We did it! We left civilization behind! Yesterday we chugged out of Panama City and made our way to the Perlas. Here we sit, at anchor at the mouth of the Rio Calcique, the only boat in sight.
Which begs a question - where is everybody? The Caribbean was packed full of people. In some anchorages in the San Blas islands, we were jammed in with fifty or sixty boats. Cartagena and Panama City were no different. The Perlas are both beautiful - imagine a rugged, rocky landscape like Georgian Bay, with long, sandy beaches - and very close to the mainland (the northern islands are less than 40 nm from Panama City). Why isn´t this place overrun? Not that I am complaining; we have certainly earned the peace.
Some people don´t like leaving the city, and I can understand that. You never have to plan ahead in the in city; it is a fly-by-whim type of place. Oh, I forgot to buy yoghurt. I´ll walk 100 m to the convenience store. Oh, I feel like going out tonight. Should be see a movie, or hear music, or go to the theatre, or the opera, or or or... It is easy. Options galore! And when we find ourselves city-proximate, we take advantage of those things, too. We took the girls to a children´s play last week. In Cartagena, I wandered over to the grocery store almost every day to get ice and drinks for our painters. The girls and I hiked over the bridge to the (free) gold museum pretty often. It was fun.
But leaving Panama City was a different thing. That´s it for cities until November. So we had to suck the marrow out of this city before we left, and I mean that solely in terms of supplying the wagons, as it were. Every time we set foot in a store, we had to remind ourselves things like,¨"I won´t be able to buy cheese again. How much cheese can I reasonably fit in the freezer?" Erik prowled the aisles in the hardware tiendas, picking up plumbing parts and various nuts and bolts and asking himself what was going to break during the next six months, and could he fix it with what he had? It´s all about planning and forethought, and it is easy to put off departure just one more day to pick up such-and-such or more of this-and-that. And I know full well I´ll run out of some things early and be mad at myself, and other things not at all and wonder why I bought so much, but that is the way the cookie crumbles. Maybe we´ll have to live on peanut butter and tuna fish for a while. (Preferably not mixed.) I can handle it.
For us, the boat is much more fun when we can swim and explore, so we had a strong pull to finish up and get out. The girls were going mad, we are sailing late in the season in an El Niño year (which means weak winds for our Pacific crossing), so we needed to move. We wanted to move. And the appeal of just one more bag of whole wheat flour eventually wasn´t enough to keep us there. And now we´re free.
We´ll catch our breath for a few days, explore the river, then press on to the Galapagos. That will be a long passage - likely 10 days or so - with no wind, because that is how the equator rolls. But we´ll make it. And I´ll try to send these shortwave radio updates as I can.
As an administrative point, we won´t have much in the way of bandwidth for the forseeable future. Please do continue to write to us - we love it! We can´t talk to just each other forever, you know! But keep it text-only, if you please. No attachments, or our SSB-email program will ruthlessly delete your note. I know, it is tough out at sea.
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