The cruising adventures of Sid and Manuela

Friday, June 23, 2017

My newest Mola: Corals

Time to find a spot with good data service, ha ha ha, that was a joke. After we managed to update our Blog we headed to Nargana to have Taty do our laundry and buy veggies and hopefully meat. No luck on meats so we are still eating chicken. Found decent veggies and Taty had our laundry ready the following day and after fueling up and buying some fresh French bread we pulled anchor and enjoyed a nice sail back to the Pool on time to celebrate Easter with Runner. The French bread was for an Easter Swiss Cheese Fondue and yum was it good. Debi showed up with her Kangooroo Easter head deco. 

The “Islander” girls were still there, so was Chinook, Gris Gris, C-Level and Milagro, but most boats headed back to the “barn”, marinas to summer the boat, to go home to their grand critters. With all them leaving we all of a sudden got busy and were invited pretty much every evening on one or the other boats soon leaving. Chinook had us over for a gourmet meal, that was wonderful. Connie on Islander enjoyed the guitar playing at the Birthday party on the island so much she invited Neal and Esther on Milagro, us and OMG I have cruiseheimer’s can’t remember the other boat. But we had a fun time playing our guitars and munching on appetizers everybody brought. Milagro left so did Gris Gris and some other boats we haven’t had a chance to meet yet. But Connie didn’t get her guitar fill yet so she invited us again, plus this time Runner and C-Level and again this time CCRS (cruiser’s can’t remember shit, that’s moi again) another boat. Last time on Islander we found out Barbara studied music and used to play the guitar. Well I was not going to be the only one playing so I gave her my guitar to practice for her debut. It was a great evening and Barbara has not forgotten her guitar skills yet. Everbody had a wonderful time but I think we tortured Reg, poor guy LOL. (sorry no photos was busy playing).

A few  days later it was just Runner and Paradise left in the anchorage it was a welcome quit time, no social stuff just relax, we love that.

April 21st first day of spring a welcoming rain shower cleaned our boat but a not so welcome included thunderstorm came a bit close by us but went directly over the Cocos and Green Island. The following morning we heard that two boats were hit, One World and Drum Thunder. Luckily not much damage was done to neither boat and when Drum Thunder was asked what the secret to that is he said: I have a steel boat. But poor guy, seems to have a black cloud over him. Remember the croc attack story in Green Island? Just about 10 days after that, he announced on the radio that, just around the neighboring island from us, he brought his jack russel to shore and as he was enjoying  lying in the water with his head in the sand with closed eyes, he heard his dog yap once close to his head. He opened his eyes and within arms lengths was a 5.3 foot crocodile (minding you the guy himself is 5.4), snatching up his dog and  was disappearing into the water. He jumped after the crock and onto its back and grabbed it by the neck, the croc obviously startled by that, dropped the dog and disappeared. Guy grabbed his dog and bolted ashore. Dog is fine had some puncture wound around his neck and the guy had some scratches on his leg but both survived the ordeal. It’s obvious the woman attack was not for hunger but to defend the nest, this croc here was definitely hungry. My question though is, did the owner rescue his dog or did the dog rescue his owner first as the croc may have thought wow a dead body on the beach “fooooood”! We will never find this part out.

A few days after that Sid joined Reg on the island and just before he headed back he stepped behind a bush to pee and something jumped into the water right there and disappeared. Sid of course investigated it and noticed an about 4 foot croc in the water looking at him. Reg didn’t believe him at first when Sid pointed it out, he said it’s just a stick until the stick started moving away.
Sid is still recuperating from his amoeba ordeal but the island time with Reg is getting him slowly back on his feet.

I still have fun snorkeling with Deb. I tell you if someone needs some stress therapy I would highly recommend going snorkeling a couple hours every day. It is the most relaxing thing I have ever done. Floating on the surface and watching all these beautiful underwater creature, it relaxes you to the point you breathe long breaths like in a meditation state. Every day we encounter something else, of which, one was not so much fun. We went to an outer reef called scorpion, beautiful reef (one of two reefs we have to avoid by boats entering the pool). We snorkeled around the island and half way around we saw a 4 foot barracuda about 10 feet below us in his camouflage colors, he looked beautiful and was watching us intently. We looked at him for a while then headed on. At one point I turned around and looked back here he comes charging at my fins. When he saw me looking at him he stopped. I kept going but turned around immediately again just to make sure he was not following it. He charged at me again. So I swam towards him, he stopped turned around, so did I, but again same thing he came right back. Debi notice him by now too so we both charged at him slapping our hand in the water. He stopped and turned, but as soon as we turned he came at us again. This went on for a while and usually not worried about Barracudas, this one was a nuisance. We swam a bit faster towards the dinghy with constantly turning and shooing him away. He finally lost interest or we were out of his territory and we were clear of him. Not a good feeling and even though it’s not a very big fish but showing his teeth is a bit intimidated.

On one snorkel we saw two conch shells moving against each other, of course we went to investigate. No conch lived in the shells but hermit crabs. One’s shell was broken while the other was perfect. We assume that the crab in the broken one wanted to evict the crab in the good shell. It was fun watching. I did pull them apart before we left, so who knows who kept staying in the perfect shell.

Look at their beautiful blue eyes

At Chubaco Reef there was a fairly big but lonely cuddle fish, they usually are shy but this one seemed not to be bothered by me filming him, even showed off. They have beautiful eyes.
Every dive is a different adventure plus I am getting pretty good in catching little food fish for Deb’s aquarium. The most fun is when we gang up with 3 nets, I have 2 and I push the fish towards Deb’s and she scoops them up. And it’s always lots of giggles.

A few new boats showed up Rosa de Vento. What a beautiful couple, we had a couple dinners together and gave them info on the Pacific Side to get up to Baja Californina, eventually we will see them there again. So we hope.

Another boat that showed up was of interest a brand knew custom built catamaran with foils name was Tempus Fugit. The owners picked it up in Chile and are on their way to Florida. We got a good tour of their boat and found out how the foils work. Just amazing.

Nate on Nomad came back. This kid is amazing, he goes spearfishing every day and brings big groupers, snappers or barracuda back. I asked him how deep he dives for them, he said: Aahhh only about 50 feet! ONLY 50 feet!!!!! We all love him as he shares his fish with whoever is in the anchorage. He even smoked our fish on a stove top smoker, tasty.
If I just had a bigger boat

Oh and my orchids, all three plants are blooming again and the scent at night is just gorgeous. I have my hammock right next to them. Love it.


We had been in the San Blas for several months and started running out of pretty much everything from dry goods to TP to you name it and since I had to renew my driver’s license Debi and I ventured into town.  A lancha picked us up at 7 am and took us to Carti in one hour from there was a 4 wheel drive to Panama City. At the Kuna border they made us unload our stuff and it was inspected. This will be fun when we return with a truck load full of stuff. NOT!!

The taxi dropped us off at the Eurosta Hoteles, (ex Royal Sonesta we stayed in before our Switzerland trip), we got a deal 65 bucks a night and its luxury. Debi had a bad shoulder so we opted for a nice hotel with bell boys and boy did we need them. After checking in we hit the Albrook mall for some fun shopping and sushi. Patsy and Roman on Tanoa happen to fly in the same evening and booked at our hotel as well. We had two fun evening with them.
Second day in the hotel while Deb went to cantus I enjoyed some quiet time in the beautiful room and incredible Panama City skyline view from the 22nd floor and caught up on some Internet stuff.

Natalie and Martina, the daughter of a mutual friend with Rita and also Gabriela from Switzerland (when we were twenty) were supposed to arrive on our second night in town. But their flight was canceled ,do to not enough passengers on the plane. They were supposed to fly from Martinique to Santo Domingo to Panama City. The following morning we were going to rent a car and I would have been their tour guide for 3 days, but they didn’t arrive for 2 more days and weren’t sure if they would arrive at all, almost canceled their Panama Trip as they had lost their Copa flight do to the negligence of Air Carib. That screwed up our plans Debi had already arranged to visit her friend and we gave up the hotel that night and as I still had to go out to the Portobelo area plan B came in. Jim and Melania were meeting us the following day in town but they didn’t know how to get to the hotel. So I called her and asked her if I could crash for the night and drive them into town to the hotel the following day. They were over joyed and Melania made sure as always that I was well fed. She made a wonderful chines lobster dish, yum. Things happen for a reason I believe in that. Jim hasn’t had access to his email and didn’t remember his password, I got it back for him within 5 minutes. Then Melania told me she had a problem as well and so both are able to use their emails again.

Tuesday the girls finally arrived and joined us for dinner. We were a good group Jim and Melania , Carol and Greg stayed at the hotel and Ida and Manuel joined us, a big happy group (sorry no photos cameras didn't work and photos blurry). It was a fun night and wonderful food at El Sante our Karaoke place. Probably good thing that the Karaoke was not open on Tuesday as I inherited a cold Patsy brought back from her trip. 
Patsy and Deb
Debi giving hair cuts

sitting backward on toilette seat LOL

The following day Melania got it and day after that Greg, Patsy likes to share. I do have a problem with AC as well, if I am in AC for a couple of days I get the worst sinus infections plus the cold on top not fun to have and of course I get them when I am not home. Not fun period but at least at home you can rest. Deb and I were in town for shopping. And that we did.

We hired Roger, the taxi driver we have both known for the last 20 years and has been driving cruiser for shopping. The bell boy had to get two carts to get it to our room. The second day it needed 3 carts. You should have seen our room. It was a chaos and took us a couple hours to pack. 

Longest Riba Smith receipt ever

We took a few photos and sent it to the private 4x4 we hired to get us back to Carti. Not just did it take 5 cart loads to bring it down to the lobby but the 4x4 was not the usual suburban Tito has, found out he sold them to more economical size 4x4. 

The econimical 4x4 was not just 1 size but rather 2 too small. It was funny the guy loaded and loaded and then there was no more room but still 4 orange bags filled with TP and Paper towels were sitting next to the car. 

I asked him if we can tie it up on the roof, he said that he had no line. Deb and I simultaneously said “we do”, the problem was it was in bags that both were on the bottom of the loaded truck. Driver needless to say did not want to unload it. So Deb the trouper said pile it all up on top of me. She sat in the back seat with 2 buckets between her legs then we piled stuff on top and around her. TP and Papertowels and anything left in the orange bags. 

I think she had just enough window space open to see out. She said she could not move a muscle but was comfortable. Then it was my turn. I had a box behind my feet, two bags on side of legs, a box on my lap, a bag in front of box, big Papertowel pack on side of me, I could not see the drives plus TP next and in front of me. There was no need for me to put the seatbelt on besides I could barely move either and was not able to reach for the belt. I took a photo of Debi behind me but she was hidden by more TP and her voice was so muffled I could not understand what she said and vice versa and of course we had a good chuckle. The driver was too and took who knows how many photos of us. 
My seat

Before Debi got muffled

I could not see driver from my seeat

Debi's Muffler

We finally left the hotel with 4 hotel employees waving goodbye and laughing their asses off. We drove about 10 minutes when we stopped at a gas station to fill more air into the tires. I had a view but don’t think poor Debi did. She is such a trooper. I’ve seen her sardined into a car before but this must be a record for her LOL. Sardines I think they have more room in the can than we did. Going up the windy road to Kuna Yala the driver was driving a lot slower than usual and to our surprise there was a check point half way up. Driver explained that this is a road that goes to the Darion and it is used for drug trafficking. The officer could not see me but the driver told him he had two passenger, so he walked to  my side, driver lowered window, I showed him my ID, then he looked behind me and said there is no other person. Oh yes there is, driver rolled the window down. What I saw was him bursting out in laughter as his knees buckled, what he saw was lots of toilet paper and Debs hand sticking through with her ID. He let us go on. I was worried that we had to get out of the car and take all our goods out for inspection at the Kuna border and was not looking forward to that. I sat on needles when we approached the border. The officer looked into the car and of course saw mainly TP then when he approached our side with lowering windows he cracked up as well, 5 or 6 other officers headed over to us and peered in. I felt like a zoo animal. They all were laughing and el Jefe told the driver that next time he comes in here with tourists (which we are not, we are both residence) bringing Cargo in he will fine him, but he waved us to get out of there. Huge sigh! We finally made it to the Port of Carti but of course we were much later than usually so our lancha had left already but we were told will be back in 20 minutes. By now I know the 20 minutes are at least an hour. Poor Debi had to get the feelings back in her legs and I didn’t mind stretching out myself. There were many hands to help to get all our stuff to the pier which filled up ¼ of the pier and we did wait 1 ½ hours. 

Luckily one of the things I bought was a new umbrella which came in quit handy covering us both sitting on our cooler. Glad the lancha didn’t have any other passengers because they would have been S.O.L.for a seat. Back in the pool we offloaded Debi’s stuff first then was Paradise, I was a bit afraid to sink the boat LOL.
It took a few days to sort stuff away, it was kind of more like moving things around.

Two days after we got back, Debi invited us for dinner, she had bought a turkey so in the middle of the year we are having a Thanksgivings Feast. C-Level and Nomad joined us, it was wonderful.

A few days later I was woken up at 7 am by two carolers singing Happy Birthday and delivering two wonderful cups of cappuccino and a little present bag containing 3 eggs. Deb knew I was out. You wonder: wait weren’t they just in town shopping? Yes we were but usually the 4x4 stops at a grocery store before hitting the road to Kuna Yala, but our car was so full there was no way for the two of us to get out of the car, well we probably could have but would have never fit in again. So I am patiently waiting until eventually a veggie boat shows up.

On my BD day Deb and I had a fun snorkel, unexpected we had a pretty strong current by the reef which we use to drift snorkel with dinghy in tow back to the anchorage. Usually takes about 3 hours of just pure meditation in the water. We get to see all kinds of things and occasionally manage to anchor the dinghy to explore a coral formation we have not explored yet.

Debi went all out cooking for my BD dinner. We had a wonderful salad with shrimp, something we can’t get out here in the San Blas unless you have a big freezer and bring it in from town as Debi did. Main course was one of my favorites lamb chops with her wonderful homemade mint sauce, mashed potatoes and a mix of asparagus, green beans and sugar snap peas. And OMG the dessert she whipped something up with gingersnap cookies, cream and cream cheese, rum and fresh raspberries, yummmm. The fun thing out here is we create dishes with what we have onboard, all cruisers are very creative.

The following day we lifted anchor and sailed to the East Lemons where the two Swiss girls Natalie and Martina had arrived on my BD. They wanted to visit the San Blas but live on an island rather than on a boat so I organized Banadup for them. I call it the Red Roof Inn, it’s the restaurant we celebrated Miguel’s BD and New Year’s Eve. Poor girls had nothing but problems in Panama, starting with the 3 day delayed flight. After we met them in town they rented a car to explore the northern coast of Panama, then El Valle middle part of Panama, the beaches of Pedasi Peninsula and the Western Part the Chiriqui Mountain area. They had nothing but rain in Portobelo, same in El Valle then also on the beach and in David they managed to get tangled in a fender bender so they got discourage to drive any further and drove back to Panama missing the most beautiful part of Panama, the mountains.

So we met them in the San Blas. They were happy to see us but were unfortunately only there for 2 days, as they had enough of Panama, don’t blame them. We took them to all the islands to introduce them to our Kuna families, went snorkeling and the second day after our snorkel they enjoyed just relaxing in the cockpit reading a book. I suggested to eat dinner early at the restaurant and return so they could chill in the hammock. Oh didn’t take them long to agree and while they were in the hammock Sid put the underwater light in and not much later fish showed up and the highlight a spotted eagle ray stayed pretty much with us all evening. They had to endure my guitar, while they enjoyed relaxing in the hammock.
I think the San Blas was the highlight of their trip and hopefully made good for all the mishaps.

They left at 7 with the lancha who also picked up our jerry jugs and amazingly at 10 the lancha was back delivering Diesel and gasoline. What a service by Blas and his wife Leysa.
Received a whatsapp from the girls. Before they left they said they will got to the hotel Debi and I stayed, getting pampered at the spa and use the pool, gym, etc and will just chill in the hotel. The price had almost double since we were there so I suggested the Vegas and a few other hotels with pool and spa. They chose the Vegas. She texted: the black cloud is still with us the pool is closed for renovation. They are heading to Hawaii from here, then Natalie to Nicaragua to visit a friend for a few months, Martina to NY for a few days before heading back to Switzerland. So I am sure they will have a better time in Hawaii.

We are still in Banadup while I am writing this part of the Blog so I can upload it to the Internet, but guess what?!!!! Yes, neither Digicel or Mas Mobil get my computer hooked up. Looks like we have to sail to Pandadup and from there might as well go to Nargana buy eggs and get our laundry done. If plan A does not work plan B, C, D, E……. will.

I will be heading back to Panama City middle of June to pick up Janet Okawa at the airport. She is coming to visit us for 2 weeks. Haven’t seen her in years, at least 10 probably more. In the mean time she found out she is a mule as we ordered parts that are needed on Paradise including some Trader Joe’s stuff and Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn. Yep popcorn, just bought a new bag, so did Deb but they only pop to a very small size, should fill the pan but only fills it to half.

Rainy season is slowly moving in but now is the time when the weather is mostly dry with an incredible clear view of the mainland and as many island as there are. Just beautiful. Hope weather will hold for Janet’s visit. But it doesn’t get really bad until about mid August. Worst time October and November.

May this rainy season keep the lightning bolts away! Which is a boater’s biggest fear.

PS: We motorsailed from Banadup to Green Island to find Internet as the one in Banadup did not work. So here we are and no signal at all not even for a phone call. So guess this will be posted mid June instead of May 24th.

A few more snorkeling photos:


Hiding Queen Trigger


This little guy is the size of my little finger nail

Debi's Yoga pose