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We have had a very full summer including meeting our new granddaughter born last March,a celebration of my Dad’s 100th birthday on the 4th of July and our nephew’s wedding just to name a few of the family high lights. Lot’s of family time on both the Linehan and Herman side and we loved it but it made it a little fractured being back home. It was an in and out summer for us.
Luckily, thanks to our house sitters, Hester and Paul, who will come stay in our home again this winter, we came home to a beautifully maintained house and yard. How can you beat that!
We have been able to spend time with our daughter and her family who live less than an hour from us. They were here for Halloween as our town celebrates it big time. I had fun helping them put on their make up. Colin in his spider man outfit was the most challenge but we were happy with the results. Lisa and Jeff announced that they are having child number 7 with the due date of June 2. It will probably bring us back a couple weeks earlier than we had planned but since we are getting a one month head start, it will still be a full season on the boat.
We are leaving this Wednesday, the 7th for a flight to Panama City. We are staying at a B&B owned by a former cruiser who has been very helpful in finding out things in advance for us. We will be there one night and the following day, after doing some non perishable provisioning, we will board the night bus about 8 p.m., ride through the night and arrive near our destination. It is only near because the bus cannot go to the islands. Once we arrive there, about dawn, we will catch a ferry to the island where Bocas Del Toro is located. That is the main town in the area. It is about a 30 minute boat ride. From there, we will catch a 20 minute ferry to where our boat is located at Red Frog Marina. We anticipate arriving around breakfast time.
We won’t be able to rest immediately as we will be needing to empty the main cabin of the things we stored out of the sun there over the summer. I am sure it will take us a week or two of work to get sails installed, instruments returned to their proper place and in working order along with all the boat parts that were carried home and back to be fixed or replaced and will now be returned to duty.
The marina where the boat has been in the water is very comfortable and once we get fuel for the dinghy, we can go on our own to town and back.
Our first guests join us about January 7. My sister and her husband will finally make the trip to join us in the Caribbean. We had hoped to do this last year but they especially wanted to join us in Panama and besides with my broken arm and my sister having breast cancer to treat, it was not the best year for fun and games. We are both healthy again and our looking forward to making this long planned trip a reality.
We anticipate a visit from my youngest brother and his wife and maybe daughter who is now in college and more restricted on time. We also will see my niece and her husband but neither couple has set a date as yet. At least we know what country they need to get a ticket to!
We will be spending the season in Panama. We could still sail to Colombia but that is looking less likely for a lot of reasons, mostly time and economy. For that reason, we are not in a rush to leave the area where the boat is and may spend Christmas in that area but plans are very loose. From there, we will head to the Canal area on the Atlantic/Caribbean side to provision for our extended stay in the San Blas islands. We will not cross through the Canal to the Pacific so all of our time will be spent on the one side of the country, at least when we are on the boat.
The San Blas Islands is an area off the coast of Panama on the Colombia side of the canal. This indigenous population of Cuna Indians is unique and so very interesting. We loved being there when we were in Panama in 2005. It was our favorite stop and our goal has been to return. Finally, that is happening. I hope that we are not disappointed as things never stay the same. We need to go with an open mind and heart and not anticipate knowing how things should be. What will be fun is to show this area to our guests.
One of the challenges of being there long term is that there is very little one can purchase besides their local craft called a mola. There are people who come to your boat every day to try to sell them. You can also buy fish from the locals but they tend to over fish the lobster, crab and conch so we tend not to want to support that behavior.
Luckily, we have great freezer and refrigerator storage so we can pack for a long time. What will be difficult will be getting a hold of fresh produce.
With no amenities ashore on islands that often have no electricity or water source, we will be doing all laundry by hand as well as cooking all meals as there are not really restaurants ashore, at least not that we know of. The cruisers in the area do get together on some of the unpopulated small island and enjoy pot lucks, volley ball on the beach, yoga on the beach in the morning, etc. There is a social life. I would like to know more about the Cuna culture as well but would need someone who speaks English. Even if I spoke Spanish, it would help, but many don’t speak that language either, using their own language. I understand that there are some islands where boaters volunteer to work with the locals in the school so we may try to tap in to that as a way to learn about their culture.
We will be returning with the boat this year. It will have been out of the country for more than 2 years. We have missed boating in Florida with our friends and well as having the boat available for our grandchildren so this is planned to be the last season in the Caribbean. While we won’t go places where we will leave the boat and return home, we do plan to still cruise local waters, the Bahamas as well as the East Coast of the US.
We don’t yet know our route home but because it costs money to check in and out of countries, often quite a bit, we may not do too many stops on the way back. When we came home last time, we made one stop out of Panama after 1 ½ days on an Island named San Andreas which is off the coast of Nicaragua. From there, we sailed home non stop to Florida. It was a 7 day 7 hour trip to reach the entrance to our harbor. We spent the night there and sailed home the next day. It wasn’t a bad trip but weather and time will play a factor in stopping or not this spring.
We anticipate being able to check our e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org pretty regularly for the first couple of months. After that, we will see. Cell phones have made their way to the San Blas but not all the areas we might visit. For now, we would love to hear from you on our regular e-mail.
Our son-in-law Craig, in Williamsburg, has really taken off in his photography business but will try to get these logs sent out in a timely way. We hope that you enjoy hearing about our travels and let us know what is up with you. That connection is very important to us so do drop us a line once in awhile. If you are being sent this blog but don’t know us, let us know who you are so we can enjoy having you along for the ride!
Sue and Rob Linehan
Returning to Catalyst