Turning Over Emma Jo and Heading for the Big Ship

Aboard Independence of the Seas

The first few days of December we spent exploring the Perlas Islands, aiming to get back to Balboa for my flight to David to inspect the progress of the Panama house. It was very strange to find ourselves back in the land of tides and current, given in the Caribbean our tides maxxed out at about 18 inches, and at the Perlas it was as much as 12 feet. Have to break out the Chapman’s and relearn the rule of 12s, for sure. And it made for some interesting perceptions, anchoring with a view of one landscape and six hours later seeing rocks and islands that weren’t there when we dropped the hook.

That last few days onboard prior to joining Independence were a bit stressful, with the generator conking out AGAIN, and Ole having to special order another actuator and related parts to be flown in and cleared through Customs the very morning we were to leave for Ft. Lauderdale. I don’t know how many hours he and Dale worked on it, but it didn’t help that we might have had to leave the boat with the Bixlers with a non-functional and vital piece of machinery. Dale has nicknamed it the “Westerbeast.”

On December 11, we flew up to Ft. Lauderdale, staying overnight at the Marriott Biscayne Bay, right next door to where we used to live. We had a great sushi dinner and caught up with Svein and Lise before boarding Independence on December 12, and reconnecting with shipboard friends.

Cruising Pacific Panama With Friends

Isla Bayoneta, Panama

Leaving Panama City

Well, we made it through the Panama Canal without incident, stayed a few days at Balboa Yacht Club, and made our way out to the Perlas Islands southeast of Panama City to enjoy a couple of weeks cruising and familiarizing Dale and Linda with the systems aboard Emma Jo. [Read more…]

Emma Jo Transits the Panama Canal

Transiting the Panama Canal

The full story of our Canal transit is published separately, and first appeared as an article for the DeFever Cruisers Winter 2010 magazine, and can be found here.

Dale and Linda published their account, and it can be found here.

And John and Kim Pulkabrek published their account, available here.

Three blind men describing an elephant, I’d say.

Our Canal Transit Partners Arrive, and We Avoid Disaster

Shelter Bay Marina, Colon, Panama

In spite of the fact that Dale and Linda Bixler, of El Capitan in Brownsville, Washington, arrived on the 12th of November, we’re still here, watching the notorious Panama rainy season in process. It reminds me of the Ray Bradbury story about the astronauts stranded on a planet where it rains all the time – and they die, one by one, being smothered by rapidly growing plants, while they’re trying to find a sun dome to dry out. We could sure use a sun dome about now. It’s 10:17 in the morning, and it’s been raining hard for two and a half hours. [Read more…]

Haulout in Shelter Bay Marina

On the Hard, Shelter Bay Marina

With the advice we were given from cruisers who have had experience hauling out here in Shelter Bay, we approached the haulout with a firm game plan – in on Monday the 26th, out on Friday the 30th. [Read more…]

Moving to Shelter Bay

The Flats, Anchorage “F” in Puerto Cristobal, Colon

Serenade of the Seas Gives Us a Salute

While Ole was up at 0530 (doing what, I don’t rightly know), I slept until 0645, and as I was enjoying the first cup of coffee, wiping the sleep from my eyes, Ole shouted, “look at who’s coming down the channel!” and lo and behold, there was RCCL’s Serenade of the Seas, with Captain Stig Nielsen aboard. Stig and his wife live aboard a renovated Swedish rescue boat in Bodo, and when we’ve been in Norway we’ve always missed them. Ole hailed on the radio and had a nice chat with Stig – and as Serenade glided past we were treated to a three-blast salute (thank goodness he repaired the horn yesterday so we could salute back!) [Read more…]

Getting Admeasured for the Canal Transit

The Flats, Anchorage “F” in Puerto Cristobal, Colon

After a brief 4-hour nap, we awoke to the parade of ships coming and going through Gatun Locks, and definitely had a “look where we are!” moment. The Panama Canal Authority (PCA) Admeasurer came aboard about 2:00 pm to gather information for our eventual Canal transit some time in the third week of November. Our 49’8” vessel admeasured to 51 feet for Canal transit purposes (and an additional $250 transit fee). Ole spent the day puttering, finding that the generator starter battery was boiling over, the alternator wasn’t putting out what it should, and the tachometer for the port engine crapped out on us. I spent the day reading, fetching and helping as needed. Had a much-needed martini at the usual cocktail hour, threw together a teriyaki salmon dinner, and tried to watch a movie but the 5-6 hours of sleep we had in the last 36 hours took its toll – both of us conked out before 9:00.

Crossing to Colon

Maggie Crossing to Colon in Style

What fabulous weather- another “silver box” crossing! We fueled up, paid up, and left Bocas at 1100, planning to arrive in Colon by daylight. Given the following current of 2.5 knots, mirror calm swells with light and variable winds of less than 10 knots, even the cats had a good time – Maggie sacked out on the couch for the entire 15 hours, and Barclay found a spot on our bed. [Read more…]

Preparing to Leave Bocas del Toro

Bocas Marina
Bocas del Toro, Panama

We left Independence at 1:00 pm on October 3, arrived at the hotel at the Rome airport and were checked in by 2:00. Because the Hilton provided complimentary shuttle bus service into Rome proper, we opted to hop on and do a quick (hah!) walking tour past the highlights. We’re sure glad we did – the bus let us off in the old district a 10-minute walk from the Coliseum, and in just under five hours we managed the Forum, the Vittorio Emmanuel Palace, Mussolini’s Palace, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and pasta at a local sidewalk café. Next time we’ll have to come in a few days early, or leave a few days later, to take advantage of seeing the insides of all of these wonders! [Read more…]

Building the “To Do” List is a Thankless Task

Bocas Marina
Bocas del Toro, Panama

Within about 24 hours of our arrival home, our “to do” list grew to over 30 items – and by the end of the month we were up to 38.  The biggest challenge is getting parts for the generator, which pooped out on us before we left Emma Jo last March.  Ole worked like a champ, bringing just about every spare part known to Westerbeke home in his suitcase and going through the process of elimination to find the right broken part.  Murphy’s Law struck – the broken part was not among the spares he brought. [Read more…]