Happy New Year from Panama!

Marina Carenero
Bocas del Toro, Panama 

Whoever thought the Pedersens and cats would spend a New Year’s Eve in west of nowhere, Panama!

We arrived here on schedule on the morning of December 20, after a good passage down from Albuquerque Cay. The toughest part of the trip was getting OUT of Albuquerque Cay, given it’s a reef system about 7 miles long and about 3 miles wide, full of coral heads and water so clear you can tell the sex of the crabs on the bottom. It was quite the diaper changer getting out, due to a good breeze and wind chop that distorted our ability to read the water – Jan on the foredeck, Ole at the depth sounder in the pilothouse, with walkie-talkies – it took us nearly an hour to zigzag out with a few narrow misses of coral pillars that arose out of nowhere.  [Read more…]

…In Which Ole is Press-Ganged into the Colombian Navy…

Albuquerque Cays, Columbia


We are sitting at anchor in the most amazing place. The Albuquerque Cays are two tiny (less than 600 ft wide) coconut-fringed islets surrounded by a circular reef about 110 miles off the central Nicaraguan coast, and about 30 miles south of San Andres. We are at anchor between and a little to the west of the two cays, in about 25 feet of the clearest water I’ve ever seen.

The northern cay has an outpost of the Colombian Navy – 9 sailors – who man a communication station here. We were asked to come ashore and register with them, so as our dinghy pulled up, all nine guys, in uniforms consisting of khaki shorts and dog tags, came out to meet us and escort us to their commandant. They speak no English, but were gracious, charming, and hospitable, posing for a photo for us, then escorting us on a tour of the base. At the end of the tour, one of the young men asked me to go back with him to the camp, where he offered me my pick of small, beautiful shells. Apparently, the guys are stationed here for 30 days at a time, ferried here with a month’s worth of provisions and DVDs. The site of a pleasure boat, and the chance to talk to tourists, breaks up the monotony for them.  [Read more…]

Exploring Santa Catalina, Providencia

At Anchor, Catalina Harbor, Providencia

We’ve been here a week, and three days of it were “boat bound,” due to some pretty brisk winds that threatened to drag us (again). Friday evening, after a great day of scootering around the island, we went over to Attitude for happy hour. As soon as we stepped aboard, Neil and Dale (s/v Orangi) pointed and shouted simultaneously “You’re dragging!” which prompted a hasty three-man rescue attempt to try to prevent Emma Jo from blowing into Attitude. Cathy, Dillis and I sat and enjoyed the show, but the wind continued upwards of 20-30 knots through Monday and we didn’t’ feel comfortable leaving the boat to go into town.

Ole did make it to town yesterday morning, though, to pick up the repaired heat exchanger for the port engine. Cost was 200,000 pesos (more or less $100), and the leak was small – the repairman only had to plug about 3 of the little tubes. That was the good news. [Read more…]

Exploring Providencia

At Anchor, Providencia, Colombia

“Nelson’s Butt” Providencia, Colombia

We are tucked in at anchor in a very pretty spot: Santa Isabel Harbor on the island of Providencia, a protectorate of Colombia. Only 18 kilometers around, with a population of about 4,000, it’s pretty much untouched by tourism and one of the friendliest places we’ve been.

We left Vivorillos at about 9:30 on Tuesday morning, heading south and east taking a short cut across the Main Cape Channel, between Half Moon Cay and Alagarda Reef before turning a bit more south toward Providencia. What a nice ride! The wind was between 5-10 all day and through the night, letting us experience sea swells instead of wind chop coming slightly off our stern for the last half of the ride. Even the cats were amazed, since our last day in Vivorillos saw a wind shift that had us rolling back and forth pretty violently for about 18 hours and experiencing next to no rest. Getting underway was a relief! Our longest passage to date of 188 miles, we tried to stand 3-hour watches and get as much rest as we could. [Read more…]

Bartering for Fresh Seafood in Vivorillos

Vivorillos Cays, Honduras

Still here, still rolling at anchor, waiting for an opening, which Chris Parker, the weather guru, says we will have tomorrow as the wind slows and shifts more northerly and the seas calm down to 3-5 feet toward Providencia.

We have a feeling that the “incessant begging” that Capt. Raines speaks of in his guidebook may actually be the local fishermen, who boldly paddled up to us yesterday in little fiberglass cayucos and offered to trade us fresh shrimp for gasoline. Three or four pounds of shrimp for about 2-1/2 gallons of gasoline. Not a bad trade. We took the tank out of the dinghy, passed the guys a funnel and a hose, and asked that they leave us about half the tank. You could tell who the captain was by who was sucking on the siphon and who wasn’t. [Read more…]

In the Middle of Nowhere, Officially

Vivorillos Cays, Honduras

Cayos Vivorillos

It’s official. We’re now out in the middle of nowhere in the Vivorillos Cays, a mere freckle on the kneecap of Central America, right where the Honduran/Nicaraguan peninsula turns 90 degrees south.

The cays are actually three islands running more or less north-to-south, two connected by an exposed reef, and the third to the south of the other two, with a fairly deep passage between them. The northernmost cay is a rookery with thousands of magnificent frigate birds and masked and brown boobies. The southern cay has a bit of a beach, and is home to a group of fishermen who come out here for months at a time, diving for conch and lobster, and selling their catch to “mother ships” that come by periodically. [Read more…]

…In Which Jan Gets Over Her Fear of Diving

Barefoot Cay Marina
Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

Yesterday we got company in the marina, a 47-foot Nordhavn, that Ole was dying to get aboard. Looking more like a little ship than a pleasure boat, it’s a real ocean-going trawler as opposed to our DeFever, which is billed as a coastal offshore cruiser. They’ve got dogged doors, lexan windows, bolt-down hatches, no loose furniture or knick-knacks, an engine room that looks like an operating theater, and a range of 3000 nautical miles. We’ve got comfortable sliding doors and windows, a real couch and chairs, all kinds of stuff that can fly around our salon and engine room in a real good blow, and maybe a 750-mile range. [Read more…]

Afternoon of the Iguana!

Barefoot Cay Marina
Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

What a great day!

Yesterday we took a taxi down to West End, a spot that isn’t mentioned in any of the cruising guides for Roatan. It’s essentially a marine sanctuary, and the town consists of alternating dive shops and bars along a road, of sorts, that’s nothing more than graded beach sand with gigantic potholes every six feet to keep traffic under control. [Read more…]

Thanksgiving in Utilla, then on to Roatan

Barefoot Cay Marina
Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

Thanksgiving Buffet 2007

Yesterday marked our first “cruiser” Thanksgiving, and as we had the most galley and salon space, we served as the mothership for the flotilla in Utilla, hosting folks from four other boats for the potluck: Tempest, Wind Free, BabSea (who was with us at Tijax) and Connie Marie. New Emma Jo guests for dinner record: 12 total.

First, the logistics: plate station on top of the television; beverage service on the back deck table; food spread out on the galley breakfast bar, including turkey, cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy; turkey gumbo (50% of the boats in the anchorage are from Louisiana), dirty rice, broccoli rice, garlic mashed potatoes, candied yams, and the obligatory green bean casserole – wonderful how a potluck is an organic thing, containing exactly what is necessary without a whole lot of intervention and control. [Read more…]

Return to the Best of Cruising Life

Water Cays, Utila
Bay Islands, Honduras

Happy Birthday to Ole!!!

Today was a whole lot more like what cruising is supposed to be! Sunshine! Light to no wind! Snorkeling! So how the heck did we get here?

Well – we stayed at Tobacco Range until Friday, November 16 – deciding that when we finally got a weather window to get out to the atolls, we’d have to wait there for a window to get back – and as of the 16th, we calculated only five more weeks until our reservation in Panama.

The boats with us in Tobacco Range all swear by the Caribbean weather guru, Chris Parker, who broadcasts three times a day and does weather routing for his subscribers. If some of his subscribers happen to be heading the same direction as we are, so much the better for us! So based on Chris Parker’s advice (to other boaters who are less tight than we are) we opted to make the first jump east on Friday at about noon, making about a 90-mile crossing. [Read more…]