Monday, October 10, 2016

Vivienda La Pura Vida

Well, I am back.  And I know it has been awhile since I wrote anything.  And the only excuse is the usual - I am just plain lazy.
 I just can't seem to get my act together to do this.  Why?  I have no idea.  But I am super lazy, and I can think of no other explanation.

Anyway, we are back from another trip to the states.  That makes three this year!  This time we went to Wisconsin.  The ostensible reason was to go to my nephew's wedding.  And it was beautiful and I would not have misssed it for the world.  It was outside, at the bride's farm.  The weather was beautiful, and since the wedding was held over Labor Day, I am here to tell you that the weather in Wisconsin at that time can be nice like it was, or rainy, or cold.  The fortunes smiled upon the bride and groom, and all went well.  My sister Buffie and I used the occaision to go all out - we got our hair done, and I learned how to wear false eyelashes.  Now I have wanted to do that for years.  However, every time I tried in the past, I could not get them on properly.  This time, with the aid of a magnifying mirror, I had no problem.  But one has to have a magnifying mirror.  I think I looked fantastic if I do say so myself.  My other sister also knocked it out of the park with this polka-dotted skirt made out of some chiffon-like material, and a simple back top.  Also a pair of the cutest ballet flats I have ever seen.  So the Riley girls made their presence known!
 Ok, enough of my vanity.  But I rarely ever have the chance to get dressed up anymore. It is too hot here for one thing.  Anything nice will be ruined the first time I wear it.  If I don't spill on it (which Ican't blame on the weather), I will sweat it to death.  So when given the chance, I am going to do it up for all it is worth.

We have been wating for a very long tme now to get back out to sea.  If only for a couple of days!  But Mike is concerned about our anchor chain.  We spent months at anchor, both in Ecuador and Panama, and that takes a toll on the chain.  I personally thought it should last longer than two  years, but Mike says no.  There is a lot of rust on it, and he is afraid that if something exciting happens while we are at anchor with the wind or water or both, the chain could part.  That would of course be disastrous.  Not to mention we would lose our expensive anchor.  So here we sit, while the chain is on order.  We are supposed to get it at the end of the month, but since everything comes out of Miami, and Hurricane Matthew has just passed through, there may be a delay.  I hope not.  I am not, however, holdng my breath.

Since returning from the states, we have travelled some more around Costa Rica.  As I have said before, this is an amazingly beautiul country.  I don't even have words for it, and for me not to have words should show you all something.  I am never at a loss for words.  I have seen  an anteater, which are much bigger than I though they woud be.  They have gorgeous golden and brown fur.  But they are mean.  They have very long claws, and they can lash out quickly.  Farmers don't like them because they can kill inquisitive dogs.  The claws did look very long and curved, and they gleamed in the reflected light.  We also saw a jaguarundi, which is simply a small panther.  It was running across the road we were driving on.  Unfortunately, it went by us too fast to get the camera out.  So you will have to take my word for it.  We have also seen more and more different kinds of birds.  I could watch them for hours.  My favorite are the motmots, which have strange tails and a lot of attitude.  They are also very colorful.  I just can't get enough of it.

I spend a lot of time just thinking about things.  I also think that someday I may just crawl inside my head and not come out.  I'm not sure what that would look like, but it has an appeal to me.    It is part of the reason why I like my night watches.  I break each hour up into 15 minute segments.  I can easily keep myself amused for 15 minutes.  If I do that four times, it will be time to make my log entries.  I can drag that out for at least 10 or even 15 minutes, so you can see how it goes.  I like to think about things without anyone interrupting me.  It can get embarassing, because sometimes I get so deep ito it that I start talking out loud.  Lots of the time I am not even aware that I am doing it.  My mom used to tell me it was the first sign of insanity.  But I only  "answer" myself if I am playing two parts in my head.  So I guess as long as I am aware of the cast of characters, I can keep on doing it as much as I want to.

Good news - I went to the dermatologist for a check up and she found absolutely no sogn of any cancer.  She did use this little tube of something really cold to have at a couple spots, but they weren't cancer and the scars it left have already gone, so all is well on the health scene.  I was getting sort of nervous for about a month before the exam, in spite of the fact I have followed all the instructions given to me after the first melanoma.  I stay out of the sun, utilizing long sleeves, long pants, a hat, and sun screen.  So I no longer have a beautiful tropical tan (at least by my standards) but I guess I will live longer.  I have a cousin that died from melanoma, and I don't want that to happen to me.

That brings up another topic - health.  I now spend quite a bit of time thinking about it.  Despite all my mother's fussing, I have yet to contract either pneunomia or tuberculosis.  When I was in college in Wisconsin, she was constantly telling me to be careful, not to catch a cold or it would turn into pneumonia and then to TB.    Now she had to know it doesn't work that way, but it didn't stop her.  In fact, I have enjoyed pretty robust good health.  But sometimes I feel as though I am falling apart, piece by piece.  Things just aren't as easy as they once were.  When I had my shoulder fixed, the surgeon told me that he found osteoporosis and that I should be careful not to go breaking anything.  Now I am very clumsy by nature, and I have always fallen, tripped, and otherwise knocked myself around a lot.  I never had any ill effects from it - no sprains or broken bones.  Just scrapes and bruises.  But now I can't be so cavalier.   I guess this is just part of the aging process.  I still get surprized when I realize that I am 60 years old.  I thought I'd be smarter by now.

But no one wants to read about someone whining about their health.  Heck I knew I was getting old when I talked to one of my sisters and we spent at least 20 minutes discussing what medications we have to take and why.

Right now it is cloudy and hot and we are expecting rain.  It is the rainy season here.  We have only two seasons in the tropics - hot and rainy and hot and dry.  Summer is the wet season and winter is the dry season.  The dry season is the top time for tourists here.  Here in the marina, in the northern part of the country, we are in the driest part of Costa Rica, where the tropical dry forests are found.  I lived in San Diego long enough that it is still a big thrill when it rains.  And I love the thnder and lightning as long as it isn't close to us.   A couple of weeks ago we went up to the mountains and while we were there, they had a huge thunder and lightning storm.  I laid on the bed in our awesome hotel room and watched the storm.  It thundered and lightning-ed and the view over the mountains was incredible.  It went on for several hours and buckets of rain fell.  The dirt roads we had to take to get there were pretty messy the next day, but Mike is a superb four wheel driver, and we had no problems.

I am really happy we are not in the US for this election cycle.  If only we get our absentee ballots in time!

Other than the chain issue, Magda Jean is in fine shape.  I am getting eager to take her out and see what all our new sails can do.  One of the ones we ordered did not come back as we wanted it to - we aren't sure what happened.   Instead of the genoa we wanted replaced ( a genoa is a big foresail) we got a big Yankee.  (A Yankee is a sail that is cut higher than a genoa.)  But I have a feeling that we are going to like this new sail  better. e will be using our staysail a lot more, and between the three sails (the main, the staysail and the yankee) we have a lot of different sail arrangements we can make.  The yankee will also be easier and neater to furl up partway when we need to reef our our sails and decrease the sail area. I think we will do better in light air, and will find it easier and smoother to deal with the smaller sails when we need to tack.  The genny could be hard to handle if the wind came up and caught us unawares.  And I think we can sail with the yankee alone in higher winds.  I like the look of it, especially in conjunction with the stay sail.  Another thing - when we looked at the plans for the rig drawn up when the boat was first built, it appears to have had a yankee rather than a genoa.  With the genoa, we could only use the staysail under very limited conditions. With the yankee, we will use it a lot more often.  I think this new sail combination will cause the boat to be in better balance.   The better the balance the better and smoother the sailing.  Come on, chain!!!   I am waiting for you!!  But I have pointed out to Mike that there is no reason at all why we can't just take her out for the day, returning to the marina rather than anchoring out.  He agrees, but it hasn't happened yet.

Anyway, I think it is time for me to wind this up.  We won't be leaving Costa Rica any time soon, other than  for visa renewals and a Christmas trip to Nicaragua with a frined from Newfoundland we met in Bolivia.     Our current permit for the boat ends in July, but we can probably renew it if we want to.  Or we can sail somewhere else for three months and then come back and start the whole thing over again.  Who knows?

"It's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick."  (My Dad)        

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Long Time Coming

I know I have been totally remiss in not updating this blog more often.  I am just lazy, no more, no less.  We are in Costa Rica, basically living at the marina.

What have we been up to since the last post God-knows-how-many-months ago?  A lot.

First, I had to have rotator cuff surgery.  Everyone told me how painful it was ging to be, how hard and miserable the physical therapy would be, and so on.  But guess what?  Except for the first few days after surgery, there were no serious pain issues.  I did have to keep my arm strapped tight to my torso for about a month.  Then I just had a sling.  I did have physical therapy, but I liked it.  It felt great.  There were times when it was uncomfortable, but otherwise it was not that big a deal.  I now have a full range of motion on that side, and before the surgery I couldn't raise my arm to even make a pony tail.  Mike had to do my hair!! Not good!!  But I am pleased with the results.

It even caused us to make some new friends.  One of my nurses was exceediingly kind to me, and we got to talking.  About a week after the surgery, she and her husband came to visit us on the boat.  We have since visited  back and forth.  We spent Christmas Eve at their house.  They have been over here for swimming.  And they are both heavily involved with horses.  Antonio runs a stable, and Mike has been riding with him in some horse parades, called "topes." (toe-pays.)  It is total immersion into Spanish as neither of them speak English.

Another fun thing was that my son, Steve, came to see us in September.  It was a great time.  (I hope he thought so too.)  We spent several days at anchor and got some sailing in.  He got to jump from the boat into clear water at an anchorage otherwise deserted except for us.  He met some of our friends, and all in all we had a perfectly marvelous visit.  I miss him terribly, and am glad to see he is doing very well and is happy.

My shoulder sidelined us from doing any sailing or much else for a couple of months.  We decided to take a trip back to San Diego, to see Steve of course, but also to get some new stuff for the boat.  We got new sails, and a bunch of other things.  The bags coming home were really heavy, and we were worried about all the baggage overweight charges we'd have to pay.  But then a small miracle happened.  I discovered that we could fly first class for $100.00 more per person.  And, we each got two free bags.  Problem solved!  The oeverweight charges would have been a lot more.

But there was more to this trip.  We left Costa Rica with a good friend on his boat.  He needed crew to go to Mexico with him, so we happily volunteered.  He was in a hurry to get there, so we did motor most of the way.  I will tell you this:  watches are a lot easier with three people instead of just two.

We went with him as far as Puerto Chiapas (aka Puerto Maderas) and then caught a bus to San Cristobal de Colon, which is located in the mountains in the state of Chiapas.  It is one of my favorite spots in Mexico.  Mike bought me some beautiful amber jewelry.  I love amber, and now have a nice collection.  Most of my pieces have bugs in them that you can see.

After that, we took another bus to Oaxaca City, another favorite of mine.  The food is to die for - I love mole (moe lay) and they have four different kinds at least.  This is also where they regularly eat grasshoppers, known as chapalines.  (chop a leen ays.)  Mike of course ate a bunch of them, and even had a bag he snacked on.  I have already tried them and felt no real need to chow down.  They don't really taste like anything except what they are cooked in, which is usually a combination of chiles and lime.  The crunchy ones are fine - sort of like croutons, but some of them are sort of squishy and I don't like that.  So I left the bug eating to Mike this time.  While we were there, we returned to a small town where they specialize in rug weaving, using wool they spin themselves, then using natural plant based dyes and hand looms.  It is amazing to watch and Mike bought two gorgeous rugs for the floor in the cabin.

When we got back from San Diego, we were dying to go sailing and stretch out our new sails.  We spent about a week getting ready, with plans to be out and about in the boat for a month or so.  On the day before wwe planned to leave, Mike was going around the boat, checking to see that everything wasin sailing order.  To our absolute horror, we (Mike) discovered there was a broken turnbuckle on our backstay.

For those who ae not familiar with sailboats, the back stay is one of the wires around the boat that connects from the mast to the boat itself.  The job of these wires (cables, really) is to hold the mast up.  The fact that this was broken meant that there was no way we were going sailing.  No way, no how.  Mike immediately rigged up some rope (lines - when a piece of rope  is placed on a boat, it becomes a line.  There is no such thing on a boat as a rope.) bypassing the broken turnbuckle to hold things in place.  Theoretically, if a strong enough wind hit the boat from the wrong angle, it could result in the mast falling down.  This is not very likely, but if we tried to sail her, it would be disasterous if it did happen.  So we are marina bound again, at least until we go to Arkansas (for my mother in law's birthday) where we ordered our new one sent.  As usual, we start our trip with almost empty bags and return with them bursting.

So right now we are just living in Costa Rica, and Mike has been making noises about wanting to stay here.  I have always leaned towards Mexico, but I have to admit it is really nice here.  Almost the whole country is like a preserve, or a national park, or something on that order.  We have been to hotels in the mountains (we go up there sometimes to get out of the heat), and each time we go we seen new birds and animals.  I have seen three different kinds of monkeys, agoutis, coatimundis, deer, and even a kinkajou.  The squirrels are beautfully colored with stripes down their backs.  Even here at the marina we can take a walk and see monkeys and all kinds of birds.  I can't get enough of it.

We have no idea what we want to do next, or where we want to go.  Mike is making noises about maybe staying here.  Who knows?  We have 15 months before we need to get the boat out of here, and we might be able to obtain another two years.  One never knows.  Mike and I have to leave for at least 72 hours as we can only get 90 day visas.  We have usually taken the trip to Grenada, Nicaaragua, when the need to leave arises.  Nicaragua is wonderful.  It is a lot less expensive than it is here, which is always a nice change.  We have plans to take a land trip to Panama, as there are parts we were unable to visit as we couldn't safely leave the boat unattended.  There is a town called Bosquete (boes ket tay) up in the mountains that is supposed to be very nice.  There are a lot of  expats living there, or so we have heard.

Mary Ellen, I am sorry we didn't make it up to see you - we weren't there long enough and had to make the rounds of all the marine stores to get the stuff we needed.  And for you if no one else, I will try and overcome my incredible laziness and work on keeping this blog up.

So for now, we are happily living in Costa Rica and loving every minute of it.  Who knows what the future holds for Magda Jean and her intrepid crew of two?  The present is just fine, thank you.

(Sorry, no quote this time.)                    

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pura Vida

Well, we never made it to Nicaragua.

I re-read my last post and noted I had discussed the need to maybe have to stop in Costa Rica and wait out the winds.  I also noted we were enjoying our sail, with the winds sort of pulsing up and down.

Things kept up like that - it was actually sort of fun.  We kept reefing the sails down when the wind hit, and then letting them out again when it died down.  Our first clue that something might be changing came when we noticed the wind was coming up faster and harder.   We finally left the reef in even when the wind was down, although that made us go slower than we wanted to.  But reefing the sails is difficult once the wind has already come up, and since the gusts were getting closer together and stronger we decided sacrificing speed for control was worth it.  Of course eventually the winds, which gusted up to about 40 knots, with sustained winds in the 30s.

Along with the increased winds came the dreaded fetch.  Fetch occurs when wind blows accross the water and stirs up waves.  If the current and the wind are acting in opposition, giant waves can be the result.  We did not have that, but the waves that did develop were large and choppy enough to constantly knock the boat off course, affecting the speed and making things generally uncomfortable.  We should have been able to fly along under reefed sails in that kind of wind without too much problem, but the wave action caused our speed to drop to less than 2 knots.  The only way to improve that situation was to head towards shore and hug the shore as much as possible.  Since these were easterly winds, coming off the land, the water closest to shore was the calmest. So we turned on the engine and headed towards shore.

We sailed along for awhile, but after checking our weather information, it became apparent things were not going to get better any time soon.  The further north we went, the worse it was going to get.  And since we couldn't make any speed, it would be days of misery to work our way north.  So I insisted we stop in Costa Rica.  After studying our sailing guide books, we chose an anchorage and dropped anchor.

Now, a word as to why we didn't want to stop in Costa Rica.  (I hope I am not repeating myself, but I am far too lazy to re-read my old posts and see if the issue had been addressed previously or not.)  When we left El Salvador in 2012 or so, we discovered right after heading out to sea that our depth sounder was not working.  We did not want to try and anchor without a depth sounder, so we bypassed Nicaragua and Costa Rica and went straight to Panama City, where we knew we could get it fixed.  And additionally, most cruisers bitch constantly about Costa Rica.  Most of the people we knew were either lukewarm about it or flat out dislked it.  The major complaint is that Costa Rica is expensive.  And it is true, it is not cheap here.  It is a LOT more expensive than Mexico or Salvador, but less than the US, for the most part.  Nothing crazy by our standards.   The other complaint is that the officials are hard to deal with.  Stories abound about people who have had to flee in the night after being threatened with boat confiscation for small infractions.  The officials were described as hostile and uncooperative.

After sitting around for a few days on the boat, we started to talk about what we wanted to do.  I admitted to being tired of feeling like I was always running away from something, like weather issues or immigation requirements.  I didnt want to just give up the whole thing, but I wanted something to change.

It seemed to me we had reached a strange and difficult point.  What to do next?  We decided that if we wanted to cross the Pacific, the boat needed some major upgrades, startng with new sails.  There are also a lot of little things to fix as well.  And then once you get there, where do you go?  There is Australia or new Zealand.  Both are a long way from anything else.  And the weather between Polynesia and those countries is starting to get more and more dicey, with no real storm season any more.  And then where to go from there?  After the burglary, I did not want to go back to Puerto Amistad in Ecuador.  There wsa supposedly another place to go n Ecuador, but  couldn't get any sensible information about it.  It just seemed too overwhelming.  I wanted to stop, regroup, and sort things out.  I kept most of this to myself because I was not ready to have that converstion with Mike.  I did not think he would react well to any suggestion we not keep moving on.  But he did agree that we should check in to the country and take a rest at the marina here.

I was stoked about that.  We reached the marina by email, and arranged for a slip.  We found out that the check in services through the marina required the use of an agent and would cost about $750.00.  Forget that!   So we raised sail and went a bit closer up the coast to Playa de Cocos, the check in point.  The next day, we went to the Port Captain at 9 am to begin the process.  We had all our paperwork in order and the officials could not have been more pleasent.  They were thorough, asking questions that no other country asks, but did not ask us for a cent.  After that, we walked about three blocks to immigration.  Again, everyone was wonderful and did not ask us for a dime.  Then it was back to the Port Captain, and then we caught a bus for the airport at Liberia, to handle customs.  The bus ride is about half an hour.  We then went to customs, handed in our papers, and within another half and hour we were done.  Even with a stop to get our phones set up with service and internet, we were all done by noon.

That gave us the right to stay here for 90 days.  We really started to like it here.  The marina turned out to be a marvelous place, with great services and amenities, like a work out room, a nice pool, and a laundremat.  The bar also serves decent food.  It costs us about $1300 per month to live here, including water and electricity.  The marina is part of a big hotel and condo and really fancy home complex.  We can hear howler monkeys, and the water in the marina itself is so clean and clear it seems like we are docked in a giant aquarium.  The depth is about 25 feet, and we can usually see the bottom.  None of the other boats here are liveaboards - most of them are fishing boats or huge catamarines with absentee owners.  We are the only people actually living in the marina.  It is kind of odd, but fun too.

We also rented a four wheel drive car.  Costa Rica has good roads, but also has a lot of dirt roads and jeep trails.  We have been exploring all over this area, and love it.

So here is what happened - Mike decided he loved it here and was in no hurry to leave.  Of course I was in agreement.  Then, while visiting with the marina manager, I discovered there was a way to keep the boat in the country for two years.  Without gonig into a lot of details, it seemed to me that it would meet all our needs for the time being.  We do have to live in the marina, but as long as we are paying our fees here, all we have to do is file a "float plan" with the marina and we can sail where ever we want to without all the usual formalities, which are a bit onerous here.  And this is a great place to sail - it is easy to day hop from anchorage to anchorage, all within an easy day sail of or marina slip.

So we decided to stay here, for at least the next year or two.  There is way less lightning here, although it remains an issue.  But the risk is way less, especially here in Northern Costa Rica.   The other really great thing about being here is that Mike has a cousin living here.  They have not seen each other since they were children.  She and her husband have lived here for 20 years.  We have visited with them twice and we all get along well.  There is also a very large expat population here, and we are finding it easy to make friends.  And the Costa Ricans are wonderful - I cannot say enough.   By the way, "Pura Vida" means "Pure Life" and is sort of a Costa Rican "aloha."  That sort of tells it all, better than I ever could.

"Before all masters, necessity is the one most listened to, and who teaches the best."  (Jules Verne)  


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Now Voyager

Right now I am sailing off the coast of Costa Rica, and it is gorgeous! We have had a pod of dolphins around us for a whole day now, including last night. We have seen jumping marlins, a Giant Pacific Ray, all sorts of interesting birds and butterflies, and a host of other sea life I am happy beyond belief to report that the lightning is noticeably decreasing as we get further north. The last couple of nights it has only been behind us, and not close enough to make us nervous in the least. That is not to say we are ompletely out of danger, but we have mitigated our risk somewhat.

As much as I love Panama, it was good to finally be able to put it behind us and get moving. It is very unusual for there to be such a lack of wind in the area. That is why we are a month behind - when I looked a over our logs, I realized that it too us over a month from the time we left Panama City until we finally cleared out of western Panama. We did get to see some beautiful new anchorages, and we have vowed to return on our way back and check them out again. Panama really does have something for everyone.

We are not planning to stop in Costa Rica other than to wait out the winds, and hopefully that will not be for more than a week. Then we will head on to our destination, Puesta del Sol in northern Nicaragua. We decided to go there after talking to some friends about it. Sine it sounded really nice, we decided since we had been to Salvador we should try some place new. If we don't like it, we can continue north. But I have wanted to check out Nicaragua, and I also want to have visited every country in Central America. We may seem to be inconsistent, but that is just the way we do things, changing our minds on the fly.

Everything is fine here with us Our food supplies are holding out just fine, and we are nowhere near running out of coffee, which would be the only thing we would really hate to do without. I don't want to jinx anything, but we also seem to be losing weight nicely. So no negativity here, and we are both simply enjoying the cruise. Today the wind keeps going up and down, in a pulsing sort of way. We think we are starting to feel some of the winds we will be avoiding later. They are called papagayo winds, and are caused by strong winds in the Caribbean blowing through a gap in the land area across and over Lake Nicaragua, in southern Nicaragua. This is something everyone out here has to deal with, as they used to occur solely in the winter, but now seem to blow almost all hear round No one can tell me there is no such thing as global climate change For proof, I can tell you that all the cruising route books are practically useless now, as the weather patterns are no longer reliable at all. There have already been three hurricanes in the Pacific, and that is way too many for this early in the season.

But enough of that. As I said before, we are fine and happy. Here is a little quote on what is required of a sailor

"And last on this short list, he must heal well Scrapes, gouges, bruises, cuts, sprains, strains, and occasionally burns appear as if miraculously, often without my knowing their cause; a kind of stigmata of the sea." (Webb Childs, "Storm Passage: Alone Around Cape Horn.")

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Slow Progress

We continue our way on towards either Salvador or Nicaragua, but I think we have decided on Nicaragua. We haven't been there yet, and the facilities sound like we would like it. And if we don't, we can always head on to Salvador later. The place we are heading is called Puesta Del Sol, which means sunset. There is a marina, mooring field, and a hotel complex which means there is a pool, to cool off from the hot Nicaraguan weather. Friends of ours have been there, and speak highly of it. And I planned to visit there anyway, at least on a land trip from Salvador. That also means that the trip will be about 100 miles shorter than to Salvador, which helps with our fuel consumption issue. We also had a great discovery in the fuel realm - we have been averaging about one half gallon of fuel per engine hour, which is damn good.

Right now we are in an anchorage called Bahia Honda, and I think it may be the prettiest anchorage I have ever been in, bar none. We are surrounded by jungle, with birds and moneys calling out to us. The fish are jumping all over the place, and the rays are also throwing themselves up out of the water and landing with a loud splat. If you have never seen a ray jump, you have missed something. I have never seen anything that looks so simply joyful. A local man came by yesterday right after we got here, and sold us some avocados and limes. He is supposed to come by today with pineapple, onions, and potatoes, as well as bread. We still have plenty of meat in the freezer, and the other day we caught a big sierra, which Mike was able to filet into eight separate meals. So with this new produce, we have better meals than ever. The onions were the most important part, truthfully. Almost everything we make uses an onion.

Mike and I are lucky in that we have pensions, and don't have to live off a "cruising kitty." All we have to do is tighten our belts for a couple of months, and we an afford pretty much whatever comes our way, especially something bad (like a lightning strike) because we are insured. But there are a lot of cruisers who are not insured, and when something really bad happens, they are completely out of luck. Sometimes it means the end of the whole thing. We know a man in Panama City, whose boat was struck by lightning last year and all of his electrical systems were completely destroyed He can't even really live on it anymore, let alone sail it anywhere The sad part is he lives on social security with apparently little to no savings, and he is stuck. Really stuck. He can't afford to get it fixed, and now I suppose he will have to sell it for a song and where he can live as cheaply as he does now, I do not know. I suppose he couldn't afford insurance if he wanted it, but I know a lot of people who say their insurance is "prudent seamanship" I have also heard it said (by one who is not insured but I know could afford to be) that people who are insured are not has careful as those who aren't. Prudent seamanship is all well an good, but it is no good whatsoever against a lightning strike. We are at least as careful as the uninsured, maybe even more so. Interestingly, there are a lot of libertarian types out here who simply do not agree with the whole concept of insurance, asserting it constitutes "betting against oneself" I don't think so, but maybe I am wrong. All I know is that if something bad happens, we will be pretty much okay. If I decide I want to stop cruising, so be it, but I want to make the decision myself and not have it made for me by some horrid accident.

The local guy just came by and brought us pineapple, more avocados, the potatoes, the onions, plantains, bread, and some delicious bananas. We paid for the stuff and also gave him some fishing line, a nice lure, and some hooks. He promised to come by tomorrow with some papaya.

So I guess that is all for now. We got some rain, enough to wash the deck off. Now we need more so we can collect some water. Nothing beats drinking rainwater.

"For what's the point of breeding children, if each generation does not improve on what went before?" (Hilary Mantel)

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Rain and More Rain

It has been raining every day here, as we sit and wait for some wind to come along and help us work our way to our destination, which seems at this point to be years away. Not really, but it does seem that way. So we download weather information, and what do we see? A crazy weather pattern, that looks for all the world like a hurricane where a hurricane should not be. We have been watching it for a couple of days now, and it is not really going to become a hurricane, but it is going to cause our current anchorage to become untenable. With no wind to speak of now, we are going to have to move to a safer place and we will leave tomorrow. There is a really good spot not all that far from here, and we will just have to motor there if we can't sail it. This diddling around would not bother me at all were it not for the fact that there is family business requiring signatures and I am worried that I am holding the process up. However, we will arrive eventually and then all will be well.

One of the benefits of being out in the middle of nowhere is that you an only eat what you brought on board when you provisioned up in Panama City. So if a person is smart, and not hungry when shopping, that person will not choose to buy him or herself a bunch of fattening snacks and things like that. And I am smart. When Mike buys candy and chips, I try to make sure he gets the kind I don't like. So that way, there is nothing but healthy things for me to eat. I am remembering the things I learned in Weight Watchers, like drinking a lot of water, using glasses of water when I get the urge to eat without really being hungry. I am only eating when I am actually hungry. So without jinxing it (I hope) I am losing weight. Hopefully on my next visit to the US, I will look as awesome as a nearly sixty year old woman can look.

Otherwise, I do not really have anything newsworthy to report. We listen to the howler monkeys every day, and one day we got to see them all perched in a tree that did not have a lot of leaves. Usually we can hear them but not see them because the foliage is too thick. That was a treat.

I am trying hard not to get edgy and nervous, but sometimes my generalized anxiety gets the best of me - it took me years to recognize free floating anxiety as something that just happens and is not related to anything being wrong in reality. It is something that will pass, especially if I sit quietly and take deep breaths picturing myself blowing all the anxiety out of me through my exhales. I used to sit and frantically review everything that was happening, trying to find a reason why I had that overwhelming feeing of doom. The only way I can describe it is this: it is the exact same feeling I got as a child when I was walking home from school with a bad report card, knowing without a doubt how much trouble I was in and how I was going to get yelled at. That sick feeling in your stomach, like you are going to throw up but not quite, and throwing up won't help anyway. Now I can stay on top of it, and just do my deep breathing until I can blow it away (most of the time, anyway). If anyone reading this has this problem, try the breathing - take deep breaths, hold them a bit, then blow them out hard like candles on a birthday cake.

But I digress. I am reading a lot of English history these days, so if anyone is curious about the Plantagenets, just ask me. Or the War of the Roses. When we still had internet access, I downloaded a three volume set of English history. If anyone has any suggestions for any good books about French history, let me know. That is going to be my next stop. BUt you know, I can't get over the fact that nothing ever seems to change. Just when things look like they are settling down, someone gets a bug up their ass and everything goes to hell again. Same hassles, new faces. And everyone has God on their side.

So with that, I will end this post - a rambling, pointless post, the result of too much time on my hands and too much time to think about things. But it is still better than the best day working, so I still feel lucky.

"Chance favors the prepared mind." (Louis Pasteur)

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Monday, June 1, 2015

No Weather Today

That is about how things stand right now. We are waiting for some wind, any wind, to get us moving toward Salvador. we are still in western Panama, in a beautiful anchorage that we have all to ourselves. It is starting to be the off season now for cruising between Mexico and Ecuador,so when I run my radio net it takes way less time and there will come a time when no one checks in. A few of us just keep it going until the season picks up again. I have been doing this net for a couple of years now, although I couldn't do it from Ecuador and I am not sure if I can do it from Salvador. There is radio reception there of course but maybe not clear enough to actually run the net. The anchorages are up river estuaries, and there can be a lot of interference. To be honest, I know very little about how the radio stuff actually works, I just know how to use the mike and talk on it.

As I said, it is gorgeous here, so if we have to be stuck, this is the place. We are here alone 99% of the time, except for the monkeys we hear in the jungle. There are lots of birds, and there is always fish actiOn to watch. By that I mean big jumpers out towards open sea, which we don't want to catch. A really big fish is hard to handle,and our freezer is only so big. Our sport fishing days are over. Now we just fish for food. And even more fun to watch - there are schools of small fish that hide underneath our anchored boat and come out periodically to feed on alga or plankton, or other even smaller fish. Never a dull moment.

Although we do have an engine and fuel, we don't carry enough fuel to motor all the way to Salvador, at least I don't think so. We need to save the fuel for things like dodging lightning cells while underway, getting into tight anchorages, avoiding shores if the wind and currents are trying to push us there, things like that. Plus the engine is loud and it is almost impossible to get any decent sleep with it going. This is an especial problem for Mike, who never gets enough sleep anyway when we are underway. We ave a watch schedule, but if something goes south on my watch, I need to get him up to help me deal with it. There is no way around that. Certainly I do not get him up for every little thing, there are many things I handle on my own with no problems. It seems like everything goes smoothly on his watch, and then as soon as he is settled in the bed, everything changes. As time as go on, I have learned to handle lots of stuff alone, but some stuff requires more strength than I have. Plus, to be honest, Mike is a bit of a control freak, and there are things I am under orders not to even try to do alone. And I am too lazy and without enough ambition to complain about that. I get plenty of sleep while we are underway and there are few things I like better than being all comfy in my bed, listening to the water rush by outside the boat. It is an amazing feeling to think that only a few inches of fiberglass separates me from the open ocean. I really love it. Sometimes I just lay there listening. If only I did not feel so guilty about getting so much more sleep than Mike! But I guess it cannot be helped. But I must add that another great feeling is when Mike is asleep and I am running the boat. I feel very tender towards him, like I would fight anyone who ever tried to hurt him. There are times when my heart feels like it is full to bursting during my watches, like I am overflowing with love for him. Maybe this is too personal, too much about me, but it is one of the best things about being out here. It is just us, and we need to take of each other.

We have already run out of beer, but who care about that, it will help us lose some weight. I have not missed it at all. We did save two cans for en we arrive in Salvador to celebrate. We don't drink at all when we are actually underway, it is a generally bad idea. The only thing it would be a true tragedy if we were to run out of would be coffee. At that point we would probably swim to Salvador, towing the boat behind us. Otherwise, we have plenty of food aboard and can stay out here quite a wile if we had to. But we are hoping to get out of here at the end of the week, as the weather gribs look as though the wind might pick up then. Until then, here we float. As Vonnegut would say, "and so it goes."

"Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly." (Khaled Hosseini)

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