Kokopelli's Travels

Lagoon 37 catamaran--liveaboard cruising http://picasaweb.google.com/kokopelli37/

02 January 2014 | Massachusetts, USA
14 March 2013 | Various Islands, San Blas, Panama
04 March 2013 | West Lemmon Cays, San Blas, Panama
25 February 2013 | Isla Tigre, San Blas, Panama
19 February 2013 | Myriadup, Narguargandup Cays, San Blas, Panama
16 February 2013 | Coco Bandero Cays, San Blas, Panama
16 February 2013 | Coco Bandero Cays, San Blas, Panama
15 February 2013 | Swimming Pool East Holandes Cays, San Blas, Panama
15 February 2013 | Swimming Pool East Holandes Cays, San Blas, Panama
11 February 2013 | Esnasdup, San Blas, Panama
13 January 2013 | Panamarina
28 December 2012 | Massachusetts, USA
07 June 2012 | Massachusetts, USA
26 May 2012 | Panamarina, Cacique, Panama
30 April 2012 | Nargana, San Blas, Panama
25 April 2012 | Central Holandes Lagoon, San Blas, Panama
16 April 2012 | West Lemmon Cays, San Blas, Panama
09 April 2012 | West Lemmon Cays, San Blas, Panama
07 April 2012 | Swimming Pool Anchorage, San Blas, Panama
29 March 2012 | Central Holandes, San Blas, Panama

Returning to Kokopelli

02 January 2014 | Massachusetts, USA
Liz
A few more days here with my parents in Massachusetts and we will be heading back to Panama. As always, it is a struggle to pack everything we bought into the bags we can take on the plane. This year it is an even bigger challenge as we are bringing down 8 lithium battery cells weighing in at about 15 lbs each! We have been adjusting the packing and are hoping for the best. Keep your fingers crossed that they let us put this stuff on the plane!

Cruising is fixing your boat in Paradise

14 March 2013 | Various Islands, San Blas, Panama
Liz
Most cruisers know that life is not all about sandy beaches, palm trees, gorgeous reefs and umbrella drinks. The real, hidden secret is that cruising is often just fixing your boat in paradise. A few days ago, after a trip to the big town of Nargana to try to hook up with another boat that might have a switch we could use for a repair (which ended up not being the case), we moved on to one of our favorite anchorages in Esnasdup and while backing down to set the anchor, Alan noted a "funny" response from the starboard side engine. After we got the sails covered and the boat "put to bed" he opened the engine room to discover that the bracket that is bolted to the side of the engine that holds the throttle cable and fuel cut off cable had broken. Ugh. BUT, since we ARE a SAILboat and we do have 2 engines, this really isn't a BIG deal, but you always want to have everything in working order, if possible, aboard your vessel. So, after enjoying some snorkeling for a couple of days on some off lying reefs only accessible in calmer weather, we headed BACK to the big town of Nargana (that we had previously left) in search of one of the 2 supposed resident welders. We used a local Kuna "guide" to help us find the welders and found out that BOTH were in Panama City and wouldn't be back for several days and that one of them had broken equipment anyway. Sigh. So, we had heard of another steel boat with two women aboard that had welding equipment...so after a radio relay from another boat, we found out where THEY were heading and headed that way to meet up with them to see if they could help. (Kokopelli---zipping back and forth, zigzagging from island group to island group...) We met us in the Holandes Cays and Maria was able to weld the part for us!! Yeee- haww! After a nice coat of paint, we installed the part 2 days later and the starboard engine was back in business! We've also had issues with the autopilot which has been temperamental--deciding which days it wants to work and which days, it just ignores us. We have taken to tapping it with a plastic hammer, much like you do for a temperamental starter, and that will sometimes knock some sense into it. So, after the engine was finally fixed, we took apart the autopilot motor--as recommended by another fellow cruiser who had done the same--and found it very "gunked up" with a lot of carbon from the worn brushes. It was a black mess of somewhat sticky powder. We cleaned all of that up, sanded the commutator ring and cleaned the "gaps" and, since there was still a LITTLE bit left on the brushes before the stops, we put it all back together. Still need to "field test" it, but are hoping this does the trick. We have also had to repair the water maker's boost pump (by epoxying the internal magnets that broke) and so far that kludge-y repair is holding :).

Cold Front?? In PANAMA???

04 March 2013 | West Lemmon Cays, San Blas, Panama
Liz
For the first time in the several years that we have been cruising in Panama, we have had a cold front that reached all the way down here to Panama! The rainy and squally weather hit at a most inopportune time when we were "boat sitting" for another boat. This forced us to locate in the West Lemmon Cays--which is NOT a place that we would select to "hide" from strong weather. We saw gusts to 47 kts in the anchorage which got a bit bouncy. Since we were anchored several hundred yards from the boat we were watching and that boat did not have a proper anchor light (only garden solar lights), it was a bit nerve wracking and I would check on the boat with binoculars several times in the middle of the night. She was always right where she was supposed to be which was always a relief :). However, the same can't be said for another boat which drug up onto the southeastern reef in the middle of the night while the owner was ALSO absent and off in Panama City. When dawn came, a friend hailed us on the VHF radio to tell us the boat that HAD been next to them and was unoccupied was no longer there! We looked around and saw them up on the reef. So a general call was put out to all the boats in the anchorage and several dinghies rendezvoused at the floundering sailboat. Luckily, a Kuna panga with a 70 HP motor also joined in the rescue. It was cold, rainy, with choppy waves in the anchorage, and still blowing like stink! It took several hours with about 5 dinghies and the panga to eventually get the monohull free of the reef and re-anchored! The owner, a frenchman, returned from Panama City and invited everyone in for a beer at the little palapa bar on the beach to thank us. While we were completing the boat rescue, another boat leaving the anchorage ran aground on a shallow bar as there were several boats anchored in the main, deeper channel. When backing off the bar, that boat hit another boat and chaos reigned! But, the damage was fairly minimal (with a bent toe rail and a couple of bent stanchions and a bent bow roller and anchor)--except in the eyes of the owner--and no one seemed to be hurt. In our past sailing days in the Bahamas, we were used to hiding from cold fronts about every 3-4 days in the winter months. Here in Panama, the consistent NE trades in the winter have spoiled us! Although they are generally c. 20 kts for most of the winter, they are consistent and sailing behind the reefs generally gives seas of 6' or less. This rainy, squally weather is SO unusual for the DRY season in Panama!

Celebration of the Kuna Revolution and Independence

25 February 2013 | Isla Tigre, San Blas, Panama
Liz
We sailed to the east beyond the "big city" of Nargana to the more traditional island of Isla Tigre on Saturday, 23 FEB. Our arrival here was timed to allow us a couple of days to explore the island and surrounding area before the large celebration of Kuna independence taking place on Monday, 25 FEB. The anchorage began to get crowded as more and more "yachties" arrived to witness the event. In Kuna Yala, the anchorages are typically large, there are many to choose from, and there are very few boats. Being in a relatively small, tight anchorage is extremely rare and a few boats began to get anxious as more vessels arrived! Guess they have never anchored in Georgetown, Bahamas or they have been so spoiled here that they have forgotten what it's like to "pass the Grey Poupon" to boats anchored near you!!! The island is extremely well organized, with all of the "houses" (made from bamboo or sugar cane reeds for walls with a palm thatched roof) are neat and tidy and lined up the length of the island along the sand "streets". There is a restaurant that is owned by the community that serves meals of fish, chicken, lobster or octopus with a salad and either rice or french fries for $6-8 per meal (except for lobster--which was way more expensive!). They had cold sodas and beers (which were expensive at $2 each) or would prepare a "jelly coconut" to drink the coconut water and then split it to eat the jellied meat for $1. There are a few small tiendas (stores) where you can get other supplies such as flour, canned meat, eggs and other staples. While we were there, two different Columbian trading vessels came in and we were able to get some fresh vegetables--tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, peppers--everything priced at $1 per pound--weighed on a small hand held scale. Since we arrived on Saturday, the theory was that we could witness the "rehearsals" for the big event over the next two days. Each day we were told that the practice would be at about 4pm in a certain location on the island. The island is not that big, so even if it was elsewhere, you'd be able to hear it and find it. Well--that was the theory, but in reality we never saw a practice. We did sit in the Congresso hut (a "big" central structure--made from the same materials--bamboo walls/thatched roof) and listen to a few "talks" from the Silah (chief). Of course, since these occurred in the Kuna language, we understood nothing, but just sat and listened politely in the cool, dark shade (no lights, of course!). We did take some time to head to the mainland nearby and take a dinghy trip up the river where the Kuna farms are and where they run a water pipe from to provide water to the village. It was very peaceful with lots of birds in the surrounding trees and shallows. Even an iguana was startled in the trees overhead! We went in late afternoon after all of the Kuna had gone "home" to the island for the day.

On the morning of Monday, 25 FEB, we were told to plan to be in at 7 am. We set the alarm for 6:30 and after my morning coffee, we headed in a bit late at 7:15. No other boats were stirring and no other dinghies were racing to shore. We got in to observe the sleepy island waking up. All of the "streets" were being or had been swept with the makeshift brooms made of palm frond--not a bare foot print in sight! We observed only the children coming out of the sleeping hut carrying a pail of some variety--some metal, some like a sand castle pail, others just any kind of plastic tub. They were all heading to a certain spot on the island. Then we spotted some making their way back toward the huts. The pail was now filled with milk and in their hands were the small Kuna bread rolls that had been spread with a cheese spread. Many brought a small plastic bag to carry the rolls. We arrived at the spot they were all heading to and from and found the line where the children were receiving their special Independence Day breakfast. One Kuna man was cutting the small rolls in half and then spreading a "Cheez Whiz" type spread onto them. A Kuna woman was scooping out the milk into the pails and distributing the rolls. She seemed to know exactly how many to give each child (we assume it was based upon the size of the family). Still no one else had a arrived. So, we walked around the town and said "hola" and waved to all the children and families. The children love to say hello and smile at us--with our lighter skin and hair, we are a curiosity to them. Babies simply STARE. Finally around 9 am, the festivities began in a central square area. A series of dances were performed by a small group of men and women. The men played a type of "pan flute" made of differing lengths of bamboo while the women shook maracas. After a bit of dancing, the parade began--this required the visitantes (visitors) to be given a bandera (flag) to precede each group. The dancers lead the parade and each group from visiting islands carried their bandera followed by the next group, etc. Of course, the "yachties" were all in a single group and the children from the "kid boats" carried our bandera. We walked around the streets of the island a couple of times, with the normal resident population standing in the shade of the doorways of their huts watching us go by. Little children waved at us as the procession went by--Kuna parents would hold the arm of the babies in their arms and have them wave--just like parents do in the USA. After this procession led back to the Congress Hut, we all went inside for a lesson in the Kuna history and the revolution. This time, there was a Kuna priest who was able to tell us the story in reasonable English about the revolution. Then, of course, the story was told in Kuna as well. We listened for about 1 hour and then it was time for a "break" for lunch. As has happened in so many country's histories, suddenly a new "governor" appears and is assigned to govern a place. These "soldiers" or "police" began controlling when the Kuna could fish or farm or what they could bring back from the mainland farm--if they went for water, they could only bring back water--they didn't have PERMISSION to bring a pineapple, for example. They also attempted to force the Kuna to give up their traditional ways and dress. The men were often beaten and the women often had their beads and nose rings ripped off and were forced to "service" the soldiers. Men were imprisoned. Eventually the normally peaceful Kuna rebelled. With an organized group of 11 islands, the Kuna rebelled and were able to resist the Panamanians and eventually re-establish their way of life. The yachties when back to the boats, while the Kunas were fed in the same manner as breakfast--with a central station from which the rice was distributed to members of the village and visiting islanders. We came back in a little bit early to ensure we wouldn't miss anything (no other dinghies in sight again this time) and were told to call in our friends as the celebration was about to begin! We headed out to the dock where the trading boats tie up and called to some of the boats anchored near by. Soon there was a flotilla of dinghies racing to shore! Everyone arrived in time to witness the two hour re-enactment performed each year on Independence Day. We sat on a bench in the hot sun watching as one group of Kuna represented the Panamanian soldiers and police and the others represented the Kuna villagers. Makeshift huts had been set up around the central square area depicting aspects of traditional life--some were cooking, others were sewing molas, others repairing nets or grinding grains, one for the medicine men, etc. One by one, the police would arrive at a hut and they would scream in Kuna and drag the Kuna men out of the huts and beat them with foam clubs while the Kuna women would grab at them and wail. The acting was quite good and often the smaller children would cry real tears as the actors were beaten. It was quite graphic and they had packets of red juice that they would bite down on for blood which would spurt everywhere! Eventually, the depiction of the meeting of the 11 islands was shown and the Kuna rebelled and "beat" the soldiers. As the last soldier lay "dead" in the sand, the re- enactment was over and that was it! The Kuna children again lined up and were give a cookie and juice and the festivities were over. A very, very interesting experience!!

Fabulous Snorkeling, Crab Bisque, Dolphins

19 February 2013 | Myriadup, Narguargandup Cays, San Blas, Panama
Liz
Myriadup is quickly becoming one of our favorite stops! We spent several days at the anchorage in with some new friends. We explored several of the reefs in the area--including our favorite shallow reef that is loaded with crabs, small lobsters, eels, juvenile drums, toad fish, and juvenile and intermediate angelfish. We also were able to find a pass to the outside of the reef. Surprisingly, even though the winds and waves were up, once you made it over the shallow bar, it was great visibility and not much surge. Alan managed to catch a large male crab. After a quick steaming, I cracked all of the legs, claws and picked every last bit of meat from the body. We managed to get quite a bit of meat from the body and made a luscious crab bisque! Nothing makes a sunset better than dolphins playing in the anchorage! As we finished cleaning up after the afternoon snorkel--putting our snorkeling gear out to dry, showering, and hanging suits and towels--2 dolphins came into the anchorage leisurely feeding as they swam up toward the island and then around the boat. What a marvelous way to end the day--with a rum punch in hand, watching the dolphins play!

Laundry and Birthday Party in Paradise

16 February 2013 | Coco Bandero Cays, San Blas, Panama
Liz
Today we headed down to the Coco Banderos to help our friend, Julie, celebrate her birthday along with several other boats. When we arrived at the normally crowded anchorage (large area, but few good spots out of the ocean swell that works its way around the islands), several other boats had "cleared out" to make room for those of us coming in. We were even able to get our "favorite spot" in the anchorage--what luck!! As soon as we had the hook down, we scrambled around to get our dirty laundry organized, the detergent, 5 gallon bucket, and toilet plunger ready. Then we were off to the little island of Dupwala to do our laundry using the brackish water from a hand dug well in our favorite laundry spot in the San Blas. The sequence goes like this...add water from well to bucket, add detergent to water and swish around with plunger to get it a little sudsy, put in some of the clothes, use the plunger to agitate for a few minutes, let them sit and soak, plunge some more, sit, plunge, (repeat--depending upon how dirty the clothes are) wring out the soapy water, add fresh water from well to bucket, swish items to rinse, wring them out as hard as you can, hang on line strung between 2 palm trees, repeat until all clothes are washed & rinsed, stuff them back in the 5 gallon bucket, head to the boat and hang all of the fresh clothes along the lifelines, turn them frequently (including inside and out) to get the sun and the breeze to dry them as quickly as possible. We didn't have THAT many clothes and we actually accomplished the task in record time--about 30 minutes at the well. Whooo hooo! That meant we had time to prepare a decent appetizer for Julie's birthday pot luck on the same island as we did laundry. We shredded veggies and let them "sweat" with some salt and then made Korean pancakes (add eggs and some flour and fry them like pancakes). These are yummy and we dip them in a sauce of ketchup, mayonnaise, Tabasco sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Several boats were in attendance and we had freshly baked bread, coconut rice, and lobster jumbalaya for the main meal with several folks bringing other appetizers--wasabi peas and tortilla chips with cheesy salsa dip. The palm covered island was a lovely setting for Julie's birthday with an old ulu propped up on some logs serving as the buffet table and a fallen palm tree serving as the seats. Everyone brings their own plates and utensils and whatever they like to drink and there's always lots of food. Our friend Dianne made the chocolate, coconut, banana rum cake--complete with candles--and we all sang Happy Birthday to Julie as the sun set.
Vessel Name: Kokopelli
Vessel Make/Model: Lagoon 37 Catamaran
Hailing Port: Savannah, Georgia
Crew: Liz & Alan Johnson
About:
Liz & Alan began cruising aboard a Southern Cross 31, Ragman, in 2000. They took her down the Tennessee River and cruised Florida, the Bahamas, and the east coast of the USA for 4 years before going back to work. [...]
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Kokopelli's Photos - Inland Panama Travel FEB 2011
Photos 1 to 15 of 27 | Main
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Panama Canal Railway trip to Panama City
View of Volcan Baru in Boquete from our hotel
Coffee Beans growing
Beautiful meadow of wildflowers
Panamanian Breakfast--eggs over beef with onions & peppers, local cheese and "fry bread"
Mi Jardin es su Jardin in Boquete
Interesting rock formations in Boquete
Waterfall in Boquete
Ruins of a dream house, Boquete
Planting onions by hand
Volcan site of ancient Barriles people
Farm land in Volcan
Local sights--cows heading home for milking
Petroglyphs in El Valle
Orchid farm in El Valle
 
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