March 14, 2007
Normally I do not send updates so soon after the last one so as not to bore anyone, but there have been a few interesting events.
First, an update on on “ The Mad Frenchman” of Portobelo from my last update. As you recall, in Portobelo, Panama, a harbor that we anchored in, there was this mad Frenchman who was intent on attacking and burning boats that he felt were a threat to him, which was just about all vessels in the anchorage. He was fended off a boat while trying to pour diesel fuel into the anchor locker, then struggled with this poor guy on another sailboat after attacking him with a tank of gasoline in hand and a flare gun to ignite it. Anyway, a few days later he accomplished his goal. He climbed aboard a blue sailboat anchored in the harboar and covered it with gasoline, then from a distance, fired his flare gun and ignited the boat, doing serious damage. The police finally arrested him and evidently the the French embassy grabbed him and sent him back to France.
On a lighter note, we had to lead a boat into the harbor last night that has a mission to break the world record for traveling around the world in a powerboat. I have enclosed a picture of the boat. Anyway, they needed a place to sleep last night so all nine of them (4 crew and 5 ground crew) stayed on our boat. They were very grateful to have an air conditioned place to sleep and fresh food and coffee in the morning. We must be the official Mothership by now. We also loaned them our diving compressor to change the propellers, which were made from a composite material and were disintegrating during the trip. Carol and I toured the interior of the boat and let me tell you, it is SPARTEN. Two race boat seats, a bean bag chair and six pipe berths, which, for those of you who do not know, is a fancy name for a hammock that does not move.
They guys are mostly from New Zealand and the US. They are a nice group of guys and girls and are VERY interesting to talk to. I thought we were adventurous!!
You can follow their circumnavigation on www.earthrace.net.
Until next time ...
March 8, 2007
It has been a while since my last update but our plans keep changing and I really didn’t know what to tell everyone (as far as what we are doing in the future). Anyway, I think we have it all figured out and the plans are somewhat firm, which I will tell you later in the email.
Since the San Blas Islands, which were, so far, our favorite place, we have traveled to Portobelo, Panama and then on to Colon, Panama, which is just a few miles from the entrance to the Panama Canal.
Portobelo was a bit of a disappointment. It is a small village about 18 miles from the Panama Canal with a sleepy little harbor for anchoring only. The town was a bit run down and we only stayed there two nights before heading on to Colon. There were quite a few live-aboards there on boats in various states of disrepair, including one that had the home port of Fairfield, CT on the back. Looks to me like he may have been evicted from that town for sleeping on the streets in a cardboard box! Anyway, it was kind of uneventful and we left there only to hear that the REAL fun started a few nights later. There was a French guy on a 50 foot sailboat (one of the live-aboards) who looked a bit seedy. Friends of ours were anchored there when he decided that there was a conspiracy against him, and evidently it was not the first time. A few weeks before, a man on another sailboat awakened to find this guy dumping diesel fuel down into his anchor locker with the intent on lighting it and burning the boat! The owner threw him off before he finished, fortunately.
The next week, when my friends were there, the guy attacked another sailboat, boarding it with a can of gasoline, a knife and a flare gun, with the intention of burning the boat and killing the owners. There was a struggle and the flare gun went off inside the boat. Fortunately, the owner was able to overcome him and got him off the boat. Understand, there are no police nearby and the ones that are there have no means of getting out to a boat to arrest anyone!
The next night he pulled up his anchor and rammed (really!) a 150 foot trawler armed with flare guns again. The owners, rather than address a confrontation in a foreign country, pulled anchor and left. I am glad we were not there!
Colon (and Shelter Bay Marina, where we are docked) is a first class docking facility. It is brand new and on the property that used to be occupied by the US Army, when they controlled the Panama Canal. It is right on the edge of the jungle with Jaguars and monkeys everywhere. The windowless buildings make it look kind of like a ghost town are a reminder as to how large the US contingency was at the time when we still controlled the canal. The climate is great with warm dry days and (reasonably) cool evenings.
Back to our plans. We have decided to stay on the Atlantic side of the canal until August. There is just so much we have not been able to see and there are some beautiful cruising grounds to visit. We plan on taking the boat to Bocas Del Toro this weekend, an 18 hour trip, where we will stay for 2 weeks. After that, we will stop back in Shelter Bay to pick up some packages mailed to us and then head back to the San Blas Islands for a month or so. After that, we plan on returning to Shelter Bay for 2 months, at which time we will leave the boat and travel by plane to visit friends and family. This is a safe place to leave a boat and we will also take the time to haul the boat out to paint the bottom, which is overdue!
In August we plan to transit the Canal and stay in the Las Perlas Islands for a few weeks before starting our trip north though Central America and Mexico. The timing works out better for us as we can spend more time in the many harbors down this way and wait until the Pacific Hurricane Season ends before cruising up the Mexican coast. We still plan on heading to Alaska for the summer of 2008 and the South Pacific in 2009. The original group that was going to the south pacific is somewhat fragmented and undecided on the route to take so we are sitting back and waiting until the dust settles. There are some who want to transit from California to Hawaii and stay there for a while, but we would prefer to do the southern route of Central America – Galapagos – Marquesas and so on. Time will tell and based on our flip flopping of plans lately, who knows what the final decision will be. I can tell you that we will be cruising on the boat. We love this lifestyle and cannot imagine moving to land and living in a house anytime in the near future.