04/24/2012, Porta Villamil, Isla Isabella, Galapagos
Thanks to our friend Zan for the video!
April 17, 2012
To Darwin Or Not To Darwin
We are waiting for a fuel delivery (a legal one that is), $6.41 and change/gallon, and we need 200 gallons - ouch! The cost for a local person is a $1.02, hence the; do we get it legally or not legally? In keeping with our "ever trying to maintain good boat karma", we chose the legal approach. Hopefully if it gets here this morning, then we'll be able to head over to a new island called Santa Cruz.
Our last few days here on San Cristobal have been relaxing and wonderful. We have made many new cruising friends, from all over the world. Everyone has a story to tell and loves to share. Two local boys, around Ben's age, have been coming out to our boat everyday and even though our Spanish isn't that great and their English is non-existent we had a great time with them. We even rented a three person kayak so the three boys could kayak with us old folks (in our two kayaks) around the point to a sweet little cove and swim with sea lions. I cannot even begin to tell you how playful the sea lions are. They come right up to you and look at you, mimicking the bubbles you blow or the somersaults you do. You just feel like you could stay in the water and play with them forever. And by the way, they're from the same species that we have in Northern California. Of course our first night on the island of San Cristobal we had a sea lion resting on our swim step that had been munched by a shark, (only on the Lisa Kay could this happen) a rather large shark I might say by the size of the teeth marks it left! We tried (feebly) to get help, but slowly came to the realization that this was nature at its purest and we needed to accept the fact that with this many sea lions around, obviously there would be a predator or two. We were thrilled when several days later the little lion showed up again for a rest and seemed to be healing nicely. Our last day on San Cristobal we did an island tour spontaneously, with a taxi we picked up on the corner where the water taxi lets you off. Our driver, named Moses, was lovely and we really had a great time. We hiked up to a lake in a now extinct volcanic crater, we visited a tortoise breeding and rehab center, hiked out to a beach with blue footed boobies, and ate fresh guyava (guava fruit) off the trees on the side of the road. Local tradition says that if you eat the guyava from the trees you will be bound to return to the Galapagos within two years. Ben said, "Oh I'm DEFINITELY coming back!"
So, getting back to the title of this blog, To Darwin or to not Darwin, hmmm...on these islands he is quite a celebrity; with statues, streets, and tortoise breeding centers named after him. He basically put these sacred grounds on the map, so to speak. But what I have been trying to understand is why were his idea's a personal attack on God? I get that he was the first person to introduce the idea of evolution, but my struggle is why can't you have a heart of faith and yet still believe in evolution? The bible says God gave man free will, who's to say he didn't give nature the will to change, adapt, and survive? I feel like I've been an experiment in evolution and adaptation these past 2.5 years living on a boat! I can't even begin to explain the changes in character, and strength, and expectations of my surroundings that slowly occur accumulatively over time. Wouldn't this be the case with anyone or anything? Whatever you choose to believe, there is no easy answer here but what I can say is that the feeling you get in these islands is a sense of harmony. It's pure, it's innocent, it's wild, and it's beautiful...and no one in their lifetime should miss it.
See pictures in the photo gallery titled "Galapagos"
04/10/2012, San Cristobal, Galapagos
Ben & Larry swim across the Equator!
April 10, 2012
Or should I say, "Land Hot!" It is SWELTERING here! Couldn't have anything to do with the fact that we're right by the equator, could it? We just spent five hours exploring the little town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, clearing into the country, and enjoying lunch, after anchoring around 8 AM this morning on the first island in the Galapagos, Ecuador and I don't think I have sweat this much in a year! What a sight to behold though, the stunning rugged shape of the island of San Cristobal after seven days at sea, slowly coming into focus as the sun rose. Next thing we know, our good friends Carl and Cristina on Bamboleiro are hailing us on the VHF! So good to hear their voices! Our agent Bolivar Pesantes has made the whole process of stopping here a piece of cake and we now could stay three months if we wanted for a total of $1200. Worth every penny in our eyes, yet we are only planning to spend around three weeks exploring the three main islands here.
So, let me back up here and catch you up a bit. The last few days getting out of Panama City was VERY stressful. We had our canvas man on the boat working until 8 PM several days in a row trying to get the bimini cover to fit properly and installed. Our woodworker, who really did turn out to be very ill, was still finishing Ben's bathroom an hour before we weighed anchor. However, in spite of all of this, and as painful as it was to say goodbye to some of our cruising friends, it felt really good to pull out.
All in all, we had a very benign 945 mile crossing (our longest yet!). More wind would have been nice, as we only sailed about twenty hours of the seven days it took to get here. Boy was it nice to turn the engine off when we finally arrived and hear....sea lions? Yes, there are sea lions EVERYWHERE! They are sooooo cute...but oh so smelly! And they are not shy at all - truly trying to act out the saying, "Mi casa es tu casa"! One of the vessels here, a catamaran named Whiskers who pulled in around the same time as us, fell asleep their first evening with the cabin door open. When they awoke the next morning they had a huge sea lion peacefully snoring on their cockpit table. Turns out it had had a whole tour of the inside of the boat at some point during the night. No tuna cans or beers were opened as we did have to ask that question!
So, what was it like to be at sea for so many days you ask? Not bad...not bad at all. I still feel myself getting a bit apprehensive as the sun sets in the evening and the darkness envelops you like someone pulling a blanket over your head. Kurt Russel's famous line from the movie Captain Ron, "If it's gonna happen...it's gonna happen out there!" plays over and over in my head. But, after a glass of wine and hopefully a little snooze before my 11 PM - 2 AM shift at the wheel, the next time I step up into the cockpit the moon is shining, the weather has decided what it would like to do for the evening (generally - but is always open to change!), and I really do enjoy the alone time I have on watch. The nicest thing about this passage is that we didn't really have to worry about hitting anything. All of our other travel has been coastal cruising, meaning lots of fishing vessels, long lines, the random rock that grows up out of the ocean, the occasional piece of land that sticks out, other pleasure craft like us, and of course the gi-normous freighter/container ships. Traveling at 15-20 knots, they can go from just over the horizon to hitting us in about fifteen minutes, if we and they are not paying attention. Now we did have lots of squalls to contend with, and lightning, when even if it is off in the distance it makes me uncomfortable. But like I said before, we had a pretty easy ride here.
Catastrophe did strike the second day out however, when the TV satellite - that has faithfully carried us here all the way from San Diego finally met its demise. I was trying to sleep and all of a sudden I heard Ben scream, "It's movie time!" and I knew exactly what he was talking about. We had finally sailed out of range of the satellite TV signal. I thought we would get a huge portion of his homeschooling done underway but...sadly no. It would be the equivalent of studying in the car as you were being driven on a really bumpy mountain road. Doesn't make you feel too good after a bit if ya know what I mean!
On an exciting note, of course Ben had his fishing lines out everyday not catching a thing. By the third or fourth day he was really discouraged. Suddenly he gets a hit on one of his poles and we have never seen line taken out so fast! He couldn't slow it down and we both just stared at the pole knowing that when the line all pulled out the pole would probably get yanked into the ocean. It all happened so fast - we were in total shock! Well the pole didn't pull out and the end of the line just snapped off like a little twig, then we saw it...a big, beautiful marlin...and boy was he mad! He obviously did not like the feel of a lewer in his mouth and dragging many feet of line behind him. He did spectacular jumps out of the water for a good five minutes, trying to shake it out to no avail. I felt really bad. Ben of course assured me that the hook was already rusted and would fall out soon. Oh, did I mention Ben likes to talk a lot? I mean A LOT! If you ever feel like your teen is not communicating with you, take him on a boat alone with you for a week. The three of us had the most meaningful conversations and some really good laughs. I wouldn't trade these times for the world.
Crossing the equator is a big deal in the cruising world. We officially are no longer pollywogs and are now shellbacks - meaning we have crossed from the northern hemisphere into the southern hemisphere. We celebrated with an official ceremony (no we didn't shave Ben's head in the traditional way!) instead we covered him in shaving cream, held and charged him in King Neptunes court, offered up a healthy shot of rum for the sea king and yes folks...Ben and Larry swam across the equator in a mere 7450 feet deep water. No way said I! Someone had to make sure they got back on the boat!
Our second day on San Cristobal we went on a boat (of all things!) for a snorkel tour to swim with sea lions, marine iguanas (I believe this is the only place in the world they have them), sharks, rays, and turtles. It was fantastic and we saw all of the above. We could have played with this one sea lion for hours. Boy are they fast in the water! Kickeroo, this spectacular pinnacle like island that juts straight up and has two different narrow canyons that you can swim through. It was extreme snorkeling to say the least, but awesome. It was the closest thing we've done to a wall dive, and the wall just went on forever down into the deep, deep blue. This is where you could see the shadow of a ray or a shark (Ben saw a hammerhead!) go under you. What an experience, and that is when I decided that so far this is the most spectacular place I have been to in the world as of yet. The people here are warm and friendly. No one is shouting at you trying to sell you something and the town has such a safe, easy going feel. The restaurants are nothing to rave about but oh well - you can't have it all.
04/01/2012, Panama City, Panama
Sailing Vessel Eyes of the World at anchor near Mogo Mogo, Las Perlas Islands
March 25, 2012
Only 3,900 Miles To Go!!!
Thank you everyone for your kind words, thoughts, prayers, suggestions, and encouragement. It means more than we could ever say.
You know, as I reflect, and yes...in my menopausal, sleepless nights think...February 6, 1991, the day that changed my life forever. I don't speak of this often, although I know there are a few of you out there that I have shared. I was young, dumb, usually miserable, married too young to a nice guy but... not in love. ALWAYS feeling like, what am I doing?
A young man, drunk in the middle of the day, on a dirt bike, going really fast on the railroad tracks...no helmet. Me, a veterinary assistant, recently finishing a semester program of first aid and CPR, working right by those railroad tracks. The rest is history. Death... I had never seen a person die right in front of me. I had assisted in and performed many euthanasia's on animals but, had never thought about a young person dying suddenly...and/or the first responders that assisted them. All my training that I had learned and worked so hard on didn't make a difference. He died. In my eyes it was just another failure in my life, I had let him down, I didn't save him. His parents came and saw me the next day...wanting to know what his last few moments were like. Try swallowing that one. I'm so sorry for his parents.
I cry...and cry...and cry, for two weeks. And then, in a simple moment of sharing homemade chile for the fire department crew that assisted that day to thank them for what they do...and here I am. I have never looked back one instant after meeting Larry. I knew he was the one...for me. And here we are now, about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime, living and seeing more in one lifetime than most. No matter what happens, I am a very lucky girl.
From the heart. XXOO Lisa
Shipment in from the States (full of important things like a new solenoid for the generator, and electronic chart for the South Pacific)
Attach 24 - 5 gallon jerry jugs of diesel on deck
Build & place motor mount on rail to hold 15 HP dinghy engine
Purchase & Install new Spinnaker halyard (because yes (!) we should be able to finally sail downwind!)
Bottom of boat cleaned
New canvas bimini installed (sort of, it is still a work in progress as I am writing this!)
Provisioning (45 - 60 days worth of food and drink...yes including wine!)
Approval from insurance company to cross the Pacific
Attain an agent for Galapagos visit
Figure out our new satellite phone so we are sure we can use the darn thing!
Etc...etc...etc. We are so tired and still have a thousand things to do and a thousand goodbyes to say. We are so excited but yet sometimes ask if this is all worth it? It is not easy. The last thing we wanted was workers on the boat up to the last minute but...such is the case. I've lost faith in our wood worker who has been re-doing Ben's bathroom. He is supposedly coming tomorrow, our last day in Panama City. This is so exhausting. Okay, I'll stop whining now.
So, here's the plan:
Leaving Panama City Monday morning, stopping at Contadora Island for a good night's sleep. Tuesday morning starting a 900 mile trip to the Galapagos Islands, probably will take us a week to get there. This all depends on wind (or lack thereof) and how much we choose to motor. We will spend 10-14 days in the Galapagos, very excited to swim with sea lions, turtles, penguins, and sharks! Then we will take off for the biggy, 24+ days across the Pacific Ocean (the puddle jump as they call it) to the Marquesas Islands, "Oui, oui," where French will be our new language to struggle with. From there we will continue through French Polynesia. Excited, nervous, and hopeful are just some of the emotions we talked about feeling tonight over dinner. We are all three mentally ready for this, the physical challenge is yet to be seen. We have kept a wonderful card that is hanging in our boat, given to us by a friend when we first moved on the Lisa Kay that says, "Relax...God is in control," the rest is just up to us right?
03/24/2012, Pamana City, Panama
March 24, 2010
Thought we better post our Carnival pictures before we head out across the Pacific. Enjoy the gallery labeled "Carnival Panama"
03/23/2012, Pamana City, Panama
Lisa waves goodbye to Panama!
March 18, 2012
Ready...Set...Let's Cross The Pacific!
We have a REALLY big announcement! Are you sitting down? Are you excited? Can you hardly stand the anticipation any longer? WE have decided to cross the Pacific!!! Now to you non boaters, that means sailing the longest ocean passage in the world. It means we need to be confident that we can handle anything that is thrown our way because a rescue, if needed, won't be available. We need to be physically, mentally, and emotionally ready to be alone for approximately 23 days at sea. And to our fellow boaters...well, you know what it means in terms of preparation on the boat...and I won't bore you with the details of how much fuel we're putting on or my grocery list, etc...etc...We have matured enough as sailors that as long as our vessel stays afloat, we'll survive. We won't die if we don't have a certain food item or run out of something. We won't die if our water maker stops working because we will always make sure to have enough in reserve. And on and on and on, I think you get my point. It's kind of like having a baby, you can't totally wait for the right moment, because there will ALWAYS be something. But the one thing I know for sure is that we are not getting any younger and this is not an easy lifestyle and is definitely a young man's sport. We just plain old need to get the show on the road.
Panama has changed us, and not necessarily for the better. It is clearly evident that cruisers are not very welcome here. There really is no place for us, and like I said in my earlier post, most cruisers cannot afford a $3000/month slip in a marina. Actually I don't mean there isn't any room here because there is plenty in the anchorages, however being able to land your dinghy somewhere to get to shore has become very complicated. On one side of the causeway in the Las Brisas anchorage the dinghy dock has sunk. Therefore you tie up to something that is still floating there offshore and then step, one person at a time, into a tippy plastic dinghy and pull yourself to shore with a rope. Sounds like fun with 15 bags of groceries and 20 lbs of laundry, doesn't it?! On the other side in the La Playita anchorage, as with most things in life a few people have spoiled it for all of us. Originally the cost to tie your dinghy up to the marina dock was $35/week. Well, in "true cruiser fashion" a few people were too cheap to pay and have now spoiled it for all of us due to the implementation of a locked gate, increased prices, and the need to wear a silly paper wristband all the time. I can't say I blame the marina at all, however if they had initially enforced their rules it wouldn't have gotten so out of hand. People stealing fresh water from the dock hose hasn't helped the cause as well. Four months ago, when we had our passport stamped at immigration, the cost was ten dollars each passport. Now suddenly it is one hundred and ten per passport. Wow, that's quite an increase. So, the thought of going through the canal, which is very expensive and suddenly the country has implemented new rules that started March 1 here as well which are not very favorable for us small boaters (like you have to be able to maintain 8 knots and make it through all the locks in one day or you are charged extra), getting beat up with wind and waves in the Caribbean (this year has been particularly boisterous), spending almost a year in Colombia (during another rainy season), then coming back through the canal to Panama City (ewww) next spring and preparing to cross the Pacific is just more than we can bare. We are tired of the black ash falling from the sky all over the boat everyday from distant crop burning. We want out, and we want out now. We are SO ready for a different culture, language, food, topography. And, we want to stay close to our good friends Cristina and Carl on Bamboleiro, whom have just taken off to the Galapagos Islands, and our new friends Mark, Sonia, and Oscar (age 11) on Xanadu who happen to be from my birth country, South Africa. Ben, Larry, and I love them all, what can we say. It just wouldn't be as much fun if we weren't able to explore the Polynesian islands with them. There you have it...in a nutshell. Once again, the reason I write a lot of this is because I feel it is important for fellow boaters to be aware of the little nuances that go with a certain area. No cruising guide will tell you these things.
Our goal is to leave in two weeks. We are awaiting a shipment of some much needed items, (like hair color for me!) the most important being a satellite phone. Nowadays with a sat phone we will have access to current weather reports and be able to communicate via the internet, as well as of course be able to make an emergency phone call if needed.
In the midst of making this big decision and having a thousand things to do, Larry has come down with some sort of a cold/flu virus thingy that has really kicked his tush. After several difficult phone calls trying to make a doctor's appointment on day 8 of his illness (which is always scary in a foreign country and which means because I can't speak Spanish fast enough the operator/receptionist simply hangs up on me) then finally being passed off to a very gruff man (who actually turned out to be the doctor) we finally made our way via taxi to a medical clinic downtown. After walking up six flights of stairs (mind you the second floor is really just considered the first floor here) because the elevator was out, we stepped into a very small, plain office. The receptionist/medical assistant was taking a patient's blood pressure with some difficulty. She had the pediatric part of the stethoscope on the man's arm, and one side of her stethoscope had come detached from the part that went in her ear. Finally after Larry could watch no longer her stood up, fixed her instrument and told her that might help. I took one look at him and said, "We don't have to stay, I can find you another doctor." Well, we stayed, and were very we glad we did. The doc, Dr. Antonio Suescum, turned out to be very thorough and a VERY interesting man. He is retired now, but said he can't just sit at home and do nothing, therefore he continues to see a few patients. He thought we were absolutely nuts to be traveling on a boat. His son is currently in Florida preparing a vessel to do the exact thing we are! He is responsible for starting the first paramedic program in all of Latin America. AND, he wrote the original algorithms that are still used to this day around the world in emergency cardiac medicine. Oh, and yes, Larry is gonna live - just a nasty virus.
I would like to close this post with a poem Ben and I studied yesterday from my new favorite poet, Langston Hughes. The title is the Long Trip, and it sums up perfectly what we are soon to be taking on.
The sea is a wilderness of waves,
A desert of water.
We dip and dive,
Rise and roll,
Hide and are hidden
On the sea.
The sea is a desert of waves,
A wilderness of water.
03/04/2012, Panama City, Panama
Now which wire is the one?
March 3, 2012
The Joy of Cruising?
To be a good sailor, you have to be the eternal optimist. According to our Webster's dictionary, that would be a person who is inclined to always take a hopeful view. Now it's pretty easy to have a hopeful view about most things in life like, I hope our kids graduate from college, or I hope to be a grandmother someday. But when you live on a boat, and are 100% dependant that the systems will work for daily existence, and you are continually hit with system failure...it's hard to be "that" optimist. And that's where we are right now. We are in a slump...to say the least. We have had one thing after another go wrong. Larry tackles each problem enthusiastically, bless his heart, and he can usually fix most things, but with the cost of parts and having to hire the occasional mechanic or woodworker etc... it gets really expensive. And so it goes, as we sit here in not-so-lovely Panama City, waiting (im)patiently for new canvas to be sewn (this is a good thing though as our old dodger was literally falling apart) trying to make all of our repairs but things are breaking faster than we can get them repaired. Ugh! Sorry, I don't mean to be such a whiner. I know a lot of people would dream of having our life, but as I've said before...it's not easy.
Panama City is just exhausting...and dirty...and has some really rude people, and some of the worst restaurants I have ever been to with really bad service, and horrible traffic, and some really aggressive taxi drivers who charge you triple the rate a local would pay - just because you're a tourist. This city is missing some of the common sense things like a sign on the outside of the building that would actually say "Immigration", for example. Efficiency? It is unheard of here. And to top it all off, most people do not speak English. Now that is my problem I know, I should be able to speak the language of the country I'm in, but boy does it make it hard. I know just enough to get myself in trouble most of the time. So at the end of the day I usually end up with a pounding headache asking myself, "What are we doing?" On the other hand, we have met some very nice Panamanians, and some very sweet taxi drivers. We have amazing gelato several times a week having several ice cream shops to choose from, and we have our very best cruising buddies here with us who continually supply us with love and support.
So, what all has gone wrong you ask? First off our generator started acting up in November. It just randomly wouldn't start. No generator means we can't run the water maker to fill our tanks, we can't keep our refrigerator and freezer cold, we can't turn on the air conditioners, we can't recharge our house bank of batteries so that we have electricity for the rest of the day, we can't run the washing machine, AND we can't watch TV! Next, we blew our high pressure hose on our water maker. It is a stainless steel hose that handles 1500psi having special fittings which, of course, they don't have in Central America. After several stops at hydraulic stores to no avail, and keep in mind what I explained earlier about taking a taxi around this city, we ended up at an auto supply store that was able to do a crude repair to get us by until we could ship a new hose in from the states. Thankfully there was a very nice customer there who spoke English and was able to translate what we needed. Shipping is a whole other story. Another words for you American folks, don't ever complain about the United States Postal Service. Our next hair raiser was a little incident that happened on our way back out to the Perlas Islands. All was well, we were happily motor sailing along, Ben just caught a fish and released it and we were about an hour away from Isla Contadora where we were stopping for the night. Larry goes to shift the gear into forward after having it in neutral for a few minutes while Ben made his fish release and...nothing happens. Uh-oh, this is not good. Larry tried to figure out what was wrong but couldn't. Our engine would go vroom, but the boat wouldn't move in the water. Well, we are a sailboat after all and these are truly the times when you can feel that you are in God's hands. The wind was perfect for us to sail right into the anchorage, the anchorage was virtually empty, and we had two friends already there to standby in their dinghy's in case we needed a nudge to stay off a reef or if we lost our wind when we got into the lee of the island. It could have been so much worse in the wrong conditions. It turns out that the propeller shaft separated from the transmission. Four big bolts had apparently overtime loosened and through vibration fell off. Boats have sunk from this because if the propeller shaft works its way all the way out then you suddenly have a 1.5" diameter hole in the bottom of your boat with water gushing in. Once again, thank you God, for protecting us from something that could have been much worse. Larry was able to find 3 (of course) out of the four nuts that came off. So, here we are, in the middle of nowhere, trying to scrounge up a nut that can get us by until we return to the mainland. That was a good 8 hour day of hard labor for Larry to get us going again and go we did - this was on our way to our Darien trip that I last wrote about. If you recall from my last writing, this is where our dinghy engine troubles began. Upon return to the big city, frustrated that our brand new, expensive outboard was not working, going back to the Yamaha Store to nicely explain this in my best Spanish and also dreading the thought of humping the 79 lb engine onto land and to the store was cause of a lot of anxiety. Turned out they were very nice and helpful and the blame was all on us - water in the engine. We're not sure if we got some bad fuel or if when we swamped the dinghy several weeks before that did it, the bad was on us and we owned it for the tune of $54.00. Continuing on - the moody generator that has been giving us trouble for four months now, has really taken a toll on us. Grateful that we have a terrific mechanic, Kenny (507) 6648-7202) who has painstakingly troubleshot the problem; we think we will have it resolved in a few days. Throw in a few days that one of our toilets refused to continue to work and our fresh water pump that supplies the sinks, showers, and toilets with water mysteriously would not stop pumping yet wouldn't pump out any water, and you get a clear picture of the joys of cruising.
Now all of this would not have been so bad if there was a marina to pull into here, plug into power at the dock, and have access to fresh water. There are two marinas here, Flamingo being a nice, easy place to pull into for diesel/gas/water, but does not have any slips available for the transient cruiser. La Playita Marina is a new marina that opened about a year ago but you wouldn't know it by the conditions. We have had a slip there three times, anywhere from a couple of days to a week, but it is really expensive - like $3000/month - and really pretty yucky. The marina manager, Jose, has made me so uncomfortable by kissing me on several occasions (in a too friendly manner) up near the laundry room, that it has really creeped me out and Larry would like to inflict great bodily harm on him. We never greased Jose's palm, which now we understand might be the problem, as he will not give us permission to come in and even get 100 gallons of diesel. Whatever, but it just really leaves a bad taste in our mouths for Panama City.
We usually are able to see the beauty in most places that we go so I apologize for sounding rather negative here. I do feel a responsibility though, for our fellow cruisers, to kind of give them a heads up if they are heading this way. I also can say that there are plenty of cruisers here that absolutely love it, and are spending an extended amount of time here.
Thank you; Eyes of the World - Rick and Karen - for your ever positive attitude, help, donations of spare parts etc..., Kenny - who has gone above and beyond as a mechanic, Rapscullion and Precious Metal - Henry and Pamela - who went through every spare nut and bolt on their boat to fix our propeller shaft, Stolen Kiss - Cheryl and Peter - who came over, took his shirt off and said, "Let me at it", and Rachel lll - Sylvia and Mark - who are so proud that they rescued a firefighter in distress when our dinghy engine died one night and we were floating out to sea! All of you have earned as we like to say, a lot of "boat points", which essentially is good boat karma!
Hopefully the next time I write, we will have transited the canal and are basking in the glorious Caribbean waters of the San Blas Islands.