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Fountain of Youth

Posted on Wednesday Apr 8, 2009

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Ever heard of someone loosing 20 years off their age in one day? We've been getting to know this family that lives here in Bahia Honda. I've been working on their generator, VHF radio, LED lights and Sherrell has been busy reversing time. She was talking with Domingos wife who insisted she was 90 years old. At some point in the discussion she disappears and brings out her ID card which shows her birthday on 1949. Sherrell then explained to her that she was only 60 years old, but rather than being pleased she seemed a bit distraught. She said Domingo told her she was 90. Since Domingo is a bit older looking than her we wondered if something more
complicated was going on. Sherrell is a trouble maker.

We haven't got much work done on the boat. Our radar is still not working right. I think it needs a new cable. That's going to be expensive to get shipped down. Domingo did offer to let us take water from his property which he has plumbed running water from a creek high up in the hills. It is very clean and we were able to replenish our water supply so now we have lots of water on the boat again!

This is a great bay to hang out in. The only draw back is it is removed from any supplies. There is a small hotel here which runs to Puerto Mutis once a week, but that's it. Too bad because I could spend a lot of time in this bay. The small store in the village just doesn't have enough supplies to keep us demanding gringos fed properly.

Domingo took us on a tour of a indigenous village where his wife comes from. You can only enter at high tide through a maze of mangroves. It is a stark contrast to go from the skyscrapers of Panama City to the mud huts in these towns. The village was fullof curious people who chatted with us and often offered us food. They have a proper school, a little Catholic Church, a store and
naturally a solar powered satellite pay phone. The trip was interesting and we got to meet some more of Domingos family and friends. But birth-control would do this places a world of good as 12 kids is really a bit much. Hey Pope are you listening?

On other news, the Tehuantapec is forecast to blow at hurricane force. I don't think it has ever developed a storm that strong this late in the season

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Bahia Honda Village

Everyone told us how cool bahia honda is, but in reality it's hot -- very hot. Right now we are reading 97F in the boat and not much wind. We decided to try to anchor off the village to see what the scene is like there and visit the stores. It's your typical case of dropping the anchor and having a pile of shy kids show up in dug out canoes trying to sell fruit and ask a ton of questions. Then you go into town and have another pile of kids yell candy candy candy. After being told there's no candy they quickly switch tactics to money money money. We did get a couple of cold sodas, watched a guy take his pig for a swim (too cool off), and had some drunk guys invite us to beers (rather boisterously). No luck on finding bread or veggies. There is supposed to be some guy in a panga who sells stuff to cruisers, but maybe he isn't around.

It is a bit noisy off the town because the restaurant is cranking their obligatory music so we'll probably move to a quieter part of the bay. We glimpsed another cruising sailboat but they left from the other side of the bay just about the time we anchored off the town. There is one other sailboat over there but I'm not sure anyone is on it. There sure aren't many boats cruising the coast. We've hardly seen anyone.

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Isla Santa Catalina

Just a short 15 mile up from Isla Cebaco is Isla Santa Catalina. We arrived to find massive swells and brave surfers trying to ride them. They are way to big for me to try and the bottom is pretty rocky. Because of the large swell we don't think we can make it easily into the little town which is a bummer because we would like to pick up some supplies and maybe eat out.

Despite the pretty beach and the fairly protected anchorage we will probably head out tomorrow morning because I won't be surfing those giants.

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the other ensenada naranjo

Posted on Wednesday Apr 1, 2009

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This post contains a GPS location. Click here to see it on the map.

We were forced out of the last anchorage by squalls. All night there was lightning and wind from odd dirrections. Then at 4am the wind started funneling right into the bay and waves started to build. We got up and got the boat ready to leave. Since our radar has not been working we decided to try to hold on until day light at about 5am the rain came down in buckets. By 6am however it started to clear up and the wind died down. The seas were still quite rough, but we hoisted the anchor and bailed out. Two bad nights and one good one just isn't very good odds. Sadly I missed out on taking any photos or doing a hike up to the hill.

Now we are at an island called Isla Cebaco in another bay called Ensenada Naranjo (naranjo is an orange). Some books call one of these Ensenada Naranja, but there seems to be confusion among the charts, books and cruisers. I don't know exactly what this (or the last place) is called. I do know there is a fuel boat here which sells fuel at $3.75 a gallon ($2.00 back in panama city) and they have sodas and beer. Wacky. There isn't any significant shore-side population and it appears this fuel boat is mostly for sport fishing boats.

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Ensenada Orange

Posted on Tuesday Mar 31, 2009

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This place is fantastic. We had the calmest night last evening since leaving Isla Cana almost 3 months ago. There were no wakes from the pilot boats (Panama City), no swell, no wind chop, just a nice calm night. To top it off this bay has beautiful silky black sand beaches with hiking trails and wild fruit like orange sized limes (great for rum drinks!). The water is much warmer and I can see about 20 feet down without any effort.

Anyway we might stay another day or two before heading out...it all depends on the weather forecasts.

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Ensenada Naranjo

Feeling lucky that we didn't get pummeled at Punta Mala and with a forecast of light winds we decided to leave Benao after 2 nights and a day of surfing while our luck was still holding. While we have a long history of getting surprise weather and naturally the 20-25 knots of east wind was a surprise. The fortunate thing is we were going west. So instead of doing 1 knot against it we were doing 6-7 with it. All those headlands really build up the seas with the current swirling around them and it was just like sailing along South America again. The bouncy soup of whitecaps wore us out.

We arrived in Ensenada Naranjo almost 2 hours faster than planned. It was calm and out of the easterly winds. What a relief, until 10pm. Then a funky little swell starting rolling in bouncing our little boat like a basketball. It's hard to sleep inside a basketball. We put another line on the anchor chain, put out the flopper stopper and moved to sleep on the couches. About 6 hours later when the tide changed the little chop died down...interesting. A larger boat (which most people have) probably wouldn't have felt much.

Hearing the howler monkeys again this morning made up for it. Now we'll see if we can find a better spot in the bay and try to get some more rest. We heard there are a lot of hiking trails here too, so we'll have to do some exploring.

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Ensenada Benau

It was a rolly ride, but we managed to pass Punta Mala, a notoriously miserable part of Panama with very little excitement. Some rain a little wind and in the final rounding of the point we ended up motoring because there was no wind. We waited for exactly the right forecast and to our luck the forecast was right. This time of year it isn't uncommon to have 30-40 knots of wind at Punta Mala. For the rest of Pamana it is mostly downhill from here.

This spot is a famous surf beach and has about a 2 mile stretch of beach which is calling to us. We're both way to tired to attempt a shore landing or any surfing. The water is still a bit on the cold side, but the sun is blazing so it will feel good.

I was hoping to get WIFI here but we had to anchor a bit further out than most people because there is a trimaran anchored in the prime area. I'm not sure the signal is strong enough to reach the boat anyway....

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Beating the odds

I think the betting pool had us at 2:1 we wouldn't actually make it out of Panama City, but we did. We are on our way to see Western Panama, an area we have yet to visit.

We got a lot of work done on the boat and found lots of parts and materials we haven't seen since leaving the US about 5 years ago. We spent a lot of time shopping and very little time meeting all the people anchoring around us, which was too bad. There were a lot of new boats coming over from the Caribbean and many old friends gathering here to -- surprise -- shop.

Of course we haven't gone far. We are only about 20 miles away at Isla Otoque where we can clean the bottom of the boat, and get ourselves back into the mindset of sailing after adjusting to the frantic pace of the city. It's nice and calm here and we are starting to unwind.

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All that work

Posted on Tuesday Mar 17, 2009

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We've been busy. Before going through the canal. Before my mom's visit. We busted our butts. New batteries, a new solar panal, patched our sails, worked on our engine and the grand project of them all: REFRIGERATION!
Yes after 6 years of warm drinks we now have a fridge. After some research and talking to other cruisers we opted for the Engel fridge/freezer. It is a nice compact unit that can either be a refridgerator or a freezer. We ripped out the old ice box which was fiberglass and crappy foam insulation:
Then I painted the inside with white enamle paint, which turned out to be disco gold, not white.


We added some radiated heat insulation to the walls.

Then I got busy building walls and a floor and adding thick foam insulation. We also added a formica finish.

Then finally some paint, wiring and we popped the Engel into place. Getting it to fit properly was a HUGE headache, but in the end it turned out great. There is a HOT side and a COLD side. The hot side is vented and the cold side is insulated. This allows us to put other items like bread or things that just need to be kept cool all around the outside space of the Engel. That gives us more room for drinks and other things in the fridge.



Hard to beat cold beer in 90 degree weather. And so far the solar panels are keeping up with the power demands as the Engel only needs about 15 amp-hours a day, with us turning it off at night. It's been great!

Went through the Panama Canal

Posted on Tuesday Mar 17, 2009

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Ok, so we didn't go on Sarana (because we don't want to go that direction), but we did go through the canal. Small boats like us sailboats need extra crew to handle lines going through the Panama Canal. Other sailors usually volunteer to help those boats in return for some food and getting some money for a cab ride back. We went through with MOONDANCER X and it was a pretty cool experience. It is amazing they built this canal 100 years ago and it is working like clock work. Here were are going up 25 feet in the first set of chambers at the Mira Flores Locks. The total rise with 3 sets of locks is almost 60 feet above sea level. Notice the bubbling current that can cause a lot of turbulence and problems for us small boats. Here in this chamber we are side-tied to a tug. Check out the tourists checking us out:


There is a lot of traffic in the canal in fact the WORLD just passed us by:




It was a great trip and Nancy and Tony on MOONDANCER were great. They feed us and kept us going with snacks. We were fortunate to have an advisor who was very good. He managed to squeeze us into the locks ahead of a couple of ships and thanks to his efforts we were able to complete the transit in one day...one very long day.