We are back…..!! and will be on our way very shortly
For some of you who know and for all the rest who don’t know we have been busy traveling to visit family and friends and it has been quite a BUSY TIME!! But of course super enjoyable J. We started our “land time” in the UK for a another very white Christmas and yet this year even colder than last one! The boys absolutely loved it again and “again” we could not get them a sledge as they ran out of them but it was actually good to find out that plastic bags and house for sale signs do work well too.
We spent very special Christmas with Paul’s dad and family at uncle Bills for a delicious dinner and then we had a fantastic New Year celebration in the Lake District with our friends John, Kirsty, Finn and my princess Issy. We also celebrated Jason’s 10 birthday on our most expensive movie event for only the 4 of us!!! The UK is certainly not a good place to go for movies J
Once all that was over we came back to our beautiful “matchbox” in Panama to take her into drydock and see what we could find????!! As you can all imagine “not pretty” but usual maintenance and dust, dirt no water etc were part of it every day for 9 days. Back to the water to find out that our mechanic FORGOT to check the very first thing in his list (water leak) and therefore we would have to take her OUT AGAIN!! I am sure by now you are all laughing at our faces???!!! L
It was actually time to fly to Peru to visit my family and celebrate my mums 80th birthday!!! All sisters and families, brother and all of us after about 10 years together again and it was as you can imagine FANTASTIC! Breakfasts, lunches and dinners and ALL OF IT WITH PERUVIAN FOOD!!!! Chinese, Peruvian, meat, seafood, you name it : WE HAVE IT! And WE all enjoyed it too! We had the chance to see a lot of our family cousins, aunties and uncles and long and short time friends and it was very very nice to see them all. The boys were spoiled rotten as you can imagine between walks to the park, sweets, chocolates, ice creams, CHURROS etc No wonder they actually LOVE LIMA!!!!
Paul then left earlier to go back to the UK and celebrate his dad’s 90th birthday which was another successful mission with a nice Celebration in Church with over 80 people attended to. He was not only thrilled to have his son there but also gave a speech to his friends (standing up of course). We are very happy and fortunate to have such a strong dad, father in law and grand dad with us.
We all met back in Panama with the boat out of the water for the second time in less than two months, getting her ready for our first visitors…. By this time most of the repairs were complete and just about every system on the boat had been repaired or –replaced in the previous 6 months. The verdict on the generator was that it was beyond repair and we needed a new engine. Very long story very short, ordered and installed from the US and lasted 40 minutes before it exploded!!!! Everyone is washing their hands of it and despite a very long fight we still have a big hole where our new generator is supposed to be, no refund and in an area of the world famous- for bad customer service this one really stands out.
Waiting for our friends coming from Lima who had only 5 days planned with us and got their stay even shorter due to the cancellation of their flight! So finally we departed on Tuesday 5th April 2011….
First five days truly awful weather, torrential rain 25 knots squalls massive thunder and lightning and our friends despite it all, kept smiling!! As they departed on- the worlds smallest runway a crack in the clouds appeared and next day the sun was shining on one of the most beautiful locations we have ever seen anywhere in the world.
A picture speaks 1000 words and to be honest it is impossible to convey just how good this place is. Everyone talked about how spectacular it was and we were worried our expectations would be too high. Frankly, it was far better than we both expected. Cristal clear waters, powder sand beaches on tiny desert islands with palm trees, friendly local Kuna Indians and scenery to die for. The Kunas would paddle up to the boat on arrival in the dugout canoe in traditional dress and offer freshly baked bread, lobsters, huge crabs, freshly caught fish and beautiful MOLAS (handicrafts). We feasted on fresh seafood nearly every night for about US$2.00 and anything else we needed the kunas will bring to order with a 20% mark up. We could go on forever about this place but I guess the pictures say it all : PARADISE J As well as that, lots of beach parties with other cruisers on deserted islands and some hugely interesting characters. The boys were in heaven snorkeling, fishing, swimming and building forts on their own private islands. It was great to see that Jason has his confidence back in the water after a shark phobia period helped by snorkeling with a couple of very lazy 5 ft. nurse sharks. Both boys also enjoyed doing some repairs on the top of the 60ft. mast as for some reason the winch wouldn’t work with the weight of their father who incidentally hates heights J.
After 4 idyllic weeks in the San Blas, we ran out of things to eat with our fresh seafood and more importantly the chardonnay ran dry. It was a very sad farewell as we headed to the old Spanish fort at Portobelo.
One night at this lovely little village anchored under the Fort dating back to the 1500 and ransacked by Henry Morgan “as has everything around here” and then back to Shelterbay Marina where we spend the last 2 weeks and now are ready to lift anchors again!! This time we are going north up to Roatan and thinking on stopping in Providencia (Colombia) for a rest and wander ashore.
Shelterbay has been wonderful, completely secluded with 6.30 AM bike ride most mornings into the incredible jungle just 5 minutes up the road in the San Lorenzo National Park where every morning we would see monkeys, parrots, sloths and two days ago a flock of 7 tucans. The smell and noise of the jungle is the most calming way to start the day.
Anyway, must dash as we leave early morning…… Very sorry for the lack of updates but hopefully we can try to keep up daily. Hope you enjoy the photos and we would be posting positions daily from now and on, future photos will post when we get to a port with some internet.
Love to all
Paul, Sol, Jason and Seb…..