Boats

So much of our amazing planet is comprised of water and it’s an amazing feeling to be on or near the water. A kayak on a warm day, a sailboat, a motorboat and water skis… I love boats and look for opportunities to be out on the water (or in it) wherever I can. I haven’t gotten to sail to any of my destinations yet but have lived on boats […]


Sailing in Austin, TX – WooHoo!

It’s been a while since I’ve sailed. My last sailing venture was at Roatan, one of the Bay Islands off of Honduras, and that didn’t actually include much sailing because their appeal for crew was really just an appeal for a wallet. But today I got to sail in the Beer Can Races at the Austin Yacht Club, on Lake Travis in Austin, Texas, USA. “Sailing in Austin?”— some people have asked, surprised. Yep! Austin, Texas doesn’t have ocean, but it does have Lake Travis. And, in summer the lake is warm and inviting for swimming too. (Unfortunately, it’s about 53′ less of a lake now than “normal” due to dry spells and water use — but those boats still able to launch still get to enjoy it.) So today promised to be the first of a lot of sailing for me for the next month while I get to call […]


Deborah sounded the most interesting – my sailing reference

Richard, who selected me to be the line handler in December 2012, making it possible for me to transit the Panama Canal, published this about me: I put a post on CS to look for extra crew for our Panama Canal transit. Of the people who responded I thought Deborah sounded the most interesting so she joined us for the day. I must have made the right choice because she proved to be very good company and an asset to our crew.


Departing Santa Calalina, Panamá

As many other travelers have learned, it is best to start your travels early in Panamá. I was awake at 6am to start this travel day. I wasn’t sure where my own evening’s destination — and had several thoughts in my head — but it all starts with the almost $5 bus from Santa Catalina to Soná — and it is best to be at that bus stop at 7 as it departs 7:15 or 7:30. Traveling by bus from Santa Catalina, it is always necessary to travel first to Soná. From there, most travelers take a second bus into Santiago, a farm industry town that is at the highway crossroads. (A rest stop on the Pan American Highway acts as the mid-way stopping point for busses between Panamá City and David.) Here is the bus schedule posted at Ellie’s Surf & Shake shop ( Surf & Shake makes great shakes, […]


Soloy – a true indigenous Panamanian village

I was very lucky the day I met Susan, a Peace Corps volunteer who is working in a tiny indigenous Panamanian village. I wasn’t able to visit Susan’s village as she was away for a break, but I was able to visit the fabulous Juan Carlos and his friend Elmon in their own village, Soloy. I plan to write more about this visit and the opportunities for others to visit and learn about indigenous Panamanian, but here are a few photos for now. Getting to Soloy, Panama

Dining with Elmon's family in Soloy, Panama

Travel between Panama and Colombia

I share this because every backpacker that has time, has the interest to travel between Panama and Colombia. I have not made this trip and will not be doing so, but I watched a lot of travelers research and book passage. The flights are around $500 as are the commercial sailing boats. The sailing experience be excellent or, like some travellers tell me, your captain can fail to being enough food and water or can be high or drunk on the voyage. Every hostel in Panama City, and Captain Jack’s in Portobelo (and maybe hostels in Bocas del Toro) can provide information about several of the approximately 30 boats that now make this trip. Jeff at Captian Jack’s is a sailor and told me that several years ago there were only 10. This voyage is a popular thing for people with boats to do in order to make money. Jeff […]


Hoping for a boat

It is 8:20am. I am again sitting at Captain Jack’s bar, upon the bar stool immediately beside the radio. I woke up before 7, took a fast (cold) shower, threw my sarong on to rush from the bathroom, then quickly donned my dress to run upstairs. There are two reasons for my early rise and rush — but both are because late last night I met a guy named Aaron who was lucky enough to be invited onto the boat that is sailing to Bocas del Toro this morning and I asked him to please put in a word for this solo traveler. I wrote down my contact info and my credentials. He said “I want to be the person that wakes you up with a call to get down to the boat. Sleep with that phone.” I absolutely did sleep with my phone! But, I do not get Claro […]


Portobelo, Panama – exploring a fort

This fort is the closest one to the town. It’s the easiest one to visit as no boat is needed. However, the other one is the first line of defense and is three levels and more interesting. (You can get to the other one by renting a kayak and enjoying the harbor as well. It is difficult to see here but that long wall is where the cannons are. They are clearer in the next photo.


A Gal & El Canal III

I’m a gal impressed with El Canal The first time I visited the Panamá Canal I was a tourist visitor at the museum. The second time I visited the Panamá Canal it was as a customer making a transit. The third time I visited the Panamá Canal it was from the perspective of a Canal Authority Tugboat Captain. The ships that transit the Panamá Canal are quite large. Under their own power, their own mechanics are well able to steer the ships. However, they must travel an extremely show speed within the Locks of the canal, as well as through the Gaillard* Cut. At these slow speeds, their rudders aren’t effective. They must rely on tugs and “mules” to steer them. The job of the Tugboat Captian is tricky. It requires precision to be able to match the speed of a ship, to come up right against it, and to […]


Heavenly sounding Panama marina

As I get ready to head to Panama I am hoping to see boats again, to get out on the water in a kayak or canoe, to snorkel — and hopefully to finally sail. If I am very lucky, I will soon be seeing this hurricane-free Caribbean marina at Bocas Del Toro, which sounds so fantastic to me. The Marina at Red Frog Beach (part of Island Global Yachting) at Isla Bastimentos in Panama. Per the website, it “offers unparalleled access to beautiful sandy beaches, resort amenities which includes 2 new restaurants, a large island activity lounge, small general store and boat service to Bocas del Toro town.” The site goes on to say: “…you can spend time exploring the pristine beaches of Bocas del Toro and the towering rainforest preserve at Red Frog. The islands in Bocas del Toro in Panama offer everything you need to relax. The 250 […]


Hotel in La Ceiba in Honduras for the Bay Islands

Are you are traveling to one of the Bay Islands (Roatan or  Utila) by ferry and need to spend a night in La Ceiba?  Backpackers tend to stay a night at the Banana Republic Hostel. It is right by a good part of town and a great dentist! — and is safe, but it definitely third-world backpacking. Forget the kitchen. The pots lacked handles. There weren’t 4 forks or spoons or knives. Knives were broken, the kitchen was filthy. Don’t count on water for your complete shower or an odor-free bathroom. And the bus out of La Ceiba info that the staff gave each of us was very wrong and problematic. A private room for 2 or 3 runs 450 Limpira, US$25 at this time, which you can split 3 ways. The dorm there runs 150 Limpira as well. (The dorms have backpack-sized huge, amazing lockers though, with electricity for charging!) From […]


Leaving Roatan

May 28, 2012 It was difficult to choose to leave Roatan. I knew I would be packing up my snorkel for quite a while. I would be going far from a family, from people, I came to love. I was leaving a place of beauty that was comfortable and relaxing. But many more places remain for me to get to know so it was time to move on. I believe I will return to Roatan so that makes it easier. It was simple to walk from Mel’s place to the main road, stand a moment, and have a taxi turn around for me. The driver had a friend riding along who spoke English well, having been teaching himself since his arrival from the mainland just 3 months earlier. I forgot what they charged me, but it was exactly what Mel said it would be. the ride was easy. So was […]


Port Royal, day 2: odd start, comfortable welcome

This morning Irene and Robert came over from their boat, Flilat I was thrilled that I would have a chance to speak with them! They came to ask Skipper-man to translate a label that is in German. I greeted them, called Skipper-man, and then tried to stick around so I could speak with them afterward. But Skipper-man literally pushed me aside and off the bench, so I was unable to maintain a conversation or set up another meeting. Later, I mentioned to Skipper-man that I was glad they were here and he asked why. I told him, “she has a Mac and she invited me on board to fix some of my problems.” Then Skipper-man announced we were move to a buoy closer to the land. My hopes of connecting with Irene were dashed but I was thrilled that although we’d still be anchored out, separated by water, it would […]


Roatan, Port Royal, still on the boat

Today we moved again. Again I expected to sail on to the next island but again we just motored a short way. We are in Port Royal, anchored out at a buoy kindly put out by the owners of Mango Creek Lodge here in Port Royal. It is their beautiful, colorful over-the-water cabanas we face. I knew about Mango Creek Lodge from Lori, who told me and said it is a nice courtesy to go on land as soon as we get there and say hello to the owners. I told this to the family as we pulled in and tired up to the buoy. And they did go in. While I was cleaning up below, they quietly dropped the dingy and headed ashore. I came up and looked at them, hands up to ask “what…” No reply. how long would they be ashore? Why wasn’t I allowed to come? […]


Calabash Cove Day 3, The Sailboat

As the past 2 days, in the morning I went up to the cafe to check email and keep in touch with people to let them know I was safe. It has become difficult to explain to clients that my month of being out of touch has not begun yet, so I am quite uncomfortable. As I sat there, Nico came in to let me know “we are going out to visit the area for the day.” That was ok. They needed family time. But were they just going to motor away in the dingy and not tell me? Here is where bring “crew” can be uncomfortable: it turned out I, the woman of the boat felt I was acting like a guest and not working. I was crew and waiting to sail and in the meantime trying to be helpful with the kids and to help her cook. (And […]


Calabash Cove Day 2, The Sailboat

Today was a terrific day. Mark, owner of Turtlegrass Marina here in Calabash Cove took us out on his motorboat for a tour of the area. Now I have seen some of Roatan’s unique life on the water. The island is mountainous so there is on,y one main road across it, with small offshoots leading to homes or neighborhoods. Many homes are right on the water, built on stilts, and boats are a major mode of transportation. Businesses are either a tad inland so you can still arrive by boat or they are right on the water. The island, or at least this area, has many small inlets or waterways called Bites. Some passages are narrow and lined with mangroves so one proceeds slowly through them. We went to a supermarket or general store that was pretty well stocked. I also bought some great tasting oranges from a fruit cart. […]