Category Archives: Boatschooling

Culture shock: from remote Panama to City life…

Two months ago we checked out of Manzanillo , Mexico and sailed south to Costa Rica and later, Panama. Manzanillo was a big port for ships, and was busy with cars and people, but not too overwhelming. After experiencing mostly small villages in Mexico over the past 2 years, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo were the among the largest cities that we visited. From the day we checked out of Mexico, the next 2 months we would make a our 19 day crossing without seeing a single other soul and again only see small villages along the coast of the pacific side Costa Rica And Panama.

Bright lights, big city: Feb 11th, we sailed into Panama City after a 37 hour upwind and up current from Playa Venao. About 10 miles from making our anchorage we could smell the crude oil from all of the ships coming in and out of the Panama Canal. As we neared Panama City, the air got thicker and thicker with pollution, so much so that we could hardly see the skyline of the city itself until we were only a few miles away. Regardless of that, the air was filled with excitement and buzz. We were wide eyed with amazement as we entered the huge port after so many days of quiet seclusion.

We anchored in the anchorage known as Las Brisas just before sunset. We made dinner and ate outside, taking in the view of Panama City’s skyline. We all agreed that it is by far the largest cityscape that we’ve ever seen. As the day set and the darkness of night filled in, the city’s lights shown brilliant across the bay in our direction. This has now been our view for the last four weeks. Yep, four weeks already!

It took about a full week to get our bearings straight. We made friends quickly with a few other sailors who helped show us the lay of the land. I don’t honestly know how we would have figured it out without them. The very first full day we were there happened to be Carnival. Yes, to add chaos to our already overwhelmed feelings, it was Carnival. Places were closed that were normally open and places were packed that were normally not. Our new friends on Brisas 302 and Arc en Ciel showed us how to get into the city and use the bus system. We explored the mall and a few grocery stores, ate out for lunch and returned home for dinner. We avoided the nighttime Carnival scene, we were exhausted from our overnight sail and not quite ready for that kind of excitement.

We spent the next 3 days checking into the country and going to the city exploring. Yes, it took 3 days to check in. Ugh! Yikes! Over the next few weeks we met more sailors from all over the world, took the bus to town for entertainment, arranged for and completed much needed dental work, had family visit, friends visit, and slowly continued to prepare for crossing the Pacific Ocean. We quickly discovered that Panama City is just as expensive as the United States.

So here we are, four weeks later and still a few more to go before we head to the Galapagos and then French Polynesia. Why are we still here? Why did we get here so early just to hang out? We sailors always have our reasons. Ours being, much needed dental work that would take at least 3 weeks to complete. Taj needed is passport renewed, which we did at the US embassy. The turn around for that is two weeks. And most importantly we were waiting for our middle daughter to return from her time with her Papa on March 9th (today!) . She also needs her passport renewed, so we tack on a few more weeks before we can actually go…weather dependent.

I will post more pictures of our small Panama excursions in later posts. But here is this short video for now and a few pics.

Also, don’t forget to check out our videos (part 1 and part 2) of our passage from Mexico to Costa Rica.

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Northwest Panama, remote heaven.

Northwest Panama, remote heaven.

After 3 weeks to the day of exploring Costa Rica, our pocket book had enough hole diggin’. We were ready to move on to Panama not just to save money, but also to explore more remote places, hopefully catch some uninhabited surf and discover new food. Ellamae is back with her biological father for 2 months, so you will notice she’s not in these photos.

January 25th, we sailed off the hook from Matapalo, Costa Rica and set our hydrovane for Panama. Of our 46 miles that day we only motored for 1.5 hrs. We would have drifted more, but wanted to get the hook down before dark. We anchored in Punta Balsa at 6pm, just after sunset. Not in the Sarana guide book, we found a few houses, a hotel and some fishermen. In the morning, while drinking our coffee, the Howler Monkeys were louder than we’ve heard so far. This anchorage was only a stop over for us.

After coffee we motored out an hour to make our way toward Isla Parida. For most of the morning we lacked wind and ended up motoring a total of 3 hours. The entry to the anchorage on Isla Parida is not one you want to do with poor lighting, we therefore wanted to get there before the sunset this time. We had great wind in the afternoon, and perfect for sailing into the anchorage with a couple of tacks and set the hook under sail. We had time for a quick swim in the warm but murky water. As we ate dinner during the sunset, we came to the conclusion that this was the most beautiful place that we’ve been anchored at.

The next day there, we swam and paddle boarded. We also took buckets to shore to fill up at the fresh water spring. We found two older Panamanian boys siting around the spring. It turns out, the whole island is privately owner and by many different people. They were there to watch that particular property. With my not so good of spanish we did establish that we were allowed to walk around and they also let us fill up on fresh water. In the afternoon, we had coconuts on the beach. A deer came and joined us for coconuts scraps to wrap up the day before dinner.

January 27, we motored out of the anchorage, following the suggested waypoints for navigating through the rocks and reefs. Our destination, Isla Cavada, amongst the Islas Secas group of isles. We sailed all but the first hour and the time it took to anchor. The anchoring was the tricky part. Following the Sarana Guide recommended waypoint, we noticed that the one other boat, a sport fishing yacht, was already in that exact location. We dropped anchor, failing twice, a hundred yards south of the waypoint, due to rocky bottom. We had enough light left to see that there was a more shallow spot further south. Third time’s a charm, we anchored in 15 feet mid-tide, so hopefully all was good. And it was. The island was beautiful, but we soon found out that it was private and we were not aloud to explore on shore.

Successful Paleo Plantain Muffins cooked in the pressure cooker!

January 30, We sailed off the hook at 7:30 am from Isla Cavada. We sailed the whole way (30 miles) to Ensenada de Rosario on the mainland of Panama. We were approached by a Military high speed pursuit boat. Needless to say our heart rates jumped up a notch. We intentionally made Taj visible. They got up close. We said “hola”, they looked at us and Taj, nodded and went on their way. Phew! Shortly after, we turned on the engine to get us into the anchorage safely and set the hook well. Great day sailing! We enjoyed the calm anchorage, but had a surprise visit, yet again, from the Navy in a panga. At first we weren’t sure it was Navy, it could have been local thieves, but Christian recognized the boat’s silhouette from seeing it out and about earlier. We had turned off our anchor light, thinking it would draw less attention to us from possible thieves, but really it drew the Navy right to us. They ended up just asking us a few questions about where we were from, where we were going, who was onboard and told us to turn on our anchor light. Once we repeated that we had kids onboard, they said “ok” and “adios”. That was a little nerve wracking to say the least. Christian had our bear spray and spot light ready just in case, but thankfully we didn’t need it. In a way, it’s great to know that the Navy is out watching over the waters. They were probably making sure we weren’t up to no good, hiding in a cove without our anchor light on. 😂😂😂

We ended up having a great night’s sleep. In the morning, Nina got to eat her yogurt that she spent all day the previous day making for her biology lesson. It was a success! This was the first time any of us had made yogurt. I’m stoked to know how to do it now for future passages. After a morning SUP, swim and boat-schooling, we took the dinghy to explore the estuary at high tide. We are so awed by the beauty here. Slowly cruising through the mangrove, there were birds everywhere! We didn’t see the crocodiles we hoped for, but everything else was amazing.

Feb 1, the next morning, we motored 10 miles around the corner, to Bahia Honda (aka Bahia Chinche). We read in our guide book about an establishment and anchorage called Domingo’s. Apparently, Domingo loves company and loves to trade random stuff for his fresh produce as well. Knowing this in advance, I rummaged through our boat for items to give away, most of which were toys and shoes from Taj in which he outgrew. Sure enough, after only an hour of being anchored in front of Domingo’s, an older Panamanian and young child came motoring out in a panga. With the largest smile on his face, the man introduced himself as Domingo. He came out with a bucket of lemons to give us! He only spoke Spanish, but he was very clear and articulate, and very talkative, which made it easy to distinguish what he was saying. He asked us for medicine for diarrhea, in which I gladly gave to him and I grabbed the hand-me-downs to give to him as well. He then asked us if we wanted anything else like bananas, cilantro, coconuts. Of course we said yes! He came back later in the day with cilantro, red bananas, coconuts, and pineapple! He also brought some wooden platters that he carves himself to sell. We bought one for $10. Not that we needed a platter, but we felt good supporting him and it would remind us of his great spirit.Not long after Domingo’s visit, two boys rowed up in a small canoe. The older of the two brothers spoke to us in English and asked for water to drink. The oldest was 23 and he was self taught in English. He loved to practice. We were impressed with how well he spoke. He was a middle child out of 16 kids. He was out fishing with his 15 year old brother. Before leaving he asked for any magazines. We gave him one of Nina’s old Rollingstones magazines and a few of her old books. He was so happy! The next day Domingo’s son, Kennedy showed up to our boat on a kayak with his son. He had a bag full of grapefruit, oranges, and lemons. We didn’t think we had more to trade, so we offered him money. He was very grateful. His son that was with him was 6 years old. He asked if we had a backpack for him. We managed to find an old one and threw in some toys and fishing gear. We paddled across the bay to get wifi. The paddle was successful, but the wifi wasn’t too much with the one lonely wifi antenna. The locals would gather around outside near the antenna to get their free wifi. The locals were definitely interested in us. I don’t think they get very many American visitors. If you are a cruiser and you are sailing through here, make sure to stop at Domingo anchorage in Bahia Honda (Bahia Chinche) and either purchase food from him or his sons or plan ahead and bring items to trade. They said they like backpacks, clothes, fishing gear etc.

Feb 3rd, we sailed off the hook and down to Isla Cebaco. We sailed the whole way and tacked into the bay to set our anchor. A beautiful bay. We came here hoping to get surf. Our first day we stayed in the bay and explored. On the 5th, we looked for surf by motoring to where a local pointed us as to where the surf break was. We were barely successful. I chose to swim and walked instead and Christian went to surf when I got back. The kids did school and played as usual.Homemade tortillas! Thanks to SV Luna Sea for the amazing flour tortilla recipe!

We also did some not so nice boat projects.Fixed a clogged head (toilet). Yuk!

We are in love with Panama’s beauty. We haven’t entered the land of expensive and craziness that we hear of near Panama City. So far, it’s been tropical islands, small fishing and local huts, much wildlife, and NO wifi. The only bummer so far is ALL OF THE TRASH that we’ve seen washed up on the beaches. Most of it, plastic bottles and flip flops and crocs type sandals.I found my gym!Shawnigan anchored off of Isla Cebaco.

Please leave a comment! I will try to respond as soon as we get reliable wifi!

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

The wifi gods are not permitting me to upload our video that I made of our passage. Super frustrating.

 

So I’m just going post some picture of our time in Manuel Antonia National Park in Costa Rica.

 

We ended up hiring a guide to explain the flora and fauna as a part world schooling. And it was worth it!

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Sunset anchored at the point.

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Tree Frog on the trunk.

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Diego the guide!

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Sloths

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A bird that I forget the name of.

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Lizard

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Palm, the spikes are used for the poison darts when the natives use to use them.

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Ellamae walking in the park.

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Goofiness

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Capuchin Monkey at our dinghy.

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Mexico to Costa Rica, our 1650 mile upwind passage completed!

Our first big passage: over 1,500 miles and over 2 weeks from Barra de Navidad to Costa Rica!
Preface: you may be wondering why we’ve been “in the dark” as far as posting passage updates. Before we knew that we were going to do this passage, we thought we’d be hopping down the coast of Mexico, thereby we thought we would have internet/3G access. With this mindset and always with our cruising budget mindset, we decided to lower our IridiumGo plan to the basic level for the month of December. Having already committed to that plan when we decided to do the passage, it would have cost us an extra $125 on top of the $50 we already paid for the month. So, sorry we opted out of unlimited texts and data until Jan 1st, which is why you are seeing this post now. Another add on; the photo posting ability is limited from our IridiumGo, so I will complete the post and add photos when we get wifi on shore. Thanks for patiently waiting for our updates! We are looking forward to reading your comments and responses when we get wifi. 🇲🇽⛵️✔️
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night watch, which starts at 11pm and goes to 3 am, I find myself ready to start writing. I start my watch with little breath of wind realizing that I’m beginning to recognize the stars that join me during these quiet hours to myself. Just after 11pm I see Leo rising from the eastern horizon, Orion is almost straight above our mast, and Taurus is just a little north. The Milky Way, almost running North to South. One hour later, the “pot” of the Big Dipper starts to make its appearance in the eastern horizon. The nights have been clear, and the stars brilliantly lit. The moon is new, making the stars more visible.
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four hours of watch. Solitude, reflection, reading, a little #shipshape exercise, and now writing.
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hifted from null to on the nose at about 5-8 kts, is forcing us to head east toward shore. For the most part, we’ve been having more southerlies than anticipated, however they have been light and more from the southeast, therefore taking us smoothly south as we hoped for. We set our course for aiming to be 300 miles offshore from the Tehuanapecs. We were pushed out a bit further over the last few days, so the this little bit of easterly heading was ok.
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day four we had gone nearly 400 miles. Not the fastest four days, but we expected this much from the forecast we downloaded before we left. We’ve had many hours of sailing an average of 6kts with the wind behind us, and then again in front of us and hours of bobbing around with not a breathe of wind in sight.
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red out of Barra de Navidad and actually kept the motor on despite decent winds. Our batteries were running low after many days of overcast weather. We also needed to make water after leaving the Laguna de Barra de Navidad. So we needed that power and Shawnigan’s motor needed to be ran anyway. After four hours of motor sailing and heading offshore and south, the iron sail was turned off and not used again for many days.
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he first day. A little nausea among us ladies aboard, but nothing severe. My time below was limited, and not as much schooling was done as we hoped for. By day 2 we were well on our way to regaining our sea legs.
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at this point Taj came down with a fever. It started low and didn’t seem like anything to be worried about, he usually gets a mild fever with his growth spurts. But as the day progressed so did his fever. His energy was zapped, he wouldn’t eat or drink and slept all day. By 2pm his fever reached 104.9! Parent panic started to kick in. We carry a bunch of first aid medication aboard. We already had started our “natural remedy” regimen, but it was clearly time for Advil. Within 45 min his fever started to decline and by 4pm it broke as he sweated it out profusely. We were, at this stage, on the fence about whether to head straight into Manzanillo, about 100 miles away at that point, or to continue on. It was extremely hard to make that choice. Deep down I felt like he would be fine, as long as we kept on our regimen. I had to resort to rectal doses, for he lost his desire for anything “tasting gross”. For the next 24 hours he was up and down in temperature, but never above 103, and his energy was up and down as well. He slowly had more desire to drink liquids and more desire for food. By the next afternoon, he was back to normal temp, back to reading with the girls, playing music and eating normal. Phew!!! We have no idea what the cause was, he had diarrhea, but nothing else.
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ed pretty flat for the next few days. School was becoming easy to do underway and cooking meals down below were no longer an issue for me. Everybody seemed to be getting I a groove by day 3.
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ful day, but not much in the way of forward movement. We lost our wind by 11:00 am, but just had enough to maintain our course at an average of 2 kts. Mid afternoon we took a dip in the deep blue. We tied ourselves off and towed behind. The girls were in, playing for almost an hour!

Day 6, I start my 11pm night watch ending the day with streaks of shooting stars jetting through the water. Like comets flying through space, we had dolphins surrounding us. Unable to distinguish exact features, but able to see every move by the bioluminescence trailing behind them on every turn. They jetted forward, backward, sideways, in the air, and return again forward. Moments like these are so magical and a perfect way to end day 6. Reflecting on our day, we only did 57 miles from the last sunset to today’s sunset. Early this morning our wind completely died. 7 am we turned on the iron sails. Based on the forecast from the Amigo net and our downloaded grib from PredictWind, if we didn’t get a little bit further south before the Tehuanapec winds picked up, we would float here for a while and then get hit hard. We made the call to motor for 3 hours, our batteries needed a boost anyway. A bonus about motoring, the dolphins come to play!
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h the motoring helped us really. I guess the 15 extra miles it brought us could make a big difference later. We’ll see. Needless to say, we did a lot of drifting today. Boatschool, lots of reading, playing musical instruments, playing games, making food, pretty much sums up the day. We did see a Marlin swim by us at one point as well as sea turtles and more dolphins.

Day 7, we’ve completed 457 miles by the time sunset arrived. The last two days has not taken us far. Today especially was grueling. We ended up motoring for 5 hours to boost our speed and boost our batteries. Although we had decent wind 5-8kts on a close reach, we were only going 1-2 kts at best. We were fighting a 1.5 – 2 kt current. We needed more wind and it wasn’t there. We kept full sail up and trudged forward, most of the time. There was a lull between 8pm and 12 am where we might have sailed forward but actually moved backward. Ugh! Our estimated 2 week passage is looking more like 3 weeks. We are hoping for the Tehuanapec winds to help move us through this counter current until we can head in toward Costa Rica. Spirits remain high aboard Shawnigan . Ellamae stated today that she enjoys long passages ! Yay! I am enjoying this as well, but there is something frustrating about knowing the wind could be moving us at 4 a 5 kts and all we are seeing is 2-3.5 at best. Oh well, we sail on.
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, we complete a full week of sailing our passage. We’ve covered 555 miles with a remaining of about 800 miles. Still fighting a current, but less push to the north and more just west. We finally have enough wind to push us along at 5 kts under full jib and single reefed main. We are likely to have at least another week if not more of sailing, making our way to Northern Costa Rica. We’ll see where the wind takes us.

Day 8, was one of our best sailing days yet. We finally got wind to push, or rather pull us along at an average of 5 – 6 kts. Although on the nose, we were able to gain some distance on a close hull with wind out of the southeast. We were still fighting a bit of NW current, so we were pushed a bit more due south then we’d hoped for. We made it almost to the midway point and out as we saw fit for the Tehuanapec zone. The further south we got, however, we noticed that push out was less and less. We were able to start heading a bit more toward Costa Rica. Unfortunately the wind didn’t hold up however. Around 5pm it just stopped and we went back to drifting, waiting for wind. Maybe we weren’t in the Tehuanpecs yet…
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it begins. We officially sailed into the zone of the Tehuanapec winds. From early morning on, the winds slowly progressed over the day, on our nose out of the Southeast. Most of our sail so far has been upwind, surprisingly. Now, we had upwind at higher speeds a current to fight and swell picking up. I quickly lost my ability to do much of anything down below, and I definitely wasn’t doing any reading or writing. It was a good thing it was Saturday and we were off of boatschool. Assuming we would get days like this, I had pre-prepared food that would require much on my end to serve up. By 4pm we double reefed the main and furled in the jib to about 100%. By 5pm we furled in the jib completely and raised our storm jib staysail. The winds had reached a steady 30 with gusts in the mid 30’s. The swell had picked up to about 4-6 ft at 6 sec intervals. Our bow was plunging straight into the swell, dropping our speed to a 2-3kt average. Thankfully the higher wind speeds only lasted about an hour, then we were back to furled in jib. During Nina’s watch (8p-11p) the wind backed off a bit. When I came on at 11p I was able to unfurl the jib more and start pointing Shawnigan more Easterly. We were almost to our “halfway” point at about 700 miles and we’re finally starting to head back toward shore. After midnight, Santa managed to find us! I somehow pulled it together enough to maintain my sea sickness to prepare for Christmas while the rest of the crew slept. I had to make frequent trips to the back deck to breathe fresh air, but it worked.
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mas time! It was everybody aboard’s first Christmas out at sea. Santa received our tracking information from our IridiumGo and PredictWind tracker. The wind was still blowing 15-20 with the swell slowly getting bigger, but now a little more on our beam. The kids were excited, they had no problems staying down below to open presents and go through their stockings. It was a great day! We all started to acclimate to the new sea state that blew persistently between 20-28 as the day progressed. We maintained our double reefed main and adjusted the furl on the jib accordingly. I managed to put together a nice Christmas dinner. I had defrosted Mahi Mahi (thanks SV Scuba Ninja for the fish!) and planned on making a cranberry crisp, so I was determined to make that happen. I felt less woozy, but was aware of my limits. Dinner was prepared in segments with a lot of outside on deck time in between for fresh air. I did it though! Mahi Mahi, browned butter “Herbs de Provence” and garlic mashed potatoes, stewed carrots, and cranberry crisp for dessert. Our Christmas Day ended well. We all turned in at 8pm, Nina took her watch from 8-11p.
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heading up as high as we can. Sea state is quite lumpy. Swell 4 -5 feet at 6 seconds. Maintained double reef main and furled in or out the jib as needed. I could hardly keep the nausea subsided. Everyone else was pretty good. The girls somehow managed to do school. Made more easterly in our course.
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e down and took a meclizine for sea sickness just so I could actually go down below and cook for a bit and help out with school. Days like today we end up doing more oral education than written. We ended up back under staysail for a few hours when the wind, still on our nose was blowing low 30’s. Unfortunately our heading is further south than we’d hope for. The wind direction is just not in our favor this voyage. The swell today from the Papagayos was 4-6 feet at more like 4 seconds. Glad I took the pill. At midnight we reached 1010 miles.
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approaching 2 weeks of being out on our passage that we thought was about 1,400 miles and roughly 14 days. At the beginning of my 11p -3 am watch I do the calculations and see that we are at 1,100 miles completed. In theory we should have 300 miles left to go, but the winds have lead us so that we are still over 450 miles due west of Costa Rica. We basically have been pointed as high up into the wind as possible since day 4. “Little Red”, our hydrovane, has kept us on that course with precision. Mother Nature, the wind direction, is wanting us to stay offshore a bit longer than we thought she would. Today we ate our last apple and only have two pears and a watermelon for fresh fruit. We do have a few freezer bags of frozen fruit, but I must admit, we should have grabbed that extra bag of apples. For veggies as well, we are on our last few days of fresh vegetables. Again, I did prep some frozen veggies that we’ll tap into shortly. This is a good practice run for provisioning for crossing the Pacific! Oh and I’m over my sea sickness. Never did I throw up, but getting flush and slight nausea is no fun. I’m back to going down below to cook and back to reading and writing. Notice how the daily log is getting longer 🙂 .
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of relief finally came. The sea state began to calm, even as we continued to head as high up into the wind as possible. We continued south southeast until about 11 am, when we reached latitude 7.46N, which was pretty much exactly what the weather grib showed as the southern edge of the Papagayos. When we reached lat/long of 7.4453N, 90.5598W, the wind started to allow us to veer more east and even a little east northeast by 7pm and we were finally back under full sail. Yay, we were finally heading in toward Costa Rica! By 11pm we were heading northeast and back up toward where we wanted to land in Costa Rica, about 350 miles away.

Day 15, we are officially 2 weeks out into our passage and as of 11pm over 1,300 miles tracked. After a full 16 hours under full sail, we spent most of the day back under double reefed main and various furled in jib amounts. With sustained winds in the 20’s and gusts in the high 20’s, we got little reprieve today. Still heading up wind as high as possible we are just barely able to make an easterly heading. We will make Costa Rica in the next few days, but at the point we are unsure where. Today seemed to be a little of a tipping point for us. Although not terribly uncomfortable, we are tired of this constant upwind track. The Sea state is calmer than it had been, but it feels like we are literally sailing “barefoot, uphill both ways in the snow”. It’s actually not that bad, but we are definitely feeling fatigued from the day in day out activity. Sleep deprivation never helps and although are watches are manageable it adds up after a few days. Nina taking watch from 8pm – 11 pm has been an awesome add on to our sailing dynamic. Having Taj’s almost constant demand for attention, on the other hand, has been a challenge. With some moments of solitary play, the rest of the day is filled with “tell me a story” or “can you play with me?”, or “read me a story”, These are all precious moments that we will cherish, but we would be lying if we said it was easy. School has been great. I’m impressed that the girls have been able to do so much under these sailing conditions. We decided to wait to have Christmas/Winter break for when we make landfall. It only makes sense to do school while we’re just sitting around all day sailing, that way when we do get to shore, we can hit the ground running and exploring.
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day to end the year on. After bashing upwind for the last 10 days, today, although still on a close reach, was a bit of a break. We were under full sail for the majority of the day. We put away the staysail, which is set up with a pelican hook, took down the running backs, and cleaned up around the boat. We had been heeled over on our starboard side for so long that everything on the boat had shifted a bit, and gooseneck barnacles were growing on our hull paint! Today almost felt as if we were at anchor compared to the last 10 days. What a relief! To celebrate the end of the year, Christian and I made some bulletproof coffee at 4pm. That was our “champagne” toast for the new year. We had a lovely butternut squash with a cilantro cashew “cream” sauce I made, and a purple cabbage slaw for dinner. We watched the sunset behind our stern as we headed east at about 3 – 4 kts with about 5 kts of wind, still on a close reach. At the strike of midnight we reached 1,400 miles exactly! What a great mile marker for a Happy New Year! We have about 200 miles to go and now we find ourselves becalmed. The night feels magical. The full moon is straight above our mast shining so brilliant that it almost looks like dawn has arrived already. If you could see Orion, his right arm, raised so nobly in the air, would appear to be holding the moon in his hand. Hopefully this break in wind is just a wind shift that will have us going in the direction we would like to go in, but down wind for once. So now that it’s midnight and it’s officially January 1st. I will post this to our blog using our IridiumGo. Again, I will add to it with more daily logs and pictures once we get wifi, but for now, here you have a glimpse into our passage thus far…. Happy 2018!
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a fantastic New Year.

-Shawnigan Crew

Addendum : Day 17, January 1st, 2018. We are closing in on Costa Rica. With a 80 mile day, we drifted quite a bit of it, motored for 4 hours of it, and sailed upwind at 2-4 kts for the rest of it. The last few days have been quite overcast, nice on the temperature not so nice for the battery bank, so motoring was well used. We charged batteries, kindles, toothbrushes, used the blender etc. We are all excited at the prospect of seeing land tomorrow. Although it’s highly likely that we won’t come into anchor until Wednesday, depending on our wind. We won’t be making landfall as far north as we’d hope for, but we are managing to head up fairly high.

Day 18, with less than 150 miles to go, our spirits were a bit higher today. We started the day with light winds on a close hull to many hours of no wind and drifting. We downloaded a weather grib and saw that we were basically in the center of a dead zone and we were getting pushed backward a bit with a current. We decided to turn over the engine and motor for 5 hours to get ourselves in a better position for wind. Sure enough, we did and we slowly sailed at 2-3kts with wind finally aft of our beam. Could it be that we finish our 1600+ mile southbound upwind passage with the wind behind us?! I started my 11pm watch with my usual #shipshape routine. About 30 minutes of yoga/core exercises to help wake me up and get my energy up. I’ve managed to do something every night for the whole passage. I needed something to keep from muscle atrophy 🙂 . At midnight we reached 1570 miles! If we manage to keep this wind and direction for the next 50 miles we should make Punta Leona anchorage by nightfall on our 19th day.

Day 19, upon daylight we were just west of Gulfo de Nicoya, Costa Rica. The sweet smell of earth was abundant and the land was so green. The wind was light, but enough to sail, the only problem was that in each tack we took it would turn us 180 degrees heading parallel with the coastline. There was also a current keeping us out at sea. We were 6.5 miles from the closest point of land and 33 miles from the anchorage we wanted to go to. After 5 hours of trying to tack back and forth and make and not make any headway, we turned on the engine and motored 6 hours into our first anchorage in Costa Rica, Punta Leona. We arrived at 5pm in our 19th day of our 1650 miles passage, over 1300 miles of which was tight on the nose, upwind sailing. We were all relieved to reach land. Costa Rica is so lush. The kids immediately grabbed a paddle board and Taj grabbed his kayak and went to shore.IMG_2044The Ship wreck from 2015 off of Barra de Navidad.IMG_2056

a little hitchhikerHomemade Mayo with left-over Mahi Mahi made into a salad cabbage wrap.Another few hitchhikers!Day 19, we see land!!!Punta Leona, Costa Rica.

https://youtu.be/LBWsTgDwmmo

Checking out of Mexico for our longest passage yet…

Well, we are leaving for what is everybody aboard, but Christian’s longest passage yet. ~1,400 miles, which should take us about 10 days to 2 full weeks or maybe a little more! We were going to leave today, but then realized that today is Friday. What’s so special about Friday, you ask ? There is a huge list of sailor’s superstitions and one of the big ones is that it’s bad luck to leave port on a Friday. Since this is our longest passage we decided not to risk it, so we’re waiting for tomorrow to leave from Barra de Navidad.

We need to get to Costa Rica by Jan 15th, so rather than rushing down the coast of Mexico and potentially getting stuck waiting for the Tehuanapecs (extremely strong winds off of southern Mexico and Guatemala) to calm down enough to motor on through, we are going to sail basically straight down and around the strong winds and hopefully be able to cut over to Nicaragua. ~ 1,200 to ~1,400 miles.The orange shows areas of stronger winds.Above shows potential gusts of wind, which extremely important to take into account when weather routing.

There is a chance, and a good one too, that the Papa Gallos (another localized area of strong winds and gusts) will be blowing off of Nicaragua, which would force us to sail straight to Costa Rica. Making it more of a solid 1,400 miles passage. We would end up missing Nicaragua all together, but I’m sure we will find fun in Costa Rica to occupy our time with.

With our last post, we had just arrived into Barra de Navidad from Tenacatita. After a few days in Barra de Navidad we took a bus down to Manzanillo to check out of Mexico, but the process was a little more involved than that. It was not as bad as some people had warned us about though, but it did take a full day. I decided to write about to help other people out that end up wanting to do the same.

We first went to the port captain in Barra de Navidad. He said he could check us out and give us our Zarpe (basically a permission slip to leave one country and enter another), but we needed to go to the immigration office in Melaque first. So the next day, we all hopped on a bus to Melaque only to discover that the immigrations there is not able to “stamp” us out. They pointed us in the direction of Manzanillo to do that. Since that day was basically over, we waited for the next day to take a bus down to Manzanillo.

The bus ride to Manzanillo was painless. $61 pesos/adult each way and about an hour and a half long ride straight to the bus terminal in Manzanillo. From there we took a $50 pesos taxi to the immigrations office that google maps found for us. After only 15 minutes of wait time, the lady called upon us and we discovered that we were at the wrong immigrations office. She didn’t speak any English, but was very helpful and showed us on my phone via google maps where to go.

Since we were all the way on the other side of the port and close to the Banjercito (Mexican Military bank), we decided to go surrender our T.I.P (temporary import permit) card. The system for that is all electronic, so that was one thing we wanted to make sure we did correctly before leaving the Mexico. We’ve heard stories of people who forgot to cancel their TIP and either let it expire, left and came back or sold their boat, and when the boat returned to Mexico they were fined somewhere up to $700! The total time for canceling the T.I.P took about 2 hours. The lady at the Banjercito only spoke Spanish and didn’t know what to do, but was super nice. Things to prepare for canceling your T.I.P in Manzanillo: make photocopy of Passport (s) to hand in, photocopy of documentation and crew list of last port of check-in, and you will need to either have a copy of or fill out a new list of electronic/big ticket items (make and model) that are on your boat with their serial numbers. There is a photocopy place around the corner if you do everything last minute like we do. *bonus about Banjercito location: there is a great roadside tacos de barbacoa stand on the corner!

From the Banjercito, we easily grabbed another $50 peso taxi to take us all the way back to the correct immigration office. Describing where to go to the taxi driver was somewhat of a challenge, so we showed him the location on my phone’s google maps and stated it was just beyond the Nissan import car lot. He dropped us off near the entrance, we walked through the gate and stated we were leaving the country (estamos saliendo del país) and walked right into a quiet and clean facility. They were super nice there, loved our kids, and the whole process took about 45 minutes. They took copies of passports, visas and FFN receipts, boat documentation, and crewlist. They typed out their own form, handed us a new completed, printed and official stamped form and said to take that form to the port captain to obtain the Zarpe. So now, back to Barra de Navidad. The bus station happened to be only a few blocks away, so it was a quick walk there.

We arrived back to Barra around 5:30pm in time for dinner. We would have to obtain the Zarpe the next day. So the following day, Christian went alone to check out and obtain the Zarpe from the Port Captain. The Port Captain gave him a paper with a bank # and stated he needed to first take a bus to Melaque and make a direct deposit into the Port Captain account. Once that was done, he brought the receipt back to the Port Captain, handed him the forms from the Manzanillo Immigration office and we got our “official stamp” for our Zarpe!

Phew! That was quite the process, but nothing compared to some of the horror stories that we’ve heard some people going through.

Please feel free to comment or contact us with questions.

Our next blog post will likely be from Nicaragua shortly after Christmas.

It’s a good thing Santa has GPS, because we have no idea where we will be on Christmas.