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

09 March 2018 | Las Perlas Islands, Panama
06 March 2018 | Panama City, Panama
05 March 2018 | Panama City, Panama
03 March 2018 | Panama City, Panama
02 March 2018 | Panama City, Panama
01 March 2018 | Islas Perlas, Panama
24 February 2018 | Panama
23 February 2018 | Costa Rica/Panama Border
21 February 2018 | Golfito, Costa Rica
20 February 2018 | On the way to Golfito, Costa Rica
17 February 2018 | Quepos, Costa Rica
15 February 2018 | Quepos, Costa Rica
11 February 2018 | Quepos, Costa Rica
07 February 2018 | Central Costa Rica
06 February 2018 | Central Costa Rica
01 February 2018 | Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
31 January 2018 | Northern Costa Rica
28 January 2018 | Bahia Papagayos, Costa Rica
25 January 2018 | Playas del Coco, Costa Rica

MV Kraszewski Through the Canal and Refueled

19 May 2019 | Golfito, Costa Rica
George Stonecliffe
Our time approaches! The Seven Star Transport, MV Kraszewski, has transited the Panama Canal, 'bunkered' (that is, refueled), and is heading for Golfito to arrive just past midnight tonight. We are scheduled to be loaded on at 10:30am. We received an e-mail with the following schedule: On Monday, May 20th: 0800 Toolbox Crane 3 0815 Start rigging up lifting gear 0830 Discharge Navy boat 0900 Discharge Viking 68 1000 Load Outbound 44 (Sequoia) 1030 Load Peterson Ketch 45 (Julia Max) 1100 Load Bertram 54 Crane 2 1145 Load Lagoon 42 Finish lashing and welding

Once done, the ship will depart Golfito for La Paz, Ensenada, then Victoria, BC, Canada arriving ETA June 9. We now have our airline tickets, and will be flying home on Tuesday!!!

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 Kraszewski, 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'!!
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
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Created 4 July 2017
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Created 5 May 2011