December 2009

They say that bad things happen in threes. I wonder if “stupid things NOT to do while living on a boat” comes in threes as well. If that is the case then we are going to be fine. Over the last month we have done some really stupid things that actually surprised us!

Number 1. One evening while we were anchored in Ignacia de Tupile we tied a thick black line to the shroud so the kids could have something to play with in the water. Everyone said to themselves “We must remember to untie that before we up anchor tomorrow”. Did anyone remember to untie the line? You can guess the answer to that one. Fortunately the line was tied on the port side and we used the starboard engine, during the whole motor the lined dragged through the water, it was only at the very last moment to set the anchor when the line got caught in the prop. Fortunatley, no damage sustained.

Number 2. Because it has been so humid and the seas so calm, we decided to open the emergency hatches to get some air in the boat. Again we said to ourselves “We must remember to close that hatch before we up anchor tomorrow” Of course we forgot as it was out of our usual routine. I noticed it after we had been motoring for a while. Luckily, because of the calm seas, we did not have much water enter the boat and our SSB radio which is just under the hatch was unaffected.

Number 3. While on the hard at Shelter Bay Marina we were doing a lot of running around. Somebody, I won't mention names, put a pot of coffee on and left the boat. Two hours later he came back to a burning plastic smell. The whole percolator top had burned off. And there wasn’t much coffee left in the pot. A good reminder to never turn the stove on when you are busy running hither and tither.

December 1, 2009 - Lemon Cays, Kuna Yala

We dingyied over to snorkel the wreck at Dog Island. It was really great, lots of colourful fish.When got back to boat I took the kids to the beach. A backpacker boat came into the anchorage and they proceeded to come onto the beach and they ate a couple of coconuts!!! Then they left tthe uneaten coconuts and shells laying all over the place. We were just so stunned because all the guide books are absolutely adamant that nobody touch coconuts, even the ones laying on the ground because they are all owned by some Kuna. Coconuts are sacred, how could they not know this! Shame on the captain and crew of that boat to not share the local knowledge with their guests.

December 2, 2009 Lemon Cays to Rio Sidra – 8 nm

Along wtih Tyee III, we signed up for the river tour with Lisa, the master mola maker and guide to take her river tour.

Lisa picked us up at 0800 in her motorized ulu. It was quite a wet ride. We had a great rainforest hike, through a cemetery. We could not take pictures but when we got to Lisa’s plot, she told us we were allowed to take some pictures. Her assistant guide made everyone a cross out of wood and this was to keep the serpents away from us. We hiked through the rainforest, across a few streams and to the waterfall. We jumped off cliffs and swam in the cool pools however there was some very hungry fish in the pool (they weren’t piranhas though) Then back down via the river, we slid down waterfalls and swam back in the river, it was very cool, and the kids just loved it. We didn’t get back until 1400.

December 4, 2009 – Rio Sidra to Chichimi –11.9nm

We had a beautiful sail but a not so beautiful time trying to anchor. Tried to anchor 5 times! There was no space and reefy but eventually found a spot like we always do.

Ryan has some cutlery dropped on his foot a few days ago and before we knew it the cut has become infected. We are just not used to this. Our medicine cabinet is stocked with antibiotics and I have a feeling that we are going to be using them quite a bit.

Chichimi was really beautiful. The beach was great. We had an end of school term party. We met Tyee III at the beach. We played some games, had a race with home-built rafts, then had some pasta and squares and decorated cupcakes.

December 7, 2009 – Chichimi to Isla Grande, Panama – 42.23 nm

We are leaving the San Blas! We will miss it. It was very rough seas on our way out, not used to this as it has been so calm for months. We caught a large tuna, had to slow the boat down to reel it in. Isla Grande looks like a cute little place. There is nobody around though. I believe it is one of those places where people decend on on the weekends. We are going through San Blas withdrawl.

December 8, 2009 – Isla Grande to Linton, Panama – 2.24nm

Linton is supposed to be the best protected anchorage in this area. There are a ton of boats anchored in Linton. We thought there must be something over there that we don’t know about as we are the only boat anchored in Isla Grande and we could see Linton from where we were anchored. However once we moved over to Linton, we realized that we were better off and better protected at Isla Grande.

We saw our friend from sv Sympatica Captain Lewis. He said he had to take the kids to see his friends who lived in the harbour and have sloths. They were orphaned and they have raised them from tiny little babies. They were so cute and genteel. We all held them (even me) and fed them leaves. Pippin was one year old. Lightening was old and not as comfortable with people. The third one was lost and we found it right in the middle of the Christmas tree after spending the better part of an hour searching for him!! The kids loved it and learned alot about sloths.

December 10, 2009 - Linton to Portobello, Panama - 10.4nm

It was very cool to sail into an anchorage with so much history.

Portobello was once the greatest Spanish port in Central America. Gold from Peru and treasures from the Orient entered Panama City and were carried overland by mule to the fortresses at Portobelo. Attacks on Portobelo continued unabated until the city was destroyed in 1739 by an attack led by Admiral Edward Vernon. Later much of the outermost fortress was dismantled to build the Panama Canal and many of the larger stones were used in the construction of the Gatun Locks. There are however still considerable parts of the town and fortresses left and today Portobelo is protected as a national park and as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

However, the Panamian government doesn’t seem to notice Portobelo. We were surprised to find the city so rundown and neglected. We thought the government would be putting some energy, money and time into this historic gem, but sadly it is not the case. We still really enjoyed Portobello.

Here are some sites we visited:

Fuerte San Jeronimo which was the largest fortress ever build to protect the bay. Facing the mouth of the bay are 18 cannon embrasures, some of which remain exactly where the Spanish troops left them when they returned home in 1821 – the year Panama declared its independence from Spain.

Castillo Santiago de Gloria (17th century).

Royal Customs House of Portobelo. This was originally built in 1630 to serve as the contaduria (counting house) for the king’s gold. It was in this building that the treasure brought across the isthmus was recorded and stored until it could be placed on galleons and sailed to Spain.

The Church of San Felipe de Portobello. The church is home to the Black Christ of Portobello, a wooden statue of the Jesus of Nazareth. The statue has become holy and worshipped because of the miracles attribute to it. Every October 21st the festival of the Black Christ of Portobello is celebrated. People come from all over Central America to Portobello.

We explored the fort on the other side of the bay. We had the whole place to ourselves. The kids had fun finding hiding places and secret passageways.