Directions

Our latest entry always comes up first...

Click this link if you want to start at the beginning of our trip from
South Carolina (where we bought the boat) to Lake Ontario Click this link:

If you want to see the story of our 2 1/2 year project getting
Blowin' Bubbles ready for our life on board click here:
FIRST "REFIT" BLOG ENTRY - March 2011

If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP - July 2014
2015, 2016, 2017

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

It Has Been A Long Time!

Welcome to our Blog. Our latest entry always comes up first... 
Click this link if you want to start at the beginning:
FIRST BLOG ENTRY
If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP
If you want to see the story of our trip from South Carolina
(where we bought the boat)
 to Lake Ontario Click this link:
  SOUTH CAROLINA
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It has been a very long time, but since we left Shelter Bay we have had virtually NO INTERNET!  We are in the San Blas Islands in the south east end of Panama.  

On November 5th we sailed from Shelter Bay 21 nautical miles to Portobello, Panama.  This community is the home to 4 forts that its said were built to protect Panama's gold in days gone by...  

Most of the forts have disappeared but what remains was great fun to explore. We anchored in the main anchorage within view of the town.  Our first impression was that many of the boats here don't look like they have moved in a very long time.  














We spent a couple of days and checked out the small town and found the local yachty bar called Captain Jacks...  And yes, there really is a Captain Jack who lives on one of the boats that hasn't moved for a very long time....

From Portobello we made our way to Linton, Panama.  This is not much more than a very small village and a safe anchorage for boats making their way to and from the San Blas Islands.

It was here that we had our first medical problem on our trip...  Shelley twisted her wrist in the night and when we got up in the morning, it was hurting so bad we hired a driver to drive us to Colon abut 2 hours away.We spent just over 2 hours in the hospital where Shelley was treated with an IV, x-rays, and a visit with the doctor who decided it wasn't broken but sprained bad enough that he put her in a half cast....  All this cost us $145 plus $100 for the driver and car.  I'm pretty sure this would have cost more at home...

It is now a few weeks later, and Shelley is healing up really well.She only wears the cast at bedtime and yesterday started swimming again...

From Linton we motorsailed to the East Lemon Islands in the San Blas.  What a beautiful place!  It was here that a few other cruisers helped us get our SSB radio working properly.  After months of it not working, it is nice to be able to communicate over long distances again...

After a day or two, we moved from the East Lemons to the East Holandes Islands where we anchored in the "Swimming Pool", a popular anchorage with crystal clear blue water and palm tree covered islands.


A tough day at the office!


Dinghy repairs...

This guy had a really bad day.....

A Kuna home




We met up with our good friends, Bob & Anne from s/v Baloo and Bob and I have gone spearfishing almost every day since...  We have eaten tons of fish in the last week!  Yesterday we caught a 16" Lionfish that weighed almost 2lbs!  WOW!
A Typical FEAST!


My hunting buddy, Bob

Lionfish

The biggest one yet!

Because we are so isolated from everything out here we must burn our own garbage.  This is something that cruisers seem to do together.  We meet on a beach and burn our trash.  We have taken up the task of ridding these otherwise pristine beaches of the tons of plastic trash that has accumulated.  While burning this may not be a perfect solution, it seems better than leaving all this junk around to scar the environment forever...






We found a whale jaw





From time to time we are visited by Kuna Indians who come to our boat in their ulus (dugout canoes) and sell us everything from lobster to vegetables, to beautiful Molas, which are hand stitched art.  Shelley has 6 of these so far.
This is how we buy chicken!


Veggies!

Molas!
We leave you this week, by saying HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all our American friends!
Cheers!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What a Week...

Welcome to our Blog. Our latest entry always comes up first... 
Click this link if you want to start at the beginning:
FIRST BLOG ENTRY
If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP
If you want to see the story of our trip from South Carolina
(where we bought the boat)
 to Lake Ontario Click this link:
  SOUTH CAROLINA
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I Hardly know where to begin with this post..Shelley and I received a call from her brother Bob just before we left Bocas saying that their mom was really sick and that we should think about coming home...  We immediately booked a flight from Panama City to Toronto and headed for Shelter Bay where the last post left off...

On Thursday, October 22nd we had the boat hauled at the Shelter Bay Marina.  Edwin, the shop manager was amazing.  He got us out of the water within one day and his crew did a very professional job.
Getting ready to haul out...

These guys make sure the straps are placed correctly!

The Admiral!

Out she comes....

Keeping an eye on things...



Getting ready to pressure wash


All cleaned up...  I guess we ran aground a few times....



Getting settled on shore...


Once the boat was settled on shore the marina supplied a de-humidifier to help keep the mold at bay... Edwin made sure that one of his men came by every day or so to check the de-humidifier, water Shelley's plants and check our stuff on the boat.  That made us feel much better about leaving her unattended....

We left the marina Friday morning and spent the night at a hotel near the airport.  It was a really nice place for only about $100 including 2 free drinks and a free breakfast buffet!

We took their free shuttle to the airport and flew to Miami, Florida where out next flight was delayed a few hours.  We finally arrived in Toronto at about 1am on Sunday morning.  So far it was 44hours since we left the boat...

Our daughter, Kelly picked us up and took us to her place for the night where we picked up our warm clothes and winter jackets!  We traveled from Panama with two very small knapsacks...  This becomes significant a little later...

At around 8am Sunday, we got to Shelley's mom's house and we were blessed as her mom was alert and able to talk...  We spent the rest of our time at mom's place until the night before we came home.

On Monday I picked up a rental car from Enterprise.  What GREAT people they are!  Jeremy, the manager hooked us up in a BRAND NEW Infinity Q-50... WOW!  And the whole bill for a whole week was less than $200!

Shelley spent almost every hour with her mom and I got a ton of running around done.  Remember, we have been away a long time and so many things that are really easy to find in Canada or the USA are almost impossible to find anywhere else...

We bought a ton of boat parts and other stuff for the boat.  On Monday night I met with most of the folks who support our Right to Write work.  They kindly agreed to keep working with us but we all agreed that we needed to start focusing on collecting cash donations and start purchasing school supplies closer to where we are.  The shipping costs and logistics are getting really tough.

On Tuesday we spent time with mom and the rest of her family.  It was really great to re-connect with everyone.  I even found some time to see a few old friends.. Time I really cherished, Sadly, we couldn't see everyone we wanted....

On Wednesday, we went to see our family Doctor who made a special trip into his office to see us! WOW, what a great guy...  He checked us over, ordered some tests and renewed our prescriptions...
On Wednesday afternoon we visited our son and his family at their home about 75 miles away.  We met our NEW GRAND DAUGHTER, Olivia!  And of course spent time with our other princess, Mackenzie...
Mackenzie & Olivia - ready for Halloween...


By Thursday, mom had really declined and we didn't venture to far anymore...  Mom's wish was not to be hospitalized or sent to any palliative care facility.  The only way that wish was accommodated was if we (Shelley, me, her brother and his wife) agreed to remain present and attentive to her 24 hours a day.

We did our best and mom left us at 11:25pm Friday night.  The nurse didn't arrive for a few hours so they had to record her time of death on October 31st (Halloween)... Creepy...

Our good friends Scott and his wife BA, who own a local funeral home, looked after us so well, Because Shelley and I had a flight back to Panama tentatively booked for Tuesday, November 3rd, they made it so we could celebrate her life at the funeral home on Sunday afternoon...
Stephanie, me, Kelly, Steve, Shelley

Shelley, Kelly & Bob
It was such a blessing at such a sad time to have so many family members come and be with us on such short notice...  Because of the timing we were forced to keep the gathering small, so we sadly missed having so many of our friends with us...

By Monday we were EXHAUSTED but we did what we could to finish getting the things we wanted to bring back,After we returned the rental car, Kelly took us to our friends Mike & Patricia's place to sleep for a few hours before we had to catch out 6:30 am departure flight from Toronto. Thank you so much to Mike for getting up at 2am to get us there!

The flight home was much more relaxed, except we brought 5 HUGE SUITCASES filled with school supplies and boat stuff....  Thank goodness we were able to upgrade to business class for a few hundred dollars.  With the upgrade all the extra luggage was FREE!

With a reasonable stopover in Florida, we arrived in Panama City at 3:30 in the afternoon, and our friend, Roger was there to pick us up and he took us all the way back to Shelter Bay.  We arrived just as it was getting dark, So after Roger helped us lug the 5 bags up the ladder to the boat, we discovered that all was well, except it was hotter than Hades inside the boat and some of the vegetable we left were stinky.
Roger and his van!


We decided to stay in one of the rooms offered at the marina, and got a good nights sleep.

This morning we got up and Edwin made miracles happen so we could be re-launched today!  You see, yesterday was a national holiday here in Panama and tomorrow is ALSO a national holiday, which meant if we didn't get in the water today, we would be stuck on the hard till Friday...  While we have been gone, Edwin and his crew sanded the old bottom paint off, repaired a small problem on the bottom of the keel and got everything painted!  All this without killing a single one of Shelley's plants!
Edwin looking after the plants


Getting the work done!
Every few days, Edwin would send us an update on the progress of our boat and a few pictures!

Keel fixed!

Ready for paint

HOME! - Notice the suitcases....



A GREAT looking keel...

getting ready to go back in...


painting the last few bits....

Edwin and I





Tonight we are in the water.  We went out for dinner, went for a swim in the pool, and are getting ready to head for the San Blas Islands in the morning.

This has been a week like no other!  Thank you to all the people who touch our life!  No matter how bad things get, people seem to make everything manageable....

Take care, more soon!

Shelley and her mom... walking for cancer - Shelley lost her sister a few years ago to the same crappy illness...