Aboard La Sirena

17 April 2012 | Roncador Cay
11 April 2012 | Cartagena, Colombia
25 August 2011 | Cross Plains, WI
27 January 2011 | Cartagena, Colombia
31 December 2009 | Cartagena, Colombia
01 December 2009
18 November 2009 | Shelter Bay Marina, Panama
20 April 2009 | Panama City
30 March 2009 | Chichime Cay, Islas San Blas, Panama
20 March 2009 | East Holandes Cays, Islas San Blas, Panama
02 March 2009 | Esnasdup Cays, Islas San Blas, Panama
18 February 2009 | East Holandes Cays, Islas San Blas, Panama
04 February 2009 | West Lemmon Cays, Islas San Blas, Panama
26 January 2009 | West Naguarandup Cays, Islas San Blas, Panama
21 January 2009 | San Blas Islands, Panama
15 January 2009 | San Blas Islands, Panama
12 January 2009 | Nargana, Islas San Blas, Panama
09 January 2009 | Snug Harbor, Islas San Blas, Panama
07 January 2009 | Achutupu, Islas San Blas, Panama
05 January 2009 | Isla Pinos, Panama

Free at Last

17 April 2012 | Roncador Cay
Michael Mirkes
We departed Marina Club de Pesca in Cartagena without much fanfare, just warm wishes from Judi, our good friend and neighbor of the yacht FIA, and of course, our loyal boat keeper, Estuardo. We had 330 NM ahead of us and had wanted higher winds than had been forecasted. We would need a boost from our engine in order to arrive at Roncador Cay with enough visibility to enter the shallow reef.

On the second night out, after a long period of motor sailing, I turned the engine off to see how much speed our sails along could deliver. Not enough, so I turned the engine key back on and...nothing happened. After a bit of thought, I "hot wired" the starter and we were motor sailing again. We arrived at Roncador Cay around 2 PM Friday, 52 hours from Cartagena.

Saturday was spent installing the wind turbine for battery recharging and doing other routine maintenance. The engine started normally during a trial so I'm more convinced that high temperature in the engine compartment caused some thermal problems in the starter/solenoid circuit. We'll proceed on that basis.

The Cay was enjoyable during our first two days but nasty weather was soon to come. Late Sunday it arrived with rain squalls and 30 knot winds. While the reef protected us from the 15-20 foot seas, the swells swung around it to make for a very uncomfortably rolling anchorage. It has been that way for the past two days and only now are we beginning to see a break in the weather.

We now have our ear to the weather forecasts, both from SSB broadcasts and e-mail service. Hoping to make the next two day passage to another reef system, Vivorillos, off the coast of Honduras. More later.

Are We Leaving Cartagena?

11 April 2012 | Cartagena, Colombia
We had expected to spend this past cruising season in the San Blas Islands of Panama but our boat's auto pilot had other ideas. It's importance can't be overstated, it is the equivalent of two or more additional crew members when on long passages on the high seas. After a long and frustrating consultation with a repair facility in the US and two rounds of parts shipment, we once more have a commissioned auto pilot aboard. We have our port clearance and hope to be underway by noon today. Our first landfall may be either Roncador Bank or Isla Providencia, about two and a half days from here.


25 August 2011 | Cross Plains, WI
Once again, an entry of events long after the fact. We are home in Cross Plains, Wisconsin, and are beginning to feel the anticipation of our return to the boat in Cartagena, Colombia. For me, that will be in mid-October. Mary will join me in mid-November. Meanwhile, we are planning a September road trip to the northeast US and Canada to visit friends and to commemorate a similar honeymoon journey 46 years ago.

Now, back to the "sail" part of this blog. It took some time to get our new batteries delivered. So much so that we decided to postpone our return to the San Blas Islands of Panama. Instead, we were fortunate to join our Canadian friends on a journey to the famed coffee growing region near Pereira, Colombia. It was the highlight of our winter in Colombia. Soon afterward, we returned to Wisconsin where home improvement projects awaited us. However, the nation's economic outlook and its effect on our income meant that some of those projects will have to wait for better times.

If the next couple of months go according to plans, I'll be posting the next blog from Cartagena.

Stuff Happens

27 January 2011 | Cartagena, Colombia
Fast forward one year from the previous blog. A year's worth of activity makes for a long blog entry so I don't intend to go into details. It would include a fantastic trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. That trip may only be recorded in our memories since I can't seem to locate our photos.

Home in Cross Plains was eventful, as well. Mary had knee replacement surgery in April, 2010 and now, 9 months out, is doing fine. In fact, she enjoyed a tour and cruise through Canada's maritime provinces and the US east coast to Florida in the Fall, with her girlfriends. Our home wasn't neglected, though, as we had two bathrooms remodeled...a long 3 month project at that.

We enjoyed the Thansgiving and year end holidays with our sons, Dave and Dan and three dogs. Kris also joined us for Christmas upon her return from Japan.

Currently, we are aboard our boat in Marina Club de Pesca, Cartagena, Colombia. We arrived here from the states in mid-January to find that our batteries (which furnish power to just about everything on board) had "fried" due, perhaps, to a faulty charger. We're working out a source for replacements now. Only after we've done that can we begin to think of sailing out of here for Panama's San Blas Islands. Meanwhile, we are considering more land travel here in Colombia or in Chile/Argentina while we wait for batteries.

More later...

Happy New Year!

31 December 2009 | Cartagena, Colombia
La Sirena is secure in her berth at Marina Club de Pesca. Although we arrived here on December 12, we neglected to post details and photos of our leisurely, ten day sail through the San Blas Islands of Panama and the overnight passage from San Blas to Colombia. It seemed to us an uneventful reversal of last season's adventure, without many of the unknowns.

The Christmas celebrations have ended and we are spending a quiet afternoon aboard 'La Sirena' so we may enjoy a late evening in the Old City. Last year's New Year celebration was amazing and we are looking forward to a similar experience this evening. (more later)

It's the New Year's Day, 2010! We returned to the boat at 1 AM, after an evening of dining and conversation with good friends and watching Cartagena's fireworks from atop the city's 16th century wall.

May the next decade be in every way better than the past.

Eve of Panama Departure

01 December 2009
We leave Panama and the security of Shelter Bay Marina tomorrow morning. Our route will be easward along the coast of Panama to Islas San Blas. We hope to enjoy those islands for a few days before making the overnight passage to Cartagena, Colombia. While I was in Panama City awaiting Mary's arrival from her Cabo San Lucas "vacation" the weather improved for just long enough to get La Sirena's bottom painting done. We launched the boat a few days later, courtesy of the yard's 100 ton Marine Travelift.

This will be the last blog posting until we arrive in Cartagena, hopefully by mid-December. Mary and I are looking forward to that...renewing friendships there and enjoying the holiday festivites.
Vessel Name: La Sirena
Vessel Make/Model: Island Packet 38/1990
Hailing Port: Bayfield, WI
Crew: Mary and Mike Mirkes
About: Sailing the Caribbean for 12 consecutive years...several of which were as liveaboards. We are now 'snow birds', escaping the upper midwest USA winters. This blog of our journey was only recently begun, but hopefully we will have much to add.

The Mariners

Who: Mary and Mike Mirkes
Port: Bayfield, WI
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Incidentally, you may view our current position in a couple of ways. First, click on the above Current Position map to get an enlarged view. You may also be asked to install the Google Earth Plugin. Do that, and when you see the 'Run or Save?' window, click on 'Run' and follow the instructions. If you also see an 'ActiveX' control bar, click 'OK' to run it.

Alternatively, click on the above Related Links "Ship Trak" title and insert my amateur radio call sign KB9UTD in the appropriate field. You'll see our current position as well as others reported since leaving Venezuela. Use the satellite image mode and zoom features.