The Journey - Vicariously Experience a Semi-Circumnavigation Here!

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posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:08 PM
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Ok this thread is basically about my dad's journey half way around the world in a year. Hopefully ATS will be up and running (and I will maintain interest in the site) long enough to complete the full circumnavigation of the world. Every new post will be a different e-mail he has sent me on the course of the trip (Sorry for the initial spammage). Hope you like it as much as I do.

Some background information:
My father recently had built a French aluminium yacht that he is trying to get to New Zealand by the Summer of 2005

The First Legs

[Edited on 3-29-2004 by insite]




posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:10 PM
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We have been in France for almost two weeks. Boat is ready to sail and so are we.

Hoping to leave today. SE wind. Looks good but need to check today's long range forecast. However, cold and gray. We have missed many opportunities to leave through delays caused by the shipyard.

The boat is great, best part being the diesel heater but over the last two weeks we have put up with many frustrating delays, the last of which relates to my final payment sloshing around in the French banking system. I will not bore you with details but suffice to say that when we arrived, the boat was floating but that was about it. New sails have been cut (the correct ones), spinnaker pole lifted from another boat, new cushions made (the correct color)etc.

My crew and I have sailed the boat out onto Biscay and back and she sails well and with good sea keeping quality.

I have just been told that the weather outlook is bad (naturally).

Need to check.

Best regards,

Jim



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:11 PM
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After a false start yesterday when a coolant drain valve fell off the bottom of the engine and we lost our coolant into the bilges, then sailed back into the harbor and berth, we are now in the Bay of Biscay with Les Sables d"olonne lost to sight.

We are in the middle of a big low waiting for the wind to shift to the north as it passes. Not sure what will happen but are positioning to ride the N'ly winds south. Right now pretty light SE'ly (calm before the change?).

Lat 46 22'N Long 2 04'W

Jim



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:13 PM
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Have not done 24 hour calculation yet but we are out in the wild gray yonder.

Started with SEl'y, then had major fuel problems, now fixed.

At 4 AM a Northerly descended at 33 knots big seas and us with no experience reefing. A few firedrills later, all reefed down with reefed staysl forward, doing about 7 knots.

Had a fun encounter with a ship in the night forcing us to crash jibe to avoid.

Tired of course but managed spuds onions and eggs for breaky. My turn for a lay down soon. Charging the batteries.

Lat 45 34'N
Long 4 14 W

Love from us on Letsgo(who handles the rough stuff real well.

Jim



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:15 PM
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Tonight, Let's Go dropped her anchor for the first time in a tiny cove on the Biscay coast of Spain some 35 miles from the official Port of Entry and 330 miles from Les Sables d'Olonne. Unfortunately, our 30 knot NNW turned into a 20 knot SW right on the nose about 100 nautical miles short of La Coruna.

We had a pretty interesting trip complete with gale force winds (from the right direction) and big seas. It's kind of strange but here we were yesterday sailing in these lumpy seas in the Bay of Biscay and I looked out and saw the weather buoy that I had been downloading info from for months to learn about the weather here. It was kind of sad to see her go (for good!)

The teething problems continued with fuel problems, a leaking connection letting air into the system requiring a mid ocean diagnosis and correction. Then the linkage to the auto pilot came unstuck and we were again drifting with sails down so we could connect the bits together. There were several other minor ailments that can be fixed later. However, the boat handled the rough weather extremely well and that is what she is designed to do.

We don't have a cruising guide for the area we are in but do have the C-Map digital charts. We are in the Ria de Vivero but at the entrance. Hard to draw conclusions but it is a peaceful spot that could be in New Zealand. Steep cliffs, rocky shore, a little swell, sandy beach as the tide goes out. Pretty special for me.

Brian prepares the steak dinner while I type this out. I am lucky to have such an able friend for this journey.

Tomorrow we face a short but on the nose day to La Coruna. The weather forecast is ugly for the next four days.

Jim

Lat N 43 44.29
Long W 7 37.92



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:17 PM
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Since the last update we have encountered nothing but "right on the nose" gale force winds. Today we set our sites on a mere 50 miles from La Coruna to Camarinas, just short of Cape Finisterre. Four hours out we hit a change from SWl'ys to West winds and recorded a gust of 47 knots. Being concerned with gear damage and knowing that we could not make Camarinas in daylight, we eased sheets for Lage (N43 13 W 9 00), a fishing village with a fairly protected anchorage. A Spanish naval vessel came in with us. Very quiet since it is Sunday (to my surprise, lost track). Tomorrow morning, we carry on.

After our first night anchored in Spain, we managed about 20 miles to the next harbor providing refuge in 30-40 knot westerlies. Next day as the wind tended more northerly, we set out to conquer Spain's north coast in monumental seas left over from the gale the day before. As we headed west, we were slowly forced to point lower as the wind moved from NNW to SW and we made it into La Coruna at night following a challenging approach in huge seas, some breaking. We have a color chart plotter and radar and these enable us to be certain of our position. Could not have entered in the conditions without these aids. We spent two days in La Coruna doing repairs and purchasing additional kit required for the trip (like transmission fluid for the auto pilot).

We loved La Coruna with its very unique culture and the people who could clearly see that we were not locals. They would lead us to all of the things that we needed which was very welcome since the streets are confusing to say the least. Today, the grumpy old marina master who spoke Spanish to me and I English to him, cast off our lines in the dark (at 8 AM!)

The weather forecast calls for a gale in two days (Wonder what we experienced today?). We hope to clear Finisterre before then although our optimism has been replaced by the realism that we will be sailing still at Christmas, that is for certain. Our spirits remain pretty high and will as long as the booze holds out.

Jim



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:20 PM
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Today finds us sailing in calm seas along the coast of Portugal with a 17 knot NEly behind us. When we left our fishing village at Lagi on Spain's north coast behind five days ago, it was with thunder lightning and hail. We rounded Cape Finisterre in the usual huge swells that we had sort of gotten used to. Once, under the lee of Finisterre, the seas moderated as did the wind. We decided to spend the night anchored at Muros, a large fishing village about 20 miles south of Finisterre.

Next morning we got an early start with the motor, in virtually no wind. Destination was Bayona, the last port of call in Spain where we could add fuel, water and wine. Some 15 miles short of Bayona, the engine quit and no amount of sucking fuel through the system or sealing the joint that caused the same problem in the Bay of Biscay could get it running again. So, for the second time, engine trouble forced us to sail into port. We managed, just, making about half a knot the last couple of miles. Some sharp eyed marina workers saw us anchor and came by to investigate. Next thing you know we were under tow and safely tied up.

The "Volvo man" arrived the next day, took one look at the fuel pre-filter that had the loose connection and pronounced it trash, non operable and worse than that, a non standard, non Volvo part, that had to be replaced. We were in complete agreement, however, this meant yet another day in port waiting.

Bayona was a great little town with its claim to fame being the harbor that Columbus returned to after his first voyage of discovery.

So at the moment, our wind is dying, there are rain clouds ahead and we are at 41 39 N and 8 59' W.

Gotta go.

Jim



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:22 PM
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Well, there we were just steaming down the coast of Portugal putting in 170 miles in the first 24 hours. Then, with no less than 15 miles to our destination Cascais at the entrance to Lisbon, we had a SWly change, on the nose. But, this turned out to be unusual and unpredicted as it continued to build until it reached Force 10 or 48-55 knots (recorded one gust at 55 knots). Try as we might, we could not turn the corner to Cascais and at 3 PM we decided that we had no choice but to turn tail and run back to Peniche, some 33 miles to leeward knowing that we would enter a shallow 8 metre entrance in the dark with these massive waves right on our stern (and would have one chance only). At the same time, the engine once again experienced air leak and quit. I bled the air out and left the engine for when we needed it.

The steering seemed very heavy until I raised the centerboard and then she glided and surfed like the aluminum surfboard she is. It was actually fun as we surfed on the breaking waves at up to 13 knots with triple reefed main only. The only concern was entering an unknown and quite shallow harbor in the dark. Once again, sat navigation combined with chart plotter saved the day. With the board up and the auto pilot capable to handling the steering, I was able to set a target on the chartplotter to take us to the end of the breakwater and tell the auto pilot to take the boat there. This allowed me to focus on spotting the breakwater lights. In any event and with lots of adrenalin we entered surfing along on the waves under sail. Once inside we started the engine (it worked) and motor up to a wharf and tied up. A French woman on a cruising boat came down to welcome us and praise us on our fortunate entry, she having seen waves breaking all across the entrance earlier (I have a!
policy to never look behind, way too scary.

We took a bit of boat mayhem this time. Instrument panel fell forward destroying the Iridium holder and sending the phone flying. In the forward cabin one drawer launched itself damaging another. A crash gybe ripped a shackle loose and damaged some running back stay gear. Other than that, no other problems.

This morning bright an early, the immigration man showed up and we had a lot of fun trying to communicate. Portuguese is a little more difficult than Espanol. Then the marina honcho then spent some time teaching me the basics. Brian and I then scouted the town but being Monday, most shops were closed. However, I did find a pottery plate for Let's Go and some sardines for lunch. Having scouted, we are going to try to get to our original destination tomorrow although the forecast is less than encouraging. In a couple of days, the winds are meant to shift to the north and we will then head offshore for Madeira or the Canaries.

Current Lat 39 deg 21 min. Long 9 22.

All the best,

Jim



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:25 PM
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As our current course (186 deg mag) has us anticipating SE winds that will take us direct to the Canary Islands some 510 miles away. Our current position at 11AM UTC is Lat 37 deg, Long 9 deg 50 min. We are heading due south to position for gradual shift to SE winds and to put as much latitude behind us as quickly as possible. We have 60 miles more southing to make to put us on the parallel of the Straits of Gibralter. Currently, the winds are very weak from the east as we are in the middle of a big high.

We were delayed from leaving Peniche, Portugal by yet another Southerly gale that went on for about 36 hours gradually moving west, then north. We abandoned the place as soon as it was safe to do so. An interesting but dreary city with a history that centers on the fort built in the 1500's to protect the city from pirates and the local nations. In the 1900's, between 1936 and 1974, it was used as a prison for political prisoners. Our three days of rain, wind giant waves and cold were enough for a lifetime.

The most stress we have suffered on this leg is (a) lack of wind and (b) crossing the Iron Road, at dusk last evening. These are the prescribed shipping lanes for all ships leaving the Med for northern Europe. It was fairly exciting as we had been warned. The surprise was ships that were not in the lane. The boat is equipped with a new radar tool called MARPA that allows you to lock onto a ship (target)or ships. The radar, of course tied to your GPS, then tells you the direction of the target, the speed of the target, when it will cross your path and will sound an alarm if the target is considered dangerous to your vessel. We have put this to good use taking evasive action no less than four times during the voyage.

Well, time to put away the ski clothes and dust off the shorts and T-shirts. Capt and crew are pretty stoked for a change.

All the best,

Jim



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:27 PM
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At dawn today, the wind died away (although coming back). We are trying various combinations of sail. Right now wing and wing but not too effective for our course. Next the asymetric gennaker. That should work.

Since leaving Peniche three days ago, we have sailed about 430 miles, basically due south. We are now turning SW for the Canaries, the first of which is a mere 214 miles away, although our initial destination is still 340 miles distant.

Sunny, warm, shorts and T-shirt weather at 32 deg 13 min S and 11 deg 16 min west. Nearest land is Safi Morocco at 100 miles. Laundry and bedding all over the rigging. Put away the ski clothes this morning.

Brian caught the first fish last night and we fixed it for breakfast. Ideal conditions with slight swell, brilliant blue sea, dolphins..the whole thing.

Things certainly have gone our way on this leg although the wind and it's direction have let us down. It was my decision to stay east to avoid a developing low that the filled and faded away. The predicted SEly winds did not then transpire. Having said that, I can see from the instruments that Brian now has us pointing mostly in the right direction doing a little over 5 knots. We'll take it.

Bye for now.

Jim



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:28 PM
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Never have I experienced being in a high pressure area like this. It has gone on for days. It has given us fair weather but light winds "right up the backside" as my crew likes to say. This means lots of slamming and banging as the boat speeds up with a gust (say of 11 knots), then slows down as the wind drops to 6 knots and the sails act like brakes. Then, off you go again.

As of this morning we had done 627 miles or about 125 miles per day (as the crow flies to our current position) from Peniche, Portugal. Of course we traveled further than that with our tactical decision to go due south for the first few days.

As dawn arrived, we could vaguely make out the island of Lanzarote, nearly 40 miles to the SE. We are now heading to Tenerife, about 110 miles away to pick up our new crew member, Brian Heald, from Canada and put more water, fuel and groceries on. As soon as this is accomplished, we will be off on the 2800 mile trip across the Atlantic.

Yesterday, we sailed by a Moroccan fishing vessel, and unlike in Spain and Portugal, all the fisherman working at the back of the boat, hooted and hollered, whistled and waved their hats. We also circled around a wounded whale. Could not see what the problem was, it was swimming on its side. Other than that, not too much exciting activity.

Current position is 29 deg,30 min S and 14 deg 17 min W.

All the best.

Jim



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:30 PM
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Well, today begins the final and longest leg of the voyage, approximately 2700 nautical miles on the direct route (which we will not be taking as the first segment is to drive south to leave the Horse Latitudes and the potential to get SW winds behind and get into the trade wind belt. This requires that we get to a latitude of between 15 and 20 deg south, about 450 miles south of where we now are.

The weather information (GRIB files) downloaded by email show a low heading in the direction of the Canaries with the possibility of SW winds. So the strategy remains to go south first, west second.

We picked up a third crew, Brian Heald, at Tenerife, yesterday, did the provisioning and had a last restaurant meal. Brian and I talked about my getting the boat about 18 months ago and he said he would like to make the trip, so here he is. Little experience but after the first mate, sailing master and bosun Brian gets finished with him, he will be a professional (I can hear the lesson going on up on deck). A little different dynamic with three aboard but I for one am looking forward to 4 hours on and 8 off, instead of 4 and 4. Showing my age.

It was a little hard to get much of an impression of Tenerife in 24 hours, mostly focused on getting the boat ready to go again. The people seem much more happy and relaxed than in Spain and Portugal (could it be the climate?). Very Spanish though with the evening strolls, and cafe/bars. The appearance of Santa Cruz, where we berthed, was that of a vibrant but a little scruffy seaport city. I quite liked it.

Well, that is it for now.

Sunny, warm, light wind, hardly a cloud. Pray for wind (from the right direction please, anything with a N in it will be fine).

Lat 28 deg 20 min N, Long 16 deg, 17 min W.

Jim



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:33 PM
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Seems impossible that we are in day 4 and have only covered 407 nautical miles from the Canaries, averaging 125 miles per day. Virtually from the beginning, we have had no winds from the Northerly sector and we have only had one night's run to be proud of. It is said that we must get to a latitude on 20 degrees to pick up the NE trades and we are still nearly 200 miles from that objective. The crew is despondent, the skipper frantic.

On top of that, the 1 percent chance of a low coming down from the North Atlantic to our position is actually happening. Even though it is sunny now and relatively windless, the barometer is falling and a very large swell is rolling in. Not sure what to expect other than SW winds. After a low, you expect to get NW winds so we can hopefully use the change to get us moving.

First mate Brian caught two yellow fin tuna yesterday and that will take care of us for two days.

Otherwise, nothing exciting to report. Just grinding away. I suspect that other than the new crew, the old crew is thinking that Christmas at home would be just the cat's meow, right about now.

All the best.

Jim

Lat 22 deg 55 min
Long 20 deg 31 min



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:35 PM
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Yes, we finally made it to the trade winds. Around mid-night last night a breeze started from the NNE and by dawn we could see the tell-tale puffy white clouds that define the trade winds zone. After taking seven days to go seven hundred miles, mostly south, it was a most welcome Christmas present.

Of course, the winds are light, about 7-8 knots, so the initial euphoria is eroding already. At least we are now pointing west (sort of) doing about 4.5 knots with the asymmetric sail being used as a spinnaker. There is the normal banging of the mains'l filling and backing in the swell. We are heading west southwest to get a little deeper into the belt and pick up stronger winds while also providing a better angle to the winds for faster sailing.

We hooked a big mahi mahi this morning but it tore lose when it saw the boat. Too bad....

About 2000 miles to go! Heading for St. Martin.

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Lat 17 deg 36 min
Long 24 deg 12 min

Jim



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:38 PM
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Happy New Year Everyone

With our diminishing supply of just about everything, I don't think there is much chance that the Let's Go crew will be hung over tomorrow. Perhaps the day after we arrive in St. Martin.

Since last report we have averaged 155 miles per day or 6.5 knots and now have less than 1200 miles to go. For the most part we have had very favorable winds including a 15-20 knot SE now that is propelling us along, wing and wing at 7 knots plus. We expect this wind to die out tonight and be replaced with light but building NEl'ys. the result of a low passing to the north. The barometer is beginning to rise quickly right now.

Other than fantastic sailing, bumpy swells, warm indigo water and mostly sunshine, we have had great success fishing to the point where we have had to call it quits until the freezer is empty. We lost or old reliable kiwi white plastic lure to a big mahi but Brian put a piece of white rag on a treble hook that we had on board and with this we landed two mahi and one wahoo. Enough for now. So it has been fish stew, fish sandwiches, fried fish, poached fish, curry fish and so on.

The only mishap so far has been a tear in our prized asymmetric multi purpose sail that keeps us going in light winds. We repaired it last night. The only hardship is the rationing of beer, wine and water (the butane rationing having ended yesterday). The length of time it took for us to get to the trade winds put a big dent in all of our supplies but we took the decision to ration instead of wasting time re-provisioning in the Cape Verde Islands.

Thanks to Emile Lugger at Rainbow Marine in St. Martin, Alubat's (the boat builder) NA agent, we now have a marina berth to go to when we arrive in January in St Martin. This is a big help and relief.

>From all of us on board Let's Go, Happy New Year and best wishes for
>2004!

Jim
Lat 16 deg 38 min N
Long 42 deg 26 min W



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:40 PM
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Bonjour

Two back to back runs of 168 miles per day put us 580 nautical miles from Saint Martin as of 6 AM, Caribbean time this morning. We are currently sailing at 6-7 knots with wind from the E-ESE, the latter just beginning. We may have to go wing and wing soon to lay our course.

The last 24 hours were reasonably eventful. We managed to destroy our asymmetric light air reacher when we were hit with a squall yesterday morning. At 2 AM, we hit a submerged object with a mighty thud. Crew on watch said it was metal. Clearly at or below the water line as we can see no evidence on the topsides. I suspect it might have been a sea turtle. Felt re-assuring to be riding in a metal boat though.

I was able to disguise enough fish to convince the crew to eat almost all of it, thereby, allowing us to drop in the hook with rag attached lure. As I write, we have bagged a big mahi mahi preceded by a smaller fish that I do not recognize but is tuna like in appearance with firm white flesh. This will be lunch today. The other good news is that we have figured out how to keep the engine running long enough to charge the batteries each day.

We are down to a partial tank of water and are "rationing". How we are doing this is giving each crew member an allocated amount of 4 liters per day starting with some wonderful mineral water purchased in France. This water can be used at the discretion of the individual. With, hopefully, about four days remaining at our current average, we should be fine. We have calculated how to make the wine and beer last until we arrive and I hate to admit it, but, beer at noon and wine at 5 PM has pretty much become the highlight of the day.

No much to report really. Hope you are all well.

Jim
Lat 17 deg 48 min N
Long 53 deg 11 min W



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:44 PM
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So my dad made it to St. Martin and flew back to Fripp (my home) around January the 12th. A few weeks ago he went back to the Caribbean and the next section will be about the trip from St. Martin to Ecuador (which he is currently in the middle of). So anyone reading this is slowly catching up to real time updates.



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:45 PM
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Good morning!

Let's Go is currently 238 nautical miles from St Martin and 878 from Panama at Lat 17 deg 1' N and 67 deg 6 min W Long.

We had a minor operational setback that inspired us to detour to visit Peter's Island in the British Virgin Islands. We had fouled the prop with the genny sheet at nightfall and feared possible gearbox damage, so we headed somewhere that would guarantee access to marine services. Fortunately, both crew had chartered in the BVI and my brother had given me a Moorings cruising guide(thanks Mark!), so I felt confident to go through Salt Passage and anchor under sail in Great Bay. This was accomplished at 3:30 AM Saturday morning. At 7 AM, I dove in and cleared away the mess and we were underway by about 9:30. We took advantage of the opportunity to sail down the passage to St. Thomas, USVI before heading back to sea at about 1 PM. What a beautiful spot. I can now better appreciate sailor's attraction to this remarkable string of islands. Similar to the Whitsunday's inside Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

We sailed within sight of Puerto Rico during the night and are currently 54 miles offshore the southeastern extremity of the island. The wind is blowing from the east at 18-20 knots and we are making 7 knots over the ground running wing and wing with full main and genny, board fully up. We had a great night and everyone is rested and extremely well fed (if I say so myself).

Hope everyone has a great Sunday.

Jim

So Far:


[Edited on 3-28-2004 by insite]



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:46 PM
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Hi everyone

We are now "only" 500 miles from Panama having covered about 650 miles since we started. Since leaving the Virgin Islands, we have averaged 170 miles per day which is pretty good going for a 40 footer.

The wind has gotten up and stayed that way running 27-33 knots (near gale) for the last 48 hours. According to the books, the "winter trades" get compressed between Central and South America and accelerate. The decks are staying dry as we fly downwind in a 3-4 meter swell and we have been able to leave some of the hatches open. We will try the third reef in the main before dark so we can have a reasonably comfortable night. Meanwhile, the skies and sea are a brilliant blue and we caught our first mahi mahi yesterday, cleaning and cooking it for lunch.

All gear and sails holding together, we should arrive Panama on Friday at about noon.

All the best for now!

Jim

14 deg 40 min N
72 deg 59 min W



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 10:47 PM
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Well let's just say that the trade winds are showing us what they are made of. At 8:30 AM we are speeding along at 8 knots with winds currently Force 7 (near gale) to Force 8 (gale). Down to triple reefed main and small headsail. Decks are still dry and now water in cockpit.

We lost our fishing tackle last night. We had 200 lb test tied to a cleat along with 5/16 inch bungee cord. Both were apparently ripped off.

We are 205 miles out of Cristobal/Colon and should be there by 1 PM tomorrow. We have been keeping a close watch at night, 4 hours on each but have seen no shipping yet. I would expect that to change over the next 24 hours.

I have hired an agent, Panama Yacht Services, to facilitate the transit of the Canal and it will be interesting to see how that goes. David Addington, crew to Ecuador arrives Monday night (don't worry David, there is a lot of booze left)and my existing crew, Bill Hart and Peter Wetzel, depart on the 25th and 26th respectively. I am hoping to somehow make certain that Bill, Peter and David all make the transit.

As we rock and roll our way to Panama and eye those beautiful snow capped peaks rolling up behind us, it is hard to not consider Don Street's (sailing guru) admonition, "skippers heading west to Panama are under the impression that this is an easy downhill slide, but...". Anyway, quite exciting, that is for sure!

I will let you know when we arrive.

All the best,

Jim
Lat 11 deg 46 min N
Long 77 deg 30 min W





 
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