Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Home for the Holidays

Our recent quick trip to the USA for the Holidays involved:

...One midnight swim
...Two Taxi rides.
...Three Carry ons.
...Four Passport Stamps
...Five In-flight movies
...Six Separate flights
...Seven Cash withdrawls
...Eight Hour layed over
...Nine Thousand miles
...Ten Screaming babies
...Eleven Cups of coffee
...Twelve bag inspections

And a great time had by all.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cool Moneky Video from Isla Linton in Panama

This is not our video, but very cool as we've hung out with these monkeys many times.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Travel home for the Hollidays

Our originating flight from San Andres Island, Colombia departed at half past midnight and arrived in Medellin (Central Colombia highlands) around 2:30AM. Since town was a 45 minute taxi ride away we decided to crash on the airport floor for the night as we'd need to check in by 7AM. Not worth the effort or money for a hotel or so we thought until about 4AM when the floor started to get pretty hard. Maybe we are getting too old to sleep on airport floors or more likely we just need to be more prepared next time for a better nights sleep when we pull backpacker moves like this. Before leaving San Andres we had a send off dinner with some other sailors whom were headed to the Cayman Islands and whom were kind enough to give us a ride to shore so we could leave our new dinghy safe on the davits of LightSpeed.

Early this AM around 5:30 we gave up on trying to sleep and found some strong Colombian Coffee called 'tinto' to get things going. Once checked in with the airline around 6AM we decided to see a bit of the countryside and hailed a cab for a quick sight seeing tour. The cab driver was great (drove slowly and sanely and spoke very clear and slow Spanish). The countryside was spectacular. The cool light rain accentuated the wonderful smell of pine trees and earth. 'Finks' or small farms dotted the rugged yet verdant green landscape. Beautiful! As a side note police armed with m-16's were at every cross road as apparently the president of Colombia Álvaro Uribe Vélez has two finkas in the area. I personally like to see the police out in force... this equals personal safety in my mind.

We are now on the ground in Miami with a three hour layover... I'm not complaining as any 4000+ mile trip where I'm not captain is nothing short of a vacation.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Safely at Isla San Andres

As expected the sail North was a little rough. We were sailing close hauled nearly the entire way and the going was slow at times as we bucked through 12' seas.

Arriving in the vicinity of San Andres after dark we decided that an entry into the harbor was not worth the risk. Several ship wrecks line the reefs leading to the harbor and serve as a good reminder that things can go wrong very quickly. Although, we had GPS 'tracks' from a previous visit entering the harbor in the dark would place too high of a reliance on electronics. So we decided to anchor off the West side of the island at Rada Cove. Having anchored in Rada Cove back in August we had tracks and first hand knowledge that there were no hazards (i.e. coral reefs) in the area.

Shortly after rounding the south end of San Andres with three miles to go to the anchorage we had a bit of a scare. A bright spotlight shone on the boat as a 30' open boat came alongside with no lights except the bright spotlight that was blinding us. Our night vision ruined by the bring light in our eyes, identification of vessel, crew and intentions remained unclear.
Armed with a big spotlight of our own we took aim and much to our relief lit up a Colombian Coast guard launch. We slowed down and as the launch came along side they yelled to go to channel 16 on the VHF. Of course we always have our VHF on channel 16 so it was unclear why they did not hail us via the radio.

Kathy got on the radio and hailed Guardia Coasta and after a protracted conversation in Spanish of which gave our boat name, registration number, last port of call, etc etc we asked if it would be ok to anchor in Rada Cove. Things got confusing at this point and we did not understand quite a few bits of the conversation. It didn't matter we were going to drop the anchor in Rada Cove as we were tired and there was no way we would turn around and head for the harbor. The launch continued to shadow us as we regained speed and headed the remaining distance to the anchorage. Once the anchor was down the Coast Guard launch came along side and tied up for an inspection.

The crew of three were very polite and most of the conversation was conveniently in English for the inspection and checking of paperwork. Very nice guys and after 20 minutes aboard we had the all clear and got a hearty "Welcome to San Andres".

This morning we went for a nice swim before breakfast and enjoyed the crystal clear waters before raising anchor and heading for the harbor. Along the way we caught a small little Tunny that we released hoping for something bigger and better. No luck.

It looks like a cold front will move through the region later today and create strong north winds for several days keeping us pinned down here at San Andres.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Headed North (for real this time)

December 17, 2010 9AM
Near Panama Canal, Panama.

Today we are 'finally' sailing towards San Andres, Colombia (Colombian Island off the coast of Nicaragua enroute to Belize. Weather has had us pinned down with strong trades blowing and making big seas. Our course is about 325T and he wind is NNE to NE so this makes for 'to weather' passage which is our least favorite. At the moment the seas are running 12' and the forecast is for 15-25 knots and this is a lull!

The good news is San Andres is only 210nm away so we should make it there in a little over 24 hours.

The bad news is that we have not replaced our broken SSB radio. We spent yesterday on a 14 hour trip to Panama City that involved six hours of bus rides and several hours in taxis. What we found was a great I-Com shop, but the prices were very great and since they did not have the exact replacement radio we wanted and the prices were so high we decided to pass. The repairs were estimated to be $600 with no guarantee. We have to get a radio later and save $400+. Thus, will not have email on board LightSpeed for a while until we repair or replace the SSB. Our Colombia cell will work in San Andres and we will be sure to check out email at available internet cafes at every opportunity. Once we are in Belize we can get WIFI with decent speed internet so thats something to look forward to.

Perhaps, one of our wedding guests could courier a new radio down to us. Drop us an email if you could do this (radio is about 25 pounds and roughly 5"x 18"x14" and would need lots of padding).

Just finished checking the weather here at the internet cafe so we are off.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Out of touch - broken SSB radio

We were on our way toward Belize, but our Icom 710 SSB radio broke yesterday so we are headed back toward Panama City, Panama to get it fixed or replaced (the radio is old so we hope to replace). Absolutely essential equipment for safety, weather information and keeping in touch with family and friends. Kathy and I both agree that the radio is so essential that we won't leave Panama until it is fixed. Just too risky to travel the 800 nautical miles North to Belize without daily weather updates.

This email was sent from a internet cafe near Linton, Panama.

Our Panama cell phone IS working. +507-6-073-3533

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

New AB10AL Dinghy and Yamaha Enduro 15hp Outboard engine

Getting a new dinghy and outboard is the cruisers equivalent of buying a new car.

Why did we want a new dinghy and outboard when our new to us sailing catamaran s/v LightSpeed included a Aqua Pro 11'5" Aluminum RIB dinghy when we purchased her? We'll first off I'm pretty picky about the performance of the dinghy in regards to speed and ride quality. Although the Aquapro dinghy seemed to have all the right attributes with a relatively long at 11'-5" overall length and a nice rigid aluminum hull I wasn't satisfied with the ride quality. The boat just didn't seem to have a deep enough 'v-hull' at the stern and thus the boat rode on the tubes instead of the hull. We added a new Yamaha 25hp and still the performance was lacking at high speeds. The boat was also a bit wet when on a plane and we would get a little spray even in pretty flat seas. When an opportunity arose to sell the Aquapro and Yamaha 25hp while we were Cartagena for a fair price of $4500USD we jumped at the chance.

So what we wanted in the new dinghy was:
1). Minimal overall weight (we are a high performance cat and need to keep the boat as light and nimble as possible.
2). We wanted a RIB dinghy with a deep V hull shape for the smoothest possible ride in rough seas.
3). The new boat has the big air tubes (18") and a nice sheer (rise at the bow) for a dry ride.
4). Be as long as possible while maintaining a total weight including engine of around 200 pounds.
5). Be readily available for purchase and delivery.

Ironically, the boat we decided on for the best overall fit is manufactured about one hour from Caratagena, but we purchased it for less in Panama.

Our final decision was an AB 10AL with a overall length of 10'-6", a beam of 5'5", 18" tubes and an aluminum rigid hull with a deep V and a weight of 125 pounds. The boat cost us $3648USD delivered to the Shelter Bay Marina in Panama. We purchased the boat through Marine Warehouse of Panama, but the transaction was routed through the Florida affiliate office so no international Credit Card fees. Overall the purchase price was nearly a push between Cartagena, Colombia and Panama. It came down to availability and we went with a stock in Panama vs. a three week wait in Colombia.

For the engine we decided on the Yamaha Enduro 15hp short shaft $1989USD from Agencias Mar Y Tierra (Panama Ph. 246-1468). You can only buy this robust and durable model outside the USA and Canada. The 15hp Enduro makes the most sense for us since we will be abroad for many years and its easy to get parts. However, with this model of engine you just don't need parts as it is so reliable.

Went for a test drive tonight and the boat rode nice. Certainly, a huge difference in power between the 25 and 15, but the 15hp is 40 pounds lighter so the overall package is about 205 pounds which is very light for a dinghy of this size.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Panama cell phone

Our Panama cell phone for the next few days is +(507)-6-073-3533 (Dec 6- 9)

Quick stop in Panama

We arrived in Panama safely after a bumpy trip from Cartagena, Colombia. Seas were 12-13' on average with some 50% bigger. Both of us felt a bit sea sick at times, especially the first hours of the trip when we had to motor. Once the wind picked up to around 10-13 knots we were sailing 7-9 knots with a double reef (to prevent sail slamming in the big seas). Lots of surfing down the bigger waves with speed to 13.8 knots!

Now in Panama to pick up a new dinghy (AB 10AL[10.5' aluminum hard-bottom dinghy with Yamaha enduro 15hp outboard [2 stroke non-usa model]), wine and champagne for the wedding and provisions for the next couple of months in Belize.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Sailing for Panama

Today December 1, 2009 we are hoping to sail for Belize via Panama, San Andres, Vivarillos, and Honduras Bay Islands. What this means is that we will only have access to email via our SSB radio (no internet...just plain text email) for about the next twenty (20) days. We check our email daily and have a email consolidator so no mater which email address you send to we should get it within a day and get back to you within a day. Please don't hesitate to contact us.

Cartagena, Colombia

Enjoying a walk around the walled city.

Beautiful streets of the '
El Centro' withing the walled city.