Friday, May 29, 2015

Another Alden 44

There is another Alden 44 here in Panama. Its name is Indigo Moth and it's only three hull numbers away from ours. We have even met the owners, but have yet to visit each others boats. However, we did get measured by the Canal authorities together.

Getting measured is odd: you have to motor down to channel marker #6 at the appointed time and just hang out for a while. Then the big boat comes alongside and the official hops onto your boat.

The official was very cordial and claimed our boat had been through the canal in 1993 so he didn't even measure it; we just signed a few papers. I can't figure how he deduced that because the name, documentation number, and ownership has changed since 1993, but who am I to argue?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Isla Taboga

Our buddy boats Delphinia and Seahorse V arrived at Isla Taboga on Sunday so we decided to go visit them on the ferry. The ferry costs $7.00 per person per leg, so we spent $28.00 to ride this fine craft across the gulf for 45 minutes (with the theme song of "Gilligan's Island" drifting through my mind the whole time).

Our friends arrived on shore shortly after we did and after enthusiastic greetings on everyone's part, we walked up to the "Internet Cafe" aka Chui and Susan's house. (They run the mooring field there at Isla Taboga.) Then we walked around the island checking out the scenery and eating lunch.

The Island of Flowers is a lovely, relaxed place with very few cars and a much slower pace than Panama City. Most of the homes are brightly painted, with lots of flowering plants in the yards. It's very picturesque and I think I'd like to go visit there again sometime. Since we don't plan on transiting the Canal until the middle or end of June, that is a distinct possibility.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


We have been out cruising for over 6 months now and lots of things on the boat need attention so yesterday we made a long list of chores, repairs, and maintenance that we hope to finish while we are here in Panama City.

I am happy to report that I have already accomplished a few things on my list. So far I have printed out a shopping list similar to the one I used back home. Posted in the galley, one merely needs to circle what's needed as things are used. I've also fired up the new iPad and downloaded iSailor and charts of Central America and the Caribbean.

And I have done a little sewing, which is difficult on a bobbing boat. I mended three flags that had been frazzled by the wind and I finished an organizer for the forward cabin.

Our boat is the smallest 44' boat you will ever see and I am constantly looking for places to store things. The storage in the head is particularly stingy, so lots of toiletry items were relegated to the forward cabin. They were taking up precious cupboard space until I realized there was about 2" of space behind the door that wasn't being used. So I made this hanging organizer using scraps from the bedding fabric, some batting, and some screen material.
First I measured the space and figured the overall size of the organizer. Then I cut the fabric to that size, pinned the batting to the back of it, and started laying out the items it needed to hold. I ended up with six rows of pockets. Most have four pouches, but the bottom one has only three (for larger items), and one is full-wdth for an earring organizer. I made the pieces of screen about 5" wider than the fabric so that I could pleat them to create depth in the pockets. Each pleat is about 1/2" deep.
Here is the organizer hanging behind the door. When the door is open you can't even see it, but when the door is closed, the organizer holds everything you need for personal grooming and the mirror is right next to it. The only problem I've encountered so far is that on a starboard tack, it tends to swing into the door knob making it difficult to unlatch the door. Maybe some Velcro dots on the bottom corners will solve that problem.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Back to Panama City

After four pleasant days at the Las Perlas Islands, we are back at the Balboa Yacht Club.
Last Thursday we did some provisioning, filled the fuel tanks at Flamenco Marina, and left for Isla Contadora about noon. We arrived about 6pm and anchored in the south anchorage, Playa Cacique. After a leisurely dinner and some Phase 10, we all went to bed early. The next day we cleaned the waterline and dinghyed ashore for a well earned drink.
Saturday we wanted to visit Isla Bartolom√©, where the Survivor tribal councils were filmed, so we moved to the north anchorage. It would have been a one mile dinghy ride into the wind and chop, so we scratched that idea, but we did go ashore again at Isla Contadora where the ferry lands. We walked around the island being tourists; buying souvenirs and frou-frou drinks. Below you see our boat anchored at Playa Galeon with Isla Bartolom√© in the background.
Sunday we headed back towards Panama City under patchy clouds. I was below cooking breakfast when suddenly things started sliding towards the port side. I turned the stove off and got on deck just in time to see 25 knots on the wind speed indicator. Not good. So we quickly double reefed the main and pulled in the genoa. Allie said water was actually coming over the rail for a few seconds! Things calmed down soon though, and the remaining trip was uneventful.
However, when we arrived back at the Balboa Yacht Club, the mooring ball we had reserved was occupied by another boat. (There is a serious problem with mooring space in Panama. It's probably because the transient boats find it so difficult to know exactly when they will be there.) But we eventually found a mooring ball and went to the restaurant for our farewell dinner.
Early this morning we drove Allie to the airport. The remainder of our day was taken up with groceries, laundry, and returning the rental car. And now we start another phase of our stay here in Panama: boat maintenance. Stay tuned for those exciting details.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Challenges at Las Perlas Islands

Today's reward challenge was to clean the waterline of the sailboat. All three tribe members gave it their all and were rewarded with some protein to eat (yuck) and later a glass of wine at a local hotel.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Map for Wednesday, May 6 through Thursday, May 14, 2015

Left Golfito, Costa Rica on Wednesday, May 6, 2015.
Arrived at Balboa Yacht Club, Panama City on Saturday, May 9, 2015.

Tourists in Panama City

It's been a busy few days since Allie arrived. We have not only finished up our paperwork to get legally checked into the country, but we have also seen a few sights and reprovisioned the boat.
We walked through the BioMuseo and not only admired the striking architecture, but also this old Magnolia tree with its huge network of aerial roots.
We visited the Miraflores Locks one afternoon and watched the amazingly fast process of two ships being lowered down to the level of the Pacific Ocean.
We took a little walk through the Parque Natural Metropolitano and saw a toucan, some Jesus lizards, turtles, and lots of smaller birds.
We visited Casco Viejo and learned a little about the rich history of Panama. This old section of Panama is a wild blend of crumbling, squatter-filled buildings, historical sites and plazas, beautiful renovated buildings and trendy coffee houses, and souvenir shops selling Panama hats, molas, sundresses, and trinkets.


We have driven all over town including across the Bridge of the Americas and the Centennial Bridge, somehow finding our way in this throbbing mass of confusion that the Panamanians call traffic.
Now we plan to sail out to some nearby islands and enjoy some quiet time just swimming and lazing around. We will not have Internet again until Sunday, but will check in again then.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

At the Balboa Yacht Club

So here we are just off the channel on the approach to the Panama Canal; "Crossroads of the World". There is a constant parade of ships making their way in and out of the first set of locks which are barely four miles away.
Coming from a deep water ship port as we do, we are used to having ships close by and we enjoy watching them, but here in Panama there are scores of them making their way in, anchored on both sides of the channel, and making their way out towards the Pacific Ocean.
They seem to enter the locks in groups and early this morning we had no trouble timing our crossing of the channel between ships going in and ships going out. After calling "canal approach" we simply stuck to the far right and enjoyed the spectacle as we made our way to the Balboa Yacht Club.
(You can Google panama canal webcams and watch ships going through the locks.)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Tierra Mar in Golfito

We stayed two nights at Marina Tierra Mar in Golfito, Costa Rica. The owner  Tom was so nice and helpful.
He has a nice "Cruiser's Lounge" with cold drinks, WiFi, showers, a book exchange, and a wall of fame where you can post your boat's name. We put ours right above the Golfito Forest Reserve. We had a nice time there and hope you will consider staying there on you way down the Central American Coast too.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Map from April 18 - May 4

A Jungle Tour

We thought we would check out of Costa Rica and be on our way today, but the Customs Office was closed today for some unfathomable reason, so we will go back tomorrow and try it again. I am so sick of this paperwork.....
So after lunch we decided to go on a little walk in the rain forest. There is a steep road above the town where you can see beautiful views of the bay and perhaps monkeys and toucans.
This photo gives you an idea of the scale of the rain forest. The trees are quite tall and the terrain is steep.
We did in fact have an amazing view of the bay. Below you can see the pass we entered when we sailed into Golfito Bay.
We saw some fiery billed aracari, a type of toucan. And lots of ferns, but no monkeys. Even though it was terribly hot, we enjoyed our tour of the rain forest.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Sailing to Golfito

We left Playas del Cocos Friday, May 1st. As the sun was setting on Saturday evening a little bird landed on my arm. It had flown at least 15 miles offshore, poor thing. It spent the night snuggled in the corner of the chart table and when we anchored in Bahia Dulce (looks like Shangri La to us) the next morning it finally flew off into the jungle.

We took a mooring ball at Marina Tierra y Mar in Golfito this morning. We will do our paperwork tomorrow and leave immediately for Panama. Hope to arrive there on Friday, May 8th.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Tales from Playas del Coco

We entered Costa Rica on Saturday, April 21st with WaySheGoes II. We anchored in Bahia Santa Elena and we're delighted to have Seahorse V arrive the next day. We all had a great time catching up.
The bay has no services at all so we made our own fun. We had a morning net, daily activities, and shared meals for several days. What great memories we made there.
On our last night I awoke to the sounds of dolphins around our boat. I quickly woke Malcolm and we ran on deck to witness a feeding frenzy in the water. With no moon, we were able to see the phosphorescent trails of both fish and dolphins. It was like an underwater fireworks show.
We then sailed to Playas del Cocos where we officially checked into Costa Rica. We feel fortunate that check-in only took us one day because other boats had reported two days for paperwork. Laundry, however, was a different story. It came back wet, wadded up, comingled with two other boat's clothes, and smelling of smoke. Luckily, we were friends with the other two boats, and easily sorted it out, but we refused to pay for it.
We are now in Bahia Herradura, Costa Rica, but will leave today for our last port; Golfito, where we will check out of Costa Rica and then head to Panama. Here is a photo Sheila took of us on the way to Bahia Santa Elena. Thanks Sheila