Unloading Libertad in Ensenada
03 July 2017
We got word that the freighter would arrive in Ensenada the afternoon of July 1st and would thus be unloading early the next morning, depending on when they could get a spot at the commercial pier cleared.
Early morning on Fri. July 1, Dennis took the Amtrak train down to San Diego, a shuttle bus to the Mexican border, walked across the border-clearing into the country, and then boarded an ABC bus for the 90 minute ride down to Ensenada.
While enroute he got a message saying they had scheduled us to unload at 11am that day. Don't know what happened - perhaps the boat arrived a full day early, but there was no way Dennis would be in Ensenada until late in the afternoon. They said they would figure something out and rearrange us. But this took numerous phone calls and emails among Virginia, Dennis, and our assigned agent in Ensenada. When Dennis arrived Libertad had been unloaded and was sitting alongside the freighter. The water taxi dropped Dennis at our boat and left. Dennis could not reach anyone on the freighter to ask for them to untie our dock lines and he couldn't reach them from Libertad's deck. He even rapped on their hull with our plastic mallet to no avail. After another set of phone calls among Virginia (still back in Santa Barbara), Dennis, our agent, and various officials with the transport company, we finally got word to the freighter crew and someone dropped our lines.
This story could go on for pages, but the short story is that Dennis had to stay in Ensenada for a few days to make arrangements with the boatyard and customs officials on Monday. We had heard a lot of horror stories about expired Temporary Import Permits, and we were prepared with all the required backup documentation to get ours cancelled and a new one issued, but.....it turns out that when they put our 2004 permit in the system they transposed some of the number of the paper permit so this mismatch requires us to send a lot of paperwork to Mexico city and wait for them to cancel the old before we can get issued the new. Unbelievable. Since Dennis basically spent the full day with Customs on this issue (thank you to the Baja Naval spanish speaking staff member who accompanied Dennis on this all day errand), he got to San Diego very late in the day. He had missed the Amtrak train and Greyhound buses to Santa Barbara. He was only able to get as far as Los Angeles. Virginia met him downtown LA at 11pm at the Greyhound station and got him home safe, but a bit exhausted and crazed.
We are now awaiting a schedule from the boatyard for the TLC we want to do to Libertad before sailing her home to Santa Barbara. We will most likely be making a few trips back and forth to Ensenada before we have Libertad berthed in Santa Barbara.
Loading Libertad in Panama
16 June 2017
Virginia and Dennis Johns
We got a scheduled loading date from the freighter company and Dennis flew down to Panama on June 14 to load Libertad for its transport through the canal and up the west coast of Central America to Ensenada. He was able to get a round trip ticket from Santa Barbara to Panama City.
There was a bit of confusion caused by a lack of any communication with our assigned agent, but Dennis got the boat successfully loaded and flew home on June 15. There was a long delay in Houston which made him miss his Santa Barbara connection in LA. And his plane arrived so late that the Santa Barbara shuttle bus wasn't running. Virginia drove down to LAX and met him at 2 am. There was very little traffic on the road so the round trip was just about 4 hours. Not bad.
We were very happy that this got him home before June 20 when our Johns' family reunion started in the Santa Barbara area!
Home in Santa Barbara
26 May 2017
We flew home on Friday the 26th on a direct flight from Panama to Los Angeles. A 2 hour shuttle ride north got us into Santa Barbara about 10:30pm. Our son picked us up and delivered us home.
The transport company is updating us every few days and the date for loading Libertad in Panama has slipped a day or two since we arrived back home. So we are happy that we aren't sitting in the heat and humidity of Panama but instead are doing our waiting back home with family and friends. When we get a firm loading date, Dennis will take a quick round trip run to Panama to load Libertad on the freighter. He will then return home to be a part of the Johns family reunion while we await word of the arrival date of the freighter in Ensenada. We will take a train ride to San Diego and several buses across the border and down to Ensenada to meet Libertad.
For now we can enjoy visiting with our family and enjoying our home town.
in Panama and Coming Home!
24 May 2017
We arrived here in Colon, Panama on Monday around 0900. As we noted in our short position reports, the first day of the passage was rough with big seas and all but Dennis got a bit seasick. The second day was much calmer - no wind so we had to motor, but seas flattened out and we all recovered and could eat a bit.
We were buddy boating with our friends on Kali Mera (Herbert and Tadeya from Vienna). We spoke 4 times each day on the radio. One time we used SSB as the VHF transmission was a bit noisy, but we are such similar boats that we were within VHF range the whole time. Their boat is an Amel Santorin, the newer version of our Maramu, so 46' ketch, like us. We enjoy this couple very much.
We immediately needed to get rolling with our agent in Panama to start the process of checking us in to Panama and arranging all the paperwork for putting Libertad on the freighter. When we met with him, some of the fees sounded a bit high, so we put him on hold. Now that we have talked with the transport company United Yacht Transport, who contracted with this agent, I think things will get more reasonable. We are waiting to hear back from the agent.
Yesterday we got the news that the freighter is delayed. It won't be leaving Everglades, Florida until June 7, and with a 3 day transport, it will arrive here June 10. We do not want to sit here in this heat and humidity for 2 more weeks, so we are flying home to Santa Barbara this Friday, May 26. Dennis will fly back here a couple days before transport loading and move Libertad over to the freighter by himself. We are in Shelter Bay Marina and they are supposedly loading in the anchorage just outside the marina. Then he will come back to Santa Barbara and await delivery of Libertad to Ensenada....no date estimated for that yet, but the freighter makes several stops between Panama and Ensenada (Costa Rica and La Paz) so it will take some time.
In the meantime, we are preparing the boat for transport, removing sails, lashing down kayaks, stowing dinghy, eating/giving away fresh food, laundry, etc. And we are enjoying meeting yet another great group of cruisers.
Thankfully the marina has a pool and about 4pm each day, when we can't take any more of the heat, we cool off up there. Yesterday we took the marina shuttle into Colon....not a place where we want to be walking around - looks very scary. It was an interesting ride as Colon city is across the canal from the marina. On the way over we took a bridge that opens up periodically between boats going through the canal. On the way back we took the car ferry that makes the crossing at specified times. That allowed us to see the new larger canal. Six of us took a taxi from the marina shuttle drop off point over to Immigration and Customs at the port. Then we took a taxi back to the mall/supermarket where the marina shuttle would meet us.
All's well. We are very anxious to be home and see family and friends!
day 2 enroute to Panama
21 May 2017
Virginia and Dennis Johns
It was a wild night, but this afternoon we got the calming of the winds that was predicted, which is also starting to flatten out the seas. We are feeling a bit better and even able to eat something. Of the four of us travelling in the two boats, only Dennis did not get any mal de mer...fortunately for Virginia as he is good about taking on her duties while she recovers! She was able to do her watches last night so he got some rest....can't really sleep with the boat rocking and rolling so much.
But things are calmer now, we are motor sailing a straight line to Colon and if things don't change we will be there in about 15-16 hours.
All's well aboard.
on to Panama
20 May 2017
Virginia and Dennis Johns
We left Isla Providencia at 11:00am. Weather reports were for some high winds and big seas for the first part of our trip and then little wind on the second day. First day has proven to match the reports - wild ride! A bit calmer right now, but doubtful that we'll get much sleep. Should arrive Colon, Panama Monday midday.
All's well aboard