Posts Tagged ‘Kuna Yala’

All Bla’ed Out

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

We’ve left. We’re  outta here. We went to Porvenir and picked up our zarpe to Colon and left Panama some more money.  Twenty six bucks to move the boat from the San Blas Islands to Colon.  That’s only for the paper work.

Kuna Sunset, First Day of Summer

Kuna Sunset, First Day of Summer

We had used Gustino for about 3 days to clean up the outside of the boat.  We had him clean and polish the stainless (which he completed about 80 % of) and clean and wax the hull.  He had an appointment the third day which didn’t allow him to complete all the stainless. Oh well, someday we’ll get use to elastic time.  We paid him 20 bucks for the days work; provided him with all the materials needed, fed him lunch and at the end of the day provided a beer to wind down with.  It was a fair value. He works hard; but, no matter who we have work on our boat I’m damn glad when it’s over as then we have  Elysium all to ourselves again.

In the last few months it seems to me we’ve mostly been motoring. I’ve come to have a real aversion to coastal sailing in Panama.  I thought when we left Colombia heading W we could have some nice days sailing. After all, the Easterly Trades blow here. Don’t’ they?  Anyway it was not to be. We motored 90% of the way back.  In contrast; traveling E against the trades we only motored about 70% of the time.  Go figure.

Our final day in Kuna Yala we sailed to Porvenir. There we anchored in 40 feet of water and both W/ and I went ashore to secure our zarpe.  We arrived at approx 1:30 to discover that the Port Captain was still at lunch. Rather then stroll around;  we knew from experience that a short stroll might well miss the meeting we needed to clear out.  We waited and around 2 Ishmael (the Port Captain) arrived.  After clearing out we chose to eat our last Kuna meal at one of only a few restaurants in Kuna land.  W/’s chicken was tasty and I had Octopus which although it was heavily curried I found satisfactory.  We would rate the restaurant on Porvenir as a 2 star (out of five) and all the other restaurants in Kuna Land 1 star (out 5).  Of course 5 star would be the best.  It may be that all the restaurants only think of feeding the Kuna people even though they are in the “tourist” areas.  The restaurant on Porvenir was the only one where the food was to my liking and there was enough of it! Back to the boat where we had to choose whether to stay in the anchorage or move back to the Lemons.

We chose to stay. Oops!  While we were in the lee of Porvenir and the North side of the anchorage was all reef, we ended up all evening with an awkward roll, pitch to the boat. At the break of dawn the following day we were quite happy to raise the anchor and motor (again that bad word) out of the anchorage and head West.  Early afternoon we arrived in Linton to cars, restaurants and a really, really crowded anchorage.  I counted about 70 boats between the town (lee shore) anchorage and the anchorage between Isla Linton.  We squeezed into a spot out near the front (the wind was blowing yet again out of the West)  where we had a bit of a roll from; remember we’re in the Easterly trades here,  yeah right!

Squeezed in, tired, we break open a cold beer to celebrate our short wonderful passage (any passage is wonderful where nothing is broken), watch the Sunset and then on to  count sheep.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Movin’ On

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

We’ve spent so much time here, the friends, the anchorages, they all make the San Blas home. It’s time to skeedaddle. Panama has a limit on how long one can stay in the country and we’ve reached it.  Six months and they want us out. Of course there is a Marianaras visa which matches the Cruising Permit however extending our visa to match our Cruising Permit would only add one more month to our time here.

IB and Becca on Passport had indicated they would head some E with us; but, with Emily (aka Legs) needing to leave in 3 weeks and Passport needing to head W in 4 or so they elected to hang in the Western San Blas.  We indicated that any Kuna would take Legs off their hands but neither Emily or the crew of Passport thought that was a practical solution. 🙂  Galivant and Liberty too had indicated they might share in the eastward adventure but they too seem reluctant to leave the serenity of the western San Blas.  We hoped that Hobo might follow a similar route as they’re planning on heading to Cartegena; however, as is usual in sailing circles, we were willing to go it alone.

We upped anchor and headed N around the Green Island group planning on staying as much inside the reefs as possible. A month or so ago we headed outside the reefs on our trip to Tigre and the seas were much larger then we wished and the ride slightly uncomfortable so we elected to stay inside the reef as much as possible heading down to Snug Harbor where we first made landfall when we had arrived in the San Blas, Panama almost one year ago.

We put the sails up and said “Good-bye” over the VHF to those in the anchorage. Before we were out of sight, Lions Paw announced over the VHF that Elysium actually has a mainsail.   The distance between anchorages in the Western San Blas is so close that we’ve not felt any need to put up more then the Yankee (our headsail). Trips are usually less then 5 miles apart and for the better part of 3 months there the mainsail stayed in it’s home, covered on top of the boom.

The sail to Snug was one of the nicest we’ve had here. A 25 mile trip with about 1/2 of the way inside the reefs. Once we passed Tigre and we were outside the reefs. the seas were still half of what they had been on our last trip in this direction.

At Snug we planed to spend a couple of days filling our water tanks, reading and

Snug Harbor, San Blas, Panama

Snug Harbor, San Blas, Panama

enjoying the beauty of a place not often visited. Hobo (a Katy Krogan 42) came in a bit later, they did decide to head East same as us.

Building an Ulu

Building an Ulu

The following day we put the engine on the big dinghy and the five of us  (W/, I, Larry, Lena, and Black Dog Morgan) and two dinghies went to see Playon Chico (the Kuna community near Snug Harbor).  There Morgan was an instant hit. Most of the dogs; actually all the dogs we’ve seen in Kuna Yala are about the size of a large cat, so Morgan who is a rescue dog and a good part Border Collie was big enough that some of the Kuna kids wanted to ride him.  Of course Morgan being generally calm and good natured found this to be a bit inconvenient and did his best to quietly resist. He would however let the Kuna kids take his leash and walk with them. Larry; the alpha male, kept a good eye on things but there wasn’t all that much needing to watch for.

We crossed the foot bridge connecting the mainland to the island village and crossed from one end of the island to the other.  While we understand that a good part of the Ulu’s are now shaped with a chain saw there were a couple boats here being built that had an adz put to them for the finishing detail. We didn’t get to see an adz used. Damn; one tool I don’t have and don’t know how to use. 🙂  We visited a couple of Tiendas and picked up some supplies.

After a thorough tour of the village with Morgan leading 20 children down the paths between the thatched homes we began our trek across the foot bridge to the mainland where we had left our dinghies. I hung back to snap a few more pics and W/ carried on with our purchases; one bag of Kuna Bread, one bag of Cinnamon rolls and one bag of eggs.  There are no cartons for eggs in Kuna Yala; once purchased they go in a very light plastic bag; eggs are purchased individually, one or a hundred – what ever you want and what ever they have.  Somewhere midway across the bridge W/ decided to rearrange the goodies and there upon dropped the only bag that had something breakable in it. I came upon her stalled and close to tears (not that close) and she holding the bag out to me showing me the broken eggs, the whites and yokes oozing out the bottom and dripping on my feet; people are getting a little pushy attempting to get around us and I’m urging W/ to keep moving.  She’s not happy with the eggs, not happy with me not having more sympathy, and I’m not happy having the travelers push and shove with raw egg on my feet. Eventually she gets the idea I’m not mad, I think it’s mildly funny and it would be good to move; we cross the rest of the bridge and tell Hobo of our brief adventure.  Back at the boat we discover that one egg survived; it cost $2.50.

Walkin' da Runway

Walkin' da Runway

The following day the four and a half of us (Morgan is the half)  took another trip in. We figured to hike a bit. We had observed some interesting areas in the hills that maybe had a small Eco Lodge and we knew that; I should say we hoped that the  Airport didn’t have a scheduled flight in the afternoon because the runway would be a good part of our trail.  As we arrived the child that had lead Morgan around the day before magically appeared wanting to lead Morgan again and off we went. We found one what looked like an active trail and followed it up into the hills only to discover that it leads to a burial site.  As the Kuna consider these sites sacred we chose to abort our trip there and try another trail.  Although we didn’t get off the beaten path again we did discover a chicken farm by the side of the airport, we saw there was a room at the end that seemed like it was part of the airport for people to bring their computers and and do some….work?  Larry asked if there was internet there and they said no.  Who knows? We again walked across the foot bridge to town and what a difference.  It was jumping!

An Interisland Freighter

An Interisland Freighter

An inter-island freighter had arrived and we saw the same frenzied look on the Kuna as you do people shopping at a new Walmart. Next to the town dock there was a volleyball court where we watched some inter island competition.  The rules have to be slightly different because I saw 4 hits / side (in the US I think there are only 3) and I also saw that a couple of saves were made with feet and legs – I thought a  serious no- no.  However as the Kuna either hold the record for the the world’s shortest

Volley Ball, Playon Chico

Volley Ball, Playon Chico

population; or come damn close,  these guys could jump. One team had mostly bare feet playing on a cement court and the other team were mostly were covered with tennis shoe.  We marveled at the activity around the town center for a bit; watched most of a game and then worked our way across the foot bridge and back to the boats.

We were planning on leaving in the am and although we had been to this anchorage 4 times now we ‘d never been in our out on the E side; that’s how we had planned on leaving the following day traveling East to Ustupu.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Bait

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

We’ve been hangin’ with Passport a bit. Cruised on down to Isla Tigre to see the Re-Enactment of the Kuna Revolution, then up to Green Island for the last few days of Lobster season and some good ol’ fashion lobstering and snorkeling. Those avid readers will remember that W/ went into Panama City with Becca and Ann (Galivant) for a couple of girls days. and while there they picked up Becca’s old (she really doesn’t want me to say how old but never fear I will hint) college room mate; Emily,  and in my name recognition world I call her “Legs”… She’s just about W/s height, maybe plus an inch or two.

Thus, Lobster season for us passed without a bang.  IB and I were mostly skunked. We had spent the last 2 or was it 3 days in the water a minimum of 14  hours  🙂  each, as long as there was light and  we were routinely shut out. Oh; we saw a lobster; one, that would have been a good catch for a small 100 gallon aquarium; but, those last few days we never saw a lobster large enough to get a decent chunk of meat out of.

So there we were the day after Lobster season, waxing away in our self pity when the girls; W/ and Legs,  decided to go snorkeling,

One half of the Bait Team

One half of the Bait Team

and in the early afternoon no less.  Every good fisherman innately knows that the big fish are NOT out dining when the Sun is high enough in the sky to spread its rays into every nook and cranny there is under

The other Half of the Bait

The other Half of the Bait

water.  But as neither IB nor I had much to do we acquiesced and said we’d go.  I of course would still carry my spear gun as if I would have left it on Elysium I’m sure I would have ended  up with dinner swimming  right up to my face,  stick it’s tongue out at me and bubble in the water. “Ha, Ha”! So I carried my gun. Today was a day the bio rythms  of luck  came together.

That morning I had just completed adding a new rubber on my spear gun. It’s a great gun; a Riffe, that I ended up having purchased two years ago in the Virgin Islands. We were in the VI’s and I wanted a good 3′ gun for spear fishing. The Bahamas spoiled me and I figured that  a 3 foot  gun  would give me a good 1-2 meter range and that would be enough to feed our boat.  We waited and waited for it to arrive at the dive shop and finally we just had to leave Charlotte Amalie so we went to the dive shop for a refund; we had to put a deposit on the gun as the shop owner  didn’t want the gun ordered and not bought and we had made it clear that we would be leaving in 2 weeks. “No Problem” he said, his supplier always shipped promptly and thus we would have it in time.  He didn’t want to lose a sale and I did want the gun so he let me have a 4′ gun for the same price I was paying for the 3′ gun.  Sweet!  I walked out of the dive shop smiling and W/ walked about 4 steps in front of me not wanting to be seen by the dork  (me) carrying a 4′ spear gun as we strolled down the water front of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.  Back in the boat we stowed the gun and took off.

Just a week ago,  and a couple of days before the end of Lobster Season I had accidentally dropped my 5′ lobster spear in about 80′ of water. IB volunteered to go grab his Scuba tank and we’d find find my spear as long as I keep the dinghy anchored in the same spot. I did stay anchored with the dinghy; we didn’t find the spear. We left a bit disheartened.

That’s how I had ended up lobstering with a 4′ Riffe spear gun. The first time I went out looking for the world record  bug (Lobster) one of the rubbers on the gun had broken. The gun has two and will actually handle 3.  Oh well.  For Lobsters one band would be enough. But at the end of Lobster season I needed my double bands back and that’s how I ended up putting a new band on the gun the morning after Lobster Season.

Legs is just about identical to W/  same size, same build and similar snorkeling attitude.  Surface snorkeling is good, looking around

IB Snorkeling Coordinator

IB Snorkeling Coordinator

is good, Sharks; Barracuda and BIG fish BAD! She is however a couple of years younger. They both believe; maybe with their petite size,  they’re the bait.   The 4 of us were on a fun snorkel  trip, I with my trusty spear gun, the girls with wide eyes and shallow dives (I noticed W/ needs a little weight added for improved free diving) and Legs was learning to surface dive,  IB  was assisting all of us while Becca elected to hang on Passport.

We were floating along a reef with a nice 20-30 foot ledge. I was looking for Cero Mackerel (we had seen a maybe 50 swim this ledge  the last day of Lobster Season and now I don’t see a one.)  Floating is the right word for this dive. We were out just after  high noon. the Sun illuminating us as stage actors, the water a little cloudy, the current basically nil and small fish abundantly hanging out in large schools.  We had floated about 1/2 way down the reef with the girls on look out for anything imaginably threatening (W/ will spot 10 sharks to my 1),  and Legs was constantly looking at her behind making sure there wasn’t anything attacking from that direction when she got IB’s attention and said she saw a BIG fish swimming slowly below and behind her. I was in front of the snorkeling party-  patrolling, with W/ then IB and finally Legs bringing up the rear.  IB told Legs it was a  Butter Fly and she said “NO!, the fish behind the fan thingie with the big tail”.  It was then that IB stuck his head out of the water and hollered at me, “Dave a big Grouper is down here!”.  I immediately turned around and there was a nice size grouper slowly cruising away from the reef towards deeper water.

As quickly and calmly as I could I dove down and scooted belly tight to the bottom towards the Grouper.  I think the fish was concerned with the 3 snorkelers on the surface as for the moment it paid me no attention. I approached the fish with the gun extended and knew I needed a good shot. There is always only one shot snorkeling with a spear gun and with a fish this size I wanted a good clean one as I  fear this size fish could easily drag me along to the bottom trying to escape with the spear stuck in him tied to the gun and me holding on! I crept up slowly towards him and he still seemed oblivious of me. I’m now within striking distance but to be more accurate and to make sure the spear penetrates I get as close as I can. He begins to turn and I fear swim for the depths. My air supply is getting short, my adrenaline is rising,  and about 8′ away from him I pull the trigger. While those above said they could  hear the spear launch, the Grouper appeared to have missed the sound and it looks like I struck him about where I was aiming and have  a good clean kill. As I  swim closer I see that the spear has indeed penetrated him  just above the spine, slightly behind the head and he slowly rolls over; I hope, dead.  I grab the spear and swim slowly towards the surface hauling the BIG fish behind me.  The girls estimate 7 lbs (obviously all those years of guys lying to them about size and length has had it’s effect), IB estimated 30 lbs and I thought in the 20 lb range. I offered to take the grouper to the dinghy and then come back and join them on a continuation of our snorkel trip.

I grab the fish through his eye sockets and begin my swim back to our inflatable dinghy.  There was a  Remora hanging on the Grouper and he still wants to hang by him. I don’t care. I’m full of adrenaline and conscious that moving a dead fish in the water can still offer dangers. The Grouper barely stirs, he’s either dead from a great shot on my part or died of a heart attack when he realized there was something bigger than him out here and indeed this time he was the hunted.

At the dinghy I try to hoist him aboard. Out of the water he is heavier. Damn fish must be more then 20 lbs.  I try to launch him up and over the side of the dinghy and fail. In  trying to get him in the boat I’m required to be extremely careful and not puncture a hole in on to the dinghy tubes with the pointy end of the spear protruding from the catch, after all since an inflatable can be blown up it can also be flatten. I don’t want to remove the spear till he’s in the boat, just in case he’s faking death and only taking a nap. I move around to the stern and using the stern as a lever I get part of the spear on it and lever the Fish up over the transom and into the boat. I’m exhausted. Fortunately IB and the twin bait (W/ and Legs) decided that they too should come back!  The Ramora is looking for another partner and decides to attach to Legs first; for all of 3 seconds, before she flies out of the water and into the dinghy, second W/ who’s not fond of her new relationship  with the Remora and she too exits rather quickly; this time not requesting any help to get in the dinghy having enough motivation to do it entirely on her own, followed a few minutes later by IB who had fun teasing the Remora while it attempts  to seek a relationship with him.  All aboard the dinghies we now we marvel at how big this fish  we all participated in catching is. With W/ and Legs the bait, IB being the go between and I the shooter. We may have discovered a new and better way to spear fish. 🙂

We have to  brag. We dinghy over to Infinity ( Frank and Gretchen – Frank being the best spear fisherman of the gringos in the San Blas; easily diving past 50′ and then shooting a fish), Audrey Paige (Dennis and Alaine) and finally to Passport where Becca decides

Becca keeping the Fort Secure

Becca keeping the Fort Secure

we must celebrate with a bottle of wine.  We crack open – for us,  not the fish. The decision is made to clean the fish on Elysium as our cockpit is large enough, we thought the dinghy wouldn’t be stable enough swinging a sharp filet knife,  and the beach not clean enough. At Audrey Paige we measured the catch.  Dennis has a formula for calculating the weight. The fish was 43″ long with a 30″ girth and his formula resulted in 48.3 lbs.  How many fish like  that will I ever have a chance at shooting again?

Becca was running errands in and out of our boat as she was the only one dry, W/was  directing and trying her best to keep the area clean. Legs did her best to keep Gus, the Grouper (yeah, the girls had to name the fish) from sliding around and keep it upright while I wielded the filet knife, and once the filets were off IB then removed the skin. Amazing; to do this with 4 people took about 2 hours.

Goliath Grouper with Bait and Shooter

Gus the Grouper with Bait and Shooter

We washed and then divied up the horde of meat, giving about 1/3 of it away.  The rest was to be consumed this evening and then frozen on Passport and Elysium. Right now I’m exhausted and going to take a shower while attempting to clean up the scales and fish slim hanging about in the cockpit.  What a day, hanging out in Kuna Yala, snorkeling and chatting with friends, blue water,  gorgeous beaches, spear fishing, cleaning fish, eating fish, and living to lie about it another day. Ain’t nothing better!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Workin!

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Been awhile.  Since my computers are down; well, actually my main computer – the Macs, I’m having to suffer with a little EeePC Netbook.

After we took our trip to Panama City we slide on up to the East Lemons where we hired Justino (a local Kuna) to do some work on the boat. We paid him $20.00 / day, lunch and usually a beer after work.  He brought his son to hang out with him the first day and althogh his son had a tooth ache he was quite pleasant. He played with Dads cell phone, watched Dad work and he slept. Dad asked for something to help his son with his tooth ache and as we had some “Baby Aspirin” we gave him some. That helped his son tolerate the tooth ache and survive the day.  When Justino gets back to his home island he will take Junior over to the Dr.  in the Carti islands and have the tooth removed for $5.00 US.

Justino worked three days with us; washing the boat; polishing the Stainles Steel, and washing and waxing the hull. All jobs I have an aversion to. From the E Lemons we gave Justino a ride of about 5 nm to the West Lemons so he could find work on another cruisers boat.

We were running out of Propane and although W/ is finding some joy in cooking she isn’t in the high use catageory for Propane so as we get close to 6 months of use I’ve learned we’re close to being out. We also hauled Passports tank in (they have 2 x 10 lb bottles) to one filled. In the W. Lemons they transfer the Propane via the gravity method.

I laid the bottle out with ours closer to the door hoping it would get filled fist as we were actually out of Propane because we have only one tank and Passport was only on their second bottle and were fine. Now we’re into cold foods. Not that I was going to suffer, after all Beer is IMHO best consumed cold,
but W/ (truth be told) misses cooking. Wouldn’t you know it; we had a 50/50 chance of getting our tank filled first and they
grabbed Passports bottle and filled it and then they were out of Propane! We ended up waiting 3 days before more Propane was brought in on a Panaga so we could be whole again. There we sailed on down to meet up with Passport and dive and play for a few days in Nargargonedup before we again when to Nomomulo for the Girls to go into Panama City. Then I would be out of all my Macbooks and only have the Netbook and an iPad to whine to the world out our woes.

I’ve often been asked what changes we would make to the boat after the few years we’ve been out. Our Propane setupis one change I would make. I’d try to see if I could squeeze 3 x 10 lb tanks in the locer or at the least 2 x 10 lb tanks. Then when one tank would run out I could still have warm food while the other tank was being filled. It’s not to late to change. It’s just that to change now takes longer then if we were living ashore in home waters, and keeps us in one spot, too while the boat is messed up while living in the pig stye. At this point, not what we want to do, so we’ll live with it.

Additionally, I like to post a picture or two on each blog entry but on the Netbook I don’t have the software to optimize the pictures and post them so those of you that actually read a blog will find no changes but for those of you that read a blog to look at the pictures, for awhile you’re just out of luck.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Merry Isthmus from the Republic of Panama

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Years ago (don’t remind me how many) I was in a religious studies class in college.  Dr. Weeks; whom I admired, told us of a man who had prayed so much to God to ease his burdens. God finally rewrote his rule so he could help the poor man out. He brought him to heaven where upon the individual saw that he was carrying a sack. His sack of burdens.  God escorted him to an enormous room  and there were piles upon piles of sacks just like the one he was carrying, the burdens of each of the individuals on the earth. There God asked him to pick one bag of burdens out and leave his in it’s place. The individual sat down and thought for  some time and eventually walked away with his own sack.

We’re all born with different burdens, some of our burdens are simply of birth, poor parents, sick parents, only one parent, parents of a country that doesn’t enjoy the safety and security of ours. Some of our burdens are inherited, extra teeth, skin diseases, missing limbs, chemical imbalances, etc. Some burdens we gather as we wander through life, relationships gone bust, abuse by those we’ve loved, accidents caused by those we’ve never known.  All are burdens and yet we all have to bear them, we share them, we write about them, and we cry over them.

So Santa, what I wish to ask of you this season is not to bring us anything more  but to take from us something that weighs upon each of us. Take a burden  from each of us; no, don’t help us to carry it, simply take it from us –  lighten our spirit, add joy to everyones season because our load is less.

Happy Holidays

Finally

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

We’ve moved, not far but we’ve moved across the reef. There is a reef dividing Isla Linton and the Isthmus and a small passage with deep enough water through it for us to get to the other side without having to go out and around the island.  We moved and within that is the good and bad.

We’re planning on the following am to leave for the San Blas Islands, Kuna Yala and it will be nice to have navigated passed the reef in good light. What we didn’t expect that our cell phone connection there would be so poor we can’t get the internet to get the local radar and wx info.  We easily get the off shore information with the Pactor Modem and the Icom 802 SSB radio but the local stuff is what we really need. I did look at it before we moved and all looked good but that is 24 hours out and here in the rainy season local wx is good for about 6 hours.

The next am looks good. That is there is no rain, same wind, and the Sun is out. We leave before any of the am SSB and Ham nets and are passed Isla Grande before 8 am. Not soon after the nets we get a call from Reggie on Runner and he tells us that there was a good squall in Kuna Yala with winds to 45 kits and move E. We’re committed and we’re prepared. So far we’ve had 4-6′ swells and a light wind chop. We fully expected that to  change.  Less then an hour later we’re motoring into head winds of 20-30 and we’ve slowed down to 3.5 -4.5 kits with the engine ticking along at I’m guessing 1500.  Remember we’re out a tac as the last attempt to fix went bust! We watch our course, watch the wind hoping to be able to pull out the headsail but all is like spitting into the wind. No luck on missing the mess. We’re all of a couple of km offshore and we’re still heading E.  The wind is slowly abating but not as fast as either of us would like and by 12 we’re putting along at 5-6 kits.  By 2 we’re inside the Esconoba Shoals and they’re breaking up the swell quite a bit. The wind chop is back to the 2 foot range and we’re making good time. We expect to be in the West Lemmons before dark. Traveling around in Kuna Yala after dark is much so much like Roulette. Yeah, sometimes you might win, many times you might survive but there is always the possibility of going belly up. We planned on making it in before dark and we will.

Now anchored in the West Lemmons we settle in for a calm evening and a trip to the Hollandaisse Cays in the am. There we’ll see Passsport (IB and Becca) again who we’ve not seen for 6 months, We’ll be near new friends (Hans and Susan on NautiBear) we met in ShelterBay and we’ll eventually run into Mike and Gloria on Respite who we tried to catch leaving ShelterBay a day behind them only to have the Battery and solve our WaterMaker issue.

Safely anchored in about 20 m of water with 60 meters of chain out we’re feeling rather secure for the evening. Another boat is coming in the same pass we did and from my vantage point they’re a little close to the S reef. I see the boat jerk like it was struck in the face and then see it jerk again. It begins a rapid turn; the WRONG way, into the reef. There I see it come to a complete stop like it hit a wall and it did; but the wall wasn’t at the bow of the boat but at the bottom. As the slight swell heading out of the N feels the bottom and creates a surf the boat is being pushed up farther into the shallow water. We don’t have any dinghy in the water so I make a call to the boats in the anchorage telling them there is a boat on the reef in the W. Lemmons on the W side and they could use some serious help now.  It doesn’t seem like anyone of the 50 boats in here is responding so  put out the call again and see a couple of the larger dinghy’s with larger engines begin to move towards the now fully grounded boat.  They arrive and discuss the issue and nothing seems to be happening fast. Fast is what’s needed as the swell is putting her farther and farther up on the reef.

The dinghy’s tried to pull her off from the stern, no good. One runs back into the anchorage and gets more line and then they try to haul her down by attaching the tow line to the mast and pulling her over and dragging her off. But it’s getting late and they get her hauled over and try to pull astern. By this time the engine on the sailboat isn’t working and they’re trying to pull a 10 ton boat with a couple of small dinghies. Some Kuna’s show up in a Panga with a 40 hp engine and they try too.  Dark now and they give up. The owners of the boat depart; staying I don’t know where, close up and leave it for the night. I’m not sure what they hope to attempt by doing that, maybe just saving their lives.  The boat is left on the reef stern to the seas and there appears to be no anchor out.

The following am I ask Yogi (his name) who is a permeant resident here if the boat has water inside and he says yes. Doesn’t look like it’a coming off the reef anytime soon.  I don’t really know if water ingress came from the seas breaking over the stern working their way in the companion way or if the boat is now holed. But it’s not going anywhere soon. We feel like we’ve just watched the slow death of a person. It was torturuous watching the boat grind on the reef and the feeble attempts by those willing to help try to save her.  She’s not gone down but she has gone out.

It’s tough wondering how that could happen, a small misjudgment, exhaustion on the part of the owner or bad luck.  The reef slowly shoals there where as most of the reef in this area comes up from 4-15 meters of water all the way to the surface and they’re easily visible.  Dark blue water good, breaking water, light brown water bad.  Stay away from breaking water and light brown water and you’re basically good. Stay away from moving at night and your good.  We hope to stay good.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Diversity

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

I feel like we’re living on the back side of the wave, trying to catch it,  in which  cultures ride.  We’ve been traveling for almost 3 years now. We spent the first winter in the Bahamas; we had internet 90 % of the places where were were, next summer in the Chesapeake; obviously we had internet most everywhere there, then the Virgin Islands to the Windwards and Leewards; we had internet on the boat 95% of the islands we anchored at.  We traveled to Trinidad, back to Grenada and went to the ABC’s (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) and had the internet. Went to Cartagena, had the internet and the most surprising is in the San Blas, Panama; we can get the internet. Albeit, slow but we can still stay connected.

Years ago when we traveled  to the Bahamas we would walk up the hill to the one phone in New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay, we would stand in line and make a phone call back to the states to tell everyone we survived the crossing (ironically the crossing was much less risky then driving most anywhere in the states) and not to worry.  The cost was between 5 and 10 bucks in 1980 dollars.  Here in the San Blas, Panama we bought a chip for our unlocked iPhone and for a couple of bucks we could call the states for long enough to exhaust current events with the recipient.

As we cruise the world we’re watching civilizations slowly die. The way traditions people have and the style of their living is becoming a thing of the past. Cell phones are everywhere now, computers not like the anomaly they once were, outboards are common and TV antennas are on most thatched roof homes.  I’m by no means suggesting that the any of these should be denied anyone.  People and countries and governments make their own choices.

Kunal Yala Youth

Kunal Yala Youth

In Kuna Yala there is concern too about their culture. In an effort to keep diversity in colleges and universities in the US they often offer full scholarships to the brightest Kuna students. What should the wise men and women of the Kuna Nation do? If the students go to Harvard, or Colombia or even the University of (Pick a State) and they graduate in Engineering; what opportunity do they have in taking that degree and applying any of their expertise to their people?  What about software design, Accounting, Business Management, etc.  The leaders of Kuna Yala let them know, knowing all the time that as the intelligent youth of their country go they slowly bleed to death as a nation. Some countries call it a brain drain. What’s the difference?  Either way; the end result will be that Kuna Yala will look like a suburb of any city USA, any city Europe, or any city Japan. Not today, not tomorrow, but eventually.

I’m saddened by the world’s rocket like ride to homogeneous cultures. Beauty is only discovered in diversity. What would food be like if everyone ate the same food everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; whether it be Lobster, Filet Migon, Hamburgers or even M & M peanuts (one of my favorites 🙂  ). What would the world be like with only one flower, all males and all females with the exact same female or male genetic code, same hair, same dimple, same height, same weight? Diversity is the cornerstone for beauty and what helps to define us in our ability to tolerate differences  and to accept our path in life.  The contrast between the mountains and the sea, a meadow and the woods, a child and their grandparents. That is where the beauty of the world is found, not in the sameness that I fear we’re all moving towards. Hopefully in my short life, I will continue to share and observe the diversity of life and living.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long