Saturday, March 22, 2014

Another Busy Day at Sea

Today was a nice day.  It started with a squall and I was able to use the fresh water to scrub the decks.  The cockpit cover was covered in dirt, so I cleaned it and we collected about 30 gallons of water, some of which I used to fill the washing machine.  I also got a bunch of dirt cleaned off half of the hatches.  I'll do the other half tomorrow.  It's nice to be getting the Panama soot off of the boat.  They burn everything there and ashes and dirt land all over the boats.  You just get a layer of soot after being there for any length of time.

After all that cleaning, I got to use some of the water for a freshwater shower also.  The rain lasted about an hour.  Our new cockpit cover leaks.  It still needs some caulking and finishing touches, and so the whole cockpit was wet.  We have the materials, so hopefully this will inspire us to get it done.  We haven't had rain in a long time, so it hasn't been much of an issue.  The surrounding canvas was great and with windows we can look out.

The seas are calmer, so less nauseating.  This was good for getting more done.  We had dolphins jumping on the bow this afternoon along with a little tiny baby one.  There were also some flying fish.  We caught a couple of fish, both got away with the lures.  Starting to think it would be cheaper to just buy the fish.  Although, it would not have lasted this long in our fridge.  For dinner we ate the first of the jars of meat I canned.  It seemed to be good.  Nice to get meat a few times a month out here also.

We are following gentle winds, so have a winding path. We’ve had only a couple of squalls; otherwise not that much weather.  Rumor is that the winds will be coming from the Galapagos in a few days, making it an upwind run.  We are hoping to get east of it, so it's not straight upwind which is less pleasant.  We shall see.

I started my Ecuador flag today, cut the material and have the white soaking in yellow food coloring.  It seems to be colorfast!!  Hmmmm, may need a plan B.  We'll see.  I'll leave it overnight, and then check again.  No harm in that unless a kid spills the yellow and everything except the flag gets stained. . .

Saw another boat today.  A fishing boat from Costa Rica came up behind, along side, and then ahead of us.  Apparently dropping lots of lines and buoys that we found later as our course drifted toward them.  They were circling a flag in front of us when we caught up to them.  We could see other buoys and a flag in the distance, but they didn't seem concerned.  Usually they would wave us in one direction or another.  So we sailed right over their lines, which were probably 15-20 feet down.  They waved and took a picture of us.

The kids had a nice swim this afternoon when there wasn't much wind.  Very refreshing.  And we're eating like kings since we have to eat our fresh food before we get to the Galapagos or they may choose to take it. We had fresh squeezed OJ, cantaloupe, pineapple and grapes today for snack.  Integrity started a funny thing.  He told Courage that he hurt his "bluey".  Courage of course didn't understand, so asked "what?"  Integrity held up his pinky finger and said his "bluey" was hurt.  Courage said, "that's your . . ., ooooh, OK, I get it."  He's a boy; he doesn't have a pinky it turns out.

We aren't using as much fresh water as in the past.  We filled up at Balboa Yacht Club before we left and still have plenty.  We were going to make some today, since it's been 9 days, but didn't need to.  We need to back flush our filter on our water maker every 10 days or pickle it, so we plan to make water every 10 days or so.  With the new freshwater from the rain today, we are flush.

We are towing a propeller attached to a generator.  It spins and creates power for us while we sail.  Plus the solar and wind, we are doing well there too.  Except this afternoon I noticed our solar panels were in the shade of the Mainsail, so not ideal production.  But we haven't had to turn off lights or fans or anything to ration power.  Would like to run the fridge a bit more, but other than that, it's working great too.  Will probably wash that load of laundry next time we run the motor or if we run the generator to make water.  So it's loaded and filled with water, but not going to run it yet.

Going to go get everyone to bed.  Please check this letter for spelling/mistakes.  I'm about to throw this computer overboard!  SailMail has to be run on a PC, so it totally slows down my Mac to run parallel systems.  So we have a PC laptop here specifically for SailMail, which is GREAT!!  But, in writing this, it's carried me all over the message over 20 times, literally.  I am typing, and then it jumps randomly and interjects somewhere else --- 3 times while writing that sentence.  It may be worse than the super slow Mac that freezes up from the PC software slowing it down.  Not decided which is the worse of two evils.  Both currently feel evil!


Sailing Day 4

There are large squalls in front and beside us. We rode a nice squall this morning for a little over an hour. It was great and we caught about 20 gallons of water. In addition Shannon had time to clean the decks and grab a nice shower!

To make power while we sail we tow a propeller hooked up to a generator. Well that is all fine and dandy as long as you don't back over it. So last night when one of the squalls hit, the first thing it did was nearly reverse the wind direction. Hence the boat started sailing backwards, the autopilot alarm went off, and the sails started to flap loudly. After pressing pause on the movie (The Gods Must Be Crazy), we walked outside and said "hey! a squall!". 'Course since it was quite dark outside, and our eyes were used to looking at the bright TV we were pretty much blind. So I am not really sure how everyone decided it was a squall.

As my eyes adjusted, I noticed the rope to the propeller generator went right to the prop/rudder area. With the help of Shannon and the boat hook (Loyal did not come to help even though I called) we had it cleared, and soon we were off sailing on some jaunty course that worked for the wind/sail combination.

For night shift I take watch until around 11pm at which time Cassidy wakes up and takes it to around 2:30. And then she goes off to bed and Loyal is supposed to take the remaining watch until sunrise.  Not to cause problems, but Loyal doesn't even adjust the course or the sails, even if they are flapping like mad! I even have to close his hatches when it rains!

More adventures to come including the story of the "saltwater banana bread" involving Valiant!!!


Friday, March 21, 2014

Sailing Day 3

Wow, what a super great day!  Just finished a super supper and thinking about tacking.  The ocean has warmed up to 82 degrees from 72, and the ocean has become super iridescent blue. We spent about an hour trolling the children and ourselves off the rear swim step. Absolutely wonderful!

We found our first squall today, but were unable to actually catch it. Would have loved to give the boat and ourselves a freshwater shower!  I believe that we are getting closer to the ITCZ so wind should become more and more scarce, and the shifty winds more and more common.  The reason we are weaving all over the ocean is that the wind keeps deciding to change directions.  Fortunately though the night winds have been fairly steady, which means relaxing watches.  Looks like we should find some more wind about 50 miles to the Southeast.  So off we go!!!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sailing Days 1 and 2

We are doing well, calm winds this morning, motored for a while this afternoon, and then nice winds this evening.  We hope to be heading more port (left) to be staying ahead of the current, but the wind is almost on our nose, so we are aiming straight to the islands (not ideal for later).  Have seen dolphins, jellyfish, debris, and some jumping fish and a ray.

Choppy seas this morning, so I did very little.  Yesterday was smooth and I scrubbed our cockpit chairs, cleaned up a bunch, organized some, etc.  Today, not so much.  Got some trickles of rain - need more to wash the black Panama soot from the boat.  I swabbed the decks and cleaned most of our hard cockpit cover with the bits of fresh water.  I do better outside with the breeze.  The seas seem smoother this evening; think we got past the Punta Mala mixed seas as we got out of the gulf.

Food supplies are doing well, eating our fresh.  In the Galapagos they take anything that looks bruised or old.  May as well eat it now and resupply there.  Supposed to be cheaper and fresh out there.  Same theory with the fuel - it was OK to motor out of the choppy seas when we had no wind because the fuel in Ecuador is cheap and we can resupply there again.

Our friends, the Ferrers, from Spain who were running a sailing school in Contadora, Panama were with us for a couple of trips to and from Panama/Contadora.  Very nice family.  Marti helped me sew cushion covers for our living room.  Cindy's husband Nathan donated the cushions!  They turned out great!  The Ferrer family gave us sewing machine as a gift.  I made a French flag on our way to Contadora.  Now I need to make an Ecuadorian flag.  I hadn't really planned on flag making.  I bought material for $2/yard that was blue, white and red like a French flag that I was going to hand sew.  Ecuador is yellow, blue and red.  I don't have yellow.  I'm eyeballing our materials to see what I can use.  I may cut the French flag material (I have extra) into stripes, then I have yellow food coloring to stain the white stripe??  Think it'll work?  
I may be able to let you know soon.  There is a logo on the middle of the flag, but only the government buildings fly it.  Without a logo is also accepted as a national flag, so we are OK there.

Going to send mails and relax and go to bed early I think.  I like to sleep a lot when it's under way, especially rough seas.  Now we are moving smoothly, but I think I can sleep anyway.  Courage is taking watch until around midnight and Cassidy has already gone to sleep to take watch when Courage goes to bed.  Cassidy did 11-2 am last night, but woke Courage twice for issues (as do I).  I try to do days while the kids are up and they get to take naps.  I go to bed early so I can get up around 6 am and get started.

Goodnight, will check our mails again soon.


Day 2

The night was quite fascinating, with gorgeous phosphorescence lighting up the many fish and the visiting dolphins. The entire way out of the Gulf was filled with supertankers going both ways. The wind steadily picked up through the night, and with just the women and I working the sails I managed to get the Spinnaker Sail stuck. So no longer were we able to adjust the Spinnaker to the wind, but rather had to adjust our course to keep the Spinnaker filled.  In other words it was a fantastic night with just the right amount of learning, and fun!!

Today we hit a huge swath of red tide. I guess no more shellfish for a while. The wind finally did pick up again this afternoon, and right from where we are headed. But the advantage is that as we sail tight to the wind we generate our own wind, and hence can sail even faster.  It is almost like a wind generation system.

The ocean is starting to smooth out some, but there are still some fairly strong currents and the associated waves.  Looks like another fantastic night!

We are all doing super! --and having great meals.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Setting Sail Across the Pacific

March 18, 2014

Valiant was unfortunately taking a nap, but here we are at the send off party for the Pacific Puddle jump. Bottom clean (ish), laundry done, probably overnight here in Contadora since the sun is setting then off in the morning.  You can track us on the satellite tracker at the top of the page.

March 19, 2014

Day 1

What a wonderful day it is.  After a last big sleep at the Perlas Islands we hauled the anchor, and set our course directly for our next destination.  Unfortunately there were a bunch of gigantic reefs right in our way, and when the depth got down to 9 feet, the panic started. We even started the second engine. I think we have gotten a little to used to these uncharted pearl infested reefs. The only problem with an uncharted reef is you don't know which way to turn to get away from it. But within 30 minutes we were all well and way past it.  After about an hour of motoring we hoisted the sails and we sailed. We passed a couple of pods of dolphins, saw a ray just gliding under the surface, and even caught two tiny little fishes on our gigantic lures.

Now the sun is setting like an orange fireball. The winds are freshening up to 15 - 20 knots, and we are gliding along at about knots. We have both the Spinnaker and the Mainsail up, and are looking forward to an uneventful night.

Until next time!


Preparing for Pacific Puddle Jump

March 4, 2014

Canned 12 more jars of chicken yesterday and today. Stowed 20 bags of flour. Have 280# of brown rice all vacuum packed. Have 310 bags of oats (looking to get 450 bags total if possible, but Courage and I have cleaned out the stores in Panama City). We could survive for 10 months on what we have now. A few more items desired, but we are primed for the jump!! Will one day soon maybe write a blog about all I've learned while provisioning for the long haul in a humid, moist environment where you buy food with bugs in it straight from the store! Been interesting, lots to learn!!

March 16, 2014

Last minute things!! Bought $100 of things at the farmer's market yesterday. Errands today, probably leaving Panama City for good tomorrow, off to the Perlas for a few days to clean the bottom, etc., then off to ??? Galapagos or French Polynesia? Definitely going south.

March 18, 2014

The Ferrer family from Spain expanded their sailing school to Contadora and Saboga in Panama. We loved our time with them and wish them the best of luck and life until we meet again!!

Here we are in Panama City with another catamaran of Kurt Hughs design.  The other one is 60 ft. in length.

Did I mention? We caught a shark on the way to Contadora!! Catch and release no less.

I am not sending emails or using Internet for a while. Leaving Panama after 6 months!! Next stop - Galapagos, Ecuador!! Very excited!! Doing laundry and cleaning the boat bottom today, favorable winds this evening for a couple of days, so we are going to push onward!!