Back to Emma Jo in Bocas

Bocas Marina
Bocas del Toro, Panama

Getting back to the boat was fairly straightforward – Barcelona to Madrid to Guatemala City to Panama City to Bocas del Toro…with a stay in one of the sleaziest hotels never to be frequented again in Panama – Hotel Riande Airport. A dump of unworkability priced at about $92 per night, it’s the only hotel conveniently located five minutes from Tocumen International Airport. Stench of mould covered over with Lysol, irregular surging from the air conditioner, and a non-functional toilet. After coming from the state-of-the-art Independence of the Seas, the third world was an abrupt comedown. Eeesh. [Read more…]

Update on Maggie, Trip to David

Bocas Marina
Bocas del Toro, Panama

Well, if all goes according to plan, Ole gets back on Sunday morning. He phoned me on arrival at Turku to tell me that American Airlines had “misplaced” his luggage in Miami on the way into Finland…a few worries for a few hours…but it showed up on Monday.

I took Maggie in to see the volunteer vet, and wonder of wonders, she’s put on 2 pounds, her fur is looking better, and she appears to be tolerating the thyroid medication (Tapazol) quite well. The ride over was even pleasant (relatively speaking). In the lancha, from her travel box, she seemed a whole lot less frightened than in the dinghy—and there was only discharge from the forward end this time. The vet is pleased. Now for the challenge of finding a steady supply to keep her motor from racing. She looks more like a cat (a svelte one) than a p.o.w. cat. She had us worried! [Read more…]

Spanish Classes Continue

Marina Carenero
Bocas del Toro, Panama

The highlight of the month has been Spanish class for me.  I opted to continue for 3 weeks to stay with the other two women in my class, and worked my way through the preterit, imperfect, future and conditional tenses, none of which I understood back in college.  It’s becoming clear though that what I’m missing is vocabulary, so I’ll have to start reading the paper or find myself some children’s books to start to grow it.  But the confidence is coming.  I also like the way the classes are structured – the first two hours are grammar, and the second two hours are conversation.

[Read more…]

Getting Ready to Leave the Rio…

Hacienda Tijax
Rio Dulce, Guatemala

This month saw many of our neighbors flying back up north to visit friends and family before moving their boats– Ans and Gerald back to Holland – Rosie back to England – and many others doing the “grand tour” of Guatemala, to Tikal, Chichicastenango, Antigua and the like.

The cats and I simply stayed home, trying to busy ourselves with painting the deck furniture, varnishing the teak table before Ole got home, and project managing the construction and canvas projects we had contracted out to local craftsmen. Added to that were a bi-weekly zip across the river for happy hour at the Sundog Café (TWO gin and tonics for the hefty price of one – 75 cents!), a restaurant visit once a week or so, and the odd visit by our buddy Spiff, I was kept entertained. [Read more…]

Here’s the Beef!

Hacienda Tijax
Rio Dulce, Guatemala

The good news is that the repair to our boat is costing next to nothing by US standards — only $100 for the fiberglass work, and a total of about $200 for the wood repairs, which began early this month.
Oscar was also kind enough to recommend a canvas guy, Luis to help us reconstruct a new bridge cover and recover the flybridge cushions. Although he used the old one as a pattern, when he brought the new one over, it didn’t fit. Undaunted, he came back with his sewing machine, and sat on the dock fitting, cutting, and refitting until it worked. Unfortunately, he was a few snaps short (sounds like a mental condition, but it’s not) of a full bridge cover, so he has to make a special trip to Guatemala City for more. I’m so impressed with his work that we’re having a dinghy cover made to match. [Read more…]

Nothing to Do but Relax…

Spruce Cay, Belize

Jan Explores the Reef at Southwater Cay

Aahh, so this is cruising.

We spent another day at Southwater Cay, relaxing in the morning and going ashore to explore in the afternoon.

The island has two lodges – Blue Marlin and Pelican – on opposite ends, and a private homestead for the Bowman family, an outpost of the IZE (International Zoological Expeditions), and a station for Southwater Cay University in between. All of these facilities exist on an island that is barely ½ mile long and about 100 yards wide, situated right on the barrier reef, and are connected with a one-person wide footpath. Everyone we met along our walk was lovely, friendly, and welcoming. After our walk, we ended up back at Blue Marlin, and waded out to the top of the reef for a look. [Read more…]

Lesson Learned: Emma Jo Can Take WAY More than We Can

At anchor, Bahia del Espiritu Santo
Quintana Roo, Mexico

It’s clear that every day contains lessons learned.

On Sunday evening, at 9:00, we weighed anchor from San Miguel in Cozumel, headed just about due south for Bahia del Espiritu Santo some 86 nautical miles down the coast. The first three hours we were in the lee of Cozumel, had light winds, and gentle swell from the south southeast, and we said to ourselves, hey – this won’t be too bad. Had some tunes on the I-pod, homemade oatmeal cookies, a pot of French Roast sitting in the thermos in the sink, and everything secured for sea. The swells, though 4 to 6 feet, were long and slow enough for us to actually enjoy them.

Then we discovered that the boat can take way more than either the autopilot or the crew.

About half an hour south of the tip of Cozumel, we were in the deep blue of the ocean, and the winds steadily increased to between 18 and 25 miles per hour, and the size of the swell began to overwhelm the autopilot. By about 2:45 a.m., with Jan on watch and Ole trying to catch some rest down below, the autopilot screamed that it had had enough, what with trying to maintain 6.5 knots while fighting off a steady east wind, a strong north setting current, swells increasing to 8-10 feet, and an annoying wind chop on top. [Read more…]

Cruising at Last

Marina El Milagro
Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo

MÉXICO!

Links of Interest:

Here’s a great interactive map of Quintana Roo, showing where we are and where we’re going through Mexico. And here’s a great little site with information about Isla Mujeres.

We are now officially cruising!

Alter waiting for a comma between cold fronts, we scooted across the Straits of Florida, hung a right 20 miles off the northern coast of Cuba, held our breath, and ran across the Yucatán Channel. Total travel time: about 50 hours. Casualties: one Rubbermaid bucket; one pair of Ole’s reading glasses, and a broken arm on Jan’s beloved Maui Jim sunglasses. Poseidon has rarely been satisfied with less. [Read more…]