Saturday, January 4, 2014

Low Water

The last few days have been pretty busy from dusk to dawn.  No wind and pretty overcast so no spare power for the computer.  A few of the boats got together and hired a guide to take us on a tour of the jungle.  We set off at 7am.  Early enough to still see the birds, but late enough the mosquitoes would not carry us off. Actually the mosquitoes were not all that bad. A little Deet and baby oil seems to keep them away for most of the day.  Our guide was amazing at spotting the wild life.  He would hear a bird call; tell us what it was, and start calling back to it. We all wanted to see a Toucan and when he heard one calling out we decided to follow its calls. In a few minutes our guide pointed up in a tree and there sat a Toucan. We ended up seeing a few hawks too. Along with many very colorful birds I can't remember the names of.

There were several frogs too, including the poison dart frog.  As we got further into the jungle it got denser, and the trees higher.  It was not long before the only way to make progress was to walk in the river. There we found an older gentleman with an axe.  A tree had fallen and it was just the right kind to make a bowel for husking rice. We watched him work for a while. I was impressed at what he was able to do with his axe.  The whole thing was about 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide. I'll have to see if I got a good picture of it.

On the way out I spotted a banana palm with a nice bunch of bananas that looked close to ripe. With a quick whack of a machete they came crashing down. I filled my backpack full and one of the other boaters grabbed a bunch too. I think we had over 50lbs of bananas. Paths sure seem to get longer when you are carrying a heavy load. I am pretty sure those last two miles were closer to ten.  Luckily there is a swimming hole just before entering the village. Us wimps climb down to steps in the clay; the kids of the town (and Teggy later on) jump the twenty feet making a great splash. There are little fish in the pool that just love to feed on you.

They also have a type of fresh water shrimp. One of the villagers caught a few and cooked them up for me. Not being a fan of shrimp I politely took a small one. They were so unbelievably good I ended up eating several. They are boiled with some local roots, and a little oil. You may be asking yourself how big were the shrimp. Well a small one is about 5 inches long, big ones over 8.

Today we are headed back towards the Perlas Islands.  Departure will be at around 6am with the outgoing tide. It is so nice moving at 7kts with the motor just over idle.

Until next time,

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Huck Finn


Yes, here it is New Years Eve. Here we are trying to keep cool by spending the day in the cool river playing with the local kids. Tally and Innocence are chasing chickens while Teggy and Intrepid are playing with some small parrots - - - such cute little guys.

Mother and I went back to the boat to take a quick rest and make sure the river had not deposited too much in the way of logs and other debris on the front of Lil Explorers. While clearing the logs from the front of the boat we spied a small balsa raft drifting by.  I quickly grabbed a rope and with the help of a friend we captured the raft, a beautifully simple little transport instrument.  It is four logs next to each other. A small branch runs across the top and is held in with wooden pegs. It is so simple, yet strong. I was able to tow it behind the dingy at almost full speed without it even noticing.  I gave it to Teggy as an early birthday present.  He got the first ride down the river.  It is quite the sight him drifting down the river with a stick as a paddle. As he drifted past a few of the other boats I had to think of Huck Finn and his little raft. I will have to see if I can still get a copy of the book for the little ones. I think they would enjoy it. Hopefully it has not been fully banned.

Right now there are four kids playing on one end, while Valiant is trying to get his leg between two of the logs up front. He is becoming quite the adventurer.  Anything his older brothers do, he has to do too. And it does not matter what that may be.

Early Tomorrow a few of the people on the boats are going for a hike into the mountains. I plan to tag along and get a little bird watching in. I will give a report tomorrow.
Good night and Happy New Year.

Loyal- - - -

Back up the Darien River

Going up the Darien River today, back to the La Chunga village.  We have 5 other boats with us this time and made a gentle downwind sail yesterday crossing the large bay from the Perlas to mainland.  We are all staged, waiting for a rising tide to cross the mud flats up to the river.  Once in the river it's not such a big deal, just crossing the mud flats that it gets shallow.  We draw less than most of the mono-hulls, so we usually take the lead and depth-sound out the channel.  We have 2 Canadian boats and 3 other Americans, including Sunrise with the 4-year-old girl.  Cassidy went with them yesterday to see how sailing on a mono-hull and with another crew was like---just a change of pace.  Sounds like it was a nice time.  It was a mild wind and downwind, so minimal heeling.

Need to go oversee schooling, and then off we go to the Darien.  Since we are motoring and caught a little rain in a squall last night, we may even get to wash a load of laundry!!


Happy New Year from the Darian

So many great things are going on these days.  The new cockpit is wonderful. We are finally eating outside in the shade of the new cockpit cover.  The raised cockpit has also given us more storage area. For now the decks are not as cluttered as they used to be. It is so nice to be able to sail without having to fight our way around the decks.

Two days ago we were getting ready to head across to the Darian from the Perlas.  Before taking down the Volleyball net Cassidy wanted to play a last set to determine the King of The Beach.  I got to be team Bigfoot captain, and Cassidy was team Littlefoot captain. Being a girl she figured she should have first choice of teammates. She chose Courage.  Now, it turned out, he was the only other player on the beach.  Luckily I was able to draw my own boundaries. I made my field a few feet narrower and a few feet shorter than their side. The first game was a close 10 to 21. During the game I had to widen my field, and even make it a little deeper.  Even with the bigger field I was able to hold my own, during the second game.  But for the third game they shortened their field, and I had to lengthen mine.  And to make it more fair, I brought my width the within  two feet of theirs.  By this time I was wearing them down enough they were making a few mistakes (like thinking a ball was out when it was not). To make this short story longer I will wrap up by saying I don't think they will back me up on my version of events, but they will have to admit I took the title of King of the Beach. Three straight games.

Yesterday 5 other boats and Lil' Explorers set sail for the Darian. A few were wise and left early to catch the morning wind, while others took some time to beach the boat and give he a nice wash before setting off. There was a nice northerly wind blowing about 10kts so up went the spinnaker.  The wind held for about 4 hours, but eventually sails started coming down and motors started. The wise ones who left early were able to select prime anchoring spots, and guide the rest of us to a spot in the dark. With an overcast night, and no moon, it was hard to see anything at all.  At one point Courage called me forward to listen to a sound. We could hear the rain approaching. Quickly we started closing hatches, and gathering clothes that were out drying. The rain hit hard, but only lasted a few minutes.  Not even long enough to wash our new roof.

Around ten am the next day we all pulled up our anchors and started making our way to the mouth of the river. This time there were no nets to block our path.  It was impressive to see the line of six boats all in a row heading over the mud flats. Two of the boats did end up hitting the bottom when the current pulled them out of the channel. It was had to tell but the current did not follow the channel. I jumped in the dingy with boat hook in hand and headed back to find the channel. It only took a few minutes to figure out what had happened, and Cassidy was able to get the message out letting everyone know where the channel was.

Once we were all safely anchored in our favorite spot, a few of the villagers came out to say hello. For the next few hours we had between 30 and 40 visitors stop by to say 'Hi' and welcome us back. As the afternoon progressed we shared war stories with the other boats and introduced them to some of the locals.

Tomorrow there will be a bit of a New Year’s party in town, and we are all invited.  It promises to be quite interesting.

Happy New Year from Loyal, Mother, Courage, and the whole Lil' Explorers crew!