back to ABC Islands log 10/26/2000-12/05/2000

Panama Log - The San Blas Islands (including passage from Aruba)

Wednesday December 6th, 2000

The wind has remained pretty steady, usually in the 20-30 knot range. We tried to estimate wave height, but are not sure of the best way to do this. From the helm I can see crests above the horizon and from that position my eyes are maybe 8 feet above the waterline, so my guess is that there are waves of 8-10 feet, but most are probably only around 6.

At noon we have sailed 135 miles since 2:45 PM yesterday (avg. speed 6.45 knots). Our distance made good is 123 nautical miles (avg. VMG 5.79 knots). Of the 575 nautical miles from Aruba to SanBlas there are 453 remaining.

Late in the after noon we approached within 20 miles of Columbia. The waves appear to be bigger even though the wind has not picked up. I suspect we may be in a current eddy and that the current is running into the wind. I think this can result in larger waves. It could also be that we are in shallower water. World Cruising Routes suggests staying outside the 1000 fathom curve when on this route. That's pretty deep, but maybe it has an effect on wave height. Or maybe it's that contrary currents are more likely found inside the 1000 fathom curve. Anyhow, we tacked out and the waves seemed to get smaller.

During the night the wind picked up until it was consistently above 35 knots with gusts exceeding 40. This combined with the waves give us occasional high speeds. The highest measured so far is 12.5 knots. -DWH

Thursday December 7th, 2000

During Matti's early morning watch I heard him shout as if startled by something. He had been hit in the chest by a flying fish. I grabbed the little guy, about 6 inches long, and tossed him back.

At noon we are 304 nautical miles from our destination. Our distance made good in the last 24 hours is 149 nautical miles (6.2 knots VMG)

As sundown approaches the winds have died down to 15 to 20 knots. It is very pleasant sailing along 25 miles or so off the coast of Columbia. -DWH

Friday December 8th, 2000

This morning we passed a log bobbing in the waves. It was about 20 feet long and a foot in diameter. It would have been most unfortunate if we had smacked into that while surfing down a wave at 12 knots.

At noon we are 182 nautical miles for our destination. Our distance made good in the last 24 hours is 122 nautical miles (5.1 knots VMG) -DWH

3pm Good driving shift, saw birds medium size, gray-brown, spots on wings - I think they were chasing the flying fish that the boat was chasing out of the water. I counted 3 birds at once, and they followed us (or we followed them) for 20 minutes or so. We saw 2 ships at the end of my shift. One cargo ship, one tanker of some sort oil? Dave's new VHF speaker was helpful, we heard someone on the radio but the wind garbled it. Jo got the handheld VHF and heard the call again, but no one responded to it. It looked like the 2 ships passed pretty close together, maybe one ship was trying to call the other.-SLC Also, saw dolphins. -MJS

Late in the afternoon Matti and Jo decided to try the spinnaker. I got up just from my nap just in time to help raise it. What a difference it made. Not only did we start going faster and more down wind towards our destination, but the motion of the boat was much nicer. We are much closer to the speed of the waves making the ride very smooth. We were also encouraged because it had seemed unlikely that we would reach the San Blas before nightfall tomorrow and would have to spend the night waiting to enter, but with this new burst of speed it looks like we may make it. We had a nearly full moon as the sun set and all seemed good and right in the world. Because of the moon we decided to keep the spinnaker up and continued to make very good time. -DWH

Saturday December 9th, 2000

We were still flying the spinnaker when I started my shift at the helm at 3 AM. The wind had shifted a little to the north and our course was now around 240 deg. Magnetic rather that the 265 to our destination. Matti adjusted the sail for me and soon we were heading 265 at about 8 knots. Excellent! The wind was about 20 knots at 130 deg (relative to boat) with the apparent wind at about 110 or 115 deg. Then something went wrong. The spinnaker collapsed for a second which happens occasionally, but did not fill back up. I was not able to see the problem from the helm (view blocked by the main). Matti came out to help and discovered that the sail had caught on the diamond stay spreader. We were trying to free it when it ripped. Ouch! Jo came out to help, and we got the spinnaker down, hoisted the jib, and continued on our way. We were discouraged, but there is nothing to do but wait we arrived in San Blas to assess the damage and the prospects for repair.

10 AM. It's the greatest show on Earth! A group of about 20 dolphins playing around Ladybug. The stuck with us for 20 to 30 minutes. These were the same small ones that we saw approaching Curacao. They are very playful, and Matti got some good video of them.

11 AM. Land Ho!

At noon we are 22 nautical miles for our destination. Our distance made good in the last 24 hours is 160 nautical miles (6.7 knots VMG)

We dropped anchor at Porvenir at 3:30 PM. In all it was a 4 day and 45 minute passage, our longest so far. We were immediately greeted by two dug out canoes with ornately dressed women and children trying to sell us their handiwork. They waited patiently while we set the anchor, and then I had a quick look at their goods. Unfortunately we are all tired and it was a little too much to handle, so I used my high school Spanish to ask them to come back tomorrow.

After a shower (first one since before we left Aruba) and a shave (first one in a couple weeks), I felt human again and made some chili for dinner. Along with the chili we had a little red wine and listened to the Bare Naked Ladies. Hey Bare Naked Ladies, you guys sound like you'd be fun to hang out with. Why don't you come down for a visit? (If anyone knows them, pass on the message.) -DWH

Sunday December 10th, 2000

Our Kuna friends in their dugout canoe.

After a good night sleep, we woke up and were soon visited by our friends in the dugout canoe. There was Rosibel (mom, 26), Nilda (12), and Anelsia (9). We invited them aboard and had coffee (which Mom liked but the girls didn't) and lemon-poppy seed bread. They had beautiful hand embroidered items. We bought a few small things, but we are low on cash so we couldn't go too crazy.

I'd like to reflect a little bit on our passage:

Shift Taking- Prior to this passage our longest passage had been from Margarita to Las Aves which was 2 days and all the rest had been only one day. We expected the trip from Aruba to the San Blas Islands to take about 5, so we were pretty excited. Since we needed to make sure everyone got enough sleep, we were much more disciplined about taking set shifts. Basically each person was a back up (usually hanging out or napping in the cockpit or saloon ready to help with the sails, check the course, etc.) for 2 hours, then at the helm for 2 hours, and then off for 4 hours. This worked out pretty well. I think there were times when each of us got tired, but it seemed to be pretty easy to catch up on our sleep while still doing our watches. And all of this was without an autopilot. With an auto pilot things will get even easier. The one time that we deviated from this was when we had the spinnaker up. Since we are still not that proficient with the spinnaker (as proven by the shredded sail), we made sure to always have two people ready to assist.

Fuel/Electricity - Since we were usually clear of hazards, we conserved power by keeping the laptop in standby mode and usually turned it on only at shift change to check our position (we also recorded the position, speed, and bearing on paper in case of GPS/computer failure). This worked out well. This kept our 12V usage down and enabled us to keep the batteries pretty well charged up by running the diesels 2 hours a day (this takes about 1/2 gallon a day, we carry 66 gallons)

Water- It didn't rain, so we were not able to collect any water, but we also did not use much. Often when we swim we rinse off with fresh water. Since we were not swimming we didn't use any for that. We also did not shower as often. We carry about 134 gallons, and we used about 17 in the last 5 days including our showers last night.

Food - While we prepared a number of actual meals, we never sat down and really ate a lot at one time. Instead we seemed to do a lot of snacking. I think I ate less than I usually do. We also did not drink any alcohol on the passage. All in all it is probably a lot healthier (and cheaper) for us to be sailing.-DWH

Monday December 11th, 2000

For pictures and story check out Stacy's B'day!

Tuesday December 12th, 2000

It's a cloudy, windy, rainy day so we are spending most of the day working on boat projects. Jo and Matti are rebuilding the starboard toilet. Stacy is working on additional hooks for hanging stuff. I ran a permanent AC cable from the port inverter to under the saloon table. We had a couple fisherman come by with lobsters, crabs, and fish. We bought 4 small lobsters and 2 large crabs for a grand total of $3. (How much is a Big Mac back in the US?)
-DWH

Dave also mounted our new vice. And I cleaned out/reorganized a shelf in the kitchen.

Dave and I went for a nice swim, almost an hour on the reef and in the grassy area looking for conch. Dave took one of our new underwater flashlights to look under rocks. Didn't find anything too interesting.

How does one cook a crab?? What parts are edible??

The lobster was small but excellent. We weren't sure about the crab, so we cooked it the same as the lobster and then Dave cut them down the back. The inside we full of unidentifables, ie nothing edible. So we removed the legs and found some nice meat there.
-SLC

Wednesday December 13th, 2000

Dave is not feeling well, low grade fever, nausea, aches. I gave him aspirin. He ate some soup, but is still resting. I hope he is feeling better by this evening.

I received email on the pocket mail. Congratulations Polly and Howie on your engagement. We are very happy for you guys -SLC.

Thursday December 14th, 2000

I called back to Marquip Inc. today. I looks like I will be taking a trip to do a little work in January. I'm not looking forward to leaving, but it would be good to earn a few bucks.

Jo and Matti are working hard on a video (scenes for the trip set to some great music from this part of the world).

We met a couple Peace Corp volunteers from Nicaragua. It was fun to talk with them. Peace Corp people are always so interesting. -DWH

Matti made great cookies today! -SLC

Friday December 15th, 2000

It was a very lazy day today. Stacy is not feeling well, and the rest of us are pretty tired. Jo and Matti are still working hard on the video. -DWH

Saturday December 16th, 2000

Got up this morning and got to work. Stacy is cleaning out the locker under the aft berth in the port hull. I changed the oil in the port engine (hours = 1338), fixed the oil pressure sensor (loose wire), drained the primary fuel filter to check for water (only a tiny bit), and looked at the water pump which seems to no longer be leaking. Jo and Matti are still in video mode.

In the early afternoon Stacy and I went for a dingy trip. The Smithsonian Institute is supposed to have a research station right near here, but we couldn't find it. We stopped at the store on the next island and bought margarine, 5 pieces of Kuna bread, and 2 dozen eggs for $5. Now Stacy is busy making peanut butter cookies.

Lobster and Matti's Spanish rice for dinner! -DWH

Sunday December 17th, 2000

We are really working hard, but I can't imagine a better place to do it. Jo and Matti are still in video mode and making good progress. They finished the editing and and Stacy and I got a preview. It's cool, and I'm sure many of our friends will enjoy it. Stacy is hot and heavy into refinishing the walls and ceiling in the port head. It's going to look nice, but it's sure a lot of work. I spent the day beefing up how the cleats are mounted on the port hull (starboard is already done).

Jo is starting a swimming program. He is doing laps between the shore and the boat. -DWH

Monday December 18th, 2000

Another day of hard work. I helped Stacy sand in the port head. She is tough to work with as you will understand from her quote for the day - "You're not sanding hard enough if your fingers aren't bleeding." Ouch! Anyhow, we made good progress. She really wants to have it all finished before her mom shows up in January.

As usual the local fisherman came by in there dugout canoes to sell us their catch. They almost always have fish, but often also have lobster, crab, conch, and sometimes squid. It's also very cheap. We can usually get enough fish for the four of us for two to three dollars. Tonight we had fish in coconut milk curry (a recipe from our fisherman friends in Tobago). Excellent!

Stacy and I had a bottle of wine in the net and looked at the stars. -DWH

Tuesday December 19th, 2000

I went to the phone on Porvenier and booked a flight from Panama City to Madison. I'm home for a couple weeks to do a little work for Marquip. Later Jo came in with me to help me book my flight from here to Panama City and to get off the crew list so I can leave.

It was another day of hard work. We seem to be making good progress on all projects.

We all joined Jo for his nightly swim. If we keep this up we will all get lean and mean.

Jo provided another delicious dinner. We had beans and rice and pan fried fish. After dinner we dropped the table and set up the "movie theater". We watched "High Fidelity", which is a most excellent movie. -DWH

A girl who is very happy to be done sanding! -SLC

Wednesday December 20th, 2000

More work, more progress. Stacy is finally painting the port head. She is also working on a Christmas present for me, which means I was basically kicked out of the boat while she works.

The fisherman came buy with lobsters today. We bought four nice ones for $6. We are certainly eating well here. -DWH

Got Dave's present done, but his back is sunburned from having to spend the whole day in the cockpit. -SLC

Thursday December 21st, 2000

I woke up around 5am when I heard the wind pick up. Soon after it started to rain hard. Jo and Matti joined me in collecting water off the deck and bimini. We got a total of over 10 gallons. I guess it will be laundry day today.

"Lady M"

We have a new neighbor today. The "Lady M" pulled in and dropped anchor this morning. She looks like a small cruise ship. Some people have too much money. I don't care, but it made me laugh. I was in the cockpit hand washing my cloths with our precious rain water while watching the crew of Lady M washing down the 3rd deck with what looks like a fire hose. They must have a really big fresh water maker. Hey boys, point that baby this way for a minute. -DWH

I made Mafe Tiga (African Peanut Sauce) and Rice for Dinner. Pete from "Enchantress" came over to eat with us and Simon who is a crew member from "LadyM" joined us also. It was a nice relaxing evening filled with a lot of story sharing. -SLC

Friday December 22nd, 2000

We are starting to wind down some of our projects. We are now cleaning up the boat and resting up in preparation for our Christmas celebration. I finished making all of my Christmas presents for Dave and the rest of the crew. It was interesting making homemade presents, but not being able to shop for materials. Dave and I have been creative. He has been working hard with fiberglass, epoxy, sandpaper and paint to make a present for me! Of course I have been busy with my sewing machine to make presents. -SLC

Jo and I went to immigration to get my official letter so I can leave by air and then return to join the crew a couple weeks later. The immigration guy was very nice. The letter is actually a form letter with my particular information filled in. The official started by typing the form on a blank piece of paper. Then he went back and typed in my information. Next he filled in any 6's by hand, because that key doesn't work. Finally he stamped and signed it. And all this was done with a smile on his face. You certainly can't complain about the service here.

While we were on shore to see the immigration officer, we met Guy, who is from South Africa but has lived in England for the last 10 years. He is a friendly, well spoken person who has really traveled a lot. After talking to him for a while we also met his girlfriend, Martina, who is German. We eventually ended up having beers and dinner with them at the Hotel Porvenier. We really enjoyed talking with them.

Simon from Lady M stopped buy with a special treat - ice! It was very nice to chat with him. It's too bad that he is working because I'm sure we would enjoy having him sail with us for a while. It was also nice to hear a little more about Lady M because we are all a little curious about our neighbor. The ship itself is 165 feet long, carries 80,000 liters of fuel (about 22,000 gallons), and has a range of 4000 miles. He said he isn't allowed to say who owns her, but who ever it is, he must have a pile of dough. For example, I'm sure he doesn't pay the same price as we do for a gallon of fuel, but if he did it would cost somewhere around $50,000 to fill up the tanks. And if she's underway, she could use up that fuel in less than 2 weeks. The way we use our engines, the same amount of fuel would last us about 150 years. -DWH

Saturday December 23rd, 2000

It is an exciting day in Porvenier. There is a cruise ship visiting. The cruise ship is actually anchored about a mile south. The passengers are ferried to Porvenier where they can take a tour in a dugout canoe and also purchase molas and other local crafts. There is a great deal of excitement in the air. On top of all this, the local gossip is that the owner of Lady M will be arriving today. In the afternoon a plane landed, two guys wearing hats with helicopter emblems took a look around and then flew off. I guess they are checking out the landing area.

As things were winding down with the cruise ship crowd, we looked at the handicrafts. There were probably over a hundred women set up selling the goods. It was quite a sight. And then as soon as the cruise ship was gone, everything was taken down, the dugout canoes loaded, and everything was back to normal within a half hour or so. We ended up having a beer with Guy and Martina at the Hotel Porvenier. While we were sitting there, a helicopter showed up with who we would guess to by the owners of Lady M. No clue who they are, but they sure travel in style.

We had purchased a lot of fish today, so we invited Guy and Martina and also Pete to dinner. Jo made his famous Tobago style fish curry. -DWH

Sunday December 24th, 2000

It is Christmas Eve. I miss my family, but we still have wonderful people to celebrate with. In the morning Stacy and I went snorkeling with Guy, Martina, and Pete. Stacy even spotted a lobster. It was in a hole in the reef with just an inch or two of it's antenna sticking out. We tried to grab the antenna and pull him out, but were unsuccessful after several attempts. Around 11am we headed back to Ladybug. I worked on finishing Stacy's gift while Stacy started preparing for dinner tonight. Just like at home, cooking a holiday meal can be an all day affair. Around 4 PM we headed to shore to call our families from the pay phone. Stacy was able to reach everyone. I reached my dad, but my mom was working. After making our calls we ran into Guy and Martina on the beach. We watched the sunset with them and then headed back to Ladybug for dinner. We had clams and mussels on homemade saltine crackers for and appetizer, tortilla soup with homemade corn chips and some homemade bread for the main course, and spice cake for dessert. -DWH

Monday December 25th, 2000

I really miss my family on Christmas. This is the second time I've been away from home for it. The first was when Steve Weber and I were biking in Australia. The friendly people from Haywood, Australia made sure that we felt welcome (and that our glasses never got empty). While Kuna Yala in very different from Australia, we found similar hospitality.

After getting up and having spice cake and coffee for breakfast, Jo and Matti went for a swim and Stacy and I headed to Wichubhuala, the small island just south of Porvenir. We sat down on the bench across from the store and just watched the local activity. Everyone was in a festive mood, and many of the men were already getting a little tipsy, going to the store and buying one beer at a time. After maybe 20 minutes a guy came over and started to talk to us in English. His name was Wika. He told us about Kuna culture (We really need to put some of that into the log) and gave us a tour of the island. Eventually we ended up at the home of a man named Tiko. He is somewhat of a trader and among other things sells lobsters to restaurants in Panama City. Wika told us that Tiko had invited us to a party at his house. That sounded great, but we could not forget about Matti and Jo, so we took the dingy back to Ladybug to pick them up.

We ate. We drank. We danced. We learned some of the local language including the toast "Ito Malando" which means "lets get drunk spiritually". After a couple hours I needed to go to Porvenier to call my family and wish them Merry Christmas, so Stacy and I left. While I was on the phone Stacy found Guy and Martina and asked them to if they wanted to join us. We also stopped buy Pete's boat and invited him. So we all went back to the party. By this time things were getting increasingly incomprehensible. There was one very pleasant man that we tried to talk to for a long time with no success. Finally, assuming that he was speaking Kuna and not Spanish, we asked Wika what he was saying. Wika had no idea. Eventually it became apparent that it was time to go home. We headed back to Ladybug, whipped up some chili for dinner, and then called it a night. -DWH

Tuesday December 26th, 2000

With the boat cleaned up and no big projects in process, it is an excellent time to go sailing! We picked up Guy and Martina who will be joining us for a couple days and pulled the Beast around noon. We sailed around in the San Blas Channel for awhile and then headed to Chichime Cays. We had one brief visit by the larger, gray dolphins.

After dropping the anchor Guy, Martina, Stacy and I headed out with spear guns for shooting fish and gloves for grabbing lobsters. We were optimistic about catching dinner, but we found out that there is a lot of current and the actual reef is quite far out. The shallow area around the boat is just sand and grass. We did find a few small conch. They were too small to keep, but they are the first ones that I have found so I felt encouraged. Where there are little ones, there should be big ones. Not only that but the shore line is littered with large conch shells, so somebody has been finding them.

When Stacy and I returned to Ladybug, Jo was fishing from the boat. Guy said that he had shot at some fish near shore, but had not hit any. Stacy and I went to the same area and I managed to get a small one. While it wasn't big enough to eat, it was fine for cutting up and using as bait. Unfortunately, even with natural bait, we had no luck. Maybe tomorrow. -DWH

Wednesday December 27th, 2000


Matti managed to catch a small flounder with his snorkel fishing technique. Not big enough to eat - but we must celebrate all success, small and big!

Sailed from Chichime Cays to the Holandes Cays. Not long after taking off Jo caught a Bar Jack about a foot long. Then I caught a barracuda. Even though the locals eat them, we still get nervous about fish poisoning and would not really not enjoy eating it with the thought of getting seriously ill in the back of our minds. Then just after the excitement of the fish was beginning to wear off, our good friends the dolphins arrived. These were spotted and gave us a good show. It is especially nice to see then when we have guests. Guy and Martina seemed to enjoy them.

We ended up deciding to anchor north of Banedup Island, but when we arrived we discovered that this is the famous anchorage that everyone refers to as "the pool". It is certainly a popular spot, even a little too popular, so we headed to the less crowded south side of the island. Here we struggled with anchoring. The first attempt left us too close to the reef. On the second attempt the anchor ended up in loose sand just a few feet from a huge drop off. The holding was not very good, and if the anchor had dragged a few feet it could have easily ended up hanging straight down. Not good. On the third attempt we got the anchor set in loose sand in about 12 feet of water and not near any big drop dropoffs I'm not completely happy with the bottom, but if we drag, we can drag a long ways before we would hit anything. I'm sure I'll sleep lightly, and if the wind comes up I'll get up and make sure we are not dragging. This is one time when I wish we had a big danforth style anchor which should hold better in these conditions.

By the time we get everything shipshape it was almost dark. Jo, Matti, and Martina went fishing in the dingy. Once it was dark Stacy and I went for a night dive with the hopes of finding lobster for dinner. No luck, but it was still cool. Jo cleaned the Jack (which is somewhat bioluminescent), but that's not enough for dinner. Since we are low on almost all basic ingredients including almost everything to make pizza, we made pizza. That and a few bottles of red wine, and it turned out to be a fabulous night with good friends. -DWH

Thursday December 28th, 2000

In the early morning we had some good rain come through. I heard Jo and Matti collecting rain water. Later, maybe around 4 AM I heard the wind pick up. I got up and sat on the deck for about an hour. We don't seem to be dragging at all. It was also cool to just hang out. It is very dark. Oh, one other cool thing. Matti kept what was left after filleting the jack (bait) and it is glowing. It is surprisingly bright.

I went back to bed and slept until around 9 am when I woke to the sound of chain dropping. Lady M has joined us. Stacy said that when they pulled up several members of the crew waved enthusiastically.

We went out on another search for something good to eat, but unlike most times, this time we struck gold. To start with I caught one large and two medium sized conchs. Soon after Guy found lobsters. I gave him a glove that I was carrying, and he was able to catch a few. I had the spear gun which proved to be even more effective though not as sporting (Thanks Kurt and Amy!). Guy and Matti also found out that it they teamed up they were better at catching them. Then while catching lobsters, we had a shark swim by. It was not very large, but it is the first that any of us, except for Guy, has ever seen while we've been in the water. We were able to swim very close to it and were able to positively identify it as a nurse shark, which are apparently not dangerous. We also saw several rays which are always fun to watch.

We ended the day by setting up the theater and watching Priscilla Queen of the Desert. -DWH

Friday December 29th, 2000

Slept in pretty late today. Picked up the anchor around noon with the plan of heading to Rio Sidra. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. We are getting rain and scattered thunder storms. Since visibility was not very good, we decided that we should head to Porvenier instead. We don't want to negotiate unfamiliar reefs in poor visibility.

Jo caught a nice bonito. It looks like we will eat well again.

Just as we were entering the anchorage at Porvenir a large gray dolphin appeared in front of the boat for a minute. Then it was gone. We dropped the anchor and were in the process of setting it with the engines when it reappeared with another dolphin. The pair were about 75 feet away looked like they were going to pass just in front of us. I dove in with the hope of swimming with them, but I guess they were not in the mood to play. The rest of the crew was watching from the deck and said that the dolphins were startled when I hit the water. I guess that is understandable. Next time I will slip in quietly.

Guy purchased a very large snapper to go with Jo's bonito. Jo fired up the grill while Stacy, Guy, and Martina went to the store. We are out of many essentials - flour, onions, potatoes, beer, etc. Guy and Martina also pitched in to the "boat fund". That is much appreciated, especially from fellow budget travelers. It is fun having guests, but it can also be expensive and deplete our provisions. (Please note that we have had many guests, especially those who actually have jobs, who have pitched in significantly in the past. Don't get the impression that we are going broke because of guests. Many have really helped us out.) Anyhow, we were soon stuffing our selves on fish and all in all had a very enjoyable evening.

The wind is not steady out of the north east as it usually is. We have swung around our anchor a couple times. It is also raining a lot. -DWH

Saturday December 30th, 2000

Woke up a number of times during the night to check that everything was OK. There has been heavy rain and strong winds. Jo was also up a couple times. We are collecting a lot of water which is nice.

It blew pretty hard for around an hour this morning. The wind was over 30 knots most of the time, with gusts of 40. I stayed in the cockpit and even had the engines on for a while. If Ladybug or some other boat upwind of us started to drag I wanted to be ready to react quickly. There was one boat behind us that was dragging and tried to reanchor five or six times. By the time they got it to stick, the wind had died down to 15 knots.

The heavy rain continued into the afternoon and so did our rain collection. It's funny. The main reason that we wanted to go to Rio Sidra was to fill up our water tanks. We didn't make it there because of the rain, but now we have collected enough that we have full tanks plus lots of extra fresh water for washing cloths and bedding. Life is not too bad. But now that everything is washed, it would be OK if the sun came out so everything would dry. -DWH

Sunday December 31st, 2000

It's New Years Eve! I'm flying to Panama City early tomorrow morning (I will be working for Marquip for the next couple weeks). After about 20 hours and six airports I should arrive in Madison about 11pm. We are hustling to get a update for the web sight done, finish some late Christmas presents, and make lists of things to purchase while I'm home. Jo and Matti are trying to get a San Blas video done so I can carry it along with their excellent ABC Island video. Our friends Guy and Martina will be flying to Panama City with me. From there they will be heading to Columbia. It has been excellent getting to know them, and we wish them good luck in the future. -DWH

We found out around 2PM that there is no flight tomorrow morning for Dave. But the flight tower assured us he could catch a flight later today. It made me sad because I thought I would have to say goodbye to Dave earlier than expected. Dave managed to pack in about 10 minutes. We rushed back to shore and waited for a plane. We weren't sure if or when a plane might come so we waited in the bar. After a few beers and no plane we assumed Dave would remain with us for another day. I was very happy to spend New Years with him. Amongst all of the confusion we did not plan anything for dinner. So we ate at the hotel.We were all hungry and the conch they prepared was wonderful. We played pool on the outdoor amongst ourselves and with the locals. I have learned a new rule "ball in hand". This was great fun. Lots of people from the anchorage showed up at the bar and the celebration continued until about 2 PM. Sometime during the evening Matti and JO helped the bar by driving the dinghy to the next island to replenish the beer supply. This resulted in shearing the pin for the propeller, but nothing major - a small price to pay for keeping the party going. -SLC

Monday January 1st, 2001

Did not manage to sleep much last night as I wanted to be ready in case a plane showed up early for Dave. There was no plane until 10 AM. We had a nice breakfast at the hotel. We met two women who just delivered a yacht here. It is a Fountaine Pajot Catamaran a little larger than ours. They had many failures during there passage from Florida...Net attachment, water maker, wind generator, port engine, main halyard, leaking hatches.... Boy am I glad to be on my own boat, that is well maintained and reliable! We have made so many improvements to Ladybug!

We finally got Dave off, hard not to cry. We have not been apart for a long time. It felt very strange back at the boat. I am so used to having him around. I think it will be good, we will learn to miss each other again. I pray for him to return to us very quickly. I really appreciate the huge sacrifice that he is making.

I finished drying the laundry and started a new book. Thanks Polly for all of the books you gave us when we were home!

We had movie night as a distraction for me. We watched "American Beauty". Great movie. I would like to watch it again, not sure I caught everything the first time.

-SLC

Tuesday January 2nd, 2001

Did not sleep very well. I miss Dave and I still have a nasty sore throat and stuffy nose. Jo made pancakes for breakfast. Around noon we took Guy and Martina to shore to see if there would be a flight. Well, no flight yet so we waited at the bar and had a nice lunch, barracuda and rice. We met a nice Canadian women who was doing some work here with local people. She could speak a bit of Kuna, very impressive. She told us that there were Peace Corps volunteers on some of the Islands. Did not know this, might be fun to check out where they live. Just as we gave up hope about the airplane - about ready to get in the dinghy to come back to Ladybug. A private plane came in. We asked and there was room, they were off! So sad to say good-bye to Guy and Martina. But I have the feeling we will meet up again soon. Guy expressed interest in the passage into the Pacific. Which is a very cool, we'll see what we can work out.

In two days we have gone from being 6 crew members to 3. Boy the boat seems quiet and big. I am now living in the port hull by myself. Dave will be back soon and I am really looking forward to my mom's visit!

We made a quick trip to the store on the next island.... bread, flour, vanilla and margarine.

Think we will go sailing tomorrow!

-SLC

Wednesday January 3rd, 2001

A good day of sailing. Bought a few groceries(found apples!!)in the AM, then did some email, and lifted anchor around noon. The wind was pleasant. We arrived in Eastern Halandes Cays around 5pm. We are anchored between Banedup and Tiadup. We have found many familiar names in the anchorage, almost feels like being back in Trinidad. Had to set second anchor to keep from swinging, as we did not get a choice spot. Matti is off to find us lobster!! -SLC

Thursday January 4th, 2001

We worked around the boat today. Jo worked on his computer and did some sewing. I took measurements for the spinnaker repair, we will need to order some material for this. I made a patch to the American Flag. Then I made some strips of cloth with velcro to fix the carpet that is coming off the wall in the v-berth and finally I worked on one of Dave's Birthday presents. We all went for a swim together, the current was strong. On my way back to the boat a saw three young girls (5- 10 years old) playing in the water. I talked to them a little in Spanish. They wanted to know where I was going. I also saw another nurse shark. I made been burritos for dinner. I started writing a new story on the computer last night. Not sure what it will turn out to be because I didn't really have a beginning or an end in mind, I just started writing. -SLC

Friday January 5th, 2001

Worked all day on finishing up sewing projects. Even made a few screens for the windows. I am exhausted. Jo made spaghetti for dinner. Started design for wind scoop for side hatch in aft berth. -SLC

Saturday January 6th, 2001

Finished wind scoop, most excellent! Really works well, feels like a ceiling fan! Went for a swim by myself to the reef. Saw three really nice size squid. Not too much else interesting. Made wonderful bread and onion soup for dinner. Thanks, Dave for sharing your bread making secrets with me. Tomorrow we will head back to PorVenir. We need to check email and try to get one of our propane tanks filled. The anchorage is really beautiful and very calm. We will hopefully be back here a few more times. -SLC

Sunday January 7th, 2001

It is 10:30 AM and we are motoring out of Holandes Cays. We will proceed through the channel and make our way back to PorVenir outside the reef because there is not much wind today. The sky is clear accept for the persistent clouds over the main land. I had a super swim/walk this morning. I went around Banedup island. I saw one large Ray, a lot of Barracuda and one large lobster! Most of the shore was beautiful for walking. The Island is completely uninhabited, didn't even see any foot paths that crossed it.

We arrived at 2:45 PM. One fish, but we lost it. Even bent the hooks on the lure and the steel rod in the pole. -SLC

Monday January 8th, 2001

Not much to report today. Matti went fishing, he thinks his hook is too big for the little fish in the reef. Jo worked at his computer and I worked on my writing. We had Pollo (chicken dinner) over at the hotel. We even managed to find a few cold beers an play some pool. -SLC

Tuesday January 9th, 2001

Another work day. Matti and Jo scrubbed the cockpit and put down 2 new coats of anti-skid paint. Looks very pretty and white. We had to come and go through the hatches because the drying paint blocked the front door. I started the dinghy cover, yes I am a good procrastinator. We got 3 nice fish from a local fisherman. Jo made a killer batch of rice and beans (lentils!) to go with the fish. We are still waiting for the trader ship that we think will fill our propane tank for cooking. Why is does the watched pot never boil? -SLC

Wednesday January 10th, 2001

When it rains it pours. Three cargo ships! And a fourth one a little later in the morning. Carti took our propane tank, said they will be back in a week. Hope it works.

I finished 1/2 of the dinghy cover. It is a lot of work, but one more full day of work and it should be done.

I went to use the phone, no new messages. I headed to the hotel for a quick beer to see if there was anyone to chat with. To my surprise I heard a very familiar "Hello." Turned out to be the 2 girls that delivered the Catamaran. Marisa is British and Jen is from South Africa. They both live in a 'Crew House' in Ft. Lauderdale. This is like a hostel, but set up for people who are trying to get crew positions on boats. Had a very nice chat with them. When I arrived back at the boat, I was met by a wonderful smell. The guys were frying the beautiful snapper that we bought earlier in the day. We had a really nice dinner. Then another Scrabble game for Matti and Jo. I went back to my novel. -SLC

Thursday January 11th, 2001

Woke up to "Hey Ladybug". We met the San Blas Hotel pirogue with Pat in the bow. We made a quick verbal exchange and decided to take him sailing. He picked our boat because it was the one in the anchorage he most wanted to sail on. Pat has been a pilot in the Panama Canal for 25 years, and the Merchant Marines before that!

I made a quick trip to the phone. Mom picked up the phone and I found out her flight information. She will be here on Sunday!! I also made a trip to the local store for some eggs and beer, no bread today. We picked up our anchor at 9:30 and we're headed back to the Holandes. This is our favorite anchorage. Calm and great swimming.

It's 2:30 and we just set the anchor in our favorite spot. Had a nice sail over, pretty uneventful.

-SLC

Friday January 12th, 2001

Did my morning swim/walk around Banedup. Very beautiful. The tide was low and only had to swim for a short way on the far end of the island. But a huge ray scared me to death. I was only in 2.5 feet of water when I noticed that the sand had been stirred up, so I started to look around. Sure enough, a ray that was longer from head to toe than I am tall was to my left towards shore. So, I swam deeper. I looked and it also decided to go deeper. So I turned and swam back to where I had originally seen it. Then he was gone, I still sprinted for the beach. The last thing I want to do is step on one of those guys in the shallows. The rays will only sting if they are taken by surprise.

We sailed to Chichime Cays (Uchutupu Pippi - what a name!!). Found a nice place to anchor at the opening. We ended up just behind Sangaris. As soon as we were settled, I swam over to say hello to Craig and Kathy. I met their guests and had a really nice chat with them. They even showed me some beautiful pictures of their daughter who is a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador.

The guys managed to buy some fish today, and Jo is in the process of frying them. We will never go hungry here! -SLC

Saturday January 13th, 2001

Back in Porvenir. I am busy getting the boat 'Mom' ready. She will be here tomorrow morning! Pat spent will spend one more night with us. Pat took us for a nice dinner over at the hotel.-SLC

Sunday January 14th, 2001

Mom arrived on the 7:30 AM flight and Pat left on the same flight. Mom had an a good trip here. Thanks for the ticket Eric. She spent a noisy night at the voyager hostel, not much sleep. But her driver, Gerado was very prompt and helpful. He made sure she got all of her luggage into the airport, and that she got in the correct line. I was waiting for her and she said she spotted me right away. We took the dingy back to the boat. We made some coffee. Then we made a quick trip back to shore for some fresh bread. We had smoked fish sandwiches for lunch. Then we went to shore for a little swim. Mom tried out her new vest. It took about 15 minutes for her to get used to the water then we were off! We found lots of fish and some nice coral. We took a rest after 30 minutes in the water, but she still wanted to go back for more. Later we made another trip to shore for a beer, showers and email. Then we had lobster and rice for dinner. The day finished with a little star gazing. Saw a beautiful shooting (falling?) star. -SLC

The landing strip is the length of the island-amazing. -JFW

Monday January 15th, 2001

Mom and I started our day with a little coffee, then a trip to the store. We got potatoes, onions, eggs, beans, American cheese and margarine. After this I went to call Dave and we had another swimming excursion. Mom really loves the water. We saw a beautiful (and large) Barracuda. Around noon we had smoked fish sandwiches again, then we got ready to sail back to Chichime Cays.

When we arrived I noticed that WindSong was in the anchorage, so I headed over to say hello to Jane and Jim. It was nice to see more familiar faces. They are doing well, and they love their new engine. I came back to the boat for a short nap, then Mom and I went the smaller island to hunt for coconuts. We bought two green coconuts for coconut water. We got about 2 full glasses from each one. We also bought 2 mature coconuts, we will use these for cooking and baking. Each coconut was .50 Then we went to the larger of the 2 islands and walked completely around it. We encountered 3 separate families. Everyone was very friendly and they all wanted to sell us Molas. Lots of small children and a few dogs.

At this pace mom is going to wear me out, she has a lot of energy. I'm pretty sure we will be in the water everyday that she is here.-SLC

Tuesday January 16th, 2001

Great swimming on the reef to at the end of the smallest island, which is on your right as you enter the channel to the anchorage. I say a small Ray and mom loved the fish. Not much current here so she was very comfortable in the water. Sailed back to Porvenir in the afternoon. No fish today, so I made Bean Burritos for dinner. Mom helped roll out the tortillas while I grilled them in the pan. Saw a super falling star. Also learned to locate Aldebaran (North of Orion) and Sirius (South of Orion) stars. -SLC

The colors of the fish and coral are awesome. The beauty is indescribable!-JFW

Wednesday January 17th, 2001

Woke up to lots of activity on the island, another cruise ship must be coming. Mom and I went to shore around 9AM to receive email and try to call Dave. Never got a hold of Dave, but we watched massive amounts of food and alcohol being delivered to the island for the cruise ship guests. Mom and I went back to the boat to get our snorkel gear. We headed to the beach at the end of the airstrip. We swam out to the reef. We found a nice spot, but mom got tired quickly from fighting the current. I found a little lobster, but I didn't have gloves on. I also saw my first Man-of-war. This is a type of jelly fish. It was a beautiful bright blue, with pink and tentacles. One tentacle was at least 10 feet long. Luckily I realized what it was before I got to close. I saw a big circle around it, in order to avoid touching the long string that it was trailing. After the cruise ship left we found leftover (whole and untouched) pineapple, melon, grapefruit, oranges, and charcoal for the grill. I even found a brand new crew T-shirt on the beach for Dave. We had dinner at the hotel, then Mom and I came back to the boat.-SLC

Thursday January 18th, 2001

Matti and Jo woke up early to help S/V 'Sunbow' take their guests to shore for the early airplane as their dinghy was temporarily out of commission.

Matti also made pancakes and delivered them to our new Norwegian friend Kristine who is staying at the hotel.

Another Cruise ship came in today, not nearly the commotion we experienced yesterday. This one was German.

Matti and Jo had to render first aid assistance to Kristine because she stepped on a sea urchin. Evidently the locals told her to pee on it and then slap it hard for 2 days in a row, then it would be better. But when she asked for a shot of rum, they smiled like she was joking. I think the rum might have been the most effective medicine.

I talked to Dave for nearly 1/2 hour today. He will be here by next weekend!! Yeah!! He is leaving for Georgia today. No swimming today, we took it easy. Mom napped and read her book. I made Kahlua today for Dave. Then I read for a while and continued my work on the dinghy cover. Mom and I made an excellent dinner. The fish fillets were nice and thin so we decided to bake them with bread stuffing.

After dinner the guys went back in to shore. Mom and I stayed on the boat and played cards. After a few hands I realized something was wrong. I kept hearing the Island's generator from the wrong direction. When I headed outside I found that Ladybug was turned in an odd direction and we were stern to stern with Sunbow. I immediately called Sunbow on the radio to alert them. I wanted to make sure neither of our anchors were dragging on the bottom. Ken assured me we were OK, but we should keep a close eye out. I guess the wind died and the current took over the direction of the boat. Since Sunbow is anchored in deeper water, the current affected the two boats differently. -SLC

Friday January 19th, 2001

Matti collected 5 gallons of water in the rain storm last night! Good job!

Still no sign of the propane tank. We would like to go sailing today, but the sky is overcast and we can not navigate the reefs under these conditions.

Mom and I had a nice snorkel on the western reef on Porvenir. Matti also went for a snorkel, but he met up with a Man-of-war. He came back to the boat and put vinegar on the stings. He had some swelling that looked like mosquito bites. He said it was uncomfortable, but must not have been too bad because he was back in the water a little while later. After our swim we went in to take showers and had a nice chat with some French Backpackers who are trying to make it to Columbia by boat. We also talked a few minutes with Ken from Sunbow. Later on Jude called us on the VHF to invite us for a sunset cocktail on Sunbow. We quickly accepted and headed over in our dinghy for some good conversation. Lovely people and a beautiful boat! I wish Dave had been here to meet them. -SLC

Saturday January 20th, 2001

The sky is sunny today and we are ready to go sailing. Mom and I already sent email and left Dave a message at work. We also had to go over to the hotel to pay for our showers yesterday. My friend at the hotel was not alarmed that I forgot to pay, she just laughed and gave me 9$ change for my 10$ bill.

Jo and Matti managed to call the crew back home at Pasqual's!!

No wind, but we motored over to Los Grullos. We saw some fish feeding as were coming close to our destination. Matti and Jo jumped in the dinghy while I drove the boat. No luck, but it was fun to try. I don't usually make decisions about where we go, but with mom on the boat the guys are letting me make most of the decisions. This is very nice, but I'm also not used to it. Yesterday I spent some time looking at our cruising guide to pick this spot, I even charted our course on for the first time with the software. I use the software a lot, but I haven't ever put our course and destination in. Very good practice. I think I am doing more on the boat because Dave isn't here. This definitely good, but I still miss him a lot. It is a beautiful spot and we are the only ones in the anchorage!!

After we anchored Mom and I went had couple of sandwiches and then went for a swim. Saw some nice coral, and a few fish - nothing too spectacular. Matti found a nice drop off on the other side of the island, I want to check that out tomorrow. We had potatoes and lobster on the grill because our propane finally ran out. Mom and I played cards again before and after dinner. We will head for the Carti Islands tomorrow. -SLC

Sunday January 21st, 2001

I woke up around 8 this morning, this is normal for me. I cut up a pinapple for breakfast. Then mom and I went for our swim. Mom rowed the dinghy to the beach. She is learning quickly how to use the dinghy. Only her second attempt at rowing and she did really well. We walked to the other side of the island. I walked on the rocks to where I could start to swim. There were small sea urchins under the rocks that I walked on, not too smart. I was checking the spot Matti told us about when I looked back and mom was right behind me! We had a wonderful swim. I would estimate that the wall dropped off to about to about 30 feet of water. It was beautiful looking into the deep water while hovering over the coral wall.We swam back to the beach to avoid walking back on the rocks.

We got back to the boat around 10AM. We rinsed off the salt water and started to get ready for our sail. We left for Carti at 11 AM. We sailed most of the way in about 10 to 13 knots of wind. Mom steered the boat for almost an hour. She was able to keep us right on course. We arrived in the Carti Island group around 2PM. As we entered the islands a dugout greeted us and directed us through the channel. He was very nice and ended up to be a friend of Ernesto, who we met in Porvenir. We were very happy to see our supply ship that took our propane tank at the first island. Jo jumped in the dinghy and retreived our tank. We payed a total of $10 to get the tank filled. After we anchored South West of Yantupu Ernesto came on board with his 2 sons. The boys are 7 and 8 and already learning numbers and colors in English! We took a rest then went to Ernesto's Island Sugudub.We drank a beer at his house, then toured the island. We saw the museum and the aquarium (only a few turtles). We were introduced to several people on the island. We finally ended up at the general store and purchased what we needed then headed for the dinghy as the sun was setting quickly.

Tomorrow the party starts in Sugudub. This party will last for 5 days. There will be a ceremony, food, drinking and dancing for a 7 year old girl and a 13 year old girl. In this matriarchal society and there are two parties for each girl as they grow up. Often they combine a younger girl's party with an older girl's party because of the cost of the party, over $3000! This is a hair cutting party for the older girl because she has started to menstruate which makes her old enough to get her hair cut in a very short style and start to dress in tradition skirts and shirts. According to tradition, the person that throws the party (in this case the girls' father) will be obligated to drink enough to throw up, then he will continue to drink more. Alcohol seems to be a big part of Kuna culture, but they are not drunks - they just like to celebrate! -SLC

Monday January 22nd, 2001

Woke up around 8AM and had breakfast with mom... coffee, melon and reheated spanich rice from last night. . Then I went to work on the dinghy cover. I was making progress when the boat started to swing towards shore. None of us were very comfortable with the anchoraged, so we started the engines and headed out. We were sad to miss the party, but it was not a good anchorage for us. We managed to buy 12 medium to small lobsters for 8$ before we headed out.

We were on our way to Porvenir when the wind started to pick up, so we changed course for our favorite anchorage in the Eastern Holondes Cays. We arrived around 4:30. Mom and I immediately headed for the beach with the dinghy. We had a wonderful walk. I couldn't believe how low the tide was. The low tide formed natural pools of water between the sandy shore and the grassy areas 5 or 10 feet from the shore. There were a lot of small fish in these little pools. I was surprised how different the shore line looked with the low tide. We even found a lobster family living under a piece of drift wood in about 2 feet(or less) of water. I did not disturb the lobster family, tomorrow we will go back with gloves and see if they are still there. We also found some baby star fish that had been washed up on shore. When we picked them up, the legs just moved frantically.-SLC

Tuesday January 23rd, 2001

What a day! After working all day on the dinghy cover, my hopes of finishing were killed again. I had just a minor setback, but it really seemed major at the time. Maybe it will be finished tomorrow. This is starting to sound like a broken record. I also had to clean and lube the bobbin shuttle on my sewing machine. I had to take it completly appart twice to do the job. I also had to set the timing. Not as difficult as I thought. Now I know how to do it!

After my disaster of a day sewing, mom managed to gather me and the snorkeling gear into the dinghy. We headed for the beach. Today I brought gloves and a bag. First we raided the log we saw yesterday. One large lobster, and 5 or 6 smaller ones. Then me moved to other spot I knew. Mom and I found 2 more large ones, and a few smaller ones. Mom held the bag while I hunted. We had a total of 12 by the time we got back to the boat. The guys were very impressed with my success. This was the fist time I caught any lobster at all. It was easier than I thought. These lobsters have sharp spines instead pinchers, but I couldn't feel anything through the gloves. We had a great dinner... lobster in garlic butter, rice, and fresh homemade bread. Matti entertained us after dinner when he did the 'moth up the shorts dance'. This moth must have had an inch long body and at least a 2 inch wide wing span. Very large. Matti managed to capture it and let it go in the great out of doors.Mom and I played scrabble after dinner. -SLC

Wednesday January 24th, 2001

Finished dinghy cover today! This is a cover meant to be used when it is in the water to protect the rubber from UV damage and scraping against piers. Dave wanted this project so he will be very pleased when he finds out that it is done. I can't wait to show him.

Nice swim today. Mom did her first drift dive. We went up the beach and let the current carry us to our spot to hunt for lobster. We found only 2 lobsters that were big enough to take. Matti also found one. After snorkeling we took the dinghy over to Tiadup and walked around the Island. We met Herman and his family. They wanted to get conch for us. I looked for conch today, but didn't find any big enough to take. I wanted to find one with a flare, this indicates it is very mature and would be worth the trouble because of the amount of meat inside the shell.

Matte made pasta and white sauce with the lobster. The boys watched The Matrix after dinner and Mom and I played scrabble again.-SLC

Thursday January 25th, 2001

Mom and I had a nice swim this morning. Beautiful coral, lots of little fish, and 4 large snappers. Wish I had the spear gun for the snappers. They looked yummy. We left Eastern Holandes for Porvenir around noon. We had a beautiful sail outside of the reef and dropped anchor a little after 3PM. En route Jo and I both lost our first 2 fishing bites. Then Jo caught a nice fish and had one more bite. The new line with a bungy cord seems to be doing the trick.

Mom and I headed to shore immediatly, as I was anxious for news from Dave. Unfortunately the phones weren't working. I will have to try again tomorrow. We played cards over at the hotel and even had the Antonio (hotel owner's grandson) teach us how to play Pachisi. He was very energetic in spite of the fact the we don't speak Spanish and he doesn't speak English. Mom and I had a nice dinner at the hotel. It is now almost 8PM and I am ready to read for a bit then fall asleep. -SLC

Friday January 26th, 2001

Spent all day trying to get a hold of Dave. I was finally successful at 2:15 our time. I found him in the Madison office. He has been working hard on Marquip stuff, boat stuff and personal stuff. He is very anxious to be home on Ladybug. Confirmed his arrival on Sunday morning.

The wind was blowing over 30 knots for most of the day. No swimming in this weather, I didn't even want to take the dinghy over to the store on the next island.

The boys went ashore for pool and beer. Mom and I played Scrabble most of the day then we made coconut rice with raisins and peanuts. -SLC

Saturday January 27th, 2001

The wind was still blowing hard today. I cleaned boat for most of the morning while mom patiently read her book. The guys went to get some groceries while we attempted a swim this afternoon. High tide, low visibility, big swell and waves -- not even that fun for me. Mom attempted the water, but after a scratched knee on coral she probably couldn't even see we decided to wait for a better day. I did find a lobster family but all I did was manage to scare them further into a hole in the rocks. We had showers, a beer and a few hands of gin at the bar before we came back to the boat for dinner. I made lasagna and it turned out pretty good in spite of the fact that we were missing most of the traditional ingredients.

Dave should be here first thing in the morning on the 7AM flight. I am so anxious to see him!!-SLC

Sunday January 28th, 2001

I'd like to thank the people at Marquip for giving me a chance to work a little and pick up some beer money. It was good to work and to have money flowing into our bank account for a change, but OH IT IS GOOD TO BE HOME!

I flew into Panama City last night and caught a flight to Porvenir this morning. As we approached the landing strip the plane went right by Ladybug (and when I say right by I mean maybe 40 yards away and below of top of the mast). I could see Jan in the cockpit, and before the plane had stop I could see Stacy in the dingy. What a great welcome home.

The boat looks great. There is a beautiful blue cover on the dingy, the cockpit floor has a fresh coat of non-skid paint, there is a great wind scoop for our cabin, and everything looks very clean.

Stacy has saved the Christmas presents from Ryan and Linda (delivered by Jan) for us to open together. Thanks for all the books and goodies. You either thought very hard about what to get us, our you got very lucky with your selections. They're great.

I was able to bring a few boat presents back - spare diesel parts, new face plates for the engine control panels, a customized hand crank for the diesel (thanks Kurt), a new stereo (West Marine replaced the original one that skipped on every CD. This one works much better), materials for fixing the spinnaker, an auto pilot, our repaired SSB, new lights for the saloon (that have both white and red (night vision friendly) bulbs, a Musky Mike and the Mad Dogs from Mars CD (thanks Fish Dog and the rest of the group), and misc. other small parts. We also have some great treats for the galley from Mom and a bottle of wine from Grandma. -DWH

Monday January 29th, 2001

There is a cruise ship visiting Porvenier today. It's funny. I think the cruise ship is bigger than the island. It anchors way off and the people get ferried to shore where they can play at the beach, buy local molas and other crafts, and go for rides in the dugout canoes. We talked to out friend Wika about doing a trip up one of the rivers tomorrow and then started shopping. We will be shipping our purchases back with Jan. -DWH

Tuesday January 30th, 2001

Stacy, Jan, and I did a trip with some of our local friends. It was an excellent trip. See pictures and text from river trip in Mom's river adventure.

After all the excitement this morning, we needed a nap. It has taken a couple days to get out of work mode and back to boat life, but taking a lot of naps in the middle of the afternoon helps. So what day is it?

After out naps we started to get Ladybug ready to sail. We are heading to Colon tonight. It sounds like a lot of our cruiser friends are already there, preparing to go through the canal.

We lifted the anchor around 4:30. The wind is light, but there are fairly large waves. It makes for a pleasant motion. We are trying out the new autopilot. Seems to work pretty well, at least in these conditions. See pictures of dolphins in Dolphins during passage from San Blas to Panama -DWH

to Panama - Colon and the Canal log 01/31/2001-032001