Category Archives: sailing interviews

#SurfPanama #SailPanama

We enjoyed 13 days of sailing through Panama’s remote Northwest coastline. Upon the end of the second week we sailed into a populated anchorage called Ensenada Venao, known for its protection, waiting to round the point into the Gulf of Panama. Also known as Playa Venao, its in the list of places in Panama for surfing. We went there for all of the above, but especially for the surf. We had a VERY long day sailing the 70 miles from Isla Cebaco to Ensenada Venao (aka Playa Venao or Ensenada Benao). We were able to sail for the first 2.5 hours until we started sailing as high into the wind as possible, with wind speeds fluctuating anywhere from 10kts to 30kts. To top it off, we had a current pushing is back. We were in a very frustrating situation. We needed to have our sails set for 25-30 kt winds for the times when the wind would blow that hard. As soon as the wind dropped to 10 kts we lost all speed (which was only 2-3 kts at best) and we would lose steering from all of the wind chop and current. After a few on and offs with the engine, we made the decision to motor-sail, bashing up into the wind and current. Our goal became “let’s just try to get there before dark”. We ended up motorisailing for over 13 hours. This was a first for us and was a hard choice to make. We basically motored more hours in one day than we had over the last 3 months. The good part of this sail was that we caught a large female Mahi Mahi!

Overall, the day felt like one of those times where you wonder if you did something to bring on bad luck. We were getting so much water over the bow, we discovered new leaks seeping into the V-berth. We lost one of our SUP paddles. A wind gust came on so strong along with bashing into waves that the paddle popped out of its tied up place and sank faster than you could say “we lost a paddle”. Another one fell off too! Of course there’s more to that story. I was down below, cooking, and Christian says nonchalantly, “well we get to do a man over board!” My heart jumped through the ceiling. Then he revised it to “sorry, Ellamae’s paddle fell overboard.” Heart rate went back to normal, mostly. It was great practice that’s for sure and I’m sure glad it wasn’t one of us in the water waiting for us to retrieve them. The good news is that we were successful at retrieving one of the lost paddles! As bad luck normally happens, things happen in threes… Davy Jones wasn’t through with us. As soon as we anchored a gale force gust came up and blew Ellamae’s boogie board right out of its tucked away spot and sent it skipping and flipping across the water and out to sea. The boogie board was in poor condition, so our disappointment in having it blow away was stemmed from feeling terrible about adding to the litter out at sea more than losing the board itself. (Sorry no photos of all the shenanigans, we were too preoccupied).

We arrive at Ensenada Venao at 7:20pm, just before dark. I’d been down below making “sushi” out our Mahi Mahi. I put “ ” marks around sushi, because we cooked the Dorado first, having never heard of it being used raw. A feast was ready to eat as soon as we anchored and relaxed. Based on the guide we had, we did not expect a beach full of hotels and restaurants that lit up the sky come nightfall. I guess we were officially out of remoteness. It brought a bit of excitement aboard. We hadn’t really conversed with many people and we were getting pretty low on our fresh fruits and veggies. The thought of surfing, conversation, people watching, and potentially having wifi was uplifting.

We spent the next four days surfing first thing after coffee. I’d go first, then we’d swap kid duty and Christian would go. I’m still learning, so an hour in the morning worked me. Christian could easily have surfed all day long. We managed to get the kids in through the surf and onto shore to play in the waves and socialize as well. Nina was very happy to meet some other teenage girls that were on vacation from Alaska. She even ended up having a sleepover with them. Lucky girl got a freshwater shower and a memory foam mattress in an air conditioned room!

The offshore winds were pretty strong for the first 3 days, but the weather was overall amazing. The sun is definitely more intense down here closer to the equator. The swell was on the rise starting on the day we arrived. Day 3 was getting so big, that after getting pounded on my surf session I decided it would probably be best to stay aboard with the kids for the day. The wind was blowing too hard to paddle to where the waves were smallest. The next day was just as big, but we needed to get our feet on ground. The wind had finally let up, so Taj, Nina and I hopped on the inflatable SUP, stopped over at the sailboat (S/V Jabiroo II) that came in during the night to say hello, then made our way to the more protected landing further down the beach. I was a bit of a paddle, but we were glad we did it. We explored only the few blocks of the vacation village that was there. We found a cute coffee house and ice cream shop. A produce truck happened to be driving through, so we bought a few affordable greens and plantains. The one and only mini-mart there was overpriced and had a very limited selection of food. We bought one dozen eggs for $4 (doubled that of Mexico prices.

On our way back out to the boat we stopped by S/V Jabiroo II again to chat. They had us aboard and we talked boats. We established that we had actually met them before, up in the San Francisco Bay Area while we were visiting last year and they were making their way south from Canada. It was great to see other cruisers and chat. They had tried rounding the corner to head into Panama City, but got pushed back by the wind and current. Their plans were to leave early in the morning with the ebb tide. Originally we were going to get one last surf in, but looking at the tides and weather, we jumped onboard with their plan. Nina putting away the inflatable xterraboard.

4am the next morning (Sunday) we left by motor alongside with S/V Jabiroo II. It felt great to have other people to commiserate with. We haven’t seen too many other boats down here. I’m guessing the strong winds and currents detours people from making this a regular route, unless of course the intent is to pass through the Panama Canal and head east. We’re glad we took this route though. Seeing Costa Rica and Northwest Panama has been awesome!

I made another S/V Luna Sea recipe. French Bread!

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“I’m here to pump you up!”

As some of our followers might know, I , Josie, mother and wife on S/V Shawnigan, post a #shipshape blurb on occasion on our blog and more frequently post exercise poses on our instagram. I do this in hopes to inspire other sailors, not just women, to exercise on their boats as well.

The other week, I was invited to speak at a Women Who Sail event in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico, in regards to fitness for sailors. I was one of 4 speakers in front of 40+ women. Diane and her daughter Maia spoke as recent circumnavigators! Our daughter Nina spoke about life changes as a kid going from city life to cruising to regards to friendships. And I had the pleasure for the opportunity to share my thoughts on boat fitness and for the potential to inspire this fantastic group of sailing women. My focus was on my background, the importance of staying fit for sailing and an example of a few poses.  
I’m not sure how many of you were excited about P.E. when you were growing up, but I have to be honest here, I hated it! No offense Mr. Eryr if you’re reading this. It wasn’t the teacher. I just could not stand someone telling me to do 20 push-ups, 50 sit-ups, 8 laps around the field. In fact, I disliked it so much that I would sometimes fake being sick and (sorry Mom and Dad) even ditched a few classes. I was an active kid though. I was very competitive on the swim team, hiked, karate, skied/snowboarded, skateboard, and was always riding bikes around the neighborhoods. 

It wasn’t until I broke my arm when I was 15 that I realized the importance of exercise in my life. That broken arm put me out from doing so many of the things I loved for over 3 months. No playing piano, no swimming, snowboarding, drumming in band, nothing. As a normal hormonal teenager and recent injured and inactive teenager, I saw my mood decline. That was when I first signed up for a weight training class with my parents. I hopped on board with the gym scene since there were so many options to get exercise and rebuild mobility in my arm. It was then that I saw my improvement in my overall mood and physical stamina. I even started working out before school, especially on test days in order to stay focused throughout the day. In college, you could find me with me flash cards on the elliptical studying for my nursing exams. I found something that worked and kept with it.

My physically active life went on and I found myself and Ellamae moving out of the “normal” house life and onto a 35′ boat with Christian and Nina. I maintained exercise off the boat by riding my bike to work each day and swimming, yoga, or occasional surf on my days off. We moved onto our current bigger 40′ monohull, had Taj and found our way to cutting the dock lines and sailing down to Mexico. 

One of my biggest concerns about sailing around the world with my family was how I was going to maintain my fitness and the for the family. I know I’m not alone on that thought. Our Stevens 40 doesn’t offer much in regards to extra space for exercise, so we had to get creative on board. Our friend bought us a TRX, so that was helpful.  I found places throughout the boat to do core exercises, but I had to get creative about it. Actually, I really enjoy doing some of my exercises on night watch. It helps me stay awake and keeps me alert. For our cardio based exercise, that usually comes in the form of surfing, swimming, and power yoga when we are anchored somewhere and not underway.

Christian and I both value the importance of exercise. So we make sure that we both fit it in to our days. It helps with our parenting, our marital relationship and our sailing longevity. If either of us slack of, our mood becomes a little short, parenting and homeschooling becomes harder and life just isn’t as smooth. Not only that, but our physical strength is important to us, especially our core. We’ve noticed after 32(ish) that as soon as we let our core strength go, we run in to back problems. The last thing you want while out sailing is a hurt back. 

It is extremely important to be able to act quick and with agility on your boat. Whether you need to make short tacks up the windy channel, hoisting sails, pulling up anchors, to, knock on wood, performing a “man overboard”, your core strength matters most. All the other strength comes with “the job”. 

I am not a certified trainer, or certified TRX trainer. I get most of my ideas from my family’s Crossfit Gym in Bishop, so I am happy to give credit and gratitude to them. I hope my #shipshape gives you ideas and inspiration. If you are a cruiser and in my area I can come show you some exercise specific to your boat, “trade for coconuts “. Here are a few poses that I demonstrated during the Women Who Sail speech and a short video from last year. 

For more Click links below:

Boat pose 

Side Plank

Plank pose

Another Great Radio Interview!!!

A big thanks to Mike McDowall with Boat Radio for the fantastic radio interview.

We were interviewed while we were in Barra de Navidad, Mexico last March of 2016.  Still pretty fresh in the cruising scene, it’s fun to reflect on our perspective at that time.

Listen Here: Boat Radio

or Here for Facebook users: Boat Radio on Facebook

 

img_4321our picture from over a year ago already seems so outdated, can’t wait to compare  5 years from now.

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