Little Green Boat

Spruce circled the Pacific between 2013-2019: South Pacific Islands, NZ, Australia, Asia, Japan, Alaska , Canada, USA, Mexico then back to French Polynesia in 2020. The plan is to go on to the Indian Ocean in 2021.

30 August 2021 | Balboa YC - Panama
30 August 2021
30 August 2021
30 August 2021
28 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Arrived!)
27 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
26 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
25 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
24 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
23 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
22 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
21 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
20 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
19 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
18 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
17 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
16 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
15 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
14 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
13 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)

Passage to Panama – Reflections & Looking Ahead

30 August 2021 | Balboa YC - Panama
Sue & Andy Warman
It has been a couple days since we arrived in Balboa. A little time has been given to reflection. However, our minds have been in rather a whirl. Switching from an ocean based passage mindset to a "close to land" and more shore driven set of considerations is quite a contrast. Suddenly other pulls on ones thoughts come into play and in many ways life becomes more complex.
The passage went rather well to plan. Although, it did not always feel like that while under-way. The picture above shows a Blue Route Line which was the original plan tweaked for current: this was based upon our knowledge of the boat characteristics and the weather and current information contained in the Pilot Charts. The series of small black circles are our positions approximately every 12-hours. (Individual Blogs were posted for each day of progress). Initially we made good a little west of the plan (mainly because the wind was more from NE and current was going west). As we approached the latitude where we wanted to travel east the wind came more from the SE, so we could point higher. Most of the east going course was conducted with a neutral or fair current. The dotted lines at the top of the picture (dark Green and Red) are plots of where the Monsoon Trough and the ITCZ were approximately located. North of there lies a zone of cyclone genesis and the North Pacific summer Hurricane Season was going strong.

30 August 2021
Sue & Andy Warman
The immediate considerations upon arrival are: getting cleared in and officially entered into the new country, more complex with Covid restrictions; hooking into a modern communications system by obtaining a local SIM card for a smartphone, or access to reliable wifi (Joshua Slocombe never worried about that one); Banking, do one's plastic cards work in this nation's ATMs (this has become more reliable over the past decade); shopping for fresh produce, typically after a few weeks at sea supplies have been consumed. In our case we also need to arrange a transit of the Panama Canal. First night in we celebrated our arrival with a glass of wine from our last bottle of French Poly Plonk.
Events have left us little time to relax. Due to the unknown factors in the Covid Era, we chose to employ an agent to facilitate the process(es). Upon arrival at 8am we anchored where told by the Marine Traffic Control people. Our agent had requested we go to a mooring at the Balboa Yacht Club. At 10am we moved to BYC and at noon our statutory Covid tests were administered. Results came a couple hours later, then the Director of Health needed to approve our entry. That was achieved close to 4pm, a helpful immigration officer worked late to stamp our passports and check us into Panama. Meanwhile, elsewhere the Port Captain was simultaneously completing his part of the process to finish our entry formalities.

30 August 2021
Sue & Andy Warman
Sunday dawned bright, and after undertaking a few jobs aboard: cleaning, the boat had been closed up for 4-weeks and doing oil changes, we headed off to the big supermarket and a nearby shop where we could obtain a local SIM card. Gosh! Don't the taxis drive fast, gulp! So many people out and about, so many cars, so busy. It was all quite mind-warping.
Supermercado. Note that we did not go to Tahiti this time in French Polynesia, our contact with shopping had been only local convenience store sizes since we departed Mexico 18-months ago. Covid measures: of course masks obligatory, also hand gel upon entry, but also a temperature scanner. Presumably too hot and alarms would sound and one might be escorted away. Where we know not? The cool air-conditioning was a relief after the typical Central American humidity outdoors. We thought French Polynesia got warm during the summer months, this has been a shock, something extra.

30 August 2021
Sue & Andy Warman
Sue was rapidly in Tea Heaven. No supplies of leaf tea, still tea-bagged, but what a choice. Similarly with wine. Due to high taxation the wine in French Polynesia was typically very expensive and not the best quality. Here was a wonderful selection at a fraction of the cost. Amazing! A whole trolley of provisions bought for a mere $200. It took resolve to restrain oneself from dipping into those treats not seen for so long.
Monday morning. We slipped our mooring and a short motor back to the La Playita anchorage where a Canal Inspector boarded us from a huge workboat. Our original measurement done in 2012 was still within validity, so we merely underwent some questions and form filling. Within an hour we were approved for our canal transit. Conversations with our agent yesterday, anticipated this to be scheduled for Thursday or Friday: rapid when compared with our December 2012 transit. However, upon arriving back at the mooring we received a phone message from the agent suggesting he provisionally has our transit time starting at 6am on Wednesday. Eek, that is only 2 days away. If that is achieved we will be entering the canal within 4-days of first arriving in Balboa. That probably explains why we are not relaxing and life feels rather rushed at the moment, and we thought it was passage “jet-lag”.
Https:// shows the view at the second lock we will enter. The canal has two locks where we will first enter the canal, then there is one lock at Miraflores, and finally after 28 miles through the infamous Culebra Cutting and across Gatun Lake, we will descend to the Caribbean at Gatun Locks. There are three locks in this final stage. On this Pacific side the tidal range is 5m between low and high water levels, on the Caribbean side the rise and fall is less than a half metre.
We shall next post a blog on Spruce's second Panama Canal Transit, this the originally unplanned one.

Under Way - Day 30

28 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Arrived!)
Sue & Andy
Day 30 �- 28/8/21 at 13:10utc �- Position Anchored at 08 54.197'N:079 31.348'W Distance Logged via GPS Trip: 4,225M Distance Logged via Ship's Log: 4,167M Total Net Benefit from Current58 Miles Distance To Go:000M Av Spd Overall=5.9kn.

Hurrah, we have completed our passage from The Marquises to Balboa. Our anchorage at the moment is at Flamenco Island as instructed by the Signal Station. Our agent has arranged for covid tests tomorrow morning aat Balboa YC... we await communication from our agent on this discrepancy. Time for a well earned "Passage Completed" cup of tea in large pottery mugs. The stats are above. Additionally we used the engine for a total of 61 hours: that was mainly during the last two days but did include a few hours on the first day of departure and a couple of short spells on passage when winds did a light weight twirl.

That is our longest passage ever both in distance and duration. The nearest lesser distances were Galapagos to Marquises in 2013 at 3000M and 21 days; Mexico to Gambiers in 2020 at 3,200M and 25 days. This one at 4,225M and an hour under 30-days will certainly be memorable.

Wildlife: Yesterday and this morning leaping Blue Marlins, approx 3m length and a beautiful colour.

Photo shows a relieved skipper ready for a rest.

Under Way - Day 29

27 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
Sue & Andy
Day 29 �- 27/8/21 at 11:21utc �- Position 06 52.5'N:079 57.3'W Distance Logged: 4,086M �- To Go:150M Av Spd Overall=5.9kn. latest course of 066T...but we shall be turning north in 43 miles.

Yesterday was very wet with some strange winds. Almost every direction of the compass was a source of wind (not as forecast, possibly due to rain and thunder clouds. After a few attempts as messing about with poles and preventers in breezes of between 6-12 knots strength, we gave up sailing and pressed our "Iron Topsail" into service. Perhaps, in total, we lost 4-5 hours of fitful sailing, but also avoided tiring ourselves out with sail setting changes galore in the pouring rain.

We carried a slightly fair current until 4am at 0.2-0.5kn That has reveersed to 0.4kn adverse. We have our fingers crossed we are far enough off Punta Mala to avoid strong currents. Our wide curve into the gulf will hopefully minimise the effect, although iit has added 20 miles to the route.

Unless we suffer negative current effects or serious convection squalls we are thinking a Saturday afternoon arrival at Balboa looks promising. After 30-days on passage we will be ready for a break.

Wildlife: Yesterday two whales cruised alongside for a short period. Possibly a Minke and a calf. Sue's exclamation " I can see right into its blowhole" brought Andy onto deck rapidly. These beasties look rather large from a 5-metre range.
Vessel Name: Spruce
Vessel Make/Model: Hallberg Rassy 42 - Enderlein Design
Hailing Port: Portsmouth, UK
Crew: Sue & Andy
About: Sue is an artist, plays the flute and guitar. Andy enjoys technical challenges. Both are working hard, harder than last time, at learning French while in French Polynesia again.
During 2013 and 2014 we sailed across the Pacific to New Zealand and then Australia. 2015-18 brought us from Asia to Washington State via the North Pacific Rim. In 2019 we cruised BC and then south to Mexico. In 2020 we headed back out into the Pacific with a 3,200M passage to Les Gambiers in [...]
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Spruce's Photos - Trek to La Ciudad Perdida
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No room inside
A view on the early trail from a high vantage point
Mules hauling food ahead to the Cabana where we
Kate & Marlyn on the first day
A swim before the uphill commenced
Early part of the trail
Local cattle, a species from Africa we were told
First night
Mules patiently waiting for the day
Marlyn & another member of Magic Tours staff working in the cook-house
A clay oven/stove - four at this camp and all different sizes
Muleteer urging his charges onwards and upwards
A farmstead beside the trail
More mules lugging food and equipment. No mechanised transport on this trail.
Enrique (nicknamed Pinochio) preparing food. If he said the trail was going to be "a little bit uphill" then get your climbing gear ready :-)
Packing sacks to load onto the mules
Cabana 1 - the only hammock accommodation, thankfully.
Mule early in the morning ready for loading
Early morning light
The group heads out
Kate ready for some knee punishment on the downhill bits
Another swim - we usually had one per day. Left to Right: Orla, Thomas, Andrea, Rachael and Mikey
Not sure what these were but didn
An ancient Native Indian burial site, probably plundered many years ago
A rest at a summit. Fresh fruit to moisten the mouth
Inside a Kogi (Native Indian) home
Inside a Kogi (Native Indian) home
Frog sleeping during the day
A Kogi mother and children
A Kogi child
Probably a beautiful butterfly to be...don
A Kogi village
Our guide, Jesus, briefing us on the Kogi culture. The mortar and pestle artifact in front of him is used to hold lime which is used to mix with and chew cocoa leaves. The mild cocaine dose released assists the Kogi to combat sickness at high altitude, hunger and keep them moving in a hostile environment.
Mosquito nets over bunk beds at Cabana 2
Trying to dry wet gear in the late afternoon rainy period
One of the weird and colourful bugs en route
River flowing during a comparatively dry period
A Kogi woman weaving a strap for a mochila, a bag to hang over the shoulder)
Entertaining ourselves in the evening.
A plant seen quite often in the forest
Mikey and Andrea lead the way across the river. Orla and guide, Jesus, following. These rivers can quickly increase in depth making crossings hazardous. Crossings were made before the afternoon rains and melt-water emerged from the Sierra Nevada snow-cap
Another plant
Andy and Lena in a hollow tree
Fungi on a tree...not quite all in focus but you get the idea
Another strange fruit on a tree at the Lost City...not sure what it is?
Large palms not removed from the site of the Lost City when they cleared the site in the 1970s and 80s
A Map-Stone. The small star bursts (if you can see them) are settlements and the long lines are the river routes.
A Kogi Native Indian man walked up the main pathway - it gave an air of historical times
One of many routes up to Ciudad Perdida
One of the horse fly type of bugs - the proboscis goes straight through trousers and they aren
Its was all up from here
We tink this is know as a Number 88 butterfly but can
Looking down on the lower levels of La Ciudad Perdida from the higher part.
Andy meets the one of the local army detachment. Security of tourists has been a high priority for the Colombian authorities since the trail to La Ciudad Perdida re-opened. These chaps are heavily armed and very friendly to tourists.
Andy with the vista behind. We needed to be up there early before it clouded over, but the insects were vicious.
Our group enjoying the scenery
The "throne" occupied by the Shaman while passing judgement and giving advice to the citizens.
View from the city
River water had to be purified before filling our water bottles for the day
The five day part of our group Left to Right: Jesus (Guide), Lena, Andrea, Thomas, Ibra, Scott
A bonus swim for a few of us on the penultimate day. Enrique took time out from kitchens duties to take us down a steep hill to a fantastic waterfall. Mikey emerges from the torrent.
Maeve & Rachel desperately hang onto their bikinis
Joanie avoids being bowled over
Another strange plant
The final furlong, almost finished. Left to ight: Kate, Joanie, Maeve, Rachel, Orla, Mikey, Mark, Andy
This spider was about 6" (150mm) across from leg tip to leg tip...nobody was willing to put their finger close for size perspective.
One of the many beautiful butterflies. They didn
A rest at the top. L to R: Orla, Enrique, Rachel
A wasp nest on a leaf
The cow wasn
Another pretty plant
At the finish: Joanie
At the finish: Rachel
At the finish: Orla
At the finish: Maeve
At the finish: Mark
At the finish: Mikey
Packing the mule sacks for the next group to depart
At the finish: Kate
The hardest working member of the team. The mules carry food and other essentials along the trail leaving the hikers to carry only light weight packs.