North American Tour 2017-2019

From Portland, OR through Panama Canal to East Coast of USA and back via Caribbean, Panama Canal, Golfito to Victoria, BC and home

16 March 2019 | Port Antonio, Jamaica
14 March 2019 | In Passage to Port Antonio, Jamaica
08 March 2019 | Boca Chica, Dominican Republic
07 March 2019 | Boca Chica, Dominican Republic
01 March 2019 | Ponce, Puerto Rico
28 February 2019 | Ponce, Puerto Rico
25 February 2019 | Fajardo, Puerto Rico
23 February 2019 | Fajardo, Puerto Rico
18 February 2019 | Spanish Virgin Islands
16 February 2019 | US Virgin Islands
15 February 2019 | US Virgin Islands
09 February 2019 | British Virgin Islands
09 February 2019 | British Virgin Islands
06 February 2019 | British Virgin Islands
01 February 2019 | US Virgin Islands
27 January 2019 | St. Martin
25 January 2019 | St. Kitts
23 January 2019 | St. Kitts
21 January 2019 | Antigua to St. Kitts
19 January 2019 | Antigua

Our Seven Stars Transport is in the Canal!

18 May 2019 | Golfito, Costa Rica
George Stonecliffe
Today, Saturday, May 18, we looked at the Panama Canal webcam to find our Seven Stars Transport ride was in the Gatun Locks. Depending on several factors, she may be in Golfito tomorrow! We have removed our sails, dodger canvas, life rings, taped our sling lift points, and had our boat bottom cleaned. Our engine is running fine, fuel sufficient to meet the ship, other tanks empty, and provisions eaten down so that we can turn the refrig off. We will be sleeping ashore at the Fish Hook Marina for the next few nights, as the boat is loaded on to the ship bound for Victoria, BC. We are still waiting for the ship (MV Kruszewski, MMSI 295355000) to make it through the Canal, and head for Golfito. Then we will buy our airline tickets home! Yessss!

Hurry Up and Wait!

14 May 2019 | Golfito, Costa Rica
George Stonecliffe
Back at 'Julia Max' in Fish Hook Marina, we have seen two other yacht carrying vessels come and go from Golfito. Ours with Seven Stars Transport is currently scheduled to come to Golfito May 19th. No one is holding their breath. Our vessel is still in the USVI as of Tuesday morning, May 14. At 13.5 knots vessel speed, it has to travel over a thousand miles to the Panama Canal, go through the Canal, possibly 'bunker' (meaning re-fuel), and travel 24 hours to Golfito. We are checking out airplane flights from Golfito through to Portland, Oregon. Meanwhile today we had our dinghy fiberglass RIB bottom repaired (it was holed in Puerto Armuelles, Panama), have repainted the hull, and re-glued a six-inch portion of the RIB and transom. It should be much better for the Pacific Northwest.

Golfito Ship Information

10 May 2019 | Golfito, Costa Rica
George Stonecliffe
We are assigned to MV Kraszewski, a 200+ meter ship that has called on Golfito several times before. It's MMSI number is 209355000. The ship position can be determined by watching the location of the MMSI number. This ship has four loading cranes. It will be unloading two boats and loading three boats including 'Julia Max' and 'Sequoia'. Depending on the arrival time of day, if early, all five boats may be unloaded and loaded in one day. Meanwhile boat preparation goes on: dinghy stowed on board, wind generator blades stowed below and generator tied down, SSB antenna disconnected from the backstay (which needs to be released at loading time), mizzen sail removed and stowed, and more goes on over the next few days. The weather is hot and humid, and heavy rain falls every day about 1700 with occasional lightening and thunder displays. We are grateful to have a portable air conditioning unit which we can run while plugged in to 30 amp service. Also we continue to enjoy DVD movies on our laptop while plugged in.

Up In the High Country

07 May 2019 | Golfito, Costa Rica
George Stonecliffe
While waiting for our ship that takes 'Julia Max' from Golfito to Victoria, BC, we have been spending our time at higher elevations where it is cooler. Currently we are at the Toucanet Lodge, whose mission includes bird watching. Today we have identified 4-5 different hummingbird species, a ruddy tree-runner, a collared trogan, band-tailed pigeons, tropical kingbirds, a chestnut-capped brush-finch. Birding is like a box of chocolates' to quote Forrest Gump, 'you never know what you're going to get'! We had awakened at the crack of dawn(0500) and walked up the hill for a kilometer looking for the resplendent quetzal. But we were unsuccessful. On the way to the Toucanet Lodge yesterday, we stopped at the Questzal Lodge and identified the long-tailed silky-flycatcher for the first time. It was another 'ah-haaa, yes' moment! But no Quetzal. Here is a photo of a respendent quetzal that Sue took a year ago.

A Coffee Plantation Tour

04 May 2019 | Golfito, Costa Rica
George Stonecliffe
It's rainy season in the mountains of southern Costa Rica. Mornings are dry, and afternoons are a deluge of rain. So this morning we visited a coffee operation near San Vito at 1600 meters elevation. This operation is run by three separate farming families who do different portions of the coffee process. It was stressed that they were not part of a cooperative. The coffee growing season is from October to the end of March. The first farm had the picking, separating, and drying processes. Three different drying processes were used for three different effects: the African bed for 30 days, sun-dried for 15 days, or the 2-hour dryer method. The longer the drying time, the higher quality of coffee flavor is possible. Our guide introduced us to the owner who showed us some of their equipment: separators, shakers, driers, and sackers. This operation has been producing for 15 years. They have a relationship with the Illy brand which is marketed in Italy, Canada and the USA. The second farm we visited had thirty hectares of mature coffee plants. Interesting, they grow various taller shade plants, such as banana and plantain trees in amongst the coffee bushes. And they prune these plants and add the trimmings around the coffee bushes for additional mulch. The coffee bushes love this arrangement. Our guide mentioned that their customer, Illy, sends quality control inspectors to monitor the coffee operation. The bean pickers are indigenous from Panama. 50-60 workers bring their families. Each picker may earn $20 a day. The pickers are 15 years old to adults. The younger family members are in day care on the farms. The families are given breakfast and lunch, water, access to medical and dental attention. The children received specific attention by UNICEF. We then spent the last hour learning about the tasting and grading method they use. We compared three different coffee blends and roasts. The coffees were graded by us for body, acidity, sweetness, balance, any special characteristics (floral, fruity, cocoa, caramel, etc.). This process was difficult, subtle, and perplexing. Our guide has been a taste tester for 15 years. He mentioned that they test various blends, then send their samples and taste-testing results to their customer, Illy, who does their own taste-testing, and compares their results, making sure that the producer and the customer agree, and achieve the final result desired. Our guide shared that his taste-testing mentor and teacher ended one training session by taking a cup of coffee, adding cream and sugar, sitting back, relaxing, and saying 'the best coffee is the one you like'!!

Inland Costa Rica Excursion

02 May 2019 | Golfito, Costa Rica
George Stonecliffe
Sue and I joined Craig and Barbara Johnston for a tour to San Vito, Costa Rica in the cooler mountain elevations on the Panama border. We rented a 4x4 Suzuki to take us on a five day trip to Casa Botanica. The 1-1/2 hour drive took us to 3000'. It is bird heaven! Within the beautifully manicured grounds, the birds are attracted by flowering bushes and trees. Not a minute goes by without birds buzzing by, bird calls in the air, and stunning bird colorations to take in. Today, May 2nd, we visited a botanical garden a couple miles away. We saw and heard toucans, parrots, thrushes, hummingbirds, and tanagers. The gardens had orchid greenhouses, and major plant groups of palms, bananas, gingers, and many more. We climbed an observation tower overlooking the valley below. Numerous flowering trees were in bloom. It truly is a special place. Tomorrow we hope to go on a personal guided bird tour starting at 6am through 11am with a break for breakfast.
Vessel Name: Julia Max
Vessel Make/Model: 45' Passport/Peterson Custom Ketch
Hailing Port: Portland, Oregon, USA
Crew: George and Sue Stonecliffe
About: Float Plan: July 1, 2017 Leave Portland, OR; head south along US West Coast; leave San Diego 10/29/17 with Baja Ha-ha Rally; go through Panama Canal 3/2018; Florida 6/2018; NYC and Rhode Island 7/2018; Chesapeake Bay 9/2018; Caribbean 12/2018; Panama Canal 3/2019; home 6/2019
Julia Max's Photos - Main
2 Photos
Created 4 July 2017
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Created 5 May 2011