Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pau Hana meets the Pacific

After a successful trip through the Panama Canal, we are in Panama City, checking out this super urban (think Singapore) town. Martin's mom is joining us for a week of ceviche, rainforests and museum hopping. We went to the Frank Gehry Biodiversity Museum today which was fantastic. This is our last good port for boat parts and western type provisions so we're stocking up on all the goodies we won't have access to in the coming months.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

pedro miguel locks

Had a great nite in Gatun Lake. We'll enter the lock system at 12:10 EST today. Whee!

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

gatun lock

We will be going into the lock in the next 30 minutes, around 6:45 pm EST.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Up the Rio Chagres

Our transit through the Panama Canal got delayed until Saturday February 21. We'll leave the marina in the afternoon, go through Gatun Locks between 3 and 6 pm EST, spend the night in Gatun Lake and finish the transit throughout the day on Sunday, finished hopefully by 4 pm EST. If you want to try and catch us live, there's a web cam at all the locks:

We've been busy getting some projects done on the boat. We also made a side trip to the Rio Chagres, a river nearby that enters a rainforest nature preserve. We motored up the river a few miles and felt like we had sailed into the Land of the Lost. We saw many tropical birds and outrageous butterflies, along with howler monkeys that sound an unearthly howl when the sun goes down. We kayaked into smaller creeks and did some exploring. There's jaguar and crocodiles in the forest, but we didn't see any (no wookies either). Nor did we do any swimming in the river. Quite a different natural world from the coyotes, elk and wolves in Montana.

Martin goes up the mast to check on the radar.

Entering the Rio Chagres

At anchor

Marzan goes kayaking

little song birds wanted to build a nest at the bow of the boat

Great sailing on the way back to Colon to wait for Canal transit

Monday, February 9, 2015

PANAMA! belted like Van Halen, of course...

We had a great passage to Panama! (okay, sing it everyone). We then spent 10 days in the San Blas islands cruising around and checking out the deserted islands, Kuna culture and local reefs. Contrary to some comments (yeah, Megan, you!) I won't be adopting the dress of the Kuna women. Though colorful & tempting, this girl's sticking with J Crew.

Watching Martin & Steven reel in the 2 mahi mahi and the tuna was a real kick. I haven't eaten that much fish in my entire life! We got pretty good at pouring rum in their gills (a bit of chemical sedation to abbreviate the thrashing) by the 3rd one... and the Caribbean tuna rolls were a definite highlight of the trip. We were happy to have our friend Steven along for the passage and some island hopping.

Yesterday we left the San Blas and sailed overnight into Colon, the northern entrance to the Panama Canal. We had fantastic, windy conditions, and the boat sailed beautifully. At about 3 am the shipping traffic picked up and we had to maintain constant surveillance and maneuvering to avoid the ships. When we approached the breakwater there were more than 15 huge ships moving around on our surveillance system. The fact that we only got honked at twice was a total victory.

Pau Hana is now in a slip in a marina with many other boats preparing to go through the Canal. Tomorrow we'll get measured and start the process officially.

Anchored next to a reef in San Blas Islands
The good students prepare for what's to come

the master snorkeler finds an awesome conch shell

we kayaked out to this metropolitan island to check out the reef

last night on anchor in the San Blas

one of the 50+ ships we encountered on our sail to the entrance of the Panama Canal
captain cutie


Spell that backwards, Alice!
The San Blas Islands are part of the Kuna Yala autonomous area, part of Panama but governed independently by the Kuna people. Untouched by modern development, the Kuna exist by selling coconuts for export. The reefs here are the healthiest that I've seen anywhere in the Caribbean. Our guidebook states that they don't like having their photo taken, so alas, no photos.  Our guest Steven Friese has departed after 12 days aboard and we had a great time.
An overnight sail brought us from the San Blas Islands to Colon at the northern end of the Panama Canal.
We are now running a few errands and preparing to go through the canal.
900 miles from Puerto Rico to Panama

Tuna caught on a custom lure made from a granola bar wrapper, yellow zip tie, and electrical tape

One of two Mahi Mahi Steven reeled in on our handline.
beautiful fish.  tasty too!

watching for reefs as we approach Holandes Cays, San Blas

fresh sprouts!