welcome to our blog!

This blog tells the story of our 22-month sailing journey from Oakland, California, to Bristol, Rhode Island, aboard our beloved Bristol 32 sailboat, Ute. Please feel free to browse through the archives (partway down the sidebar to your left) to see pics and read stories of our adventures in North America and Central America . (Sorry the first 3 months of the trip are missing - they vanished somewhere in an internet cafe in Mexico - but all you're missing is CA, Baja and Western Mex).

If you're trying to track us down now that we're landlubbers, try us at uteatlarge at yahoo dot com. Thanks!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Isla Otoque

April 24, 2006

Hi all….we’re parked at another tiny island for the night (Isla Otoque), still working our way towards the canal zone. When we left the Perlas yesterday, we only had 50 miles to go, which you would think would be a day trip, but in this season of burly northerly storms all bets are off….if we’d pulled into the canal zone today it would have been after dark, and trying to navigate an unfamiliar anchorage, dozens of buoys, tiny islands, and one of the world’s busiest set of shipping lanes at night sounded like a nightmare. So..we’ll leave nice and early in the morning to cover the last 18 miles or so. This is a beautiful place to be for the night, anyway – we’ve got the whole place to ourselves, except for the thousands of pelicans, frigates and boobies that nest on the island. What a sight!

We’re finding out that we sort of pulled a Bill in getting around the notorious Punta Mala without any hassle – we learned via the shortwave this morning that bigger, faster, way more experienced boats than us have been waiting on the other side for the last couple days, hoping a weather window will open up to make a run for it. I guess we lucked out when we putt-putted around it the other night in moderate winds.

It’s hard to believe we’re this close to the Canal after so many years of dreaming about getting here….and on our own boat – our home! – at that. I feel like even if for some reason the transit itself doesn’t pan out, just getting here has fulfilled a dream of mine that’s been evolving for years and years. Not sure how I became so obsessed with Panama and the canal – it just happened that way. My Grandma Greene – a seasoned world traveler who bequeathed her wanderlust to me – went through the canal in the late 30´s with my grandfather, although they weren’t yet even engaged at the time. (separate cabins, of course…but still quite scandalous. Go grandma). So maybe the canal seed was planted in my head awhile back as Grandma was always ready to share a travel story. Actually, just to be in Panama at all feels really exotic for some reason…more so than the rest of Central America….maybe it’s the potent combination of its turbulent political history, the allure of the canal, and the natural history appeal – how could I not be seduced by the skinny bridge of land with the big job of joining North and South America? What other landform has that on its resume? The crazy part is the isthmus rose out of the sea just a few million years ago – 3 or 5 or something like that if I remember correctly (Google, how I miss you) – whereas the South American continent had broken off from what is now Africa something like 165 million years ago. So South America was an island for most of its formative years, completely isolated – hence the rainbow of weird critters and plants found only there. Like a really big Galapagos – what any PBS documentary worth its salt would call a “living laboratory” (you have to say it with the Attenborough accent).

Speaking of the Galapagos, they’re damn close. Every morning on the shortwave radio net, we hear from boats that are on their way to the islands or hanging out there. Needless to say it’s a pretty tempting detour – they lay less than 500 miles south of here – but that’s a trip for another time. (Believe me, I am tempted). Mainland Ecuador is Option 3 or 4 as a summering locale if we don’t make it through the canal – but hell, we’d never get home if I got sucked back into South America’s vortex, so Buster had better hope we don’t end up doing that. As if our dog even remembers we exist as he romps around the farm with two other dogs and three horses, getting spoiled rotten by my mom.

Anyway…..dinner’s ready (home fries, tomoatoes and Tang) so more later. CC

1 comment:

ncareypaint said...

Buster will definitely remember you both. He may miss the farm so perhaps you can find him a farm or at least a great park. Aiden Joseph Ciminesi arrived while you are traveling - he will certainly enjoy your stories of this trip when he is a little older. My best plans of a couple of kids books about Buster, Owen and past memories from my childhood must also include the mother's enjoyment of watching you take this trip and Cally and Mike coming to Honduras. Best I get cracking. Just won a game of scrabble with Leslie (neighbor here) teaches health at York High school - you would enjoy her.
Off to be - hugs nmc