Monday, September 28, 2009


Yo! Blogmistress Kris back on the job here. Suzi and David have finally left Golfito, their new pump safely aboard. Their plan is to do a little surfing at Puntarenas, then move on to the islands off Panama, then head for Ecuador. Since they are at sea, they are available only via sailmail: keep 'em short, and know that they may/may not arrive. Here are some photos entitled "Last Night in Golfito."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Enjoying New Cruising Friends

Relaxing with wonderful new friends

Each morning we wake to sensational sunshine and clear blue skies, welcoming us to our ongoing adventures, luckily giving us the gift of enjoying new cruising friends while we wait for a new raw water pump and David refurbishes the tired wind generator. Most mornings at 8:00 I do power yoga with Heather which has given me a new appreciation for the strengthening poses as well as the benefits of sharing my beloved yoga with a new friend. We have been gathering in the evenings for stories, delicious munchies, and drinks, and again, did a barbeque and potluck last night. We will have to wait a bit more than expected for our new pump, but possibly will sail to Pavones on Wednesday to surf with Mike and Jodie from Savannah, We are so blessed to be here where the wait is comfortable, convenient, and cool, especially when the rains come in the afternoons. Life is good. Happy Celebration Day of Life to Mama Evans in Oakland. You are an amazing woman. We love you!!!!!

Independence Day Celebration in Golfito

Friday, September 18, 2009

Back in Golfito Making Plans

We arrived by taxi back in Golfito early last Monday morning after spending the night on the "luxury" bus, which was much less cold this time, thank goodness! You can imagine our state of being when we arrived back at Tierra Mar, although, getting back to the beautiful green, colorful flowery hillsides was welcoming, along with the inviting sight of the gulf and Sidewinder nice and safe. The festivities for independence day began early the next day, as drums could be heard from afar. A community parade marched by and we all cheered on as the kids from all over Golfito tried their best to step high, beat their drums in time, and stay cool; it was fun joining in on the local excitement. We have enjoyed some time to visit with Mike and Jodie on Savannah and had a wonderful "Mexico night" of making fresh tortillas and gorging ourselves on fresh salsa and guacamole made by Heather and drinking beers that kept appearing by way of Steve, both from sv Kate. Ed and Cornelia from A Cappella just arrived and Savannah, Sidewinder, and ACappella are all headed for Western Panama and Ecuador so the planning sessions have begun, helped along by Eric and Cheryl the authors of our amazing Central American Sarana Cruising Guide. We are so looking forward to some high adventures both on and off the sea and hope to leave after checking out next Tuesday. We still do not know details about taking Sidewinder out of the water in Ecuador but we do know that we will be flying out of Quito on November 17. That trip in itself will be awesome. Hope all is well with everyone. Love, Suzi and David

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Safe and Sound Saying Good-bye

More Magical Moments with Mandy

Mandy Venturing Through the Canal

Canal trip with Mandy

Mandy's Trip Through the Panama Canal to the Atlantic Ocean

Our day began earlier than expected. Tony picked us up at the hostal and we met linehandler Ricardo, who was to make the trip with us. Once on Mandy, the bright young pilot, Dalton, was delivered by pilot boat and our lovely hostess, Virginia, served us coffee and tea. We soon began our journey toward the first lock, Miraflores, and waited for the small tourist passenger boat that was to go with us. These days of global economic slowdowns have greatly affected the canal and it was very fortunate for us. Not many ships passed through the canal on Saturday, especially going to the Caribbean side. Passing under the Bridge of the Americas, connecting North and South America, we entered the first lock behind the tourist vessel, readied ourselves and began the process of receiving lines from the sides of the canal, tying them to our lines and sending them back to the linemen high above us. I fumbled a few times tying my knots, but soon became familiar with the expectations. Tightening the lines and keeping Mandy centered was our main job; it took the first round to know just when to pull and how tight to keep the lines, but it became quite easy after that. Those linesmen on land walked us through each lock after they filled with water and soon we were on our way to the next one. What a fascinating process and an incredible invention! The day was overcast which kept us quite cool. Not only did our awesome hostess serve us breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but she was my partner handling the lines on the port side as I worked the starboard side. Captain Richard diligently kept Mandy moving in line and after the second lock, much of the day was spent motoring along the markers through the enormous freshwater lake created by those engineers long ago. The flooding of this river valley took the lives of much of the wildlife at the time, in the late 1800's, before there was much thought about the diversity and well-being of the environment and all of its critters. Today, in order to widen the canal for larger ships, some of the islands created by this original manmade lake are being removed, but they have carefully tried to remove all wildlife from each area. That must be quite a task! Dalton, our pilot was so knowleable and friendly; asking questions and talking to him was a great way to learn about the area and get a sense of the Panamanian culture. As the afternoon light dimmed, we picked up a mooring, a pilot boat came to take Dalton home to his family, and we spent the night on the lake, waiting to go through the last lock early the next morning. We were so fortunate to not have rain! Ricardo, David and I each found our niche on Mandy's deck, (never to be found on Sidewinder!) and we slept quite comfortably after our evening meal. Howler monkeys, frogs, and buzzing bugs filled the starry night and it was quite peaceful.
The next morning a new pilot greeted us and we began the last of our adventure. We made our way around the huge freighter and entered the last of the three locks. This time the process was letting out line as we descended to sea level. It was quite intense watching the huge ship come into the lock from behind, just enough to intimidate us all. Capitan Richard held his cool and Mandy stayed strong. Going through the last lock, we could see the Atlantic Ocean and the end of Mandy's journey in the Pacific Ocean. I know she was both sad and excited with many magical moments ahead and much to experience. She will miss Sidewinder.
We made our way into Shelter Bay Marina and there we said our good-byes. I am so thrilled that we were able to make this passage with our wonderful friends and I look forward to the day when we will reconnect. Sidewinder will continue to wonder where Mandy is, and I know she will keep looking for her. Maybe someday they will get to sail side by side once again.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back to Costa Rica

We just got back to Panama City and are back at the hostel, where we spent two nights before we left, with permission to use the internet and take a shower later on. We plan to catch the 10:40 bus this evening, sleep on the bus, and arrive in David at 5:00 AM. We will then catch another little bus to the border, about an hour trip, cross the border, and take the taxi back to Tierra Mar and Sidewinder. Ah, the price we are paying is well worth our last adventure with Richard and Virginia. I will especially miss Virginia, and we gave each other a huge emotional hug. I will write details and send pictures when we return to Costa Rica. We are going for another bike ride to check out the facilities for having our boat worked on here instead of Ecuador in late January and reprovisioning for our South Pacific venture here as well. Life is good.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Canal Watch Updated

Here is the link to the live cameras on the Panama Canal. You can click on three different locks. My favorite is the high resolution picture at Miraflores. If anyone happens to see Mandy on Saturday (she's green with four adorable seniorish citizens aboard), give me a call! - Kris

This just in on Saturday morning:
Just came back from having fresh fish caught by Richard and Virginia for dinner on Mandy and getting ready for tomorrow´s departure. We are meeting them on the boat at 7:30 and the pilot is supposed to arrive at 8 AM. We are moving into the canal lineup at 8:30 so we should be getting to MiraFlores lock around 9:30 or 10:00 AM. It will be so cool for you to watch us. We will wave at you if we can spot the cameras.

David and I went on a long bike ride today which was great exercise and we had a fabulous dinner in Old Town Panama last night with Richard and Virginia. Great food, ambience, and wonderful company. We are all a bit nervous tonight, not knowing quite what to expect. Let the new adventure begin! I am so happy we are doing this with them.

Made it to Panama

Check back tomorrow to get the link to a live web cam that, with any luck, will show Mandy going through the Miraflores lock in real time! -Kris

We are on Mandy this morning, making plans for the day and are about to find a room at the Hostel de Balboa for tonight and tomorrow night. We stayed quite close to the bus station last night after a grueling 8 hr. bus ride which ended at 10 PM, but it was as comfortable as it could be on a luxury bus with movable seats. We were extremely happy to have a little cover I brought for our night on Mandy as it was freeeeeeezing!!! We did have a short time off the bus about half way there, thank goodness!

We are excited to be on this part of Mandy's adventure and are enjoying all of the precious moments we have left with Virginia and Richard. We start the Panama Canal passage on Saturday morning sometime, and if we find out our exact schedule, we will send it to you. How cool that you may be able to watch us go through a section of the canal. We will keep in touch.
-Suzi and David

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Headed for the Canal

We are leaving tomorrow to go by taxi and bus to Balboa, Panama City and will find Mandy at the Balboa Yacht Club, waiting quietly on a mooring for her turn to go through the Panama Canal. I talked to Richard on the phone today; he is pretty sure they will be scheduled for Saturday, and we are not sure just how long it will take us to get there.

Yesterday Jodie [above], from the boat Savannah, and I did a 5 hour hike across the ridge along Golfito, partly on a road and lastly on jungle trail, and we had a wonderful time. Great views, lots of monkeys, toucans, wild violets, rushing waterfalls, and energetic conversations filled our morning and set the tone for a wonderful day.

David supervised the making of a new anchor chain holder (there is an official name but don't remember it), and we put it in today; it is amazing what he can create! We did some more leak control caulking and readied ourselves for about a week long trip. Sidewinder is tied up to the dock at the yacht club where she is now very much a part of Tim and Katy's establishment and she will be secure with power. We look forward to our adventure and will touch base when we get back with pictures to share.

Hope all is well with everyone and lots of love to all, Suzi and David

Friday, September 4, 2009

Winter Visit Home

I just bought our airline tickets home, and I hope we won't be too late to say goodbye to Tom and Paula. We are flying out of Quito, Ecuador on Nov. 17 and will return on Jan. 12. I originally had us coming home Nov. 10, but David needed a cushion in case all of our Sidewinder bottom work took a bit longer than planned. We are going to Ecuador because there is a marina there where you can haul out the boat, live aboard, and work on it yourself, if desired. That is very unusual and perfect for what we need to do. Goody! I get to learn how to patch blisters and paint the bottom! Whooopeee.

There is a couple, David and Cherly, who are working on their boat, Soggy Paws, right now who have been really helpful by way of the single-sideband when we ran into saltwater in the engine problems. We hope to get some expert assistance and knowledge about engine stuff, bottom work, and traveling in Peru. We have not heard from Richard and Virginia yet, so we are on hold doing stuff until we know when they need us. Here is our airline schedule; Jane has offered to pick us up, so I hope that works. We will pick up the car and drive on down your way.

LACSA airlines Nov. 17 Flt # 604 Arriving LAX 10:11 PM
Jan. 12 Flt #641 Leaving LAX 12:30 AM Arriving Quito 1:30 PM

This reality makes me very excited already. We are hoping to go to the ranch for Thanksgiving and be around home for Christmas. Mom's memorial is Dec. 28, and we are also hoping that Casey will be in the area for that.

Now that we know where we are flying from and what we want to accomplish, we will help Richard and Virginia go through the Panama Canal, say good-bye with big sighs, and re-provision Sidewinder to make her way to Ecuador. We will stop at a few places in the outer west area of Panama on our way, but we will try to make our way down as fast as possible. We want to be in the marina at Bahia Salina by the beginning of October. My next task on this computer is to try to line up our stay in that marina. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Orchids in the Jungle

If the following entry seems redundant and out of chronological order, that is because it is made up of several emails received over the last few days. My apologies. - K.

Our last day cruising together with Richard and Virginia on Mandy: In the bay near the orchid gardens, the early morning silence interrupted only by pairs of scarlet macaws chatting with one another on flight to the next tree with sweet fruit, the vibrant colors of greens from the thick jungle surrounding the bay, palms flowing in the gentle breeze, the clear water gleaming and inviting one to come swim, all bring a calming peace and awareness to one's soul. It's rather easy to inhale the fragrant moments and pay attention to each step as we walk the beautiful beach toward the gardens. Being with Richard and Virginia brings a smile to my face, and it is a wonderful last adventure together from our sailboats. We all enjoyed the personal tour we had with Trudy, along with four other travelers who had come from a nearby cove, and we learned so much as she shared her knowledge of the orchids, gingers (including halyconias in that family), bromeliads, and native herbs and fruits. What a wonderful morning surrounded by sweet smells and care.

The rest of the afternoon was spent quietly reading and swimming, taking in the moments we were blessed to have with each other. Sidewinder and Mandy were so close at times, we were concerned about hitting one another, but I am sure they enjoyed their last day together. Mandy slithered away at 10 PM, just like planned and even though we tried to stay awake, we were asleep. I woke up around midnight, went outside to take in the moon in between the clouds with some moonbeams lighting up the glassy cove, and took in a slow, deep breath. How much fun we have had these last eight months and what a special friendship we have made. I will miss them.

The cove where Casa Orquideas is located must have a name but I do not know it. It was tranquil and a wonderful way to have our last day with Richard and Virginia and the two boats. Ron and Trudy MacAllistar have created a beautiful garden, and our tour with Trudy was wonderful. We learned a great deal and tasted our way through the garden, nibbling on coconuts, starfruit, grapefruit, and leaves that taste like sugar and garlic. What a fabulous morning in the garden jungle so nurtured. It made me think of JoJo taking such care to create a luscious garden of our own at home. The pictures tell the story of our special day.

The evening is mystical after the rain, and the light has almost disappeared except for some golden sunset slivers way off in the distance. David and I walked downtown, got some money, bought some acrylic paints to use in the clubhouse, and wandered through a very quaint, colorful neighborhood. We spent the morning putting a final coat of paint on the newly caulked hatch cover that was leaking and getting the anchor chain ready to paint.The days have been spectacular here, so clear and colorful in the morning and dramatic in the afternoons as the thunderstorms come and go. The sunsets have been unreal, and it is very fun to embrace it all.

The pictures begin with the double waterspouts we enjoyed in the late afternoon, when Mandy and Sidewinder dropped anchor in this pristine bay. We then had our last supper with Virgina and Richard on Sidewinder. By the time they rowed Mandy Minor over, it was raining hard and the four of us cozied into Sidewinder's belly. We started off our meal with some fresh bread dipped in Margo's gift she last sent us, a tangy Thai ginger shrimp olive oil mix. We drank a toast to our last supper on Sidewinder (at least for a while) and began recalling many memories of adventures together over these past 8 months. David cooked yummy burgers, and we laughed a lot and had a wonderful time. I cherish this new friendship; Richard and Virginia are both so bright, and our conversations are always so interesting. Richard has a knack of finding a way to lighten up tense moments, and I will surely miss the twinkle in his eye and that ability to make us laugh. Virginia is the salt of the earth woman and has a wonderful smile and bellylaugh. We look forward to going with them through the Panama Canal. They should be there either tomorrow or Friday and will let us know their plans; we will bus our way to Balboa to greet them. We will then have a chance to have our last supper on Mandy.