The picture on top is the hull of Saben getting eaten by small fishies. We've been sitting in Balboa Yacht Club for 36 days and was literally kicked out of there. This morning, Charlie the weekend manager told us that the ball our boat is tied to will be used by a bigger boat so we have to move. He directed us to another mooring ball. The depth below our keel when we tied up was 1.9 ft. and the tide was supposed to go down another 2 ft. When this happens, we hit bottom and is in danger of getting salt water in the boat when one of those big ships on the way to the canal creates the usual huge swells. We explained this to the manager who said that we can take the mooring ball about 20 feet away from the shipping lane. The other choice is to get out.... So we did..
And we're back to Las Brisas.
Nope, not French Polynesia - actually in Washington State for the 2012 Courage Classic with my team: Kaibigan Lagi (Friends Forever). Left to right: Brian, Me, Anne Marie, Rosemarie, Marlene, Ele, and Jason (my son). 175 miles, 3 mountain passes, in 3 days, our team raised over $10,000.00 US Dollars to help abused kids.
Thank you for the generous donations and thank you in advance for your 2013 donation. Next year's Courage Classic is August 3, 4, and 5th - mark your calendars and join us. Our team will also be in the Seattle Bike Expo in March if you want to meet us.
Heading back to Panama to join Saben's crew: Steve & Angel tonight. Will be back in Seattle Easter 2013.
This will be Saben's home for a few weeks. We are tied up in a mooring ball right next to the shipping lane 3 miles away from the first of 3 locks in Panama canal. Our friends are almost done with their necessary paperwork to transit over to the Atlantic side of Panama. We're going to explore Perlas Islands and Panama City for a few weeks then maybe follow behind them.
Our friends from SV Jeorgia bought a bigger 45' J Boat and may do the puddle jump to Galapagos then South Pacific. We are leaving our options open.
I'm (Marie) heading back to Seattle to do my fundraising bike ride for Mary Bridge Children's Hospital tomorrow with Angel. It'll be nice to have my little dog's warm body to cuddle with if I end up sleeping at the airport (let's keep our fingers crossed on that one).
We'll be off the grid unless something really exciting happens.
All is well in the Hoiland household.
It's been almost 2 years since Saben's seen any type of skyscraper - very strange coming into the Panama City harbor. I read somewhere that it's almost like the Miami skyline. We think it's more like New York City. The wind was with us and the seas laid flat on our crossing.
We anchored at Las Brisas near the causeway. Landing the dinghy to get to shore was challenging. The original dinghy ramp was destroyed last October so they rigged a small plastic boat to ferry people onshore from the platform 7 feet away from the steps. When we shopped at Pricemart (like Costco), wrestling the groceries back to the boat took all our strength.
The check in to Panama City was supposed to be a breeze:
1) We went to the Port Captain's office to get 1 year permit for Saben to stay in Panama - $185.00. The port captain told us to go straight to immigration in El Diablo instead of the immigration on the main floor of his building - he said it'll save us time.
2) Hired a taxi for the day (Quentin) costing us $10.00 per hour. Drove to immigration in El Diablo. The officer took all our papers and passports and after 45 minutes told us that we needed the stamp from the immigration at the port captain's office and they cannot give us the 1 year mariner's visa without it.
3) Jumped back in the cab to go to immigration by Flamenco (port captain's office) to get the stamp. The cruising guide books told us to wear long pants and shirts with sleeves when conducting business but this office had a "girlie" calendar on the wall so we decided that they must have changed these rules.
4) Drove back to immigration in El Diablo and after 1 hour, they told us that the computer's down and to come back in 2 hours.
5) We took the cab to Alderbrook Mall to shop for 2 hours and have lunch. This mall is so big it'll take a person 2 days to walk through it. There's a small train you can take to drive you around - there's even a carousel for children's entertainment. The food court took up 2 floors on our side of the mall, so there's no shortage of food choices.
6) After 2 hours, we went back to El Diablo immigration. They had us wait 20 minutes and told us that the computer's down and to come back tomorrow. We took their phone number and told them we'll call before coming back.
7) After 2 days, we finally got our visas.
The muddy holding in the anchorage in Las Brisas required boats at least 150 ft of scope to prevent your boat from dragging into other boats. However, a beat up French boat who anchored directly in front of us close enough to spy on them made us uncomfortable. There was about 4 ft. of rope tied up to a chain and he only had 100 ft of scope. With that, we asked him to move up further away and he refused. He also said he didn't have insurance which is not required in Panama. We moved our boat far away from the French boat and decided to go to Balboa Yacht Club tomorrow. It's on the other side of the causeway right next to the Panama Canal's entrance.
Gilligan's Island was one of my favorite shows on TV. The "3 hour tour," and the storm that swept them offshore into an unknown island was kind of unbelievable until we crossed over the Gulf of Panama to Perlas Islands.
The sailing was great - perfect wind speed and direction until we passed Punta Mala (Bad Point). Within minutes, the wind increased and clocked directly in front of our boat. The swells also got bigger and whipped us from all sides at times causing Saben to dive into the swell, filling the deck with salt water. It was pitch black because the dark clouds covered the moon. If we got hit by a lightning, it will destroy all our instruments and we would've been totally lost, maybe ending up at Gilligan's Island or worst, wherever "Lost" was at.
Thanks to all your prayers, we survived the crossing but instead of Panama City, we ended up at Isla San Pedro in Perlas Islands (40 miles away from Panama City). We switched our course because of the wind direction during the crossing and we ended up staying here for a week to wait for the storms to calm down. We visited the village for fresh fruits and eggs and as always embraced by the locals.
This quaint little village 1/3 the size of Vashon Island in Washington welcomed 4 sailboats. We were entertained by a group of kids 6-17 years old attempting to communicate through sign language and smiles until Jose, a 13 year old boy surprised us with very good English. He translated most of the afternoon. He said he taught himself how to speak English and if we had books or a dictionary we can give him, he will help others learn to speak English as well. Today, I'll give him the English/Spanish dictionary that SVJeorgia gave us and a book I've been saving for my little niece.
Shopping here is nothing like any we've seen. A panga (Senor Domingo) approaches your sailboat and offering pineapples, avocados and then takes your vegetable orders. Next, he leaves and picks these veggies from his garden and comes back with the freshly picked vegetables within an hour. You then decide how much money to give him. I gave him $3.00 and he was happy. Life is good.
Sad news - Angel sprained her right front paw today. She jumped off a 6 ft. ledge. She screamed and could not move her paw. She moaned all night.