Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Checking In

Well, we've delayed it long enough, it's time to check into the San Blas. You try to delay because Immigration only gives you 90 days, and then you have to leave the country for 72 hours. You can leave the boat, but the people are only allowed 90 days at a time, which gives us till May 18th before we have to decide what we're doing.

Left Salardup and went to the West Lemmons. One sailboat was good enough to hit the waypoint in the channel and drop his anchor. Made getting in a little tricky, especially over the 8 foot shoal. Depths varied greatly from that 8 foot shoal to 75 feet and then, yes, that 6 and a half feet that I found! Took us a couple of times, but we anchored in another beautiful little spot. Looked like a few 'hotel' things around - eco-wise. Thatched huts on a beautiful beach. Thanks, I'll rough it in the boat! Dick and Moira on Equinox picked us up in their dinghy and we went over to Sea Cycle for a wonderful chicken curry and a really fun night.

Up Thursday morning to anchor at Wichubhuala (yes, you try and say that!) and take the dinghy over to Porvenir to check in. It was Carnival week and we thought we'd just be able to check in with the Port Captain and the Kuna Chief, but the Police were there covering for Immigration. It cost us an extra $30 for a holiday fee, but it was worth it for the easy check-in. Saw one small plane land on the miniscule runway and, needless to say, you won't find me flying out of Porvenir. Sea Cycle headed over to Gun Boat Cay while we stayed at Wichubhuala with Equinox. It was an interesting night when the wind picked up and we had between 30-40 knot gusts. Love when that anchor alarm goes off. Luckily it was just the chain stretching out.

Equinox is heading up to Shelter Bay Marina in a few days to fly home to the States for a few weeks, so we decided to head to the East Lemmons with them, do some snorkelling and have them over for dinner before they left. Now we're on our way to Green Island to find the fresh water hole to do a little bit of laundry and more boat chores. I feel like I have a full-time job just doing the stainless!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Wonderful sailing

Spent our time in Nabadup catching up with old friends again, and then introduced Mark and Deb on Sea Cycle to river washing! Took another dinghy trip up the Mangales River to do some more wash and explore with them. (Actually have a photo of Mark doing laundry, and this is it!!!) The no-see-ums ate me alive, but that wasn't the worst part. Forgot about that red pareo that bleeds, and when we got back to the boat, everything light colored had red stains! Luckily we had brought back 20 gallons of river water, which we had planned on using as shower water, but instead used 5 gallons to re-do our whites. Dennis was much more patient than I was, and soaked, rinsed and put the clothes through the wringer many times to get the stains out while I hung everything off the shrouds and lifelines. What an exhausting day!

By the time we got back to the anchorage Equinox had left to explore other islands. Rose and Tom on Sojourn stopped by and asked us to come over after dinner to play cards. It was a struggle, but we made it, played a great card game called Sequence and had a wonderful night. Deb, Rose and myself were having so much fun having hot flashes, while the guys rolled their eyes and went, "Oh, this again!", like we do this on purpose to make their life miserable. Oh, there's a thought!

Time to change anchorages, and off we went to Salardup. The sun was up so we were able to see the reefs and exit from the Nabadup anchorage instead of having to go all the way through Cambombia and around. We really needed to charge the batteries, but put the jib up and we were doing 6 knots. Finally put the boat in neutral just so we wouldn't overtake Sea Cycle. Pulled into Salardup and anchored on a sand mound. It is interesting anchoring in the San Blas. You're either really deep or really shallow! We had planned on a relaxing night on the boat but there was a call for a happy hour on the sand spit. We hadn't planned on going because we were so tired, but there were all these old Trini boats that we just had to get together with again. First, there was George and Pixie on Silver Sea that we first met in Marathon, Florida; Jeff and Una on Dragonfly; Gary and Linda on Rainbowrider; Bob and Jeannie on Island Dreamin'; Burt and Marie Elana on Not So Interim; and, of course, our ride for the night, Mark and Deb on Sea Cycle. Wonderland we had met in Blanquilla 2 years ago; Two By Sea; Dances with Dragons; Deja Vu ... and a few other boats I didn't meet.

There's a group of guys you don't want to meet in the dark!

Una (Dragonfly), Deb (Sea Cycle) and Pixie (Silver Sea)

Tired of boat chores, so relaxed and then went snorkelling with Mark and Deb. They think they saw a snake. They have this thing with snakes on the boat - snakes love to make their way aboard Sea Cycle. Actually, when we looked it up, we think it was a pipe fish. It was kind of rough, so we couldn't get to the outer reef, and the inner reef was just okay. Well, I have to say, it was much better than anything we saw in Antigua last year. Exercise for the day ... back to the boat to collapse, relax and make dinner!


Friday, February 12, 2010

Green to Nabadup

Weaving our way through the reefs at Green Island was interesting, to drop in 30 feet. Wanted to get closer, but there were about 5 cats anchored in close. In between the island and the reef, so hopefully some wind. Swimming again, how wonderful!

Off the boat the next day to, once again, burn garbage. It's been a week! I walked around the island for exercise while Dennis gathered wood. Hey, somebody has to work hard! Dug our pit, burned our garbage, put water on the charcoal and covered it back up. The Kunas who owned the island came over from the mainland and we were able to buy a coconut from them for 50 cents. You can fish in the waters, but every island is owned by a Kuna family, so you need to pay them for anything you take off the land. We were going to explore a little more but heard from Infinity who told us, with the calm weather, we needed to get over to Cambombia and Nabadup to do some snorkelling. So, off we motored, needing to charge those batteries again. Where is all this wind and sun????

Really, I don't like going from 100 feet to 10, which is the way you go through the cut to Cambombia. But, once you get through that cut, there's only a few more shoals you have to avoid. Directions from Frank, then anchored next to Infinity. Dick and Moira on Equinox pulled in later in the afternoon. We've been snorkelling, visiting, and taken a trip up the river to get shower water and do laundry. If our kids could see us now!

Happy hour on Equinox was totally enjoyable. They took off to get water and head to Nargana, but they're back again. Mark and Deb on Sea Cycle pulled in this afternoon after we came back from snorkelling, so we're so excited to see them again. Finally met up with Tom and Rose on Sojourn again after three years, and took Rose snorkelling with us. Dennis has to remember that while Frank can dive 30-35 feet to chase squid -- he's only 35 years old -- Dennis isn't. Did a few too many deep dives and came up totally winded. Kind of scared me when I said I'd go back for the dinghy and he said okay!? Back to the boat, showered, relaxed and bbq'd that chicken I bought today with a head still attached. Yeew! ~~_/)~~

Coco Banderos to Nargana

Left the Lemmon Cays finally around 11 a.m. Dennis had gone fishing and running around while I made bread, thinking it would rise while we sailed to the Eastern Coco Banderos. Well, had a great sail, but punched down that bread about 4 times, so by the time it was ready to bake it wasn't a real fluffy loaf.

Pulled into the anchorage, with the Bauhaus Guide in hand, between the reefs, and the anchorage was packed! Ended up anchoring in the northern most anchorage. A beautiful afternoon, baking bread and swimming. Well, wind change and tide change turned that around! Rolled all night long. Not a fun night. Watched the boats steadily pulling out of the middle anchorage and called Breeze and Debbie on Blue Sky to ask whether they were rolling. They said no (of course, they are a huge motorsailer, so that probably makes a big difference), so we picked up the anchor and moved in between the next two islands to a finally calm anchorage. Burned trash, walked around the northern island, and stopped by Blue Sky to say hi and thanks. They were having a beach bbq that night with their guests, and invited us along, so off to prepare veggies and dip.

A Kuna boat stopped by and asked is we would charge their cell phone. We had been told this would happen. No power on many islands, but they all have cell phones. Had an enjoyable evening with Breeze, Debbie and their young guests from Vancouver.

There's been some cloudy weather and winds that have been blowing in, so snorkelling has been a challenge. We couldn't get out to the one reef we wanted, but did some dinghy exploring and did snorkel the southern reef. If the sun had been out it would have been amazing!

We're starting to run short of water, so time to head to Rio Azucar to fill up. That was confusing. It had been explained to us, but until you're trying to pull up, you're wondering where the heck the dock really is. A couple of Kunas grabbed our lines and helped direct us to the office to pay the $5 dock fee and the $10 to fill up with water. Then another young man escorted me around town to see if I needed anything. Bought some eggs and potatoes, but they didn't have much else. Wanted bread, but that wasn't available. Two hours later, our 100 gallon water tank was full, 20 gallons on the deck, the 2 1/2 gallon bucket and the tub. Threw the white laundry in the tub to slosh around while we headed to Nargana for gas and diesel.

Made our way through the shoals and reefs into Nargana and had a relaxing afternoon. Unfortunately, the water isn't real nice here, so no swimming off the boat. Something I really, really miss. Put the dinghy into the water the next day to head in and figure out town. Frederico met us at the dock and took Dennis to get gas and diesel and take it back to the boat. We were trying to find vino tinto (red wine), and, you know, it was always going to be there in the next couple of hours ... maybe! We made the $5 donation to Frederico for the fund to educate the Kunas on garbage awareness. He then walked us all over the little island (where I wanted to take photos but my battery on the camera died), and then we crossed the bridge over to Corozon de Jesus and walked around, picking up some wonderful Kuna bread. Ten little loaves for 75 cents. Stayed around the extra day because, you know, that red wine was going to be here in a couple of hours. It wasn't!

Picked up the anchor on Saturday morning and had a great motorsail over to Green Island. It's been cloudy, so needed to charge those batteries. Again, another beautiful island where we can swim and the water is wonderful! ~~_/)

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Hello, Goodbye and Don't Swim at Night

Sitting in the anchorage at the Lemmon Cays we got a call from Infinity on the VHF - they were on their way to join us. So good to see Frank, Gretchen and the best boat dog, Loki again after two years. They left us in Bonaire in 2008 to head to Curacao, while we headed back to Venezuela. A visit on their boat in the afternoon and then they came over for dinner. Way too much wine consumed that night but we still managed to go snorkelling twice the next day. There must have been a cruise ship in because the island with the wreck you can snorkel on was packed with people. There had to have been over a hundred there! Way too crowded! The outer reef in the afternoon was a good snorkel. Saw a small lobster, and by the time Dennis decided he would take it, it had disappeared. Good exercise anyway.

A sad goodbye to Dan and Jaime on Nereia and Harry and Elaine on Zydeco. Nereia is heading back to Florida to sell the boat and be land based, while Zydeco is heading to the Chesapeake to do a refit to head to the South Pacific. Dan still wants to sail so told us he'd crew for us anytime. If we ever decide to leave here (and that's undecided), we'll take him up on that. We promised Nereia we'd visit in Ecuador, because I'm not going back to Florida unless it's to be with the grandkids at Disney.

Might apply for the pension visa in Panama so that we don't have to check in and out every 90 days. It might be worth our while if we decide to stay for a year, or two, or ten! The sailing is great here because while we get the wind, we're behind the reef so the seas aren't bad. A perfect sail the other day when we headed to the Coco Banderos, but more on that later.

DON'T SWIM AT NIGHT! Dennis put a fish head on the line one night (I really hate when he does that, but it makes him happy), and while we were relaxing and enjoying dinner, something hit the line. He was hoping for a huge snapper, but it turned out to be about a five foot hammerhead shark. EEEK! I'd never seen one before, and really don't want to see one again. I make sure I'm out of the water by 5 p.m. because, you know, they have watches and stuff and know what time it is, and I'm sure they don't bite before that time!!!! Dennis has had luck with fishing from the dinghy and caught quite a few small snapper and one cero mackeral, which was really, really good. He'd never kept the cero mackeral before, but now we will.

Beautiful, secluded little islands, great snorkelling - this is paradise! ~~_/)~~