I am writing to wish you happy and wonderful New Year’s, and to give a little recap about our position, on the planet and perhaps in life.
I apologize for the long absence from writing, the transition from traveling to a semi-stasis in Panama waters was not particularly fertile for keeping up with this blog. I am hoping that something finally switched with this New Year transition. After all there is so much to tell, even if we moved so little!
At the moment we are in wonderful Kuna Yala, an autonomous indigenous region within Panama’s borders made of hundreds of tiny islands, encrusted by big sections of coral reefs teeming with marine life. It is definitely one of the nicest places I have ever sailed to (let’s say it, the best). If you don’t know anything about it I suggest you check out this Facebook Group I administer. If you are on of the lucky people who is not on Facebook, stay tuned on this blog for some pictures and an extensive description when I will encounter a broadband internet.
Panama is becoming a mid-term stop, a place where we are hoping to gather resources and finances for the next chapter of our voyage. Kate here is able to continue and improve her new career of scientific papers editor, but I struggled to find reliable sources of income. I had so many offers yet neither of those resulted in something concrete and long term. Right now I am freelancing as a chef for a Turkish Gulet named Jubilee, and keeping an eye out for other gigs on charter boats.
We are aware of the threat that this country pose on voyagers: calm waters and favorable weather all year round, modern infrastructure and services still with a laid back culture, and all for a reasonable price tag. It’s not a coincidence that this place is referred to as the elephant graveyard, as many vessels end up piling up here to finish their lives.
We are also aware that too much comfort could kill our voyaging desire, and we really want to get back underway and finally cross the tiny stretch of land that separates us from the Pacific Ocean, where a bounty of destinations awaits.
Our electric motor is not the best solution for a Canal crossing, as the vessel is required to keep a minimum speed of 5knots at all times during the transit. This is way too fast for our means, and we will have to get creative about that, either strapping an outboard engine to our transom, or looking for friendly bigger yachts that could give us a tow. The trucking alternative across the isthmus we were looking for does not seem to be viable, but we will keep asking.
Getting to the other side of Panama would be just one of the steps that allow us to continue voyaging, although probably the most important. Once there we would assess our best opportunity to set sail, depending on the conjunction between time of the year and finances. Luckily the Pacific side of Panama offers plenty of opportunities for cruising destinations, so in case of a prolonged wait we could enjoy more exploration of places like Coiba, Las Perlas Islands, and other great destinations.
We are trying to keep some dangerous habits in check. For example, we decided not to answer the call of the sirens of boat work, and get back to a total refit again. It is a tempting thought because the more we learn how it is to live and sail on Tranquility the more we like to design and make improvements. There is a bit of work scheduled for early 2018, including a haul out and bottom paint, But nothing revolutionary. It would be also important to give Tranquility a thorough check before setting sail for long ocean passages. After all, Tranquility is a good enough vessel as it is.
We are developing a plan to leave Panama. Even if it is still under construction, it’s a first step to start 2018 with a purpose. Rest assured that I will keep you on the loop of further developments. In the meanwhile, I wish you and your family and friends joy and tranquility for New Year, and hope for a bright future.