TivoliCruise

07 December 2019 | Balboa Yacht Club, Pacific Panama
30 November 2019 | Shelter Bay
26 November 2019 | Shelter Bay
20 November 2019 | San Blas, Shelter Bay
02 November 2019 | Still at Red Frog !
27 October 2019 | Bocas
14 October 2019 | Red Frog Marina
30 May 2019 | Bocas del Toro / Upper Sardine Lake
18 March 2019 | Providencia
13 March 2019 | Montego Bay, Jamaica
10 March 2019 | Montego Bay, Jamaica
07 March 2019 | Port Antonio, Jamaica
26 February 2019 | Ponce YC, Puerto Rico
15 February 2019 | Jolly Harbor, Antigua
03 February 2019 | Porthmouth, Dominica
25 January 2019 | The Saints, Guadaloupe
12 January 2019 | Simpson Bay, St. Martin
04 January 2019 | Francis Bay St. John
31 December 2018 | Francis Bay St. John
15 December 2018 | Dewey, Culebra

Canal Transit

07 December 2019 | Balboa Yacht Club, Pacific Panama
Torben | It rained today!
Kristin and Ricky handling lines in the Gatun Lock.

Having Kristin and Ricky help with the Canal transit and visit with us was really nice - Phil was there as well sleeping on the couch, but we will do a separate blog on our adventures with him in a day or two...it takes at least one complete blog to even scratch the surface on Phil!
We picked up our Canal Crew in Tocumen Airport in a rental car in the biggest rainstorm we have yet seen in Panama this time around, - think standing under a waterfall and then drive through the lake it creates. But, somehow we got them safely to Shelter Bay for a swim in the pool and a shower while Judy got the Turkey in Tivoli's oven for the Thanksgiving feast. Amazing what can be done in a galley 1/12th the size of a small kitchen.
A couple days later, we left Shelter Bay at 6pm and connected with our pilot an hour later. Lock up to Gatun Lake is 3 chambers each lifting you up 27 feet. We came through behind a 700' bulk carrier nested with a French flagged steel boat slightly bigger than Tivoli. When nesting, the 2 pleasure boats are tied together and the crew of each boat handles just one side of the canal wall, aiming to keep the boats in the middle. Doing this in the dark (actually under very strong lights) was probably the highlight of the transit and overall went well. There was one major scraping against the wall of the lock during turbulence, but fortunately it was the Frenchie, not Tivoli that did it!
We tied on to a buoy around 11:30 PM in Lake Gatun, had dinner and a good night's sleep before motoring for about 6 hours for our lock down. Bright sunshine and flat water made it easy. The 3 locks down was a a different system - this time we tied up to a 100' tourist boat that was against the wall, then had the French boat tie to us. This eliminated handling lines locking down but required some quick tie up's as we had to separate from the group each time between locks in a lot of current. We made it through unscathed in time to drop off Kristin and Ricky at the Balboa YC at sundown for their next adventure.........a luxury night at Old Town Panama, a 2 day overnighter to a Kuna 'hotel' in San Blas Islands and another excursion to Boquete in the Mountains - talk about the energy to do all of Panama's sights in a weeks time.
Last night we reconnected with Kristin and Ricky for a super meal in the Old Town, a night on the boat and then a day of exploring Casco Viejo today. We just sent them off to the airport for their flight back to SF.

Couple of notes on Canal transits. We just got in under the 'old' pricing system. The rates are due to double on January 1, 2020. So, for a boat our size, the basic fee was $ 800 with an additional $ 400 or so in various surcharges like security, a fee for submitting our paper work electronically, and some other misc items. We paid $ 200 for renting the required 4 x 125' lines and a bunch of big fenders. Still beats the prospect of sailing the wrong way around Cape Horn and pretty reasonable compared to one of the big container ships that our pilot told us is now paying about $ 1,000,000 for the transit.

Night transit

30 November 2019 | Shelter Bay
Torben & Judy Bentsen | Hot but not much rain today
Container ship lining up in Lake Gatun for the locks.

Yesterday we went to check out the new lock system at the Panama Canal and give Phil, Kristin and Ricky a look at what to expect for out transit today.

We checked in with the Cristobal Signal Station for our transit time and was surprised to find out that we will not have to be ready until 18:45 - that is 6:30 PM for landlubbers - to be in position to pick up our Pilot. So we are now preparing for a night flight up the locks to Lake Gatun. We are expecting to lock up around 8PM and are on Eastern Standard Time in case you want to dial into the Gatun Lock webcam!

We are not sure if they will have us tie up overnight in the lake or if we are going all the way in the darkness.......

Chagres River Cruise

26 November 2019 | Shelter Bay
Torben | Hot but not much rain today
Monkeys left and right

While hanging out waiting for our crew to arrive for the canal transit we did a little overnight outing.

Before the Panama Canal was build, the Chagres River ran very strong and was most difficult to navigate. Henry Morgan did it in 1670 when he surprised the Spanish and attacked Panama City, but mostly it was just a wild jungle river. When the Canal was build a dam was erected to create what was then the biggest man made lake in the world, Lake Gatun. This lake is part of the canal system and feeds water so the locks can operate.

Today you can still sail up the river about 6 Miles to the dam and it is unspoiled jungle. Not many people do it as the entrance is quite tricky and the river know for it's crocodiles, Bull Sharks, over 500 species of birds, loud howler monkeys and BUGS. Our modern charts have not been well updated, as a matter of fact, Navionics was off by at least a hundred feet both at the reef coming into the river as well as upriver where we - according to the chart - sailed inland! Anyway, we got in with about 3 feet under the keel.

Landyacht

We anchored for the night and enjoyed the tranquility. No lights, no people ( other than a single canoe paddling by at dusk and a patrol helicopter buzzing us in the morning ). The highlight was the incredible sound of jungle and very loud howler monkeys at dusk. Judy enjoyed it for a while, then repaired below behind the mosquito netting. I-on the other hand- could not get enough of the sounds and darkness and sat up for a couple of hours. I am now nursing about 15 really interesting bug bites even in areas protected by clothing.....maybe one day they will stop itching!



San Blas revisited

20 November 2019 | San Blas, Shelter Bay
Judy | Nice
Yes, beautiful!

The night before last, Torben and I sat in the cockpit with the stars blanketing the sky above. The auto pilot sailing us away from the San Blas islands. It was as romantic as it gets, until I said, "hell, I'll go down and nap first." I didn't wake up till day light. Imagine that!
We just spent the past two weeks re-exploring the San Blas, visiting islands we had been to just nine years ago. Time, even in San Blas, does not stand still. Many of the islands that had huts for so called restaurants, serving only fish, now have full size menus, Panga docks for tourists, volleyball nets and hammocks that hang over the water.
Time to skedaddled in search of remoteness and we found an anchorage that quickly became our favorite. It was on East Holandase. It had awesome snorkeling, there were no other boats but there were plenty of local Kuna fishermen selling lobster, fish or octopus for five dollars. We charged their cell phones in exchange for coconuts and plantains. One day, they brought us lemons so I made "Anne Thomas" Lemon Cake and shared it with them. The teenage boys loved it!
Each day, we cherished our days on anchor, realizing this was the beginning of re-winding ourselves. It was a fantastic beginning of the ending! This time we put a few pictures I the gallery. Check it out.
Here are a few notes on San Blas.
1.There were NO bugs.
2. The best snorkeling we have seen in all our travels.
3. The Kuna's were respectful and nice
4. You can find seclusion.
5. The water is super warm and clear
6. The winds are gentle, which makes for smooth anchorages.
7. There is ZERO connectivity. Had to use our Iridium Go to touch base.
8. Provisions were scarce. We were lucky to come across a boat selling vegetables.

We are now back at Shelter Bay in the Canal Zone waiting to transit to the Pacific next week.

We really need to leave

02 November 2019 | Still at Red Frog !
Torben & Judy Bentsen | Nice
La Rosa Pool Area.

OK, so boat is ready, we have tweaked every line, tested every system, washed all the clothes ( like 3 times, but there is a laundry wash/fold service at the Marina ), gone to town for parts...as a matter of fact, we could have left last week.

Departure got delayed a little as we were doing massive docusign sessions until last Thursday when we finally closed escrow on our new house in Copperopolis, but we could have left Friday.

We could also leave today, but tomorrow there is a Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon concert at the local bar that we think we should see, so that won't work.

Could it be that Red Frog Marina and Resort sports some of the best beaches in Panama? 3 restaurants within 10 minutes walking distance?
Very nice showers? Internet beamed to the boat? Did I mention the laundry lady that do wash and fold for 6 bucks? Oh, and the infinity pool at La Rosa Beach Club?

OK, no more excuses, we will leave Monday for the Mosquito Coast, River Chagres and San Blas!

It' all about Barbie

27 October 2019 | Bocas
Judy | Nice
Presenting the Birthday Cake.

No not the doll! Thoug Barbi is a doll, she’s also my oldest dearest friend. She and her husband Clark flew down to celebrate her birthday on Tivoli. This was the first birthday we’ve spend together in probably 40 years! Every night that they were here, we celebrated Barbi’s birthday!

We managed to get Tivoli out for a few days and was pleasantly surprised how beautiful the archipelago of Bocas Del Toro was. We snorkeled Starfish Beach and saw gigantic starfish, swam with the dolphins and their babies in Dolphin Bay (which is a dolphin breading ground). And fortunately, on the last day we found a restaurant that was open that sold us a pack of sausage so that we could stay out for one more night. (We never got around to eating the sausage that night, because we were too busy celebrating Barbi’s birthday!)

All that was not enough for Barbi! Oh no. Once back in Red Frog Marina, she made arrangements for us to tour a bat cave. Sounded like a good idea the night before when we were celebrating. The thirty- minute panga ride through the jungle was totally cool. But the bat cave? Not so much. I was fine entering the cave wading through sometimes knee-deep water, with bats flying dangerously close to my face. They were interested in the million mosquito's that were buzzing around my head! I drew the line when the guide warned the water would be up to our chest. I turned around and headed out of there! Clark went back with me, leaving Torben and the birthday girl behind.

Fifteen minutes later they came out of the cave and said it was cool especially when they all turned off their headlamps. I was glad I missed it even when Barbi implied I was a chicken!

Now with them gone, Tivoli feels a little empty. But my heart is full of joy. Some things never change and for that I am grateful. Barbi is one friend, when life takes us separate directions, we always pick up where we left off!


Vessel Name: Tivoli
Vessel Make/Model: Beneteau First 42s7
Hailing Port: Point Richmond, CA
Crew: Judy & Torben Bentsen
About:
On September 11, 2010 we cast off the dock lines from our home port of Richmond Yacht Club, California with an agenda of a multi year cruise. Season 1 took us down the coast of Mexico and we ended the season in Bahia del Sol, El Salvador. [...]
Extra:
TIVOLI is a 1994 Beneteau 42s7. Once upon a time she was a fairly competitive race boat, now - in her old age - she is content being weighed down with a lot of cruising stuff. We raised the waterline twice before leaving Richmond Yacht Club to compensate for the anchors, chain, water maker, extra [...]
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From Bequia to Trinidad to San Francisco with a stop in Nova Scotia
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Created 25 December 2011
Shelter Bay, a short stop in San Blas and then 600 NM North to Gand Cayman
28 Photos
Created 18 December 2011
Final outing with Connie and Steve to the Spanish Fort guarding the mouth of the Chargres River.
20 Photos
Created 3 December 2011
Cap't Steve ready to drive the ferry across the Canal.
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Party on, mangofish
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Going to Thanksgiving at Betsy's in Pedesi
29 Photos
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Visit to the old transfer city of stolen gold and silver
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Getting a few projects done.
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If I hold the lobster, will you shoot it Steve?
46 Photos
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Sun, Blue Water, Double solitaire!
71 Photos
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Hello CARIBBEAN SEA
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Gatun Locks
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San Miguel Locks
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Miraflores locks
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Connie and Steve arrives, Betsy and Stu joins.
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Shots from Amador and Las Perlas Islands
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Coming back to El Salvadoe
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Acapulco to El Salvador with stops in Huatulco and Puerto Chiapas.
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Barra Birthday, Santiago Bay, Los Hadas and Manzanillo
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Christmas time in La Cruz.
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Random shots from Torben's trip to SF, Ricky visiting prior to Christmas, will he change his shirt before going back?
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San Blas & Chacala
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Pictures from Thanksgiving in Los Frailes and from 5 days in Mazatlan
47 Photos
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The solitude of Espiritu Santo and the metropolis of La Paz.
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Ensenada to Quintin
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Random shots from the last days in San Diego, including provisioning at the farmers market and finding a spot for it all
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From J's trip to celebrate Connnie and make some bucks at the school.
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