Jan 19

Major Breakdown

Number of View: 0


Image00018  Image00015

Why does everything happen at night?   Like captain Ron said “If it’s going to happen boss, it’s going to happen out there”.  We are thankful it happened while we were at anchor. there are so may reefs in San Blas you need a working  engine.

. WE HAD SEA WATER COMING IN !!!!!,  and that is never good. The previous day while sailing along our high water bilge alarm went off. It was a new item, I had bought that was actually made to sound a loud alarm when water is detected in houses. It is usually behind washing machines, dishwashers, under sinks or bathtubs or water heaters. Luckily I bought one to back up our onboard system. This water alarm made in Brampton On. by www.waterlineproducts.com saved us from sinking.

 Image00020    Image00019

We had finished dinner, the sun had set and it was getting dark fast. On hearing the alarm, I lifted the floorboards. to look in the bilge, I was surprised to see how much water we already had in the boat. I turned on the pump….. no sound,…. panic starting to set in,…. Breath,.. calm down,… think this through. The reason I can’t hear the pump is because it is 2 1/2 ft. under water. After checking the outflow I could see that water was indeed being pumped out. I opened the motor cover and could clearly see that we were taking on water through the heat exchanger. A boat does not have a radiator like a car, but instead uses seawater to cool a tank, filled with coolant to keep the motor at the correct operation temperature. This unit is called a heat exchanger, right now it was pumping in sea water into the boat. We tried many things in a short time but could not stop the leak. That’s when I heard the solution “shut off the intake valve” coming from Muriel. Sometimes in panic situations we don’t think of the most common sense solutions. Once I shut off the valve I started to  think about our predicament.

We are in the middle of nowhere anchored behind an island the nearest town sixty miles away. Marine dealers in Panama city, more than 5 hours away. All we would have to do, is flag down a passing fast boat, then travel 2 1/2 hrs. to Carti, a busy harbour with a direct road to the city, We could hire a jeep to take us over 2 hrs. through the jungle on the road to Panama City, which means at least one over night. One of us staying on the  boat alone, “out of the question” . We talked to the man in Cambombia  and he agreed to watch Mistress as long as we returned with Coke a Cola. We set out extra anchor chain, shut off through hulls, and boarded a fast boat to Carti at 5 am to, make the connection with the jeeps to Panama city. The only other passengers were lobsters being delivered to market. Small ones in a cooler, large ones walking around the boat.

Image00001  Image00014

Image00021  Image00003

Fast boat = Large canoe with big engine

Slow boat = Large canoe with paddles

We were loaded into a SUV, 4 wheel drive type vehicle, their all called Jeeps, to travel through the jungle of Kuna Yala,  which is very rough. They even have a border of sorts, between native territory and mainland Panama almost a 1/4 of the total land area.

Image00007 Image00008 


The flag of Kuna Yala has a large swastika, but has no political connection to the Nazi symbol.  It was first used in a rebellion in February, 1925.

Our driver took us to a hotel he recommended in the downtown area with access to the Metro so we could easily travel anywhere in the city to find new parts all I can say about Panama city is we will return, right now we want to de-stress and find the part needed to fix our problem. .We will cover Panama City in a future blog post..

When we visited the Yanmar dealer, the maker of our engine, we were told the parts we required had been discontinued,.The only option for us was to seal the leak, and get to a place where a mechanic could have a look at it. No mechanic was going to come to us. Giving up on marine stores and listening to our son Jonny, “Dad real mechanics can fix anything with zip ties and silicone”. So we loaded up with both epoxy and high temp silicone.

The following morning we checked out at 5 am to start our long journey back to Mistress. We took more than a week of applying a layer,… then drying 18 hrs., …turn on the water, checking for leaks,…. re-applying, till no leaks appeared. When we turned on the engine, it was  still leaking but it was just a trickle, we had to get to a marina. Light wind so the motor needed to be used.

Image00012  Image00011

Image00013      Image00020

Here we go next stop Porvenir !!!!!!    

Jan 12


Number of View: 0


The Naguargandup Cays are a beautiful chain of mostly uninhabited islets scattered along a six  mile long barrier reef, they are situated close to the mainland the water is well protected and calm. We had the opportunity of spending more then a week here in this little piece of paradise. We sailed to the small island of Morbedup,  better known as Cambombia, meaning conch one of the food staples.As we were lowering the anchor an “ulu”, canoe to offer help and welcome us to the community.There are only two cousins with families who had  huts at either end of the island. Approx. 10 adults and six children. A few of the children were away during the week on a bigger island to attend school. The island is about half a mile circumference, covered in coconut trees, with no electricity. The men rise early before Sun-up, leave in their ulu’s to go fishing, or collect lobsters and conch. Others days are spent travelling to the mainland where they have farm plots, that grow bananas, breadfruit, coconuts, yucca, pineapples. and or collect fire wood.  The only income earned is by selling things to the visiting cruisers. The women offer their beautiful Molas,  which are Panama’s most famous handicraft, and are appreciated in most countries. They are intricately made by sewing and cutting different layers of colourful cloth. Each Mola is unique, and they usually show abstracted forms of birds, animals, or marine life. Some take almost a month to complete.They also sell fruit, or offer seafood meals served on a large table beside the huts, Lobster, fish, or conch with rice and plantains and fresh baked bread less, then ten dollars.

Image00016  Image00020

Image00022  Image00024

Image00028  Image00029

Image00030  Image00031

The trading boats stop by loaded down with goods to sell. The oldest women on the island, which was Grandma, is always the first out on to the small dock to haggle with the men over prices, she bought eggs, limes, tomatoes, frozen chicken, and cooking oil. I couldn’t resist getting in on the action, whole bird, insides, head and all…..$2.

Image00021  Image00022

Image00032  Image00033

The islands here are being threatened by 2 major problems……Global Warming and Plastic.

The oceans are rising and washing away the shoreline of the low-lying  islands, trees falling into the water.

The other problem, and one we can make a difference with, is to, stop using so much plastic. Some beaches have piles of various objects, 50% water bottles that have ended up in the water. With nobody recycling, it will remain an eyesore for a long time. Burning it is not an option. Imagine this in your own backyard, with nothing you can do about it.


Image00026   Image00023


Jan 05

Islands in Kuna Yala, Isla San Blas

Number of View: 0

Isla Pinos


This small island was going to be and is a most cruisers original landfall into the San Blas, but we changed our minds when we were still in Colombian waters.

The Anchorage on this island has a bar/restaurant that serves fresh seafood and cold Panama beer with a small beach, right out front, in a postcard setting. It also serves as a over night stopover for the boats delivering backpackers into Colombia. We had one of these boats show up with more than 20 passengers, who spent their time enjoying a lobster dinner then drinks on the beach, before,setting up hammocks and sleeping under the thatched roof.

Image00014  Image00017

Image00020  Image00024


Image00025  Image00021

Image00011  Image00010

Image00015  Image00022

Snug Harbour


Image00010  Image00012

Image00004  Image00013

Image00007  Image00006



At the mouth of the Rio Diablo, close to the mainland are 2 communities united by a bridge, the islands of Nangana and Corazon de Jesus. The residents have decided to give up the traditional Kuna way of life. Most of the women don’t wear molas, and the chef has little authority. Still we were encouraged to go meet with him. This is one of the most “advanced” communities in all of Guna Yala, and has some real benefits. There is a bank, but wouldn’t work for us, a health center, library and best of all, the internet, it came in better if you stood directly under the antennae near the bridge. Pages took around 30 seconds to refresh. Good enough for email.

Walking through the town we noticed the flicker of televisions from the huts. Most of them were huge sets 40 inches or more.Rum and beer can be bought freely at any of the bars., in town there are several. We found a good deal at the pool hall., $12 US for a 1 litre bottle. In the evening, just before sundown, there was fresh bread from a small bakery.

We took a trip up the river but didn’t go the 3 hrs. to a lake and waterfalls where the Kuna go to get fresh water.

The Colombian trade boats are always in the port one leaves, another one arrives.

The men all ages in the evening play basketball, the teenagers play Volleyball ,the town has won several championship awards.


Image00019  Image00021

Image00023  Image00010

The sign list what’s for sale at the store…..beside it…We Cut Hair

Image00011  Image00009

Image00012  Image00008

Image00013  Image00015


Dec 29

Puerto Escoses

Number of View: 0


In 1698 William Patterson, a cofounder of the bank of England, organized and financed an expedition to found a settlement in the bay of Puerto Escoses. The 1300 Scots who built Fort Andrew, of which today only ruins remain, ender up having a terrible time, faced with starvation and disease. In the end the project became a fiasco and after less than two years in the Darien, region those that remained alive returned to Scotland. Just after they left, a fleet with reinforcements arrived from Scotland and made a second attempt to survive. They suffered the same problems as the predecessors and Fort Andrew was given up for good in 1702. Of the nearly 3000 people involved, over 2000 died. Fort Andrew is hardly recognizable. This is the only attempt the Scots ever made to colonize in America.

Image00001       Image00005

Sooner or later it had to happen, Today was that day a bit stressful I guess I should have studied the chart more. I felt pretty confident we have 3 navigation programs 2 guide books, we should be able to get around the islands  with out running aground. Nope as we headed between point of land and a small island where at least 30 men in Cayucos were  fishing. we started to see bottom. When I checked the depth it said 10ft. I slowed down and continued on 9,8,7,6 checked chart plotted said we are in the right place. Mistress needs 5ft 7in shallow on both sides hard to turn around. Left or right. I chose left we came to a stop, the keel in a sand bar. A  little while later an older guy in a dug out canoe came paddling over to us. I’m sure the first thing  he said is “ Its shallow here.” He spoke no English but a little Spanish I spoke no Kuna so Spanish it would be. We decided to put out a stern anchor line and winch ourselves free. We put our spare anchor line out the back of the boat, then into the dinghy. The plan was to row out to deep water then drop the anchor. Once it was set we would get to work. We did all this, which took about an hour then started winding the line became taut, so it must be doing something. Another small boat approached 2 young guys curious as to what was going on, some how they thought we had the anchor stuck not really paying attention to them they jumped in the water and pulled the anchor out of the bottom. They then took the anchor of tied the line on there boat and attempted to pull us off, with Mistress in reverse and them pulling we started having some success. Then suddenly everything stopped, the rope was around the prop. Now I think felt really bad, we were sick to our stomachs. They dove back in the water and started unwinding the rope some needed to be cut out. Another motorboat approached, we were becoming the local attraction. After 1 1/2 hours of diving, cutting,  and pulling fibers out of the shaft we finally had it clean again. By now it was in the afternoon, the tide was going down we were settling more into the sand, constantly boats of all sizes went by us to have a look, or offer words of encouragement in Kuna. We tried digging the sand around the keel til sundown. High tide was scheduled for around noon the next day. As it got darker the boat heeled more and more, listing 25 degrees on its side, bobbing gently it was like a funhouse inside, no level surface that we could sleep upon. At daybreak we put out the anchor again, and kept the line taught hoping the rising tide would pull us free. Every 15min we gave it a flew more turns. Around 11:30am we started moving slowly, the shell on the bottom which I had been staring at was now behind us. Suddenly we floated free  pulling on the anchor we moved to deep water but it seemed it was stuck a fishing boat came along the side of us with 4 men whom had earlier asked us for 500 to pull the boat off. We tried again to pull  the anchor it would not budge. we were drifting to shallow water again. One of the men wanted to dive down and lift it by hand. Too dangerous I told them to cut the line, they could have the anchor. I just wanted to get going. We headed toward an anchorage not far away to put the last days events behind us. As they say……. “Its all part of the adventure.”


Image00006  Image00004


Dec 22

Puerto Perme’

Number of View: 0


As we started to travel, we moved just 8 miles away from where we checked in to a small harbour called Puerto Perme it is a small pocket, protected from all sides with a reef and a beach. It looks just like a postcard. We enjoyed watching the pelicans follow the dug out canoas around the bay, while the boys fished with nets. seems like the men come  out at sunrise and the young boys fish in the afternoon. By all the laughter we heard, it is as much fun as it is work.

There is a Kuna village but we didn’t visit, we figured they don’t get many boats stopping here, it would seem like we are being nosey. We did go the beach, and sit in the shallow water attempting to cool off. Later in the evening we seen a pelican going across the top of the water at a strange angle when we realized the carcass was in the mouth of a swimming crocodile , just 20 feet in front of our boat.       THERE GOES THE SWIMMING!!!!


Image00012  Image00010

Image00009  Image00011

Image00013  Image00010

Dec 15

Obaldia, ….Arrival to Panama, Oct.30/2017

Number of View: 0


After an enjoyable night passage, we are in the border town of Obaldia. The town situated at the southern end of the country, is an easy access point for drugs and guerrillas, so has a high military presence, there is an armed guard post on the main dock.

Image00007  Image00002

Checking into the country here was not easy, the love paper work, everything is written out by hand. Our first stop was to the guard, after looking over our papers, we were sent to immigration our directions were to walk to the palm tree turn left go over a wooden bridge, you should see it. simple !!! After getting totally lost, we ask a man who directed us to the right  place. When we got there, we were told to sit, we were the only ones in the office, the agent would be back soon.

Image00004   Image00005

About ten minutes later a guy comes in carrying his lunch. He sat down at his desk, hid behind his computer and watched a TV on a table in the next room. about 30 min went by before he asked to see our passports. he the looked at every page and read every stamp. He then started filling out forms probably 4 papers for each of us, then gave us a e page form to fill out. Parents names, children’s names, ages, where are they all had to be written down. The best was shade of skin colour. luckily there was a place to get copies made just four doors away. They needed 3 copies of all documents. When we were finished we walked aback over to the guard post. the soldier looked over our papers then told us we now needed to report to the Port Authority funny it was 1 small street away from where we just came from. Upon arriving there we found it empty extended lunch hour. Again after waiting for awhile the port captain showed up filled he necessary forms all written out by hand, stamped and singed. We paid our fees and Mistress was welcomed to the country. Back to see the guard it was now mid afternoon and starting to rain, but he didn’t hesitate, “oh my god”….. more copies. Every new formed copied twice. When we finally in the rain, he inspected all our forms and documents before calling for an agent to inspect our boat. No answer, nobody wants to get wet… Manana, tomorrow, we will be inspected first thin in the morning. A whole day went by but we still must complete one last thing to be admitted to Panama. we stood talking to the guard who is learning English, impressed with my Spanish. We gave him correct pronunciation of words he was having trouble with.

Image00006    Image00008


We returned to Mistress, to wait for morning.

Dec 08

Leg 1, To San Blas

Number of View: 0



  We left Santa Marta at first light , having woke up at 6am. The winds were forecast to be light , so we knew it would be a motor-sail to Puerto Velero, 57 nm. SW along the coast.

Our friends Ineke and Mike were stationed at the end of the pier to wave us farewell.

Santa Marta has been a nice stop, we  are going to miss it. From here we have travelled all through Colombia, on their inexpensive transportation system.

Our last days have been busy, provisioning, and getting ready to travel. Our fridge was not getting cold, but under Mikes instructions and use of his hoses, we added more Freon, which solved the problem. With everything stowed away, our forward Vee berth packed with bags of water, and other odds and ends, we left the marina.

It felt great to be back on the water again, after staying 2 days 0ver our one year visa the wind and the waves felt so relaxing.

Image00004  Image00005

Image00003  Image00008

About 5 miles out we had the Armada Nacional Coast Guard come along side, and  we were asked to stop, they wanted to inspect our vessel. Two officers along with their dog boarded Mistress than sat in the cockpit checking our documents. In the lumpy conditions, they cut the visit short, wished us a good trip, then returned to the inflatable. Soon after we discovered that our fridge was not working, again the temp soaring to almost 80. All our frozen and vacuum pack meats were spoiling. where we are headed to, the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama have very few stores. We are planning to stay one month, so the meat in the fridge was important.

The Magdalena river which travels from the south of the country and empties into the ocean at Barranquilla is fast flowing and littered with debris. Everything from household refuse,to vegetation to whole tree trunks come floating out just west of the city. We had to keep a good look out, and zig zag around the piles, some the size of a small Island. If we ran into one of these it would have stopped us dead in our tracks in the swells they were quite hard to see. It was a beautiful sunset, but our hopes of making it to the anchorage by dark ended watching the sun sink on the horizon.

We rounded Punta Hermosa in the dark, moonless night then followed the lighted channel to the anchorage other than a fisherman checking his net, we were the only boat there it was 8 30 pm, after our 12hr journey, we would tackle the fridge problem in the morning.

Turns out it was an easy fix, we changed the electrical control module, which luckily we had, but it meant we would have to stop in Cartagena to buy more meat.  Image00009 

   Image00011  Image00013


Oct 04

Back in Santa Marta, 2017

Number of View: 0


We are back in Santa Marta, after a long summer with our family and friends. Wished we could have spent more time with each and everyone of you, but we had a lot to deal with. From the birth of a Grand-Son to the loss of a Parent, all I can say is, we had our hands full.

We had been worried about Mistress, our home, since the middle of the summer. We couldn’t get in contact with the marina, which only added to the stress. Friends here checked on her and reported that she was doing well, and looked good from the outside.

After a comfortable flight, even carried by Avianca crew, who were on strike, we arrived back at the marina early in the evening. It had been raining, the humidity around 80%, we will need to acclimatize once again. 

The strong sun has burnt the bright work, dust everywhere including inside the cabin, we need to clean…….Stem to Stern…….but first, clear a spot to sleep.  Tomorrow.

Image00001  Image00002


Image00007  Image00008

Image00004  Image00005

Image00003  Image00009

We did have a couple of residents move in while we were gone, a crab, and some type of animal that just left a mess. Both have moved on. We also had a can of beer, that we been stowing since we started this journey to offer to King Neptune. Sadly, it exploded in the heat.

Image00015  Image00016


Seems like the local grocery store knew we were coming, it was decorated, and stocked up with beer and skids of eggs ( something I always find funny, unrefrigerated).

Image00010  Image00011

Image00004  Image00005

Image00002  Image00003


Nice to be back, now the task of getting ready to sail toward the San Blas Islands, and to mainland Panama.

May 12

Carnival 2017, Barranquilla, Colombia

Number of View: 0


The Carnival of Barranquilla is without a doubt the most famous and internationally recognized event in Colombia. Eagerly awaited by the Colombians and all the people that want to discover and enjoy a cultural and folkloric event, the visiting crowd will encounter  activities and parades full of cultural diversity, happiness, joy and of course music. The Carnival of Barranquilla is the third biggest Carnival after the one of Rio de Janeiro and Venice. Every year, the Carnival begins 4 days before the Holy Wednesday while the most important day takes place on Saturday with the famous battle of flowers. During the battle, afro-indigenous dancers dance el Torito, el Diablo, la Conga (Congolese tango) and the Pilanderas. The event finishes with the symbolic funeral of “Joselito Carnival”.

Image00011  Image00006

   Image00007   Image00014 

To get into the true spirit of Carnival, you must dress in party clothes, it also might save you from being foamed ……..Gringo.!!! 

Image00005  Image00006


While Barranquilla’s carnaval may lack the publicity of it’s Brazilian cousin, it’s known to be just as spectacular. The Colombian carnaval takes place 40 days before Easter, this years carnaval takes place from February 25th-28th, 2017.

Starting as a muddle of pagan, catholic, and other ethnic festivities, it has come a long way from it’s humble roots. The Barranquilla carnaval is currently the second largest carnival in the world drawing over 500,000 visitors every year.

It has been declared by UNESCO to be a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. For those travelers who aren’t convinced by those impressive facts the bold slogan should change your mind, “Quien lo vive, es quien lo goza” (Those who live are those who enjoy it).


Image00008  Image00010


Image00013    Image00016

Image00017  Image00018  Image00005

People of all ages participate in Parade.

Image00019  Image00020

  Image00002  Image00001 

Image00003  Image00004

The Greatest Party.

Also visit us on Youtube….Tutty Lee



Apr 11

Bucaramanga, Parque National del Chicamocha

Number of View: 0


We took the bus out of a small bus station in San Gil, to an area known to have similarities to the Grand Canyon, in the U.S.. Parque Nacional del Chicamocha opened in 2006, from it’s 360o look out,  provides views of the majestic canyon. We chose to take the teleferico (cable car), 6.3 km which descends to the base of the canyon, then ascends to the top of the opposite rim, Mesaa de los Santos. The ride takes 22 minute, one way. They also offer paragliding for those that want to soar over the canyon below.  

Image00014  Image00015

Image00016  Image00017


Image00003  Image00004


Image00010  Image00012


Image00006  Image00007

After lunch, everything closes for lunch, we caught the first cable car so we could spend some time in the waterpark to cool off. It was the middle of the week, but I’m sure, on week ends this place is packed.


After a relaxing afternoon, a lady that works in the ticket booth went out to the highway, and flagged down a passing bus., We needed to travel into the city of Bucaramanga , where we could get a bus back to Santa Marta. Our land excursion coming to an end. 

Image00018  Image00019