Day: June 17, 2015

Maiden voyage as a family

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I just realized that this blog didn’t post, so here it is – out of order.  It should have poster before “finally home at Red Frog Beach”

Our Maiden Voyage as a family was everything we hoped it would be, and then some! As we left Shelter Bay Marina in Colon, all the creatures stood excitedly on the bow, watching the huge container ships wait their turn at the mouth of Panama Canal. Slowly, the sight of land became more and more distant off the stern and to port, until it disappeared completely. Heaven. Nothing but rolling swells in following seas and beautiful skies.

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Just like in any other magical tale of the sea, dolphins escorted us on our way. First, bottle nose dolphins and then later in the sail, a playful pod of spinners came to bow ride. Each time this happened, everyone would sit along the bow and watch as they swam along, spread from the port side hull, all across the bow and either side of the starboard hull. The only sound other than water movement against the boat, was the occasional dolphin exhale of breath.

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Birds became more and more sparse, until the only variety of color and movement were large patches of golden seaweed floating together like a large community on the surface of the water.
The creatures settled into a routine of lounging in the beautiful warmth, playing cards and singing at the bow. Ashley sat perched like the little mermaid and sang Disney songs at the top of her lungs, and then the rest of the creatures joined in, all playing the guessing game of ‘guess which movie this song is from…’

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At one point Mycah came to me, filled with all sorts of emotion, and said, ‘Mom, Tanda Malaika is such a mother.  I  love her.  She keeps us safe and carries us to where we want to be.’
Emma has taken it upon herself to be in charge of ringing the big brass dinner bell every time it’s meal time, and then we spread ourselves comfortably around the stern dining area and enjoy our meals and talk of all sorts of things.

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After 16 hours of sailing yesterday, the boat (and our bodies) had become a giant salty mess. Everyone took showers and snuggled down for the night and Danny, Hannah and Emma sat talking at the helm for the last stretch to the Island. Danny said that Emma was doing her usual talking talking talking and then Hannah asked her if she’d like to lie with her head on her lap, which Emma immediately did, and before her head even hit Hannah’s lap, she was in a deep sleep.
Danny, Hannah and I set the anchor and finally went to bed. In the night a massive thunderstorm began.  Lightening lit up everywhere as far as I could see and rain poured down heavily on Tanda Malaika, washing off all the salt from the voyage.

At about 3am I woke to Danny saying, Darling, we have a leak, our bed is all wet. We hadn’t latched our aft hatch in our room and rain was running in. Also, water was dripping from our top hatch. We quickly fixed the problem and put dry sheets on our bed and secured the awning outside at the stern to divert the rain runoff, and just as I was about to change into dry clothes, I heard Danny calling saying we were drifting and were in 300ft of water.  I quickly woke Jude so she could help and in a flash she had her rain gear on and was outside, when Danny realized it was a false alarm, he read the chart plotter wrong.  Lightening struck again and we could clearly see that we were still anchored in the same spot.

We then fell into a deep sleep, the storm rocking us like babies.

Finally home at Red Frog Beach

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Anchored at Escudo de Veraguas, we woke to a scene of jungle, cloudy skies and stirred up waters. I grabbed snorkeling gear and swam to shore with Jonathan following behind.  We wanted to see what conditions were like to make sure it was safe for everyone else in the water. Because of the storm the night before, visibility was about 2 feet, and a swift current pulled to the west.  We walked on to shore and found a giant turtle nest, a huge trident trumpet shell and lots of debris from the storm, but it looked safe for the family.

We returned to the boat and everyone got ready to snorkel out. By now it was lighter and we could see abandoned huts on the  island.

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We all swam across, and explored for a while. Tons of loaded coconut palms, magnolia and bread fruit tress were everywhere.  Banana trees where bunches of young green bananas hung and beautiful white lilies covered the landscape. The huts were in great shape and most likely belong to the fishermen who come and stay on the island. We didn’t see any pygmy sloths unfortunately but will return many times again and when it’s not so stormy we’ll venture farther into the jungle. Six of us grabbed a coconut and we swam them back to the boat. Mycah swam hers back water polo style 🙂

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At this point I made a big pot of oatmeal with sliced bananas in it and we all enjoyed breakfast together then set sail for Red Frog Beach.

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Once again we were visited by dolphins.

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During the 5 1/2 hour sail we were rained on most of the time.  I love stormy skies, and the way the water looks when raindrops hit it.

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As we approached Isla Bastimentos, our home Island, all the creatures gathered around to see the dense jungle, and were so excited to finally be coming home.

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Men in dugouts paddled their way across the ocean in the rain, and a family in a motor boat passed.

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It stopped raining for a little while and the mist lifted off the rainforest.

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When we pulled in to Red Frog Beach, children from other cruising families ran down the dock to greet us,  and it felt so good to be home. After showering up Danny and I joined some friends for a birthday celebration and all the kids from 3 different boats gather on one of the boats for a movie and popcorn.

Another amazing day. I am so grateful we made our passage safely. We love our life on the water.