gal increments on a panga with a black rotomolded tank and sketchy rotary vane pump. Carlos pulled his boat up and started the pump up. It immediately seized which required him to free the vanes with a kitchen knife. To re prime the pump he reaches into the tank, pulls up the pickup hose, fills it with fuel and blows the fuel into the pump, quickly pushing the hose back under the fuel level so it doesn't pull too much air in. This worked for the first 100 gallons. While Carlos went back to the gas station where apparently he fills his tank using a two long hoses and a few chairs to prop it up we went about filtering the fuel and distributing into our other storage tanks, being careful not to overfill and force fuel out the vents and all over the deck. When they returned 45 min later and started up the pump, it seized again, this time breaking one of the remaining 3 vanes. It didn't work with just two vanes, so they went about fabricating vanes out of scraps of wood. I supplied some more finished scraps, sandpaper, and a saw so they could stop using the steak knife to saw wood and in 30 mins they had created 4 teak vanes that fit the pump fairly well. This worked and we got our next 100 gallons. Again they went to fill back up while we filtered the fuel into other tanks, filling the aft and mid tanks and leaving room for 85 more gallons which they filled in two more trips as we underestimated the first time. In between trips I managed to fix the manual Salt water pump in the galley so we can conserve our water more easily. By 6:00 we had finally finished and headed in for showers and dinner, followed by a short walk to some great ice cream.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hola from Ecuador

Where did Nov go??? Since I wrote last we have had a wonderful visit from Sierra, Rob and Emma which included some travels around Ecuador with them and then we spent another 2 weeks seeing more of this beautiful diverse country. We met up with the Dietz' in Quito on Nov 6 (Bill returned from a work stint in W. that same time). Had one day to explore the old city of Quito the highlight being La Compania, a church with more gold than any of us will ever see in our lifetime...the architecture and grandeur was quite something and one can only think how important the Catholic religion is to the 95%of the population that are in that sector. From there we went about 2-3 hrs North with a guide/taxi driver who showed us some interesting towns,treats and sights. Spent the afternoon in Cotatachi, the leather capital where Zak scored a beautiful leather jacket and Sierra and I drooled over some pretty bags in lots of colors. We ended the day at our pretty little hotel in Peguche..La Casa del Sol...complete with a few resident llamas, and colorful courtyards in a pretty little mountain setting. Bill and I went for a run up to the waterfall that is a very sacred place to the natives. We have loved seeing how important family and enjoyment is to the locals and note how much weekend time is spent doing things together with 2-4 generations of the families . Next am we all went back there to revisit these falls and had a great pre-breakfast hike.

After a yummy meal we headed in 2 taxis to our next stop...Hacienda Zuleta. Amazing countryside and colorful indigineous dress were part of our sights,along with windy,bumpy roads leading heaven knows where. 2 hrs later we arrived at Zuleta ...where the idea is of being taken into the home of a wealthy,old,Ecuadorian family....that they did. The first impression of luxury was flowers floating in the toilets in our rooms!!! Lunch was amazing as was every meal they served us those 2 days...local farm raised trout, cheeses from their dairy,quinoa soup,and deserts to die for. When they found that Zak wasn't fond of fish they asked if he would be OK with a beef tenderloin...twist his arm and watch him smile...We went on a hike that first afternoon up to a condor lookout point and despite the altitude we were able to make it up there...amidst some huffing and puffing/especially by the ones that had Emma in the backpack. The land here is all farmed and the places they are planting crops( at angles like 80%) quite a sight. Day two Sierra, Gram, Jo and Zak saddled up and went on a 4 hr ride with a guide who took us all over the Zuleta property. Bill rode a bike and R & E met up with us at the beginning when we saw the condor rehabilitation area they have set up. HUGE birds that were something to see. Afternoon had us milking some cows (Bill had the best technique) and Emma thought it all pretty funny. We spent the early eve. beside a roaring fire, tasting the various cheeses that are made here and enjoying some wine and the company before yet another amazing meal served up family style with a few other guests joining us.

Sadly the next morning (late as we could make it) we had to leave and headed to Otavalo, the town that is best known for it's fabulous market. So we a few things for the store to resell and had fun with the haggling thing ...a colorful experience to say the least. Rob got a little sick,maybe from the altitude, maybe a bug but was better in 24 hrs at least. Next morning we took the bus back to Quito (windy road so not a terribly pleasant experience) and then flew to Guayaquil to return to the boat for a few days. LONG day but felt good to be able to settle in to something familiar for a couple of days.

Fri. was not particularly nice day...back to the grey skies of the coast so we went to the fresh market and fish market and showed Rob and Sierra this new way we shop for food. Laid low and just enjoyed being together and watching Emma be her totally cute self. Sat we awoke to a beautiful sunshiny day/the best one we had had in La Libertad. Hung at the pool all day! Back to grey the next day but we went to the beach in the next town for a bit of the afternoon anyway. Mon. we all packed up, bused back to Guayaquil and took a 50 min. flight to Quito. these short hops on the National airlines are reasonably inexpensive, very prompt and efficient and save 10-12 hrs on exhausting bus rides! Back in Quito we wandered into a Mongolian restaurant that serves lots of vegies and meats that you pile in bowls and they cook on a big grill. All you can eat(they lose money for sure on Zak and Bill) and the cost for the 7 of us with drinks was a mere 60.00. Can't beat that!

Next morning was a sad one as we were sending R,S, and E off to the airport to fly home. Realizing this would be the longest time I will ever (in our 34 yrs together) be away from Sierra was very hard. And Emma will be a different kid when I see her in May(next plan is for them to meet us in Tahiti). She was an amazing traveler and has more stamps on her passport than many grownups I know. Just a few moments after they left we got a text from Sierra saying that they had forgotten Dolly in their bed at the hotel. So we picked her up and now we will chronicle "Travels with Dolly" for Emma.

So they were off and we headed to the French Embassy to finish up our long stay Visas for the French Polynesian Islands. It was remarkably smooth..thanks to earlier legwork started in Boston before we left for Panama and we were out of there in an hour. So, trying a new approach to travel to have the flexibility of our own wheels we rented a car and headed for the Quilotoa Loop...a Park/highland area south of Quito. The roads and detours make driving the backroads of main look smooth as glass but the vistas were worth it. after 5-6 hrs we arrived at our next stop/ Black Sheep of the many Ecotourist places that have gotten so popular in Ecuador. Very crunchy...Zak got his first view into how his hippy mom lived when she first arrived in Maine so many years ago..complete with composting toilet that like ours was in a greenhouse structure. The vegetarian meals served there were quite good and we enjoyed the family style dining once again meeting some interesting who were also travelling Ecuador. Hired a guide to take us into the cloud forest the next day and went on a good hike seeing the valleys below and all the native farmers tending crops and herding sheep and cows. These people work so hard physically it would blow your minds. Little old ladies carrying humongous bundles of crops and brush on their backs...and many doing it barefoot! We are such pussies. The boys drove back..getting quite lost along the way so we beat them back even tho' we walked back thru a few towns and over the hills and valleys to Black Sheep. Rainy afternoon so we relaxed(what's that??) by a woodstove reading and talking to some of the other guests.

Next morning we headed out, giving a ride and an enjoyable extra visit with Neda, a young Aussie who has been travelling in So. America for a year. We stopped at the famous Quilotoa Crater...a Lake formed in the crater of one of the Volcanoes and hiked down a ways. Drove thru more beautiful farmlands perched high in these steep steep cliffs and stumbled into an Artisans Gallery in Tigua where these somewhat famous paintings are done on Sheepskin. We each purchased one and will have great memories spurred on by them as they really do a good job depicting the landscape and the lifestyle of the highlands. Dropped Neda off in Latacunga and headed toward one of the more reknowned markets but it was kind of late so we missed most of it. On to next hotel near Cotopaxi Nat'l Park...a nice place that served quite a tasty dinner so we were happy once again. (Steak for Zak after 2days of trying to get into vegetarian cooking) .

The next morning was very cloudy so we decided to pass on going to see Cotopaxi(highest Volcano in Ecuador) as it would be shrouded in clouds anyway and will try to catch it on our way back thru in a few days. So headed south to Banos...a resort town known for its thermal baths and a place that Bills brother Matt had suggested as his best friend Charles' stepdaughter was working at an Ecohotel there. So, landed at la Casa Verde in the early afternoon, explored town a bit, and went to the baths early that evening before we went out for a fun Mexican dinner with Sophie and a few of her friends. Adventure for the next day was decided on...a bike ride thru a tunnel or two and along some roads and some bike paths on a route that followed a string of waterfalls. I think we saw 5 in total..hiking to some of them and stopping for lunch along the way. They were quite awesome and I'm hoping that you all are checking out the blog as many of the pics from these past few weeks have been posted I think...check the upper right corner for a link to the web albums on the, fun ride followed by another good meal out that night and back to our hotel for some good sleep.

Got going fairly early on Sun so that we could stop on our way to Quito in was quite a sight to see that volcano coming in and out of the clouds and again the driving was beautiful albeit grueling...cobblestone roads make for slow go but the sights are worth it. Returned to Quito (rental car worked out better than incidents or accidents/hooray) for the night with an early departure next day for the jungle. We had booked ourselves at Sacha Lodge one of the premier jungle lodges and were in for a treat. Started with a 30min flight to Coca/an oil frontier on the Napo River, then a 2 1/2 hr motorized canoe ride up the river, followed by a 20 min hike and a short canoe ride across a tanin lake to the lodge. It proved to be more luxurious than we had expected and the food and activities there were awesome. Did evening hikes and canoe rides with and English speaking guide and native naturalist who showed us much of what life in the jungle has to offer. There are 2 towers which get you above the canopy and from there we could see amazing and abundant birds...never thought watching birds would be all that exciting but the variety and colorfulness made it pretty cool. We saw monkeys and lots of insects and learned alot about the medicinal plants that the indigineous Indians in this area all use. Pretty fascinating combined with relatively comfortable comforts and fabulous food made a great combo. Afternoons we had some time off which was good because they had 5:30-6:00am wakeup calls to get out and about while it was still cool and the animals were most active. The lake proved to be a great afternoon spot to cool off and get a nap in/not in the lake but on the dock of course! Had three nights at Sacha and would encourage anyone who wanted to venture off to Ecuador to book there. Return trip was the same as arrival in reverse putting us back in Quito early afternoon with a connecting flight to Cuenca...our last stop on this journey thru inland Ecuador.

Cuenca is very different...much more cultured, wealthy,and westernized. A colonial city with drop dead architecture we found it both charming and of definite interest as a place to live for a winter time escape from the frigid North. Had Thanksgiving dinner at a 5 star restaurant that was recommended to us by our innkeeper who spoke great English. All the other patrons were Ecuadorian and obviously were not celebrating Thanksgiving but otherwise having their own celebrations... We missed being with our families in particular that night as Tgiving is certainly my favorite holiday...having no retail bent and just being about family,food and being grateful. A four course dinner for all 4 of us (the boys eating all that they could indulge in) cost a mere 100. Would have been a 400. dinner in NY and couldn't have been any better! Saw some good museums, wandered the streets and gawked at the beautiful buildings vowing to return to Cuenca at a later date. Sat. we hopped on a late morning bus back to Guayaquil with transfer to La Libertad and our return to Visions...The bus ride was scarier than scary and all I could imagine was falling off the steep cliffs that had no guardrails and plunging down into a ravine to be written about days later...but we did fine and arrived safely if not terribly carsick and tired from the journey.

So that's the story/sage of our travels thru Ecuador...saw some fabulous sights, ate some wonderful meals and are readying ourselves for the next phase of this include moving the boat up the coast a bit to a place that more cruisers hang out in preparation for our next leg to the Galapagos in a week to 10 days. Zak has been working on getting himself a position at a research lab so that he can make sense of this gap year but not have to stick it out on the surprises but he really cannot wrap his arms around this cruising life and goes from miserable to minorly unhappy but it clearly is not working for him. So he will be able to get to enjoy the Galapagos( the most desirable part of the trip for him anyway) and then probably head home and on to Montreal or Bar Harbor for the rest of the winter...And then there were 3 (me, Bill and Gram that is) So more to follow..hope I have not tired you out or completely bored you with all the details...since nothing was written for a full month there was alot to tell...Miss our peeps and at times our comforts of home but all in all having a great Jo

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Amazon & Cuenca

Sacha Lodge - 00 29.2S 76 26.3W 2hrs down river from Coca, Ecuador

After a 45 min flight to Coca, we were met by a bus and taken to Sacha's City House for a box lunch and briefing. We then all piled into the long motorized canoe for a two hour ride down the meandering river. The skilled driver managed to find his way down the river without hitting any of the many downed trees or sand bars. We then had a 20 minute hike through the woods on a boardwalk in the rain to arrive at the black water lake, so called due to the high tannin content making it rather dark. A short paddle by canoe brought us to the lodge where we were served some drinks and apps while told a bit more about our coming activities before being shown to our very nice cabins. At 7:00 we got our rubber boots, at 7:30 we had a scrumptious dinner, and at 8:30 we got to appreciate our rubber boots during a night walk.

We saw many grasshoppers and crickets, a few tree frogs, a small snake, many spiders and a few stick insects (like a praying mantis). My favorite was the tree frogs, with their cute toes and big eyes. The late night was followed by and early 6:00 wake up for our first hike out towards the northeast corner of the reserve which included monkeys, some birds, and some neat descriptions of what some of the plants are used for by our native Spanish speaking guide Benjamin while our English speaking naturalist guide, Fernando, translated and discussed the insects we were seeing. Bill unfortunately got stung by a Bullet Ant, so called due to the pain involved in the sting. Luckily, he got hit on the leg muscle, which isn't quite as bad as a fatty area or highly sensitive areas like the hands. He recovered after lunch in time to fish for paranahs (no luck unfortunately, but they ate a lot of our bait) and at 4:00 we went to the top of a large tree via a wooden observation tower to bird-watch. Never thought we would enjoy birding so much, but it was quite enjoyable to find the colorful birds amongst the tree tops and view them either via my travel binoculars (thanks dad...they are great!) or the spotting scope Fernando had brought. We stayed in the tree till the sun went down and canoed back in the dark, looking for caimans, a smaller cousin of the crocodile (though not that small).

Our second full day started at 5:30 for a very early morning viewing from the steel canopy walk. Again, we were mostly bird watching, seeing toucans, parakeets, and many other colorful birds. The walk back included more monkeys, including a pygmy marmoset up close and personal. Our afternoon activity was a short hike followed by a relaxing canoe ride back to the lodge to finish off an amazing day.

Our last morning was a later start, then we replayed the arrival procedure in reverse, canoeing across the lake, hiking to the river, and motoring back to coca, then onto a plane to Quito. We followed that flight with one to Cuenca.

Cuenca - South-East Ecuador

We arrived late afternoon and found our hotel, Casa Ordonez, an amazingly restored colonial home still owned by the grandson of an old Cuenca land-owner, who used to own the entire block and much else before the 2nd generation blew the fortune by not working and gambling. He spoke excellent english, having served in the US Navy for 6 years. We went to a wonderful french restaurant for our Thanksgiving Dinner (how very american of us).

For Black Friday (not quite the holiday here that it is back in the states), we went to the Central Bank Museum, which includes a floor of art, a floor of cultural exhibits describing the different regions of Ecuador, a floor of archialogical finds from the ruins out back showing pre-Incan civilization and some info on the Incan & Colonial eras, as well as a floor showing the history of Ecuadorian currency, the most interesting exhibit as far as I was concerned. It gave an appreciation for our founding fathers establishing a central bank as Ecuador had several different currencies offered by the large banks in the country until the 1930's when they created a central bank and offered Sucre until the 90's when hyper inflation forced them to adopt the US dollar.

Saturday was the travel day from hell, spending almost 8 hours on buses before getting home to the boat at about 7:45. Now our vacation is over and it is time to get back to work so we can leave La Libertad on Thursday next week.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Roads... We don't need no stinkin' roads!

Quilatoa Loop & Banos – SSE of Quito

We parted ways with Sierra Rob & Emma 0n Tuesday the 17th and spent our morning at the French Consulate finally getting our French Polynesian temporary long stay visas glued into our passports. We then rented a car and headed south on the Panamerican Highway toards a loop of road called the Quilatoa loop. Getting off the highway a bit north of Latacunga, we headed west on some dirt roads. Shortly thereafter the worst detour in the world had us off-roading over dirt berms and up crazy switchbacks. The front wheel drive hyundai suv barely made it, but eventually we got back onto the normal dirt & cobbled road on our way to the Black Sheep Inn, located at about 11,000 feet near the town of Chucchilan. We settled in there while Bill got lost on a run up the mountain, getting back just in time for dinner. Served family style, the vegetarian meals where a nice time to meet the other travelers. We met two Washingtonites, Mac & Frouda (sp?), a Canadian/Finnish/Indian mas San, and a young Aussie, Neda...all very interesting and friendly people. Wednesday we took a local guide, drove partway up the mountain, and hiked up into the cloudforest, a high altitude (12,500') tropical forest. It had amazing trees and plants and more moss than you could shake a stick at. Luckily, the clouds parted for our lunch and we were treated to some amazing views of the surrounding countryside. After lunch, Mom & Bill hiked back down the mountain in the rain while Zak and I got very lost trying to drive back. After an hour and a half offr-oading on mountain ridges, we finally found our way back nd all enjoyed an afternoon near the fire reading and talking, while it rained outside.

Thursday morning we left the lodge with Neda keeping us company and drove to the Quilatoa Lake, set within a dormant volcanic crater. The day was incredibly clear and you could see the mountain peaks behind the large crater. We hiked up to 12,800 feet, the highest we have ever been as well as about 1/3rd of the way down the crater towards the lake before turning back to have enough time to see the rest of the loop. Our next stop was the artisan cooperative in Tigua where some talented painters do their work in a distinctive style on sheep hides. We bought a few keepsakes and one medium sized painting and were back on our way. Around 2:00 we dropped Neda off in Puji (we thought it was Latacunga till we got there 5 miles further down the road –oops, but we were sure Neda had already caught a bus by then, headed south towards Cuenca). In Latacunga, we rejoined the Panamerican Highway and headed up to Saquisili, in search of the famous markets. It seems all but the food markets were closed up by 3, so we wandered around, grabbed luch for the following day and headed to our hotel in San Mateo.

Friday, the weather was overcast, so we skipped our planned visit to mount Cotopaxi and headed southeast towards Banos, a resort town famous for their hot baths and active volcano. We arrived at our hotel in time to make lunch in their kitchen and meet Sophie, stepdaughter of Charles who rode bikes across Tibet with Uncle Matt, and the reason we were staying at the Casa Verde Lodge. In the afternoon we walked around town and made plans for the following day before heading to the baths and a great mexican dinner with Sophie and two of her adult friends in town.

Saturday Bill, Jo, San (who we caught up to the afternoon before), and I hiked up to the ridge overlooking the town (not very pretty really with a fairly dirty city in the foreground, and then we all (zak included) rented bikes for a 17k ride down the valley of cascades. We saw several amazing waterfalls, finishing up with Boca Diablo, the Devil's Mouth. Bill rode home while we took a truck up the hills.

Sunday we left Banos early and found our way, eventually, back to Cotopaxi, an amazing snow capped volcano and national park. We have to say, if it was as hard to find, and drive on the roads in american national parks, no one would ever go, but the views were amazing and well worth the sore back from the rough drive. We then drove back to Quito in prep for our flight this morning to Coca and our stay in the Sacha Jungle lodge.

Also note that Zak's Flikr album is now linked to on the right and is being updated more often, so go there to see some pics from our adventures.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

North of Quito Wrap Up, and Zuletta Nirvana/ Captain on the Hard

Chugchilan, Ecuador


R,S, & E have left Ecuador (Booooo). We are now south of Quito on the well known Quilatoa loop, but  a few northern stories remain that should be told as we move on. When we stayed in Peguche, we hiked to the "cascada" , the falls that give the town it's name (see a picture in an earlier post). Peguche in Spanish means "breath, or vapors, of the water" and these falls hold spiritual powers in the eyes of indigenous peoples. Looking closely, you can see a mystic cloud over the falls, and one can understand a sense of reverence that accompanies it. Through the ages, the indigina have used the waters for ritual baths, cleansing, and empowerment. I could not help but take a moment to steal Emma away and  anoint and bathe her with water from the falls. In the future, if Emma develops telekinesis, or can foretell the future, you might have me to blame!


I enjoyed several special experiences at Hacienda Zuleta. Their condor restoration project continues to grow, and it was noted that the 8 wild condors we saw that morning were about 20% of the entire wild condor population of Ecuador – which really put things into perspective for me. The view from the aptly named "Valley of the Condors" was spectacular in every direction, but I left the group and their horses to bicycle back to the hacienda, through the town, and up an adjacent ridge. The views were golden, but roads were paved in cobblestone, and it was a jarring ride up hills steep enough to relieve me from the saddle for short periods.


The roads turned to dirt, and farmland was tilled through 45 degree inclines. Thomas, the manager at Zuleta, had described a hiking trail atop the roads that crested the ridge, and I managed to make it up to a vista that looked down the other side to the fairly sizable city of Ibarra below. While there was a small lake further around the volcano I was circumnavigating, I turned back - both tired and unwilling to miss even one meal at our hacienda. The ride down was hairy, as I constantly reminded myself to sit back and not to squeeze the front brake. I later learned that I climbed just shy of 3000'.


Earlier that morning while at the condor aviary, Thomas had described a hike further up into the valley through some of the last virgin high altitude jungle/cloud forest in Ecuador or all of South America. I was intrigued, but we had less than one morning left for the 4 hour hike. In light of my interest, Thomas arranged an early morning start the next day, but no one else elected to accept a 6 AM alarm. This became another unforgettable experience as I and my guide Antonio set off at 0630. We hiked along a stream through the valley (forded it no less than a dozen times up and down) and then up towards the jungle as my guide described various medicinal plants, birds, and flowers. He was excited to find a feather from a large wild bird. Good luck, it quickly adorned the band of his fedora-like hat. Part of the "trail" had been cut earlier that month and we somewhat easily followed a path up to the first set of falls. Beyond that, I learned to stay at least two machete swing lengths behind trail cutting Antonio. The jungle was thick and thorny in places and moss covered trees were covered in vines that criss-crossed the trail. One quickly learned to sense the grip of a vine over your foot, and I was thankful for the hat that protected my head from low hanging branches. Our ultimate goal was "los cavos", or "the caves" and Antonio had not been there this year. It was necessary to radio the hacienda and check directions, but we found the trail and continued up. We were pushing the clock at this point, but my guide really wanted me to reach our goal. After passing the first set, we made it to the second. They were large enough to be home to jungle fauna; we found footprints of a large cat outside. We were the first visitors of the season, and nearby we spotted the body of a young jaguar – about 2 ½ feet long. I realized how special this was when the guide radioed down to talk of our find. The jaguar carries a powerful spirit and Antonio took the tip of the tail and one paw for good luck. As we headed home, we stopped and whistled every fifty yards or so in order for the spirits to follow us down into the valley. Very cool!


I made it back in time for a quick shower, and joined the rest of the crew for an 11 Am taxi to Otovalo, where the story continues…


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hacienda Zuletta

Hacienda Zuleta - NE of Quito, Ecuador - 00 12.1N 78 05.2W - 8963' Elevation

We arrived at Zuleta on Monday morning after a longer than expected cab ride over the cobbled mountain roads from Ibarra through the towns of Esparanza and Angochagua. We were greeted by Thomas, the German manager of the Family home of a famous Ecuadorian family and previous President. The Farm includes over 5000 acres of land and abuts even larger preserve areas, over 100 horses, several hundred cows for production of milk and cheese, organic gardens and a small city of workers who all have been working the farm for generations and have their own small houses, plots, and cows strewn about the land. The guest house is amazing, with 14 guest rooms, a beautiful living room, library, kitchen, dining room, entertainment spaces, and a wonderful enclosed courtyard that is a wonderful place in the afternoon to catch a little of the VERY strong sun.

We were shown our rooms, noted the fresh flowers strewn about (including in the toilets) and had an amazing lunch, starting with three of their cheeses, Barely soup, and chicken with a sweet onion reduction, to be followed by home made vanilla and mandarin ice cream. Thoroughly stuffed, we headed on a hike up to about 10,300 feet where a wonderful view of "The Valley of the Condors" awaited us along with wonderful vistas of the surrounding mountains. We got back in time for a shower, short rest, and then some of their aged cheeses, including a 6 month aged cheddar, and an 8 month aged pepper Jack that were almost as intense and hard as Parmesan or Pecarino cheeses. Dinner followed with a Quinoa soup that was to die for and some wonderful Pork tenderloin. After cofee and some more time around the fire, we retired to our rooms to find a fire blazing and hot water bottles in our beds...quite luxurious.

Tuesday morning we were up for an 8:00 breakfast with fresh from the farm yogurt and eggs/pancakes to order. Mom, Sierra, Zak, and I then got dressed for horseback riding and met our horses while Bill got a mountain-bike and Rob took care of Emma. We all met at the Condor Habitation Project the Hacienda runs (Rob & Emma by Jeep) to see both captive breeding Condors and their wild friends who come to visit each day. Ecuadorian Condors are quite beautiful (except for their heads) and Huge with at least 8 foot wingspans (hard to tell really). The viewing was superb as the wild ones (juveniles as well as adults) flew around and landed on the cages. After 20 mins of viewing we mounted back up with our guide Andres, Bill got on his bike for a solo ride up to 12,000 feet for a view across the valley, and Rob and Emma hiked back to the house.

We had an excellent ride, covering much of the Zuleta lands, and saw our guide's house on the side of a hill and many beautiful vistas of the mountains as well as the valley below. We returned at about 1:30, just in time for a lunch of Grilled Trout with Lemon Butter, caught that morning from the Hacienda's Trout Farm. It was this amazing salmon like pink/orange color and was some of the best fish I have ever had. For the afternoon, we saw the calf's in their barn (Sierra & Zak offering their hands to be suckled on) and then went to the manual milking shed to watch the local women milk the cows. They are amazingly fast, getting about 4 gallons of milk from a cow in just a few minutes. We all tried, Bill having the best technique, and then headed back to the house for a few hours of relaxing and showers before dinner. Our final big meal was Swiss chard soup and a rice and chicken souffle, followed by a HUGE flan made in a bunt cake pan.

This morning Bill left at 6:30 for a 3+ hour hike into the 300 year old primary forest, which I will let him talk about separately while we had another nice breakfast and then a tour of the cheese factory where they process over 6000 liters of milk per day. We finished off our morning with a tour of the organic gardens where they grow all the food for the Hacienda as well as send boxes of fresh veggies to the Owner's family each week.

Next we head to Otavalo to see the Wednesday Market. More on that later.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In Quito/Captain on the Hard

Quito, Ecuador


Nine thousand three feet high yet only15 miles south of the equator, Quito is proving itself to be a charming, yet modern city. In several ways, it reminds me of Cartegena, another South American city we have explored. There is a well preserved and UNESCO protected old city adorned with winding narrow streets and flower filled balconies. Every where you turn you might find a Church glittering in gold leaf, or a plaza teaming with people and trees in bloom. Adjacent to this, one also finds a modern city with all it's entrapments including fancy hotels and shopping.


In terms of history, once again we are looking back multiples of thousand of years. One reads of 5000 year old artifacts and throws around terms such as "Pre-Columbian", as Quito is named after the Quitua Amerindians, an indigenous people who lived at the most northern extent of the South American Inca empire. Initially overthrown in a Peruvian invasion, Quito became a Spanish subcolony in the late 1500's. A proliferation of grandiose churches followed and later, Quito became known for painters and a prototypical genre of artists. Of course, time was also marked with fires that razed the city, revolutions, and rebellions. Ecuador became independent in 1830, within the wave of independence that flowed through Latin America in the early 19th century.


I arrived in Quito late November 6th accompanied by our long awaited visitors, Emma, Rob, and Sierra. Emma is proving to be quite the traveler. She plays and occupies herself quite nicely – although it helps that this youngest generation (hereby dubbed  by me as gen-i), grows up thinking that it is normal to watch Curious George movies on your dad's iphone while you are flying south of the equator on vacation. Jo, Gram, and Zak were waiting for us, and the three bags of boat parts and treats I carried, (thanks, M&D) at the hotel.


In Quito, we walked and absorbed the ambience of the old city. Our first stop was the Church of La Compania de Jesus, reputed to be the most grandiose church in all of Latin America. Cavernous and dripping with gold leaf, the ornate ceiling is known as the Cistene Chapel of South America. The church suffered a fire in the mid 1990's and there was much damage. Most of the ceiling was covered in soot, plaster fell from the water of hoses, and beautiful details were lost. Ultimately, it was felt that the church was so incredibly Baroque that it had to be fixed, and after a decade long restoration it re-opened several years ago. Curiously, a singular face in a ceiling frieze was left untouched and remained darkened with soot. We felt that this was an attempt to be PC. Afterwards, we strolled towards lunch. The plazas teemed with people, and we found a typical lunch in the oldest café in the city. We visited the arboretum in the afternoon, and then headed back to our hotel.


The neighborhood we stayed in, the Mariscal, bridges the old and the new city. It was a popular area for small hotels, tour agencies, well equipped outdoor stores, and was alive with nightlife. We were tired enough so that any night time antics were barely a bother. Dinner was at an Argentinean grilled meat restaurant, where we enjoyed some of the best meats any of us had ever had – very memorable.


After Quito, we will begin our exploration of the areas to the north. Volcanoes, lakes, local markets, and table cloths leather jackets await us.   More to follow soon.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Peguche Waterfall Before Breakfast

Peguche Ecuador 00 14.3 N 78 14.3W

Back in the Northern Hemisphere, we went to a beautiful lake in Cotatachi as well as some amazing leather markets where Zak got a new jacket. Dinner and evening Scatergories was held at Casa Del Sol in Peguche where this morning we went for a quick hike to this beautiful waterfall.

This afternoon we head to Hacienda Zuletta for 2 days of hiking, biking, horseback riding, and relaxing in an organic dairy farm.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dinner with Emma

Quito Ecuador

A wonderful dinner at an Argentinean Steak House was the highlight of the day that included visits to some pretty spectacular churches and some cool streets as well as the botanical gardens. Emma had Spegetti and enjoyed much of it, leaving the rest on the floor.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Updated Pictures

No real news except that the sun finally came out yesterday and today Zak finished his Open Water Diver Certification, so now can dive with us. Also had enough time to finally upload some new pics to the Picassa Web Albums (or see link on right hand side at the top).

Still more photos to go, plus a timelapse video of the Canal to create and upload. If only there were about 40 hours in a day.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I have two articles published in the last month or so. The first was a reprint of my Chesapeake Sailing Yacht Symposium paper on the new Navy 44's, and was published by Professional Boatbuilder. You can see the table of contents here, and pick up a copy at your local marine bookstore. This one even ended up being a paid gig.

My second article is paying in satellite airtime only, but it will help a bunch as I can do my testing with data I actually want to send and receive anyway, so there is some benefit to the boat for all the time it is taking. My first of a series of articles on small broadband capable satellite phones just came out on Panbo. It gets credit as the longest Panbo article to date, and hopefully, combined with my next phase of testing will make a decent magazine article in a few more months. Exciting for me and something I hoped to have more time to spend on during the trip, if I could stop spending all my time fixing things.

Friday, October 23, 2009

La Libertad - Ecuador

La Libertad - Ecuador

It has taken a few days and over 12 hours of adjusting lines, but we are finally settled into the marina. We are tied up "med-moore" style, with the stern against a fload and the bow held by mooring balls. There is a 12 foot tide and an amazing amount of surge that makes it pretty tricky to get the boat close enough to the dock to get on and off without ramming the dock and dinging the transom. Yesterday we moved after finally getting everything adjusted in our first spot, but the new spot is much better with a little less surge and much better things to tie off to (including several lines to shore). Not to complain, as we heard the news of snow in the northeast, but it is actually almost cold here, with highs around 75 and lows down to 68 at night. Great sleeping weather and for the first time in a while you don't go to bed sweaty. Wouldn't mind it a bit warmer as there are two very nice pools here that are calling my name.

We head off to Guyaquil tomorrow to send Bill home for work. It is a 2 to 2.5 hour bus ride which hopefully isn't too interesting (i.e. no barnyard animals). Mom, Zak, and I then bus back Sunday afternoon and kill some time before Sierra, Rob, & Emma fly back with Bill in 2 weeks. I will try to back post some images and upload some web albums next week when I finally have some time, so stay tuned.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pollywog No More

The Equator - 00 00.0N/S 81 04.99W

1:43:10 Eastern Standard Time

We have just crossed into the Southern Pacific Ocean, marking the first Equatorial crossing for all onboard. Haven't tried flushing a toilet yet, of course since the heads were designed to induce rotation, I don't think that will very exciting anyway.

Another raunchy night, but the end is in sight so we are pushing hard.

Panama to Ecuador Day 3

88 miles west of Colombia/Ecuador Border - 01 49.5N 80 21.8W

Our 24 hours of horror seem to be over. We are still motoring directly into the wind/seas, but the wind is down to 8-10 kts and the waves are down to 3-4 ft, so we are back up to 7.5 kts (was as low as 6 kts last night) and we aren't quite as misserable. We still have a day and a half left to go, but the last 12 hours shouldn't be as bad as we turn the corner and should have a beam reach into port. The lastest weather routing has us getting in at about 2:30 am so we will either need to make better time (average faster than about 7.3 kts) or slow down towards the end to come in at first light.

Otherwise not much to say. I am writing to you via our new KVH FB150 SatCom which we now have operational. Looking forward to our impending equatorial crossing. Still not sure what we will do for the occasion. Our eta to the equator is about 16 hours, also putting it in the middle of the night. Also, we are all pollywogs on board, so not sure how to innitiate all of us.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Panama to Ecuador Day 2

70 miles of Colombian Coast - 03 44.9N 79 47.6W

Day one was beutiful and quite enjoyable, but today sucks! We are effectively beating our heads against a wall, pounding into moderate seas with 15 kts on the bow. We are safe, but far from comfortable.

Too hard to type much more. Hopefully this weather breaks a bit soon.

Friday, October 16, 2009

5 Fish Day

Bahia Pinos - Southern Panama - 07 30N 78 13W

Wednesday (14th) we headed down to Bahia Pinos, right along the southern border with Colombia. It was a bit of raunchy sail (motor mostly with 10-15 kts on the bow), but was made brighter by an amazing day of fishing. First we caught two Bonito, a small (10lb), light fleshed Tuna (possibly a dogtooth Tuna, but unsure of the American name), both in quick succession. Before I had even started cleaning the second fish, we had another bite...this one a 15lb Yellowfin Tuna, the holly grail of Sushi Fish. Before we could bring the other line in we had a small Dorado (10 lb). We decided to put the head of the Yellowfin Tuna out on a hook and see what happened. I finished bleeding and filleting the Tunas and left the Dorado for Bill. Just as Bill was finishing the small Dorado, our reel started whirring with the sound of line being pulled out at a clip. We slowed the boat down and I started fighting the large fish that had bitten the tuna head. It was quite the fight, and as I got the fish close to the boat we could see it was a LARGE Bull Dorado. Just as I had gotten it up to the surface and Bill way trying to grab the leader, he took one last dive, driving under the boat and forward. Luckily Zak had come out to help steer the boat and was able to drive the boat forward fast enough he couldn't pull the line into the prop. He took about 70 feet of line before tiring, and then I was able to slowly pull him back in. Bill grabbed the leader, I picked put the rod down and picked up the gaff and on my third try drove the gaff home and hauled him aboard. He came up to Bill and My chest and we guess he was about 50lbs. Another half an hour in the Galley and he was bled, cleaned, and in the rather full freezer, taking up 3 gallon ziplock bags.

We finished out 10 hour sail at about 5, and I got started making Sushi with the Yellowfin. We ate like kings with the best Sushimi I have ever had, and made spicy tuna rolls with the trimmings. It is not often you can be completely full eating Sushi, but boy is it a good feeling. Last night we finished the one yellowfin loin I had reserved, and used a Bonito for spicy tuna rolls and my latest creation, Miso Encrusted Seared Tuna Loins. I cut up the Bonito Belly meat for sushimi, which pretty much tasted like fatty bluefin, with the similar whitish pink flesh.

This morning we departed Panama, on our 4 day passage to Ecuador. We should have time to update daily and will try to, but of course, technical problems do occur, so don't get too worried if we miss a day.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Panama Canal

Las Perlas Islands - 8 29.5N 79 02.9W

We have been quite busy since my last post....apologies for the lack of updates, but I just haven't had the time in the day to write for 10 minutes. The day after our last post we had a bit of a fuel scare when our last storage tank read significantly lower than we expected. In the end we think is is just reading a bit low when 3/4 empty, but at the time we were afraid we had 50 less gallons on board than we though we did. Luckily, we have made great friends out here and both Better Days and Alpha Wave gave up some of their spare fuel so we could stick around a few more days as we had originally planned. We headed over to the East Lemons and had a few great snorkels there, played volleyball, and caught up to Philippe on Renegade as well.

On the 30th we headed up to Linton to visit the Sloths, but outboard problems kept us away. Luckily they offered to have "their boys" pick us up in the morning so we could still visit, and what an amazing experience. They have raised 3 orphaned sloths from infants, and they are very cool animals. They love to be held, are very friendly, and quite affectionate. Princess, their two toed sloth even has a teddy bear that she is lost without...very cute. Late morning we headed to shelter bay, picking up fuel for the crossing on our way in.

Friday (2nd) mom and I headed to Panama city to provision while Bill stayed to work on refrigeration and Zak stayed to use the Internet. It was a brutally long and exhausting day, made worse by our complete lack of food all day long. After a shuttle to Colon (1 hr) and a bus ride to Panama city (1.5 hrs), we finally got started driving around a city with a serious traffic problem. Roger took us around, but had some other errands to run as well, so it led to some wasted time. We finished at Mega Depot around 5:00, then had to wait an hour for him to pick us up, so we skipped the grocery and headed back to shelter bay (2 hrs), which meant we didn't even get everything on board until 10:00. Saturday morning was spent finding homes for all the food, then Zak and mom went to the grocery in Colon in the afternoon while Bill and I finished putting away the food and got started laying out the Air-conditioner ducting. We also had Connie and Steve (Better Days) over for dinner as they had limped into shelter bay having been struck by lightening on Thursday morning, loosing all electronics, and their gen-set.

Sunday Bill and I installed all the air-con ducting and louvers (much nicer than a duct running across the room) and fixed the VHF mike in the cockpit, our two jobs we needed to get done at shelter bay. Monday we had a Canal transit scheduled for 5:00, so the early afternoon was supposed to be fairly relaxing, but luckily they moved up our transit time, so we had less pool time, but more sleep Monday night. On-board we had Meg Crofoot, my old friend from Sunshine Nursery/John Bapst High School, as well as Connie and Steve off of Better Days who were a late edition.

We met our Pilot at 3:30 and started our way toward the Gatun Locks, following a single medium sized ship. We had already set up our 15 tire fenders and four 125 foot lines (two bow, two stern) with large eyes tied in them to fit over the bollards. As you approach the lock, the shore-side line handlers toss you a leader line with a monkey's fist tied in the end. Must say, they have excellent aim. You then tie that line to your line and hold the leader line until the boat is lined up in the lock. At this point the line handlers pull your line up to the wall sides and put it on a bollard and we take up all the slack to orient the boat in the center of the lock. We were lucky that we didn't have any other small boats tied to us and had a fairly short ship in front of us, so we weren't right behind his prop wash. We also had set up our lines with some powerful help in the form of the secondary winches aft and an anchor windlass forward. This ended up being very handy as VofJ is awfully large to pull around by hand. Meg and I were forward with Zak providing photog and windlass button pushing help, leaving Steve, Connie and Mom aft with Bill at the helm. As the water floods into the locks from below, the lines must be shortened to keep you in the center of the lock. On top of that, the water boils up from below creating some decent currents. All went fine and we kept the boat nicely centered. Once the lock doors open and the ship moved out in front of us, the line handlers release your line from the bollards and we pull them back aboard with the leader lines (monkey fists) still attached. We hold the leader line while the line handlers walk the lines up to the next set of locks and the process is repeated three times. The final time, they just drop your lines in the water without a leader attached and you just pull it in. We then headed over to the mooring buoy's to spend the night.

Our Pilot, usually doing large ships (we got a true pilot, instead of the usual adviser, because we measured 65' with our dingy on the davits which is the cut-off for pilots) was unfamiliar with the yacht moorings so it took a while to find them. They are very large "balls" so you end up side tying to them with a bow and stern line. We then ate dinner and got to bed around 11:00 with plans to get up at 6:30 for a 7:00 Pilot arrival.

Our second Pilot didn't show up until 7:45 and then needed us to go 9kts to make our lock time of 11:00. Luckily we can do that fairly easily, but it does burn some extra fuel. At about 9:30 we got word they had added a ship to the northbound traffic which pushed our lock time back to 11:45 allowing us to slow down a bit, and eventually to basically drift for a half hour as we arrived a bit early. The southern locks are separated into two sets, the first one separated from the second two by a small lake. The process is almost identical, but it is a bit easier as you are easing your lines, not tightening them as you go down and the currents are much reduced as the water isn't boiling up from below. This time we were just behind a small ferry boat, so we had tons of room and all went smoothly. We got to the Balboa Yacht club in the early afternoon and headed to the marine store to get one errand out of the way early.

That night we had a wonderful dinner in the old city and then had to catch cabs back to the boat. We were having a hell of a time finding a cab, so I called the dispatchers and got two on their way which would be there in "5 minutos". Of course 10 mins later they still weren't there, and Bill got one cab which agreed to fit all 6 of us in his Toyota Carola. About 2 miles down the road we reached a police check point and were stopped and questioned. He was upset we had too many people in the car and wanted to see our Passports. What? Our passports were on the boat. We apologized, and tried to explain we didn't know we were supposed to carry them around the city, but he was ready to send us off to jail until he realized Bill was the captain and there was no one to bring our passports to us. Lucky at this point he let us go, but only 4 people in the cab. Bill and I stayed, and waited for him to hail us a cab. We all arrived unscathed and got right to bed with a great story.

Wednesday (7th) we had another shopping day, and were met by Meg's friend Robinson to drive us around. He was great and while it was a long day we got all we needed including a new 25hp dingy engine as we are sick of dealing with our old one (plus it is underpowered for the 4 of us). Thursday we got up bright and early and headed off to Barro Colorado Island, where Meg researches Monkeys, The island is situated in the middle of Gatun Lake in the the canal and was formed from the top of a mountain when the lake was flooded. It is run by the Smithsonian as a tropical research center. We went on a long hike through the rain forest, seeing lots of ants, spiders, some cool flowers and a fair amount of howler monkeys. Unfortunately we did not find the capuchin monkeys she reasearches, but had a great morning in the forest seeing what Meg does. Lunch was back at the compound, then some relaxation time (I took a 2 hr nap) in the lounge while we waited for the afternoon boat back to mainland. That night we went to a great Chinese restaurant and said goodbye to Meg, hoping she might come find us along the way for a visit.

Friday we got underway early, picked up fuel and then headed down to the Las Perlas islands, in the middle of the Bay of Panama off the Pacific coast. The look of these islands is completely different, and you could almost be in Maine with the rocky coastline. We caught two fish on the way (a small Dorado and a small Sierra, a Mackerel) We had wonderful Civeche, and grilled fish for dinner and then watched the first double episode of Grey's Anatomy which Zak had pulled down while we had internet in Panama City. Overall a wonderful day to end a wonderful and exciting, but very busy week.

Monday, September 28, 2009

San Blas Islands - 9 33N 78 51W

Hello all...greetings from the hottest plalce on earth...we are currently roasting in the san blas..there is very little wind so it has made for quite the warm streak...try 98degrees (in the shade...hey what a great name for a song!)and 91 in the boat which is where I've escaped to for the moment. Bill and Gram are once again fixing things...this time trying to trace a leak in the AC refridgeration system so they would probably tell you it's more like over 100 in the boat..Ah for the cool fall nip in the air of Maine. Seriously tho' all is well and we are having many good times. Have met up with some of our friends from our time here prior to coming home so good cocktail parties and communal dinners...reminds me alot of our hippie days in Thorndike when it was all about getting together with friends and hanging out. We are currently in the Hollandes in the anchorage nicknamed the swimming pool because the water is so clear and turquoise that it looks like a pool. Makes for excellent snorkeling which we've done the last two days and today we are planning a dive/snorkel expedition to the "grottos". We have a date set to go thru the Canal which will be 10/5. Gram's friend Meg will join us to make our 4th linehandler so Jo will be happy for some female company. We had one amzing dinner out at a french restaurant that we dinghyed thru a mangrove to get to...nice trip there, way home a bit interesting in the dark but we got back safe and sound and only ran aground once. Zak seems to be doing ok . He has now turned his computer internet addiction into a kindle/reading addiction...could be worse things but it would be nice to see the face not just the top of the head. He loves the hammock and he and Gram make a good pair up on deck in their dualing hammocks. Hope to do a better job of keeping up now that we are on the road again...we came with 800 lbs of mostly boat parts so hoping that the things we need we now have. love to hear back from any and all of you.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Back to Kuna Yala

En Route to Kuna Yala - 09 35.7N 79 04.9W

We arrived back in Panama the evening of the 15th and got started right away putting all our stuff (approx 700 lbs of luggage between us, mostly boat parts) away. Saturday morning we were finally done and left Shelter Bay marina for Linton. We dingied a mile or so through the mangroves over to a french resturaunt at Panamarina. Quite good food and very cheap, but the best part was the dingy ride back through the mangroves at night with no light due to the new moon. We got through the mangoves fine, but did run aground on the other side as it was rather foggy/misty and visibility was marginal at best. Today's sail is proving to be a long upwind motor-sail slog and Zak is sea-sick, so isn't having any fun. Hopefully he will enjoy the Lemons and Hollandes for the next 10-12 days.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

6mR World Cup - Day 4 & 5

Day 4 brought more of the same high winds. We started with the #2 jib and had a decent start and a good downwind leg, rounding the leeward mark deep in the middle of the fleet. For the second beat we changed to the Heavy #1 Genoa as the wind was down enough to carry the newer sail, and Alana came alive. Suddenly we could point with the competition and started reigning in Madcap as we had done last year. About 3/4 of the way up the beat, just after a tack back onto port tack, I looked up and saw a wire hanging from the rig. It took a few seconds to figure out it was the leeward running backstay that had pulled out of the rig through the tack. To avoid breaking the rig, we had to bear off, and sail on port tack all the way back to the mooring, retiring for the day. We looked at the rig and determined that it couldn't be fixed properly, but we could lash the runner around the mast after raising the mainsail and the only problem would be the inability to lower the mainsail. We bought the chafe gear, spectra, and shackle we needed for the jury rig and headed to the bar to drown our sorrows.

Saturday morning the forcast was for drizzly medium breeze, 10 to 15 kts out of the North, so we raising the main on the mooring, hauled me to the hounds and I died the running back around the mast. A load test on the mooring looked good so we headed up the bay for racing.

The commitee started right away with a black flag start, disqualifying anyone on the course side of the line within the last minute of the start. We started second row, but with speed and a hole to tack onto port and head to the right hand side of the course we wanted to go to. We had a nice upwind leg and followed Great Dane (placed 3rd or so in the regatta) into the windward leg. Downwind the breeze started to fade and we fell back a bit to some boats with more sail area. We chose the right hand gate mark and headed up the left hand side of the course as we didn't have any good lanes to get back to the right. This proved painful as we lost a few boats who went right. We passed Syce on the final downwind leg to finish 15th just as the wind was dying and rain squalls loomed overhead. We were held waiting for wind for about an hour, then sent in completing the regatta with races. Overall we placed 22 out of 24, much worse than we had hoped, but if you ignore our DNF's due to brakedown, we averaged 17.5 which is decent.

Even with the less than stellar performance, it was a blast of a week, and we had a thoroughly enjoyable crew and the best support boat on the course. The next two days I need to get ready to fly back to Panama on Tuesday, so no rest for the weary.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

6mR World Cup - Day 3

Day 3 brought similar conditions to day 2, but slighly less breeze and smaller seas. Fortunately, it did not bring similar results as we finally got back in the hunt. In the first race we had a 2 good starts that got recalled, the second one was really good, but the third start that counted put us on the second row, but at least allowed us to go out to the right hand side we wanted. We rounded mid fleet, and went to raise the spin, when the halyard came detached. A quick recovery launched the kite on the backup halyard. We passed back most of the boats that passed us on our slow hoist, then had the spare halyard fly away after the douse. On the downwind leg I noticed we had lost a mainsail batten, so we called David to ask him to drive to the Hood loft to get a replacement and bring it out to us ASAP, hopefully between races. We again rounded the windward mark around mid fleet, and Toby managed to grab the dangling halyard saving us having to douse the jib first to use it's halyard for the spin. We again had a late set, and again had to try to claw back a boat or two that had passed in that time. Again we passed two boats back and finished 17th.

Our second start got delayed due to a reset of the starting line, so we had just enough time to replace the batted David had brought out. We had to drop the main, measure the batten, cut the batten, install and then raise the main. With 4:30 before our start, we still had the main on the deck, and we were about 45 seconds late to the start, but luckily it was also a general recall. 2nd start was again a black flag and we got forced down by a windward boat, but got a decent lane and worked out to the right. The second half of the leg saw the left come back into favor so we rounded mid fleet, had a strong downwind leg and passed a few boats at the rounding. We lost Madcap upwind, and then clawed them back and almost passed Jill downwind, all three boats finishing within 2 second with us between Jill and Madcap for a 15th place finish (24 boats total in classic fleet).

Overall it was a blast of a day, but rather chilly after climatizing to South America. Forcast for day 4 is another breezy day out of the north east, and we hope we can continue to improve on our 21st overall position.

See Full results at Sail Newport

Day 1 & 2 Recap

Racing started Tuesday with light winds and a delay. The RC tried to get the moderns off, but abandoned as the unexpected Northerly died and the sea breeze filled in. The classics first start was AP'd (abandoned) with about 10 seconds left as half the fleet was over the VERY skewed line. The second start saw a general recall and for the third start the committee went to the black flag, disqualifying any boat that went over the line within the last minute. We had a great nose out position, but for fear of a DQ I had us hold back, blowing our lane. After a clearing tack we wanted to get back to the left hand side of the course, but for some reason when the lane appeared we stayed on port and got pinned by the moderns rounding their leward mark. Unfortunately, as we had expected the left payed off and we were at the back of the pack with little opportunity to pass. We finished 2nd to last in a disappointing start to our regatta.

Day 2 saw high winds and a VERY wet tow out (see pic below). We had a decent start considering we were about 30 seconds late as their was a pile-up at the favored committee boat we got stuck behind. We went to our desired left hand side, but unfortunately the right payed off a little better (the good news is we had some rather talented company on the left with us. A great downwind leg pushed us to mid fleet, but when we went to round the leeward mark, the spinnaker wouldn't come down. 5 minutes later, the halyard finally came free, but by then it was too late and we headed home early. There were several other casualties, including booms and several spinaker poles as the wind was a steady 20 kts with gusts to 27. Spirits were high as we were sailing well and can't do much about equipment problems.

Today winds are slightly more moderate, but could build to similar conditions. Keep coming back for updates.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Monday, September 7, 2009

6mR World Cup - T-minus One Day

Here is a the Six Metre Wold Cup Website

There will be more information as the race gets underway there. There is also a facebook page that will probably be updated more frequently. I am sailing on the 1929 Fife - Alana, owned by Toby Rhodes. Our goal is a top 10 finish in the classic division, but will be happy with top 15 (out of 22 or so classics, with 11 or so moderns sailing on a different start, but the same course).

Saturday and Sunday was the North American Championships, really just a warm up regatta for everyone. Saturday was light air, which is not Alana's forte and we struggled a bit. A couple of bad decisions and we found our way at the back of the fleet. Good lessons learned though and that was the point. Sunday was a nice stiff breeze so we put up our #2 Jib, which was just recut from an older Heavy #1 (larger sail). It unfortunately is a bit too deep (too much curvature), so I am meeting my friend Tim Woodhouse at the loft this morning to recut the sail again. Once again this put us at the back of the pack, but at least we learned something. Races 3 & 4 were better, but we didn't have great starts and couldn't always go were we wanted to. Crew work is improving greatly and I think we are feeling decent with where we stand. Our biggest issue is that we just can't point as high as some of the newer narrower boats. Alana is "beamy" for a six at about 6'-9" with the boats built in the 50's being as narrow as 5'-9" and the moderns (post 1965) as narrow as 5'-6".

Today is all about getting final preparations done and getting some rest to be ready for action on Tuesday. More later.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hurricanes can't keep is down

Last weekend was the 6m Tune-Up Invitational in Newport and was a chance for me to get back in tune with Toby (pictured) in prep for the 6m World Championships next week. Saturday was a wash out with a tropical storm coming through, but we needed to scrub the bottom so we put on our wet-suits and rowed a sketchy wooden dink out to the boat. As we were scrubing the wind went from 10 kts to about 28 kts and suddenly the dink was nowhere near big or stable enough to take us back to shore. It was a brutally tiring 200 yard swim across near breaking waves, but we got in fine. Sunday was long wait for wind and then 3 good races. The mood was soured a bit by some very rude treatment from Dewey Isdale (former NYYC Comedore and helmsman of Madcap) after we tried to have a friendly discussion about the major foul he committed at the finish of the second race which almost caused a pretty bad collision (Toby managed to miss Scout, a 1909 Rule 1 Six, by less than one foot).

I head back down to Newport on Thursday in prep for North Americans Sat/Sun then Worlds start on Tuesday and run through Saturday the 13th. Stay tuned for more updates.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Welcome Home

After several days of very un-Maine like weather, the fog rolled back in yesterday. I was on MDI hiking with my Dad, Wendy, Cousin Hari Simron and his girlfriend Cammile. Next week Bill heads down to WV for work and I head down to Newport next weekend for a tune-up regatta before heading back Sept 3rd for 6m North Americans and then World Championships. I will be updating as much as I can during the regatta giving updates on how we are doing.

In the mean time Sunday is my Schweikert "Welcome Home - Bon Voyage" party at my sister's house. I got to see everyone at Don's Birthday party on Thursday, but it will be nice to see everyone some more and show off some pics of South & Central America.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Vacation from our Vacation

Shelter Bay Marina - Colon Panama - 9 22.072N 79 57.021W

Sorry for the long time between updates. Bill and I have been full-on since the girls left getting the boat ready for a month alone while we all go home. We visited Isla Grande which was quite nice, but nothing special and then spent the week here finishing putting the boat away. We still have a day and a half, and about that much work we HAVE to get done, so this will be short. Boat is clean, safe, and getting prepped to be closed up hopefully without mold problems in a VERY damp environment.

I will be home in Maine for August, then head down to Newport for the 6m World Championships for 2 weeks in September before we fly back to Panama (Zak included this time) to restart our trip. In the mean time, we will finally update pictures and I will try to blog about the world champs when in Newport.

Stay tuned....

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Monday morning we were joined by my friends Meg Crofoot and Bree Candland. Meg is currently working in Panama on Barro Colorado Island for the Smithsonian studying monkey social groups and Bree is a teacher in Maine who was coming down to visit Meg. We were very lucky to have both able to visit for 4 days. They flew into Nargana/Corezon de Jesus, a booming metropolis of 2000 people with an airstrip on the neighboring island. Bree had been kind enough to deliver our 40 lb Watermaker ETD (which by the way looks an awful lot like a bomb) so first things first, we installed the replacement part and started making water (yeah). Once that was under control we pulled anchor and headed out to the swimming pool for a beautiful sail in some of the strongest winds we have seen here in the San Blas (other than during short squalls). An afternoon snorkel in some wicked current finished off the day followed by a tasty dinner of fish cakes.

Tuesday we were joined by Simpatica and we headed out to the Grotos caves for a snorkel. All enjoyed a great snorkel, then we had a very pleasant downwind sail under reacher alone (so we could leave the awning up) to the East Lemmons. We found a fairly tight spot in the crowded anchorage, knowing that we would have to shorten scope in a southerly, but were protected from the swell in that direction so it should be OK (this turned out to be a good decision). Meg, Bree, Mom, and I went for a snorkel on the reef off the stern, which turned out to be further away then we thought, so we had a very good workout swimming back upstream against a decent current to the boat when finished. Dinner was a very tasty curry shrimp served over rice.

Wednesday Meg and I went for a dive while the rest snorkeled above. It was a very nice drift dive/snorkel on a wall that sloped down to about 80 ft. Meg and I went as far down as 60 ft, but settled into about 40 ft as a nice section of the wall. We saw many great fish, including about 4 rays towards the end. In the afternoon we played volleyball on the beach with an actually straight and reasonably sized court. The only downside to the amazingly beautiful surroundings was the fact that water was only about 5 feet off the court on either side. Meg of course managed to get sand in EVERY orifice including her eyes and ears...thank god we have a working watermaker again. Our "Maine" dinner was grilled lobster tail with couscous and a nice spinach salad followed by blueberry cobble.

Thursday morning started with a bang as a strong southerly squall coming through the anchorage at about 6:00. We shortened scope to pull the rudder out of the sand just as the wind picked up (all was fine) and settled in about 20' off the bow of an unattended boat behind us. Meanwhile, just to the south of us, boats were getting hammered by the almost breaking waves entering the harbor (thankfully we were tucked behind an island and reef). Three different boats went aground within about 10 minutes. Once we were sure we were OK, I jumped into the dink to try to help. There were about 5 dinks helping push one boat off one reef with no room to really help, and slip away managed to motor themselves off their sand bar, so I headed up to the second boat aground to start helping. This boat had a wing keel, so we couldn't push on the side or take a halyard off so we started setting up to kedge him off with anchors. We tried shortly to load his large anchor into the dink, but the near breaking waves actually pulled me out of the dink so once I got clear of the bow and back in the dingy we decided to try something else. He pulled out his second anchor and some line which we could load off the beam and we managed to get that laid off the bow to at least hold him in place and wait for the wind and seas to subside a bit. A few hours later, when things had subsided, Bill headed out to help lay out his big anchor and he managed to pull himself off. An exciting and exhausting morning, but generally successful as damage was fairly limited. The rest of the morning was somewhat overcast, so we hung out on the boat and then sailed down to Nargana at the end of the day. Lewis and Julie from Simpatica came over for a dinner of chicken and fish fajitas.

Friday morning, the three girls caught an early morning flight back to Panama City where mom continued on to the states and Meg and Bree headed out the the island to complete Bree's visit. It was an excellent high school reunion...far better than the one we all missed last year in Bangor, and we hope they can both join us again along the way.