Tag Archives: sailing the world with kids

#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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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!

San Antonio, Mulege, Punta Chivato

Still catching up on posts from June, 2017, when we were still making our way north, in the Sea of Cortez.  

⛵️⛵️⛵️Now, three boats deep, Easy, Kenta Anae and Shawnigan left from La Ramada around lunch time and sailed the not quite 10 miles to San Antonio. We were excited to go check out this a huge obsidian vein there.  26.521937, -111.450718 .

The south end of the point was too exposed to the prevailing wind, so we went around to the north side and set anchor at San Antonio (proper) 26.533917, -111.477790. We all met ashore, soon after anchoring, to get a hike in before evening set. Another perfect geology lesson for boat-school life.  Getting to the road was an adventure. We bushwhacked our way until we finally found the road/trail. Not so fun with all of the prickly brush and cactus to avoid.  Before climbing the peak, we first hit up the obsidian vein. Black, grainy and shiny at the same time, the vein looked like a petrified waterfall and surrounding us, looked like petrified water droplets that had misted to the ground at our feet.Taj, Matero, Shandro, Nina and Ellamae.

After a few minutes of exploring the obsidian vein, we made the trek up the steep hill to the top point. Taj hiked the whole way! I think he wanted to impress the Kenta Anae boys, or maybe he was just distracted. The view was fantastic, as always in the Sea of Cortez. We took time to soak it all in.(I could resist groping this tree’s butt) 😬

The way back to the boat was more straightforward. We just followed the road that led to the beach, then walked the beach up to our dinghies.  As we sat, before heading back to the boat, S/V Dad’s Dream (from Isla Corondo) showed up and anchored out beyond us.

Not long after we got back to the boat and had dinner, the southerly swell started to wrap around and make its way into the anchorage. We had our flopper stopper out, as did Easy, but there was no comfort being found at this spot. We called Easy, Kenta Anae and Dad’s Dream and announced that we were pulling up anchor and heading up around the corner to San Nicolas, 26.868896, -111.848712. The stay there was just for an overnight before heading up and around to Bahia Conception. All four us us made the move to San Nicolas just after sunset, but before dark. The anchorage was much more comfortable than San Antonio and we were that much closer to our next stop, 26.870196, -111.846589 , about 30 miles away for another brief overnight sleep. The three of us sailed up together. Dad’s Dream stayed behind. The sail up and around was beautiful and uneventful. Kenta Anae kicked our butts (they are fast! There, I said it out loud, Merle!).

The next morning we motored an hour over to Mulege 26.906125, -111.954573 to go to shore and re-provision.  We anchored in about 15 feet of water on a “roadside” anchorage. Our time was limited, as we knew that the regular wind would be picking up around noon. We found a few tiendas (small grocery store) to stock up at, a park to play in, and an ice cream shop to treat the kids with. Ice Cream is ok at 10 in the morning when you’ve walked 2 miles to get to town, it’s hot, and the last time you had it was in La Paz, right?!

We made it back to the boats just before noon and sure enough, the wind was starting to pick up. We were able to sail off the hook and head due north toward Punta Chivato 27.066717, -111.962607 . Once anchored in front of the lovely Punta Chivato, I had time to swim and the kids, relax, before heading into shore to explore. As Kenta Anae was anchoring they saw a whale shark, but we were not able to see it. I was hoping when I was swimming that I would see it, but all I saw was barely my fingertips 2.5 feet in front of me. The visibility was terrible and the water was not that warm. Warmer than Isla Coronado and La Ramada, but still pretty chilly.

On shore, we all took a stroll down the main road toward and abandoned building we saw on the beach. We were intending to go explore “shell beach” (literally and beach completely covered in shells), but we got distracted by the vacant dilapidated building. We found out that it was once a hotel, but somehow lost ownership and has been destroyed by storms. The kids spent an hour just wandering around it, making up scary stories about it. FUN! I wish I took more pictures of it, and the ones that I did were lost when I tried to back them up to “the cloud”. So, I apologize for the lack of photos for this section.View from the building!

After exploring that area, we ran into a part-time resident that suggested a restaurant named Doña Julia’s. We weren’t expecting to eat out, but she told us that the price ends up being $2.50 a head. Not sure whether to believe her or not and if it was true, was that a good sign or not, but we thought we’d give it a go. It was a GREAT choice. Basically we ate in this families enclosed porch. Julia gave us two options for food, fresh fish of the day or enchiladas. We made our choices and she brought it all out, family style, along with refried beans and salad. We asked what the fish was and she said it was “strong fish” or “Toro”. Guessing that was not the Toro which is Tuna and some kind of Jack instead , which we normally don’t like, we were amazed at how well it tasted. And sure enough, it was $2.50 a person!

One more reason to LOVE Mexico!Plate full of enchiladas!

Next up: Isla San Marcos (one of our favorites! ) and Santa Rosalia. Stay tuned.

Shenanigans on Shawnigan 01/27/2016

A day or week on Shawnigan with all its shenanigans anchored in Bahia Tenacatita:

We usually wake up with the sun, which lately occurs around 7:30 am. We seem to drag getting out of bed until 8:00 am. Tenacatita is a great anchorage for swimming, so I’ve been going for a swim first thing. Christian is left in charge of breakfast, coffee and getting the kids started with boat school. 

I hop in the water with just my suit and a rash guard to keep the jelly stings to a minimum. Lately I’ve been using my mask and snorkel instead of cap and goggles in order to admire the underwater scene more as I swim along and keep and eye out for sharks. I also enjoy being able to get my heart rate up and breath whenever I want.  Sometimes I prefer cap and goggles to get me into a more meditative swim. I notice that when I swim with cap and goggles I hold my breath with a meditative rhythm, with obvious benifits as well.  Yesterday, I swam over a school of 9 Southern Stingrays as well as multiple large Jacks and various other beautiful colored fish. My morning swim averages about 45 minutes. 

I make sure to return to the boat in time to catch “the net”. The Net is the morning VHF radio check in that occurs in popular cruising ports. Six days a week people alternate who takes the Net Controller roll. The last 5 days that we spent in Tenacatita the Net Controller position has been filled by various kids on boats. Nina did it twice! The Net is usually over by 9:30 and the kids are well into boat school. If there are other kid boats around like Tenacatita has been, our girls like to start school early, before Christian and I are out of bed, so that they can be ready to play by lunch time. Math and English and art are in the daily lesson plan. Science, history, foreign language and music are placed in on different days during the week. We have the kids alternate weeks on helping cook meals and they each have various boat cleaning duties that are completed before play time with other boat kids. 

Christian gets out for his time alone/exercise sometime after his coffee and breakfast. Tenacatita is lacking in surfing opportunities, so he’s been going free diving and spear fishing. One day he helped lead a class on knots for a group boat schooling lesson. He’s also been our coconut retriever. Coco frio is a favorite on our boat, especially a fresh picked one on a hot sunny day on the beach. What a rough life.  

We anchored in Tenacatita a few weeks ago, went to Barra Navidad for a week then returned to Tenacatita after hearing about all the kid boats that were reportedly anchored. Sure enough there were four other kid boats when we arrived and at one point a total of 13 kids! We also had a day were we counted 46 boats in the anchorage. Fun times! And thanks to the Mayor and his wife (Robert and Virginia Gleser), there are activities and raft ups to bring the boating community together. 

We met many wonderful sailors and a few that have already circumnavigated the world. One in particular just finished a 25 year circumnavigation, a couple named  Doreen and Michael Ferguson on SV St. Leger. Another couple, Monica and Jack, on junk rigged SV Bella Via turned out to know Christian’s dad Gene Lauducci. Gene had repaired their sails about 30 years ago when they sailed through Sausalito. They had so many great stories to share about Christian’s dad. I mentioned before “The Mayor” Robert and Virginia Gleser.  They also have a interesting story and a few books written (Harmony on the High Seas, and Tie-dye!, the How to Book)I was happy to have an extensive conversation with Virginia about “The Farm“, with which they helped form and worked closely with Ina May Gaskin, the midwife guru! Virginia wrote books about the farm as well as sailing. The couple also make beautiful tie-dyed pieces that they sell. One day, Virginia had a tie-dye workshop on the beach. The kids loved it. The sailing community can make the world seem small sometimes. We met a John and Donna on SV Carmanah (aka “The Tin Man). Turns out that he was the swim coach in Bainbridge Island and remembers my older cousin Joy Archer in the swim team. He also know Joy’s daughter Shayla, as she is quite a swimmer as well. Upon making the connection, John stated, “I see family resemblance! And watching you swim out in the anchorage, swimming must run in the family genes as well!” Small world! 

Other than that, we made daily trips to the beach and dinghy rides up the mangroves and a group trip to La Manzanilla to re-provision and hike to a water hole. That pretty much sums up our time in Bahia Tenacatita. We’re now back in Barra de Navidad, where wifi is more abundant and street tamales and tacos are amazing. Hopefully we can add a little more surf activity to our agenda. 

  

 Tie Dye with Virginia Gleser   

    
    
   

 

 Virginia and William from SV Agamére
   
 

Knot tying class:

   
   

     

  Casey on Chae Mi teaching knots

  

 SV Banyon girls

 

 Nina learning through leading

    

 
  
   
 

 Tenacatita The Mayor’s Dinghy Raft Up      

  Wild Rumpus, Agamere, Shawnigan 
   

 Kiwi 3

   
    
    
   

Bocce ball with coconuts  

 Full moon over Tenacatita