Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Zack and Cody - Part 4

Had a good run and anchored in Portobelo around 4 p.m.  Checked the weather and decided we had better leave for the marina the next day, Thursday, since some pretty nasty weather was forecast for Friday.  Sid and Manuela from Paradise stopped by the next morning for a short visit, and we were underway by 11.  Dennis wanted all the sails out to dry them off after all the rain we'd had.  Once we got out of the harbor we had the best sail we've had all year, sometimes getting up to 7 knots, which is great for us.  Asked the boys if they wanted to come on deck for the sail - no noise, a beautiful day, light wind and calm seas - but they decided that they'd sleep again and come up when we got to the Canal.  Really, I didn't know it was possible to sleep that much.

One of the pylons for the breakwall
Both boys eventually came on deck for the last part of the sail and motoring through the big ships, into the Canal Zone and then into the marina.  Got tied up, Dennis hooked us up to power, I went to the office to register, and the boys discovered the swimming pool.  The last couple of days were hectic, running into the grocery store Friday morning for juice, pop tarts and bread, getting all the laundry done and everything bagged up with dryer sheets to keep the mold off.  Dennis took the boys for a hike, but they spent most of their time either in the pool or up in the air conditioned room with a TV.  Had Mark and Deb from Sea Cycle over for dinner before they left for their summer of hiking.

Cody in the pool
Zack in the pool
Checked with the hotel and somehow they didn't have our reservation.  Well, that's a pain.  I wanted everyone off the boat so I could do a last wash down with bleach and water.  That didn't happen, and we headed into Panama City a day early.

At the Lock
The boys with Roger
Luckily, they were able to take us a day early at the Costa Inn and there was a pool there as well.  Roger picked us up Tuesday morning and we did a tour of the Miraflores Lock, the Old Town and the bluff overlooking the City.  On Wednesday we took the free shuttle to Albrook Mall, where the boys did their shopping, until Dennis could stand it no longer and we headed back to the hotel and the pool.

View of the Pacific

View of Panama City
A ship going through the Lock

At one of the churches

The flag atop the hill --
as big as a basketball court


Luckily, all the luggage fit in the car!  Our Panama flight was on time, but the Miami flight was delayed for an hour, so that made our late night even later.  Zack's parents, M.A. and Chris picked us all up, and then dropped Dennis, myself and Cody off at Kelly and Charlie's around midnight.  Cody will be going on vacation with his family the next day, so his parents will pick him up here.  Dennis and Cody went off to bed and Kelly and I sat on the back porch drinking wine till around 2 a.m.  It's good to be home!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Zack and Cody - Part 3

Watching a movie
We picked up the anchor Monday morning after breakfast and headed over to Cambombia.  Actually sailed!  It was hot, and after we anchored off of Nabadup everyone went into the water until the jellyfish and trash came in.  I don't remember all these jellyfish last summer, or all this trash!  Had lunch and then took the dinghy over to the little island off Cambombia to snorkel.  Saw only a couple of jellyfish, lots of lion fish and a big snapper that Dennis wasn't able to spear.  Back to the boat, collapsed, burgers for dinner and then the boys watched Shrek 3 when we went to bed.

The weather looked  questionable for travelling north later in the week, so we decided we'd pick up anchor after the boys took a trip up the Mangles River, and I baked more chocolate chip cookies. Planning to head to Porvenir to check out, up to Portobelo and into Shelter Bay early.  With the jellyfish in the water, at least in the marina the boys can swim.

Had lunch, it looked calm, no wind, so picked up the anchor and decided to just motor to Porvenir.  Only a minute or two of panic when I followed my track and found myself in 9 feet of water ... never saw less than 30 feet coming in.  ???  An hour out, looked to the stern and ... where the hell did that storm come from???  Dark skies, thunder, lightening, tons of rain and wind.  The boys went down and did their usual -- spread out and fell asleep.  Dennis took the helm in his raincoat, and I stood in the companionway, in my raincoat -- he was trying to see ahead and I was trying to judge the lightening and tell him to take his hands away from the helm.  Worst weather we've seen in forever.  A mile away from the West Lemmons and we couldn't even see the island chain.  Heard there were 35 knots an hour plus of wind, and I can believe it.  Finally anchored in Porvenir, watching while one of the local boats was trying to pull a catamaran off the reef, where they'd dragged during the storm. Took the dinghy into shore to check out with the Port Captain ... and the boys slept on.  The temp has dipped down to the low 80's, so no swimming :)  Again, dinner and early night.
A sunbow we saw underway

We were up early and underway by 6 a.m. .. and again, the boys slept on.  Dennis decided not to put any fishing lines out since we were ready to head home ... and the boys were sleeping.  About 9 a.m., while we were off the reef, we had hundreds of dolphins all over.  The boys hadn't really done well with the sailing part of the trip, so I talked Dennis out of waking them up, until he could take no more and woke them up.  They were thrilled.  Since they don't do well with the sailing part, we're doing a direct run to Portobelo, and then into the marina a couple of days later.


More dolphins

                                                Stay tuned for Zack and Cody - Part 4!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Zack and Cody - Part 2

The boys were woken up by us listening to the SSB radio in the morning.  Fed them breakfast and then we met Mark and Deb from Sea Cycle to walk around Portobelo and pick up some fresh bread before we head out Wednesday morning.  Mark is an avid reader and has all kinds of historical trivia stashed away, so he was the walking tour guide.  Then we went for cheeseburgers and fries at Captain Jack's, their last meal out for a couple of weeks and did some shopping in the local tourist store.  Deb and I hadn't been in there before and we were amazed at the neat stuff and good prices.  The morning rain had stopped, so Dennis decided we should all go snorkeling.  Wow, we were surprised at how great the snorkeling was there.  The boys did amazingly well, considering this was the first time either of them had snorkeled.  Headed back to the boat, dinner and dishes and an early night.

At the fort in Portobelo

Captain Jack's sign

Up and underway by 6 a.m. Wednesday  morning, and the boys didn't wake up until we were past Isla Grande.  Sailing is not their thing, obviously, as they were both queasy and slept the majority of the day.  Cody was hungry and ate his sandwich before going back to sleep, but Zack just looked at his and promptly went back to sleep.  We caught a small shark, so that was exciting for them, and finally pulled into the East Lemmons and anchored around 5 p.m.  They had a swim and felt much better.  After dinner, we had another early night.

They're getting better at
the West Lemmons
On Thursday our plan was to hit as many places as we could to snorkel.  Unfortunately, there were a million jellyfish everywhere, so we weren't able to snorkel by the East Lemmons or Dog Island.  We headed over to the West Lemmons, and because we were on the other side of the island we didn't see any jellyfish.  We're amazed at how well the boys are doing with their snorkeling.

Digging the hole for
garbage burning
Picked up the anchor after lunch and headed down to the Western Hollandes, a great snorkeling spot.  All the boys went fishing and did a beach walk while I got dinner ready.  On Friday we were out nice and early (well, that means mid-morning for the boys) and took the dinghy over to the Central Hollandes to snorkel.  We saw an eagle ray and barracuda, and they spotted a shark on the snorkel I decided not to go on.  Woo hoo.  I don't care if it's a nurse shark, they freak me out.  Dennis took them to the beach to burn garbage, and then we picked up the anchor to head to the East Hollandes and anchor in the Swimming Pool.  We finally caught up with Sid and Manuela on Paradise, and they came over to 'noodle' behind our boat for happy hour, since they were leaving the next day to take Manuela's cousin Gaby back to Portobelo.

They take turns at the helm

Zack with a lobster
Cody with a lobster
Dennis took the boys out snorkeling on Saturday and he speared a grouper and 2 lobster, and they saw a spotted eagle ray.  It's hot, there's no jellly fish, so we're spending a lot of time in the water.  Turns out Cody's biggest thrill is going to bathroom, flushing, and then watching poop particles float by.  You've got to love 13 year old boys!  He and Zack laughed over that forever.

While Cody was on deck he made the comment about the shark that was swimming by.  Shark?  Really, I can climb the anchor chain if I need to.  Dennis tired them out with all the snorkeling, so we all had another early night.

Gathered starfish

Some of the starfish

Cody fighting the shark
Zack fighting the shark

The shark!
Movie afternoon
Sunday was a gloomy day, so we decided to stay put in the Swimming Pool anchorage.  We had to run the engine to charge, so the boys stayed below and watched Captain Ron.  Dennis put a fishing line out with bait and we had the resident nurse shark come and get hooked.  The boys both had a great time reeling it in before we released it.  Lots of pictures taken, and they were thrilled.  The weather finally cleared, so we headed off for a dinghy tour.  The boys wore their water shoes and brought masks and snorkel.  We found the starfish and they gathered them up to have starfish races.  Back to the boat for dinner.  Having dinner, Dennis' elbow hit the hot bbq, which made him jump, and Cody ended up with red wine all over him.  The stunned look on Cody's face had Zack and I crying we were laughing so hard.  While we had an early night, Zack and Cody had a movie night and put themselves to bed.

Time to change anchorages again!
Calling home from the San Blas


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Zack and Cody - Part 1

Left the East Lemmons  bright and early to head to Portobello, on our way to pick up Zack and Cody.  Mark and Deb on Sea Cycle were out ahead of us, and having engine problems.  We motorsailed, and they pretty well sailed the whole way to Portobello.  We had three hits on our lines, and ended up bringing in one and a half tuna. Actually saw the shark that took our half tuna!

Tucked into the town side of Portobello for a change, by the town dock.  Needed water, fuel, groceries, and picking the boys up, so needed to be close.  Mark and Deb were great, taking us into the dock to pick up the bus to Panama City and then doing a couple of trips to take us back to the boat.  Long, long trip into Panama City.  Obviously the slow buses!  Plus, there is always a checkpoint on the way into Panama City, and they decided our bus was the one to stop.  Yeah, they took off students and housewives to check out, there was a 45 minute delay.

Zack and Cody's passports
Flying into Miami
Went to Price Smart, and then decided we ran out of time and needed to get to the airport.  Roger picked us up and while were standing at the airport, thought they should have been out by now!  Turned out their luggage didn't make their flight, but would hopefully be in on the 8 p.m. flight.  American Airlines gave us $100 credit for each of the kids to pick up what they needed for a day.  That's great, but now we have to stop at the mall and pick them up clothes and undies!  Worked out well, and we got into Portobello around 8 at night, with Mark picking us up and doing trips between the dock and our boat.

In Panama City
And here's Audrey Paige at anchor
in Portobello
The boys had an early night while I put away as many groceries as I could without disturbing them.  Touring tomorrow!!