Month: June 2015

Starfish Beach

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Several people have told us about a beautiful little place called Starfish Beach. With a name like that, how could it not be?! Yesterday we decided to set out and find it, and we loved it there so much that we spent the night out at anchor.

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I have to add that our newly installed radar is quite spiffy and works wonderfully.

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We are becoming pretty ninja at setting the anchor by hand. The part Danny ordered for the windlass hasn’t arrived yet. Jude and Jonathan usually take a wild guess and pull out the amount of anchor chain they think we’ll need, and when Danny gives the go ahead they drop it, set the bridle, and we are hooked.

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When we arrived yesterday we immediately jumped in and played in the water for a while. Danny and I swam to shore and walked among the coconut trees. People had come to Starfish beach by panga, and were sipping pina coladas in their hammocks and beach chairs, and a couple little tables were set up with shells, bags and jewelry for sale. Music was blaring from a couple different locations.

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As we made our way back across the beach toward the boat we saw 6 little heads bobbing in a line in the water – the creatures were swimming their way to shore too.

I noticed this cute litte child motoring off in a panga…


Danny and I took a nap and when we woke, the boat was completely quiet. I went on deck to find Ashley fast asleep on the trampoline, and the dinghy was pulled up on shore, with the creatures swimming close by it.

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It’s easy to tell why this place is called Starfish beach. Huge orange starfish are scattered everywhere across the sandy bottom. There are also beautiful coral colored hermit crabs all over the place. It’s a bit of heaven.

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For part of dinner I made a huge fruit salad, with watermelon, pineapple, pears, oranges and granadilla. When we were about done eating, Mycah went to get another spoonful of fruit salad and said, ‘oh…here’s a little worm.’ Everyone stopped mid swallow as she found 3 or 4 more in the bowl, and then Jude found one on her plate. We cautiously finished eating and then several of the creatures spoke of the importance of gastric juices and the amount of protein in a 3mm worm. Emma decided that the fruit salad was delicious anyway and we all continued on with our evening.

When we set sail today, we decided to try put the spinnaker up since we had such light airs. It was our first time using it and it was so beautiful!!

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It is such a giant sail and it’s blue and gold colors were so bold against the grey sky.

Starfish Beach is now one of our favorite places, and we will most definitely go back soon.

Harley ride for my sweet Dad

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Yesterday my Dad’s friends and fellow riders went for a Harley ride in honor of my Dad. He was the president of the Idaho HOG Association and he is well respected in the Harley world. A couple years ago he rode solo from Idaho Falls, all the way down to the Florida Keys and back – through hail and crazy storms, and the Harley store kept track and posted his progress every day.  At the end they presented him with a beautiful framed map with photos and updates from every days progress.

The impressive thing about about yesterdays ride is that my father joined them. He is so sick and riddled with cancer, in constant pain that leaves him weak and unable to stand up straight, and he mounted his HOG and rode with his brothers.

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My Mom and their poodle, Teddy, rode part of the way too.

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They rode all the way to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with a few rest stops along the way. When they reached Jackson my Dad was so exhausted, but didn’t want to let his brothers down and rode back with them.

Here in Panama we had a productive day.

Jude, Mycah, Jonathan and the twins spent a ton of time scrubbing decks. They did a fantastic job.

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Afterward to cool off they jumped off the boat and swam around.

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Later they went on an adventure with the dinghy. They rode out to some mangroves and snorkeled, and saw lots of baby reef fish, a blue shrimp and beautiful sponges and bi-valves.


When they returned to Tanda Malaika they came in under the boat and I took this shot of them in their little hideaway. Funny creatures.

While they were doing all that, Danny and I worked hard on installing the radar system. We had to feed thick cables through impossibly small openings up and down the mast. Danny went up in the bosuns chair while I pulled from down below.


He’s become quite the ninja up the mast, having to drill and set rivets without being able to get leverage to push against the mast. Genius he is!

At one point I looked down on the dock and saw the creatures in a circle, taking turns with the machete and splitting coconuts.

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The protective mama bear in me wanted to give them the safety lecture, but I could see they were being very careful.  They did a great job and husked coconuts beautifully.

I attempted to cook with a new vegetable.  Yucca. Danny introduced me to yucca a while ago and I love it!!  The kids think it looks like a giant turd – which is an accurate description.

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On the inside they look a lot like a potato, but they feel like a hard sticky potato covered in mucus.  By the time you’re done peeling them, your hands are a slimy gooey mess. I cut them up and boiled them till tender, then coated them in butter and salt and pepper.  They were SO delicious!


At the end of the day when Aidan had showered up, he came dancing through our hull and had all sorts of disco moves to show me.  He’s so funny.

I took this crazy shot a couple nights ago when the creatures were on Danny’s and my bed. That’s a lot of legs attached to a lot of bodies, all gathered for family prayer.  I love my family so much.


Wonderful Day

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Today was a wonderful day.  Not because of something wild we saw or because of a major excursion, but because I got to be by my sweet husbands side all day, working on boat projects, going for a walk, running into Bocas and grabbing mail etc. I love accomplishing things with him, and breaking away from the creatures for some ‘Danny and Belinda’ time.

Our morning started with some elbow grease. We all scrubbed hard and got the stern bright and shiny while Jonathan scrubbed the starboard side of the boat.

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After that Danny asked me to go for a walk with him and we ventured over to the beach with his drone. I wish I could download the video he shot.  It looks like imax footage as he soared over the waves and down the beautiful white sand beach.


He didn’t want to land it in the sand so he made it hover right next to him and then picked it out of mid air with his hand. Pretty skilled. When we have better wifi we will download the video to youtube.

Our walk through the jungle to the beach was beautiful.  There are so many shades of green and leaves in every shape and size. I love the vines that hang 80 feet down from the tree tops.

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The chef from the Castaways restaurant here at Red Frog Marina, would like Ashley to bake some things for the restaurant, so she made a list of supplies she needs and we took the boat over to Bocas and dropped anchor so Danny and I could jump in the car (dinghy) and run into town. While we were there the creatures dove off the boat and swam around. When we returned I took a few shots of them.

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Before long they were all diving off the roof of the boat. I did that last night to cool off – dove off the roof, swam for a minute then shampooed my hair and washed up on deck at the stern.  It’s the best bath/shower ever.

While we were in Bocas we picked up the package that had arrived and it was the cable we’ve been needing for the radar.  I’m so grateful for Danny and all his knowledge on how to install all this stuff.

Mello day

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Not much happened today. We caught the 9:30am panga in to Bocas and the creatures and I did some grocery shopping. We stopped for a minute so they could enjoy an ice cream cone.


After that I assisted Danny in running a cable  for wifi down the length of the mast, which took a couple hours of work in the hot sun. He is so smart at all this technical stuff. Aidan and Emma decided that they’d like to try go up the mast in the bosuns chair.

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While Emma was up there she took a photo with her phone.

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I was so proud of them for being brave and for going up the full 75 feet.

A couple of the little boys from the Indian Village came by in their dugout, selling empanadas.  They are so cute and impossible to turn away. Aidan invited one of them on to Tanda Malaika the other day and gave him a bag of candy.  He was so excited.

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This evening Aidan sat for a long time with a fishing reel, trying to catch a fish.  We all of a sudden heard him yell, “I caught a fish, I caught a fish…oh gosh what do I do with it now, I should have thought this through!!” Danny taught him how to take it off the hook and they set it free.


We got an update on my sweet Dad this evening.  He had another appointment with his cancer doctor. A normal CA 19-9 level is 12, and at his 1 month appointment, it was just below 5000.  Today it was at 46000. This means that his cancer is spreading and growing at a rapid rate. He is weak and has added intense pain in his body. A CT scan and procedure to sever a bundle of nerves that are causing severe pain, will be scheduled.  I feel so helpless and so very sad. My parents are trying so hard to be upbeat and encouraging to everyone, but as difficult as this is for me, I cannot imagine what they are going through.

Snorkel Adventure

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Once again we have been having wifi problems. Danny has now installed a contraption that will hopefully help.  By this weekend, this marina will be completely full.  Cruisers are coming in from all over because here we are below the hurricane belt, and the more people there are in the marina – using wifi, the worse the service becomes.

On Tuesday, it rained most of the day so we used it as a laundry and cleaning day. Ashley hurt her back so she needed to rest it, and the rest of the creatures set out on an adventure with the dinghy.

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That night Danny and I went on a much needed date.  We walked through the jungle to a little restaurant on the beach called Punta Lava.


The view from there is amazing, and the food was fantastic. We enjoyed virgin pina coladas and watched the sun set.

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Yesterday morning we decided to take the creatures on a fun snorkel adventure to an island across the way. Ashley’s back was still hurting and I knew if she got in the water and moved around, it would help.

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We set off under blue skies, which are rare these days, and made our way past Bocas and then on to the greatest little snorkel DSC_0008    DSC_0010

spot called The Blue Coconut.  We dropped anchor and the creatures and I jumped in and explored for a couple hours.

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Emma was so excited because there were tons of starfish.  We also saw many jellyfish.

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We had so much fun, and at one point I asked Ashley how her back was and she’d forgotten that it had previously hurt 🙂

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We swam out all the way to the restaurant, and then tried radioing Danny at the boat to come join us for lunch, but he didn’t have the radio on. There was a boat full of older women just leaving and they gave me a ride back to Tanda Malaika.  As they passed her I dove out and woke Danny up from his nap and we rode the dinghy back to the creatures for lunch.

Our meal was delicious.  What a great treat for everyone.  My fish and chips were so good!

After that we got back in the water and snorkeled around the Blue Coconuts area and then swam all the way back to the boat while Jonathan and Danny rode the dinghy back.

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What a wonderful day in the water!

Red Frogs!!

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This morning us 5 girls went for our morning walk and explored an area we hadn’t been to yet.  It involved hiking up some pretty steep hills and down a jungle path.

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One of the fascinating things about living in a rain forest, is the amount of life that surrounds us.  Everywhere you look, there are parrots, toucans, sloths, butterflies, lizards, snakes, rats, iguanas, and insects in all shapes ans sizes and today…frogs.


We came across a path that we weren’t sure the destination of, and set out to explore. I was leading the creatures so that if a big black panther came rushing through to attack us, I could ‘keep it busy’ while they ran. Actually what would most likely happen is that we would scare the poor creature to death.

Almost immediately after entering the thick foliage, I saw a little red flicker across my path, and started yelling, ‘red frog, there’s a red frog, red frog.’ (For those that  don’t know me, you have to know that frogs and especially toads are not my favorite thing)

I didn’t feel any fear because I love photography so much and I kept the camera between me and the frog. (Maybe you should try that Mom!)

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After that we started seeing them everywhere.  They are so beautiful and stand out so distinctly against the green foliage with their little red bodies. Some had more spots than others, some had white feet and some had black. We saw a couple babies too and they were so tiny.

We found a place where zip lining is done and all climbed a shaky ‘staircase’ that made me think of ‘stairway to heaven’ because it kept going on and on up into the jungle canopy.

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The platform we arrived at was about 50 or 60 feet off the ground.  I was so proud of Ashley because she was nervous and really wanted to climb it and was able to work though her fears and did beautifully.

We heard intense thunder for about 2 hours and finally thought we’d probably best start heading back to Tanda Malaika.


We passed an area where the view was so beautiful, and we could see how high we’d climbed.


Wow!!! What a beautiful world!


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I’ve decided that it’s time I get my body back in shape.  I’ve been so lazy and have committed to myself to run or walk at least 3 miles every day. I woke this morning and while everyone was asleep, went for my run. I am in awe of the beauty that surrounds us.

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When I returned I told the creatures that I wanted to show them a couple sloths that I saw but couldn’t photograph with my phone, so we grabbed my camera and walked back to where I thought it was. En route we found a new beach.

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The locals call it Turtle Beach because the turtles come and lay eggs in the sand from June through end of August. The creatures and I had a goofy photo session while there.

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I love these kids so much.

On our walk back we found the sloths.

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It’s hard to tell what’s what, but in the second photo, the sloth has a baby and you can see its little arm wrapped around its mama.

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It’s amazing the beauty that one finds in the jungle. I’m so amazed at the beauty in all the little details.

One of the creatures spotted this butterfly on someones bow line on our walk back to the boat.


I am so grateful for my eyesight.

Adventure to Almirante

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There hasn’t been wifi the past couple days so I haven’t been able to blog, but here’s where our adventures took us:

On Saturday we prepped the boat to sail to Almirante – a town on the Panama coast that’s about a 2 hour sail from here.  This will be our routine every Saturday/Sunday, because it’s where our church is.

Before leaving, the veggies boat arrived.

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I love shopping at the veggie boat because I know it’s supporting these beautiful people, and it’s convenient with pretty good produce.

Shortly after that we released Tanda Malaika from the dock and headed out.

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As we moved along it was obvious that stormy weather was coming to greet us.  We were told that this part of Panama is the wettest part in the entire country.  No doubt about it! It pours every day.

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It was an interesting journey. When we live ‘normal’ lives on land with our usual routines, we settle into certain communication and habits.  Once an entirely new life style is introduced – with different routines, some of which we are completely new to us, our communication and interaction must adjust and develop. Everyone tries their best, and the creatures have done so beautifully.  They are all natural sailors.

Once arriving in Almirante, we could see that it was an extremely poor little town.

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We anchored close to an inlet that we’d have to dinghy up the next morning.

Knowing that it was going to be Fathers Day, Ashley and Emma had been talking and planning on what cake to make Danny, and I’d been trying to think of something good to serve for lunch.  The kids had excitedly walked through Bocas a couple days prior to try find something special for Danny as a gift, and had picked out a few little things, but nothing that he’d find meaningful. The thought and love was there though.

That night the lightning was spectacular.  It flashed brightly all night long and it rained hard.  Our anchor held firm, and on Sunday morning we dressed for church and made a couple trips to shore with the creatures.

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The girls looked beautiful as usual, with Ashley as our little mermaid on the bow of the dinghy. It’s hard to be lady like in a dress in a dinghy, but we made it work.

Church was wonderful with about 50 people there.  The girls were invited to a girls camp in September if we are still right here, and the services were in Spanish as expected, so none of us understood a word.  But it was wonderful to be there. When I arrived I became so emotional thinking about my Dad. I miss him and it hurts so badly knowing he’s in so much pain. My sister sent me this photo of him and I wanted to reach through the phone and kiss his face. He looks so frail.


I am so grateful for a wonderful Father in law too.  He is an amazing man with so much love that he freely offers me.

After church we rode the dinghy back to Tanda Malaika and found everything safe there.

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The kids were excited to give Danny his gifts at that point and we set sail and ate as we moved along. The winds were perfect on the way home and with the main and jib raised we gently moved along back to Red Frog Beach Marina, and best of all, Ashley and Emma’s cake was an upside down bananas foster with freshly grated coconut and it was SO GOOD!!!!

Rescuing a vessel

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My day began at 6am, in a way that makes me one happy skipper.  Baking bread.  It was my first attempt at baking bread on Tanda Malaika, and it felt so good to have my hands back in the warm, soft dough again. It took 3 times as long to bake as it does on land, and the bread wasn’t very pretty, but everyone loved waking to the smell on the boat and the taste of the mama bears bread. I also baked 4 dozen dinner rolls in preparation for our dock party this evening.

We set sail for Bocas, and on the way, a little French man in a dinghy came racing over to us, waving his hands and asking for help.  His sailboat was stuck on a sand bar and his engines had failed, so we took our girl over there and pulled him off the sand.

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We continued in to Bocas with music blaring, and as we sailed, Mycah and Jonathan danced like mad men out on the bow.

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After dropping anchor, a few of us jumped in the dinghy and rode into shore.


It was fun looking back at Tanda Malaika sitting pretty at anchor.

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After returning from town, Danny took a nap while the creatures jumped off the boat and swam for a bit. When we fired the engines back up in preparation to head back to Red Frog, and went to run the windlass to pull the anchor up, the windlass wouldn’t work.  We had to pull it up by hand, which takes a good amount of strength, and made us feel even more grateful for a windlass (when it’s working).

We’ll be getting right on figuring out what’s wrong with the windlass!

Our friends came over at 6, and we enjoyed a wonderful meal together.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the chicken I prepared in coconut milk and curry spices. Ashley and Emma made a delicious pineapple upside down cake with the fresh produce we bought from the pineapple boat.


Another wonderful day in Paradise.

Beach Day!

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This morning we woke to beautiful blue skies, and decided that a day at the beach was in order.  We also knew that the blue skies may not last, so we left first thing.

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We worked our way out of the marina and through the jungle and out onto Red Frog Beach.  It’s about a 10 minute walk, and so worth it!


We all immediately went for a swim, but quickly found that the ocean had a temper today.  There was a long shore current as well as a riptide, so everyone stayed shallow and Danny and I kept a close watch on the creatures.

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The waves were gorgeous.

Danny and I went for a walk down the beach while the creatures played  in the sand and relaxed.

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When we returned, Jude had dug a hole, and Emma had built a snowman/sandman.

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As always, I was fascinated by the beautiful flowers on our walk back.

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After returning and showering up we were ready for a nap.  The creatures watched Harry Potter and after sleeping for a bit Emma came in and woke me saying that the pineapple boat was here.  Jude and I went to investigate and came back with 3 beautiful pineapples – each for $1.

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This evening when I served the tribe dinner, I made them fresh pineapple/mango smoothies to go with their meal.  No one complained 🙂

I am grateful for another beautiful day surrounded by my sweet husband and children.