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December 7, 2000 ~ December 16, 2000

December 16, 2000

All the other boats headed out to Islandia (many had been there for several weeks!) and we had the anchorage all to ourselves! We just didn't feel ready to head out and deal with the reefs just yet, and we had been playing so much that we really needed to clean the entire boat! We also worked on emails and David gave Jason a haircut. We had more delicious tuna for dinner, and did load #4 of wash (we are getting to the bottom of the laundry bag, I hope!).

December 15, 2000

We went into the island about 10am, after David and Eric had successfully fixed the window shade on our large hatch. We had made lunch to take with us as we hiked to the top of the mountain, where the antenna for the telephone is located. We didn't really need a guide but Horatio and a boy RACED up the mountain...not exactly ecotourism! So, we just slowed down and looked around. We were rather disappointed because there is nothing at the top except the big antenna and many used batteries. It only costs $6-7 per minute to use this phone! But it is nice to know it is there if we ever had an emergency. We decided to let the others head down and we would just eat our lunch. We quietly listened and we were finally rewarded by a troop of monkeys (probably 10-12) traveling through the trees above us. They would stop and look down, but they did not venture very close, unfortunately. They are really amazing to watch literally flying through the trees from one branch to another! We also saw tiny little tree frogs, which are black with bright emerald spots! We also saw absolutely incredible butterflies: one was red with black stripes. We saw and heard many parrots, but none up close. The villagers had several small little parrotlets and one mean old Amazon! When we returned from our hike we had a coke at the restaurant at the dock and talked (? with our poco Spanish) with the Kunas! The women are very colorful and very beautiful with their mola blouses, sarong skirts, intricate beadwork around their legs and arms, earrings in their noses, golden jewerly, orange scarves draped over their heads, and rouge on their cheeks with a black line down their noses! The men tend to be very dull and drab with their shorts and American tshirts!!!

We went over to *Bow Bells* for gathering before sundown. We should be in the Guiness Book of Records for how many people we had in the cockpit of their boat!! We were back home early for a roti dinner and our third load of wash!!!

December 14, 2000

After we moved to a deeper spot, we went ashore with Shirley and Sanford from *Slipaway,* and Cheryl, Marcus, and Michael from *Chamaral* where we paid our $6 to the chief and hired a guide, Horatio, to show us around the island and his town. After our walk all around the entire island, we signed his guest book, bought some Kuna bread (more like delicious bread sticks, ranging in price from 5-15 cents each!), and all the ladies laid out their molas for sale! We bought our first two molas! What is a mola??? (We will try to include a picture...when we arrive in Panama and upload pictures!) Mola means "blouse" in Kuna and the women (actually many men make molas and the gay men make some of the best!) make molas in thematically matching but never identical pairs. A pair is the front and back of the blouse. Molas are made of brightly colored squares of cotton fabric laid atop one another. Cuts are made through the layers, forming basic designs. The layers are sewn together with very tiny, evenly spaced stitches to hold the design in place. There is also alot of embroidery work done to complete the design. As is any handicraft or art work, there is a large variation in design and quality of workmanship.

We gave a Colombian a dinghy ride back to his boat, *Maranta* when we left the dock. The Colombians go back and forth between the San Blas Islands and their country carrying coconuts and bringing back fruits and vegetables. These coconuts boats look very very scarey...not too sea worthy....and they have to transist some of the worse seas in the world!

We had a delicious tuna dinner (the fish that we had caught on passage). We did our second load of wash and were in bed early again.

December 13, 2000

The winds and waves continued to build during that night, but were not as large as the night before. We were still up most of the night. We had decided that we should not slow down (we always seem to get into trouble when we do that!), so we arrived about 5 miles from the anchorage at Isla Pinos about 4am!!! We had to figure out how to heave-to with no main sail up! We managed to sail around until 7am when it was light enough to enter. We started in towards the anchorage and Henry on *Maritime Express* called us on the VHF radio, giving us some tips on entering. We had to angle in towards the anchorage which meant that the waves were hitting us broadside...and you know how much fun that can be! We were anchored about 8:30 am and then all of us moved in closer to the town because it was soooo rolly! We were so tired that we anchored in too shallow water, and had to move the following morning when the tide was high, because we were on the bottom!!! No wonder we had such a nice solid anchorage for sleeping!!! No problems since it was all sand, except for the bottom paint on the keel. Thank heavens!

The whole "fleet" was there: *Cherokee,* *Slipaway,* *Chamaral,* *Spirit Borne,* *Argonauta,* *Maritime Express,* *La Boatique,* *Bow Bells,*and *Aldebaran.* We were at 08 degrees 59.759 minutes North and 77 degrees 45.476 minutes W and we arrived in exactly 4 days/92 hours from Curacao, which was a record time! The other boats took over 4 days from Aruba! We have now covered 7282.9 miles under the keel, and added Panama and the San Blas Islands (plus sailing passed Aruba and Colombia) to our lists of countries.

We picked up the boat and took all the wet items outside to dry, including mattresses, comforters, sheets, pillows, etc!!! *Peace and Aloha* looked like we were taking in laundry to pay for expenses or she looked like she had gotten water logged!!!:)

I was all ready to take a nap, when an official come by asking for our Panamian flag, which I had not made because I thought that I didn't need it until we checked into Colon. WRONG! I had to make a flag or buy one for $25!!! Thank heavens it is an easy flag! By the time it came to go over to *La Boatique* to celebrate Pete's Birthday, we were exhausted and had to decline, and we were asleep at 7:30 as soon as our heads hit our pillows! (After we did our first load of wash and hung inside!)

December 12, 2000

We were sooooo glad to see day light!!!! George, our present weather man, told us that we were in the HOT spot of the Caribbean (then how come we can't win the billion dollar lottery????!!!) with 35-40+ knot winds with 16+ foot seas!!! We can attest to that! We had been surfing down the waves...up to 15 knots (read 17.1 on one meter). That was fun at the beginning, but got really really scarey when we couldn't control her! We finally turned on the motor and headed more in toward Cartegena and the conditions mellowed during the day, so that we decided to continue on rather than stopping at the islands along the Colombia coast. We caught 5 black fin and blue fin tunas, enough for six dinners! Yummmy!!!:) after we turned to boat to follow some birds (at my suggestion!).

December 11, 2000

We had sea water into Jason's and Eric's dorade vents, which covered their spreads, sheets, mattresses, books, etc. etc.! Are we having fun yet??? Then we had a huge wave that came into the cockpit (David lost his special Sun Cloud Sunglasses which he has treasured and guarded for years!), down into the companion way in the pilot house, with a little into the main cabin. So, then we had our handsfull to try to get all the water out and get things somewhat dried out in preparation for an evening of TERROR! We were up all night: David and Eric were at the helm, trading every hour! I was on watch at the chart table looking for other boats....ALL night.

December 10, 2000

More of the same!!!

December 9, 2000

We left about 8am for Isla Pinos, San Blas, Islands off the coast of Panama, which are about 650 miles from Curacao. We came out of the channel from our nice rock solid anchorage in Spanish Waters to some large swells with 20+knots of wind! Maybe we should have turned around! I had my patch on, but that didn't even work! However, I still had to stand my watches: we are on 4 hours during the day light hours and 2 hrs at night. There are three of us who do it alone, and Jason was in training for the Pacific, so he was on with David. That allows us 4 hours sleep, plus resting/sleeping when you are not on watch during the day! I was sleeping alot and not eating!!!

December 8, 2000

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LAURIE!!!! Hope it was a special day for you!

We were starting to get ready for our passage to the San Blas Islands off Panama. We were also talking on the SSB with Shirley and Sanford on *Slipaway* who had left on Wednesday, December 6 and stopped in Aruba that night. I started to make rotis (easy passage meal to heat up, serve and eat in bowls). We left about 9am to pick up our Federal Express Mail from First Hawaiian Bank at American Express (Thank Heavens it arrived! After the fiasco with Express Mail to Florida!!!!) We shopped again at Cost-u-Less and used our remaining Curacao money. We met Doug and Diane on *Shizam* there. The boys had Thanksgiving Dinner on their boat with the rest of the cruisers in the anchorage. They are having alot of boat problems, but will be heading to the Canal in January. It was nice to meet them in person, even for a short visit, after talking with them often on the radio since our return from Florida. Unfortunately, they were in the marina which is on the other side of Spanish Waters, so that is why we hadn't gotten together before. We returned the car, emailed Julie the completed website from Sarifundy's, and returned to the boat to stow everything, plus get everything ready for the most difficult passage for a long time. We did a wash and made our beds (David and Ellen) in the main cabin with lee cloths (they keep you from falling out of bed when the boat is heeled over!). We cannot sleep in our forward cabin if it is too rough. We had delicious rotis for dinner and went to bed early!

December 7, 2000

We are going to try a new system and try to email updates to Julie (with NO pictures directly from the boat. Hopefully, Julie and Chris have had a chance to update our last editions even with their busy schedules in Boulder! Another busy day for us with a morning trip to the Supermarket on the bus from Sarifundy's Marina. Thank heavens, the strike was called off or settled by the judge, buses and gas stations were back in business. We returned to our boat to stow all and inventory and returned to Sarifundy's and rented a car. We checked out of Customs with no problem, but the official at the Immigration Office was not there. We located the American Express Office in search of our mail from First Hawaiian Bank, but they had received nothing! We decided to try Immigration again and waited for a long time. The boys and I walked down to the Arawak Crafts Store to purchase a momento from Curacao and and official cleared David out, while we were purchasing a little Curacao doll and a pottery Christmas decoration, which they make there. Thank heavens, we had waited. They are open 24 hours a day, but when they leave (and that is often) they don't leave a note indicating what time they will return, so it is almost impossible to plan.