Month: February 2017

Checking the lists

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With only 5 more days till we transit the Panama Canal, we are done with our ‘big jobs’ list on Tanda Malaika and are now checking the last few things off on the ‘smaller jobs’ list. Today Danny checked cleats and tightened them.

The last thing we need is a loose cleat when line handling through the canal.

The creatures pulled out all the anchor chain to remark it.

It was recommended to us when we first started cruising, to use zip ties and mark the chain every 25ft. We quickly found that the salt water and sun was hard on the zip ties and have now used the next suggestion given to us…spray paint. We are told it lasts about a year, which is longer than what the zip ties lasted, so we’ll see how this goes.

We had some coconuts that needed to be husked, so Aidan, Emma and Jude went to work on those.

They take up far less room once the outer husk has been removed, plus the messy part of the job is now completed, so we won’t have stained decks from husking them on the boat while underway. The creatures have some seriously fantastic skills with coconuts!

This afternoon our friends, Hannah and Rodger, and their dog name Marianna, came over to visit. Everyone worked on art projects while Danny and Rodger played on the guitars.

Marianna made herself at home and received lots of attention from us all.

I made a huge bowl of stroganoff for everyone for dinner, and now the creatures have placed a big white sheet up outside and are watching movies from Rodgers projector. We meet such amazing people everywhere we travel.

My sweet mama has had a rough winter. While I was there visiting her she had pneumonia, and today she spent time in the ER as they did scans and tests to find she has Diverticulitis. She is so weak and and her lower abdomen is uncomfortable, but hopefully the meds she’s been given with get her better in no time at all.
I am so grateful for good health and a wonderful family.

Life at the end of E Dock

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Our croc friend has been enjoying the sun about 50ft from Tanda Malaika, and is so adorable. Look at that face, he’s so cute!

My jungle walks still amaze me. It’s so beautiful see the many variations of green, in palms, pampas grass, massive trees, vines, and various bushes.

As I walk I hear bird calls that sound like droplets of water, and they swoop over me carrying twigs for nests. Their bright yellow tail feathers so brightly contrasted against the blue sky and green jungle. Butterflies zigzag through the air and foliage and finally settle someplace before quickly taking flight once more.

Berries and flowers in all shapes, sizes and textures fill spaces between leaves and branches.

It looks like we’ll miss mango season, and plenty of fruit is on its way. Many of the mango trees are blooming.

We made another trip to Panama City, this time to Price Smart – a sister store to Costco. We filled two grocery carts with provisions for our crossing, which happens to be the easy part of the process.

Running errands is always fun with Danny and Mycah, because they are constantly teasing each other.

On our way home we picked Jude and Kiffin up from another canal crossing, and treated them to frozen yoghurt. They felt like they’d died and gone to heaven.

The painful part of provisioning began the next morning when we awoke…removing labels from cans and relabeling them with permanent marker, scrubbing out lazarettes, and reorganizing and packing. Emma made a marvelous pyramid with the cans.

I am so grateful for the extra storage we have under the galley floorboards. Cans fit perfectly. We have two areas like the one in the photo for storage, as well as various others..

All pasta, flour and rice now have fresh bay leaves in them to scare away weevils.

Tanda Malaika was measured for canal transit, and we have been given a new crossing date of March 4th.

Once we are through we will head to the Pearl Islands for a few days, then to Ecuador where we will explore up into Peru and Bolivia. We will stock up on fresh fruit and veggies there, then will not hit another grocery store till we reach Marquesas 6 or 7 weeks later. It’ll take a few days to get to Galapagos, well spend about 3 weeks there, then take about 3 weeks to get to Marquesas. We have exciting adventures ahead! We have met a family who are traveling the same route that we are, and have had fun getting to know them. There is always safety in numbers when traveling…as well as extra comic relief.

Today we will continue working on projects, organizing and cleaning. Life is good and as always, exciting!

Farewell for now

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The past couple of days we’ve had to say ‘see you later’ to some pretty special friends. Yesterday was to a beautiful family we have come to love so much. They are headed in the opposite direction than we are – across the Atlantic and over to Europe. The creatures have all become inseparable and it was tough for us to see them go. A big group hug seemed like the best thing at at the time…

Such a fun group of kids!

Danny cheered the creatures up afterward by being goofy.

Jacque and his dad also left, but they are headed the direction we are, so chances are we’ll be running into each other along the way. (Hopefully not literally). We love Jacque so much and have really loved having him as an added family member. Aidan, Emma and Mycah line handled for their transit through the canal.

Danny and I ran our injectors to Panama City this morning, so they can be cleaned. It looks as if the previous owners never cleaned them all.

They will be ready and good as new tomorrow. Since we were already on the Pacific side, running errands, we hung around and grabbed the 3 amigos when they reached the Pacific side. They had a good crossing and we just tired and hungry.

On the way back to the marina tonight, we found a sloth crossing the road. It was so cute. They come down from the trees once a week to go to the bathroom, so hopefully we didn’t interrupt his business too much.

We have been trying to book a transit date for the canal, but it is ‘Carnival’ time, and everyone is taking the entire week off work. As of right now it appears that the soonest everyone will be back at work, is March 4th or 5th. We’ll see what tomorrow brings…

Monkey’s and a Mission Call

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As always, life is always full of adventure for the Tanda Malaika crew. A couple of especially exciting things have happened in the last few days, the most exciting being that Kiffin received her mission call for our church. She has chosen to devote 18 months to being a full time missionary, which means going where ever she is sent and felt to be needed most. She opened her call and read it aloud to us and is going to Harare, Zimbabwe! I was born there! What are the chances of that…it’s just unbelievable. It used to be called Salisbury, Rhodesia. (it’s the little country shaped like a tea pot right above South Africa.) Kiffin will arrive in South Africa at the training center on July 27th, and after her training is complete, will travel to Zimbabwe. I am so excited for her to see Africa and to meet the beautiful people there!

There other exciting thing that’s been happening, is that the creatures decided to go camping. In the jungle they discovered an abandoned church, and being sailing kids, they rigged up a brilliant web of lines from which they hung their hammocks.

Eight campers in all took their hammocks to be hung. On the first night that they slept there, around 4:30am, a large monkey type creature entered the church, screaming loudly as monkeys do. They said it was about 5ft tall, hairy and jumped up and down – about 3 ft high off the ground, and after coming into the church making lots of noise, it left and didn’t return the rest of the night. None of the kids could get back to sleep the rest of the night, and instead all chatted about what on earth it could be. Jude and Aidan had wrapped themselves like cocoons in their hammocks to hide from it. Mycah had sat up and asked, ‘What was that???’ And the rest of the kids discussed whether Sasquatch could really be real and how big Howler monkey’s get around these parts. When they came to the boat the following morning they were pretty shook up and wondered if it could possibly be someone from the marina playing a joke on them. After asking around they found no one who would admit to it. The kids did comment that the monkey sounds were extremely loud and real sounding and they didn’t know anyone that could jump quite like this creatures did.

Last night they slept out there once again, and they said that around 3am, the same creature came back. It was just as loud and entered one of the back rooms of the church, and made a bunch of noise outside. It carried on for a while, went quiet and then around 4am got noisy once again. After last night they are completely convinced that it is in fact an animal and are referring to it as the Demon Monkey. All their hammocks are now neatly rolled up and back on Tanda Malaika.

We hauled our girl out of the water on Friday, and Danny, Emma and Greg the mechanic, worked on the sail drive all day.

Emma was Greg’s apprentice and learned a lot as she worked by his side. On Saturday, everything was done that had to be done out of the water, and they once again ‘splashed’ us.

Emma stayed close with the dinghy in case we needed a nudge and she did a marvelous job as always.

Mycah and Jude scrubbed the engines until they were squeaky clean.

They did such a good job, and all the creatures scrubbed decks to get some of the grime from the boat yard off the boat.

Tomorrow we will call the Canal Authorities and ask them to start the paperwork so we can cross through the canal. We are excited to get going and continue our adventures on the water.

Projects

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The past few days have been busy with projects, and each evening I have fallen fast asleep before writing a blog entry.Our sails have been beautifully reinforced and mended, and we combined forces as a family and raised, furled and flaked them once again.

The wind picked up slightly but we used Mycah as a giant paperweight!

Kiffin is becoming quite the little sailor. She’s already been through the Panama Canal twice and knows her knots! She is so fun to have around.

As we attached the mainsail, the creatures scrubbed it down, washing all the grime away. Everyone was drenched by the end of it as the hose got away from me a few times…by mistake.

Jude was so happy to see the sails up again that she just lay on the trampoline and smiled as she looked up at them. We can’t wait to go sailing again.

Jacque is Aidans sweet friend, but has been ‘adopted’ by our family. He is so much fun and spends 90% of his time with us.

Today Tanda Malaika was hauled out of the water so we could replace her sail drive.

Kiffin, Jude and Emma ran the dinghy along the side to push our bow when we needed it, since we are just on one engine right now. They did a good job.

Soon we where in the haul out slip and ready for business.

It’s a little unnerving to see our home out of it’s natural habitat!

Now for some serious projects!!!

Queen of the Marina

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It’s been fun to get back and see the relationships that the creatures have formed with our fellow sailors here in the marina. As I mentioned in my last post, everyone loves the creatures and have in some way or another been touched by them. Mycah seems to have become the Queen of the Marina! One cannot walk anywhere with her without someone calling her name and greeting her with a smile. Every morning she teaches yoga upstairs in the lounge and those that attend adore her. She instructs in a calm clear voice that everyone dials into as she does the splits and places her body in amazing positions.

There’s complete silence aside from her reassuring voice.

And in the end when everyone is meditating she walks around to each student (she had 21 today), and gently rubs Eucalyptus oil into their shoulders, necks and temples.

I watch her and am so proud of her. So happy for her. She is strong and compassionate and has been described by many to as one with an old soul. I love Mycah so much. What a beautiful person.

She also works as a waitress in the marina restaurant and everyone loves her hard working and efficiency skills. She is really progressing so much in her Spanish.
Last night Mycah broke out her new Teton Guitar that we purchased for her as an early graduation present, and played and sang at open mike. Her voice is improving all the time and sounds so beautiful.

I walked down an abandoned road that loops through the jungle this morning, and as usual was not disappointed by the beauty there.

Everywhere I looked, there was life, each busy with their special jobs. Leaf cutter ants meandered along the forest floor and crossed the asphalt path, disappearing into the forest on the other side.

A beautiful caterpillar was headed in the same direction…

and crocodile paths lay flattened and empty, ready for the next big croc to use the same path.

Vines climb the side of tree trunks reaching high to find sunlight,

Old Army buildings still stand tall like a scene from The Jungle Book movie, and I try to imagine what it was like back in the day…

An old church also stands solid, and if one listens carefully enough, singing and sermons can almost be heard.

I walked back to the marina, taking one last glance at the old theater that is now a sail loft, and I am grateful to return to my floating home, where water lapping against the hull lulls me to sleep at night.

Home sweet home

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Danny, Kiffin and I arrived in Shelter Bay safe and sound, and were greeted at the taxi by lots of hugs and kisses from the creatures. We had all missed each other so much. Kiffin is a family friend from Idaho who is going to spend until somewhere around the end of March with us, at which point she will be leaving to serve a mission for our church. Her and Jude have been friends since they were small.

The creatures had done such an amazing job taking care of Tanda Malaika, and many people in the marina pulled us aside and complimented us on having the greatest kids. We’ve heard how well behaved they were in our absence, and how helpful and polite they were to their fellow sailors. It makes us so happy to see how they are so independent and strong in character and integrity.

It didn’t take long for Jude and Emma to find themselves and Kiffin another line handling job through the canal.

Once the boat owners passed Danny’s safety test, the time came and they set out on their grand adventure.

The boat they are handling for is a 27ft monohull with two owners on board so It’ll be a tight squeeze for five people…but tons of fun.

This is the fourth time through for Jude and Emma, and will be a wonderful new experience for Kiffin.

I heard from the girls about an hour ago, that they have safely reached the lake and will continue on to the Pacific side in the morning.

In the mean time, the kids have been introducing me to some of their new friends in the marina. One of them is Anna, who is 3, and she loves the attention she receives here. Mycah put a mask on her face and Anna decided she needed some too…

She’s so cute.

Aidan has been passing time by playing soccer, skate boarding and exploring the rainforest.

I love the friendships we form as we travel around. The world is so full of amazing individuals who one can learn so much from – if you’ll just listen to their stories.

I’m so grateful for parents who raised me to be open minded and non judgmental. Life is good.