Free At Last!

Follow Catalyst’s voyage at:

http://www.winlink.org/dotnet/maps/PositionReportsDetail.aspx?callsign=KG4QFO

November 30, 2012

Free At Last!

Dear Friends and Family,

Well, we are almost free at last.  As I write this, it is the night before we are going to throw off the dock lines and leave Red Frog Marina.  It is bitter sweet as life here has been easy and comfortable at the dock and we have made some good friends.  We are leaving tomorrow morning to anchor near the town where we will be able to dinghy ashore.  We anticipate a good weather window on Monday so will leave about mid morning then for the 156 mile, 25 to 30 hour passage to our next stop in Portabelo.  It is a small very historic town with an old fort which is in good condition.  Most of the gold in South and Central America passed through this port.  We are stopping here to see it and do our last bit of main land provisioning before doing a 52 mile, “long day sail” which will land us in the San Blas.

We are eager to be in town tomorrow because a new microwave will be arriving.  We wondered if we would be able to get a replacement before we left here.  We hope this one works!

We have had a couple of days of little or no rain and so the final jobs on the boat have been done.  Rob still has things to do but it doesn’t have to be done right away.  Besides, we now have slave labor aboard!   Yes, we are taking on the massage therapist, who did my massage, as crew so that she can see the San Blas Islands.  For years I have been saying that my fondest wish is to have someone to massage me close by at all times.  It took me awhile to realize that the universe has given me this opportunity.  What her main goal will be is to help me with the rehab of my wrist that was broken last February.  It has never gotten full motion back and so that will be a daily work out.

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Linsey was born in Sweden, but is British and moved to Australia as a teenager.  She took her 4 years of training there.  She has a degree in working with the relationship of the muscles and the skeleton and does rehab work as well as the massage.  Perfect for me.  She is 26 and has been back packing since the end of March, 2011 (18 months).  She has traveled in Europe, all but Venezuela, Argentina and Chile in South America and now Panama in Central America.  She picks up jobs here and there.  She helped sail a boat from Colombia to here which is how she ended up in the marina and we got to know her.  She is a pure delight, willing to try her hand to help out with anything.  She is also a wonderful and creative cook so we will have a lot of fun together!   After visiting while she did my first treatment yesterday, we realized that we were destined to spend this time together.  It may be hard to let her go!

We have been fortunate to be where we have had good internet access.  We will now be using a jack in the computer that connects us via cell to the internet.  We are not sure how that is going to work for us.  We are hoping to have good connections at least some of the time as there are more cell towers in the San Blas.  That is one of the big changes that we anticipate.  The natives all have cell phones now.  We always have our single side band as back up e-mail but we are hoping to be able to send pictures once in awhile as well, which we can’t do over the single side band.

We did get a lot done on the boat in the good weather but we also got a few days of exploring.  We were able to make it to the beach again and saw a red frog for the first time since last year.

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The weather out to sea was pretty rough with the waves creating a bit of a surf.  There is a lot of surfing done here, though it is not like the big waves.  The surfing is not at this beach but there was a lot of boogie boarding going on.

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We also ran in to Linsey at the beach chatting up the life guard.  What a rough life!

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We were in town today to get our transit papers.  We need to check out of here and will need to check in and out of our next destination as well.  It’s like needing paperwork everytime you cross State borders.  While we were in town, we rented bikes and explored this town a little more.  We stopped by the airport to get some information and Rob took a picture of part of the Air Panama fleet.  Actually, when we came to the airport, there was a beautiful small jet there.  This shell of a plane was across the street.

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We have enjoyed getting to know this area a little but we have left a lot unexplored.  It is a big ex-pat community and many people from Naples, Florida have built homes in this area.  I mention Naples because it is near us in Florida and is an upscale community.  I think we would have done more exploring had we not had so much rain but then we probably would have been on our way sooner.

One interesting (to some of you) thing we saw was a diesel powered outboard motor.  Most outboards are gasoline powered, not diesel.  It’s about 20-30 years old, and is the standard Yanmar 27 horsepower engine found on many sailboats.  (This part is from Rob.  I don’t find it interesting at all!)

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We are glad to finally be on the hook again and will be ready to head out on the next part of the adventure!

Fair Winds,

Sue and Rob and Linsey

Aboard Catalyst

Bocas del Toro, Panama

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