Posts Tagged ‘Cruising’

Shameless Plug

Friday, December 1st, 2017


Infini a Westsail 43

A sweet WS 43 in pristine shape

I don’t often do this. There is an excellent deal out there for someone looking to jump into cruising. Friends of mine have finished their dream, their circumnavigation and are selling their boat. It is a sistership to ours. While we were upgrading and refurbishing Elysium I always looked to their boat as the gold standard.

And yet that is not the good news for someone looking to “jump”. IMHO this boat price is where you would get the best bang for the dollar. Yes, as in any boat nothing is perfect and there will be issues needing to be addressed. You would find the same needs in a brand new million dollar boat. At one boat show I put my hand in a dorade and removed it with a cut. There was an errant piece of cured fiberglass that wasn’t trimmed off. And this was on a $1.2 million vessel.

However with Infini’s owners I can tell you they were and are meticulous yachties. The pictures on their page are accurate. The boat looks as the pictures show. It sails well; I know because I have the same hull and rig setup. It is sea kindly. Again I know cause we’ve several thousand miles of off shore work on ours. It is easily managed by a couple… again I know! 🙂 Best of all; dollars / lb  you could begin cruising with most everything you need much sooner than you think. Good Luck in pursuing your dreams.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

A Cruising Sloth

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Not sloppy…. slow. I guess that would be us or specifically  me.  First: I don’t like to rush up to the next anchorage as if driving down a highway trying to be first at the next stoplight. Second: I don’t want to live in a mess preferring to not climb over stuff or constantly or needing to move things about the boat since I live in it. And  third:  I like to take things slow; quality vs quantity.

Yep I am a sloth.

I love to sail.... Slow

I love to sail.... Slow

We are after all on a sailboat. I know some people who like to brag how fast their boat goes, all in a sailboat.  I find it quite funny when all cruising boat speeds are slower than an Olympic runner. Yeah some boats may go a knot faster, some a fraction thereof but so what.  I arrive safe and for the most part as rested as possible. And for me safety comes first, comfort second and speed last.

I remember one trip to the Bahamas; it was our best crossing ever. We left W Palm at midnight and had beautiful sail with a  lightening show N of us, S of us, E, and W of us. Yeah, the trip had a bit of “OMG” in it but we sailed the entire way and it was comfortable. We arrived and while waiting for customs and immigration I was talking to other sailors. Most everyone around us had an uncomfortable ride dealing with squalls the entire way. The moral of the story; luck more than speed is what traveling in a boat is about.

Messes. Every boat has them and when ever there is a project to do within minutes the boat becomes a workshop. And

Cleaning the heat exchanger

Cleaning the heat exchanger

most everyday there is some project to do.  We try to limit projects to only the am. When afternoon arrives we pick up / put away and have lunch. The rest of the day is ours to do what we wish.  Larger projects still follow the same pattern. It is just that they extend across several days. Some projects  last longer well into the pm but for the most part our goal is to not live in a mess. Even while hauled out with the boat a mess we chose other accommodations. This allowes us to do more because daily we didn’t need to get tools out and put them away.

Penhryn Experience

Penhryn Experience

Finally we rarely rush. At least we try not to. When late afternoon arrives  and we’re close to our destination; yes, we’ll rush then, preferring a calm anchorage vs another night out. Generally we plan our day trips to coincide with the wx and the travel time. We prefer an easy comfortable sail to a noisy motor or a blusterous sail. We find this time provides us greater freedom to meet people and explore an area.  While there is most likely nothing new for mankind to discover  on our planet anymore, there are many things W/ and I have never seen or experienced. Traveling slow gives us the time to experience a new place, new culture, meet new people, and try new foods.  I watch those traveling on cruise ships come and go, always in a rush like those speeding to the next red light.  Over the 8 years I’ve been traveling slowly across our globe I understand that if you want to just “see” and “do” things- take a cruise ship or a two week  vacation.  If you want to experience a culture and the place, bring your own boat and…

Go Slow,
Sail far,
Stay Long.


Sunday, February 1st, 2015

Cruisers often remind others  that “cruising” changes you.  It’s difficult to see how oneself has changed but my experience has brought to light some personal thoughts about me and about W/’s and my relationship.

First is trust. To successfully cruise as a couple you must trust each other. I’ve known cruising couples that one individual (usually the male) stays in the cockpit  24/7.  He feels the need to be there and ready all the time.  IMHO that might well  lead to exhaustion which in turn leads to poor decision making.  I trust W/ which means  I can leave her clipped in the cockpit so that I am able to get some rest.  And  Visa – Versa. She trusts that I will not leave the cockpit to do anything on deck without her awake and ready to provide some assistance.  She’s then able to find rest.

But trust sometimes goes farther than just sailing the boat.  Many, many years ago while we were on our first long cruise and in the Bahamas, W/ had long hair. I mean quite long, down to the middle of her back. She loved her long hair.  But we were on a year testing out how cruising was

How did I do?

How did I do?

working out, trying to cruise on $10/ day and so luxuries like salons were off the table.  She was ready for me to cut her hair.  I was instructed to take; if my memory is correct, about 2″ off the end.  About is the key word here. I measured twice as instructed by my betters and cut once. Measurements say I took 1.9978″ off and she… went …ballistic.  She does not go ballistic like I do. Words do not spew forth from an over active brain. Tears flow from eyes like water over Niagara. That may be an over exaggeration but needless to say,  some tears did make it down her face and I was Never allowed to touch her hair again! Never! Never!

Well, Penhryn has changed our relationship in that sense.  Here there are no restaurants, only a few places to purchase some food, and definitely NO HAIR SALONS!  For the most part on this cruise she’s been keeping her hair much shorter than when in the past and here after a few months and no one else to trim her hair she was getting desperate. She didn’t feel that she could cut it, people on the island – all the women have long hair, and yet she still remembered her past experience with me as a stylist and she equivocated a great deal in deciding what to do. After great moments of  consternation, hand wringing, bargaining with me she decided to try me….again as a stylist .

So I set about listening to her instructions and cautiously began to clip away.  To cut the best of my ability; I swear I did. I could trim and shorten, but I don’t know how to layer or thin.  I didn’t want to just try either of those techniques on her remembering all too well my last experience but I was able to shorten it somewhat. Low and behold there were no tears, no recriminations, no raised voices.  She was almost; I say almost satisfied.  After washing and a trip to shore I was amazed that no one turned away from her new style, a couple people actually noticed and when she informed them that I cut her hair they indicated I did a “good” job.  Trust.  A new bond has formed.

My second observation is that I could wish to be famous. While teaching was in of itself minor fame, kids watched me and I wished for them to imitate me in many ways; mostly scientifically or technologically, I have discovered that I don’t like someone really following me around and imitating me.  When someone looks over my shoulder too closely I get the hebegeebies. I can understand how Princess Di ran from the paparazzi. I would too. I would also be likely to break a nose, be rude, throw things at them (maybe I wouldn’t like being a primate in a zoo either 🙂 ), and do what ever I could to distance myself from them. But famous people just have that gravity that draws people towards them.  Glad I’m not famous. I am finding I love anonymity more and more.

Too, I could never have lived 100 years ago. I’ve often said that I was born too late. Well, I lied.  Living without what I know we have is not an easy thing. Penhryn doesn’t have much in the way of “The Land of Instant Everything”; the US  has.  They do have great / friendly / kind people. They do have comfortable homes and a relatively stress free life style. If they order something from Amazon it takes up to 6 months to get it. Parts for home or boat can take up to 3 months and most everything here will end up costing twice what you in the states would pay for it. Sometimes more than that. Dental care is not an hour away but months away. However health care is less than an hour away but specialized care is a plane flight away. While I could have survived living a 100 years ago  and as a friend of mine had often said “you don’t know what you don’t know”, I can honestly say I’m glad to be living in the 21st century and glad that at times I can visit my home country; the land of instant everything.

And last; I couldn’t be an astronaut. Oh, traveling to space would be fun and even a few days I could handle. But while spending 9 days at the motu on the N end of Penhryn we were mostly trapped in the boat. One day I was off the boat but other than that our lives were contained in roughly 42′ of living space.  Exercise is difficult. There is no tennis, no jogging, no walking. We’ve started doing some pushups and squats. Soon I might add leg lifts to assist in keeping my core strong. I’ve read so much so often that many times I just have to put down the book and “rest my eyes”.  I’ve played Chess, Bejeweled, Spite and Malice, so much on the iPad that I’m actually getting a little tired of them. W/ and I have put together almost a puzzle a day; again on the iPad.  We’ve completed a couple of smallish boat projects but with the wind gusting to 30 kts and squalls coming out of the west setting us too close to shore we’ve not been able to do much in taking the boat apart to complete a project. So we wait, just like the astronauts. We work a bit, and rest a lot. No; if they want someone to join the expedition to Mars, someone that is able to live in a small space for extended periods of time, someone who can live with others in a confined space and not “kill” them, someone who has Mission control looking over their shoulder all the time – It’s not going to me. I will NOT apply.  At least on the boat I can get out and walk around the deck. Sometimes I can sit in the cockpit and read there. On a spacecraft there is no strolling around outside, no sitting in the cockpit staring at the stars or watching the Sunset.  There just is. Nope, Uhn, Uhn, not for me I’ll pass. I will just keep cruising, heading west, slowly, W/ and I; with no one looking over my shoulder, trusting my partner, and seeking all that life has to offer.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Cost O’ Cruising

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

While I’m up here awaiting:  at the north motu, for mother nature to cool down I have been able to finish our finances for the last year. They are the lowest of the 6 years we’ve been cruising.  You can find the details on my web page. This is mostly the first full year we’ve been on the boat. The first year we were on the boat consistently but living near the “Candy Store”. We spent time in the Bahamas and then the rest of the year in the US and while in the US added a new dodger and filled in a great deal of missing supplies that over the year I had discovered we needed.

Between the 2nd and 4th year we retuned to the states twice. Getting flights from the Caribbean to the states is rather easy and not the costliest. Year 5 found us doing a couple of land tours, one to Guatemala where we attended Spanish school and traveled with fellow cruisers IB and Becca, then on to Peru where we spent a month traveling to Matchu Pitchu.

Returning back to the boat in last half of year 5 we spent 6 months getting ready for the Panama canal and preparing for the Pacific.  Some discoveries cost us extra $$$’s but not really any extra time.

In the Pacific time in year 6 I got scared and purchased a spare Kubota motor and then we headed S to the Galapagos and on to French Polynesia. Roughly 30 days at sea (total) saved some money as there is no shopping malls along the way.  And too we were blessed with good winds so for the entire trip we used less then 30 gallons of fuel and that was primarily for the generator.

Those checking over the expenses might well wish to note that the food / restaurant expenses are for two people so anyone wishing to ascertain what their future cruising cost / budget might be should well take that into account. While we are not truly extravagant in our meals out neither are we misers. We like good food and often with cruisers that means good company with a few drinks.

So take a look at the expenses and use them however you see fit. Know as one cruiser said you will spend what you have and I have not found that the case. Others might well say it is a percentage of the boat price but I personally don’t see how that can be as one 40′ boat could cost you upwards of 1/2 million dollars and another a fraction of that. Some people say a seaworthy boat will end up the same but we’ve not seen that while out here. We are constantly amazed at what boats make it to the middle of the Pacific and while we never see those that don’t I can tell you they are not all high end models from the boat shows.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Cost of Repairing your Boat in Paradise

Friday, September 19th, 2014

The following is the cost of the; what I would say, simple repair in the replacement of the thermostat.  Notes are at the bottom.

Cost Thermostat Change for a Perkins 4-236 Diesel in French Polynesia


Price CFP Price US Notes
High Temp Engine Paint
Hose 5/8″
Hose 1 1/2″
1/4″ All Thread
Steel Cross Piece

a) Cost only includes our being here dependent on the engine not running. We felt the boat was safer here then on a mooring or anchored and we were much closer to services. Taxi into and out of town are $50 round trip and the bus is about $10

b) I could have gotten by without but felt in the interest of expediency it was better to buy now then pay the marina fee for another day or the weekend.

c) Luckily another cruisers had one and I paid him with a little extra. This is the single price and I picked up another and now have a spare.

d) I was trying to be patient and work the header off the stud. Had I known better and figured out to cut the bolt the first day I would have save about 5 marina days

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Livin on da Water!

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

I’ve said it before, Cruising is not a 365; 24/7 vacation. It’s a lifestyle. The difference between living on land or living on the water is in the kind of work we do for daily living and the places we do it in. We’re in Colon, Republic of Panama at Shelter Bay Marina which bills itself as equal to a first world marina. In some respects they are equal. In others – not and that can become problematic.

In the US the average home is without power for 2 hours / year. Last month we were without power 11 times and it averaged about 5 hours per time. It’s not the marina’s fault. We understand that some of the less than honest individuals living in Panama like to cut down a tree at about 2 am and fell it across the power line shutting down the power in that line. Then they cut the cable and take it to resell the copper.  One would think that either the powers that be would cut the trees back so they couldn’t be used to turn off the power or figure out a way so the copper couldn’t be easily sold. In Florida the State began to delay the payment on certain quantities of metal giving the authorities time to make sure that the metals were not stolen.  For the most part we’ve barely felt the power outage on our work because…..

I’ve been hanging in the engine room doing wiring, or laying in the engine room doing wiring, or reaching over the main engine putting in a new belt for the alternator, or…. any multitude of things mostly in the engine room.

The new Serpentine Belt we added to the main engine to drive the alternator went smooth as silk. Thanks to TransAtlantic Diesel (TAD) the kit went on mostly without a hitch. TAD made a video and put it on a CD that I was able to watch and then follow their directions.  Sweet!  and if one has a Perkins 4-236 or even the 4-108 I would highly recommend the kit. I did make one Skype phone call to TAD to clarify some part of the process and they responded within about 20 minutes. It is so nice to deal with a company that has a good product and takes pride in ensuring the correct installation of that product.

If another boat does choose to get their kit make sure you get some Taps to clean out the bolt holes. The one almost “gotcha” was that the bolt holes on the crank were 7/16″ fine thread. Whoever the engineer was that decided to use that odd size needs to be keel hauled!  I doubt there would be any difference in using 1/2″ fine thread bolts in the total cost than the 7/16″; however there is a lot of difference in finding such an odd size both in the bolt and or associated tap.

Right now I’m installing the new Engine Panel and that too is going well. If you remember awhile back we tried to get our mechanical Tach cable fixed and were successful; but, as a repair it only lasted about 3 hours of engine run time. Thus, to

Old Engine Panel

Old Engine Panel

have a new Tach we might as well redo our 30 year old Panel and then she’ll all be good. Therefore  W/ has me working; you guessed it, in the engine room some more.

And as for how much cruising is like a vacation  I refer you to our friends Mike and Sue on Infini, a Westsail 43,  who lived a stones throw from us in Florida but now are 1/2 way round the world. His report on the simple task; one would think, of replacing a check block (used to change the direction of one of the sail control lines) just made me laugh out loud. It is not funny if you are there in the midst of the activity, but what they went through sure is funny because… we’ve been there.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

In Paradise…Yeah Right!

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

It seems I put off writing for a day  and then another day and before I know it a week or two has passed.  I have a problem. No, not drinking, and some would say I have a little too much OCD, but my problem is when I put electrons to a screen I seem to just keep blurting out more words. I admire people like Mike and Sue (sv Infini) who seem to be able to write a paragraph or two and that keeps people updated. I, when I write, the words just keep bubbling out of me, not always lucid, not always pertinent, but always there. Then my post become chapters and not updates. Be that as it may…..

We’ve been working on the boat, enjoying life in paradise…some, and meeting new people. I gotta say I enjoyed working on the boat much more in the US where we had wheels and I knew where I could acquire needed supplies or I was able to order the supplies and have them to me lickitty split.

When we arrived at Shelter Bay we ordered some paint and varnish from Signature Finishes in Florida. We’ve still not received the supplies almost 6 weeks later.  We were shipping them through Airbox, a freight forwarder who we had shipped the last order of paint and varnish with but this time we hit a big, and I mean BIG snag. I’ll put all the details on our web page when we finally have it resolved, but right now Airbox has said they’ll release (finally) the shipment and we have an order in for FedEx to pick it up by Monday and return it to Fabula (the manufacture). Then we’ll have it re-shipped to Marine Warehouse.

Inventory of one Locker

Inventory of one Locker

While we have a great deal of tools and many, many spares we seem to only have the majority of stuff to Jury Rig a job but rarely all the stuff to finish a job perfectly. Off shore Jury Rigging is the best option, but when near a large city, when in a Marina, it ought to be worked correctly. One week,  3 times I went into Colon to acquire the correct supplies.  Part of this issue is knowing exactly what is on the boat. To this end we’ve been correcting and updating our inventory. We’re beginning to include much smaller items in it.

Our inventory consists of about 600 items now. That’s not all we carry but I’m finding that it is often the smaller stuff that I run out of. Certain screws, bolts or nuts, caulking, etc.  We can’t just have in the inventory “Caulking” we need to know if it’s, Silicone, Buytl Tape, 4200, 5200, or Polysulfide, and the approx size. That’s the gear that is sending me to the store. And while there is a Chandlery here in Shelter Bay Marina I only find what we need 1 out of 10 attempts.

Upon first entry to the chandlery you would think; good, I can get what I need at Pesqueras S.A.  . You would be wrong. And it’s not only me that finds this place lacking. One of the past yard managers for the Marina was saying the same thing. He even went so far as to ask Pesqueras to stock certain items and they implied it would be …. too much work. Yeah they were smallish items but they were items that would sell. The yard manager said to bag them in groups of 10 or 20 and the cruisers that needed them would still buy them. They haven’t yet! This reminds me of a story (told to me by another cruiser).

Cruisers often remind each other of this maxim: When you see it; buy it,  cause it may never be there again!  One cruiser said she found an item they wanted to carry on the boat. There were approximately 8 pieces left on  the shelf. She picked up all 8 and proceeded to the counter where the clerk told her she couldn’t have all 8. “Why” she asked?  The clerk replied “Cause if you buy all of these then I won’t have any to sell!”.  Perfectly deadpan and perfectly serious. The cruiser tried rationalizing with the clerk, explaining that yes, you want to sell it and I want to buy it, but that did no good. She walked out with 7 items.

I’ve actually thought of starting a page on the site for just cruising stories. There are so many. In the Virgin Islands years ago I walked into a hardware store and asked for a pair of Vice Grips.  The clerk said they didn’t have any. “When will you get more merchandise”  I asked?   “Tomorrow” she replied.  I indicated I’ll simply look around.  Not more then 3′ from her were the Vice Grips. People that know me will be surprised that I didn’t say anything. I didn’t. I just picked up the part and purchased my Vice Grips. Glad they weren’t the last pair!

And so it goes. Working on a boat in Paradise. But, we meet great people. People we would never come across living on the dirt. Take Bill and Laura and Isobel. Isobel is all of 4 and more smiles in a small package then I’ve ever seen. If one

Isobel Climbing

Isobel Climbing

could pick a kid out of a magazine she’d be a best seller. They were over chewing the fat with us and Isobel decided that our boat had a great many places to climb. Since she couldn’t touch the ceiling from the floor she decided to climb everything and then touch the ceiling and then do it again. She walks on the lifelines on their boat, climbs up on the top of the dodger and walked their boom. The circus would do well to groom her for high wire acts.  She loves swimming, riding her bike and talking to everybody. She’s every couples dream and as she is just so precocious every couples nightmare too. Isabel shows no fear!

Bill and Laura on sv Sunrise were making beer and brought us some.  Beer in the Pacific is very, very, expensive and they figure that making it will be fun and save money. Of course it wasn’t ready just yet but now we had a bottle of beer fermenting on our counter top for just one more week. The beer was good, a little stout and a little warm for us. Connoisseurs say that’s how beer ought to be drank; but for me I’m just too American and I like beer chillin!

And finally, I’m writing this today because I figure if God could rest on Sunday, so can I.  We say (I mostly say) we’re taking Sunday’s off.  I try but often W/ has other ideas. She wants to inventory our Pacific charts and a couple of other lockers. That’s not too labor intensive and so most likely I’ll acquiesce. Besides; one cruisers said “It is not a boat project unless the boat draws blood”!  I doubt we can then call this a boat project.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Bank of America (BOA) Less Than Stellar !

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

The cruising life isn’t easy. I mean, it’s not where you simply pick up and take off. We prepared for our departure 7 years before we actually left. Most of the time spent was in refurbishing our boat; however, the last 2 years we also spent a great deal of time “Making our Butts Smaller”  We made sure all the magazine subscriptions ended, we sold all our stuff and we made sure we had a reliable person to oversee what was left.

In the midst of our labors I had asked on a Cruising Bulletin Board what to do with all our “stuff”, sell everything or keep stuff and the most profound answer was: “Stuff has gravity, where ever your stuff is you’ll orbit it”!  We did quite well with reducing the gravitational attraction to almost zero but we never quite gained weightlessness.

As most people who have traveled life’s trails a considerable amount we had acquired some items that didn’t fit well into a financial statement, we needed a Safe Deposit Box.  A Safe Deposit box can be an oxymoron depending on the bank or institution you have secured one at. We had used a box before at a smaller bank near our residence but the bank changed hands and closed. Fortunately we were still living nearby and could easily move what we had in the box to another location.  This time we chose a bank that had been in our town for as long as we had; almost 30 years.  We went and purchased a box and put our “stuff” in it.  Paid for a year and went cruising.  Every year when the bill came due we paid for another year and last year when we were back in the states visiting family we paid for two years ensuring that we would be traveling back to the states by then and could easily pay forward again.

In this time period Bank of America had bought the bank where our safe deposit box was.   A month ago we were in Sapzurro, Colombia, no airport, no roads, no cars thus no taxi’s, but Sapzurro did have phone service and internet. Our reliable agent in the US contacted us and said that Bank of America (BOA) sent a mailing (not even certified) indicating they were going to close our bank where we had the Safe Deposit Box at and we had 3 months to come retrieve the contents of the box or they would have the box drilled and our agent said this is what a Bank of America (BOA) representative told her,  “put the contents in a folder and we could pick them up at a later date”!

IMHO a folder isn’t quite the same as a Safe Deposit Box  in which we had paid for and I wasn’t interested in taking the risk of someone borrowing (permanently) anything from our folder.  We had a big conundrum on our hands. We had paid for two years of a box at this bank and obviously Bank of America (BOA)  wasn’t interested in honoring their side of the contract!  Had I been Donald Trump I would have sent  a squad of lawyers down on them simply because what they did IMHO isn’t morally or ethically right and doesn’t meet fair practice in any contract.  However; I’m quite sure if I was Donald they would have used Brinks to move the contents to another Bank of America branch, secured another box, and sent me a limo when I was back in the area to retrieve my contents. But I’m not Donald. Thankfully.

Luckily our agent has a Power of Attorney for me and was able to secure with our keys access to the box and move the contents to another Safe Deposit Box.  Luckily the individual our agent spoke with at Bank of America was friendly and understanding.  That’s right now the only good thing I can say about Bank of America (BOA), they had one conscientious employee that has a heart. My agent was able to move the contents to a Safe Deposit Box to our Credit Union (thankfully IMHO the credit union will not play these games). and we’re all secure again.

I’m reminded of the classic saying “Fool me once, Shame on You; fool me twice, Shame on Me”!  Bank of America will not get a chance; to the best of my abilities, to fool me twice. I hope to NEVER use their banks again for any service longer than the time it takes me to enter and exit. Bank of America (BOA)  lost a costumer this year and hopefully any individuals reading this blog will take my experience into account in any of their dealings with Bank of America (BOA).

Cruising and Death

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

I write this blog in an effort to share the cruising lifestyle with others of the same interest; it’s not written to put forth my personal values and beliefs although I’m sure those do creep through.  I endeavor to share the  positives and negatives while I’ve made some effort to avoid bringing my non cruising friends and family into it.  I know some cruising blogs are a sales effort, that is their purpose is to ensure that others see their post and want their boat or their lifestyle and when the current cruisers decide to sell out they’ll have a ready market. I’ve never been that smart. I prefer to tell it like I see it. Cruising is  not a vacation. Cruising is not a fantasy, Cruising is  not Disney World.  We live much as others except we live often farther from others and we have an opportunity to experience  life from quite often a different vantage point. Here however I must break with my self imposed conventions and share with you my most recent experience.

An avid blog reader might remember my post of when a loved one was first diagnosed with stage 4  Prostate Cancer. I’ll say now that he was my step father. We were in Granada and I thought I might have to travel back to the states then. That time came and passed.  I needn’t return because although it was stage 4 no one thought George was on his last legs.  Since that time my mother and stepfather moved twice and went out to lunch most every day. My stepfather had entered Hospice also at  that time and a year later my family and I joked (what else could we do) that he was going to be the longest living Hospice person ever. He may have come close because he lived almost two full years after entering Hospice.

Finally his time had arrived. W/ and I and the boat are in Sapzurro, Colombia ; where there are no cars, no airports, there is phone service, a few restaurants and just a few stores.  Approx 3 days ago I received an email from my sister that George had been taken to the hospital.  We emailed back and forth a bit and I offered to fly back to Florida.  I figured at the worst it would be a 5 day one way  trip, clear Immigration in Colombia, a small boat ride  to Obaldia Panama (again no roads in or out of there), if lucky a flight out that day or most likely the next  to Panama City, then if lucky fly that day or most likely another overnight, then to Orlando then with my niece or nephew to moms place.  Wendy would have had to stay with the boat.

My mom said to stay she’d be ok. Her adult grandchildren are there, my sister is on her way and she’s a farm girl. The farm girl doesn’t rid one of grief but does IMHO provide one a  healthy perspective on life’s cycle.  So I stayed.

My stepfather passed in the night. My mother and he had been together for almost 38 years, my entire adult life. They had become more then a couple. They were a single working being. Early in their marriage they traveled N. America in their Motor Home. Later they commuted to Texas and back home to Iowa . I remember when mom told me that as George’s eyes weren’t as sharp anymore, and they wanted to built a small wooden porch on the back of their place in Texas how she helped.  George’s brain stayed sharp to the end.  While in his head he could design the steps he just couldn’t see well enough to start and hammer a nail in alone. My mom held the nail while he started it and then finished hammering it home; I’m thinking by then that mom didn’t have her hand on the nail as she still has all her fingers!  That’s trust, that’s working together. That’s a unique marriage and a unique couple.

About two years ago mom was driving George to the Doctor.  On the way from the car to the office George fell in the parking lot and I really don’t remember how bad of a fall; bad enough that one the Dr’s assistants came rushing out to help. However;  when they next had an appointment George commented that “He’s the first Dr he’d ever fallen for”!  Always a sense of humor, sharp as a tack till the end.

He loved cars, planes, life and people. When he was younger he earned the Carnegie Medal of Honor by saving a boy’s life in the Mississippi River.  He was a good man, and by extension a good human being.  Anyone, choosing to emulate his life could only help to improve humanity.

I’ll miss him but I too know that we all travel his path.  He died relatively quickly and quietly with my mom at his side.  Can we wish for anything better during our last moments on this Earth?

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long


Friday, March 25th, 2011

We’ve left Cartagena. Gone is the breeze filled with greasy dust, gone are the sounds of the city, gone is the constant boat traffic. We had a pleasant sail 15 nm S to Chalon.

Anchored Chalon

Anchored Chalon

We’re anchored here waiting on weather to head to the San Blas Islands, about 150 miles W of here.

So while we wait we play. Robert (an ex – pat) has a house and a converted Shrimp boat that we’ve spent a couple of evenings on telling tales.

We’ve met some more cruisers that are slowly moving to Cartagena or on to the San Blas. We’ve done a little laundry as well as a few of the constant maintenance items all boats require.

And we took a walk to the town of Baru Village (for more pics look at Valentina‘s site and scroll 1/2 way down).  About 4 miles distant we went with Sonny and Kay

Main Stree Baru, Colombia

Main Stree Baru, Colombia

(sv Valentina)  as our tour guides,  and two other sets of cruisers.  As we traversed the rutted rock hard road, best called a super wide path or trail; we stopped at all the establishments along the way, a small Tienda (store), two resorts (Sport Baru and Playa Scondida ), met a few of the Colombians that Sonny and Kay know, watched a dog fight (not planned), dodged all the motor cycles and eventually made it to town.

The motor cycles are the principal mode of transportation along this coast, that and boats. Chalon is really an island and to get from the island to the mainland one either takes the ferry or a water taxi. A few cars take the ferry as well as anyone with a great deal of supplies. The water taxi will take individuals for about $8 US one way and if you want to make a return trip from Cartagena you have about 2-3 hours to do your shopping or you stay overnight.

Exotic Food, Baru, Colombia

Exotic Food, Baru, Colombia

In Baru we had  a palatable dinner for W and I along with drinks for approx 11 bucks US. Then we strolled some more till we found a house that sold ice cream for 50 cents US.  We passed the school,

Chicken Arena, Baru, Colombia

Chicken Arena, Baru, Colombia

strolled by the new Chicken Fighting arena, observed that everyone does have a job in the community,  and met another local who runs a large water taxi that moves goods from and to the Rosarios (a tourist island -park) , Cartagena, Chalon, and Baru. He’s having new planks put in his boat and expects to be up and running again this month.

Lunch or Dinner?

Lunch or Dinner?

We stroll back the same road, tell more tales, we travel a little slower and I actually ended up with a blister on my right foot!  I’m not really use to wearing shoes, even tennis shoes for that long or that far.

We ended up at Jaime’s (Himey’s). He’s the caretaker of some property that a reputed drug (note: reputed) lord owned. The owner hasn’t been seen in almost a year and a half. How properties continue then to be cared for, taxes paid, and caretakers paid is beyond me. I’m guessing that the rent is free and what ever they earn off the property is theirs right now.  But Jaime and his family are pleasant and cruiser friendly. They even do laundry for cruisers should one need that service. If we stay long enough we’ll have them do our towels and sheets.

Hopefully we’ll be heading to the San Blas in a day or so. Our internet connection will be no more when we leave so blog updates will not be as frequent as they’ve been. I know I can set up the blog to read an email act that I have,  but I confess I’ve been too lazy to do that. For you and  I, I’m thinking the break will be good. I’ll write next in the San Blas if all goes to plan.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long