Friday 30 January 2015

Meeting the locals of San Blas Islands (Jan 28)

We spent a good part of the morning and part of the afternoon on 3 of the local islands that are 200 to 400 metres apart.  We looked at the local molas which are quilted, with lots of stitching and applique.  This is a very important export (via all the tourists) of the San Blas Islands.  living with a quilter I was able to discern the ones that had much better hand stitching.  The locals come out in their dug out canoes and the women are very persistent in selling their wares.  The Kuna Indians are a matriarchal society and the women are very hard bargainer.  The women control the finances and the business.  The men fish and do the menial tasks.

We met a local named Nesto who spoke a little English as he lived in California and worked on a boat. We were with 3 guys from another boat "No Regrets" and one of them knew pretty good Spanish so with his Spanish and Nesto's English we got along just fine.  Nesto toured us around the 3 islands showing us the local sites including a school on 2 of the islands. Children over 14 go to school in Panama.  We were shown the church, the many tiny stores and bars.  Nesto also arranged a lobster dinner for the 6 of us.  We got to select our lobsters.  We also will have bread fruit.  We were taken to the local bakery and had to return in 30 minutes to pick up our warm bread.  They have a concrete basketball court where they have challenges from local islands. The island is tiny about 1/2 a km by 1/2 a km.  There are 700 people living on the island Nesto lives on and 300 on the other island. The homes are made of vertical bamboo poles with a thatched roof. The buildings are very close together.



We Made It (Jan 27)

We arrived in San Blas Islands Porvenir about 10 AM local time.  We took down the Stay sail and had the main reefed so that we would not arrive in the dark.  Last evening as the sun was going down we had dolphins dancing on our bow.  A beautiful sight. Particularly when they jump out of the water.  During my 11 to 3 AM shift we must have passed through a shipping lane.  At one point I could see 4 boats.  2 of them passed one on each side of the boat at the same time.  One was 0.7 km away and the other was 0.6 km away.  A little later a Ferry went by all lit up and it was 0.4 km from Maggie.  In all I saw 6 ships during that watch. 

We passed through the half kilometer channel in the reef just around 9 AM.  The rest of the boats have arrived except for 2 that left much later in the week.  I'm sure they will all have lots of stories about their passage.

Monday 26 January 2015

Big Winds Arrive

We turned to head south to the San Blas Islands about 11:15 on Saturday night.  Soon there after the winds and waves picked up.  The Columbian coast did not disappoint we were in the strong winds as expected and as forecast.  The winds were up to 28 knots through the early evening and night last night.  We had furled up the genoa and had the stay sail out so we were moving along at a comfortable 5 to 6 knots of speed.

We have slowed down as it is recommended you go through the coral reef to enter Porvenir in the San Blas Islands between 8 AM and noon.  We expect to be there prior to 8 AM so we may have to heave to and wait to enter the reef.

Sunday 25 January 2015

The Sailing Is Great!

On Friday afternoon we had a AWAC plane fly over us about 4 times.  Obviously having a good look.  

Saturday we had a great day of sailing with 16 to 22 knots of wind from behind.  We were surfing the waves and all was good.  At 11:15 PM we changed course to head straight for the San Blas Islands.  We were stayong at 14 degrees north to miss the strong winds off the Columbian coast. Once we got to 76 degrees we were told we could head south and miss most of the huge winds.  We are currently experiencing a lot of roll tossing and turning in the large waves and swell.  We currently have 18 to 25 knots of wind coming across our stern quarter. That means we are taking the waves about 50 degrees causing the tossing and turning.

The guesses of the crew are in on our arrival.
Bob Jan 26 at 4 PM
Carol Jan 28 at 10 AM
Rob Jan 28 at noon

We actually expect to arrive on the 27th.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Woke up this morning to a new world. 4 to 6 foot waves (1 to 2 metres to you metric people).  There was lots of chop as well and the boat was being thrown around a lot by the waves.  Last night we were flying along at 8 to 9 knots until dark and then we reduced the sails.  Overnight we were able to head almost strait west which is what we want to do as there are some nasty winds that are along the Columbia coast from 73 to 76 degrees longitude. Nasty meaning 25 to 30 knots...  we plan to remain at 14 degrees north until we reach 76 degrees and then we will head to the San Blas Islands.  We are expecting 20 to 25 knots winds from 73 to 76 degrees.  For those of you in the northern clims., it has been hot here with the 28 degrees and 95% humidity.  Today was a reprieve with a bit of cloud and the high winds 15 to 21 knots.  I know, I know don't complain about the heat (right Roxan).

Currently we have about 1/2 of the main sail area out to catch the wind.  For the non sailors out there the main is reefed ( or has a reef in it).   The Genoa is also reduced as well.. As the winds increase as we expect them to we will put a bigger reef in the main, furl (roll around the stay) the genoa up and put out the Stay sail which is a heavier material and smaller in size which is what you want in high winds.

Friday 23 January 2015

Odyssey Day 2 Through 4

The big excitement on board today was the diesel on the floor in the aft cabin.  Investigation determined that there was a leak at the top of the tank where the fuel gauge comes out.  A temporary fix was to remove the fuel gauge and put a plug in the hole.  A replacement gasket was fashioned and installation was attempted.  The boat was rocking too much to install the fuel gauge again so the temporary fix will have to do until we have calm seas or we are at anchor.  Last night I had the fun shift from 7 to 11 PM.  As in my last passage from Galapagos to Marquesses the winds are fabulous starting at 7 PM.  We were zipping along at 8 knots with 16 knots of wind. 

The spinnaker has not come out again but we have spent a lot of sailing with the Genoa held out with the spinnaker pole. We have done a fair amount of wing on wing and Captain Rob has called on my experience with down wind sailing for a good part of our trip so far. 

Apart from the boat problems the crew has been getting along great.  I must mention how welcoming Rob and Carol where on my arrival in Martinique. The made me feel right at home, a wonderful feeling. 

We found out today the the BPO representative that will facilitate our check in at the San Blas Islands will not be departing on January 27 as we were originally told.  He will be staying until January 29 so the pressure is off to attempt to get to San Blas Islands by January 27.  Please check out our position by clicking on the link to the right.  As of yesterday at 10 AM local time we were 350 nautical miles from our starting point.  You will see from our path to date that we have sailed a lot further than that to get that far with our zig zagging back and forth.

News Flash -  We hit 9.3 knots of speed... the fastest Maggie has ever gone while Rob and Carol have owned the boat... in 19 knots of wind!   Also at 5:30 PM tonight we had traveled 513 miles from our starting point.

Wednesday 21 January 2015

On Our Way - Almost One Day Out

We departed Le Marin with the crossing of the official start line with great fan fare with cameras flashing and horns blowing. 

There were 7 boats that officially crossed the start line at 12:16 PM local time.  2 turned back - one had to go back to pick up an outboard motor that was in for repair.  The second was a problem with the main sail... One boat was unable to depart as it was waiting for clarification of insurance.  Brazilian insurance companies are not recognized world wide apparently.

The first day of sailing has been a fun one with winds from 8 to 15 knots.  Crew member Bob slept early and did the 11 PM to 3 AM shift.  Just prior to the captain heading down to bed we jibed and had a far better angle on the waves giving the boat a far smoother ride.

This morning we awoke again to a beautiful sunny day. Unfortunately the winds are light and Maggie does not do well in light winds.  We have just raised the spinnaker - the first time it has ever been up.  It has Blue Planet Odyssey across it in huge letters.

The crew are all ecstatic to be underway finally and we are getting along well. To find our location click on the link to the right.

Saturday 17 January 2015

Our immenent departure

This is my first blog for our passage from Martinique to Gibraltar.  The excitement amongst the crew mounts as we prepare for our January 18, 2015 departure at noon as part of the Blue Planet Odyssey(BPO).
Preparations for departure have been ongoing for months or perhaps for the owners of sailing vessel Maggie years.  I have arrived late on the scene having spent the month of November moving the boat from Grenada to Martinique.  If you would like to read about our adventures you can click on the link to the right - Rob and Carol's blog.  I departed my home in the Okanagan in British Columbia on Jan. 12 at 6 AM.  Upon arrival in Martinique I have been helping get the boat ship shape for the journey.  Yesterday was spent working with a mechanic to replace the throttle cable.  We thought we would tackle it ourselves but upon looking at the complexity the captain decided it was a job we did not want to botch 2 days before our big departure.  The cable replacement lasted from 10 to 5:30 with several hours spent attempting to retrieve parts and bolts that fell in the metal tube that hold the steering wheel.  On Thursday we repaired the main sail by sewing up the end of the batten pocket and repairing a hole in the batten pocket.  We did several other repairs to the main sail.  I won't bore you with the details...  We replaced the Genoa sheets and port (left side) flag halyard.  We also installed some mast steps.
As part of the Blue Planet Odyssey our goal is to bring attention to climate change and the effect it will have on the islands around he world like the San Bals Islands which is our first stop. Many of these islands will be under water with a sea level rise and the inhabitants will loose their home.  There is an educational component to this Odyssey as well and my daughters grade 3 class will be following or trip as will many other classes around the world.  We will be deploying weather buoys for.......  If you have children that would like to be pen pals with children in Martinique who are learning English in school let me know.  We can possible set up pen pals all along our route for kids. 

As this is my first blog posting lets go through a few housekeeping tasks
1. I will attempt to post every few days.  While on passage the posts will be sent to my daughters 3rd grade class and they will hopefully be able to post them for me.  My hope is to add a bunch of pictures and they can choose a photo if they wish for each blog.  As I have internet connection I will add photos to the blog.
2. The boat's position will be posted several times per day along with the other vessels on the Blue Planet Odyssey.  you will be able to click on the link to the right to find out our position.
3. Being new to creating a blog please comment often.  Such comments as "Too much information" " Need more information", "too technical", "Great post" or "I hate that post" will be most welcome.  Any hints or ideas will be great.