Thursday, April 25, 2013

The San Blas Islands and back to Shelter bay

2200, Tuesday, 19 Mar 13, Anchored in Portobello Bay, Portobello, Panama

It is a hot night, one of the hottest we have experienced to date, but it is not raining, yet…

We left Shelter bay Marina this morning after a 2-day stop to clean up the boat, laundry, recharge whatever needed recharging and headed out into a new ocean. On our way out of the port of Colon we passed by the Serene, a huge yacht, reputed to be owned by a Russian Vodka magnate. Serene is one of the top 10 super yachts in the world. Check her stats out with a Google search. Very impressive!


As we poked our bow out of the massive breakwater protecting the harbor we found out how very different this ocean is from the Pacific. The water was clear, 15 degrees warmer but we had 3-4 ft seas and a 12-15 kt headwind and those conditions persisted, the entire 18 mile passage. It appears that the weather is returning to normal. This is supposed to be the dry season but, with the rain we have had since we arrived, it certainly doesn’t look that way. The weather gurus tell us that conditions should improve significantly by the weekend.
We are anchored just off the village of Portobelo, famous as being the transfer point for about ¼ of the earth’s gold reserves. This was all done in the 16 and 17th centuries when Spain shipped all of the riches they found in the new world through this port. There is a large building on the docks that was used as the warehouse for all the gold that was transported here by mule trains from the interior. The silver was piled up in the streets, on pallets, as there was no room in the warehouse. One of the locals told us that when he excavated the foundations for his waterfront shop and home they found many silver coins similar to the famed treasure of the Atocha, a Spanish treasure ship,discovered off Florida several years ago.
Portobello Forts
The Gold Counting House
The Black Jesus of Portobelo
Looks like we arrived here at just the right time! Tomorrow is a festival. Not sure why yet but we’ll stay here and enjoy whatever it is. This evening we had supper at Captain Jack’s, a transplanted American who has found his new vocation; hostel, bar and restaurant owner. His menu reflects the fact that his chef is a Thai girl and the red curry was everything I expected it to be – hot!
Kids in Costume
Festival King and Queen
2230, 21 Mar 13, Anchored at the entrance to Green Turtle Bay, 20 miles east of Portobello

The party referred to above was actually the 416th anniversary of the founding of Portobelo. It was founded as a town in 1597, 95 years after the bay was discovered by Columbus. Sir Francis Drake is said to have perished here. The celebrations were more of a cultural show but they had free beer and free food. What more can a cruiser ask for?? Later on we went to another small cruisers bar where a birthday was being celebrated. Yes, more beer and food…. Just down the coast is an exhibit of some articles found on the wreck of the Viscaya, on of Columbus’ ships from his third voyage. Among the lumps of metal, all immersed in water for preservation, one can make out swivel guns and cannon balls.

We got back to the boat just in time to see Warren Peace sail into the bay. They were also thinking of leaving for the San Blas Islands today so plans were made and we both left this morning and arrived at Green Turtle Bay in the early afternoon. The bay is quite exposed to the prevailing winds but they have dropped considerably and, although it is quite rolly, it is comfortable for only one night. The bay is also home to a small marina but this is quite out of the way. The management is trying hard to attract customers and within the next few years they expect to have a viable facility to store boats on the hard.

20:30, 22 Mar 13, Anchored off Banedup Island, East Holandes Cays, Panama

Another 50 miles to the east and we are in the middle of the San Blas Islands on a chain of islands called the Holandes Cays. These are reputed to be the best diving waters in the west Caribbean and we are looking forward, over the next few days, to get a taste.

Traditional Dugout canoe with lateen sail

 Many of these 300 islands are inhabited by the Kuna people. The Kunas were originally from the Darien area but were pushed out by floods and incursions by some of the neighboring tribes a few centuries ago. They found solace in the offshore islands of the San Blas and, over the years have established themselves as an independent community and, with the support of the Panamanian government, their own tribal government. They have been able to maintain their traditions and customs much better than the aboriginal peoples to the north. It is so refreshing to see a coastline and spectacular islands without the massive resorts and the homes of the rich and famous.

There are tons of cruisers all over the San Blas Islands. On our way here we saw hundreds of boats anchored wherever a boat could be anchored and, surprisingly, most were multihulls. Catamarans seem to be the more popular choice on this side of Central America and the flags are mostly Europeans with the French and Italianss in the majority.

2200, 25, Mar 13, Same location

We have been in this wonderful anchorage for 3 days now. It is not difficult to see why there are so many boats in these small islands. There is raw natural beauty here unparalleled anywhere. The small islets with pristine white sand and coconut trees surface from an extensive reef system creating a fringe of islets several miles offshore. The outer reef is a rough and wild crust rising from the depths to a few feet below the surface of the ocean. The waves washing in from the Caribbean can be seen crashing on the reef just a few hundred yards from where we are anchored. There is an intermediate reef system between us and the outer reef where the water is quite shallow and here and there large logs and trees washed down the nearby rivers have come to a rest. There are also a few wrecks. One close to us here is a large sailboat and we can see the remains of a small freighter about 2 miles to the west.

Reef and open ocean on otherr side
One that didn't make it.
 Although the surface features are picturesque it is the underwater landscape that makes this area so popular. With the reef being so shallow it is accessible to anyone with simple snorkel gear. We have spent the last 3 days exploring several locations and are always amazed at the different coral formations and the fish population.  So far, this comes second only to our short time on the Great Barrier Reef. Surprisingly, there is not the profusion of fish that I would have expected but that may be a result of over fishing by locals and visitors to the Islands. Similarly, shellfish are rare. The Kunas are harvesting immature conches and not allowing the various species to proliferate. Another sad note is the shoreline of the islets. There is a profusion of garbage, much of it flotsam but a lot of it remnants of trash left by Kunas and cruisers alike. Today cruisers are more responsible and burn their garbage ashore, keeping the non-burnables to be disposed of elsewhere but the Kunas also take trash away, for $1 a bag. Makes you wonder where it all ends up….

Spotted Eagle ray

One of the last pics before the camera died...
We are in 25 ft. of water and we can see the bottom clearly. There are sand dollars and starfish visible. The water is a slight shade of blue, increasing to a darker shade as it gets deeper. The colour of Fran’s Mustang was called Gulfstream Aqua and, it seems, Ford had it right. Visibility while snorkeling was close to 75 ft. today. We saw a Spotted Eagle ray swimming through the anchorage. This type is quite different from other rays because of its protruding head and beak which it uses to seek out mollusks in the sand.

The prettiest fish we have ever seen
So far the weather has been perfect. The days are hot and the sun is hard to take but we have a nice breeze and nights are cool. At the moment there is a full moon but there are quite a few clouds tonight and we have already had a light sprinkle. We are expecting a few days of stronger wind but a return to light breezes by the weekend.

We are about 15 boats in this small anchorage. Rio Nimpkish arrived this afternoon boosting up the Canadian content to 7, the largest national group here. We have boats from Columbia, USA, France, Australia, UK and South Africa here. There are also 2 “backpacker” boats who take backpackers as passengers from Panama to Colombia. They stop here for a few days as part of their normal itinerary and their passengers get to camp out on one of the islands.

2245, 27 Mar 13, Anchored at Naranga, Panama

We have been on the move for the last few days. Yesterday we decided to relocate to the other side of one of the islands to the south of the Swimming Pool to take shelter from the winds that were predicted for the rest of the week. It was only a mile or so but it did make a difference. The wind was up to 15-20 kts by the time we re-anchored. Having a solid piece of land to windward gives a lot more comfort than an almost invisible reef with huge waves crashing on its windward edge….
Lydia, a Turkish made, wooden boat was beside us and we met the young French couple who were managing it for the absentee owner. A very nice couple with a young son they seem only too happy to have this 60+ft boat to live on while catering to the wishes of an owner who they see for, maybe, a few weeks each year. They are both avid spear fishermen and yesterday they caught a 20 lb. red snapper. It was too much for them so they offered half to us. We shared it with Optical Illusion. Somehow I have to get the hang of using my Hawaiian sling and bring back my own.

Fran has been having some upper chest issues and yesterday she started to take it more seriously. Advice from friends and a few nurses on other boats recommended that we seek a professional medical consult. The closest clinic was here in Nargana, a small island community close to the mainland. It took us a few hours to sail the 12 miles and, with the 15-20 kt. wind on a broad reach, we were reaching almost 9 kts under the genoa. What a ride! We arrived in the early afternoon and found the clinic one hour before it closed for the day.  Fran’s vitals were all OK and the doctor said that there wasn’t much to find but it was probably something that she’ll have to have checked out when we get home.

Nargana is typical of the island communities along the Kuna coast. Every available piece of land other than a tiny central square is covered with homes, school or other buildings. There are no vehicles other than bicycles (and, of course, boats). People are all Kuna but some are no longer the “practicing” kind and have ceased to wear the traditional dress in favour of more western clothes. Houses are mostly one-room, made of bamboo stick walls, dirt floors and palm thatch roofs although there are a few with concrete walls and tin roofs as well. The shops are tiny with dirt floors, old beat up shelving filled with an assortment of canned essentials, lots of pop (no alcohol here) and a few junk food items. There are normally a few old beat up chest freezers, some with rusted out tops containing pop or some meats. The meats that we saw were mainly chicken wings and sausages. The veggies were pretty sad and, apart from a few bananas there were no fruit to be had, however, a dugout canoe with bananas and pineapples came by when we got back to the boat.

Typical house construction, San Blas area.
 The clinic was in an old building that could use a lot of work. It seemed to be well attended and had half-dozen regular staff members, including a full time doctor. At the front desk on the porch there sat a secretary with 2 traditionally dressed Kuna women on either side of him. I wish we had remembered the camera! We think they were there to learn the check in process or interrupters.

 While we were there we saw 2 albino natives. Kunas cannot marry outside of their own people and albinos are a common sight.

Regardless of the poverty and isolated status of these people the community seems vibrant. Crime is non-existent and the children appear to be healthy. There is a large local school and at 3 PM the uniformed children were all over the town on their way home. There were power lines to all of the houses with a large diesel generator supplying power. Plumbing, however, was not evident. There are 2 old and disused water tanks but we were told that the waterline from ashore has been broken for the past 6 months.  To fill the gap there are many pangas and dugout canoes full of water receptacles going back and forth from the island to the small river across the bay. We topped off our onboard water tanks from a panga that came by selling water out of 45 gal drums. On close inspection you could see small bits of green algae. We treated it with chlorine and will only use it for non-potable purposes. Out water-maker is able to keep up with our demands for drinking and cooking water.

2220, 29 Mar 13, Anchored at Green island

Another blustery night! It has been blowing 15-20 kts for most of the past 2 days and it is due to increase another 5 kts for the weekend. We are having occasional rain squalls but, looking south to the mainland, there is a solid layer of cloud and rain. We are anchored about 5 miles from Nargana, off a small uninhabited island. We are not sheltered from the wind but the reef is acting as a breakwater; we can see some big waves crashing on the seaward side of the reef. We are here with 8 other boats, including Rio Nimpkish.

Keeping put has been quite a challenge over the past few days. We have had to re-anchor 5 times, including a 4 AM anchor alarm induced move during a 25-30 kt. rain squall. I am disappointed with our new(ish) CQR anchor. I replaced it with the Danforth anchor yesterday but that was the one that failed this morning. We were ready to move to a more sheltered location this morning but another boat that has used a CQR for 13 years gave me some tips on how to set in the fine sand of this area. With this advice we reset the anchor and have been rock-solid ever since. Thanks SV Diva.

Regardless of the wind we have been snorkeling every day. The bottom is being churned up by the waves but near the reefs the visibility is still about 30-40 ft. The reef here is much shallower and there are different species of fish, coral and today we saw many sea cucumbers.

Many cruisers are retired professionals so there is a wealth of knowledge amongst us. Our friend Bill on Optical Illusion, is a retired optometrist, and was quite concerned with Fran’s condition. So between him and Jannie on Lovely Lady, who was an emergency nurse, they came up with the idea that because she only drinks pure water-maker water, the lack of minerals might be causing some of her problems. Well sure enough, after just one day of drinking electrolytes, mineral water and coke, the chest pressure is gone and she is feeling much better, so next season us will both be taken multi vitamins every day!

Every once in a while we are visited by Kunas in dug-out canoes selling anything from veggies and fruit to fish and other items. Today we had a visit from Lisa, a master mola artist, renowned for the quality of her molas. “She” is actually the 13th son of a daughterless family. Needing a daughter to pass on the art and culture of her family she was raised as a female from day one. She is now in her late 40,s, lives alone but makes beautiful molas and is also a local river guide. Fran bought 2 of her molas, each one autographed in thread.

Lisa and molas

19:00, 1 Apr 13, Same location

This has been our last day at Green Island. We’ll be moving on to a new location tomorrow. Rio Nimpkish left today to bring their daughter, Erin to Nargana where she will take the plane to Panama City tomorrow for home. There are lots of boats here but we have seen everything we have wanted to see and we haven’t had access to the internet in a few weeks so we will most likely move closer to one of the coastal towns for a day or so to catch up on correspondence and, perhaps get this next blog entry published.
Yesterday was Easter and we had a sundowner event on the beach with many of the boats in the anchorage. It was a fun event with every boat bringing an appy to share. After about an hour or so, J-G started feeling a bit sore. Within an hour it had developed into a full blown 24 hr flu. You sure feel helpless but with a great nurse like Fran he survived. We initially thought it was another bout of prostatitis but this does not feel like those he has had in the past. Fingers crossed for the next days.


Easter shore party

21:00 Wed, 3 Apr 13, Anchored at the West Holandes Cays

Another idyllic anchorage in one of the most beautiful settings we have ever been in. It is hard to describe for a non-writer but today at sunset, sitting on the bow of the boat with a glass of white wine and Fran beside me it was like a magical place. We are anchored a few hundred yards from a narrow gap between two palm covered, uninhabited islands, the last in the Holandes chain. From here we can see the waves breaking on the reef just offshore between the islands. The water below us is  a deep blue, indicative of deep water we are in but it shelves very rapidly giving that Caribbean blue colour shift as it shallows to the white sandy beach. We have a cool breeze and big cumulus clouds scudding across the western sky and the sun is trying to break through as it slowly sets. There are ripples all around us small schools of fish break the surface, disturbed by unknown predators. No wonder people spend years here. We have met several boaters who have come here exclusively for the past 9-13 years. We will definitely miss this moment!!

J-G’s flu turned out to be a 24–hr. variety so yesterday we sailed from Green Island to the East Lemmon Cays and joined up with Janet and Bill on Optical Illusion. We had a nice sundowner with them but didn’t see much else. They had told us of a cruiser refrigeration technician who had done some work for them so we decided to call him and make an appointment. Luckily he was just a few miles away, here in the West Holandes so we headed there this morning. Pierrot is an Italian who retired some years ago but has not given up the job he liked so well. Within an hour he had reset our water-cooling circuit on our refrigeration system that failed 4 years ago and that 2 techs were unable to reset. We should see a 15-25% reduction in power usage from now on.

Bill and Janet have been busy with some of the local Kuna children who have eye problems. One young boy has juvenile cataracts and Bill was able to establish a way ahead to get him cured. There is now a cruiser’s fund being collected to take care of the procedure but there are complications in this culture. The islanders belong to a tribal organization headquartered, normally on the mainland or an island close to the mainland. Whenever they have to go outside their territory for medical assistance or other reasons they have to get the OK from the local chief, or sahila. Because to the distances between islands, and administrative headquarters, and canoes as the only mode of transport, often enough, important issues are left ignored, often with tragic consequences.

Before we left the West Lemmons this morning we had a visit from the other master mola artist that we had heard so much about. Valencio had some very beautiful pieces and Fran succumbed again. There will be lots of mola gifts when we get back home.

Valencio and molas

21:30 Thurs, 4 Apr, 13 Anchored in the East Lemmon Cays

Another day, another island, actually, 2 today. We left late morning to make a rendezvous with a photographer who had done a super photo of Optical Illusion while they were in the “Swimming Pool” last week. After seeing it we had to try to get something similar. We arrived at her location at Chichime but, unfortunately, the setting was not the same and the light did not bring out the colours. Nikki takes her photos from the masthead of their catamaran, Safari.

Nikky in a bos'n chair at mast top
Sweet photo taken at Chichime, East Lemmon Cays
And another

 After the photo shoot we sailed a few miles south to the West Lemmon Cays and joined Optical Illusion again and had a wonderful dinner ashore with 4 other cruisers from Tabasco and Pavo Real. The setting is a small island with 2 huts, meticulously tended by the young Kuna family that resides there 3 months each year. The father is a rarity among the Kunas. He was trained as a French chef in Panama City, learned French there and spent a year in France. When not taking care of the island for the wife’s family they live on another small island near the mainland. By special request he will prepare a simple meal for a small number of cruisers. Tonight it was chicken or fish, rice, salad and a coconut sauce that was absolutely delicious.

We met another couple aboard Kara’s Dream today. Karen and Ralph (Ka,Ra, get it?) are from Squamish and are headed back to BC via the Pacific. We were able to pass on some good tips.

22:00, Sunday, 7 Apr, Anchored in the East Coco Banderas Cays

It has been another 3 days of the same stuff: beautiful Island anchorages, clear blue waters all around, great snorkeling and warm temperatures with cool nights, although the wind has increased and it has been relatively cloudy. After leaving the East Lemmons we made our way with Optical Illusion to an anchorage near the island of Cambobia where several boats reported a great reef to explore with a drop-off to depths of 60+ feet. We met Rio Nimpkish there and the following day we set to see the reef but the windy conditions and the gloomy sky did us no favours so we gave up after about 30 mins. We made up for it later with an evening of cards. If you have never played Presidents and Assholes you are missing a lot of fun. We played till past 23:00, well after cruisers bedtime.

Today was a busy one. While Rio went in search of the refrigeration man Opt Illusion and us, went on a quest for fuel. Our first stop was another island town called Rio Azucar but there was none available there. We did get some water there but had to continue on to Nargana for fuel, another 4 miles up the coast. We explored the town for a few hours and then continued on to meet Rio in the Coco Banderas group. We arrived by 17:30 and anchored in another beautiful bay.

We are counting down our days here in the San Blas. Looks like we will be heading back to towards Shelter Bay on Thursday, with a stop in Portobelo on the way. The boat count this week was almost 40% lower than when we arrived as many boaters are heading to their respective storage locations but the die-hards will remain or continue to other Caribbean locations.

We continue to be visited by the local people whenever we anchor near an inhabited island. When we first arrived it was for a permit to that group of islands but that was the only time that happened. They come alongside with their dugout canoes, occasionally with their entire families, to sell molas, fish, conches and lobsters. All cruisers have been advised not to purchase the shellfish or lobster as the season is closed for those species, an attempt to revive the stocks but the Kunas don’t seem to see it that way and they continue to fish for subsistence and some extra cash. There is also a vibrant trade in supplying cruisers with fresh fruit and veggies and some operators, all from the mainland, also carry other basics such as beer, wine and soft drinks, plying the anchorages popular with the cruisers in their outboard powered dugout canoes. Today we had something different. Two Kuna ladies, dressed in their finest and faces painted in the traditional red cheeks came by to ask us to charge their cell phones. Yes, technology has arrived to the Kunas. There are very few phone towers around and they are mainly in, or close to, the island villages or the mainland towns. Service, however, is dismal in most island locations. Even in the towns with towers the technology is old and the bandwidth is sucked up quickly by the locals. Only Porvrnir seems to have decent service but now our computer access cards are expired so we’ll have to wait for a WIFI spot for our next connection.

Cell Phone ladies

Improvised boat patches - flattened cans!
22:00, Tuesday, 9 April, 13 At anchor in the “hot tub”, West Holandes Cays

We arrived at this beautiful anchorage at mid-day. We are in 33 ft of azure blue water with visibility to 50-60 ft. With the sun out today we were able to see the palette of blues from the deepest blue of deep water to the lighter shades close to the sand bars and beaches. There are lots of fish but they are small. We did see a few larger trigger fish close to the outer reef and we did see our first lion fish, a majestic looking creature that should not be touched. Its fin tips are highly poisonous.

The weather has been a thorny issue these past 2 weeks. Mostly it has been quite windy with 15-25 kt wind most of the day and part of the night. We have had the occasional sprinkle of rain and a few heavy but short-lived downpours that catch us by surprise. Our water catcher that Fran made a few months ago is still unused. We are expecting a moderation in the wind over the weekend but we will be heading west towards Shelter Bay by then so the wind will be an asset. While making our way between the islands we have been able to sail most of the way but because of the dull days our solar panels have not been able to keep up with demand, therefore the engine has been on during our transits to provide for the batteries. Next year we will most likely have a wind generator to handle the load.

22:00, Thurs, 11 Apr 13, At anchor, East Lemmon Cays

Our last night in the San Blas Islands. It is hard to believe that we have been in this wonderful corner of the world for almost a month. We moved to this location this morning to give us a shorter run to Portobello tomorrow. The wind is lightening and will be in our favour so we hope to sail, yes, sail most of the way there. We are caught up in our batteries so solar should be able to handle the load.

The last few days have flown by. We have done lots of snorkeling, several repairs and some maintenance that will give us a head start when we arrive at Shelter Bay. This morning we were finally able to break in the rain catcher. We had a nice 15 minute downpour but didn’t take advantage of it until it was half over. We were still able to collect about 4 gallons of rainwater that Fran used for washing sheets and pillowcases.

This evening we had dinner ashore at the hut on the beach with the French trained Kuna native chef. Same menu but not quite as good as last time. We also bid farewell to Dave on Tabasco and Tony on Pavo Real. They spend a lot of time in this location.

20:30, Sunday, 14 Apr, 2013, Anchored at Portabelo, Pa

We are back at Portabelo since late afternoon Friday. Nothing much has changed from a month ago except the weather. The wind has dropped and we have had overcast skies for most of our time here so far so it is hot and humid without the cool breeze we have been used to. The 4 boats are back together again. We sailed down with Optical Illusion. Warren Peace has been here almost a week getting some repairs done and Rio Nimpkish arrived yesterday. We have all decided to stay here a bit longer and get as much of the storage prep work done rather than pay the high dockage fees at Shelter Bay marina. We should be on our way there by mid-week. It is only 22 miles to go. There is another Camper-Nicholson in the bay. Flamboyant, home port, Toronto is a C&N 43, another rare breed like Gosling. Unfortunately her owner was not aboard.

On our last night in the San Blas J-G finally got the cold that had been spreading through the cruising community in the San Blas. We had heard of several people who had it and someone passed it on. Thank God Fran has a good supply of drugs onboard but, nevertheless, it will take about 5 days to run its course. He had barely gotten over the flu when he was hit with this.

We are back in internet range and are finally connected but it is a weak connection so only e-mails and a few other low bandwidth programs are usable. We will still have to wait till Shelter Bay to send this out.

We have heard from Jeff, on Chasing the Sun, by Facebook. He had left the San Blas a week ago headed for Colombia and Venezuela, his final destination. He made Cartagena in good time but against some rough conditions but on his next leg up the coast past Baranquilla he met with tragedy. He was heading north along the coast in light winds and a few miles offshore when he snagged a fishing line. It took him a while to clear it from his prop and by that time an onshore wind had come up and was increasing in strength.  He was washed ashore on a sand bar and was unable to get free. He managed to save a few possessions before she started breaking up in the building surf. Jeff is now safe and sound in Venezuela.

We are slowly going through the boat, opening and cleaning lockers and cupboards, removing anything that is surplus and washing all clothing before vacuum packaging it for next season. Before we leave the boat we will have to wipe all surfaces with a vinegar/mold inhibitor solution. Hopefully the dehumidifiers will help reduce the build-up of mold too. That seems to be our greatest concern this season.

Fran and I have been looking at the future and we think that we are into our last few years of winter cruising. We will soon be putting out feelers for selling the boat or trading Gosling for another boat closer to home so we can get back to cruising the West Coast. We still haven’t seen much of the coast but we will need a good solid and comfortable boat for that climate. Gosling would be an ideal boat but she is too long to keep at CFSA, our home club where the length limit there is 38 ft, and, besides, Gosling does not have a heating system, an important pre-requisite for sailing the Pacific Nothwest.

Thursday, 18 Apr, 13 Alongside, Shelter Bay Marina

We arrived back here at Shelter bay yesterday morning. After fueling we came alongside and started the long process of putting Gosling to bed for the summer season. It has been a grueling 2 days so far. J-G’s cold is getting better and hopefully, by tomorrow, he will be back to 100%. We are thankful that it is sunny and dry with all of the washing we have to do. All the sails, running rigging and everything that has any mold on it has to be thoroughly washed and dried before putting it away. Yes, the Caribbean is a damper atmosphere and we have found quite a few moldy items in the storage places aboard. It will take a lot of preparation to ensure we don’t come back to a science experiment gone bad. We have already agreed to rent 2 de-humidifiers from the marina at $45/month, electricity charges on top of that. This will, indeed be our most expensive storage season since we started cruising. Oh, to be back in dry Guaymas….. Those de-humidifiers we bought last month will be on the sale table at the swap meet on Sunday. It was considered too risky doing the dehumidifiers on our own without having them checked regularly as the rented ones will be.

One boat down from us is Optical Illusion and they are also in the preparation frenzy. They will be hauling out with us on Tuesday and flying out a few days later. We will only have an extra day in Panama. Ideal 1 is also here. They are getting ready to head down to the San Blas and Colombia. They are continuing to cruise throughout the summer.

24, April 13, Baru Lodge (B&B), Panama City

It has been way too long since the last update so I will send this off ASAP and cover the last few days in a subsequent post after we get home.