Ciao, Panama

Ciao, Panama

Day 4. Saturday. Halloween. It's a Northwest rain with solid light gray skies. The green jungle trees outside the hatch look textured by the white noise of falling water. The island we're anchored to belongs to a billionaire with celebrity friends, if that sort of thing excites you. Apparently Britney Spears walked around nearby Bahia Honda once, and there is good reason to believe that Mick Jagger has enjoyed the view. Not much is going on aboard Serenity this afternoon, which is a blessed break in the activity of the past week. The trip home has started.

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They put the good in goodbye

They put the good in goodbye

We just left Boca Chica and the nostalgia is already overwhelming. I've written and rewritten this post in my head at least forty times but I can't quite find the words to express how deeply we came to love this place and how difficult it is to leave.

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The deadly trifecta: how we kill cockroaches on our sailboat

The deadly trifecta: how we kill cockroaches on our sailboat

Cockroaches are pretty much a fact of life down here. You can try as hard as humanly possible to keep them off of your boat, but if you're sailing anywhere south of the border...they will likely be a foregone conclusion. I tell you this because we have cockroaches again. BUT (silver lining) they are remarkably respectful cockroaches. They are rarely in our living space and they tend to prefer the areas immediately around the cockpit (get it?). Nonetheless, I am pretty anti-cockroach. Despite my name, this boat simply isn't big enough for us to live together harmoniously . 

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Warm beer woes: how we came to live without our refrigerator in the tropics

In our final months of preparation for this trip, before eventual shove off, Jeff somehow managed to fry our refrigerator during a tinkering session. I took this as a sign. 

Let's try to live without the fridge. I seem to recall proposing to Jeff enthusiastically.

Since I'm generally the go-to person for food, Jeff was willing to defer this decision to me. Okay. If you think we can do it. He responded, with some hesitation.

Thus commenced my ill fated attempt to live without a refrigerator, at a marina, with a readily available ice machine (which really should have made it a gimme).

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Two truths and a lie: brief notes from solitude

Caves and deserts are important features in hermit myths. They represent an interior space, surrounded by desolation, which echoes the surroundings of the vessel of our minds, evoking an experience of being alone inside your thoughts. As a person who knows what it is to multitask too far and stretch one's mind until sheer, I have fantasized about eliminating extraneous thought and reducing the voices in my head (let's not get excited, you have them too. right?) to one, perhaps even none.

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And the Liebster award goes to...

And the Liebster award goes to...

When I got back to the boat we had a friendly message from Jody and Peter at Where the Coconuts Grow announcing our nomination for the LIEBSTER AWARDS! What are the Liebster Awards? I didn't know either. Some equate it to a chain letter (are we bringing those back in style?) while others equate it to the participant ribbon of the blogosphere. Congratulations! You have a blog! And someone actually reads it? Huzzah!

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One year on the hook: life at anchor in Central America

One year on the hook: life at anchor in Central America

We recently celebrated one year of living at anchor. It was a lifestyle we were both eager to try out, though we certainly weren't without concern. This lifestyle transition was made partly by choice, but mostly by necessity. Marinas down in Central America (Costa Rica in particular) are far too costly. They tend to prefer the sports fishing crowd whose money reverberates even in their absence. If you listen closely, very closely, you might be able to hear the ever so subtle ping of our money dispersing into the community. 

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The hard way: changing a cutless bearing underwater

The hard way: changing a cutless bearing underwater

After my adventure in anxiety out at the Ladrones, I dropped my anchor in a small sandy cove on Isla Parida and set up camp, prepared to stay until the food ran out. Ahead of me lay unwatched days without time, place, or distraction. My list of personal ambitions was extensive, but as always, the boat comes first. I laid out the entirety of my tool supply on Harmony's settee almost immediately and began what I hoped to be my final return to operating on our engine's drivetrain - the place where our propeller shaft exits the bottom of the boat. Nautical proctology, if you like. 

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Log from the solo sail - Part 3

Log from the solo sail - Part 3

There I was in the middle of nowhere in the Ladrones cluster of islands, heading further out to sea towards my ultimate desert island destination. It was morning and I had just hauled anchor and put up my sails, drinking my coffee and listening to tunes through the cabin speakers, when I heard an airplane buzz. That's weird, I thought, I haven't seen an airplane in months. Suddenly I see it: a small, maybe 10-person twin prop airplane painted drab gray green. It reminded me of something old fashioned. It makes a pass over the island chain, and as I watch it, in my imagination the seabirds in the sky just increased in number by one. I try to follow this phantom bird, but it's lost in a mirage.

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Log from the solo sail - Part 2

Harmony left on Monday, and I intended to raise anchor on Tuesday. Today was Friday. Such it is with trying to leave on boats.

On the morning I was set to leave Boca Chica, I went to secure the loose articles on deck and was struck dumb. It seems some idiot forgot to screw down the cap for the diesel deck fill on our main fuel tank (the one we put back into commission last year in Chiapas) before leaving the boat for two days to take Harmony to the bus. It rained hard both days. Our side decks have proven to be excellent rain catchers. 

Son of a motherless --

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Log from the solo sail - Part 1

Log from the solo sail - Part 1

Harmony's off in the states for four weeks! All the space is mine! I report now only to Tack. 

With Harmony and our friends Mary and Perry all out of town at the same time, our English afterschool program at the school is going on hiatus. Not that I couldn't manage a room of 30 rowdy kids spanning from Kinder to Grade 8, without a coherent lesson plan, but -- actually I probably couldn't manage that. Plus, even down here a person needs to think about liability when children are in your care. So everything's shut down and I'm here all by my lonesome. What kind of trouble can I get into? I do have this boat . .

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We have the best neighbors (most of the time)

We have the best neighbors (most of the time)

I love our neighbors when we're out to sea.

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See life

See life

The water was finally warm enough to snorkel when we reached the tip of the Baja Peninsula. Jeff was excited, I was uncertain. Waves swept into the small cove, lifting Serenity and the two other boats at anchor as they passed beneath us and crashed onto the shore. Our neighbor on SV Splendid Isolation had reeled in several fish for dinner and a report from our other neighbors on SV Sweet Dreams confirmed that there were fish to be seen in and among the rocks that lined the cove.

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I wasn't born with fins on my feet

I wasn't born with fins on my feet

If you told my ten year old self that I would love snorkeling as an adult, I'm not sure she would have believed you. I've always loved water and swimming, but when taking a dip in a Pacific Northwestern river or a Midwestern lake I painted an underwater picture absolutely devoid of life.  The second I started thinking about the critters beneath me, a low grade panic would roll in and settle somewhere in my gut. For me, looking underwater was akin to turning on the lights in a dark room only to discover the walls are crawling with strange, foreign creatures, some of whom might bite you if given half the chance. Blissful ignorance was the greatest weapon against my fear. I'll take it pitch black, thank you very much.

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June 2014: month in review

June 2014: month in review

The highlight of June was our quick trip out to Isla Gamez to romp around and see our friends at Isla Parida as well as a body surfing, beer drinking, shell collecting session over at Playa Grande. The lowlight of June was going to Costa Rica (to renew my visa and to put Jeff on a plane) and getting our stuff stolen while we swam (rookie mistake!). Jeff wrapped up June with a quick trip back home to see family and play on a very different coastline with threateningly cold water. I held down the fort in Boca Chica cleaning every nook and cranny on our boat and making some less than pleasant discoveries in the bug department (I'll spare you the details). 

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Passage notes: Puerto Mutis to Boca Chica, Panama (via Isla Leones, Isla Uva, Islas Secas and Isla Gamez)

Passage notes: Puerto Mutis to Boca Chica, Panama (via Isla Leones, Isla Uva, Islas Secas and Isla Gamez)

On the 10th of May we picked up our final stowaway for the season, our friend Michael. As a professor of Classics at a new university in a new city, his school year had been full and fast-paced and he was ready to kick of summer break with some very intense relaxation. When asked what kind of trip he wanted, he responded with a set of very easy-going requests: 1) not too much travel, 2) a slow, easygoing pace, 3) lots of reading, 4) preferably in hammocks on the beach, 5) lots of swimming, 6) no internet, 7) games, 8) cold beer. Keeping the beer cold was our biggest challenge. 

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The pantry challenge

The pantry challenge

It's nice to consistently have a pantry full of stuff because it provides the reassurance that you won't starve to death on the ocean. Over time, however, things get buried and you come to discover that you have eight cans of corn...and four jars of mayonnaise...and enough rice to feed a small village. In addition to a surplus of provisions, there are so many good intentions stashed away in those cupboards.

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Stories from a stowaway: Michael

Stories from a stowaway: Michael

I expect that the majority of visitors to this blog come looking for a glimpse into a dream – a dream that two intrepid souls are living out daily on a sailboat as they cruise between Portland and Panama. Because these two souls belong to two of my dearest friends in the world (and because they are fantastically generous people) I had the opportunity to get an even closer look at their dream during a glorious two week stay aboard the Serenity.

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