Back in the States
August 12- October 13
It's wonderful being back in the states and having the chance to see family and friends. The months flew by with visits in New Jersey, Mass., Maine,
July -7/21-7/31- We've reached Shelter Bay Marina, so this is the end of cruising for us until the
By Friday, Dick was experiencing some swelling in his face and a throbbing jaw. This wasn't in the area of the tooth that he had just seen the dentist for, and it was really strange because he doesn't have dental problems. We decided that he should get started on antibiotics and changed our plans to head back to Bocas to have it checked. The dentist was not available, nor were they sure when he would make it to the island because there was a banana worker strike and they had cut off all traffic from the mainland. The decision was made to cut our cruise short and head to Colon.
We left Bluefields around 2 in the afternoon after a squall had gone through and the skies lightened. Ended up being a total motoring trip since the winds were so light. Made good time because of favorable current. We reached Colon by 10am the next morning.
6/7 – Christopher's birthday – Happy #35. Early morning finds us with very light winds and fairly small seas. We have decided to push and not explore the island. We have about 40 miles to cover to the entrance to the Bocas. This turns out to be a much longer day then we had expected. Still has 100% cloud cover and hope we don't encounter any major squalls. We soon hit the counter current again and our speed over ground is down to 4.4 knots. We then start to have building wind until we see about 24 knots and of course, it's right on the nose so our speed is now down to about 3 knots off the Peninsula Valiente. We detour off to the Bluefield Lagoon, but as soon as start our turn the wind drops down to 7 knots and in a direction that we can sail. Off we go again and finally reach the Bocas and Bastimentos Island around 7 pm. We call Chris to wish him Happy Birthday, make a pizza, and get to bed early.
6/2 & 3 – Have started our journey westward. Left Chichime early in the morning with very light winds. Ended up motoring or motor sailing most of the way to Linton. Trailed a fishing behind us the whole way and not even one little nibble. Have no idea what we are doing wrong – fish don't seem to like our lures. Arrived in Linton about 3 pm and spent a quiet afternoon on the boat. Dinner was crab cakes with left over crab from last night. Left the next morning for
The next day our battery charger goes up in a flame and puff of smoke. Luckily, we have a
On Tuesday we experienced our first, and hopefully only, chaja shana (not sure at all how to spell it). It is a wind that comes on suddenly from the south and is very intense. The air temperature dropped about 20 degrees and we quickly had 35 knots of wind with gusts over 40 and lots of wave chop. It clocked around from all different angles. 5 boats dragged and 2 boats ended up going aground. Dick went to help try to get one of the boats off a reef before it could get swamped with waves and Moira stayed on Equinox with the engine running.
Over the next couple of days we work on a variety of boat projects that have been on our ever growing list. The list always seem to grow and never decrease, though there is some satisfaction crossing off a couple of items.
We left Shelter Bay on April 3 to head back to the San Blas. Our first trip out saw us only going about 6 miles to Isla Naranjio Abajo, a totally deserted island which is very secluded and doesn't give you the sense that Colon is only a few miles away. Reached the San Blas on the 5th and went through all the clearing in processes.
Although we are back in Paradise it's interesting how many jobs need to be done to keep the boat running, like changing oil and fuel filters, going up the mast to fix the radar reflectors, and cleaning the bilge. and boat bottom. On the other hand, we leave time to go snorkeling, walking and visiting with the many boats that are here.
Have noticed an increase in the amount of showers/squalls. We are getting to the end of the dry season and wonder what the rainy season will be like. Have had fish for dinner a few nights. Not that we caught anything, but the Kunas sell the fish so inexpensively. We bought 2 small tunas for $2. The Kunas have a ban on catching/selling lobsters, crabs, and octopus right now but it looks like many folks ignore it. We support the ban so that the species can survive, but have also passed up some mouth watering lobsters and spiny crab.
One of the wonderful parts of cruising is all the friends that you make and get to see in various ports. We have been spending time with both Mark and Debbie from Sea Cycle and Dennis and Allayne from Audrey Paige, but know that the time will be coming soon when we will need to say goodbye and aren't sure when we might see them again.
Even with a place as remote as the San Blas there are lots of places for cruisers to meet and socialize. Every Monday night there is a cocktail get together in the Eastern Holandes Cays on a islands dubbed BBQ island. The anchorage is called the Swimming Pool because it is shallow water (about 12 feet) over pure white sand. Snorkeling is great here with at least 10 different sites to try. Went to one area out by the northern most section of the reef with Brian from Darramy and went through caves and along many cliffs – very exciting. Another spot that has become a big area for socializing is the West Lemmon Cays' Elephant Island. A band made up of cruisers from various boats, the No Mas Band, has started playing on some Saturday nights after a potluck dinner. Pam, from Songbird, has an unbelievable bluesy/jazz voice and we could listen to her all night long.
Dick's birthday was on the 21st and we were anchored off a small island named Nabadup. Friends from 2 boats came over for drinks and cake. The best present was that the part for our windlass was due to arrive by plane tomorrow on a small island about 10 miles away. No more having to pull up the anchor and chain by hand, although Dick felt like he has been bulking up his arms! Motorsailed to Nargana the next day and picked up the part at the Air Panama office. Huge disappointment when we found that a mounting flange had broken off. Contacted Arturo from Marine Wharehouse and he said that it would have to be sent back to him and would let us know in 2 days what will happen. Went to O'Neil's to pick up some of his wonderful rolls. Very different from the other Kuna bread – we love them and have usually eaten several even before we even get back to the boat. Arturo has called and said it will take another 3 weeks before we will have the part. Another change to our cruising plans – it's a good thing that they are only made in jello. While we stayed in Nargana we took a dinghy ride up one of the rivers. You go past many pathways leading to tinkas (farms) and often to mango trees hanging over the river. Eventually the water becomes fresh and there are spots for washing clothes and then a little further up spots where the Kuna fill tanks with fresh, although slightly brownish, water. Over the next couple of days we get some other chores done and travel to two nearby island. By the 30th, after cleaning our bottom for several hours, we take off for a very slow, leisurely sail to the West Lemmon with our reacher sail up. Dolphins come and spend some time playing on both sides of the boat. We get a call from another boat saying how great Equinox looks with the colorful sail up. What a life!