We went to Barry's sister place next. We got to stay in the brand new suite they built for their bed and bale. We unexpectedly welcomed home with a sign, balloons , flowers and champagne, it was most appreciated by us, thanks so much Sherran, Bruce and Kim. The apartment is marvellous with the latest colours incorporated in the design. The attention to detail in the furnishing and the tiling in the bathroom are superb. When I snuggled down in the bed , I felt like a queen, the linens were new and the bed was perfect, two royal experiences in as many days. Normal life is going to be hard to take.
Monday, May 29, 2017
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Our flights, all four of them went very well, not a hitch, except for a brief heart palpitation when I had not put my passport back in it's accustomed place.
We spent last night in a Super 8 near Victoria Airport.
Monday, May 22, 2017
We leave today on the bus for San Jose where we catch a plane early on Wednesday morning. Canada here we come!!
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
On Saturday, May 13 we crossed our incoming track when we sailed south in 2008. We were last in Golfito on March 6, 2008 so it has taken us almost 10 years to circumnavigate.
I find it hard to put my emotions into words, we have spent a decade of our lives sailing around. I am full of joy that we have been able to fulfill our dream of circumnavigating. I am proud that we have persevered through gales and windless days to finish what we started. To be able to be self sufficient enough to cope with any problems and complications we have run into over the course of 12 years of boat ownership is a huge accomplishment. Barry has grown in so many ways in his knowledge and ability to do all the boat maintenance that is necessary. I keep the boat looking shiny and bright but he makes it go.
We have sailed over 50,000 offshore miles without outside assistance for the most part. We are indebted to the amateur weather forecasters, in Canada, New Zealand and South Africa for their invaluable help in figuring out when it was safe to leave port and continue on with our journey. I would like to thank my brother for joining us on our longest and finest ocean passage , from the Galapagos to the Marquesas. He was a joy to have along and in honour of his tireless ability to do his share of the hand steering once our wnd vane broke we have christened our new wind vane, Bob!! To our children and our families thanks for not saying we were crazy . We appreciate the encouragement they have given us and all the things they have done to make our journey possible, the mail collection, paying our bills, updating and fixing the blog. To all our sailing buddies who have shared our journey, we could not have done it without your support , knowledge and friendship over the years. Without a doubt the times we have spent together will stay in our memories for ever.
At the moment we are preparing Cat's-Paw IV for an extended stay in the water at the Fish Hook Marina in Golfito, Costa Rica. We are heading back to Canada to set up a permanent home, most likely an apartment in Red Deer, Alberta. It is kind of bittersweet to leave now but it is time to reconnect with our families, we have aging mothers and growing grandchildren. Personally I was not getting any joy out of sailing to new countries and I was finding it a chore to figure out where we should go and what we should see. When you start feeling like that it is time for a change, time to quit when it's not fun anymore. We are going to try living six months in Canad and six months on the boat for a few years and see how that suits us.
I strung up all the courtesy flags from every country we visited and flew them from the top of the mast. This was our way of saying
WE DID IT, WE HAVE CIRCUMNAVIGATED THE WORLD IN OUR SAILBOAT!
Monday, May 08, 2017
FWe made it through the Panama Canal on our own boat! There were a few dicey moments but we only have one war wound and we could leave today if we wanted.
We headed out to the designated spot to pick up our advisor with an extra crew of three aboard. We had one professional line handler, Gabriel and two young volunteer French fellows, Ludwig and Barthe.
When we arrived in the flats there were two other boats waiting and we thought we would be going through with them as a group. The pilot boat arrived with the advisors and our fellow Omar , got off and then the pilot boat left, no other advisers got off?? It turns out the other boats had their transits cancelled for that day and had to wait another full day. Thank heavens we were the lucky one to get to proceed with our journey, I would have been most unhappy if that had been us.
We were told that the Falmouth Bay would be our buddy going through the first three locks and that we would be on our own, not nested up with two other boats like we were the last time, requiring all four lines to be manned. As we approached the locks we saw the pillars for a new bridge that is being built and the skies were very threatening.They opened up and we got wet as we motored into the first lock. The boat rises in the first three locks so you have to pull the lines taut as the water rushes and gurgles in to the enclosed space. The lines are the only things that are stopping the boat from swirling around with the water and bashing into the sides.
Our stay at the bouy in the lake and the transit of the lake the next day sent off with it incident. I explained what the sailing terms were in English were to Ludwig and he very studiously wrote them down in a journal he was keeping.
In the second set of locks we went into the lock in front of a container ship. In the first lock we were tied to a tug boat. That was great , we did not have to be responsible for the lines, we just tied up to the tun and he dealt with the lines while we were going down.
We are going to go into Panama City today to visit a museum about the Canal before we head to Golfito in Costa Rica. We will probably catch the afternoon tide to get a good boast on our way out.
Saturday, April 29, 2017
The islands have been discovered by tourists, I do not know why I thought they would not have been. At the first place we stopped, long skinny fibreglass boats powered by big motors with covers for shade from the sun on them commuted back and forth to the main village where there is an air strip. They would offload people and luggage, usually big backpacks on to the island. There were huts for rent on the island and also space for tents. There were about 20 boats in a very small anchorage, many of which contained upwards of 10 people, all young with various shades of tan.
The next place we stopped to check out a good snorkelling spot was even busier, more boats, people strolling the beach or lying under the palm trees, bars set up under thatched palm roofs. The coral was beautiful on an old wreck really close to the beach but the anchorage was tricky and there was a big current running past the boat, so we picked up anchor and headed further away from the village and the air strip.
Friday, April 14, 2017
In the first set of locks we came in behind a tanker and in the second set we were in front of a tanker.
The trip takes a day and a half, from the east end you proceed through three locks, then you tie up to a big bouy and stay overnight. The next morning you motor through Gatun Lake , we reached the Pacific locks about 1500 hours . There are three locks there and then you are in the Pacific Ocean.
The locks are huge, a big car tanker came in behind us in the second set of locks. In order to expedite the process they hooked up three sailboats together. We all rafted up together, on each boat there are six people, four line handlers, the captain who pilots the boat and the advisor who tells the captain where to go and instructs the line handlers. With three boats tied up together there were 18 people in close proximity to each other. We were on the port side of the floatilla so our boat was responsible for the lines to the left hand part of the canal. That meant that only two line handlers were needed , the other side of the boat was tied up t another, so I did not have a job and just got to observe and soak in the experience. I even managed to keep my bossy nature in check and not issue directions or even instructions to anyone, except Barry a few times!!
We started out late in the afternoon, so it was dark when we went through the first set of locks.
The hand liners on the sides of the dock throw a thin line with a big knot on the end to the boat, two lines from each side of the lock. The boat line handlers tie the boat lines on to the thin lines and when you get to the position you are required to be in the lock the hand liners on the dock haul in the boat lines.
It was impressive when we went through the last lock.
Monday, April 10, 2017
Erick, the fellow between us , is our Columbian son. He stayed with us for a school year in 1994 in Yellowknife. He arrived in Canada with very little English and have no never seen snow before. He told us he was so happy tand see his first snow fall, but was more than happy the see the end of it 9 months later!! Twenty years later and he is a dentist in his forties with a family, how times change. He was good enough to take time out of his busy schedule and fly from Bogata to Cartagena to visit with us for the weekend.
We had to go into Colon to clear Immigration, the marina operates a free bus into Colon twice a day, otherwise it is a $25 taxi ride. The picture above is a typical street in Colon, now we know why we ere told it is not safe to walk around in the city.
Saturday, April 01, 2017
Walking around the old town in Cartagena is a joy. It is an explosion of colour and of old world charm. It is a World Unesco Cultural Heritage site so it is protected from change. Everywhere we noticed old buildings being restored. It reminded us of Cuba, but the area is better preserved and cleaner than we noticed in Cuba.
This is the main entrance into the old city, Cartagena was an area where African slaves were brought to Columbia so the descendants of the city have a lot of African blood in them and it is noticeable in their culture, the colours, the paintings and the dancing.
This is the Fort that protected the land and we were able to climb to the top and see the views and hear graphic tales about where all the attackers were killed. The guides' English was sufficient but his vocabulary was not the best so the fact that they were all kill ed featured in his description several times.
Our second day wandering around in old town we came upon some Universities. This is the inner courtyard of the University of Cartagena, we think they were having an open house because we were able to wander around the campus and there were displays about the courses offered.
We rested up in a KGB bar that had all sorts of memorabilia from Russia on display. We spent some time watching the latest May Day parade in Red Square with Putin supervising. Barry was fascinated with the fancy planes that were flown over , I marvelled at the precision of the marching of the soldiers.
The traffic is horrendous in the old town, the narrow winding streets result in gridlock at any given time. The common practise of courteous driving has not come to Columbia and they squeeze into what ever lane they wish and bully their way through the traffic.
When we saw this truck stall on a busy bridge Barry joked that this is what was needed to make your way through the gridlock!! Both the men in the vechicle turned away as I was taking a picture, we were surprised not to be yelled at!!