Posts Tagged ‘Las Perlas’

We’re Outa Here!

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Alright, I know my 8 readers are getting tired of waiting and as this is not the Game of Thrones I have doubts as to how much longer they’ll wait.

Some who follow on Facebook and others who keep in personal email contact will know we have traveled to the Galapagos.  So here begins the 3 part series on the trip.

Contadora, Las Perlas, Panama

Contadora, Las Perlas, Panama

We left Contadora, Las Perlas, Panama on Saturday, March 29th at 10 ish. We had some chores to do in the am before we upped anchor and with those completed we lead the way with two boats, Jean- Maria and us.

We traveled down the W side of the Perlas and there pointed S. Winds were fair and we traveled slower than our best but were comfortable enough not to be concerned. I had hoped to clear the S end of the Perlas before sunset and we did. As we approached the S end we passed a rather large turtle going the other way, just a foot or so below the surface. For the most part we flew under the Yankee Jib alone with our wind vane blocks and line yelling at us the whole way.

As we began to exit the Gulf of Panama the sea turned and the surface became a mess. That is the most accurate description. We had a fresh breeze pushing us along at 5-6  kts and the seas looked mostly like the surface of a frosted cake. However the surface also ended up with two patterns for the swell, one from directly behind and the other from the W. On the boat it felt like we were being tossed about in a wash machine.  Other than that we were fine with the wind vane lines and blocks talking to us the entire way.

The night was odd. We were cold. Here we are in the tropics and W/ and I found we were putting on layers to stand our watches. We had thought to try 5 hours on and 5 hours off having heard that if you can get close to 5 hours of continuous sleep you can mostly feel refreshed. But…..

I just can’t stay up that long. So both of us stayed up as long as we could; usually 2-3 hours then switched. During the day who ever felt like taking a nap did and after the first 3 days we were tired but not exhausted.  Then sometime on W’s watch I was

Old Lines Passing over Non Rotating Blocks

Old Lines Passing over Non Rotating Blocks

awakened with a big “BANG”!  W/ said to me something happened with the Windvane; she’s now calling it Oscar, and I wobbled out of my warm berth, donned my gear and added the safety harness to head topsides. There I found that one of the control lines had parted. Not to worry. We are after all an offshore cruising boat and I have more line. So I go to retrieve the new line, route it and then we connect the vane again and the boat begins to sail itself.  I head back to my short and blessed dream land.

The seas were so rough during the day that I never put out a fishing line. We had gone through many sail changes, poling out the Yankee, gybing, putting up the main, reefing the main, taking out the reef, and then working with the Yankee again I was getting tired of the constant wind shifts. Hell, we are in the Pacific where the wind is to blow consistently and the swells are to be far apart. On day 3 we had 10 – 15′ swells with about a 6 second interval. It reminded me mostly of Caribbean sailing.  And I am blaming it all on the Humbolt current and cold water upwellings. The Humbolt current is a  cold water N bound current that follows the S. American coast and upwellings are cold water that rise from many km below the surface of the ocean and are nutrient rich. Those upwellings are the heart of the rich fishing industry that inhabits this coast.

Sometime during the second day on my evening look around for problems I discovered that a bolt had disappeared from one of the blocks on the wind vane control lines. Into my fasteners locker I go to find a replacement and once found decide to move the block to a more favorable position.  That completed W/ heads below for her first off watch tonight.

However we are now out of Panama, out of the Gulf of Panama and well on our way to the Galapagos.

Life is good!

What value would life have if there weren’t challenges to overcome?

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Light Speed Part II

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Light Speed part II

We left the nice quiet, calm, bug free anchorage and began our trek back N towards civilization. We left early enough to make our approach during good light but this left us fighting the current and adverse wind around the W side of the Perlas. We were motoring so this was not a comfortable ride. I have a simple philosophy: If the time required to work the sails and set everything up and take everything down is greater then the travel time then the payoff isn’t worth it-so we motor. Granted this was close call, but we still have to motor in and out of the anchorage. Plus I get the added benefit of running the refrigeration system. So we motor.

Contadora, Las Pearlas Islands, Panama

Contadora, Las Perlas Islands, Panama

After a mildly rough ride we begin our approach to Contadora, the semi posh tourist town in the Perlas.  The anchorage isn’t the best but we do hope to avoid the “Bouncy, Bouncy” we’ve had more frequently then we would have liked.  The anchorage was farther from the beach then I had hoped for; in approx 50′ of water but we were here, the anchor down, and we were relatively calm. Dirk chooses to hang on the boat,  playing with my computer stuff, making sure it all works right and is integrated properly. He used OpenCPN with most of their circumnav and I’m just learning it. So the “younger brother* is teaching the older one the tricks of that program.

W/, Silvie, and I went ashore, to get some more gasoline for the dinghy and scope out the island. We discovered it was quite different from those on the Caribbean side. The roads were in good shape, we

Deer in Panama

Deer in Panama

walked without fear of being run over, and we discovered deer!  What a surprise. They seemed about the size of Key Deer and they were a little shy but not like the white tail deer in the states that at a whiff of people they would be off bounding across fields and jumping barbed wire fences like us walking over a crack in the sidewalk.  These deer hung around for a bit and then slowly meandered off looking for more food to forage.

We found that on Contadora some of the population still believe in siestas. The gasoline store (not gas station) was closed so we meandered to the beach, some shade and a few cool beers. An hour later we too had slowed down to latin time and took about 15 more minutes to decide that we could indeed wander back towards the boat and pick up some gasoline, then see if Dirk was sound asleep or into other mischief. As usual, he was into mischief, still on my computer making sure it is configured right for OpenCPN, making sure the peripherals worked and then attempting the tough task of showing me what I need to know.

But I resisted the class room approach. We had only had breakfast; well, I  and W/ did, Dirk and Silvie had their required 36 cops of coffee ( I exaggerate a wee bit), and I was getting low on blood sugar and cranky. The girls pushed and pushed (really I did but I do like to blame them) and we all finally crawled in the dinghy for a trip to a real restaurant. There in I gorged on food and lacking social amenities slurped my beer. As all of us were hungrily eating no one noticed.

That evening it was decided to head the following day to Taboga and the day after to Panama City where our well worn crew was to depart. 🙁  .  In sailing circles we often say plans are written in water and this is a perfect example of that saying. The following am our crew changed their minds and we were to head to Panama City and skip Taboga.  We had a leisurely breakfast (W/ and I) Dirk and Silvie received their oral injection of caffeine, we picked up anchor and motored West to round the Northern end of the Perlas. Once free of the islands we hoped to sail.

And sail we did; for about an hour. Most of 30 minutes the winds were steady and we were heading in the right direction. We had our fishing lines out; Dirk with his fancy surface lure and the hook protecter REMOVED! I with my dirt cheap hand line.  Near the end of the hour the winds were going light on us, the wind vane lines having been connected backwards sorted out, we chose to furl the sails and start the engine. So it is again, we motor the last 30 miles back to PC.

Our 12 lb Tuna

Our 12 lb Tuna

Somewhere not long after and maybe a little before we made this change; I received a strike on my hand line. Again the clothes pin was snapped but the fish wasn’t at the surface. I began to tug on the line and indeed there was a fish. We repeated the previous fishing experience, Dirk swinging it on board, Silvie severing the gills and hanging it upside down. This one; a 12 lb Tuna was going to be food for awhile. We pulled in our lines and took care of the boat for the rest of the trip. Dirk playing (he would say “working on”) OpenCPN and making sure the AIS was working.

We were not getting any AIS signals in Contadora and Dirk thought we should be. I wasn’t worried but worse case scenario is that we travel the Pacific without the AIS. The boat traffic in the S. Pacific is quite minimal and in Samoa we’ll be able to replace the box. But as in many of life’s little adventures; patience works wonders and as we came closer to the Panama Canal AIS targets began to show up. Wonderful!  One more item I don’t need to replace.

We arrived back in Panama City anchoring on the side within full view of the Panama skyline. There we set about cleaning up the boat, preparing dinner and cooling off with some really, good, really cold, Balboas (the Panama) beer. After a dinner of fresh Tuna we chewed the fat, told some more lies (sailing stories), all over some invented drinks by W/ and Silvie; Coconut water with Rum and Coconut water with Coconut Rum.

The following day our crew packed up. While it was a sad time, we know as sailors that there are no goodbyes, only Ciao; until we meet again. I dropped them all off at the beach; since low tide was now, and motored over to the “stairs of death”- the cruisers dinghy dock. W/, Silvie, and Dirk hauled their bags up the beach over the rocks and parked at the restaurant until I arrived for breakfast. There a quiet meal was had, taxi hailed, hugs shared and waves goodbye.  As with Jenny leaving, Dirk and Silvie left a hole in our hearts as they headed back home to the land of everything.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

* Sometimes in life you discovered people very much like yourself. Dirk and I are in many ways similar and a few not; one’s good looking and the other is smart 🙂 , one prefers to move often and the other very little. But we both love the water, we both are cautious, conscientious sailors, we both love beer (but I can’t keep up with him anymore) and in many ways we are more alike than different. Silvie and W/ sometimes smile when one of us mimics the other in words or actions. So I think of him as my little brother. He is one of the few people that I would trust my boat to, knowing that it would be returned to me in as good as or better shape than I left it. Trust is one of the few things in life that needs to be earned (IMHO) and he has earned it many times over.

Changes in (L)Atitude

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Sometimes I wonder how much effect my formative years have had on me.  Our generations  parents hated the music we  listened to. Did the music represent us or did it effect us? The song 59th Street Bridge by Simon and Garfunkel comes to mind:


Slow down, you move too fast, you’ve got to make the morning last
Just kickin’ down the cobble-stones, lookin’ for fun and feelin’ groovy…

While offshore W/ and I were discussing our cruise. We were making tracks and yet the tracks were not what we had expected.  I figure  in the last year I’ve spent almost one month completing paper work for entering and leaving the various countries we’ve been to. We had planned on entering the Panama Canal this April and hitting the Pacific. At that time we would be late for the Pacific transit so we had considered the Las Perlas for a bit then moving down to Ecuador for the Hurricane Season.

But that too felt like we were rushing again. So we talked about another alternative. Staying in this area for a year and then early next year, heading through the Canal and into the Pacific. We can still hang in the Perlas Islands and still head to Ecuador if we want or we can get on the big Pacific Conveyor belt and start our trek across. Either way; we’ve decided to hang in this area till next late next winter ’12, enjoy Colombia, Panama including the San Blas Islands. Dive, eat fish and Lobster till we get sick of them, spend time in some of the Cities, learn to speak some Spanish, and basically…Slow down…. look  for fun  – life is gro0vy.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long