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Thursday, June 28, 2012

How to Make a Boat a Home

In a large mixing boat combine the following:
A Whole 38’ Admiral Catamaran
2 Hulls for added stability, speed and space
4 cabins - (2 forward and 2 aft)
A tasty galley (I like mine with an oven)
The spice of one salon and dinette with seating for 10
2 bathrooms for added seasoning 
A freshly cut head sail and main sail (most people prefer the white meat - we occasional enjoy the aged black variety)
The splash of 2 forward trampolines (cocktail quality - not the cheap stuff) 
A briny cockpit
The zest of 4 kids (vary to taste)
Throw in a pinch of Mayan pillows for added color (I like mine imported from Guatemala.)

*Optional: A Belizean kitty adds a lovely homey flavor if so desired 
Shake vigorously in 6-8 foot seas.
Bake for 4-5 months in the tropical sun. 
Sprinkle with stars.
Serve with a side of sunrise. 

I've been meaning to share these interior pics of Balance so you can have a visual of the boat we were on. It was the perfect size for our family and so wonderfully cozy. We came to love it.

Salon with dinette. Galley in the background.  

 Looking to starboard. Control panel and VHF on the right. See my herb garden? 

 Galley and looking forward down the port breezeway to the girls' Vberth cabin. 

Starboard breezeway and the boys' Vberth. The door in the bottom right hand corner is the starboard head (bathroom). 

Port Aft Cabin. There's another one identical on Starboard.

Companionway (stairs) to the Starboard breezeway and Aft Cabin. 

Starboard head. There's a toilet opposite the sink and the sink faucet becomes a shower head when necessary. 

*Since we lost our steering and were stalled out in Honduras for weather we have had not a lick of internet. I apologize profusely if you thought for a second that we had sunk to the bottom of the Caribbean. Not at all. In fact, we were able to leave Honduras during the predicted weather window and made incredible time to San Andres. There Capitan discovered a broken chain plate on port which connects the shroud to the top of the mast and is partly responsible for holding the mast up. Ugh! I almost barfed when I heard that we could have lost our mast. But we didn't. That's lucky. And Dave and Bill were able to remove the broken piece and take it across town to yet another welder to have it fixed.

So once again we patched our boat back together with duck tape and hose clamps and headed out into the great blue yonder. We had a lovely sail with the winds in our favor and were able to consistently make 8-9 knots! (Believe it or not, that's fast. ~10-11 mph.) On the way, a bright orange U.S. Coast Guard helicopter snuck up behind us, flying low and trying to be all stealth by coming in down wind (and as Dave says - on our "six"). Of course, they were looking for any kind of illegal behavior, but we just felt like they were coming by to say hi. So we all rushed up on deck, jumping up and down, blowing kisses and waving profusely. They gave up on being stealth and saddled right up on our "nine". They were so close that we could see the co-pilot smile! I'm sure we were a sight. Then they tipped their "wing" in salute, waved, circled the boat, waved again, and flew off. It was magical. And knowing that our U.S. Coast Guard was out there patrolling those waters, near enough should we need them was so absolutely reassuring. I won't lie. I got a little teary eyed.

The rest of that crossing was relatively uneventful except for that GINORMOUS container ship coming from the Panama Canal that crossed just a short distance in front of us. Sheesh. Sketchy. We nearly felt their wake. There are stories of big huge freighters like that running down sailboats like ours and not realizing it until they get to port in Japan or wherever. Yikes. But we didn't end up as a hood ornament. That's lucky. And we made such good time that we arrived in the San Blas Islands 8 hours ahead of schedule. You'd think that would be a good thing except that when you're planning a 50 hour crossing you try to plan it so you arrive at your destination in daylight. Daylight is especially helpful when your destination is wrought with hidden coral heads and shoals that appear out of nowhere. As we were coming into the anchorage at midnight Dave called me up on deck for bow watch. I was just getting out of the shower, but I could tell he needed me urgently. So I threw on my foul weather gear (glorified rain coat), grabbed a mag light and hurried to the bow. I heard the breaking waves before I saw them. You don't ever want to see breaking waves from the bow of your boat within the scope of your mag light. Not ever. Breaking waves are bad. I tried not to sound panicked as I spun around in my raincoat and said to Dave, "Breaking waves dead ahead!" I felt like a pirate. At about the same time our keel found the sandy bottom and we heard the unmistakable crunching sound of fiberglass on sand. Not a sound you want to hear. Not ever. Dave threw both engines into reverse and we got the heck off that shoal. No harm, no foul. Never happened. Besides, Dave said it was all worthwhile to see me running around the bow in nothing but a rain coat. I'm sure.

In the San Blas we met up with Dave's brothers and their families and had a lovely family reunion in the islands. From there Dave and the kids and I did our last 11 hour crossing to the marina at Shelter Bay near Colon, Panama. It was such a beautiful crossing to end our trip. Not a ripple on the water and the Panama coastline was gorgeous. We had a whirlwind 36 hours at the marina detaching ourselves from the boat and getting it hauled out for body work and repairs. I cried like a baby leaving the boat. So many emotions. I was so thankful to the boat for carrying our family safely through the Caribbean. And so relieved to have completed our adventure relatively unscathed. Then it was back to Panama City for a glorious night of luxury at the Trump Ocean Resort. We flew home on Tuesday and have been holed up in our darling little house wearing our pajamas, wasting copious amounts of hot water, and flushing the toilet unnecessarily since then. I cannot even tell you how great it is to be home.
We may never leave.

Thanks for keeping track of us. And now I'm going to bed to sleep for four days straight. Good night. 

1 comment:

lawtrix said...

Welcome back! It's been so much fun following along on your adventures! (I saw your note on my blog - we're about an hour and a half north of Tucson in an eastern suburb of Phoenix and would love to see you if we can make it work!)