2 Years Living Aboard our Boat, What a Dream Come True….#48

This month, June is the 2 year mark for us being underway from our home at Columbia River Yacht Club in Portland Oregon. cropped-img_2364-2.jpgWhen we started this adventure, we thought that this 2 year mark we would be close to being done….but that isn’t the case. Our plans have adjusted multiple times, as they should when things happen. But we are so happy they did because we would not have experienced some places that we were not planning on going.

This first disruption of our plans was the overhaul in the Puerto Vallarta, Mexico  Shipyard at Opequimar. It took many more weeks than we anticipated. They did a great job but the length of time made us change our plans. We decided to head north up to the Sea of Cortez  for the summer. And what a great time we had! We would go back for sure and maybe someday we will do that. It was one of the best times we had.

img_6046One of the other best times/places, that was unexpected, was when we hit the San Blas Islands on the Caribbean Sea side of Panama. This was definitely in our plans but we were totally surprised by the level of friendliness from the native Guna Indians. We were blessed to have them share parts of their lives with us and we will never forget this memory. Also the beauty of the land and the hardship these people live every day to just survive is amazing. We were blessed to be able to experience it.

Now we had many small change in plans and we really only plan out the next stop just before leaving the current one. But the Sea of Cortez was a major change to our plans. One of the other major changes to the plan was just recently when the Covid 19 hit the world. We were in Jamaica  and we planned on going to Turks and Caicos and had family coming to join us. Well, of course that didn’t happen and we decided to undertake the longest run we had ever done, 4 days, alone with no crew. We made it safely to Florida and were glad to be in the US during these trying times.

We are frequently asked by people we meet about the roughest weather or worst storms. Of course you will all remember our cruise from Costa Rica to Panama, Our most TERRORIZING Cruise ever. We tell this story often to people we meet along the way, with wide eyes watching us as we point to the top of the fly bridge where the sea water attacked me in the middle of the night. This was a life changing event for me as a sailor and I truly respect the sea as it has its own agenda.

Of course, we are always doing repairs on the boat, well, I guess I should say Dan is always doing repairs. At least the repairs are being done in exotic locations, right?  Because repairs are so much of our energy, to keep moving and be safe I asked Dan what his most concerning repair was and why. This repair issue was the overheating of our main generator. It actually had two issues, but we did not know that at the time.

Being that the overheating was in our main generator and it was old, we had a bit of concern and needed it fixed quickly. We were in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico at the time, which adds to the complexity if parts are needed. The first issue was a clogged and leaking heat exchanger. It was very troublesome because it was difficult to disassemble, being old & rusty and was hard to get it unfastened in a very tight location. Eventually he was successful, but the part had to be ordered from Cook Engines in the US and then have it shipped. Because it was heavy and expensive part, we paid bucks! Customs in foreign countries can hit you hard. The second issue was found a couple days later after the heat exchanger was replaced. We had a worn out and clogged exhaust mixing elbow. The sea water passage had become clogged, limiting the flow which causes more overheating. We had lost our main generator again. But this time we had friends coming down and they brought the part with them in their luggage and helped Dan fix the elbow. All of this was a major concern because this was our main generator wired to our inverter. We had to use our alternate generator which limited us to 50 amps max.

The winner of best pictures is a slam dunk on “Sunsets & Sunrises”. So many I may need to create a picture book with all these pictures to put on my coffee table, someday!

 

 

 

I was not sure how to put these two years into a overall blog when there was just so much to talk about, So I thought I would put the last 2 years into a list of data points.

  • 730 days/2 years living aboard Angelique
  • 8,386 nautical miles
  • 7 countries visited
  • Cruised past 6 countries without stopping
  • 12 Scuba/snorkels dives – not enough times, for sure!
  • 1 new dinghy
  • 1 haul out/overhaul
  • 5 times we used 2 anchors – bad holding & bad wind/wave direction
  • 3 times major direction change in plans
  • 2 marina power failures while gone off of the boat – not fun!
  • 18 airline tickets purchased, traveled away from boat
  • 1 pandemic
  • 2 intruders
  • 1 awesome supermoon
  • 100’s of amazing sunset/sunrise pictures
  • 40+ dolphin sightings
  • 1000+ hours fixing & maintaining stuff
  • 24 engine oil changes
  • 1 stolen phone
  • 3 Airbnb’s – during shipyard work
  • 50 different visits from our friends/family
  • 4 different visits from Ken and Cheryl – Our good friends
  • 6 different visits from our kids, Kylie, Chase & Mitch
  • 2 Hired hands – who were brothers
  • 2 Navy football games attended – different cities
  • 40+ motorcycle rides
  • 48 blog posts about our adventures
  • 75+ books read (hard, on-line & audio)
  • 100+ bicycle rides
  • 60+ Uber and taxi rides
  • 27 nights Angela spent on boat without Dan
  • So many new boating friends/acquaintances
  • 2 very grateful and blessed owners of Angelique

As we reflect back on the past 2 years living aboard our Motor Yacht, Angelique, we are amazed at how far we have traveled, IN OUR OWN BOAT! So many awesome memories we have and we are EXTREMELY GRATEFUL that I have been writing them all down in this blog. Also, incredibly grateful to our friends and family that have joined us and helped with moving the boat in those times we needed it. And of course, all the people we met along the way, which are now new friends with which we will hopefully keep in touch.

I hope that if this is something you are interested in doing, that you do it! Yes there are rough times, lots of maintenance and repairs. But what an adventure you will live and relive as you remember what you accomplished.

We hope you and your family are healthy and happy. Blessings to you from Dan and Angela on MV Angelique 

The San Blas Islands, A Magical Place…Travel with Us to See… #40

“This is it… This is What I Have Been Waiting For”

Years and years of longing and dreaming about going to Panama in our own boat and anchoring at the San Blas Islands, where the natives row up in their canoes and trade or sell stuff.

I know, you are asking WHY was this my dream.

Well a little history. Back in 2011-ish, don’t even really remember the year for sure, Dan and I were in San Diego. We enjoy boat shopping while we were in areas with yachts. We had stopped at a couple yacht brokers and asked to see motor yachts with the particular features that we were looking for. During one of these stops we had a fairly young broker that showed us a few boats for sale. After the tour the broker invited us back to his office, he was going to do some type of research for the questions we had asked. img_6038During this point I asked this young 20-something broker  “how did you get into this business”. He told me something about his family always had boats…. Blah, blah, blah…. But then he said, “he and his wife spent a year in Panama, San Blas Islands on his sailboat living off fish, swimming and trading fresh water with the locals for fruits & other local items” That was it, I was hooked! I told Dan, that is what I want to do! I think it just sounded so romantic and alluring being anchored off islands and the local come up asking for stuff, just for basic survival.

~And so, our dream began~

Let’s walk through a bit about these beautiful Islands, San Blas.

  • Over 340 Islands
  • A lot of islands are unoccupied
  • The locals are Gunas Indians
  • The local Gunas call their Islands “Guna Yala”
  • Approximately 55,000+ Gunas across the islands
  • The Islands are officially part of Panama as a country
  • The Gunas have their own laws and are not governed by Panama
  • The law is set by chiefs on each island, some have multiple levels of chiefs
  • No Guna is allowed to inter-marry a non-Guna, unless with approval from chiefs
  • You can not be on these Islands after dark, unless approved or staying in a hut
  • The islands all have huge reefs around them
  • The Guna people speak a combination of Spanish and Guna (the local language)
  • Almost no crime on these islands and they are non-aggressive people
  • Most recently the islands near the Colombian border have had some crime
  • Fresh water and electricity are in short supply
  • The economy runs on selling coconuts. The coconut trees are all owned by someone that collects them and gets income from them. You are not allowed to take any coconuts
  • The husband moves into the wife’s compound and she controls the money
  • The Guna Flag has a swastika on it. The flag was created before German Nazi took the symbol as their own.
  • Barely touched by the modern world
  • Some Guna’s will not let you take photo of them, some will charge you $1 and some are okay with the photos being taken of them.

After dreaming about this for so long, I didn’t really know what it would feel like or even look like. But with all dreams our minds/brains attach some type of image to how “we” think it might look or feel like. That is, until it becomes real. Then you are able to replace it with the “real” pictures.

“Your dreams MUST be put into action, otherwise it is something you do while you sleep”

The Islands felt like time had just gone by them. The kids had the run of the island and everyone knows whose kids they were. I’m guessing like a small town might be, but this is a very small town that you can’t leave unless it is a boat. Everyone takes care of each other. They are all in the same boat together, no pun intended. The rules and laws set by the Chief of their island or islands. (usually an older, very respected man) Time is mostly governed by the sun, they depend on the sea for food and sell coconuts and other hand made items which generates some income. Some have jobs on the islands and some go away to work. They are such a helpful, friendly group of people. I cannot ever remember meeting such warm welcoming group of people.

Our main goal was to see as many islands as we could, but also keep out of the swells and stay safe while anchored. When we arrived at a new island the canoes are all in force, coming at us from all directions as we are trying to anchor. They want to be the first one in and against our swim step as we turn off engines and go to greet them. I can’t understand them, they speak a mix of Spanish and guna (their own language) but I’m assuming that they are in a bit of a friendly competition, it is money for their family. The first couple canoes in against our swim step get the honor of stepping out on to our boat and showing off all their goods. The others hang back a bit and hold them up for me to see. The canoes are mostly full of ladies with their beaded bracelets/anklets, head bands, etc. and their molas.

“A mola is an elaborate handmade embroidered panel”

60443156900__ee390d91-0f37-4d38-9e5a-0c4e927865426e0c30f5-046d-43a9-bad3-473b0b375009The Molas are beautiful and range in price from $5 to $40 depending on the size. I am doing my part with keeping their families fed by purchasing as many as I can. This process is overwhelming, viewing and picking out what I like. They start pulling out their goods and laying them out one over top another. I cannot see them all, there are just too many and many different ladies. At some point I start to pick the ones that I have no interest in and hand them back so I can narrow down my choice. When I am done buying or picking out the ones I like, then I ask how much for the ones I picked out. This is usually a miming exercise with me holding up fingers and pointing to the molas that I have picked out… uno, doce, trace…. $5, 10, 15 fingers go up or whatever the price and quantity happen to be. A very limited group can speak english or know the amount in english. I can see the ladies happy and sad faces. Some I bought something from, some I didn’t. It is really hard for me. I wish I could buy something from everyone, but it is just not possible. This happens at every island we pulled into. Once in a while we got someone selling something unique or different, a small wood carved items & a bone/gord type rattle.

Later we might have boats that come with fish, lobster, crab, bananas, limes, mangos. Sometimes the Gunas are looking for fresh water. We like to trade with these guys as much as possible.

img_5443Our first english speaking Guna was “Nester”. Nester was a nice man that helped us learn more about the islands, he took me over to the island by his dugout canoe to check into the San Blas Islands. Nester cleaned a couple fish for us that we had purchased from a boat. We took them on a cruise in our boat when we moved from one island to another. We gave them some of our food and drinks to try out and visited with their family. We were invited back to his home, served coconut water with a straw in the actual coconut. This is an honor, because they sell their coconuts. Dan tried to help him with his solar unit that wasn’t working well.

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Dan helped a couple Gunas with their outboard motor. (very few had motors). He was surprised that they didn’t really understand much about their outboard motor. He helped fix the spark plug and off they went.

We heard that different local man had homemade bread daily. So we went on shore early one morning to find Alfredo and his bread business. Alfredo also spoke pretty good english and we later learned that he is the second level Chief over all the islands and had just come back from a trip to Panama City to discuss schooling. The small rolls we got were $0.15 a piece. We bought $2.00 worth. We ate a couple and froze the rest. While we were on shore we stopped by the local market that had only a few items, Rice, some type of wheat, bottles of juice. That is it, period.

Another Guna with english skills was “Justino”. He came and asked us for help with his solar unit on his house. He said that his wife would have handmade jewelry for me. Dan did some of the same type of diagnosis but this time he was more prepared with what to bring with him. Dan wrote down what he needs to buy in town. We then took them over to a neighboring Island to accomplish a few things that their island didn’t have. We were just his taxi service. In trade the next day Justino gave us a river tour and took us to where the trees are cut down to make the canoes they use. Dan was also excited to get the bottom of our boat scraped by a local, Ronaldo who was Jusitino brother-in-law. Ronaldo did the whole boat in 3 hours with snorkel only. These people are amazing.

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Some islands now have water pipes leading to their island. (not exactly sure how, but they do) Some Islands are close to mainland and family members with 5-gallon jugs haul 8-10+ containers in their hollowed-out canoe to collect fresh water from a river and back. They do this every day. Pictures of “nesters family getting fresh water from us. They do have schools on some islands that kids attend until 9th grade & a town hall where grievances are brought forward and worked out with chief.

We also visited an island where you could rent a hut. It isn’t as crowded with homes and such as the other islands were. Dan chatted with a couple ladies that said they were from Canada and had nothing to do, they were board stiff. Not much to do on the islands, that’s for sure.

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Pictures of mushroom, bark with sharp needles sticking out & used for pain medicine, mangroves we floated underneath & some type of tree with red petals.

Islands we visited in our 11 days at San Blas

  • Isla Povenir
  • Wichubhuala
  • Nalunega
  • Chichime Cays, Uchutupu Dummat
  • Bahia Nalia on Punta San Blas
  • Islas Robeson, Tupsuit Dummaat (aka Gerti)

We wanted to visit more islands and stay longer but the weather was not cooperating. Just too much wind/waves & swells to keep us there.

So here we are living the dream and seeing what the real images look like. Replacing our dreams with real memories. Not just made up in our brains. We are “Living Life to the Fullest Extent!”

If you are busy dreaming up something of your own and you are not putting action items in place to help you achieve it. Remember it will remain only a dream unless you work towards it.

Cheers to those that dreamers that are working towards living those dreams!

Congrats! 

Dan Literally Saved my Life and A Waiting Game on Caribbean Side…#39

We have been sitting at “Shelter Bay Marina” after our Panama Canal Transit, waiting for the wind, waves and swells to subside. We weren’t planning and certainly didn’t expect this at all, we had hoped to keep traveling within a day or so after our arrival. We wanted to head to the San Blas Islands for a few weeks and couldn’t even leave the Marina. img_5403-1Our friends Ken and Cheryl decided to leave and come back at another time. It was hard to see them go!

Thanks Ken and Cheryl!! 

We were lucky the marina was inside the breakwaters of the Canal, we had very little movement other than the wind blowing. We could actually see the breakwater wall from our slip inside the marina and it wasn’t a pretty sight with large wave lapping over the 9 foot seawall. (of course there is high & low spots along this wall) The 3 pictures I included are from “windy.com”. You can see both side of Panama with the wind blowing over the land (green). The Waves & Swells are the dark pink/Red pictures, which isn’t a good color. Light blue/white is good. Red is not. So we will stay put until it is better.

Shelter Bay Marina is sitting on a piece of land that has old American buildings on it from 1903 – 1980’s. These building were put in place when the USA built and managed the Canal. The Jungle Warfare school was here for some years. We walked around part of it and drove past the other part while in the shuttle bus into town. Most of the buildings are empty and falling down, but it is fun to look at them and think about how they were used. We can also see lots of wildlife here too. Monkeys, parrots, many types of birds, ants, termites, wild cats (one pregnant one), cockroaches, spiders… I’m sure snakes and scorpions too.

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We were also invited to multiple different events with other boaters! It is fun to get to know all these people from all over the world. Scotland, Wales, England, Netherlands, Denmark, & USA were the countries represented. We had events on the “Undaunted” motor yacht and “Super Tramp” sailboat. And you think we have traveled far with our boat… Not as far as some have.

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A Life Saving Event….

One evening Dan and I went to the restaurant for dinner. We don’t go too often but had worked hard that day on some projects and I didn’t want to cook. I got lucky and we sat outside on the patio. Normally it is too hot, but the wind was blowing nicely and the sun had set.  We had ordered our meal and my Daughter Kylie had called me and we were chatting about her Volleyball team. She coaches a club team and they are doing really good this year. They got 1st place on their last tournament and were planning for the next. I was super excited for her. Dinner came and I didn’t want to stop talking, so I put her on speaker and sat the phone down on the table. (okay maybe not the best decision, but we were outside and not near anyone). As I was eating while chatting and I started to choke. I had taken too big of a bite of my steak and it was caught in my throat. I knew I was in trouble as I quickly stood up, hoping Dan would figure out what had just happened. If you have ever seen this happen to a person, they can not talk or breathe. Dan had good situational awareness that evening, he was trying to figure out why I was standing up when Kylie was chatting with me. He quickly saw that I was choking and started to perform the Heimlich maneuver. Two pulls on my stomach and it hadn’t come out yet. He was a bit panicked. I felt it move but it wasn’t hard enough pull. Dan did it again and it popped out onto the ground, just like they say. I was grateful and thanked Dan for saving my life. He was more shook up over it then I was. I was more embarrassed and just processing what had just happened. I certainly had gotten distracted by my phone call and wasn’t really paying attention to what I was doing. (no multitasking when eating, haha) I decided to tell the story in hope that others would learn by my mistake. Please, Please be aware of the signs and how to perform this process, I’ve included the link as a refresher.

CLICK HERE for refresher on how to perform the Heimlich maneuver

When thinking back on this event, it all happened so quickly and I didn’t really have time to think about what could have happened if it didn’t work. Dan and I have chatted multiple times about what happened and I am so very grateful that it turned out well and I didn’t leave this earth earlier than I should. The impact to my family and friends would have be devastating. I have so much yet to do and give to others with this life, I’m just not done yet! I am definitely bless and count them every day.

THANK YOU for being part of my life! To my family, friends, acquaintances and those that are following our adventures that I have never spoken to… THANK YOU for reading and following our adventures!

Love and Blessing to you All.

-Angela ♥