Happy Holidays All!
Susan and I are contemplating this past year from Provedencia Island, Columbia. The locals, or at least the chamber of commerce, says it's "where God takes his vacations." It's been a great year, with a good mix of great times with new and old friends and family and exploring new and old places, and a fair amount of work.
Here we are in front of the town's Christmas tree, decidedly not an evergreen.
in October we had the 1st anniversary of our arrival in Panama.
We have spent most of the time in the San Blas islands on the north coast of Panama. Yes, Panama actually runs east/west even though most of us think of it as running north/south.
The San Blas are one of the most unique indigenous lands in the western hemisphere. An archipelago of over 365 islands, one for each day of the year the locals tell us. It's crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and warm water are an alluring paradise. It is run "semi-autonomously" from the Panamanian government. As a result it is quite pristine with absolutely no development. The Kuna people, although they rule the islands and lots of land inland as well, choose to only live on the islands.
It is a popular spot for cruisers to visit during the hurricane season as it is well south of the hurricane zone. That is not to say that it doesn't have it's own storms, especially in the summer. There were 6-7 boats that we know that were hit by lightening this past summer. Not a pleasant experience. It doesn't hurt anyone but typically wipes out every electronic device on the boat, leading to a costly and time consuming refit.
Sandy started out as a tropical depression about 200 miles north of us. Even at that early stage in it's development and being so far from us it still significantly impacted our weather by causing very low barometric pressures and strong winds from the south which is quite unusual for that time of year.
Because of the remoteness of the San Blas there are virtually no sources for provisions there. You can get diesel and on occasion, but you never know when, a fruit and veg boat will show up but little else. Oh, and you can buy fish and lobster from the Kuna's as well as hunt them your self.
As a result we would go back to Portobello every 2-3 months or so and do a big provisioning trip into Panama City.
We made two trips through the Panama Canal helping S/V Millenium and S/V Kaija Song through the "ditch" as line handlers. The trip in February with John and Nat was a special treat as my long time friend Jim Erdman was along as well, coming down to spend several weeks with us from the snowy mountains of North Idaho (as I was corrected after referring to his home being in northern Idaho). The second trip through the Canal was with S/V Kaija Song with friends Gary and Kaija.
We had a great time with Jim, here he is manning the helm on our passage from Portobello to the San Blas.
In mid-May my daughter Ellie graduated from the University of Puget Sound. It was a grand celebration and I'm sure her face hurt at the end of the day as she wore an ear-to-ear smile all day long.
Ellie at graduation.
Ellie and Mona
Since we were returning to the States for Ellie's graduation we took the opportunity to stay for about 2 months and visit family and friends. We spent a week with Mike and Tatiana at their beautiful place on Vashon Island. We stayed a couple of times with Rex and Sharon in Seattle, enjoying Rex's homemade spirits. The last week of May we traveled to Oregon and spent time with long time friend Stan Curtis in Portland and at his beautiful cabin in Maupin on the Deschutes river. Then back to Seattle to see Linda and Mike Ranz.
Around the middle of June we were off to North Idaho to see Jim and Kally in (or just beyond) Hope, Idaho. Then to visit Susan's mother Sandi and her husband Bob, and Susan's father Vern and his wife Lois in the Spokane area. We then took a bus trip (haven't done that in a while) through beautiful central Idaho from Spokane, WA to Donnelley, Idaho to see my cousin Renee and her husband Bob. While there we took a few days and drove over to Prineville, Oregon to see cousin (and Renee's brother) Ron and his wife Carol and their beautiful new house. Finally a quick trip back to Seattle and on the plane back to Panama and Vida Dulce which was waiting patiently for us at Panamarina. Whew!
Thanks to all of you for your wonderful hospitality. You all know you have an open invitation to come down and we are hoping to host your some time on Vida Dulce.
After returning to the boat and on the way back to the San Blas we caught this beautiful Mahi Mahi, it was tasty!
In September we did the "big job" that all boaters don't look forward to. We hauled Vida Dulce out of the water, sanded and painted her bottom as well as did other maintenance that you can't do with the boat in the water. It's never very comforting seeing your 14 ton home swinging from a crane as it is pulled out of the water and moved and set down on the ground.
In October my cousin Renee and her husband Bob visited us. It was a grand time. We caught fish, ate lobster and tried to keep up with Renee dancing when the evening music came on. One morning Bob got up and threw a line in the water to see if there were any fish awake, he's an early riser. He hooked something big. It took us both to fight it and about and hour to get it to the boat, it was a ray, with about a 2' wing span. We cut him loose. I think it qualifies for a Most Unusual Catch award as no one in the anchorage had ever heard of a ray striking a fishing lure.
We had lots of laughs and some sun burn. Below is a typical afternoon, relaxing on one of the islands.
After they returned to the snow and cold of Donnelley, Idaho Susan and I got to work on prepping the boat and provisioning for our passage to Providencia. We returned to Portobello and did a monster provisioning trip. Providencia is remote, a small island 150 miles east of the coast of Nicaragua with a sister Island called St. Andres 50 miles west of it. We knew that there was little available on these islands and what you could get was expensive. So we provisioned for 3 months this time. And worked on the boat, the wind instrument had failed, I think due to a close but not direct lightening strike and the water maker wasn't working.
After weeks and lots of work we were ready to go and left the San Blas on Saturday, the 15th of December. The first day started out calm, then the wind came up and that evening was very rough confused seas that were tossing us all about, but we were making good time. Things calmed down after that and we pulled into Providentia Monday morning.
It's quite and wonderful here, everyone is very friendly and most people speak English. We rented a scooter and drove around the island, on Christmas day we had a pot luck dinner on our boat with the other cruisers in the anchorage.
Susan this year developed a dormant green thumb and now we have some great plants on the boat. Below is a basil plant that grows relentlessly. We love basil and pesto but it's hard to keep up sometimes. In additional she has grown tomatoes, jalapenos, mint, dill, parsley, oregano and a little cilantro.
It's been a busy year, keeping the boat running is a lot of work. In addition to the haul-out we had issues with the dinghy and had to replace it's hull and then it's carburator. Ongoing engine maintenance (3 diesels and an outboard) keeps me changing oil on a regular basis. The freezer quit working earlier this year but after months of working with it it's behaving it self at the moment. Wind instruments, autopilot and watermaker all requred TLC. Toilets, enough said, you don't want to hear the details! It truly is endless.
I've continued working with my partner, David Burch of Starpath School of Navigation in Seattle. We now have 3 iPhone apps for sale. NavRules - used to learn the Navigation Rules, InterPlus - an interpolator, the only one I know that allows you to choose units such as feet, time, degrees, percent, etc. and our International Code of Signals app (ICOS Plus) that provides simple ways to use the codes that are required by all ships on the high seas.
The most ambitous project todate that is close to being ready to go to production in an electronic barograph or recording barometer. We use it daily and it's great.
My girls, Mona and Ellie have had a good year. Mona has decided to go back to school to get a Master's degree in engineering. Her undergraduate degree was in French so she has had a lot of engineering and math courses to take before she can apply to graduate school. She is enjoying it and doing well. And despite the heavy course load she still has time to teach and lead the Women's program at the Seattle Sailing Club.
After graduation Ellie spent the summer in Aspen, Colorado at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies and has decided to stay there through the winter teaching skiing to people with disabilities. And because she gets a free seasons pass she is enjoying skiing Aspen as well. She has even been teaching blind people how to ski. It seems to be very satisfying to her to see the satisfaction and glee of her students as they learn to ski.
In the "passing the torch" category several family and friends moved on from this life. Early this year Gerry Hagedorn, my mothers husband passed away. He married my mother late in life and they had a wonderful time together. About the same time Mary Brockman, the girl's grandmother passed on. And late in the year Marion Davis, my aunt and my mother's sister passed away. They were great people from a great generation, they are all missed and cherised.
Well this is gone on too long and Susan and I want to wish all of you a great coming year. Hopefully we can catch up with many of you this spring as we are coming back to Seattle to put our house back on the market.
Fair winds and following seas,
Jerry and Susan