Saturday, March 28, 2009
But, as we motored out of the channel and into the Gulfo Dulce, we heard another cruiser hailing the club on the radio for information on anchoring there. Yep, that’s how the cruising lifestyle is – a constant changing of the social scenery as folks sail/motor along their chosen routes. We meet, become best friends, and then part to go our separate ways all in the space of a week or two.
The passage from Costa Rica to Bahia Honda, Panama took us the planned one full day and overnight. As usual, we planned for me (Terry) to take the night watch giving Jonesy a block of sleeping time. With sunny skies and fair winds, we were able to see dolphins and schools of jumping rays, read and knit. I finished knitting the second sock of the wild colored red & yellow pair (thanks to everyone who encouraged me to just finish them for the kids) and started on a pair of simple adult-sized mittens. Sorry, no photo of the finished socks because they will be one of the new patterns for this year’s Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo Group.
Pictured above for your fiberly perusal is a pair of adult-sized mittens that I started during the trip from the leftover yarn. It is a light sport/heavy fingering weight wool that I dyed many years ago. Here's a photo of me knitting, which I: 1) do all the time, 2) do even in the dark with a headlamp, 3) do instead of washing the dishes or other menial chores. Gawd, I'm really getting old - and so are all my clothes. The sun, sea, and romping take a toll on the lightweight cotton clothes we wear.
Along the way, I managed to catch TWO fish on my trolling lure! Both of which gave me fun little fights! Jonesy isn’t into fishing, but he loves to eat them. I let the first one go because I mistakenly identified it as a not-good-to-eat fish (bonito). But when I double checked in my fishing guide I discovered it was a Mexican Tunny (tuna) which is supposed to be good eating. Dang! The second fish looked similar, so I kept him. Nope, he was indeed a bonito. When I sliced off a couple of filets the meat was as dark as liver. Yuck! Sure, folks do eat this stuff, but not us. But, I kept the meat as bait for fishing later.
After the sun set, Jonesy went below to get some shut-eye while I took the helm. The stars were magnificent! Out on the seas, you can even see them twinkle and the Milky Way is so huge! But, soon the winds started to build so I had to stay in the cockpit which is fully covered and tether my lifejackt & myself to the footrest. We had a weather forecast that suggested slightly stronger (15 knots) of wind in the night, but before long it was gusting over 30 knots. The seas became quite lumpy with wind waves standing straight up. Of course, Jonesy wasn’t able to sleep a wink and he returned to the cockpit to take over.
We rode up over the waves and crashed down into the troughs taking water over the bow. This was one of the rare times during our years of cruising, that we had to close ALL of the hatches and ports. We reefed in the main sail (made it smaller) and the jib (the front sail) down to very small area sails. Because it was so gusty, when the sails were larger and the wind calmed for a moment, the sails would flap violently. This will cause them to tear, or to break their hardware so reefing is prudent. We used the 130hp Perkins engine to drive us through the night.
Around 11pm the winds suddenly ceased as if somebody and turned off the switch. The seas slowly calmed, and we motor-sailed past some islands in the dark. At dawn, we entered the serene, protected bay of Bahia Honda.
Cruisers whom we had met along the way encouraged us to anchor in a cove near the home of a local man named “Domingo”. There was only one other sailboat there which we found out later was being watched by Domingo while the owner was back in the states. This remote part of Panama has NO roads to it and is only accessible by foot, horse/burro, or by an hour long boat ride.
Jungle came right down to the waterline and we could SMELL it! At times it was an earthy/woody scent, and sometimes it was a pleasant floral fragrance. There were several types of trees blooming so we assume the smell came from one of them (it certainly didn’t come from US after a rough overnight passage!) And the sounds!! So strange - there was an almost constat whirrring sound like the bearing going out on a motor. We found out later from our new friends, that the sound comes from a type of cicada.
The tidal range down here in Panama is about 16 feet – that is there is 16 feet of vertical difference between the high tide and the low tide. Check out these two photos of the shore taken from our boat. It is the same spot, just different times in the tide cycle – sometimes a beach and sometimes, as in the photo above, not.
No sooner had we dropped the hook, when a dugout canoe approached. It was Domingo and he was ready to do some trading. We chatted in our broken Spanish and finally determined that he had red bananas and pineapple available. We had Tylenol, vitamins, razors and other goodies. Off he went to gather his fruit for us and we sat down to our breakfast.
Well…we tried to eat breakfast. Another little canoe approached with a mother and her darling 9-year old daughter holding a plastic baby doll. She had fruit ready for us – I picked out some yellow bananas and a couple of limons (bumpy sour citrus fruit). We gave her a tin of cookies and some little toys (MacDonald’s Happy Meal toys that I collected for years before we left the states) for her children. She asked if we had pencils or bleach – so I checked and found only felt-tip markers, and a paper notebook.
We gave her these and some more little toys, a liter bottle of Clorox, a baggie of nails – and a large card of assorted sewing needles. Her eyes lit up at the sewing needles and she hugged them to her chest! Thank you to all my buddies who gave me supplies to distribute to the people we meet along these secluded coastlines of Central America. The gifts are certainly much appreciated.
She also needed women’s clothes. All I could spare was a couple of t-shirts a lightweight pajama top that I don’t wear and a swath of floral fabric. I just don’t have many clothes myself!!! We realized later that the woman was Domingo’s daughter and the girl was his granddaughter.
Soon, Domingo’s son, Kennedy and his wife arrived in their canoe and the trading continued. Kennedy needs a diving mask and fins so if anybody reading this is a cruiser and is heading to Panama, please give a thought about exchanging these for his eggs and fruit.
Terry, where do you want me to send supplies. I work in an elementary school and at the end of the year we get tons of crayons, pencils, new and used school supplies. I also have yarn, fabric and sewing notions (inherited) that I'll never use. I'll tell my friends with small children to save those Micky D toys for you too.
What about the owner of that boat Dommingo is watching... I'll send it to them.
I was hoping to see you this year at camp. Maybe next year...