16 November 2013 | Bocas Del Toro, Panama
Just an update on Chasing Sunsets, We are still in the Bocas Del Toro area but now we are property owners, yes we bought our own tropical island. It is called Tranquillo Place; it is just at a half acre surrounded by some amazingly clear water. We have two reefs that come from the island one to the east that has some amazing coral formations and one to the west that has some lobsters and big crabs. We have been planting fruit trees on the island and making trails so we can walk all around the island in comfort. The weather here is in the mid eighty’s during the day and down to the low seventy’s at night. Just perfect, you can’t ask for anything better.
Back in Bocas Del Toro, Panama
19 October 2013 | Panama
Well we are back in Bocas Del Toro, Panama just off our island, the weather is what we remembered days are in the high eighty's and the nights are in the low seventy's. We had a great time sailing back from the USA we took a few months and traveled the inter coastal water way from Corpus Christy Texas all the way to Boot key harbor in Florida we then headed to Isla Mujeres Mexico that was a great trip just off Cuba and then right into Isla. We stayed in Isla for two weeks and then headed south to Guanaja Honduras and meet up with some old friends there. The stay was great the weather was calm and only had rain one day out of the fourteen we stayed and then headed east around the corner and on our way to San Andreas Columbia, just as we rounded the corner we had a wind change and found ourselves with a thirty knot wind out of the north and boy was that a fun ride we covered ninety six miles in less than ten hours so we just headed right past San Andreas and headed to Bocas. The wind came around to the southeast and gave us a little help into Drago cut in the north end of Bocas we got out of the waves and found a great beach to drop the hook and spent the night, boy did we sleep well that night. The next morning the sun was shining and the ten knot breeze was right out of the north like it should be and it helped us right in the Bocas.
We had a great time coming home from the states and saw so many different places we have passed on the other trips down to Panama so this was a special trip in some ways.
22 January 2013 | HarborWalk Marina Hitchcock, TX
Thursday January 17th 2013
We left Rockport, TX determined that we were not going back. We calibrated the new Garmin Auto Pilot on the way out and wow what a nice addition to the boat. It is so easy and on the money, it has so many new features it will take some time to learn all of them but the one we both like is that we can pick a destination on the chart plotter and select “guide to” and it will keep us in deep water and steer around things, it just is a great feeling to have an auto pilot you can trust.
It was a breezy, cold, but sunny day and we were excited about the opportunity to be transiting the ICW during the winter months when the endangered Whooping Cranes were here. The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is one of the major wintering spots of the Whooping Crane. When we looked up Whooping Cranes on the internet it described them and very large white bird with red and black on the head and black wing tips on the underside of the wings.
We started spotting the large white birds with the very distinctive red on the head. We spotted 25 birds that day while we passed through the Aransas National Wildlife refuge. What a treat!
As the end of the day came closer and closer we started looking for spot to pull over, make a nice dinner and get some rest. Just before Port O’Conner we found an area that was cut out of the side of the ICW. It had a tall bulk head on the three sides and some tall pilings in the middle. So we tied to the pilings and watched the last of the sunlight slip away.
Friday January 18th 2013
We decided to get up at 5 AM to start our day. We heard a big barge coming our way so we decided that since it was still dark we would follow in behind the barge and let him guide us till the sun came up. Between following the barge and our new “Auto” we were very comfortable navigating the ICW in the dark. “Auto” did an excellent job, always keeping us in the deepest water and in the safest part of the channel.
As our friend the sun came up we were almost across Matagorda Bay and looking for more Whooping Cranes. There were so many spices of birds it was fun to see them sunning on the shore lines. We passed through the Mad Island Wildlife Management Area, the Big Boggy Wildlife Refuge and the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. We saw more of those “big white birds”. Even saw about ten of them flying with their huge wing span and black under the wings…pretty awesome. The white and brown pelicans, duck of all spices and several different kinds of cranes, hawks and even some of the pink spoon bills.
We tested “Auto’s” true colors as we passed though the locks on the Colorado River. He did a great job but always under Rick’s watchful eyes just in case. The nice thing about Auto is that there is a “shadow drive” which is designed to allow you to take the helm without disengaging the auto pilot. It senses that you have taken the helm and then it senses when you stop it puts the vessel back on it course or if you choose to change course it will take the new course. We are really enjoying our new Garmin GHP 10 auto guided navigation system.
We were not sure where we were going to spend the night. We tried the San Bernard River, but it was too shallow so we went on thinking we would go into one of the marinas in Freeport. We called two and both said they had enough water for us to get into their marinas. The wind has been blowing out of the north for so long that the water in the ICW and all along the coast has been down almost 2 feet. We were again following a barge as we approached the locks on the Brazos River. We held back to make sure the barge passed through safely, but then the captain of the barge came on the radio saying the he got spit out. We thought that meant that the current was so strong he could not get through, but what it meant was that the water was so shallow that he could not get through and had to back out of the lock. The captain did a great job of backing his long barge out and moving off to the side to wait for the time to come up and then he said he would try it again. We were then allowed to pass though the locks on both the west and east side of the Brazos River.
The first marina was on our starboard side of the ICW and we bummed going in so we went on the second one and bummed again, so we had to continue on past Freeport.
When we came out of Chocolate Bay we saw a line of mooring anchors and decided to tie between two of them and spend the rest of the night there. We pulled up next to the huge mooring, tossed a line around the huge mooring then motored forward and tied another line around a second mooring. One line tied to the stern and one tied to the bow we stretched out between the two mooring and spent a very comfortable night.
Saturday January 19th 2013
We woke up to the sound of the birds along the ICW and another bright sunny day with a light breeze still out of the north. We untied for the mooring anchors and headed towards Harborwalk Marina where we have a package waiting for us. The arrived at high tide, but still bummed the bottom in the channel that goes from the ICW to the channel of the Harborwalk development. We were instructed to take any of the transient slips at the front of the marina. All of the transient slips were open so we just took the first one. Wow…what a nice place.
On the charts it is not listed as Harborwalk or even as a marina. It is called Flaming Isles. They can be found at www.harborwalk.com . Floating docks with teak wood on the tops of the docks, pilings that are at least 15’ taller than the docks. Huge two story restaurant facility, another two story ship’s store and marina office building. Not just a swimming pool, but a “swim center” with four separate pools including a hot tub, which we enjoyed this evening. Wow, we feel like we are in a resort. It is so quiet here. We enjoyed using our grill and having a nice steak dinner and watching the sun set over the National Grassland to the west of Harborwalk.