The Marquesas

April 28, 2024

Having dropped anchor in Taioha’e Bay after 21 days at sea, we had quite a few chores to attend to. But first, Angela and Gerry from MV Celt came over to have a celebratory beer with us. At 9:00 am. Then we had to start to clean the boat. It was not too bad as we had tried very hard to keep he poopy Boobies off as much as possible and cleaned up the poop as best we could along the way. Most important, we had to show the main engine some love. Change engine oil after 496 hours. Change the oil filter, fuel filters, Raycor filters, check coolant, and a few other things. I think I could hear the engine say aaaaaahhhhhh when the clean new oil went in. Fortunately we had not needed to use the generator for the duration of the crossing so did not have to do the same for the generator, or the wing engine.

I had to also do a lot of housework, the floors, walls, heads (bathrooms) tables, everything needed to be wiped down and cleaned. The fridges needed a cleanup, stove top, kitchen sink, and I had to vacuum the carpets. All the mundane household chores which had been largely ignored for 3 weeks now needed attending.

We also had a fair amount of garbage to take ashore. While we don’t have access to garbage disposal, I try to keep the garbage to a minimum and separated. All food waste goes down the Insinkerator, bottles, tins and jars get rinsed and kept in a separate basket. Food wrappers get cleaned and go in the bin along with tea bags and other items that will not start to smell and make life unpleasant.

Stepping ashore was also like a new experience, our sea legs were well and truly entrenched so to us, it felt like we wobbled our way up to the garbage disposal area and down to the market. Standing at the roadside waiting for a passing car, I felt like I should hold on to the sign post incase I stumbled. It took a while to feel normal again, and it was quite a relief when at last it happened.

We made it!

April 10, 2024

On day 21 after departing from Panama, we saw the island of Nuku Hiva looming out of the ocean ahead of us. The voyage had been uneventful, fortunately. The last 4 days, the water was quite unsettled and so it was hard to do anything significant. Frank did not put any fishing lines out, we had a testy experience a couple days earlier with a Marlin, we had to stop in the ocean, the fish went under the boat and Frank eventually decided to get in the water to make sure the line was not tangled in the running gear. And after a long fight, the fish was alongside. I don’t know what we would have done, we needed to get the hook our of its mouth and let it go but how do you do that when it has a meter long spear sticking in front of it? The fish took matters into its own hands and took off like a rocket, taking the hook and very expensive lure with it.

I did all the laundry on the last day, and did a bit of housework to make the boat a bit presentable, and Frank slept till a bit after sunrise, although on that morning there was not much of a sunrise, but that allowed me to be the one to announce ” land ho”. I was very happy to see that land. All the while out there, it took some resolve to not think too hard about the magnitude of what we were doing, the distance between us and well, anything. The engine and all its associated equipment, hydraulic pumps, water pumps, the shaft, shaft bellows, cooling systems, hydraulic systems, performed flawlessly but Istill sometimes wondered, what if… It is 53c in the engine room. Imagine having to work in there for any period of time if Frank and to fix anything.

So there we were, 3900 miles later, patting ourselves on the back for a job well done. A huge achievement. The longest ocean passage conquered. I would not say this was a bucket list item for me but its done now. Yay!!

Still bobbing along – day 18

March 22, 2024

Last night we suddenly received a VHF test on the radio. Frank had never heard of this before. The next thing, we hear Kariwa, Kariwa, Kariwa on the radio. It was the captain – yes, the captain, at 2am – of the car carrier passing within a few miles of us. He asked if we had any problems because his mate had called him after receiving the same test signal on VHF. They thought it may be us sending a distress signal. After all the formalities, he and Frank had a half hour conversation about shipping. He was from Estonia and his deck officers were Russian. The rest of the crew were from India. He was en route Chile to Japan to pick up 5000 vehicles. The sea was (and still is) quite rough, 7ft on the beam. We are having to hang on while trying to move round the boat. Needless to say, I will not be cooking tonight, so, out come the frozen dinners I made before we left.

We had a bit of a moon last night, a waxing crescent moon so it comes up and goes down in almost the same place and is only visible for a couple of hours. After having total darkness recently, it seemed very bright out there.

I am still busy with my knitting, it has been slow going. Frank is trying to edit video but its hard concentrating on the screen while the boat is moving around like this.

Day 19

Conditions are still the same. I managed to have a shower and wash my hair, was a bit of a struggle but its done now. The drinks fridge in the pilot house had cans rolling around making a noise so I have restocked it. We do not have alcohol at all on passage, so when I say drinks, I mean 7up, Coke, Fresca etc. for Frank. I drink only water. I did put some beer in the fridge in the galley in preparation for arrival in Nuku Hiva.

Its a desert out here

March 11, 2024

We are on day 14 since we left Panama and day 9 since Galapagos. For the first few days out of Galapagos we had a nu bar of birds flying sround, they would come and take a perch at night and poop all over the deck. In the last 5 days we have seen a bird only briefly and he did not stay the night. We have not seen dolphins or anything else either. Its only us.

The Sea state is a bit weird this morning, not more rough than recently but must be the angle because the boat is quite jerky, enough to make me seasick.

The cycle and routine continues as normal, I keep watch from 8 till midnight and Frank from Midnight till 4am. Yesterday we set the clocks back an hour, we selected San Francisco as your time zone but guess what? Yesterday was the day for daylight saving in USA so this morning we were back where we started. We are now on the time zone of Adamstown, Pitcairn. The only place we could find in this zone. Tomorrow we change another hour.

Frank caught and landed a huge Wahoo the other day. He managed to get it into the cockpit but it smashed the plastic tub as it dropped in. We packed 10 meals from that fish, so all in all a good day.

Being a Sunday, we had a hot breakfast. I decided to make omelette and I don’t know why I do this, the appropriately sized pan is one of this copper infused (supposedly) non stick pans but let me tell you, the eggs stick to it like sh.t to a blanket. I am tempted to have an oopsie moment and drop the piece of junk overboard. We had scrambled eggs, not omelettes.

I am knitting a baby hoody because knitting is a hobby of mine. Problem is that at night I can’t knit because the garment is small and finicky and I can’t see it. During the day its a great way to pass the time.

And away we go

March 7, 2024

We left our dock in the marina just before midday to move over to the fuel dock. We had planned to take on 1800 gallons of diesel, 750 of which would go into the ATL fuel bladders. There is a 300 gallon bladder on the foredeck, and 3 x 150 gallon bladders in the aft cockpit. Frank decided to go for the 150gallon bladders because the lazaret would be inaccessible while the bladders were full so we would be able to empty the centre bladder early in the voyage. It took over 2 hours to load all the diesel.

Also, we could not leave the marina before high tide at 16:30. The tide would be 16ft and we would need all of that in order to get out over the sand bank that had developed near the entrance to the marina. Captain Paul of Striker fishing had kindly offered to go ahead of us in his SportFisher boat to check the depth and to tow us if we got stuck. Fortunately we managed to get out without any issues and waved goodbye to Captain Paul, Filipe and everybody else in Buenaventura.

As we sailed into the sunset, the sea was quite lumpy with 6ft following seas. Kariwa was very heavy and heaved up and over the swells quite comfortably. The lumpy seas continued through the night and in to the morning and eventually settled around midday on Monday.

Getting ready for the Pacific crossing

March 2, 2024

We arrived back to the boat after a month away. All was well. Everything still worked. That is always a good thing.

We set about taking stock of everything on board and trying to decide what was still needed. Food, filters, and other spares. Frank set about ordering parts, and I made lists of what we needed to provision. We had a rental car and so were able to easily get to the shops, near and far. One of the things we needed was propane. We had to drive to Aguadulce, just over an hour North of Buenaventura. It was quite a scenic drive through farming country. There were a number of fruit vendors on the roadside, and a few dairy farms were offering milk, yogurt, artisanal cheese and related products. Once we arrived at the Panagas station, it took less than 10 minutes to get filled, pay and be on our way.

After numerous trips to the grocery shops, I figured we had enough dry goods to last a good few months. I started cooking meals to freeze.

I chopped up pineapples, paw paws, watermelon and froze them to be used in smoothies.

I decanted 2l milk into smaller 500ml bottles and froze them.

I made egg bites and froze them.

I cooked Irish stew, boboti, chicken with spaghetti, savory mince.

I made rusks. Rusks are a South African dry (cake, cookie, biscuit) packed with All Bran Flakes, raisins, sunflower seeds and then dehydrated. The recipe I have is for a double sized batch so it uses 2 bricks of butter, a whole bag of flour, 2 cups of sunflower seeds so it is not cheap and takes a lot of effort. Imagine my horror when I realized I had forgotten to add baking powder to make the All Purpose flour into Self Raising. The rusks are like little bricks but we have to eat them so into the coffee they go! I subsequently made another batch but made extra sure I had remembered everything. I can’t wait to finish the bricks so we can start eating the pukker rusks.

I made ginger biscuits. My recipe is nice and gingery but I always add an extra teaspoon of ginger.

I cooked beetroot.

I made picked red onion and beetroot.

Amongst all the cooking, I also took time to remove the labels from all the tins, and write the contents on the top and side of each tin. A big job, we have a LOT of tins.

I also removed everything that was in a box, from the box, wrote baking/cooking instructions on the plastic bag, and packed them into baskets.

And I consolidated jars or other containers. I don’t know how but we had 2 open jars of mustard, 2 open jars of Mayonnaise and a couple of other things.

We changed engine oil and filters on all the engines. Checked coolant, fan belts, fastenings, hydraulics, switches, connectors.

We rushed out at the last minute to get a spare alternator. And one last visit to the supermarket.

Frank installed the new navigation computer which packed up just before we went to South Africa, he spent a good couple of days trying to get the system up and running, with latest software charts. His perseverance paid off because within days of our departure, he got the system up and running. Well done Captain. Oh, and of course the touch screen on the Microsoft computer packed up at the last minute. Frank managed to get a new one sent out and installed on time. I think tech is his A game.

The day before departure, he discovered a problem with the hydraulic switches in the pilot house. After a bit of to and fro with Yachttech, we found a blown 5amp fuse, Easy fix… not so fast. The next morning the switches were again not working. It didn’t take long to sort it out, it was related to the fuse box.

Also on the day before departure while doing our last minute mad dash to the shops, Frank discovered a South African Butchers shop in Coronado. Fancy that. Unfortunately they were sold out of biltong and boerewors, but he bought their entire stock of droewors. Droewors is a thin sausage made from dried meat. It lasts long and is a great protein snack.

It is Sunday morning and we are ready. The marina held a little farewell for one of the long term boats but we declined to party with them on Saturday night. We hope they understand.

All that is left, is to get over to the fuel dock and load up 1800 gallons of diesel and then head out.

Road traffic in Panama can be crazy

February 28, 2024

We needed to leave the boat in Panama while we travelled to South Africa for my daughters wedding which was at the end of January. We are currently in Buenavista Marina which is about 75 miles from Tocumen International Airport. 75 miles would normally take about an hour to an hour and a quarter to drive but the marina manager pointed out that we are traveling on New Years Day so we should allow extra travel time due to heavy traffic returning to Panama City from the Riviera Pacifico. We opted to allow 3 hours travel time and arrive 3 hours early at the airport. Our flight was at 2am so we left the Marina at 7pm. Well, the laugh was almost on us because we arrived at the airport at 12:30am. Fortunately it is not very busy at this time of day so there were no delays with check-in or security. On the other hand, the only place open in the airport was our gate.

We waited and waited and eventually somebody came and informed us that there was a technical problem which the pilot has spotted while doing his rounds and the technical team was en route to check it out. Tick tock till 4am when it was announced that a new plane was being brought as the problem was more serious than initially estimated. Well, I was relieved that the pilot was on his game. Imagine finding there is a problem at 33000 ft. We boarded and eventually took off at 5:30am. Remember, we had not slept yet. And of course we had missed our connecting flight but luckily Frank had a word with the agent and we had already been booked on the next available outbound flight. None of the other passengers on our flight were that lucky.

We eventually got home to the apartment after 4pm. 20hours after we had left the marina. We were pretty tired and so had an early night and slept well.

Panama Canal Crossing

February 15, 2024

We have prepared as per instructions from our agent … and are ready.

We picked up the pilot in “the flats”. The wind was blowing over 25kts, and the swell was steep and short. These pilots, and the captains of the pilots boats make it look so easy, but as boaters, we are fully aware of how tricky it is to achieve the transit from one boat to another. We did not lose our pilot or get our boat damaged in the process.

Our pilot Juan was a young guy, he was well qualified having attended Kings Point in New York, and he had also been a 2nd officer on Disney cruise ships. He explained our position in the chamber as well as what other vessels would be with us. Initially we were to tie up with a tug boat so the canal authority sent out some paperwork for Captain to sign. This changed before we even arrived at the chamber and we ended up tying to the side wall. He warned of the strong wind and current upon entering the first chamber. His warning was spot on because as the line handlers were attending to the bow lines, the stern was being pushed way from the wall and because we were up against the tug ahead of us, there was little Captain could do to maintain position. Fortunately the line handlers managed to get the situation under control before we did a 180! This was my 2nd time to be grateful for professional Line handlers. They also made very sure the fenders kept the boat off the side wall at all times. As soon as the lock gate closed, the chamber started to fill up and it went surprising quickly, and soon t was time to move on again. We were the last two leave the chamber.

In the next chamber, we tied up alongside a passenger ferry, on the opposite side of the chamber.Again the line handlers did a great job of pulling Kariwa alongside and securing the lines to the ferry boat and placing the fenders appropriately. The third chamber was a breeze, and before we knew it, we were steaming through Gatun Lake to Gamboa. Gamboa is a small town near the Pedro Miguel locks on the pacific side of the canal infrastructure. Here the line handlers secured Kariwa to the mooring buoy and the pilot boat came o collect Juan. Time to relax and decompress from the days activities. We fed the guys and soon everybody was taking a bot of private time to talk to their families and prepare for sleep.

The next morning after breakfast and tea, we spent a couple of hours watching the northbound ships passing relatively close to us. It reminded me of the days in Hong Kong where we had to cross the shipping channel when leaving or returning to the marina. A new pilot joined us and we proceeded to the next lock. The new pilot (I never got his name) was also very professional and knowledgeable. He was also relieved rot see we had Panamanian line handlers. He said that usually cruisers get their buddies to help and it is not great because generally the buddies are captain of their own boats and on a boat there can be only one captain. We had to speed up a bit through the Galliard cut to arrive timorously at the lock. We had to pass a Seatrade container ship to enter the lock. It was quite a nerve wracking experience but Frank handled it like a pro. On the pacific side there are three locks, the first is Pedro San Miguel which is only a single chamber. A bit further along, there are the Miraflores locks which have two chambers so we tied and untied lines three times again. In the Miraflores locks, the Seatrade was behind us so as the ship was entering the lock, we had to have our engine going astern because the ship was pushing all the lock water ahead and up against the lock gate.

Lets just say that when that last lock gate opened, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. We steamed ahead into the Pacific ocean, dropped the pilot off and proceeded to La Playita Marina. The line handlers came with us so did all the line handling and secured us to the dock. Thanks guys. We slept very well that night.

Canal Crossing Preparations

February 15, 2024

Since returning from San Blas, we have been preparing for our canal crossing. We are using an agent to assist with bureaucracy and have decided to use the professional line handlers. Because of the size of Kariwa, we will have a pilot as opposed to a canal advisor. We will also have 4 line handlers.

It seems we will transit in the afternoon so all the canal crew will arrive soon after lunch. Here is the kicker. We may have to anchor overnight at Gamboa which is close to the Pacific-side locks. This means the line handlers will stay on board. 4 people? We have to feed them hot meals and provide bottled water. That will be the most people we have had on board. Ever. I am busy preparing food in advance. These guys are getting Boboti for dinner. Hope they like it.

We changed all the Racor filters yesterday, and also the fuel/water separator on the wing engine which happened to be leaking. We also got a grease gun to grease the nipples on the steering rods. We can’t risk anything going wrong during this transit. The fines for having a break down or delaying a lock closing are crippling.

Frank has discussed a strategy for leaving the dock in 25kt winds. The wind will be from the aft starboard quarter and so will blow the stern away. The plan has been decided. We will keep a long bow line, then let go all the lines starting from stern, working forwards except the bow line. This will cause the stern to blow around and we will do a 180deg pivot to face the exit. Fingers crossed. Fortunately the line handlers know what to do. I will be filming all this. Once outside the marina, we will be in “the flats”, which is a big anchorage for ships and cruising boats, where we will pick up the pilot before heading over to the first lock at Gatun.

Food is ready, cabins are ready, line handlers are on board. Lets do this.

Living the life in San Blas

November 27, 2023

We left Shelter Bay Marina a week ago, and headed NE, our destination was San Blas but we stopped for the night in Portobello, an interesting settlement, steeped in history. The little harbor area is well tucked away from the open ocean but the swell overnight had things flying off the counters periodically. From there, it was another 5 hours to San Blas. Frank chose East Holandes as our first stop. We found a safe anchoring spot with no trouble. There are a few sail boats anchored in The Swimming Pool and boats are coming and going almost every day. After we had settled in and launched the dinghy, we started to explore. We stopped at the largest of the islands and met Ibin. Ibin is a Kuna who left the islands to become a chef in Panama City. He met the owner of a mega yacht who offered him a job on board. Ibin then ended up in French Polynesia where he spent a couple of years but family and local commitments saw him return to San Blas where he has set up a restaurant on the beach. He has plans to build his own Bora Bora, starting with 3 honeymoon suites. He has lofty ambitions and I have no doubt he will fulfill them. He is already growing all his own Papaya, squash, plantains and other vegetables. We had a great meal there. Well worth a visit.

Every now and then one of the Kuna will arrive at the boat in a cayuco selling fish or lobster at a very good price so we have saved them the trouble of circulating to every boat, and bought all the lobsters to enjoy at a later date. A few of them were small so we threw them back in the water.

We have been to a few snorkel spots, most notably the sand bar which is surrounded by coral. When looking down into the water it appears to be crystal clear. Not so much once we jump in with masks on, it is always a bit milky but still beautiful to snorkel around. There is an abundance of coral and relative to Bocas del Toro, not much dead coral. I am a bit disappointed in the fish life tho, nothing special to see, no rays, no trigger fish, no lobster, just the usual most common reef fish. I did see an octopus in his den and set the GoPro up to try and get him to come out but the camera fell over and when I went to sort it out, I noticed it was not working. RIP GoPro. Honestly, the camera takes very nice footage underwater and above but I have had such problems with it I am kinda glad it’s RIP coz at least now I know for a fact I am not going to have any footage as opposed to always hoping the GoPro is behaving. I just don’t know of any viable alternatives. The DJI Action does not get very good reviews.

Today the wind is blowing 15 to 20 so it is a boat work day. I have been cleaning showers and heads (toilets) and now I am waiting for the generator to come on so I can do laundry. Proof that boat life is not all fun and games.

Time for a bottom job.

November 16, 2023

We had arranged with the marina to have the boat hauled in order to give her a new coat of anti fouling paint. They ordered the paint and told us it would be an overnight job. Because of the oppressive heat and humidity we decided to get a room in the hotel for the night as we would not be able to run the air conditioning while not in the water. First world problems.

On Tuesday afternoon the boat came out of the water without incident and the workers immediately set about pressure cleaning and then scraping the bottom. By the end of the day, the hull was almost ready for paint. The following day, Wednesday, they finalized the sanding with sanding machines. Come Thursday, nobody was able to get to work due to ongoing protest action taking place country wide in Panama. One day wasted. Friday, it rained most of the day. Another day wasted. Saturday, it rained almost all day. Another day wasted. Monday, it was not raining and all workers were present in the yard, but nobody was working on Kariwa… until Captain Frank started shouting, albeit via WhatsApp. The marina manager, the yard manager, the boat services supervisor, they all heard from him. By knock off time at 5pm, the bottom was fully painted. Tuesday they lifted the boat and painted the keel where it had been resting and an hour later we were back in the water. Yay! Finally! Over a week later! Not quite the overnight we were hoping for. The bottom was red before, it is now black. I think it looks pretty good.

Being in the hotel room was no fun, it is small and there is only one chair so the other has to sit, or lie on the bed all the time. There is no “free wifi”, instead you have to pay for it and it is just not the same (read SLOW) as having StarLink on board. The boat is hot and stuffy, so also not ideal for spending days, but at least the wifi is good and we can have tea or any other food whenever we want. Swings and roundabouts as they say.

After we launched, as soon as we docked, I loaded up the washing machine, and then went about cleaning the inside. It is amazing how dust settles when nobody is on board. We also went to the shops the next day, to resupply the food stores a bit. And bought a pressure cleaner. Now, 3 days later, I have to admit, its nice to be back on board. The pressure cleaner sure makes cleaning the decks outside a lot easier, I need to bring it inside and try it in the showers. I hate cleaning those areas.

We had a visitor

November 10, 2023

Wednesday evening, Frank suggested we go for a sundowner at The Dock restaurant in the marina. I do enjoy a sundowner so was only too happy to oblige. A few minutes later, one of my daughters, who lives in Cape Town, South Africa walks in. I was so happy, what a surprise. But I had to confess to them both, I already had suspected they were up to something. Frank is pretty good at organizing these surprises for me but this time, I had figured it out a few weeks earlier. My suspicion was confirmed when we were watching the Rugby World Cup semi-final on TV in the salon, we were able to watch it because Frank was mirroring his phone to the TV as the game was only available on his phone. Technology, it can be great but can also confound one to such degrees of frustration. Anyway, to cut a long story short, at half time he resorted to messaging Jodie on WhatsApp, but neglected to stop mirroring to the TV. I could see everything they were saying. All this was being planned during the height of the Panama protests and it was touch and go as to whether she would be able to get from Panama City to Shelter Bay or not. It was a brief visit of only one week but I was not complaining.

We took a cruise from Colon to Bocas del Toro, and had planned to stop at Escudo De Veraguas on the way up. When we arrived at Escudos at 8pm. the wind was up to 26kts and it was raining quite hard. We slowed a bit to see if the storm would pass but eventually decided to press on to Bocas. We dropped anchor there at 2am. We visited the town of Bocas, went for supper at Palmar on Bastimentos and snorkeled and chilled in Dolphin Bay before heading back towards Shelter Bay. The protests had intensified and we did not want to risk the flight from Bocas and taxi ride to PTY airport.

We dropped anchor at Escudos De Veragua in the afternoon and took a dinghy ride around for a couple of hours. This island is truly beautiful. The water is clear, and the place is deserted. We decided we would do some adventuring around the following day. But, Mother nature had other ideas. It rained and stormed the whole day. Well, at least until after we raised the dinghy in the late afternoon. We never did get to adventure around or snorkel at Escudos which is a great pity. This island is only comfortably accessible in favorable weather conditions because the anchorage has very little protection and so can be quite rolly. We had to be back on Shelter Bay for Jodie to get to the airport in good time for her flight on Friday.

Jodie left, mommy was sad, but life goes on. Thanks to Frank for arranging this surprise for me, and to Jodie for coming all this way.

Right now, Kariwa is out of the water to get the bottom painted. Unfortunately due to protests and public holidays, it is taking much longer than anticipated.

Plane rides and back surgery

October 22, 2023

Having been in shelter Bay Marina for a while, we decided it was time for a break. The Captain was happy that the services offered by the marina boat care division are good enough for our precious Kariwa and booked us a passage to Florida. It took a long time to decide whether to fly to Miami, a 3.5 hour drive to the apartment, or Orlando, a 1 hour drive. He settled on Miami because it was half the price of Orlando. It’s a no brainer.

Just over 2 years ago, Frank had a DLDR (Deuk Laser Disk Repair) on his back by Dr Ara Deukmadjin in Melbourne, Florida. Dr Deuk repairs the disks instead of doing a spinal fusion, by removing the herniation from inside the herniated disk end the disk then heals itself. The whole procedure is done laparoscopically so is minimally invasive. Frank walked out of the surgery centre an hour after the procedure. Last week he had a rhizotomy at the same place (Deuk Spine) which is essentially a severing of the nerve endings which relay pain messages from the back to the brain. For anybody interested in this revolutionary new surgery, you can search for Deuk Spine on Youtube. They have a facility where you can upload your MRI and Dr Deuk will review it at no charge.

The following day we started our journey back to Panama. On a one way ticket.

The check in staff at Copa Airlines were not happy with the fact that we had a one way ticket and a cruising permit for the boat and ended up calling us to the boarding desk 15 minutes before boarding, insisting that we have a return ticket. Frank booked these within five minutes and they gave instruction to load our bags and boarded us. As soon as we landed in Panama he cancelled the return leg. I am sure the airlines are aware of some of these regulations and so allow free cancellation within 24 hours.

Our taxi driver Chico was a few minutes late to pick us up due to heavy rush hour traffic in Panama City but he got us safely back to Shelter Bay within 2 hours.

Saturday morning we took the marina bus to Colon to stock up on a few provisions and look for a washer for the kitchen tap, We did not find a washer but managed to stop the leaking tap using other ideas.

It has rained on and off today which is a good thing, the Panama Canal is suffering due to a lack of water.

We are planning to return to Bocas del Toro via Escudo deVeraqua and Zapatilla next week.

Bocas Del Toro to Shelter Bay September 2023

September 28, 2023

The thing about being on a Nordhavn is that for the most part, Nordhavn owners seem to gravitate towards each other, so we end up meeting a lot of like minded cruisers. The latest people we have met are Tony and Laura who have recently bought a Nordhavn 57, and, quite coincidentally they are from our neighboring town in Florida. We met them in Bocas Del Toro, Panama and we spent a few days touring around Dolphin Bay together. While in Dolphin Bay, we went snorkeling. The coral as outstanding so we really wished we did not have to leave the following morning, but we had planned to  head East to Shelter Bay with our new cruising friends. They were happy to have us for company on the overnight trip, it was their first solo trip on the boat.

We spent Tuesday morning preparing for the passage. I made food which we could heat when necessary, we checked up on fuel supply, lifted the dinghy on board, stowed all unnecessary items, made sure all doors and drawers were latched. We lifted our anchors at 1pm and headed around Isla San Cristobal, then out through the gap between Isla Coronera and Isla Bastimentos. The seas were quite rough because the water gets squashed between the two islands and of course I was unprepared for this so the seasickness set in. Once we were outside the swell was quite big but coming on the beam (side of the boat) so it was quite comfortable. Too late for me, I was already feeling desperate to lie down and sleep which is exactly what I did. Until Frank shouted “fish ooooooon”. Suddenly it was all systems go, reduce speed, advise our buddy boat who was directly behind us that we are slowing down, get the gaff, run downstairs ready to bring the fish on board and of course, we were eager to see what we had caught and just hoped its not a barracuda. The fish did not put up much of a fight either which was a bit of a disappointment.  It was a tuna! We had never caught a tuna before. So much excitement on board. To be more precise, it was a Black Fin Tuna, and yielded 6 decent fillets. We had sashimi as a snack. I was a bit freaked about eating fish that raw and so fresh it was still warm. Similar to drinking milk even before it has been refrigerated. It did taste great tho. 

The night passage was uneventful, seas were beautifully calm with hardly any wind. Engine checks held no unexpected surprises. I Love this boat. There was no marine traffic out there, only Kariwa and the running lights of our buddy boat Laura Jayne about a half mile behind us. We had a great push from the current and were doing over 9kts practically the whole way. This resulted in us having to pull back and slow down to avoid arriving at the marina  before 7:30 am. As it got light we could see many many ships at anchor, awaiting a turn to transit the Panama Canal. Frank counted at least 50 ships on the radar screen.  We navigated our way between some of the ships and entered through the break water.

We contacted the marina once inside the breakwater and by the time we arrived at our slip, they had changed our designated slip at least 3 times. It was getting confusing. After all the confusion, we docked on a t-head, starboard side to, the best type of docking for us. Not long after we had tied up, the heavens opened and it poured with rain for about half an hour.

The reason for the backlog of ships outside the Panama Canal is because of a shortage of fresh water in Gatun Lake due to a few consecutive drought seasons. This has necessitated them to limit the number of daily transits as well as restrict the draught of ships able to transit. My take on all this… if somebody doesn’t figure out a way to pump water from the “down” lock to the “up” lock, or to pump sea water into the locks,  this while operation will eventually grind to a halt. I am sure somebody has thought if this already 🙂

Where we are now, and what is next.

September 15, 2023

September 2023

We are now in Bocas Del Toro, Panama. Bocas Del Toro is a beautiful archipelago on the North Caribbean coast of Panama. It consists of 9 islands and many many mangrove islands. The water is crystal clear most of the time. Sometimes after heavy, prolonged rain, it may be a bit murky for a few days but that soon clears. The water is not blue like Bahamas, but rather, looks like it has a green tinge to it. This is probably because it is surrounded by equatorial rain forests since Panama is only 9deg North of the equator. 

We spent over a month at the dock in Red Frog Resort Marina but decided to head out to anchor just over a week ago. The breezes at anchor are sublime. You don’t realize the importance of the breeze while at the dock. It keeps insects at bay, and of course the cooling affect is always welcome. It is very hot and very humid out here and there is no escaping the heat. One sometimes feels like a hot soggy mess and of course, for the ladies, our hair does not like such humidity.

We left Florida almost three months ago and are still enjoying meat which filled our freezer to the brim. We have not purchased any meat in Bocas yet. There is a shop that sells meat and fish which has been recommended so we will try it soon.  Fresh produce is available in abundance and is of a very high quality, mostly locally produced (in Panama, not Bocas) It does however, not keep for as long as produce bought in USA. This is a good thing in my opinion. We go to the mercado (market) every Tuesday because the supply boat brings fresh supplies every Tuesday morning. The supermarkets, of which there are many, are well stocked and you can get everything you need. It’s just a matter of homing in on the brands (or alternate items) that you prefer. It’s reasonably affordable. We still have stores of dry goods like pasta, rice, sugar, instant coffee for the Admiral (me), This brings me to another point, I like ordinary black tea which is not so popular here and it took me a while to figure out what is what on the tea shelves. Thank goodness for the pictures on the packaging which helped in identifying ginger, mint, camomile and the rest. The only nondescript packaging was labeled Tê Negro which is self explanatory. I have to use two bags to get a decent strong cuppa.

We have been to a few restaurants also. It is always nice to enjoy nice freshly prepared meals. We have found the offerings to be very good, and again, affordable. Many places have Happy Hour, or BOGO drinks during certain hours. That always helps.

Some mornings a local lady comes around in her cayuco (canoe) selling empanadas for $1 each. They are filled with chicken, cheese and vegetables, and are very tasty. As far as we are concerned, great value for money. So, by buying from her, we are helping to support the local economy which gives us the warm and fuzzys and helps her support her family. It’s a win win situation. 

And now for the what’s next… for now we are enjoying being in Bocas, and so will stay for a while longer. We will probably go down to Shelter Bay and a few other places further south to explore. We would like to go to the San Blas islands. However, now is not the right time because of the prevalence of electrical storms. We would like to avoid a lightning strike at all costs. We may go through the canal before the end of the year or early 2024. We have a wedding in South Africa at the end of January so everything has to hinge around that. No need to make a decision yet.

Cruising Bocas del Toro Panama… Beautiful eco paradise! 

August 24, 2023

Three weeks after leaving Florida and stopping in Dry Tortugas and Cayman, we arrive in Bocas del Toro, Panama. What an amazing place. Often called the Galapagos of the Caribbean it provides a huge diversity of animals and fauna above and below water. This is why we travel to explore! The rainforest and equatorial region…provide an exquisite beauty.

Sailing Grand Cayman to Bocas Del Toro, Panama. 3 nights, 4 days.. large beam swells

August 6, 2023

This is leg 3 of our journey to Panama from Florida. We visit Grand Cayman, then commence a 80 hour voyage with large beam swells and the threat of pirates.

Sailing from Dry Tortugas to Grand Cayman, cruising on a Nordhavn 62. 480 miles/ 55hours

July 29, 2023

Our journey to Panama continues with a passage from Dry Tortugas to Grand Cayman. We mix in some live video broadcasts and real uncut video. It’s a long video but can be watched in parts. We have mixed weather and some rain squalls….

Sailing on a Nordhavn 62 from West Palm to Panama, Part 1, Riviera Beach to Dry Tortugas

July 24, 2023

This tells the story of our 36 hour journey from Riviera Beach Marina to the Dry Tortugas, en route to Grand Cayman and thence to Panama… or to be precise Bocas del Toro.

Sailing is not all White beaches and Blue seas. Nordhavn 62 maintenance and upgrades

July 7, 2023

We spend time in Riviera Beach City Marina doing regular maintenance tasks and, upgrading our Starlink. This is in preparation for the trip to Panama! Watch as we carry out routine work in the ER of the Nordhavn 62…

Cruising the Bahamas, Emerald Bay to south Ragged then returning to Florida via Chub Cay

June 24, 2023

This video has some great shots of Nordhavn 62’s cruising together, as well docking and undocking the vessels. We also passage from the Exumas to the Ragged Islands and return to Florida via Chub Cay.

Sailing in Bahamas with Ciguatera (Fish Toxin Poison). Eat fish!!? Then is a must see!

June 1, 2023

Whilst in Bahamas we became very ill with ciguatera, this video documents how we dealt with it! We also mention the symptoms, the long term effects, the manner in how we fell ill. This impacts many cruisers and there was 8 of us who got it in one sitting!!!!!!

Nordhavn 62 single handed sailing and travel in Cat Island and Eleuthera

May 23, 2023

Part Three of the Bahamas trip. Sailing with our buddy boat and family crew. Plus sailing single handed on the Nordhavn 62 while the Admiral visits South Africa. Some good shots of docking in Emerald Bay Marina.

Bahamas Sailing.. Avoiding weather, engine checks, exploring underwater and eating!

April 20, 2023

This is part two of the Bahamas this season. At 8:09 we have some drone footage of the Bahamas that I think explains the beauty of the country. We also have some great lobster cooking, some fun snorkeling and using underwater scooters. As well as the normal boat checks!!

Sailing to the Bahamas on a Nordhavn 62, diving with Tiger shark and a risky docking!

March 12, 2023

WE DO NOT HAVE ACCESS ASHORE FROM PORT SIDE, HENCE THE NEED TO DOCK STARBOARD SIDE TO! This is the first video on the trip across to Bahamas, detailing our journey with a buddy boat MV Zarpe. We also do some underwater escapades. Arrival Bimini proves to be exciting and challenging… docking with the current!!

Prepare to go sailing on a N62 New anchor, batteries, etc and we catch up with friends

March 4, 2023

Back in Florida we catch up with friends and provision for Bahamas. We also do repairs, upgrades and maintenance…. new batteries, new anchor and other interesting work… How heavy are the batteries, what is our new anchor?

Sailing/Cruising from Guatemala to Florida via Honduras Bay Islands on a Nordhavn 62

January 15, 2023

Sailing from Rio Dulce to Roatan, Utila, Guanaja and onto the Florida Keys. This is about the journey, the weather, the boat and the adventure. We return to the USA after 4 and half months away. See us diving, snorkeling, in bad weather, cleaning the boat… AND see two other Nordhavn 62’s. 6229 and 6232…. Do you know the names of those 62’s? Watch the video as we catch up with them also.

Nordhavn 62 undergoes a full makeover in Rio Dulce Guatemala vs USA

December 28, 2022

The video details what we paid for an extensive makeover of our Nordhavn 62 at RAM Marina in Rio Dulce, Guatemala. We explain the work, set out the costs and also chat about being there for 3 months. This all took place in Summer 2022. The work took place in RAM Marina and Yacht Club, Rio Dulce, Guatemala and we had a very positive experience. Follow us on YOUTUBE or or Instagram.. mv_kariwa_n62

Makeover continues in Guatemala, a new color!!

December 4, 2022

Kariwa is getting a full makeover and we are documenting the whole process in the shipyard. New hull and topsides paint work, new canvas and new headliners. If you want to see a ship change… watch this video!!

Nordhavn 62 Kariwa Teaser Video 60sec

October 16, 2022

Our home for the last year, this is the teaser of our 8min 30sec memory of the last 12 months and the iconic and vintage Nordhavn 62.

Maiden Sailings as filmed and narrated by the Admiral Leslie

September 26, 2022

Now that we are sitting in Rio Dulce giving Kariwa a bit of a face lift, I (Leslie) decided to spend my days digging through all the footage I shot a long time ago, and put it together in a video showing our first voyage on the boat from the Admirals (my) perspective. It is a quite different view than one from the Captains perspective. Work continues on the boat and. a new video will be out on that soon. In previous videos, the music has been quite unpopular but I like to watch a video with music so I hope this time, people will understand.

Shipyard work, paint prep, repairs and living in the Rio Dulce area

September 15, 2022

Now the boat is out of the water, work begins to sand the boat down, repair cracks and generally prepare the boat for its primer and top coats, after it goes into the paint shed. While the boat is out, the dinghy becomes essential in a place like Rio Dulce, as everywhere is on the water, restaurants, shops, bars and of course the marina. We even saw a dinghy dock for a dentist the other day. This video shows the dinghy outboard repairs, our venture out into Lake Izabel using the RAM marina launch, and El Golfito, on our repaired dinghy.

Nordhavn 62 Kariwa is hauled out in the jungle! Life on the hard!!

September 4, 2022

Hauling a 160,000 lbs Nordhavn 62 out of the water in the jungle of Guatemala, at Rio Dulce RAM Marina. Living in a jungle cabin while we have the boat worked on. Drone footage of the surrounding area. Commuting to the marina by boat.

The Nordhavn 62 KARIWA goes 20 miles up the Rio Dulce in Guatemala… The Green Transit HD 720p

August 26, 2022

This video tells the story of Kariwa, our Nordhavn 62 up the Rio Dulce from Livingston to Fronteras. We cross the bar, with the help of a tow, we anchor in “Texas Bay” overnight and then transit through El Golfito to RAM marina. With green everywhere and lovely drone shots you get a good perspective of the surrounds and the journey.

Nordhavn 62 from Florida to Guatemala .. 5 day trip down to the Rio Dulce

August 18, 2022

This is a video about our trip from West Palm Florida to Livingston Guatemala, it also has our repairs and upgrades by @Yacht Tech Inc before we left and our July 4th fireworks in Stuart … We had a crew member Mike join us and he created a song about the trip. You can find the full version on his YOUTUBE @Mike Messes with Music please like and subscribe to him also. We will do a second video soon on our trip up the Rio Dulce river and it is not to be missed. Please watch the whole video.

Nordhavns N57, N62 and N68 in Bahamas.. diving, cruising, snorkeling, and sundowners

June 30, 2022

This is about the continuation of our travels in Bahamas, Eleuthera, Exumas, Long Island and Jumentos Cays. Sadly, we have said goodbye to N62 Zarpe and N57 Alliance. We also meet up with N68 Odyssey and N57 Beyond Capricorn 1, amongst others. These boats are on Instagram at @mv_zarpe, @justusalliance, @pfjay52, @onesexynordavn, @zombies_cant_swim. We do some diving, some snorkeling and feed turtles in Georgetown. We also navigate the Comer Channel down to Jumentos Cays…

Cruising Nordhavns, two N62’s and a N57 cruising in the Bahamas

May 25, 2022

In this episode we comment on the crazy that is Lake Worth Inlet, but then make tracks to Key Biscayne, cross to Bimini and then to Exumas and Cat Island and Eleuthera. We cruise with our Nordhavn boat friends N62 Zarpe and N57 Alliance. They are on Instagram @zarpe and @justalliance We also catch up with @Wandering Knapps aboard MV Illuminate and @zombies_cant_swim in Bimini. We catch Maui, have dolphins ride our bulbous bow, and see dolphins play on Cat Island. We enjoy amazing food and enjoy the boat buddy chill factor.

Provisioning our Nordhavn 62. Choosing our fave foods. Where we stow the food & drink!

May 3, 2022

Here we have focused on providing the Admiral with her own Episode on storing and stowing our provisions. We also talk about choosing our fave Southern African delights and where to buy them. Dutch’s Gourmet Sausages in Plantation is the place… (not a sponsored plug). @dutchys_gourmet_sausages on Instagram and they are also on FB and have a web site. We will also be shortly be bringing out some Bahamas videos… as you know we have been twice this year… in a short space of time… Connectivity here, even with VSAT is not brilliant … and we also trying to have fun! I also need to get permission from some friends to show them!

Nordhavn 62, maintenance, repairs and upgrades, with YachtTech, Ocean Currents and Coleman Marine

April 17, 2022

Trawler Nordhavn 62 Kariwa shakedown cruise with YachtTech last Summer, 2021

April 11, 2022

Nordhavn 62 goes on a two day adventure, engine checks, drone shots at sea and stern docking

February 27, 2022

@MV Kariwa Nordhavn 62 from Canaveral to Fort Pierce and back. Pre departure checks, docking the boat, flying the drone, leaving at dawn.

Training with Yacht Tech, James Knight and Jay Flaherty

December 16, 2021

This is our third feature video, focused on the 2 days plus training we got from @Yacht Tech Inc especially James Knight and Jay Flaherty. It was intense and fun. This is just a synopsis of the whole package, it was non stop.

About us and our new boat

November 26, 2021

A new video about us buying the boat. We talk about who we are, where we are from and why we bought the boat. We also do a short tour of the boat.

We talk satcomms 

November 7, 2021

Listen to my conversation with Eric Sung CEO of Intellian, its interesting from a leisure and deep sea perspective.

Buying a boat

November 7, 2021

The survey, the sea trial and looking around the boat before we decide to commit to buying it…

Training and dodging the speed boats

August 8, 2021

A Saturday leaving Old Port Cove and heading out to see. Dodging the speed boats and canoes and jet skis (or ploughing ahead and they move away)

The dawn of new adventure

August 7, 2021

Just a teaser with a short time lapse… the content is building up we just have to sit down and start…

Nordhavn gets a makeover. N62 Kariwa moves into the paint shed and gets a new paint job

October 4, 2020

The 160,000 lbs Nordhavn 62 MV Kariwa is moved into the paint shed and work begins applying primer to the topsides. We are in RAM marina on the Rio Dulce, Guatemala. The video shows the cleaning of the shed, the move of the boat and the start of the primer paint work. This video is solely focused on the work being carried out on the boat. The next video will focus on the hull work, priming and starting the top coat.

Revealing the new color of Kariwa, the complete makeover of our iconic Nordie 62

December 7, 2019

After 3 months on the hard and in the paint shed at RAM marina and yacht club, Río Dulce, Guatemala… We paint the hull a new color, put the hardware back on and get ready to start our next adventures.


October 16, 2019

Nordhavn 62 04 Kariwa the home of Frank and Leslie Coles. Vintage and iconic, like a fine wine the boat gets better and better! One year in the life! Our video is a spin through the first year of meeting fish, friends and faraway places! In my view the 62 is just the best for passage making. It may not have the spaces below the waterline but this means it has a better hull shape than more modern cruisers and trawlers. The more distinctive curves allow for a design that cuts through the water rather than rolls like many newer boats. We were lucky to cruise other Nordhavn friends and this made things a lot of fun.

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