Oh my! The anticipation has started - that quiver of excitement before our next adventure! This is the 6th time we have started packing our bags to head south to wherever our beloved boat has been for hurricane season and I have to say, it is still exciting. (On 2 other times, we moved aboard right here in Canada.)
One box has already gone - mailed to Miami and now awaiting a ship to take it to Guatemala. (And although I mentioned in the last posting that we were sending soda stream canisters and flares, that was wildly optimistic thinking on my part. Neither are shippable or mailable.) We will continue to buy 2 litre bottles of soda water when we want some fizz in our glasses, and Jim bought new flares at our local chandlery, The Binnacle, to replace our expired ones.
These are non-flammable, non-hazardous LED and laser flares - totally acceptable on airlines, will last forever, and be visible longer if we ever do need to use them. The Rescue Laser Flare from Greatland Laser is visible for up to 20 miles at night, and lasts 72 hours on 2 AA batteries, equal to 4,320 1-minute flares! The LED Firefly Waterbug Strobe, with an SOS option will automatically light if immersed in water, can be manually operated, visible for over 3.5 miles, with a battery life of 56 hours. I hope I never have occasion to tell you how effective they are!
We also have 2 other parcels on the way to the shipping agent in Miami. It feels just like Christmas and birthdays all rolled up together. And truth to tell - it IS Christmas and birthdays rolled up together - for the next several years! Every time our anchor has dragged in past years, we said, "Next year we are getting a Rocna!" and each year we put it off again. Well, it isn't a Rocna, but this year there is a Manson Supreme anchor headed for Madcap's bow. The ratings appear to be similar, it is slightly cheaper than the Rocna, and made in New Zealand with a reliable quality of steel. Our CQR and Bruce anchors both hold reasonably well in particular situations, but neither is entirely dependable in the areas where we have been sailing. These lines from the Manson Website just make my little heart sing:
"These Lloyd's Register Super High Holding Power (SHHP) approved anchors set immediately, digging in fast to provide peace of mind in crowded anchorages.
Built from certified high tensile steel by certified welders, this "scoop" style anchor uses a roll bar to self-right instead of a heavily weighted tip. This ensures weight can be distributed to the load-bearing fluke for increased surface area and a much greater holding power. The sharp spear point digs right in to almost every seabed type, penetrating deeply and setting immediately."
And .... We have finally succumbed to the desire for a dependable supply of fresh water. We always said we didn't really need a water maker, and we didn't - in the areas we were sailing. We have been frugal water consumers, didn't mind paying a reasonable fee to fill our 100 gallon tanks wherever we were, and in the last few years, we have been the beneficiaries of water from our Rio Dulce friends' cisterns. But this year .... Well - we have plans! After much discussion and research, we ordered an electric Rainman portable watermaker. It is Australian made, requires very little installation, is more affordable (we ordered the Economy model), and at least so far, we have had exceptional service from the dealer, Chris Burton at SeaTaskGroup in Florida. We chose the electric option because we already carry a Honda 2000 generator with us. I will let you know more details when we see it and start to use it.
As for our plans ... we will arrive in Rio Dulce mid November this year so we can spend a few weeks with friends at Tortugal Marina and down river in Cayo Quemado - along with all the "opening up the boat" and provisioning activities, of course. If the wind is right, and all other conditions are favourable, we will point the bow east this year to the Bay Islands of Honduras: Utila, Roatan, Guanaja. And then we will sail even farther east - to the Vivorillos. ... And then ... we round the corner and set our course south to the Columbian islands of Providencia and San Andres, past Nicaragua and Costa Rica, finally fetching up in Bocas del Toro, Panama! Like all cruising plans, this one is written in the sand at low tide - but, "You gotta have a plan!" and we are feeling excited.
Jim has spent the last month building an impressive binder of detailed charts, waypoints, and routes to every possible anchorage along the way. We have pored over books and read blogs of folks who have been there, and peppered our friends with questions. Our chart plotter is repaired, (we hope - we can't tell for sure until we reinstall it on the boat) and we will spend some time in Rio Dulce getting the AIS (vessel identification system) and SSB (radio) brought up to more satisfactory condition.
And in the meantime, what a glorious late summer we have enjoyed. The weather has been spectacular, and we were even swimming in the Northumberland Strait the last week of September. Mireille and Christian (Nomades) came for a visit. We loved showing them our city, and introducing them to the Bay of Fundy and Grand Pré in the Annapolis Valley as well as a quick visit to Amherst Shore before they headed off to Cape Breton for more adventures.
Jim and I took a little road trip ourselves a couple of weeks ago to the Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick - we haven't been there for years and it whetted our appetites to go back to the Fundy Shore again next summer and stay longer. (I wonder how many times I have said this about how many places? "Let's go back again and stay longer!") That's the reason it took us years to get to Cuba, and it is taking years to get to Panama. We always find places to linger or to return to!
Now, we have just a couple more trips and events to enjoy here before we close up the house. I mentioned in the last posting that we had one more big family event to look forward to - the birth of Daman and Fatima's baby, and little Samah Scarlett has arrived! We love to see the pics of this sweet new niece. Thanksgiving is this weekend and we will host a neighbourhood dinner with all the traditional tastes and colours. We will make a few more trips to Amherst to close up the cottage and visit my dad, and I will fly over to Newfoundland for a short visit with Mary Beth and Graham. And then we'll load up our bags and fly off to Florida for a week of visiting friends as we wend our way south to Miami and the plane that will take us to Guatemala City.
I have been trying to learn how to insert photos into the body of the blog this season, since I know many of you like to see them, and that hasn't been a strongpoint of mine. The title picture of this page was taken by our friend Steve (s/v Tarka). If I can get the knack of it, you will be able to see more of our pictures this season. And in case you are wondering about the writing? Yes, I have worked at the book off and on throughout the summer. It is not done. And while I feel a fair bit of regret that I was not able to finish it this season, I appreciate the encouragement of friends who support my claims of, "Next year! Next year! I know I will get it done next year!"