Nancy and Sam welcome you aboard Windfall, our 1977 Maple Leaf sailboat. Windfall is a center cockpit design, 42' length, 13.5' wide, and 40,000 lbs of cruising fun!

On August 7th, 2010 we set sail on our "No Itinerary" world cruise and enjoying the "Cruising Life" very much! It's a wonderful adventure!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fres-Nooooo! ... California

Kings Canyon (above) & Sequoia National Parks
Nancy INSIDE a 1,000 year old giant Sequoia tree!
  Happy birthday dad. Edward Clark is 89 today and we wish we were in sunny Florida to celebrate his special day with him. Oh well, here we are in COLD Fres-Nooooooo California. Nancy is working in Surgery at a very nice private Surgical Hospital. She likes the schedule of  7am -3:30 M-F and just loves NOT having to be on call or working weekends.   
     Windfall is safely moored at Taboga Island, Panama while waiting for our return, and doing well according to friends living at Taboga keeping an eye on Windfall for us. (Thank you Susan and Chuy at Taboga Moorings!)
The "General Grant" Sequoia








See Mom...I DO own a coat!  It's ONLY 34 degrees in this picture!!
    We went to the hospital's Christmas Party held  at a huge Fresno ballroom with nearly 300 nurses and doctors from the three privately owned hospitals. We had a great time and we  dressed up for the occasion....which meant no colorful Hawaiian shirt or shorts for Sam! I must say that Nancy looked absolutely beautiful wearing a black dress, high heels, and her  BIG smile! I don't get to see Nancy wearing high heels aboard Windfall very often...ok, never!
   The next day we drove 2 hours to the Kings Canyon National Park and the nearby Sequoia National Park. What a treat this was to be driving in the mountains once again and among the huge redwoods. Sam enjoyed the crisp 34 degree fresh mountain air....and hearing Nancy ever-constant complaint of  "Roll that window up! It's freezing in here!"

 We were lucky to beat the winter weather, at the 7,000' elevation the only snow was in the Sequoia shadows. Driving the forest roads are always an adventure this time of year, you never know what wildlife you'll see crossing the road.
    We're getting emails from cruiser friends, Rick and Sue from New York, who's boat Moonshine is moored in El Salvador and they're excited to head south to Panama! We're anxious to see Rick and Sue, along with our Australian friends Peter and Cheryl from Stolen Kiss also moored in El Salvador. And, come to find out, they're all on the same plane to El Salvador! Nancy and I spent a wonderful week touring Guatemala with Rick and Sue, we will be anxious to be "tour guides" while they're in Panama.
A beautiful cold water stream, frozen with ice on the rocks
A great day for a drive in the Sequoia forest
This gives you a better perspective of the giant Sequoias!
Hey watch this... HOLD MY BEER! 

    We plan to spend Christmas with Jeff and Denielle in Alameda at Jeff's brother's home. Then, January 24th, Sam flies to Portland to visit with his best friend Jim. Sam is trying to talk Jim into tagging along back to Panama for a couple weeks of sailing, snorkeling, and enjoying the tropical warmth ...not found in Hood River, Oregon...especially in January!


  
     Walking the aisles at the local mega-stores, factory outlets, and super-malls was a bit overwhelming for us "land-locked" cruisers.  Compared to the "island stores" we've grown accustomed to shopping have placed Nancy and I in a state of "shock." Since being "back in the states" we've noticed how many TV advertisements are forcing you to buy-buy-buy, and how tense our bodies have become from the noise, traffic, and hustle and bustle of everyday living. It's a far cry from our quite laid back "cruising life" aboard Windfall. Yes, we're both homesick for Windfall and warm Panama too.
    To see the huge Christmas inventories stacked to the ceilings, clothing hung in rack after rack, and electrical signs blinking "Big Discounts" did little to increase our already low Christmas Spirit.

    One night we drove through the largest Christmas Tree Lane in America located here in Fresno and only a few blocks from our hotel. At over 2 1/2 miles long, and completely funded by volunteers and donations, the 89th annual Fresno Christmas Tree Lane really helped put us back in the Christmas spirit.
    It was a crisp cold star-filled evening as we entered the beautiful cherry lighted street, colorful twinkling lights crisscrossed the street from tree to tree, and with homes decorated beyond the normal. With windows rolled down and heater turned on "HIGH", we tuned the car radio to cheery traditional Christmas music. We slowly motoring down the street in line with family cars filled with young children wide-eyed at the twinkling lights.
    I can clearly remember as a young boy in the 1960's and sitting in the backseat of my parents car, dressed in PJ's and wrapped in warm blankets, so excited and wide-eyed watching the colorful Christmas lights slowly pass with our noses pressed to the frosty car windows.  Some houses went all out with with spotlights pointed at decorations scattered across the lawns and rooftops. Cars slowly cruised the colorful streets, stopping at the houses with blinking twinkle lights, flashy eye-catching reindeer cutouts, and hand painted Santa plywood characters with packs slung over their backs and filled with presents for good little boys. I remember how warm and comfortable that backseat felt as my eyes grew heavy and I snuggling deeply into the soft handmade blanket my grandmother made for me.
    My father had a wonderful Christmas tradition he did each year for all the children, and grandchildren. Early each Christmas morning, being a farmer, he would hurry our to the barn and scatter a bale of hay across the field to leave for Santa's reindeer. Sure, everyone leaves Santa milk and cookies, but Santa's reindeer need a snack too!
    Then, Dad would drag his feet in the gravel to make two "sleigh tracks" where Santa's sleigh landed on the gravel road leading to the barn - which in our eyes was definite hard proof there really IS a Santa! Of course, besides the sleigh tracks and hay eaten by reindeer, there was even more solid "proof" there really is a Santa... Dad was always quick to point-out the reindeer's hoof marks left in the mud around the scattered hay! Yep! Right there n the mud was indisputable proof!
    I have to admit, it was years later when I noticed Dad's cows, with their muddy hoofs, smiling it seemed, as they slowly chewed that remaining sweet Christmas hay "shared" with Santa's Reindeer!   Thank you for the wonderful memories, Dad, we miss you dearly!

     Nancy and I extend our warmest heartfelt Christmas wishes to you and your families!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Panama Canal, and Back to the USA, and Buying Property?

    Well, Hello everyone. Sit back and relax as this is a great story of the canal "Trip from Hell" we were on.....and, we have a couple surprises too!
   We've had a busy schedule (by Panama standards that is). Last week, we helped our friends aboard Zeppelin go through "The Ditch" and had a very exciting time to say the least. We went through along with a power boat (to remain nameless) that turned out to be the trip from Hell.


Yes, it barely fits into the canal and was behind us! You can see two of eight "mules" connected with cables to help guide
    After watching the powerboat ....lets just call this boat "LOOK OUT ! ".....hitting two tugboats inside the canal, losing a boat fender inside the canal, and hitting the canal wall itself (Ouch!), we made our way through the cut to spend the night on Gatun Lake tied to a mooring with
    We were tied to the big mooring ball and awaiting "LOOK OUT!" as they slowly approached (with them not noticing the 20 knot wind was blowing them directly into the mooring...and with Zeppelin tied onto it as well) they sped past and were lining up for a second attempt. Our adviser suggested Zeppelin quickly untie and move out of "LOOK OUT's" way. We agreed and dropped anchor in 70 feet and a good distance away...Anchoring in Gatun Lake is strictly not permitted for pleasure boats...but, with this case it was and surely one for the record books. We watched as the mooring attempts were finally successful for the stressed crew of "LOOK OUT!"
    It was nearly 2:30 pm the next day as our new adviser aboard and was in a hurry to make way to the second sets of locks. I asked our adviser if we were still to go into the West Locks along with the big orange ship currently heading toward the locks...but,  why was the ship heading into the East set of lock"s and not the West Locks as supposed to be? He called on the radio.... this began the "mass confusion" and the tugs quickly began to pulling the HUGE ship from the East Locks out ,and back to the West Locks...No...no..wait...Change of plans again! Now we're going BACK to the EAST Locks.....and HURRY as the ship is nearly at the entrance to the East Locks and we must be in front of that orange ship along with "LOOK OUT!"!
    Zeppelin was quickly inside and tied to the canal wall as "LOOK OUT!" was out of control and about to make hard contact with Zeppelin. Our adviser said, "If he comes closer just close your eyes because he's GOING to hit you!"
    "LOOK OUT!" was finally stopped and wildly side-tied to the far wall (and not the tug as supposed to be) as Zeppelin retied along side the tugboat (as normal). We felt sorry for the two paid line-handlers aboard "LOOK OUT!"...this should be a hint to any cruiser asking for volunteer line-handlers and not getting ANY response for help...maybe it's YOU! All the cruisers listening to the morning net were aware of "LOOK OUT!"asking for line-handlers and no volunteer help was offered....oh, and another hint for cruisers looking for help...don't ask on the radio if anyone has a spare bucket for the line handlers to use as a port-a-potty while on your boat....you won't get ANYONE to come aboard.....unless you pay....A LOT! Yes, the paid line-handlers used a bucket, but after seeing the conditions aboard "LOOK OUT!"...so would you!
    Due to the Captain's poor seamanship and bad handling of "LOOK OUT!" a new record was set for the longest time to traverse the locks according to our adviser. The Captain and wife (owners of LOOK OUT) have lived aboard 14 years and were on their way to Jamaica and then Bermuda Islands... we hope they make it.
  Eventually,  we were on our way to Shelter Bay Marina where friends, Larry and Lena, aboard Hobo were standing on the dock and awaiting our arrival. After quickly tying Zeppelin to the dock, and giving "fair warning" to the Harbor Master about a "Dangerous Boat" coming in, we watched as "LOOK OUT!" entered the marina's "C" slips at a high rate of speed.
    As Larry and I stood watching, I made a bet that "LOOK OUT !" would hit that BIG catamaran boat side-tied safely against the "B" slips. Larry laughed and took me up on the bet...a Fool and his beer were about to part! Ha! Sure enough, here comes "LOOK OUT!" as he sped past his assigned slip, then, realizing his speed and passing the assigned slip, throws it into reverse...which brought his bow completely around and now pointed directly at the "B" dock...this is where "LOOK OUT!" proceeded to throw the boat into full Forward and run upon the "B" dock itself.  Again, realizing they were in a "tight spot", the Captain throws the boat into reverse where the stern of "LOOK OUT !" bumped against the expensive and helpless catamaran. (Ouch! That will cost!)
    After watching the exciting experience unfold before our wide unblinking eyes, Larry slowly turned his head toward me and said, "I owe you TWO BEERS for that one!"  And, in true cruiser fashion.... Larry stills owes me those two beers!


    We went to a nearby Saturday Market and enjoyed looking at all the great items for sale by the local artists.
Beautiful ceramic plant wall hangers


Oh-oh...they've got LOTS of plants for sale!
Handpainted items - colorful and very detailed
    As of now, Nancy is in Reno taking a test to renew her California Nursing License so she can start a 13 week Traveling Nurse assignment in Sacramento, she starts the new job next Monday!  We are wanting to upgrade Windfall with more solar panels and replenish some of our cruising kitty.  And....hold on to your seats....We are looking to purchase property on the Island of Taboga (the Island of Flowers) ...located just 7 miles offshore of mainland Panama. We've been looking at properties for sometime now for a special place to live. No, we're NOT ready to give up cruising just yet, we still have a LOT of places still on our "Bucket List" to visit and explore before returning and building a home on the island.
Taboga beach walkway - No cars on the island

     Taboga is filled with lots of history...even some Pirates pillaging and plundering...OH MY! History of real Spanish Conquistadors, Pirates - such as Captain Morgan who were at Taboga, buried and sunk golden treasures, and even shipwrecks just off the shoreline!
The ferry dock and where the PT boats trained for WWII
     Yes, occasionally a gold doubloon coin is found washed up onto the nearby beach from real pirate treasure buried or sunk in the clear warm water. I figure Nancy and I will be doing a LOT of diving and using our underwater metal detector! Arrrgh!
    In 1998 construction workers found 1,000 buried treasure coins as they were excavating for a new building right in town!    
    Taboga is where John F. Kennedy trained aboard the famous WWII PT boats  known then as the "Mosquito Fleet." Real artillery fire also took a toll on Taboga. The US Navy used the broad hill facing the town for artillery practice during WWII and even installed a number of anti-aircraft guns and machine-gun bunkers atop the island to protect the canal zone.
    Yes, there is a LOT to see and do here in Panama along with it's beautiful mountains, beaches, and incredible surrounding islands...it's wonderful to say the least, and dare I say "Paradise" with out overstating the obvious. 
    Many tourists and Panamanians come to Taboga to enjoy the warm sandy beach, or to visit the Wildlife Reserve (which consists of half the island). Taboga also has the oldest Church in the Western Hemisphere, and it's still used today.
    Here's a link with some great info of Taboga Island  http://www.taboga.panamanow.com/history/history.html
   For the next 3-4 months Nancy and I will be located at a hotel somewhere in Sacramento while Windfall waits safely and patiently tied to a very secure one-ton mooring off the beach at Taboga.
  Windfall will be lonesome while we're gone, but rest assured anxious upon our return to continue the adventures cruising these warm tropic waters. We are planning to go through "The Ditch" (as the canal is called locally) sometime next year...but as with all good plans, and so much to see on this side (Pacific side) of Panama, we may be here awhile....That's the great thing about not having a schedule!   

See you soon out on the water!
Sam & Nancy

Monday, October 10, 2011

Panama Canal with friends Sunnyside Up

Here comes our Adviser
 Nancy said she needed a trip through the Canal to help rest her mind when we take Windfall through the Canal next February, so we volunteered our line-handling services to Sunnyside Up as they planned to go through the canal October 2nd.
Warship 46 "Rentz" and the Peace Boat
    We were to meet our Adviser at 6am, but as usual it was 9am before we seen the service boat coming to deliver the Adviser. We were lucky to have "Freddy" as he is a dredge operator during the week and does the Canal Adviser gig for extra money on his days off. He was a wealth of information, such as there were 22 dredges working 24 hours a day on the new Locks being built and one is the largest suction dredge in the world! 

   We thought we would be lucky and go through the locks with a US Navy Guided-missile frigate the USS Rentz..."Warship 46" as they were called on the VHF Radio. It sounds pretty cool to listen as they spoke on the VHF Radio..."This is US Warship 46..... ". Somehow saying "This is Warship  Sunnyside Up..." just didn't fit into the mold.  As luck would have it they turned to the service docks, and just happened to be where the "Peace Boat" was also at for service..interesting photo with the two side by side.
We side-tied along this Tug. A ship is in the lock ahead.
    We were lucky to be side tied to a tug, and the Captain was quite a character as he was showing off with doing 360 degree turns inside the lock! We met him and found he likes Willamette Valley wines from Oregon. Soon we were listening to the song "Red Red Wine" playing loudly inside the locks and for all to hear at the visitors center!
    Soon we were side-tied with the tug as the water raised in each lock...very fun!
   The trip was beautiful,  sitting a deck of Sunnyside Up we watched as huge ships passed on their way to the Mira Flores locks.
Getting Sunnyside Up ready for the locks
    We did learn that with the new locks that are to handle the Post Panama Canal ships (too big to go through the current locks) the 49 year old Bridge of Americas will have to be replaced as the newest Post Panama Cruise Ships will not fit under the bridge! It's amazing how high the bridge is now!!

  We entered the Mira Flores Locks at 11am with hopes to make the trip in one day, but again luck was not with us, and at 3pm we were within reach of the Gatun Locks (Caribbean side) and our adviser said it was a no-go. Ahg! But we're right here! Nope! They are finished "Locking Down" for the day and only boats "Locking Up" into the lake were going through.

Tug with a car carrier under the Centennial Bridge
    Oh well, we have to spend the night on Lake Gatun tied to a huge mooring ball. Tom checked the water temp at 89 degrees...soon we were all jumping in for a swim...illegal to do according to the paperwork....Mmm Hmmm, sure...we wouldn't think of swimming in warm clear fresh water!

    We were having great weather..until....CRACK! Lightening began to strike all around us and CLOSE! Within minutes rain began to pour as we were all huddled up in the cockpit. Carolyn made a great lasagna dinner that kept the crew filled and ready for the next day "locking down."

Spending the night on the lake tied to this HUGE float
    Be ready at 8am for your adviser to arrive is what the radio told Tom.....Uh Huh....at 2:30pm he showed up. The Advisor's boat couldn't find us and spent 1 hour zig-zagging through the lake trying not to hit a ship due to the very heavy rain storm that came through. At last they found us and as he stepped aboard..."Let's Go"!
    It didn't take long for the crew to ready the lines and await Captain Tom and the Adviser's orders as we entered the locks.
     This time we were to "Center Lock" which means we have the lock to ourselves and all four 200' lines are tossed to the men standing on the lock's edge to help us through.
Line Handler Paul and Captain Tom in the lock - Notice ship in the rear
    Nancy and Paul took the stern lines, while Carolyn and I took the bow lines...of course we were not under any cover and exposed to the rain...but it's a warm rain and it really wasn't that bad.
 We were through the locks quickly and dropped off the Adviser near the city of Colon. We entered Shelter Bay Marina at 6pm with a half hour daylight to spare.
The pool and hot tub at Shelter Bay Marina on the Caribbean side...nice!
    We didn't have time to enjoy the swimming pool and hot tub, but the showers were much enjoyed. We had a great dinner at the marina bar/restaurant before our taxi was to show up at 8pm. It's a $85 dollar fare from Shelter bay Marina back to Panama City. 
     Sadly, on our way back we were on the highway and our taxi hit a large dog crossing the road. Damage was pretty extensive as we got out and checked the bumper hanging down, lights shinning up to the sky, and the radiator fan rubbing against the radiator. Not good.

Soon, we were on our way to Panama City with repairs the best we could do and arrived at 11pm.
Tom and Carolyn aboard Sunnyside Up at dock Shelter Bay
    Larry, from Hobo, came to pick us up at the dock and before long we were back aboard Windfall and nestled in our comfortable bed for the night.
     We hope Tom and Carolyn have a great sail on their way to the San Blas Islands and destinations unknown beyond that.... Ahh, Cruisers....you never know where they're headed.
     Best of luck to Sunnyside Up, and thank you for a great trip. We hope to meet up with you "Out There" again somewhere.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Panama City, Panama - WOW!!

Coming in with a Squall....and HUGE Ships !!
GULP! Those are HUGE SHIP!!! Our Radar and Chart plotter ..Radar left, Charts on the  right
     After 6,350 miles since leaving Portland, Oregon, we entered Panama's Las Brisas Anchorage (free) with a heavy squall of rain and 20-30 knot winds...not a great way to enter any anchorage.
    The huge ships anchor out while waiting to go through the canal and we counted 70 targets (ships) on our radar screen to maneuver around! ...we LOVE our Radar!! (You can see in the picture our boat icon, the green triangles are huge ships anchored, and the pink line is the course we set to the anchorage. The green triangles (the top of the radar screen) are ships inside the Panama Canal Locks.
    We are now anchored in the Las Bresis area with a million dollar view of Panama City. At times, Nancy and I will sometimes just look out and admire the view...it's amazing. Many restaurants, hotels, and marinas line the long causeway with a wonderful walking/bike path that goes for miles. The view is so good in fact the road becomes packed with cars driving out just to look at the beautiful city lights  and the massive skyscrapers that line the horizon.
    Each morning we enjoy the Cruisers Net on the VHF radio...anything you need to know, want to know, and don't even care to know are all on the morning "rap session". Oh yes, there are the topics as Lost and Found, "Treasures of the Bilge" (items you want to get rid of), Where to go,Things to do, etc... are all found here at 8am channel 74 VHF. Everyone tunes in to see what's going on in the anchorage. Right now, the center section of the public dock is "Missing"...don't ask, all we know is it was there one night.... and gone the next morning! Some suggest sabotage... but, a pool is being formed as to when it will be repaired...I'm betting they will finish the new Canal Locks (2014) before they replace the dock!
"Hobo" - Larry and Lena bartering for Pineapples ($1.00)
      A local service comes to the dock each morning for laundry service, and they also fill propane, water, and fuel  tanks. It's a nice business for Gente de Mar (People of the Sea) and the cruisers use them here a lot. The laundry service is inexpensive, gas here is about $3.65/gallon, and foods are very reasonable....For example: 8 grapefruits or 20 Oranges for $1, and pineapples are delicious and cheap at the central market...which is over 10 acres in size! It's an amazing place, any fruits or veggies are all here...and I mean a LOTS of fruits and veggies!!

    Nancy and I have been busy repairing some motor issues we had.... a starter solenoid and blown fuse that took a few taxi trips to the parts stores to repair, and our generator would not start...which turned out to be a faulty fuse holder and wiring harness...of course there was little frustration on my part! AGH! I was on the phone with the generator company several hours following my wiring diagram (that we found out that did not match their newer version) and trouble shooting from one end to the other. Only when I pulled on a wire did the fuse holder fall apart in my hand...with a new one installed, and the generator running like a champ, there were jigs being danced around the boat, arms waving in the air, and coldies toasted to the kind Generator Gods!
  We had a "funny incident" where Nancy walked past one of our fire extinguishers and somehow  mysteriously bumped into the little gauge on the top of the extinguisher (that shows if its good or bad)...well, all of a sudden...SSSshhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!...the fire extinguisher began to unload its total contents ALL over and inside Windfall! "Throw it out, throw it out!" I shouted! With the swiftness of a Major League Baseball player, Nancy  hurled the extinguisher out of the boat and into the water!  We stood there with mouths open in disbelief....totally covering everything inside Windfall was a layer of Fire extinguisher yellow powder stuff! After a few choice words not printable, we started to laugh...what else can you do? Oh, and did I mention we were having friends over for dinner that night? Dinner was cancelled to say the least, and Nancy was a trooper for taking it all so well.
    Sure, there is a LOT of cleaning to be done, and a lot of the powder shot right into an open food locker...I teased Nancy how a coroner would later test my body and find I died from the "deadly fire extinguisher stuff"! Hey, I've read how wives have slowly poisoned their husbands to collect the Life Insurance...then she reminded me that body parts sold on the "Black Market" sell better without poison in them...and that I don't have any Life Insurance!!! Gulp!...Let me say, once again, how much I love my wife! (although if I die soon, have them check for "fire extinguisher poisoning"...and check EBay for "slightly used" liver and kidneys)!
    We've been so busy we haven't had time to check out the city, or go to the Panama Canal and it's museum...although we do watch the huge ships pass on their way to the locks...all from the comfort of Windfall's cockpit.
    We have gone grocery shopping, and like kids in a candy store, we loaded up on things we haven't seen since leaving the States! It's like shopping at your local well stocked grocery store...they have everything here! Oh, and I must mention...we purchased a 6 pound whole Filet Minion for $4.95 /lb!  We cut the roast into steaks and froze the remainder,  and thanks to Nancy's culinary skills, it was the absolute best steak we've ever had. It's a tough life out here....pass the Grey Poupon, please!
 
 SEPTEMBER 22nd -  Sorry about the laps...I'm on Day 8 of a High Fever Saga. Nancy has me going to the Doctor (very good) by the way). We didn't know what Tropical Fever Virus I could be spreading throughout Central America....Yellow Jack? Malaria? Dengue Fever?...Nope! Influenza! At least now I know I don't have those viruses to contend with! If I was Nurse Nancy, I would have shoved my body off this boat late at night and slowly sailed away leaving not trace! She has been great taking care of the boat, putting up with me, and keeping her sanity........Ok, I'm not so sure about that last part.
 Good time ahead..... and more coming as there are a LOT to see and do in Panama City! I just have a few more days of this before we can get on with the fun!

 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

USA, New Grandson, Family, Costa Rica, and Panama!!


Jeff, Denielle, and Bodhi
Whew! We’ve had a busy schedule while visiting and traveling in the states, leaving Costa Rica, and now we’re anchored off a little island in Panama!
First, Denielle gave birth to our beautiful grandson, Bodhi Kai. After 36 hours of hard labor, and finally a C-Section, he arrived into the world. Denielle was a trooper for sure. Nancy was on hand weeks ahead to help with the labor and after the baby came home. Oh, and the new daddy, Jeff, could not have done a better job caring for Denielle and new son, Bodhi. Congratulations Denielle and Jeff!
We were very fortunate to have Nancy’s son, Eric, daughter in law, Rain, and our 2 Year old granddaughter, Keziah, all come from New Mexico to Reno to see the baby. We also meet Shannon, Jeff’s 7 year old daughter, who was much help with the baby…and with keeping Nancy and I busy as well. We made a trip to Lake Tahoe, local Reno parks, and a trip to Circus Circus where we had a ball...Our belly’s still hurt from the huge buffet dinner! Ohhhhh!
According to granddaughter Keziah, Nancy is now known as “Me-la”, and Sam as “Poppy”….I guess that’s how she say’s “Grandma and Grandpa”…but we actually like our “new names” better anyway. 
Rain, Eric, and Keziah

Great Portland friends: Lois, David, and Roger
Sam and his best friend Jim Cheney
Our family: Jeff, Shannon, Denielle, Bodhi, Nancy, Sam
After a wonderful drive from Reno to Portland, visiting with friends, and having delicious dinners at our old favorites (Island CafĂ© and Lupe’s Escape), we continued to Roseburg to visit Sam’s Mom, family, and more friends – we even took in the local County Fair!  Sam’s relatives own a ranch and are 4H leaders. Many of the children received several blue ribbons for showing their black angus cattle! Way to go Walt, Brenda, and the “Rockin’ WC Ranch”!
We drove back to Reno, where Denielle and Jeff asked us to be witnesses at their courthouse wedding….nice, simple, and took a total of only 17 minute according to the parking meter!  But, I must say, Denielle never looked so beautiful holding their new baby, and Jeff as proud as any new husband and father could be. Congratulations to both of you! What a beautiful new family we have! We also welcome Shannon as “New Granddaughter” and a part of our new family as well!
We flew to Florida to visit Nancy’s Dad, sisters, brother, and their family. We enjoy Florida and visiting Nancy’s family is always a treat. Our brother-in-law, Danny, was building a cool new airboat for the swamps. Others were busy with their businesses, school, sports, and just busy with life in general.  Nancy and I did some yard work at her Dad’s house…whew! Let me just say…Florida is HOT and HUMID!
Nancy and I arrived Friday back in Golfito, Costa Rica where Windfall was safely moored. We were a bit under the pressure as we had to check out of Costa Rica that day!! Otherwise, we’d be paying weekend overtime for ALL the officials to check us out, but most importantly, Windfall only had a 90 day Visa to stay in Costa Rica (all boats get only 90 day Visas) or we faced a large fine! No thanks!
We finally got checked out, promising to be out of the country Sunday morning. Of course, when you’re rushing to get things done it seems things fall apart….we had trouble with an ATM machine. We tried to get $300,000 Colonies ($600 US Dollars) but the machine terminated the transaction. This is common as most machines may not have that much money in them, so we tried for a lesser amount of $300…nope, same thing!  What the $%%$##$%%^%   So, off we went to the local “Banco”…. Where we were told we’d have to take the money from our credit card. Que?  Arghhhhhhh!
We got back to the boat and contacted our bank to find that the money ($900 total) was indeed deducted from our account ….along with some nice transaction fees included! But…we never received the money, or any receipt! Nancy was calm, collected, and …ok, a bit “upset” when she called our bank and was told it could take up to 45 days to resolve the issue and to get our money back! Note: Generous contributions are always welcome for poor stranded sailors in desperate need of coldies!
We anxiously left Golfito around 10am Sunday morning with an ETA to arrive in Northern Panama in the darkness of early morning, so we decided to go slowly and sailing as much as possible. Well, as most sailors know, anywhere you want to go the wind is ALWAYS on the nose, the current against you, or no wind at all…all horrible for sailing!  We did sail several hours, but ended up slowly motorsailing throughout the night.
Nice, ehh? You can almost smell the coconuts!

Nancy at Isla Gamez, Panama

When casting to a crocodile...use HEAVY LINE!!

Beach Babe Nancy and beach campfire
Four lobster tails....oh my! And they're still wiggling!!
During the night, we were about 5 miles off the Costa Rica coast when we were approached in the cloak of darkness by the Costa Rican “Guardacoastas” aboard a speed  boat searching for drug runners.  They slowly passed Windfall, checking us out with their bright spotlights to make sure we weren’t drug runners aboard a new secret high-speed stealth 42 foot sailboat doing a whopping 3 knots per hour. We knew Windfall was the only boat on radar and thought they’d come aboard to check us out…I guess we weren’t worthy enough. As they sped off, I placed them as a “target” on our Radar to track them during the night….they stayed in the darkness and about two miles off our starboard… all the way to the Panama boarder.
Earlier, we received an email from our friends aboard “Hobo” about a nice anchorage in northern Panama called Isla Gamez and not to miss it, we plotted our course with an ETA around 9am. Along the way we spotted 3 or 4 large whales rolling 200’ off our starboard. I checked our depth on the sonar at 1,200’ deep and guessed they were busy getting lunch from the “fish market” below.  At least they didn’t have any Japanese “research ships” and those “Whale War” guys chasing after them!
At 8am, with bright Panamanian blue skies and tropical green Isla Gamez in sight, we used our SSB radio and were lucky to contact our friends Jerry and Lauren aboard SOMF as they were nearing Bahia del Sol, El Salvador…nearly 500 miles away! They are on their way to sunny La Paz Mexico for the winter season.  We just missed them leaving Golfito by a day, we will miss our good friends as we continue our adventures and wish them fair winds. Have a cold Pacifico beer for us when you reach Mexico! Adios,  mis amigos!
At 9:30 we arrived at Isla Gamez, a tiny 5 acre tropical green island, where we dropped Windfall’s anchor parallel to a beautiful coconut tree lined sandy beach. These coconut trees are in desperate need of a hammock and sway back and forth in the gentle breeze…we’ll see what we can do about this…later, of course, no need to hurry.  
As we looked over the beautiful island, visions of Rogers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” come to mind with the music and song “Bali hai” singing softly in the background. Not bad, not bad at all.
I checked our hand-line we drag behind the boat for fishing during passages….only to find “something big” had broken its 100 lb line during the night! Dang! That’s another one that got away with my “secret jig”, it’s no wonder this is known as the Fisherman’s Paradise! Note to self: Must get heavier line next time...or, try for smaller fish….Nah….I’ll go with heavier line!!!  
Well, it didn’t take long for our dinghy, “Blondie”, to drop into the water and head to the beach. Soon, we were swimming in the warm clear 83 degree turquoise water! We had a picnic lunch under the cool shade of a large overhanging tree on the beach.  As we ate, we gazed out to several nearby islands, some no bigger than a parking lot, and just begging to explore and snorkel their surrounding water. Coconuts lying on the sand were plentiful, so I used our machete to chop into one for its sweet refreshing water. It’s doesn’t get any fresher than this, folks! But, as I sucked down the fresh coconut water, Nancy reminded me that fresh coconut water is also a “natural laxative”….Uhh, here, you have some…I’m good now, thanks!
As we walked along the beach, iguanas and crabs scampered and hid in holes dug into the warm white sand…and let me just say those little crabs are FAST…and the iguanas…well, locally they’re called “Chicken of the Tree”! Now, I ask you….who could turn down fresh roasted iguana on a stick?
We couldn’t help but renaming Gamez Island as “Ted’s Island” for those of you who are Captain Ron fans! We have many new places scoped out around the local islands to explore and snorkel….and that 83 degree water calls out to us every day to jump in and enjoy.
We returned to the boat for cool showers and to relax with a couple well-deserved coldies to end the day. Now, let me just paint the picture for you…Warm tropic breeze, smooth jazz softly playing in the background, the beautiful tropic islands at sunset, the delicious smell of dinner rising from the galley, with Nancy relaxing in the cockpit wearing her swimsuit and a good book in hand….Yes, life may seem to fall apart at times…. but, oh when it’s good…it’s Goooooood!
It’s now 9:00pm with not a light to be seen but a tiny strobe light blinking in the far distance marking a fisherman’s net set for the night.  We are comfortable, safe, and secure aboard Windfall, our complete and self-contained “Shangri-La”.
Life is good……..very gooooood!
Yesterday we didn’t do a thing at all! Ha the weather was windy and overcast, we didn’t feel like getting off the boat to do much but sleep, eat, and read. This morning I got on the SSB radio and talked with Jerry and Lauren in Bahia del Sol, El Salvador (500 miles away)! They are back where we all stayed in El Salvador and said they will be there till October waiting for a clear weather window to cross the Bay of Tehuanapec and back to Baja Mexico (La Paz).  Jerry said there is an old Tall Ship at the dock and they are going for a ride around the bay with the local island children…the adults are to dress up as pirates – sounds like a lot of fun for all. Jerry said while I was gone, to the states, it poured down rain at Golfito!  He said they filled their 500 gallon water tank with rain water. A lot of cruisers do this, Nancy and I will definitely make a water catch system as it’s free and good water to put into the tanks without running a watermaker.
                Today looks to be nicer and a promising snorkel day.  A couple days ago we went to the island to explore and I chopped a fresh coconut for the milk…yum! We saw a couple of local boats stop by the island to pick up coconuts on the beach to take back to the villages. We’re very excited to go snorkeling today and get into the warm clear water for a swim.
Fresh from the tree...Vino de Palma ! Yum!!! Thanks Carlos!
While we were relaxing in our hammocks on the beach a fisherman named Carlos stopped by to sell us Lobster. He then invited us to his home to get some avacados tomorrow. The next day he arrived in a kayak and we went to the neighboring island. We met his nephew and wife, uncle and his father and a few brothers. The family was warm and welcoming. We conversed as best as we could as they knew no English but Nancy was able to understand most of what was said. We were given a cup of Vino de Palma, a local fermented palm juice. We were even taken to the tree and shown the tree it came from. That night Carlos and his nephew and wife came aboard and we showed them hospitality by tasting various mescals we had from Mexico. We had a very nice time that night.
                Nancy’s making breakfast this morning...pancakes! Yum!! Last night she made corn muffins with red peppers and corn kernels inside….Delicious! We are going to try our hands at making bread…something we’ve never done before but want to do as we love fresh bread. I also make a mean garlic butter for spreading on French bread…. I roast the garlic (broken into pieces with the paper still on) in a hot pan till it gets burn marks on the outside. When it’s tender the garlic pops out of the paper skin and is sweet and tender. Then I chop into little pieces and put into the melted butter and reduce the butter till clear…..Oh Boy! Is this good! With the last batch I made I added chili powder to spice it up….YUM!! All this talk of food…I must be hungry          
ISLAS SECAS (Venado Island)
We decided to go to another group of islands called Islas Secas about 30 miles distant, while the engine was warming up our friend Carlos stopped by to give us 4 huge scallops to enjoy for dinner! He showed off 10 lobsters in his kayak and several conchs in the shells he had caught that morning.
We set a course for Islas Secas where there is a resort that rents yurts for $600/night! No thanks! But, the tents were placed in some beautiful settings, one was on a large rock and the only way to it is with a boat. We arrived early afternoon and soon were in the water with snorkels exploring the nearby rocks and beach. What an awesome place to stay a few days, the water is clear, warm, and with lots of fish to keep us guessing what types they are.
15 pound Sierra Mackerel..delicious!
Elizabeth Taylor's La Peregrina is an early 16th century pearl, ruby and diamond necklace by Cartier, that was gift from Richard Burton, is estimated at $2,000,000 - $3,000,000

The next morning we were having breakfast in the cockpit when we spotted some HUGE humpback whales passing by in the deep channel. Quickly, Blondie was lowered into the water. We were on our way out to see the whales.  I couldn’t help but put on my mask, snorkel, and fins and jump into the water at the sight of one whale swimming near the dinghy.  With Nancy in the dinghy and peering over the side  I jumped into the deep blue water!  Splash! Within a minute the HUGE whale was 15 feet right below my fins… GULP! It’s no exaggeration to say this Moby Dick right beneath me was easily 50 feet long! What a treat….for me that is, I was just hoping not to become Moby’s new breakfast snack!
With Blondie at full throttle, dolphins played in our wake and lead the way back to the island playing in the wake of Blondie and showing off the way dolphins do. We dropped our small anchor near a coral reef then jumped into the colorful turquoise water like kids on Spring Break. I spotting several conchs I wanted to pick for dinner…but, Nancy wouldn’t allow me to…something about her not wanting to get it out of the shell, and cleaning it was out of the question…of course this conclusion is only what I could surmise from her expressions as we were under the water…but I think I’m pretty close to what she meant.  
That night fish gathered around Windfall’s lights sparkling on the water, so I thought I’d try tossing a spinner out and see what I could catch. It didn’t take but a minute for “something big” to start ripping out line with the reel screaming  “Zzz-Zzz-Zzzzzz!” The fish stayed deep, leading me from the stern to the bow…hoping not to wrap around the anchor chain!  Nancy pointed a spotlight in the dark water with hopes of seeing the fish. With a loud SNAP! We watched as a silver flash in the darkness parted the line and was never to be seen again….Dang! Another “something big” that got away! Sheesh! 
The next morning we jetted Blondie to a few snorkel spots we spotted earlier, as we were finishing up our last exploration, a sailboat passed by we thought we may have seen before. Sure enough, “Zeppelin” was docked at Bahia del Sol, El Salvador with us.  After they found a beautiful spot to drop anchor we invited them over to Windfall for evening coldies. Wayne and Ellie are avid scuba divers and asked if we would like to tag along in the morning for a day of diving. Sure! They even have a compressor to fill our tanks! (big bonus!) We dropped the dinghy anchor at a small remote rock outcrop where the water drops off to a nice 70 feet deep. This is a well-known spot where Manta Rays hang out, but today they Dive Gods were not with us and no Rays were spotted. We did enjoy diving along the reef wall and seeing different corals, sea fans, and of course tropical fish of all colors playing along the steep rock wall.
We talked with Zeppelin about going to another anchorage, a tiny island, Isla Jicaron, about 8 hours sail further south.  About 8am our course was set with sails raised…ok, and with the motor running as the wind as only 3-5 knots, but it was a beautiful day out on the water anyway.  As we approached our anchorage destination the wind and waves were not friendly, large surf was roaring onto the near beach and rocks with waves crashing clear over the tops! Ok, this anchorage is not for us.  But, Windfall did manage to catch a very nice 8-10 pound Sierra Mackerel that Zeppelin promises to barbecue for dinner tonight. Yum! Oh yes, and yet another “Something Big” broke my 80 pound hand-line leader and made off with another “secret jig”...I’ve GOT to get heavier line! This is incredible; I’m going to get some 150 pound line to catch one of these monsters….and I’ll need a bigger boat too! (just kidding Nancy!)
Oh my! The surf is definably “UP” this morning with wave growing to 6-7 feet and breaking along the coconut tree lined beach…..very nice if you’re a surfer, but makes for a long night rolling in bed.  Another anchorage 5 miles further down the island was chosen to spend our second night in a small area surrounded with rocks protecting us from the breaking surf.
Wednesday 31st  – New anchorage. Dinner was delicious with Elle serving a fantastic dinner along with our “Catch-o’-the –day” slowly grilled over the barbecue and served with a nice selection of wines….it’s a tough life, I don’t know how we can stand it either.
This morning we’ve got light rain with lightening flashing around us, but it’s letting off and promises to be a beautiful day. I saw Wayne in his dive suit working with his anchor chain, so over I went to see if I could help. His main anchor, and a stern anchor he put out to hold the boat into the waves, tangled and fouled around a coral head during the night. Not good, but now they’re resetting the anchor and all is well.
Nancy’s camera recently broke, time for a new one when we reach Panama City…another item to add to the growing shopping list.
Saturday Sept 3rd – Nancy’s birthday today, we’re on passage and plan to celebrate when we reach Panama City. Happy Birthday, Nancy!
Sunday Sept 4th – We arrived at 10 am after a stormy, rainy, and lightning filled night at sea…I watched 2 movies in the cockpit during my watch while Windfall held course and Nancy slept soundly below. As we entered the island anchorage whales were spotted breeching in the distance. What a nice place Contadora is! Windfall and Zeppelin set anchors in a “perfect spot”, but were told by the Federal Policia we had to move…this is where the ferry boat and glass bottom boats come to load passengers. Ok, no problem (especially since we haven’t officially entered the country and do not have the paperwork).
Needless to say we’ve had a great time in the Las Perlas islands and will be back as soon as we can provision the boat and get some repairs done, plus I still have a submarine to go dive upon in these islands so we HAVE to come back!! The 90 islands that make up the Las Perlas are names for the large pearls found in the waters here. We are on Isla Contadora (Counting House Island) named for the accounting of the pearls before they were shipped to Spain.  There have been LOTS of real pirates and buccaneers cruising these waters for centuries!!! A pirate story names 18 pirate ships (anchored right where we are today) who were in hiding from several English Navy War ships! 

 400 years ago the largest pearl ever found was found (31 carots) here by a slave, it was so magnificent the slave was given his freedom for finding it.  In the mid-16th century it was given by King Phillip II of Spain to his new wife Queen Mary I of England, later it belonged to the Bonaparte family...yes that Bonaparte!  In 1969 it was purchased by Richard Burton to give to his wife Elizabeth Taylor and is still owned by her estate today. It is noted that the pearl was “lost” for a period of time when her pet dog ran away with it in its mouth! Ha! No mention of how long before, or how, the pearl was retrieved!
           Oh, in 1979 when the Ayatollah Khomeini kicked out the Shaw of Iran, this island is where the Shaw came to with all his hundreds of millions of dollars; we are anchored off the beach right by that large home right now! How cool!
 Monday Sept 5th –Labor Day Weekend in the US.  Zeppelin decided they are going to Panama City this morning to anchor for a couple of weeks before returning to the Las Perlas. We decided to stay a couple more days to relax, enjoy the calm anchorage, and explore the local islands.  Just 3 miles away is Isla Mogo Mogo where the TV series “Survivor” is filmed…Nancy wants to go snorkeling there, so now it’s on our list of things to do! 
Nancy on Isla Mogo Mogo - (2003 Survivor TV series filmed here)

SHARK!!!! Yes, it was that close!!!

Snorkel spot...just look at that water! WOW!

A "Survivor" of Mogo Mogo Island.
Isla Mogo Mogo was deserted, no TV crew or contestants but we found lots of beautiful shells.
 We’re anxious to get to Panama City to provision and get necessary parts. Our generator and our main engine both need starter relays….Ugh! Motors! Sails only fail without wind! But we really cannot complain, everything on the boat has run great and we’ve not had any real major issues.
 As I was typing this blog entry, two HUGE humpback whales passed within 50 feet of Windfall and exhaled loudly right beside the cockpit!! Uhhh, that high-pitched girlish Eeeeek! you may have heard was NOT me….and you can’t prove it!
 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Panama Canal with Varuna

Varuna's Line-Handlers  - The American Bridge over the canal.



Well, it's been busy since our last blog, Nancy is in Reno helping Denielle with our new grandson Bodhi Kai Erwin born Friday July 22nd. I've been aboard Windfall waiting...and waiting!
    In the meantime, the crew of SOMF Jerry and Lauren, and I were invited by our friends Mitch and Anne (Varuna) to go to Panama and help them bring their boat through the Panama Canal! A date was set and confirmed, so with a couple bus and taxi rides, we found ourselves at a anchorage on the Pacific side of the canal and at 6am the next morning we were on our way.
In the canal with Varuna, a tugboat, and that big ship coming behind us.
    What a great experience this was for us all, especially since we will be taking Windfall through the Panama Canal sometime near the end of this year. 
    I learned a lot of how things are done in (and at) the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal has three sets of locks – Gatun, Pedro Miguel and Miraflores – each of which has two lanes. These locks serve as lifts, elevating vessels 85 feet above sea level from the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans to Gatun Lake.
   There are new locks being built right now and expected to open in 2014 to accommodate the newer "Post Pana-Max Ships", as of now the canal can only take "Pana-Max"container ships (designed for the width of the canal) carrying about 4000 containers aboard. Though this may sound like a lot of containers aboard one ship, they have "Post Pana-Max" Ships that carry 10,000 containers! While we were motoring to the first set of locks, we were fortunate to see one of these Pana-Max...WOW! Huge doesn't even begin to describe the size of one of these big ships and they are way too big (width) to fit into the current canal. The ship unloads the 10,000 containers, place them on the Panama Canal Railroad and transport the containers  to the opposite side of the canal...where they are unloaded from the train and placed back on other ships waiting to make the destination complete.
You see that huge ship in the lock ahead and BELOW us?
    With the new canal locks opening in 2014 this will increase shipping through the canal and help reduce shipping costs....and if you're wondering it's about $400,000 to take one of the big ships through the canal.... The cost for Varuna was about $700 including an
    We were hoping to make it all the way through the 48 mile long canal in one day, but as with all good plans we couldn't make the time to the next locks on the Caribbean side. So, we were able to spend the night in Lake Gatun which is between the Pacific side and Caribbean side. Lake Gatun at one time was made with the worlds largest dam...and Lake Gatun was also the largest man-made lake in the world. 
    Shelter Bay Marina, on the Caribbean side, has a wonderful pool that we jumped into as quickly as possible. The city of Colon is just across the bay, but to get there must be timed with the canal bridge...which can be a 2 hour wait. There is a shuttle bus 4 days a week to Colon, but a Taxi can cost $80 each way to Panama City.
    And, to top things off, we were invited to an exploration group searching for Captain Morgan's ship that is sunken in a nearby bay...somewhere. We were treated to a nice presentation and history of Captain Morgan and his 33 ships that were entering the harbor when the Captain's ship hit a rock and sunk. Of course the exploration is sponsored by Captain Morgan Rum....which was not available at the bar. Hmmmm.
    Well, time to get back to Windfall and get ready to fly to Reno to see Nancy and our new Grandson Bodhi!! We'll be in the US for a month visiting Jeff and Denielle in Reno, my Mom in Oregon, and lastly Nancy's family in Florida. We must have Windfall out of Costa Rica by August 23rd.....Panama we'll be on our way soon!
   

Monday, July 4, 2011

Inland Costa Rica


Manuel Antonio National Park beach.
 Hola!  We took off on a 1 week adventure with Jerry and Lauren, from SOMF, after renting a 4x4 vehicle in Golfito (where our boats are now moored).
    Wow! What a great time we had exploring Costa Rica's high volcanoes, beautiful beaches, high mountains, waterfalls, and the famous "Cloud Forest".
Hey Lauren! Be sure to get Jerry's good side!

    We began with  Manuel Antonio National Park with a walking tour where we spotted 2-toed and 3-toed Sloths, and seen several monkeys in the trees and even on the beach! Some were just a few feet from us as we walked the trail! Now, let me just say how FAST monkeys can be when you're wanting to get a good picture, so no monkey pics from the beach. Although, we did spot the ever popular Lauren and Jerry taking several typical tourist beach pictures! Defiantly, this is a beautiful place not to be missed on any Costa Rican visit.
    We ate many delicious foods including sandwiches made from a true Italian deli that made our mouths water and we couldn't wait to devour! Costa Rica's foods are of a worldwide mixture and delicious to say the least.
Runway Models Nancy and Lauren showing off the "Rain Poncho"
These beetles are about 6" long! Ouch!
    We toured the famous "Cloud Forest" where we were "so lucky" to experience the heavy rain as well! We purchased ponchos from the gift shop ($8 each) and the rain was warm, so we made the best of a forest canopy tour. Here, we walked 14 bridges towering high above the forest and seen people on zip lines passing overhead! After driving 20 miles of washed out, very rough,  4-wheel drive dirt & gravel road, we spent two nights in Fortuna and stayed in a lovely 2 bedroom cabin located on a family owned coffee and sugarcane plantation.
     We stopped at a butterfly farm where they raise butterflies and study insects...including a beetle the size of a banana that actually flies and has a beak! Imagine one of these splattering over your windshield! Ewwww!
    We hired a guide to take us on a tour of the area. where first we stopped where "strangler vines" wrapped around old growth trees and actually kills the tree it's wrapped around leaving only the hollow vines. Here's Jerry, who bravely climbed inside the strangler vines and where once was a huge tree now rotted away completely..I could only picture one vine slowly wrapping itself around his leg like in an old science fiction movie.  
Oxen with cart carry milk to the dairy each day
Beautiful isn't it?
Our guide, Carlos, took us  a local Quaker owned dairy and they make famous cheeses. The Quakers moved  moved to the remote Costa Rican mountain region to avoid the US-Vietnam war. And, if you're wondering...No, they don't dress like the guy on the oatmeal box...but, I knew you were curious! We were treated with seeing the morning delivery made by Oxen pulling a cart loaded with old style milk cans. Yes, this is how they make their morning milk deliveries from one local farms. The dairy farms are located on high elevation, steep, green-grass covered mountainsides with deep canyons.
Believe me...this is COLD water!!
   From here, Carlos took us to a banana plantation with a jungle-covered mountain trail leads to a beautiful waterfall. We wore swimsuits and were anxious to jump into the water...only to find it's COLD water under the falls! Bravely, we dove in providing instant "brain freeze" as our heads went under! Upon sticking a finger into the fringed water, Nancy (smartly) decided she didn't need to swim after all!  Lauren bravely dove in....and right back out before the numbness set in!
Costa Rican Coffee...the BEST we've ever tasted!!
    Our day ended at a small family owned organic coffee plantation where the coffee is grown at high elevation and  shaded by taller trees, harvested, processed, and roasted,by the family. I, not being a real "coffee groupie" and mostly drink Starbucks "foo-foo" coffee, can attest that this was the BEST coffee I have ever tasted. It was so delicious I only added cane sugar to sweeten....that is, cane sugar fresh from the cane press located in the nearby shed.
    Not a bad tour for $40. and worth every penny...thank you, Carlos!
High elevation plant called the "Poor man's Umbrella"
Just another waterfall...Costa Rican style!
     The next day we drove to "Volcan Poas" in the Northern part of CR. This is a live volcano with sulfur laden steam venting from the crater. From the top we were told on a clear day we could see the Caribbean Ocean...but with the cloud cover we only seen clouds.     The rich fertile volcanic soil provides much nourishment for the sizable plants as you can see in the picture with Nancy.
Volcan Poas is still steaming, and we're not sure what about!
We drove to "Volcan Arenal" and enjoyed an afternoon and evening at the hot springs...more of a resort. For $22 per day, or $28 with a buffet dinner, we opted for the $28 deal. If we purchased tickets at the resort they were $45 each, but from our hotel we paid $28. We had a ball here, several fun water slides, swim-up bars in the pools, and hot pools of water from 98 degrees up to 152 degrees that I could could only stand in for 2 seconds! And the dinner....wonderful, delicious, and a true bargain.
     We spent 2 days in San Jose exploring the city and it's beautiful sights. Sadly, the Gold Museum was under construction and we opted not to enter...I was hoping for free "samples" at the door! We seen the elegant theater, jade museum, parks, and central market area as well.

     There is one thing, if you drive a car, about Costa Rica I should warn you about... speeding tickets are way out of line here. We were stopped for "speeding" about 10 kph over the speed limit. We were flagged over by a policeman who's tow truck was parked along side the road. Yes, the police drive tow trucks here! Let me continue the story with me standing at the tow truck and learning that my ticket can be paid at any bank in Costa Rica....my $500 US dollar ticket that is! What the *&^%$###@ % 500 dollars! No way!
    Yes, it's true, and I seen other tickets in his book well over $900 US dollars. Oh, and it's a $700 ticket we learned as our passengers (Jerry and Lauren) were in the backseat not wearing seatbelts! He "let me go" on the seatbelt ticket as he gave instructions of how I am to go to the bank and pay my fine. (I found that's what the tow truck is used for, when the locals cannot pay the fines they tow the vehicles). For those who know me know I can BS with the best of them, so, with my best BS I was able to work out a "cash fine" of $40 paid directly to the very polite officer who promptly placed my reduced fine into his pocket! I was torn between being pissed or relieved that I didn't have to pay $500 dollars!
    Now, to add to the story, we dropped Nancy off at the San Jose airport to catch her flight to Reno, and began our 6 hour return trip to our boats in Golfito. We were again stopped at a police roadblock (which are common). Lauren was laying down asleep in the backseat and sat up as the policeman approached the vehicle. He smiles and pointed at our seatbelts, then pointed to Lauren, who actually did have her seatbelt on, (thank goodness!) and waved his finger as if to say, "You must to wear your seatbelts... or I will write you up!" 
    Yes, sir! Thank you, Sir! We drove off with beads of sweat still wet on our foreheads and relieved we avoided yet another ticket.   Oh, and the tickets...well, they all go to the driver of the vehicle! But then again, it might be worth watching Lauren working off $700 by scrubbing, polishing, and waxing Windfall till she sparkles! Hey Lauren, you know I'm just kidding...right? Right???
    Currently, Nancy is in Reno, Nevada and awaiting the birth our new grandson "Bodhi", and I'm aboard Windfall till he decides to make his appearance. Then, I'll fly back to the US. Nancy and I plan to travel to Oregon to visit friends and family, then on to Florida to visit Nancy's family before returning to Costa Rica. Once we return to Costa Rica, we will get Windfall in "sea-ready condition" and set courses for Panama and through the Panama Canal!
    Our friends aboard Varuna are in Panama and arranging to go through the canal. If all works out, before I travel back to the US, I will meet up with Varuna to be a "line handler" and go through the canal. This will be a great adventure and an experience before we take Windfall through the canal later this year.
    Happy 4th of July everyone!