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The Maiden Voyage

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This morning when we woke I rushed up stairs to make sure it hadn’t all been a dream…

What I found was water so still, it had the perfect reflection of the surrounding rainforest in it, little birds flying in and out of the maze of mangroves, and sleepy boats laying neatly in their slips.  The only sound was a rooster crowing from some nearby Indian huts, where smoke was rising from their morning fire.

Danny and I quietly untied the dock lines and motored out to where the fuel dock is.

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$391.00 later, with both 52 gallon diesel tanks and the dinghy’s gas tank filled, we motored off on our morning adventure.  The great thing about sailboats is that the diesel will last a very long time, since we use the wind to move us, rather than engines.

We passed by beautiful homes nestled in the jungle along the beaches, and a dolphin came to say good morning.  He rode the bow as we moved along, then darted off into the deep.

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We sailed past Bocas town, which was already bustling with morning water taxi’s, and headed North with the mountains of Costa Rica in view.  Our Panamanian flag flying proudly in the wind.

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After a while we let the anchor down and swam.  The water is incredibly warm, yet cool enough to be refreshing.  We took turns scrubbing Tanda Malaika’s belly.  It’s not until you start to scrub that you realize her size!  We have plenty more to work on tomorrow.

Danny is an amazing Captain.  He handles the boat boat like he’s been sailing it his entire life. I’m one lucky girl to have him as my Captain and Sweetheart.

Red Frog Marina

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It’s beautiful here, and the especially wonderful part is that I haven’t seen one single frog yet! Perhaps they are afraid of me;)

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We met some of our neighbors.  One couple named Steve and Di are from South Africa. He is quite the character, and reminded me of some of my crazy uncles.  Steve is the guy to call if you have mechanical issues you can’t seem to fix.  Di has leukemia and recently completed her second round of treatment. Steve says she’s an excellent cook.

We also met Dan and Lisa, who grew up on a boat in Channel Islands Harbor.  They home school their 9 year old daughter, and asked if I thought Hannah would be interested in making a little money a couple days a week, by tutoring her to give them a break. (though I can’t imagine requiring a break from only 1 child lol) Dan is the marina manager.

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The rainforest and mangroves that we are surrounded by are so dense. The sound of birds song is heard constantly and there’s a full, rich smell in the air that hangs thick in the humidity. Danny found a machete in one of the compartments on the boat and got this mischievous twinkle in his eye as he held it up.  Who knows what is to come from him and his adventures into the jungle!

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This cool old boat has been converted into a restaurant here in the marina.  We hear the food is jolly good and pretty cheap.  We’ll give it a try one of these days.  We were also told that on the beach, a man sells kabobs for $1.50 that are to die for, also that there’s a shack close by where the best shrimp and fish tacos can be enjoyed.  Looks like we are in for some fine dinning.

Finally Home!

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Today has been an absolutely amazing day. We are finally home on Tanda Malaika.  As I write this I am snuggled in my  bed under the quilt I made for Danny, with him by my side…it’s a little bit of Heaven.

We flew from Panama City to Bocas. It was interesting to look out the window as we took off from Panama City, to see all the vessels lined up waiting their turn at the canal.  There were hundreds of them.

The airport in Bocas is tiny…

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Here’s the baggage claim:

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My favorite, were the garbage cans.  Quite genius, I think!

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Bocas Town is a fun little town on Isla Colon.  There are brightly painted buildings lining the streets, many small grocery type stores, and places to purchase hammocks, backpacks, bags etc.

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Once the water taxi was ready to leave, our mountain of luggage was loaded and we set off for the Red Frog Marina. Along the way we passed by all sorts of structures on stilts in the water.

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After our 10 minutes ride we reached the marina and were greeted by Rafael, the security guard, who was full of smiles and welcoming wishes.  He helped up haul our load to Tanda Malaika.

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And there she was, sitting pretty in the water, waiting for us – her new family. It was fun to walk through her as Danny showed me everything.  She is beautiful and perfect for our family. There is plenty of room inside as well as top side for everyone to spread out.

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On the steps at the stern we noticed a house warming gift from the sea…a squid had made it’s way onto the boat and lay lifeless.  Poor little guy.  We gave him a burial at sea where he was quickly gobbled up by some Snappers.

Panama City

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Today my Sweet Darling and I flew from LAX to Denver, then Denver to Panama City.  We tried to stuff everything we possibly could into 4 big pieces of checked luggage, so we could leave it on the boat.

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Danny is the absolute best travel companion.  He thinks of everything and is so sweet and patient. Tomorrow morning we’ll continue on, beginning at 5am, and fly into Bocas, then take a 10 minute water taxi ride to the boat. We are beyond excited!

Beautiful Sabbath

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This morning when I woke up, I moved the blinds aside and opened the sliding door to the balcony off our bedroom, and the scene was so picturesque. Peaceful, misty and so quiet.  Like I had stepped into a watercolor painting.  We have loved our home, and will definitely miss it. (But are so excited for the next adventure) The kids were out swimming at 9:30pm a couple nights ago, and started again at 8am.  As soon as the twins are done with their school work during the week, they are off kayaking, building ‘starfish sanctuary’s’ and paddling around the waterways on their surf boards, and Hannah is happiest on her sailboat.  We are a bunch of harbor brats. Life is good, and I am so grateful.

So, tomorrow Danny and I will be on our way to Panama for a week.  We will be beginning the instillation of our radar system and making sure that the work that had to be done on the engine, is completed.  It’ll be my first time stepping foot in/on our new home.  I’ve been on ones just like it, just not Tanda Malaika.  We have purchased a dive compressor which we will box up and ship down soon too.  We have many oceans to explore 🙂

Dolmades

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One of the things that bring me the greatest joy in life, is cooking, and in particular, trying new recipes.  I especially like to try recipes with ingredients that I’ve never heard of before so that I can learn new tastes and flavor combinations.  What makes me even happier than cooking, is to see people REALLY enjoying what I’ve cooked.

My sweet Father in law is Greek, and I love to try cooking Greek dishes for my Darling – since his Mom used to do that for him.  Today was my first attempt at making Dolmades. If you haven’t had them before, they are a meat mixture (most often lamb or a combination of lamb and beef), wrapped in a grape leaf, steamed and served with an avgolemono (egg-lemon) sauce .

Here’s what I cooked up today, give it a try…

Combine:

1 1/2 lbs ground lamb

2 medium onions, finely chopped

2/3 cup long grain rice

2/3 cup chopped pine nuts

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp chopped mint

1 (8oz) jar grape leaves

1 1/2 cup water

Mix all the ingredients together and place a tablespoon full in the center of each grape leaf.

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fold the bottom over the meat, fold in the sides, and roll into a tight cylinder.

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Place all your cute little grape leaf cylinders nice and snug together in a skillet – seam side down, and then pour the 1 1/2 cups of water over the top.

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Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium low and cover. Simmer for 50-55 minutes.  Check occasionally and add more water if needed.

When they are cooked, serve them with some Avgolemono sauce over the top:

2 eggs separated

1 Tbls water

juice from 3 lemons

broth left from the Dolmades

Beat the egg whites till foamy, add in the yolks, lemon juice, water and then also the broth. Whisk it all up over a little heat, making sure the egg doesn’t get funky on you.

It made me SO happy to see Danny and Hannah’s reaction when they ate it.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

P.S. A couple things I might do differently…I’m going to add a little more mint next time, and less meat on to each grape leaf.  I placed more than a Tbls worth on each leaf, but all that did was not allow you to taste all the flavors in the correct quantities to balance out the amazingness in your mouth.

Layout

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Several people have asked for a photo of our boats layout. As you can see, as you enter the main salon area from the stern, the galley is to starboard with salon seating forward.  There is lots of storage under the salon seating. This is also a navigation station starboard of the salon seating.  Going downstairs to port, turning aft there is a head with toilet, sink and shower, and farther aft is the double berth. Moving forward, is another head, (all heads in port and starboard hulls are designed the same), and forward of that is another double berth.  There is a doorway that leads from that double berth to the far forward single berth, which also has hatch access above it.  The starboard hull is the mirror image, except that the single berth in that hull is only accessible from the hatch. That single berth also has a head.

Danny and I are flying out to Panama early on Monday morning, to install the radar system on the boat, and when we get there I will post photos of the boat.

Now it’s time for you all to get your passports so you can come visit us!!