A family travels from Florida to New Zealand aboard their St Francis 50 catamaran

08 May 2013
06 September 2011 | Brisbane
04 September 2011 | 26 02S 155 59E
03 September 2011 | 24 35S 159 23E
02 September 2011 | 23 21S 162 56E
31 August 2011 | New Caledonia
30 August 2011 | 21 10S 168 312E
29 August 2011 | 21 25S 171 52E
28 August 2011 | 21 03S 175 17E
27 August 2011 | 20 17S 178 49E
26 August 2011 | 19 26S 177 46W
25 August 2011 | 18 48S 174 20W
23 August 2011 | Neiafu, Tonga
21 August 2011 | 19 00S 170 22W
18 August 2011 | 19 45S 168 16W
15 August 2011 | Beverage Reef
14 August 2011 | 19 39S 166 06W
12 August 2011 | 18 52S 160 14W
03 August 2011 | Aitutaki
01 August 2011 | 18 18S 157 49W


01 March 2008 | Panama city, Panama
We crossed the Panama Canal and it was quite an undertaking! Anyway we just arrived unharmed and very very happy to be on the other side (Pacific side)!!!! We are in a marina called Flamenco near Panama city where we are going to have a good night of sleep and we will see if we stay (not as nice as Shelter Bay Marina to say the least and very expensive, plus I think they do not like sailboat in general and in particular catamarans, they charge us double because of our width!).
Our transit began Friday 29th of February in Colon; we left the marina at 5:30pm with our three line handlers: A couple, Melissa and Buddy from Indigo Moon, and Roberto, a professional line handler. We arrived at the flats (the anchorage close to the canal's entrance) shortly after and the wait began. Our Advisor, Dalton was dropped off by a pilot boat at 7:00pm, we were scheduled at 7:30pm but actually did not get in the lock before 11:00pm!
We saw a "Mad Max sailboat" arriving full speed towards another sailboat at 90 deg and stopping to drop somebody at the last minute, backing up and steering around boats with a speed that was uncalled for, they had a few tires on the sides so we pray for the lucky one that would end up to do the transit with them! Guess who got lucky! We did, we had to "nest" with them: Initially you get to the entrance of the lock and then you tie up together, we saw that they had no lines (we had to use solely our lines) and four tires, two fenders in all! Luckily David went overboard with the tires (I thought) and we had lots of tires and 6 fenders which we ended to use all to be safe ( the other sailboat did not seem to care whatsoever, we learned later that the owner was not on board, it was a friend-captain just "helping" him by getting the boat across the canal). The tying up by itself was a chore, David ended up lending them a portable radio, they did not have one and their only fixed radio was inaccessible from the cockpit. Then he directed him to get into the wind, and WE went along his side to tie up. They were joking, relaxed, not caring, I did really not appreciate to have to deal with this type of cruisers that want to play it cool and relax, come under equipped (minimum requirement from the canal authority is 10 tires), I guess that is easy to be relaxed and not have a care in the world when neither of the boats are yours, it is very selfish and totally rude but that is who we had to deal with. Then we had to drive into the lock attached to each other straight and practice stopping in 20 knots of wind! By this time, the captain of the other boat was following David's orders, who was doing most of the driving with our twin motors. It was very stressful already and then we learned that we had to now get attached to a Mexican fishing boat already in the lock , to my horror, I look and see that the fishing boat had only 2 tires on the side ready to tie up!!!! I was ready to cry!!!! So we took 4 fenders back from the side where we were already attached with the sailboat and used it to fend against the fishing boat, I have to say, although the Mexican fishing boat was old (they knew they would not get any damage from another boat so all their tires were on the lock's wall side), they were very helpful and showed care, they even said "we know it is your house and it is important to you", I admired that. We were not totally unlucky because we had the best line handlers that you can get, from Roberto I expected it but Buddy and Melissa were a life saver, I would have not been able to do it with the kids, David was at the helm and could not help, he had to maneuver during the whole time. We also were lucky to wind up with a calm and very professional advisor-Pilot. Of course, the other sailboat crew was having a good time, chatting, lounging, and drinking beer. They did not even have to handle the lines for the other side; I guess in retrospect it was probably better.
Anyway we were finally ready! The first turbulence were pretty bad and the 7 of us (the 3 line handlers, me, the kids and the adviser as well) went to push against the fishing boat with all our might, one plastic around the tire burst and it was so loud , we thought it was a fender that had exploded! And I forgot to mention that in front of us in the lock, there was a huge ship! When the lock was totally filled up, Roberto told us to be now ready for the turbulence coming from the propeller of the Cargo boat leaving the lock for the next one, again the six of us (Dalton needed to be near David at the helm) pushed against the fishing boat. OK, one down, two to go! Each time we had to untie from the fishing boat, let him go first, which means stay put and straight (do not forget, we were still attached to the other sailboat then go forward and straight to the next lock ) and begin again the same procedure. On the second lock, the advisor told us that they were going to fill up the lock a little slower to minimize the turbulence; I guess they all heard the big noise of the plastic bag exploding and they probably thought something got damaged. Anyway we still had to fend off but it was much better... Then we were ready for the last one. Finally still attached to the sailboat, we exit the last lock and hurried to detach from each other, not only 3 seconds after we were detached, a huge wake came in and we had to push the motor full throttle to get away from each other without rubbing! Now we just had to motor another 20 minutes to the mooring were we would spend the night. We arrived, moored and had to watch the "Mad Max sailboat" moored on the same buoy, by now we were only on OK terms, we had enough of each other, there was never any yelling or swearing but we were done, tired and could not stand it anymore! We went to sleep at 1:30am. The advisor got picked up at 1pm and told us, see you at 6:30am! A new advisor came in the morning, Rodolfo, very nice as well, we left around 8:30am after a nice breakfast and cruise through the Gatun lake, it was beautiful and relaxing, we arrived to the first lock at 12:30, a little apprehensive but Rodolfo reassured us and he was right, on this side, the water in the lock is going down, so it is like a big bucket being emptied slowly, it is flat calm with no turbulence and he was absolutely right. We were attached to a big tourist boat this time, the "Mad Max" sailboat was attached to the Mexican fishing boat behind us. And ....we really enjoyed those three locks, no stress, a beautiful sun, we took pictures, laughed a lot, what a difference! We arrived in the pacific water at 2::00pm, our advisor left and we continued towards Flamenco marina where we spent the night. Melissa and Buddy left and we really thanked them, they did a fantastic job, they were maybe thinking to cross the canal but I think Melissa changed her mind. Time always heals everything, she will be ready later and I am sure that they will have a lot of tires hanging around their beautiful Lagoon cat! We went to sleep.... We were so so tired!!!!!!!!!!
1- Do not read this blog if you are ready to transit, I am sure it can go much easier than that (read the blog of the Mad Max sailboat, they thought it was a piece of cake!)
2- We were lucky because we had a great team on board (line handlers, advisers-pilots, the kids helped, and David did a fantastic job piloting through everything) Congratulation!
3- Life is great, we are on the Pacific!!!!!!!
PS: I forgot to say that Alec fell through a hatch just before arriving at the marina (everything is ok, just bruises) and our navigation instruments ceased to work on the last lock, but we are in the right place to get it fixed (Panama City!).

Nous avons traverse le Canal de Panama! ...et nous sommes tres tres heureux d'etre arrives
sur la cote pacifique sans dommages. Cela n'a pas ete facile!
Notre Transit a commence Vendredi 29 Fevrier à Colon. Nous avons quitté la marina vers 17h30 avec nos "teneurs de lignes (line handlers)": un couple Melissa et Buddy à bord d'un catamaran Lagoon "Indigo Moon" et Roberto un professionel. Nous étions donc en train d'attendre notre pilote au mouillage appelé "les Flats" a l'entrée du canal, quand un bateau est arrivé plein pot a un angle de 90 degrés , nous avons bien cru qu'il allait empaler le pauvre voilier qui etait en face mais non! L'équipage etait apparemment en retard et venait chercher la cinquième personne à bord de ce bateau pour les aider, Nous avons vraiment prié pour ne pas faire le transit avec ce bateau! Nous eéions prevus a 19:30, notre pilote est arrivé à19:00 mais notre transit n'a pas commencé avant 23:00 heures... et nous avons du faire paire avec le voilier que nous avons surnommé "Mad Max". Nous avons du nous attacher ensemble avant de rentrer dans l'ecluse et bien sur ils n'avaient que trois pneus sur le coté et pas de cordage, après avoir utilisées toutes nos cordes et nos six parecoups, nous étions enfin prets ou presque, maintenant, nous devions entrer dans l'écluse à la meme vitesse et droit, puis pratiquer le ralentissement....! David leur a preté une radio portable car ils n'en avait pas et leur capitain a finalement suivi les instructions de David mot à mot car cela devenait vraiment sérieux. J'étais vraiment stressée et en colère après ce bateau qui se foutait complètement des dommages qu'il pouvait faire à eux-meme ou aux autres (nous avons ensuite appris que ce n'était pas leur bateau et qu'ils aidaient un ami , le propriétaire, qui ne les rejoindrait que plus tard. Enfin nous sommes arrivés à entrer dans l'écluse tant bien que mal, derrrière un immense paquebot et dernier petit détail, maintenant nous allions etre accrochés sur le coté droit à un vieux bateau de pèche mexicain, la totale!!!!
Bien sur le bateau de pèche avait utilisé tout ses parecoups/pneus pour se protéger du mur de l'écluse et il ne restait rien pour notre coté!!!! Donc, rebelote, nous avons du redistribuer les parecoups que nous avions mis du coteé de "Mad Max" et en aligner quatre sur le coté babord. Je dois dire que les pécheurs ont été super sympas et ont bien compris que l'on était très inquiets pour notre bateau, ils nous ont aidés au maximum et nous ont dit " nous comprenons, ce bateau, c'est votre maison", j'ai vraiment apprécié leur attitude. A coté , l'équipage de l'autre voilier ne faisait rien, rigolait et buvait des bieres, je suis encore étonnée devant le calme de David mais il savait qu'il avait besoin d'au moins une petite coopération du skipper lors des deux prochains transferts entre les écluses.
La première écluse a été la plus dure, en effet lorsque l'eau a commencé à monter, les turbulences ont poussé l;es bateaux l'un contre l'autre si forts que un sac plastique (qui entoure chaque pneus) a eclate, ce qui a fait un bruit pas possible, heureusement rien n'a ete abimé et nous etions 7, les teneurs de ligne, moi et les enfants, meme le pilote s'y est mis (david devait rester àla barre a tout moment) a poussé de toutes nos forces contre le bateau de peche pour minimiser la pression. Enfin l'écluse s'est remplit , le pilote nous a donc vite avertis "ce n'est pas fini, attention maintenant les turbulences vont venir des tubines des moteurs du paquebot qui sort de la premiere ecluse et entre dans la seconde" et nous voila tous ,à nouveau, à pousser comme des fous! Heureusement, le paquebot a minimize le plus possible l'action des turbines...
Entre chaque écluse, nous avons du nous detacher du bateau de peche, le laisser aller s'attacher en premier , puis arriver ensemble avec le voiler auquel nous etions toujours attaché (a tribord) et nous assembler a nouveau au bateau de peche...la troisieme fois nous etions des Pros!!! Enfin la troisieme ecluse s'est remplie et nous etions prets a entrer sur le lac Gatun (Toujours attaché a Mad Max) Des notre arrivée sur le lac, nous nous sommes empressés de nous détacher, cette fois tout le monde etait d'accord, trois secondes après etre libre l' enorme vague d'un paquebot nous a balance et David et l'autre capitaine ont mis les moteurs à fond pour aller en direction opposée et éviter un contact bord a bord, c'etait tout juste!!!! Nous etions tous épuises, encore 20 minutes jusqu'a la bouée et nous pourrons dormir!!!!!
Arrive a la bouée, nous nous amarrons tranquillement et.... Mad Max arrive et doit s'amarrer sur la meme bouée, David et Buddy avaient perdus toute leur patience à ce moment la et quelques commentaires assez directs ont ete échanges, heureusement tout le monde était tellement fatigués que nous avons tous été nous coucher, le pilote revenait a 6h30 le lendemain matin!!!!!!
Quelques heures de sommeil et nous voila debout et prêt a repartir. Notre nouveau pilote (en fait le pilote est un pilote-conseil, il ne prend jamais la barre) est arrive vers 7 heures et nous avons pris un petit dejeuner avant de partir a 8h30 _ il savait que nos moteurs pouvaient aller a 8 noeuds donc nous avions tout a fait le temps d'arriver aux ecluses du cote pacifique pour midi et demi. Cette seconde étape du transit a éte vraiment un plaisir, un beau voyage à travers le lac Gatun , le stress avait disparu car nous n'avons pas été couplés à un autre bateau (Mad Max était derrière nous, cette fois attaché au bateau de peche mexicain- je ne sais pas ce qu'ils ont fait sans parecoups et que 2 pneus mais...C'est leur problème ou tout du moins celui du pauvre propriétaire du bateau!). Le pilote, Rodofo nous a rassure en nous expliquant que de ce coté , il n'y a pas de turbulences, le niveau d'eau des écluses diminuent doucement comme des bassines qui se vident. Nous nous sommes accrochés à un bateau de touristes, ils prenaient tous notre photo, c'etait rigolo! Nous avons pris des photos, discutes, quel plaisir et quelle différence avec la nuit dernière!!!!
Enfin la dernière écluse etait derrière nous et nous étions....sur l'océan pacifique....incroyable!!!!
Notre pilote est parti et nous sommes allés en direction de panama City et la marina Flamenco ou nos teneurs de ligne sont partis eux aussi. Nous avons vivement remercié Melissa et Buddy qui ont fait ce transit pour avoir une experience. Melissa pensait peut-etre traverser pour aller sur le cote ouest du Costa Rica mais maintenant ils (surtout Melissa) ont change d'avis....ce sera pour plus tard!!!! Merci encore Melissa, Buddy et Roberto, je n'aurai jamais pu y arriver toute seule avec les enfants!
1- Ne pas lire ce Blog si vous devez traverser le canal sous peu! bien sur cela peut se passer beaucoup plus simplement (je me demande bien ce que le blog de Mad Max doit dire.... Impeccable passage, pas de probleme! )
2- En fin de compte, nous avons eu beaucoup de chance, nous avions une bonne equipe à bord , de nos teneurs de ligne , aux pilotes, Emilie et Alec ont été supers, et notre capitaine David a vraiment pilote comme un chef!
3- Et puis....nous sommes sur le Pacifique!!!!!!!
PS: J'ai oublié de vous dire que juste avant d'arriver a la marina ,Alec est tombé à travers la hatch mais heureusement plus de peur que de mal et quelques bleus (pas de cotes cassees!). En plus un instrument de navigation a cessé de marcher, mais nous sommes au bon endroit pour les réparations de bateaux, Panama City !
Vessel Name: O'Vive
Vessel Make/Model: St Francis 50' catamaran
Hailing Port: Tavernier, Florida USA
Crew: David, Alec, Emilie, Nathalie
About: Captain David, 1st mate, Nathalie and the crew Alec (12) and Emilie (15)
O'Vive's Photos - (Main)
16 Photos
Created 13 May 2009
2009 Family Island Regatta
24 Photos
Created 26 April 2009
We are finishing our 18 months sabatical where it all began, the Bahamas... still with O'Vive which has been shipped back from New Zealand on Dockwise.
48 Photos
Created 29 March 2009
We flew back to the States while O'Vive is on her way back to Florida on Dockwise.
22 Photos
Created 25 February 2009
Lampwork glass beads studio in Whangarei
39 Photos
Created 14 February 2009
13 Photos
Created 9 February 2009
25 Photos
Created 9 February 2009
On our way back, Nelson and the famous Abel Tasman trail.
9 Photos
Created 25 January 2009
South island east coast and meeting in Murchinson with Orca 3 and Malachi
35 Photos
Created 24 January 2009
Alec took the plunge!
17 Photos
Created 18 January 2009
Te Anau, Milford sound,
31 Photos
Created 18 January 2009
Franz Jose glacier, Hokitika,Kunakaiki,scenic road from Haast to Wanaka (near Queenstown),Queenstown, Arrowtown.
68 Photos
Created 10 January 2009
Transfer from North to South island.
23 Photos
Created 10 January 2009
73 Photos
Created 6 January 2009
THrough Kawau island, Mimiwhangata, Tutukaka, Great Barrier island, and an amazing dive at poor night.
57 Photos
Created 29 December 2008
58 Photos
Created 28 December 2008
Nathalie went to visit her family in France.
47 Photos
Created 27 November 2008
Boats we met during our Pacific Crossing
22 Photos
Created 15 November 2008
54 Photos
Created 11 November 2008
En route pour la Nouvelle Zelande
10 Photos
Created 9 November 2008
8 Photos
Created 29 October 2008
78 Photos
Created 15 September 2008
36 Photos
Created 6 September 2008
31 Photos
Created 6 September 2008
37 Photos
Created 16 August 2008
57 Photos
Created 3 August 2008
the two sister islands of Raiatea and Tahaa
49 Photos
Created 23 July 2008
F, between Tahiti and Bora Bora
23 Photos
Created 23 July 2008
8 Photos
Created 11 July 2008
9 Photos
Created 4 July 2008
1 Photo | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 29 June 2008
Les iles des Tuamotus Kauehi, Fakarava et Toau
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 28 June 2008
5 Photos
Created 16 May 2008
26 Photos
Created 16 May 2008
4 Photos
Created 16 May 2008
8 Photos
Created 16 May 2008
French polynesia first islands, the Marqueses
20 Photos
Created 28 April 2008
45 Photos
Created 21 March 2008
12 Photos
Created 21 March 2008
12 Photos
Created 18 March 2008
31 Photos
Created 24 February 2008
From the San Blas to Las Perlas Crossing the Panama canal
41 Photos
Created 21 February 2008
18 Photos
Created 31 January 2008
Chub Cay, Staniel Key, Georgetown
22 Photos
Created 31 January 2008
Our first catamaran was a Manta 42. She was built in St Petersburg and we went to pick her up in November 2000. We spent every summer cruising the Beautiful Bahamas islands (700) from the busy Nassau harbor (We never stay more than 2 or 3 days)to the more remote islands like the crooked islands or the ragged islands (also known as the Jumentos and the friendliest of all , Long Island. We never got tired of the turquoise waters , the kindness of the Bahamians and all the fun we had with all the friends we made over the years.
8 Photos
Created 1 October 2007
We picked up O'Vive end of May 2007 in Georgetown, Bahamas and after a few weeks ,we brought her back home to the Florida Keys in order to get her and us ready for the "Grand Voyage".
1 Photo
Created 1 October 2007


Who: David, Alec, Emilie, Nathalie
Port: Tavernier, Florida USA