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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

Within sight of the Canal

August 5, 2014

Dave awoke at 6am to find he had been eaten alive by bug bites.  Melissa was bit too, but she doesn’t react as much as Dave who was in itch hell.  He believes that there are bugs (probably no seeums) in our bed.  So Melissa stripped the bed and went at it with a can of Raid.  Oddly we've looked in every country since Mexico for a bug bomb/fogger that we could set off when we know we will be away from the boat a few days.  Alas Central America doesn't have them at all.  They have Raid and plug in's (like a Glade plug in air freshener but with bug repellant continually being dispensed) but we've been hesitant to use them in the confined space of the boat.  We plan to wash the bedding once we reach the Isla Taboga moorings later today.  Isla Taboga is where we plan to leave the boat for our trip to Seattle.  So we’ve got several days work ahead of us to get the boat ready to lock up for 10 weeks while we are gone.

Along the way we saw squat.  Most of the way it looked like this in all directions because we were too far from land to see anything at all.  This is what Melissa imagines it must be like to cross an ocean.  Days and days of this:

 

We did see some whales in the distance – maybe 2 miles away – we could see the big splashes as they jumped out of the water.  But no close encounters like yesterday.  The dolphins did come to visit while Melissa was sitting on the bow with her feet over the side, camera ready to take pictures.  But one playful guy managed to swat his tail and splash her right in the face drenching her and the camera.  On purpose?  Who knows for sure.  But they definitely know you are there watching because you can see them turn and look up at us.  The camera was fine, thank goodness.

Eventually we could see Isla Taboga in the distance:

As we again crossed the Gulf of Panama, nearing Panama City the shipping traffic got more dense.  Dave was watching the traffic on the AIS system, and was giving Melissa a countdown to a collision path we were on with a tanker.  “20 minutes till we die” he would say.  “um hum” was her reply, not having looked up from her game of solitaire.  At one point a big ship crossed our path and honked their horn at us.  Dave had them well in sight, but hailed to let them know we had changed course to steer to their aft.  Turned out to be a ship that transports boats across the ocean.  The back end opens up and the inside floods.  Then boats like ours can drive aboard, be set in slings, and then they pump the water out of the boat, and sail across the ocean.  We've debated taking our boat back to Seattle someday on one of these rigs.

Finally as we neared Panama City we could see skyscrapers and all the ships awaiting their turn to cross through the Panama Canal.  The red arrows in this picture shows the number of big ships we can see awaiting clearance to pass through.  The yellow circle is where the city sky scrapers can be seen.  And on the far right you can see the enormous fuel depot.

And lest you think we are exaggerating the number of vessels, Dave took this screen shot off the AIS system he uses to monitor traffic underway.  The red boat looking icon is us.  The green triangles are ships:

After we grabbed the lines and attached them to the boat here at the Taboga Island mooring field, Melissa turned to Dave and said, “OMG, this might be our last stop on the Pacific side”.  And promptly burst into tears.  It having suddenly struck home how far we have come.  Those that know her well will know how rare a moment this is.)  Dave stares at her with the "oh crap what am I supposed to do now" guy look.

We are now further east (longitude 79 degrees 33 minutes) than where Melissa’s Mom lives in Florida.  No, that wasn’t a typo.  And we’ve gone a total of 8,034 miles (6,979 nautical miles).  One third of the circumference of the earth.  Dave says he remembers thinking a year ago when we left Seattle while pondering whether we would go through the Panama Canal, “there is no way we will make it that far”.  One day at a time.  One day at a time.

Oddly, we are not at the southern most point on the trip.  We actually had to turn back north to reach the Panama Canal.  The southern most point was when we went around Punta Mariato on Dave’s birthday a few days ago.  Latitude 7 degrees 11 minutes.

Isla Taboga is a thriving community.  There is a ferry to Panama City which is how we will begin the long trip home in a few days.

We decided a special bottle of wine was in order.  Melissa remembered that Joe & Amy McCarthy had given us a bottle of wine from their famous wine cellar at our cast off party last May in Seattle.  Melissa had stowed it away, not even in the bilge reserved for the “good wines” that we pull out on birthdays and crossing into new countries and such.  But instead tucked it away where she would have to pull it out intentionally on a very special occasion.  We decided that this was it.  Ok, Melissa might have done an evil thing to the wine and opened it then put it in the fridge to cool off.  But seriously, a good red shouldn’t be served at 86 degrees (the current inside temperature of the boat).

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Sounds like an emotional period. Hope the JC Cellars Rockpile Syrah fit the bill ... and managed to lift spirits. Best wishes for itch and tear reduction ... and a successful passage!



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