07 May 2016 | Dsicover Bay
07 May 2016 | Isla Debora
06 May 2016 | Isla Debora
05 May 2016 | Isla Debora
07 January 2016 | Isla Debora
28 October 2015 | Dolphin Bay
27 October 2015 | Escuda de Veraguas
26 October 2015 | Escuda de Veraguas
24 October 2015 | Escuda de Veraguas
24 October 2015 | Escuda de Veraguas
23 October 2015 | Zapatilla Islas
26 June 2015 | Discovery Bay
25 June 2015 | Escuda de Veraguas
23 June 2015 | Turtle Bay
21 June 2015 | The Lemmons
21 June 2015 | Swimming Pool, Eastern Holandes
19 June 2015 | Swimming Pool, Eastern Holandes
19 June 2015 | Eastern Coco Banderas
06 July 2016 | Bocas del Toro, Panama
Just a quick note that we arrived safely in Bocas del Toro. We are at anchor awaiting officials to complete the clear-in process. More later.
An Unexpected Return
05 July 2016 | En route - San Andres to Bocas
We left San Andres yesterday morning without difficulties. Winds and sea were still up and we were having the same problems with Otto and balancing sails. Finally I took the main down and just used the stack-pack as a 'mini' main or trysail. With about 75% gennie, this balanced quite well and Otto was able to handle it. That is when the Armada Nacional showed up. A very impressive boat with strap in seating for 6 and 3 x 250hp outboards. After lots of shouting back and forth (we tried radio, but I think theirs was just so strong it totally overmodulated.) we finally understood, much to our dismay, that they wanted us to return to San Andres (now ~7 nm behind - and up wind of - us.) We really didn't have a choice. They had a much faster boat - and guns. So we turned around and slowly sailed and motored back to San Andres. Once we were anchored, they boarded us and searched the boat - most thorough search to date. They explained that we did not clear out with Port Control on VHF 16 like we were supposed to. (Well, we didn't do that because we hadn't cleared in, we just anchored on the W side and made repairs and rested.) I honestly did not think of calling in as we left because I thought we were 'under the radar.'' WRONG. The Coastie in charge said it was a serious offence and punishable by fine, but he could tell we just made a mistake so no fine, but we did have to go around the island to the port and clear-in (to the tune of $250) and get a Zarpe before we could leave. Fortunately I remembered Renee, the agent for San Andres. I called him on the VHF and h said he would be at the dock near where we were anchored @ 3:00 PM. That satisfied the Coasties and they left. They were all very polite and friendly (we gave them Coca-cola) but were firm in their resolve. At this point it looked like we lost a whole day and probably $250 or more. At 3:00 I went in and met with Renee. I explained that we were in a hurry to get back to Bocas and that we had not intended to stop except we had a problem with the bridle of our dinghy (true) and needed to make emergency repairs. Also the crew was very tired after 5 days at sea and we needed sleep. He asked if we were ready to leave now, and I said yes. He talked briefly with the Harbor Master of the bay we were in and then the Harbor Master called the Port Captain (during which time I gave Renee $20.00 for his trip out to see us) and everything was OK. We could leave without checking in as long as we left NOW. Well, it means 2 nights and 1 day instead of the reverse, but it saved $250 and a lot of hassle so I thanked Renee and the Harbor Master and we left. So now we are ~90 nm miles from Bocas motoring in no wind except for frequent squalls. It will be ~24 hr to get there, but we should arrive in time to clear in to Panama that day. And then HOME!
03 July 2016 | San Andres
Today was a 'wait for weather' rest and recovery day. There were pretty bad squalls done by Bocas tomorrow so we want to wait for them to pass. I am sure we will still get a few, but leaving tomorrow AM seems like the best window. Slow day, slow internet (but internet nonetheless!) Baked bread. This morning a pod of 50-100 dolphin swam past us. Some quite close to the boat. A couple leaped up into the air, but most just swam past eating. Nice to see them. We saw NO dolphins in Cuba or any along the way down here. Lobster and blackened snapper (yes, both!) for our last night at anchor.
A Catamaran Problem
02 July 2016 | San Andres
First, let me say we made it safely to San Andres dropping anchor about 2:00 PM after a 600 nm trip over 4 days. Things started out slow with light winds at Cayman Brach, but picked up considerably until we were seeing high 20's by Serranilla and Quito Sueno Banks. Yesterday the winds finally moderated, but the large seas, of course, persisted for a while - 6-10' with quite a few 15's. Today is a rest and wait for weather to clear day and tomorrow we head for Bocas. I don't now how many non-family sailors read this blog, but if you do, please consider this problem and leave a comment. I won't get your comments until I get to Bocas and have internet. These blogs are sent via SSB and I cannot view the result. So here we go: We are trying to sail a course of 210*. Wind is upper teens ~120* true, ~90* apparent. Seas are large, 6-10' with lots of 15', just aft of beam. We start with double reefed main set near the extreme starboard end of the traveler with a fair amount of sheet out to give it some twist. It is nearly touching the shroud. Genoa is ~1/2 and trimmed just tight enough not to luff. Auto pilot (Otto) is holding our course until a wave kicks the stern ~20-30*. If the heading stays above 188*, Otto can recover, but as soon as it falls below 188*, we immediately head into the wind up to 150 or even 130. If I catch it in time and take over for Otto, sometimes I can save it, but often we are in irons and need to fire up the engine to get back on course. (Yes, I know how to back the jib and come about, but the engine is quicker and easier and we still have a long way to go.) Since the boat wants to head up, my analysis is that I have relatively too much main and not enough jib. (Do you agree?) I cannot let the main out any more and I cannot reduce it (only 2 reef points). I try letting out more genoa. Maybe it helps, but I still lose it fairly often. I have tried every combination I can think of even though some seem counter intuitive - more main, sheet main in more (that made it really bad), less genoa, more genoa, sheet the genoa tighter, looser. The only thing that I found that finally worked at least 90% of the time was: double reef main, full out; 150% genoa (i.e. all of it) sheeted a bit tighter than usual, AND port engine running @ 1500. It seems so stupid to run an engine in this much wind and this point of sail, but nothing else worked. Is this just an example of a cat's Achille's heel? It is so light that the waves toss you around and you cannot hope to avoid getting thrown into irons? I've sailed in heavy seas before and never had this problem. Maybe never quite this combo?? What would you have done? Do note that as soon as we came into the wind (70-60 apparent) it sailed beautifully without engine and we didn't get kicked around as much. Thanks for any suggestions!
Still at Sea
02 July 2016 | En route to San Andres
Weather, etc. changed our destination to San Aandres instead of Providencia. We are just running for home. Too much to do, too long on the boat. We should reach San Andres in ~8 hrs where we will anchor for the afternoon and night after what will have been ~600 nm. Then tomorrow head for Bocas (36-48 hrs). Fortunately, wind and waves have been much less than predicted for the last 12 hrs after a fairly boisterous day yesterday.