Thursday, May 27, 2010

Leaving Belize - heading for Key West

From Caye Caulker, we sailed 15 miles north to San Pedro on Caye Ambergris. Neat town for checkout. Well off to dinner, then a 4-5 day sail to Key West. We're trying to circumvent the shit storm from the oil leak - wish us luck. Oh yeah, extra busy hurricane season coming - what no locusts?! All the best until then from Jungle Jim, Jenee and first mate Kayleigh.

No picture of Special C, but I do have Kayleigh and Jenee. Looking good.

And here we are at Slippery Joes for cocktails and cool reggae music. As I'm listening to the music, I ask the bartender who it was. He points to a reggae looking dude and says "it's him". Special C comes up and introduces himself and said he hangs at the bar because otherwise people won't blieve it's him. Bought his CD for $25 Belize, $12 US and I'm chillin'. He's emailing me the words - Belize Creole.

Here we are looking west.

Inside the Belize reef makes for interesting sailing. We hit ground threee times in a channel aptly named Porto Stuck. The charts were wrong, the GPS was incorrect, Captain Jimbo was stressing and Jenee came to the rescue by spotting the only deep water out and pointing the way - hala-luya! On the other side we made it to Caye (key) Caulker, a cool little island with sand roads. My Dad would call it Key Cah-kah. Here's the main east-west drag, looking east.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New crew arrives on Jungle

Here's Shane showing Kayleigh how to feed.

Jenee and Kayleigh paid a visit to a private property featuring Howler monkies. The property owner (Shane) has 43 acres, he's a graduate from NYU in ecological studies and has this well thought out natural environment - no pens. He provides private, small tours where the monkies come down and eat fruit out of hand. The monkies hold your hand while they eat the fruit - Kayleigh said it was "intense".

While Captain Jimbo was busy repairing a last minute generator problem, Jenee and Kayleigh visited Altunha - Mayan ruins.

Our niece Kayleigh Horn, fresh from her graduation from Vassar, is joining us for the trip from Belize to Miami. Kayleigh is well versed in Spanish which will really come in handy when we hit Miami. Kayleigh was also a member of the Vassar golf team, so if I play a round with her I'm getting strokes, plus hitting from the ladies tees, which is nice.

But first Jenee needs to be on lookout to help navigate Jungle through the famous Belize reefs. The water goes from 18 meters to 2 meters in a flash. In Belize, only day time passages are advised to allow boaters to see the water contrast over the reefs. Fortunately Jungle draws less than 1.6 meters (5 feet). It was an important consideration for us when we searched for boats - shallow draft to allow us to visit places like this.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ahhh, Belize

Here we are delivering beer and coleslaw to the chef to complete lunch. Jungle is in the background.

The next day Jenee and I sailed 10 miles to Rendevous Cay. This small island was recently set up to entertain scuba divers coming off cruise ships on Weds and Thurs. Delroy lives alone on the island and keeps it sparkling for guests. He not only let us use it, but made us lunch - conch stew.

You do this. We got the run of the place as long as we cleared out by 5PM in time for the next 32 guests. ($200 per person per night, all inclusive - worth it)
When you see something like this ...

So we pull into Belize from Guanaha - a 124 mile overnight sail for Jenee and me. The first land in Belize we hit is the Turnefe (turn-eff) Islands national park. We tried to come in direct but the way in was too dicey, so we anchored elsewhere and came in by dinghy to the Turnefe Island Lodge - another piece of Paradise. It's a small resort for Scuba/Snorkel/Fishing enthusiasts that we would highly recommend after a personal tour from one of the staff.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Island hoping our way to Belize

No cars or streets in this island. Here's Jenee strolling down the main drag on Barranca. Absolutely the nicest people here - non tourist spot.

We just landed after 2 days from Providencia in a little island off of Hondoras called Guanaja (wah-na-ha). Cool island with a Venice style island capital - Barranca. Here I am in a German run bar off our anchorage. We had a great meal of German sausage, spetzel (sp? - pasta) and sauerkraut.

During the sail up the winds blew the clew apart so we lucked out by running in to s/v Kokapelli and Liz's Sailrite sewing machine. Liz set Jenee up and she went to town repairing the sail - nice work.

I usually don't take pictures of historical signs and cannons, but here's one now. I forgot what it said, something historic.

We left San Blas and beat hard for 2 days again. 30 kt winds with gusts higher. Waves at 6 feet plus. We needed a break so we pulled into Isla Providencia off the Nicaraguan coast but belonging to Columbia - go figure. This island is famous as a hangout for the pirate Henry Morgan who lived off Spanish Galleons a few hundred years ago. That's Jungle the furthest on the left and that break in the hill above is called "Morgan's Ass". Pirates are funny.

Time for the Annual Swimsuit Issue

Hey, who brought in the clown?! Sorry for messing up the photo shoot. We've got to start trying to have some fun.

Yes, celebrating 50 years on the planet. I think Jenee looks almost as good as me, but that just may be me talking.

We had a little picnic on this island off the Hollandes Cays. As with everywhere else, spectacular clear water nary a soul.

This is an area near the Hollandes Cays called the "swimming pool" - you can see why.

OK, so here is no "swimsuit issue" - so sue me. My apologies to Jenee's son Garrett, but your Mom's celebrating her 50th birthday in style bro! We spotted this island from our anchorage (in the background) and had to come - it's about the size of our boat with one palm tree. I claimed it as "Babe Island" - I'm working on the name.

More pictures from Paradise

These are the Kuna dumplings. They were practicing their English on us with "have a nice day". The Kuna are camera shy and the women don't liked to be photographed. So we ask for permission first and they were OK with pictures of the kids. The kids were digging it.

As Jenee likes to tell me - don't be that guy! Evidently this guy was in a hurry to get behind the reef and the islands a couple of years ago during a storm. He needed to go about 5 miles east or west to get around. I wonder if he said "Hey, f-that, watch this..."

I should point out these islands are about 1-2 feet above sea level. They are fully protected by a series of reefs where you see 12 foot waves crashing 100 yards from the island and only ripples coming across. The area is also south of the hurricane belt, which is nice.

Here's Jenee's favorite shot, probably because she took it. You can see one of the Kuna's dugout canoes. They fashion a sail on these as well and zip around the islands.

Finally, a local bar to crawl into! Johnny Macaranas ay not be famous worldwide, but it works for me - $1 a beer in this place. There is a God! The Kuna women make these embroidered cloth designs called Molas. I think we bought a few.

So this is what Paradise looks like

What a mess this place is! Absolutely untouched.

The sea claims some of the palms.

Sunset on the island.

This is a shot inside an abandon hut on the other side of the island.

We sailed from Colon to the San Blas Islands overnight and it was probably our most uncomfortable sail of the trip - 12 foot high seas, winds gusting over 50 kts. On top of that we travelled through one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world - into the Panama Canal. It was all made worthwhile once we arrived in daylight at the San Blas Islands. Here's our first view of perhaps the most idyllic anchorage found. The only way to get here is by private boat - no cruise ships, hotels, stores. Just the Kuna Indians who rule over paradise. We had dinner at this private home (hut) - lobster on the beach.

And we're through the Panama Canal !

Here's our line handlers Fernando, Alphonso and Alonso and the lines they used to get us through the canal. We're dropping them off in Colon, Panama. What a trip!

First view of the Caribbean from the last of the locks.

Moving to lock #2 in a series of 3 locks.

Posing in front of the locks. Man I got to do something about these white T-shirts. They seem to add 20 lbs. Maybe I'm wearing 4 of them.

We're happy to be heading out of the canal through the Gatun Locks. Don't look now Hon, but there's a tanker coming.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jungle winding her way through the Panama Canal

Here is the line handling crew settling in for breakfast after making it to the Gatun Locks.

My brother Tom spent a couple of years working on the Panama Canal - he would recognize this building

Got some pictures in - here we are entering the Pacific side - Mira Flores Locks

Jungle is on the Atlantic side! (Caribbean)

Hi Everyone,

I’m having a little difficulty with internet quality and updating the blog with pictures so here’s a written update to catch everyone up.

Jungle is currently at 9 32.8 N, 78 53.7 W in the San Blas Islands off Panama. This is as close to paradise as we visited. You can check it out on line to see how beautiful it is. The history of this place is interesting; controlled by the Kuna Indians, the largely uninhabited island chain sits just above sea level protected by a large reef system. The Kuna’s are small sweet people, average height about 5 feet. Years ago Panama decided to install a police force on the islands and soon after the police force was made to “disappear” by the Kuna. Panama decided that maybe a police force wasn’t such a hot idea and left the Kuna alone. Jenee and I both agree that this is a perfect retirement destination once our travelling the high seas is complete.

We made it through the Panama Canal in 2 days but should have been through in 1 day. The canal authority (ACP) decided to close off the Atlantic side to north bound traffic (us) just as we were approaching. Basically the two sides to the Gatun Locks were giving preference the big ships heading south to the Pacific Ocean. It was a bummer for us as we had to now wait 24 hours, pay an extra day for the 3 line handlers, plus food and lodging on Jungle. The good news is we had 3 great guys from Colon; Alphonso, Alonso and Fernando so we all made the best of it. The Panama Canal is much more scenic and lush than I had anticipated – very pretty in the fresh water, 50 mile winding rivers between the locks. The actual passage through the locks, 3 up at Mira Flores on the Pacific and 3 down at Gatun on the Atlantic, was exciting but everyone needed to be on their toes with shifting currents from water moving in and out. The ACP provides all boats with either a Pilot (big boats) or Transit Advisor (small boats) – our guy on day 1 was Roy, great guy. On day 2 it was Moises another good guy. The Transit Advisors are trained on all aspects of the canal operation and history. They are walking encyclopedias on all things Panama Canal with great anecdotes and facts along the canal. After making it through on May 5 for Jungle’s first visit to the Atlantic side, we spent the night in Colon before heading for an overnight sail to San Blas. Jenee, Kai and I agree that it was the most difficult and uncomfortable passage of the trip with winds topping at 50+ knots and waves reaching 12-14 feet – no one slept, fun times.

Today, May 13, we head out for a 7 day sail to Belize. There may be one or two island stops on the way. In Belize our good friend and navigator Kai Schwarz will be heading back to Seattle to get on with business and his sailing life. Jenee and I will continue our journey on Jungle to points east from there and we’ll get you more pictures. Until the next time, all the best,
Jungle Jim and Jenee

Monday, May 3, 2010

Panama City Tour continued

Another great dinner - restaurant called Market. I keep telling Jenee, these horizontal stripes make me look hefty. She said it's also because it's white - so there. Hey, here comes another dessert. See you on the other side of the Panama Canal.

And here is our man now - in calculator heaven! Kai found a display of colored ones later and was over joyed. Kai said you can't find these in the USA. I did not know that.

The city phots are from the eye of Kai Schwarz - nice work. This is the Intercontinental Hotel entrance.

Ah, a little of the old with the new. "Excuse me, I ordered that phone service to be installed months ago." "Ma'am, we're having a slight technical problem, it'll be cleared up in no time."

The high rise construction cranes are everywhere in Panama City.

Panama Tides and City Tour

A closer up view of the Panama City skyline.

There is an Old Town Panama section which we toured by cab. The city appears to be doing a lot to rebuild this section.

Downtown Panama City skyline from the marina. We're on hold for our pass through the canal - most likely Tuesday so we have time to tour the city. The locals tell us there is an incredible amount of high rise condominium construction and very few tennants. They believe the funding is from "grey money" sources from Columbia.

The same post is now 16 feet above the dock, with more tide shift to go. This harbor (Flamenco Marina) states a tide shift of 18-22 feet! That's a big shift this close to the equator (7.5 degrees north). We are at the end of a long bay to the mouth of the Panama Canal which accounts for most of the shift.

Here's an illustration of the tide shift in Panama. Look at the post to the right (starboard) of Jungle - the yellow stripe is about 2.5 feet above the floating dock.