Friday, April 17, 2009


Too Many Bananas

There comes a time when you have to admit to having too many ripe bananas. Yep. That happened to us when we were cruising the Las Perlas islands. All the cute little red bananas ripened at the same time.

What to do? Well, we had banana pudding, fried bananas with brown sugar and walnuts, banans muffins, bananas on our oatmeal, and the best? That would have to be the banana Daiquiri at sunset. Yummy! And because we'd been out cruising for so many days it was time to make Jonesy some hot dog and hamburger buns. Sure wish I could eat wheat too.

Cruising in Central America is a lot different from Mexico. There is a lot more wind and the anchorages are less populated and have far fewer facilities. And, there are much fewer boats in each anchorage. After spending over a week sailing and anchoring around the islands we quite simply got weary of the isolation.

The water temperatures hovered at 66 degrees (brrrrrr) which was far too cold for comfortable full-body immersion in addition to being somewhat murky, so we didn’t have swimming for a diversion. Although we still had fresh fruit (thanks Domingo!) and plenty of provisions (the lack thereof is what drives a lot of cruisers back to civilization), we decided it was time to travel on to Panama City.

How many books can you read, projects knit, or hours spent gazing at the island scenery before it all becomes unsatisfying? The answer for us is “Plenty”…but eventually we are maxed out on those simple pleasures and get restless for new adventures. The big lights and tall buildings of Panama City were calling us so we hoisted the anchor and took off. Okay, so a little of our edginess was over the upcoming transit through the Panama Canal – all the unknowns!

Because there was absolutely no wind, we motored over glassy seas towards Panama City and the canal. We weren’t the only ones. All over the area, huge freighters were also converging on the same small area. Our radar and chart plotter showed the swarm of other vessels – all moving in the same general direction as us but at significantly faster speeds (we were at 5 knots and they were traveling at up to 20 knots!). This was particularly unnerving when they were approaching from behind us. Look out! We are a small, fragile little ship! Our chart plotter software with the new AIS system will identify those“boogies” that are on near-collision courses (2 miles or less) with us. The little triangle symbols flash. Yep, we had lots of flashing ship triangles on our screen.

By 1pm we were in the controlled area of the canal and could see the high-rise buildings of the city in the distance. The bay is the staging area for all ships either planning to go through the canal or just emerging from the down-locks and traveling under the Bridge of the Americas. So, to manage all these vessels, there is a control tower just like at an airport.

We had to check in with the tower and ask permission to travel to the La Playita (free) anchorage for sailboats. Permission was granted and we motored over to the fleet of over 50 other boats. Whew- some other freighter crewman was in the wrong place and was getting a royal chewing-out by the controller! All marine radio communications are in English worldwide (as is air traffic) so we could understand what was being said.

With relief, we dropped the hook in La Playita within sight of the Panama Bay control tower (see photo on top of the little island. Wow, the little fleet here in the anchorage is totally international! We see flags on the boats from many different countries!

Ah! Internet access finally. Yep. Just pick a table on the outdoor patio at the Bennigan's Grill & tavern which is walking distance from the boat (a hot, long walk carrying backpacks that we've lugged in the dinghy and fret over getting wet) No. That's the fancy-schmancy high-dollar marina in the background for folks who have more money than sense. It costs about $200 a night for a boat our size. That's a heck of a lot of yarn!

Speaking of yarn. Here are the latest mittens for the Mittens for Akkol group. All are adult sized for the teenaged kids in the Akkol Orphanage in Kazakhstan. The plain white ones are 100% Alpaca - so soft! Although alpaca is soft, the yarn is also quite inelastic. It shows every malformed stitch and the mittens feel limp when you hold them. Oh well. They certainly are warm.

The white pair with accent cuff is simply some wool from my stash. Also from my stash is the White Lies Designs hand-dyed wool for these colorful mittens. This sport weight sock yarn was incredibly soft and a joy to knit with.

Guess what? There's more mittens on the needles too!

I feel like I'm getting ready to ride a roller-coaster after reading that. I can't wait for your post on passing through the canal.
I thought you were transiting the canal last Wednesday. Is it next Wed?

We met a woman at the last GAM meeting who'd rounded the Horn with her dh. She said they were something like 28 days at sea without any outside communication or sighting of another boat. She read masses of books and listened to lots of music. She didn't knit!
I would think that would get a little long.
The mittens look great,
Enjoy the crossing. Good luck.
My dh is up at the boat now, he and a friend installed the stereo today. Our launch date is less than 30 days away now. Wahoo!
I love reading about your travels. And the mittens look lovely and warm. I am sure the kids will treasure them. They are definitely used to such goodies.
I cant wait to see all the pics when you go through the canal :-) That drink looks VERY yummy.. I love bananas!
I can't tell you how much I enjoy reading your adventures. My toes were curled and palms starting to sweat reading about your approach to the Canal. It brought back memories of a trip from hell down the Pungo River thru the locks in a gale snowstorm one March.
I don't get out onto the ocean boat :~(
I live vicariously thru your adventures and sooooo enjoy them!
Fair Winds!
Wow, Can't wait to read of your adventures. We did the Erie Canal one summer in a canal boat with bowthrusters. NO comparision to your adventure. The size of those frieghters up close are so big. We see them in the shipping channels in New York Harbor all the time. We stay out of their way. Your mittens look great!! Margot Dulcinea
I've always wanted to go through the Panama Canal - I can't wait to go through with you & Jonesy. It may be the closest I ever get. Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip with all of us.
Wow that sounds great. It was 66 in northern ca today ( Humboldt) and I wanted to get naked. break from the rain. Sounds wonderful, I hope to travel so long if I can just learn to sail.
Terri I am sooo jelous lol I can't wait till i can retire :O) ....I have THREE blogs now ....three lol...have you seen them lately? Anywho wanted to ask you if you have any COOL flower patterns? I am making a CLOWN hat and need a flower A HUGE flower lol..I am thinking of taking the Hybiscus and tweeking it :)..... I LOVE FLOWERS :)...... miss hearing from you looks like you have been having a blast~!
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