Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Eastern Lemons

Well, it was tough, but we picked up anchor today and had a perfect jib sail from Banedup in the Holandes to Banedup in the East Lemons. Actually, we're achored off Nuinudup in the Eastern Lemons and our position is N09.33.69 W078.51.71.

Started off the morning yesterday going snorkelling with Dan. I had the camera in the dinghy - I just forgot to take it in the water with me. When the sun came out, the reef and the fish were beautiful. A place to go back to and take the camera!!

Then had a wonderful afternoon when Gary and Linda on Rainbowrider set up 'a swimming pool' off the back of their boat. They string noodles off the back of the boat so that you stay contained in that area while you float about. Elaine and Harry on Zydeco and Dan and Jaime on Nereia were also there. Then we all went home, showered, cleaned up and headed back to Rainbowrider. Jaime wanted to cook for everyone, but it's a little tough to put 8 people in the cockpit of a 35' Baba. So ... Jaime did all the cooking and brought everything over to Rainbowrider, since they're a 40' catamaran. Lots of room and a really fun night . We hadn't seen Gary and Linda for two years, when they left Venezuela before us in 2008. Then, in the morning, Linda brought banana nut muffins over to all of us before we left. Nereia and Zydeco are heading back to the States, but we'll meet up with Rainbowrider again!

A peaceful anchorage here in the Eastern Lemons, where we have wind but no seas. Love that. Had a couple of dugout canoes visit today to sell molas. It's an embroidery type thing, and the work is beautiful. Prices were reasonable and we gave one of our Audrey Paige hats and some fish hooks to the young boy that was the son and grandson.

These women were beautiful and did amazing work

Dan's going to take us exploring tomorrow. ~~_/)~~

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ahhhh, San Blas

We have arrived in Paradise, Kuna Yala, the San Blas Islands in Panama. For anyone who has Google Earth, our position is N09.35.010, W078.40.409, anchored at Banedup in the Eastern Holandes, Kaimou Group, San Blas Islands, Panama.

We finally left Cartegena on Sunday morning, January 10th. Should have had at least the prop cleaned before we left, after spending two weeks in that filthy anchorage. Only averaged 2-3 knots going out the channel under motor. Sailed to the Rosarios, and after a very, very challenging day, finally anchored around 3 p.m. (Dennis was looking at Winnebago brochures!) We were not thrilled with the Rosarios. Reefs all over, extremely challenging navigating, jellyfish and way, way too many boatboys. The same boat came over three times to ask me if I wanted a papaya the size of a basketball! No!! But, I bought one just to keep everyone else away!

Terrible anchorage. Two inches of sand over a Walmart parking lot, and then tons of coral reefs thrown in. We held for three days in pretty high winds, and then when the wind died on the fourth day we dragged. Re-anchored, then dragged again at 8 at night. Oh yeah, that's fun re-anchoring in the dark. Left the next day for San Bernardos and that was heaven! For two days we were the only boat there - yes, solitude! Local boats went by and waved, but no one bothered us. Shared the anchorage for another two days and then pulled up anchor at 4 a.m. on Monday, January 18th to head to the San Blas.

San Bernardos

We decided to skip Isla Pinos and head directly to the Eastern Holandes to catch up with our friends Dan and Jaime on Nereia who are heading back to the States. We plotted a route to go around the northern end of San Bernardos, and 35 hours later we were anchored next to Nereia. It wasn't a bad sail overall. We had 12-15 knots of wind, rollers of 6-8 feet, but they were spaced far apart. It just wasn't a good sail for Dennis as he got queasy at night, which made my watches really long since he felt better when he slept. Dan and Jaime met us in the dinghy at the cut to come into the anchorage and guide us in. Then, in typical Nereia fashion, Jaime made pasta soup, Dan made bread, and they brought both over with a bottle of wine to celebrate being together again after two years.

Nereia, Audrey Paige and Uhane at anchor in the Hollandes

It's been wonderful catching up with Nereia, seeing Harry and Elaine on Zydeco again, Jeff and Una on Dragonfly, Steve and Vicky on True Companions, Stefan on Sawadi, and Gary and Linda on Rainbowrider just pulled in tonight. Hoping to meet up with Frank and Gretchen on Infinity next week. We met Brian and Debbie on Uhane through Nereia and, wow, does Debbie have talent. She paints better than we could even take photos! Absolutely amazing! Their blog is Check out her photo page to see her paintings.

Dinner aboard Rainbowrider

Have decided we'll be here in the San Blas for the next couple of years! So many islands, beautiful water and friendly people.

HEAVEN!! ~~_/)~~

Friday, January 08, 2010

Happy 2010!!!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy 2010!!

A full moon on New Year's Eve

We had planned to head into the Old Town for New Year's Eve, but there have been problems with dinghy thefts, and then there was a report of a few boats being checked out, so we chose to have a quiet night at home -- again! It seems we always have these plans to head out to party for the New Year and it just doesn't seem to work out. Dennis went to bed around 9, but I stayed up, played on the computer and read until midnight. Of course, with the 6-8 different displays of fireworks, the Navy and Coast Guard ships sounding their horns, along with a couple of container ships and all the cruisers, you'd have to be a pretty sound sleeper to miss the New Year. There were fireworks for the next four days at all different times of the night and early morning, along with lots of bands playing. Not quite sure what that was all about. Luckily, I can turn on the fan in our berth, it makes for white noise, and I can sleep through just about anything.

We're enjoying our time here in Cartagena, exploring the Old Town, visiting the Fort, the Gold Museum, the Inquisition Museum and, of course, the huge mall. A couple of happy hours at Pacho Y Guilios, meeting new people and catching up with old friends.

At the Fort with Dick and Moira on Equinox and Mark and Deb on Sea Cycle

From the Inquision Museum - scary!
Exhibit from the Gold Museum
A tour of the mud volcano was supposed to be a highlight from what we'd been told. Well, their idea of a volcano and mine were a little different. Let's see, an ant hill with a hole in it? Anyway, it was an entertaining day. Alex, a local tour guide (and wonderful if you're looking for someone to take you around who speaks excellent English, and is good looking as well!) arranged for a van to take 13 of us to the volcano. Not at all what I expected. There was a cruise ship in and way too many people. Somehow, I thought we'd be hiking and it would be remote. NOT! It was interesting though. After you climbed up (and I don't like heights), you had to slide your way around to the pit, climb down, the guys helped you in, floated you across to the other side where another guy gave you a massage (hmmm, why did Dennis' last longer than mine?), then pushed you off to the side again, where you joined a group of bobbing people trying to get out. Moira from Equinox has the most unique laugh - one that always makes you laugh as well. Well, as she said, she felt like a Weeble and couldn't stay straight. I had the same problem! Every time someone bumped into me, if my feet went back, eeek, up went my butt! How did that happen? We finally climbed out, with someone else scraping mud off of us before we headed down the very slippery steps on the way to the lake for the fresh water rinse. There, the ladies were waiting to strip you of your bathing suit and help rinse you off. Very interesting is all I can say. Dennis said that's the first time in over 20 years another woman, besides me, has taken off his pants! For that pleasure you were expected to tip 3,000 pesos (that's $1.50 US). Lunch at a roadside stand and then back to the marina.

This is what they called a Volcano?!

Then the mud pit.

At the bottom of the steps with Jean, from California, visiting family on Deja Vu from, get this, Windsor!!

At the end, Mark and Deb on Sea Cycle, nice and clean, enjoying a drink. Then myself with Moira, Deb, Moss and Rick waiting to get back on the bus.

One of the scenic stops on the river, where the fishermen put up a sail.

Provisioning and getting ready to leave. The city of Cartagena is beautiful, but you can't swim in the anchorage, everything just gets so dusty and dirty, and the boat traffic is horrific! Constant rocking and rolling, starting about 6 in the morning. On to the Rosarios and San Blas - peace and quiet again! ~~_/)~~

Friday, January 01, 2010

On the way to Cartagena

We went to bed early on Christmas night, 8 p.m., and then up and underway from Rodadaro at 2 a.m. Absolutely no wind so Dennis left the sail full with no reef. Luckily, Evening Star had pulled out an hour ahead of us and radioed back that they had 20-25 knots of wind. Okay, up on the deck to put a reef in! Equinox hauled up their anchor just after us, and then Coqui. Lewis on Coqui called and said he was having electrical problems and that his navigation lights had gone out. He'd put his anchor light on and wanted to know if we could see him. We were just able to see him. Unfortunately, he was having many problems between the electrical, his motor and then he thought his alternator, so he had to shut his motor down and sail. That was the area with no wind. Equinox was closest and said they'd come back and help him if he needed anything. He wanted a tow, but we had started to have quite large swells (8-10 feet), and they were a little leery about that. Luckily, Coqui was able to contact the local Coast Guard, they towed him back to Rodadaro, and Equinox was underway again.

Well, those winds did pick up in a hurry, as did the waves. Unfortunately, the moon set just as we were picking up anchor, so it was a pretty dark night. The winds turned out to be 25-30 knots with gusts over 35 and 8-10-12' seas. We were way overpowered, but I didn't want Dennis on deck in the dark, even though we both had our lifejackets and harnesses on. Some of the waves were cresting and breaking over the leecloths and into the cockpit. After getting totally drenched twice, we put our rain gear on. This is called not a fun night!! As it started to get light Dennis finally went on deck to put the second reef in and the relief was instantaneous. (If anyone remembers, I was the happiest person ever when the old sail split and we had to sail for 2 months with a double reefed main.) All that movement on deck made Dennis a little queasy, so he did not have a fun day. We finally pulled into Punta Hermossa around 2:30 in the afternoon, getting a good hook with the still high winds.

Quest left at 8:00 at night, and Equinox and Evening Star left with us around 4:30 the next morning. Equinox followed us out since their new chartplotter doesn't leave a breadcrumb trail. And boy, do I love that we do! All I know is that I woke up many times during the night thinking that I didn't want to go out in that wind. Evening Star had a few challenges with their GPS not acquiring, but they did follow us out eventually. It wasn't a bad sail, and I'm not sure if it was just because we were better prepared or the winds and seas were actually down. When we rounded the corner on the way to Cartagena, the seas died down to 6' and Dennis threw a fishing line over. We hooked two small tunas, but they weren't large enough to keep. Then, something really big hit the handline, almost pulled Dennis out of the boat, and then took off with his lure and leader. That was 200 pound test, so I'm glad we didn't see what it was!

Entered Cartagena harbour and anchored just after 2 in the afternoon in 45' of water. This should be interesting, hauling the chain up. We had been told that if you anchor shallow, holding isn't really good and many people drag, so to anchor deep. Well, we're here now, we have a hook, and we'll worry about picking up when we leave!

In Monday to check in with Manfred at the coffee shop in the supermarket, get local pesos out of the ATM (2,000 pesos to 1 US dollar) and wander around. Well, for Dennis, wandering around after 5 days on the boat means a forced hike. Walked around the Old City, which is just amazing, and dragged ourselves back to the boat to collapse after 6 hours. I'm pretty sure I dragged more than he did, since this heat just does me in.

More on Cartagena later and I'll work on getting some web albums posted!