Adventures of Hiatus

08 June 2009
31 May 2009 | Portland, OR
14 May 2009 | Seabrook, Texas
13 May 2009
12 May 2009 | Texas
11 May 2009 | Gulf of Mexico
10 May 2009 | Gulf of Mexico
08 May 2009 | Gulf of Mexico
07 May 2009 | Mexico
01 May 2009 | Mexico
27 April 2009 | Belize
22 April 2009 | Lighthouse Reef, Belize
21 April 2009 | Lighthouse Reef, Belize
17 April 2009 | Cay Caulker
08 April 2009 | Belize
29 March 2009 | Lighthouse Reef, Belize
27 March 2009 | Honduras
16 March 2009 | Honduras
09 March 2009 | La Ceiba, Roatan
04 March 2009 | Roatan, Honduras

Hiatus Wrap Up

08 June 2009
Heather and Kent
We came up with a few bullet points from our trip to wrap up the Hiatus blog. Enjoy!

• Number of churches Kent had walked into and didn't combust: we stopped counting after Mexico where we visited at least 20 churches and Kent had still survived.
• Guest with the most hours spent on Hiatus: Glenn Belshaw - El Salvador to Ecuador, Panama Canal to San Blas Islands, Mexico to Texas.
• Countries visited: Canada, US, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica , Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Belize, and Colombia.
• Miles logged: over 8,000
• Number of times boarded unexpectedly by the Navy: 6 (1 time in Canada, 1 time in the US, 4 times in Mexico)
• Most expensive item lost overboard: pair of $100 sunglasses - two different pairs.
• Best fishing: Baja Coast, Mexico. Had to pull in the lines after the freezer was packed to the top with yellow fin tuna and mahi mahi.
• Average number of books read: 104 for Kent (based on 1 book per week), way less for Heather.
• Most unusual item purchased: bull scrotum in Zihautenejo, Mexico. They make them into baskets that hold pens and other office supplies.
• Number of electronics that couldn't stand up to 2 years of use in a sailboat: 2 hard drives, 1 GPS, 1 laptop, 1 AIS receiver.
• Best place for a local lunch: Ecuador at $1.50US for a large bowl of soup, beef/chicken/fish, beans, rice, small salad and a big glass of fresh juice.
• Nicest hotel room for $15US a night: Galapagos.
• Best deal on Tangaray gin: Copan Ruins city, Honduras at under $10US a bottle.
• Most frightening moment traveling inland: Bus ride from Quito to Guayaquil in Ecuador. It was 10 hours of single lane winding roads through the Andes as speeds exceeding 50 mph.
• Best trade: $5US for 2 ginormous fresh lobsters delivered to our boat in the Sea of Cortez.
• Best snorkeling: Cayos Cochinos, Honduras. It is a small group of islands between mainland Honduras and Roatan.
• Best diving: Roatan, Honduras. Yes, we thought it was better than Belize.
• Best country for ice cream: Panama. Think we just got lucky and found an outstanding gelato place.
• Favorite city: Cartagena, Colombia. Walled city, forts and some wonderful architecture made this our favorite.
• Best place to see wildlife up close and personal: Galapagos Islands.
• Items we learned are sold in all grocery stores in each country we visited: Pringles chips and Coca Cola.
• Food items that were almost impossible to find outside the US: chocolate chips and beef jerky.
• Favorite ruins: Kent: Copan ruins in Honduras. Heather: Tikal in Guatemala. Machu Picchu was amazing and a class of it's own.
• Favorite place to anchor: San Blas Islands, Panama. Small palm tree covered islands, Kuna Indians, the remoteness and the clear waters made this a place we could have spent months exploring.
• Cannot cruise without items - Kent: internet antenna to access all those unsecure networks out there, Heather: ipod to make it through the night watches. For Hiatus: a Rocna anchor to keep us secure in the nastiest of storms and an AIS receiver so we have the details of surrounding commercial traffic (name, speed, closest point of approach, length etc).
• Worst cruising moment - Kent: violent food poisoning in Mexico, and from a really nice restaurant not the local street meat. Heather: Being bit by a very scary dog in Honduras while on a run.
• Best cruising moment: Anytime we were not working on maintaining or repairing the boat. We had heard that the definition of cruising was "working on your boat in exotic locations" and can now attest to the truth of that definition.
• Most frustrating inland traveling moment: Traveling 10 hours on a red eye midnight chicken bus to Tikal in Guatemala. We decided a plane ride was in order for the return, regardless of the cost.
• Worst boat project completed: cleaning out the hoses that run to/from the head and holding tank.
• Number of blog posts: 67 (give or take a few)
• Most unusual local food we came across: Guinea pigs (Ecuador).
• Number of books aboard that were supposed to teach us Spanish: 4. Number of weeks in Spanish classes: 4. Amount of Spanish we have retained: 4%.
• Most comical moment: A small town in Mexico where we attended a full blown Mexican wrestling event. Kent and another cruiser bought wrestling masks and jumped in the ring prior to the real event and showed off their WWF moves. It was quite impressive and had both cruisers and locals cheering as they body slammed each other!
• Visitors from home that came aboard Hiatus: Brittany and Mike (Oregon), Bob, Doug (Kent's dad) and Paul (Oregon to Washington), Laura (Heather's sister) (Washington), Charles (Oregon to California), Brittany and Mike (Los Angeles to Catalina Island), Kelly and Oscar (Catalina Island, CA), Dane, Stephanie and Dave (San Diego to Cabo San Lucas), Sandy and Doug (Kent's parents) (Puerto Vallarta, MX), Brittany and Mike (Barra de Navidad, MX), Laura (Heather's sister) and Justin (Barra de Navidad, MX), Charles, Jenny and Ryan (Ixtapa & Ztown), Glenn (Nicaragua to Ecuador), Bob and Glenn (Panama Canal to San Blas, Panama), Lara, Joe and Cobin (San Blas, Panama to Cartagena, Columbia), Dane and Steph (Honduras), Glenn (Mexico to Texas, USA).
Inland travels with: Kerry, Amy and Wyatt (Peru) and
Charles, Jenny and Ryan (Ecuador).
• Best exchange: 2000:1 in Columbia. We were millionaires every time we saw our ATM bank statement receipt with the balance in pesos.
• Most unusual item found aboard Hiatus: A gecko.
• Best sail: 4 days from Ecuador to Panama - all sails, no motor.
• Number of seasick experiences: Kent: 0. Heather: lost count.
• Number of people we have met who have shaped our cruising experiences and lives for the better: countless.

Thank you to our families and friends for supporting our adventures, to those fellow cruisers we crossed paths with and to those who followed our blog.

"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover" - Mark Twain

Back in Portland

31 May 2009 | Portland, OR
Hiatus is still in Texas for sale but we are now home in Portland, OR. In just a few days we found hurricane insurance for the boat, bought a used car (Subaru wagon), packed everything we owned into it and headed for the Pacific Northwest. With over 2,000 miles to drive we stopped to enjoy the company of friends in Texas, Colorado Spring and Denver.

We are now in the process of moving back into our house, Kent is drumming up business again as a real estate broker and I am searching for a job. We are grateful to our renters who took great care of our house and yard and we will reunite with our dog this week, who has been living it up at friends house these last 2 years.

Portland is unseasonably warm right now so the weather feels like it did when we were on the boat, but life is certainly different - as Kent says, he misses jumping off his house(ie Hiatus) and into the water.

We will post a few cruising recap emails shortly.

Back in the USA!

14 May 2009 | Seabrook, Texas
As Kent mentioned in his position reports, we had great wind our first day out of Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Unfortunately it shut off and we motored the other four days of our trip. The passage was quite uneventful but it was still very nice to have crew so that everyone got 6 hours of sleep each night (or at least in theory could try to get 6 hours sleep each night). Coming into Texas is a bit crazy, there are hundreds of oil rigs offshore to avoid and lots of shipping traffic - we love our AIS receiver and radar which help us locate where everything is and where it may be going!

We arrived in Galveston Tuesday afternoon but by the time we got checked in with US Customs we would not have enough daylight to make it to Seabrook so we stayed the night, had a fantastic dinner out and a great night sleep. Wednesday morning Joe jumped aboard and we headed to our dock spot at Seabrook Marina. Joe is the previous owner of Hiatus (well, it was Crimson Tide when he had the boat) and exudes that famous southern hospitality. It was great to have him aboard and share the short trip to Seabrook with him. We pulled into the same dock we first saw the boat at in December 2006, talk about coming full circle and back to where we started!

The next few days will be filled with the local boat show we are a part of with our broker, finding a car to buy and getting back in the swing of things - activating cell phones again, job hunting, etc.
We noticed that most of the areas we have seen here have rebounded quite quickly from last year's Hurricane Ike. It is amazing though that the streets we were standing in where covered with over 10 feet of water at one time. It should be said that not everyone has been fortunate to recover so quickly and there are constant reminders of the power a hurricane can inflict on homes, buildings, streets and the landscape.

By the way, it is over 90F during the day here and we are really looking forward to summer in Portland.

Picture is of the biggest flying fish we found on our boat. Usually they are just small ones that land on the deck.

Glenn's Guest Blog

13 May 2009
Glenn Belshaw
The final leg of SV Hiatus two year voyage was an uneventful 600+ mile, 4+ day passage for Cancun to Galveston Island, Texas. Before departing Cancun I had hoped to visit some of the Mayan Pyramids but, fear of the next world pandemic had closed the sites to tourist. We were able to leave Cancun before the World Health Organization had a chance to close Mexico because of Swine Flu fear. If you've had thoughts of cruising in the Gulf of Mexico keep this in mind, there's nothing there but Oil Rigs and Freighters, we saw one sailboat during the trip. Once in Galveston we saw the results of Hurricane Ike which hit the Galveston, Houston area last Fall. Talking to the locals it had a very devastating effect on the low lying areas; the entire area is low lying. The high light of the trip was a ride on a wooden roller coaster, it seems, our Skipper (Kent) has no interest in riding things that move quickly and make shape turns. I guess that's why he's such a good sailor.

I'd like to congratulate Kent and Heather on completing a trip most people only allow themselves to dream about and to thank them for inviting me along to share parts of their adventure.


Thank you Glenn for joining us along the way in our adventures! We appreciate your willingness to do night watches, help in some repairs and of course offer us your seasoned sailing advice. Our passages from Nicaragua to Ecuador, through the Panama Canal to San Blas and from Mexico to Texas were a lot more fun with you aboard! When you have s/v Medicine Man ready for cruising know we will be there to return favors. :-> -K&H
Vessel Name: Hiatus
Vessel Make/Model: CT-47
Hailing Port: Portland, OR USA
Crew: Heather and Kent Sisk
About: Email: Skype: svhiatus
Extra: "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover" Mark Twain
Hiatus's Photos - Panama
Photos 1 to 110 of 110 | Adventures of Hiatus (Main)
San Blas (Porvenir) – Porvenir is a small island with a short airstrip and Port Captain office, next to the island is this small spit of sand with a single hut on it. We came to Porvenir twice, once to check in and pay our Kuna cruising tax and once to check out of Panama and get our zarpe. Each time this little island looked like such a wonderful spot for some family to live on.
San Blas (Dog Island ) – Shipwreck from a cargo ship in 1950. The ship developed a leak and the Captain beached the ship to save the cargo.
San Blas (Dog Island ) – Bow of the ship.
San Blas (Dog Island ) – Cargo hold area of the ship.
San Blas (Dog Island ) – Lots of colorful coral and fish now call this shipwreck home.
San Blas (Dog Island ) – Lots of color, but of course pictures do not quite do it justice.
San Blas (Lemmon Cays) – While the water colors are beautiful, they are also shallow and dotted with coral reefs and sand bars so entering and exiting an anchorage can be a bit tricky. So far our caution has paid off and we haven’t run aground.
San Blas (Lemmon Cays) – Approaching our anchorage. Cannot get enough of the palm trees!
San Blas (Eastern Lemmon Cays ) – Ulu (canoe) heading for home after a day of fishing.
San Blas (Dog Island ) – Kuna skiff used to get from island to island.
San Blas (Isla Pinos) – This is one of the more traditional Kuna villages. It was the cleanest and most interesting as well.
San Blas (Isla Pinos) – Palm on the beach. This was one of the few islands in the San Blas chain that was good for walking. Most of the islands were small or didn’t have enough sand along the shoreline.
San Blas (Nargana) – A lone outhouse over the water away from the center of Nargana which is a large, western styple Kuna town.
San Blas (Nargana) – This island is home to 2,000 Kunas who have given up the old ways and adopted a western approach to living. While the town has electricity 24 hours a day from a generator other services are rather primitive. Outhouses, which are 4 small tin roofed walls are constructed over the water just feet away from land. Let’s just say we wouldn’t swim in the water here or eat the fish from the water here.  Nargana has an airstrip and this is where Bob and Glenn flew out of back to Panama City.
San Blas (Chichime) –Kuna men come by selling just caught lobsters, crab, and fish. We got a few medium size lobsters for $2/lb and Bob cooked these up nicely for dinner one night.
San Blas (Lemmon Cays) – On one of the islands that surrounded our anchorage the men were putting the final touches on a hut’s thatched roof.
San Blas (Isla Pinos) – Can not recall the name of this plant but the inside produces a red waxy liquid that is used on the face by the Kunas as sunscreen.
San Blas (Eastern Lemmon Cays ) – Looking out at Hiatus from shore.
San Blas (Chichime) – Kent explores a small island near our anchorage. As far as we know the little island does not have a name and since ‘dup’ is the Kuna name for the word ‘island’ Kent decided to call it ‘Kentdup’.
San Blas (Chichime) – Island ‘Kentdup’ at sunset.
San Blas (Isla Pinos) – Green frog we saw while hiking up to the top of Isla Pinos. It was only about 2 inches long.
San Blas (Green Island) – Joe’s first day on the boat and already he is hard at work, here he is installing a new switch on the generator. Really, we do not put guests to work on their vacation!
San Blas (Isla Pinos) – Lara with Cobin and Joe in the back with the red hat were celebrities whenever we visited a village. All the kids flocked to Cobin out of curiosity.
San Blas (Isla Pinos) – Lara and Cobin with a few of the local Kuna kids. They all loved seeing themselves on the camera after the picture was taken.
San Blas (Isla Pinos) – Traveling in the San Blas by boat means avoiding reefs and sand bars. Often we are passing over or anchoring in very shallow water, something we are not used to. Here we are in 6.8 ft of water when we draw 6.5 feet under our keel!
San Blas (Isla Pinos) – Food items drying in the sun. Corn and beans are popular.
San Blas (Isla Pinos) – The Sailas or chief of the Isla Pinos village wanted his picture taken and printed off to keep in his hut. Here he poses in his nicest shirt, tie and pants in front of his home. When we first arrived we were taken to the Sailas to ask approval to walk around the village and visit with the locals, it was our second day when we asked approval to hike to the top of the island that he asked for this picture to be taken. Typically it isn’t polite to take pictures of the Kuna Indians unless solicited to do so; and they usually ask $1 per picture. While their traditional dress (especially the women who wear bright clothes and beads on their arms and legs) and lifestyle are very interesting we didn’t quite feel comfortable taking photos so that is why you don’t see any on our blog.
San Blas (Porvenir) – One of the rules to respect while in Kuna territory is no coconut picking as coconuts up until a few years ago were the official means of exchange for Kunas with the Columbian trading boats. Today it is coconuts and the US dollar.
Underway to San Blas – Before: Kent isn’t happy with his ‘hippie’ hair – it is way to long and he didn’t have time to get a haircut while scurrying around Panama City. Only option is for Heather to take the trimmer and cut it short.
Underway to San Blas – After: Kent is getting used to his ‘military’ hair – he thinks it is way to short but is cool in the warm temps. He and his brother Joe could be twins now with the same short hair and goatee.
Portobello – Glenn and Bob kayak back to Hiatus after exploring the San Fernando Fort Battery.  Thanks s/v Moody Blues for the photo.
Portobello – San Fernando Fort Battery built in 1760. It is pretty well preserved with 14 cannons on the lower level and 6 on a higher level.
Isla Grande – It is common to see decorations made from shells and other sea items. This was a long wall in front of a bar covered in hundreds of sea shells.
Isla Grande – Lunch time! Bob, Gene (from s/v Moody Blues), Heather, Glenn and Kent. Thanks Susea for the photo.
Isla Grande – Reggae bar.
Isla Grande – Little Jesus shrines are in every neighborhood in central and south America, just like Starbucks in the US. Sort of tacky way to describe them but couldnt be more true!
Isla Grande – Bob, Glenn, Heather and Kent dingy into shore for lunch. Thanks s/v Moody Blues for the photo.
Colon – Kent, Glenn and Bob relaxing at Shelter Bay Marina. Thanks s/v Moody Blues for the photo.
Colon – Provisioning in Panama is like going to a grocery store in the US, they have everything. We needed food and beverage to keep 4 people (Bob and Glenn for 2 weeks and Joe, Lara and Cobin for 2 weeks) satisfied for weeks in the San Blas Islands where there are no services. Kent was worried that 8 cases of beer wouldn’t be enough; I was concerned we would sink the boat with all the stuff we bought.
Panama Canal – photo from the Miraflores lock webcam. We are the small speck of a sailboat the closest to the camera. Thanks s/v Solstice for getting this picture for us!
Canal Transit – Our turn! We will be behind the ship and the tugboat on the right side lock
Canal Transit – Our Transit Advisor, Victor.
Canal Transit – Ship with containers stacked high.
Canal Transit – Waiting our turn at the first lock, Pedro Miguel. One large ship is going in on the right and one is coming out on the left.
Canal Transit – Gate to the lock closing behind Dan.
Canal Transit – Gene and Glenn pulling in the slack as we rise in the Pedro Miguel lock. In front of us is a tug, the Atlantide, and a large ship.
Canal Transit – Here we are uplocked in Pedro Miguel, water level is at the top of the gate.
Canal Transit – Mules used to maneuver the large ships through the canals. They run on a track that parallels the locks.
Canal Transit – In the Gaillard Cut, a few minutes before our engine died. Note the large white cruise ship bearing down on us! When the engine died we raised the sails and had to jibe a few times in the canal to ensure we were out of the cruise ships way while Kent worked on the engine. It was only 10 minutes of sailing but they were packed with adrenaline. Thank goodness everyone aboard were sailors and reacted quickly.
Canal Transit – Monkey fist. This is what is at the end of the line that is tossed onto our boat. It is baseball in size and density, everyone keeps a sharp eye out when the lines are being tossed to make sure they are not hit with the monkey fist.
Canal Transit – Miraflores viewing platform and museum. Spectators watch as vessels move through the canal.
Canal Transit – Wall of the lock, pretty rough and can do damage to a little sailboat. We were happy to be center tied.
Canal Transit – Ship with only the cranes visible being downlocked in front of the Miraflores viewing station. This ship is coming from the Atlantic and going to the Pacific.
Canal Transit – The line toss in the Miraflores lock.
Canal Transit – Here we are uplocked in Miraflores, water level is at the top of the gate and you can get a perspective on the distance we have climbed through the locks.
Canal Transit – Miraflores lock with just us and Atlantide. The lock seemed pretty big with just 2 sailboats in it.
Canal Transit – The line toss. In each lock, 2 men on either side of the canal toss lines to the line handlers on our boat. Each line handlers ties one of our 125’ lines to it and the men on the canal wall pull our line up and secure it around a cleat. Our line handlers either pull in slack or let out line depending on whether we are moving up or down in a lock.
Canal Transit – Line at Gene’s feet.
Canal Transit – Our linehandlers. From far to near – Glenn and Bob from Portland, Gene from s/v Moody Blues and Dan from s/v Zephyrus.
Canal Transit – Bob, taking his line handling job very seriously.
Canal Transit – Shown here are the numerical markers in a lock. Both the height of the lock, water line is at 76’ and the length of the lock, we are in the front with 1000’ behind us.
Canal Transit – A serious Captain.
Canal Transit – Victor, our Traffic Advisor standing on a giant mooring ball on Gatun Lake. We spent one night here and finished the last third of the journey the following afternoon.
Canal Transit – Gatun lock, here you can see what little distance these ships have between them and the walls.
Canal Transit – Gatun lock, with the ship 100’ behind us. We felt a bit small.
Canal Transit – We are at the front of the Gatun lock with a ship behind approaching within the lock.
Canal Transit – Final gate opening … once we passed through we were in the Atlantic!
Canal Transit – We are in the Gatun lock before we downlock. Almost through!
Canal Transit –  Dan, at attention.
Canal Transit – Centennial Bridge.
Canal Transit – Going under the Bridge of the Americas.
Canal Transit – Backwash from the ship in front of us, they can put out some power, even when they are trying to move ever so slowly.
Canal Transit – We were in the same lock as this boat, called the Atlantide. It’s an old 100+’ motor boat that is owned by the venture capitalist Tom Perkins. The boat was beautifully maintained.
Canal Transit – Picking up our Transit Advisor (Victor who is in the yellow shirt) off of the ACP boat.  Every small boat must have an ACP Transit Advisor while boats over 65 feet must have an ACP Pilot. ACP is the acronym for the Panama Canal Authority.
Canal Transit – A bug joined us for part of the canal transit.
Canal Transit – We had 12 tires and 4 125’ lines for our transit. The tires were to act as fenders if we had to tie to another boat and the lines were used when we were lowered and raised within each lock.
Panama City – Our official canal transit card. One number is issued to a vessel for the lifetime of the vessel.
Panama Canal – Outside the Gatun Locks Museum. This is one of the trains from the original railroad, before the canal was constructed.
Panama City – The Maltese Falcon, one of the worlds largest sailboats passes by Balboa Yacht Club on its way to transit the canal.
Panama City – Bob (left) and Glenn (right) on their second vacation day. Doesn’t appear that they are having a hard time leaving work back in Portland.
Panama City – New batteries for Hiatus, enough to run 8 golf carts or one sailboat with lots of electronic toys.
Panama City – Balboa Yacht Club mooring balls were very close to the shipping channel. This photo wasn’t zoomed in, this is how close the vessels came to us when the entered and exited the canal.
Panama City – Bridge of the Americas.
Panama City – Balboa Yacht Club, where we stayed on a mooring ball for a week before transiting.
Panama City - Internet signal and cold beverages, cant ask for much else.
Panama City - Heather enjoying her ice cream.
Kent, Heather and Captain Blue Bear from s/v Hello World.
Panama City - Enjoying an anchor watch beer once arriving in Panama City. It didnt show up in the picture but it
Panama City - Skyline and anchored cargo ship.
Panama City - Cargo container anchored and awaiting canal transit. At 950 feet long and 150 feet wide these ships are monsters.
Panama City - Flamenco Signal Station, similar to Air Traffic Control. This station controls all movement on the Pacific side of the canal.
Las Perlas - Classic rain storm brewing over s/v Zephyrus. At least once a day the dark clouds form and we hunker down as it dumps a ton of rain.
Las Perlas - Bartolome Island which was great for snorkeling.
Las Perlas - Hiatus and Zephyrus at anchor.
Las Perlas Islands - Sunset.
Las Perlas Islands - Kent walks towards a WWII airstrip that just happens to have a small aircraft getting ready to take off.
Las Perlas Islands - WWII airstrip.
Las Perlas - submarine.
Las Perlas Islands - 1860
Las Perlas Islands - Our favorite anchorage. White sandy beaches, protected bay, palm covered forest. Ahh, paradise.
Las Perlas Islands - hiking through the jungle.
Las Perlas Islands - hiking through the jungle and carefull with which branches you grab onto.
Las Perlas Islands - Palms, palms everywhere palms.
Las Perlas Islands - Kent and his mahi mahi.
Las Perlas Islands - fishermen working on their nets.
Las Perlas Islands - Shoreline.
Las Perlas Islands - cool looking island.
Las Perlas Islands - Hiatus and Zephyrus anchored after our passage from Ecaudor.
Las Perlas Islands - blue waters with threatening thunderstorms.
"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover" Mark Twain