Panama (March 2005)
2005 March 6 Update

It has been too long since I have done an update.  There are many reasons for this—preparing Ace to
cross the Pacific, visiting the States, and basically being around a big city like Panama City where anything
you want can usually be accomplished but it takes a whole day!  We are learning the secret of asking the
right question!  

So now to get you caught up on the adventures of SV Ace:

We had a great time during Christmas with our cruising friends, but then felt a need to be off on our own.  
We had a quiet New Years Eve-- just Ace all alone in an anchorage.  The next morning we left for the
Darien Province.  This is a very remote area of Panama that borders with Columbia.  It has a huge bay (in
size reminiscent to San Francisco Bay) and is fed by several rivers.  Previously, this area was inhabited by
indigenous people, but they have all moved to the city or moved to the major population centers of the
Darien (major isn’t major—like 4,000 people).  We anchored in many beautiful rivers—completely
secluded from the outside world, surrounded by parrots and other bird life.  We would take our dinghy up
to the shallow rivers and meet the people in the tiny villages.  Then, they came to visit us on the boat.  
They basically have a dugout canoe that takes at least two people to handle—one to row and one to
bail!    One evening we had 15 people on board- eating popcorn and watching Finding Nemo in Spanish.  
We brought them some medical supplies, clothing and Martin gave them his soccer ball and basketball.  

We visited the most populated town in the province, La Palma.  And just around the point were some
Embera Indians who make beautiful baskets.  They came out to the boat with their wares.  We bought
some beautiful baskets that we gave to family and friends in the States.  Emily traded one of her dresses
for a basket that a young girl, Emily’s age, had made.  

Martin and Emily got to play soccer with the local kids and were very popular.  The kids didn’t want them to
go.

We headed back to Panama City from this very simple life.  We knew we had a lot of work to do before we
headed to the States on February 1.  We hauled out Ace and put a fresh coat of bottom paint on her.  
Martin had a good time with the local workers and even talked politics with them!  We did have a minor
glitch—our cutlass bearing on our prop needed replacement (well, it was borderline whether it needed
replacement- but we thought we should do it here).  Fortunately, we found a replacement very quickly.  
However, it took almost 8 hours to remove the cutlass bearing!    Then, we were just doing some routine
maintenance and broke a seacock (a safety valve on our cockpit drain).  This replacement was not so
easy to find.  We would have to be hauled out again to replace this. Okay, okay… you’re getting the gist of
our life after the Darien—work, work, frustration, work, work.  Welcome to the real world!

During these times, I am in constant admiration of Lou and his wonderful ability to think through all of the
operations of the boat.   I just try to help out by keeping the kids occupied, taking care of logistics and
having a cold beer ready when he is ready to relax for a minute.  

The night before we left for the States we said goodbye to our friends on Amorita who were heading
through the Canal and to the Caribbean.  Emily was especially sad to leave her friend Kimberley.  I
sympathize with her—these goodbyes are so hard.  It is another part of the cruising life I did not fully
appreciate.  Panama is a huge transition area where we will be saying goodbye to many of our cruising
friends.  

Our visit to the States was highlighted with the celebration of  Marge, Emily and sister-in-law Melissa’s
birthdays.  All of my siblings, nieces and nephew were in Kansas City to celebrate.  We went ice-skating
and Emily really enjoyed doing that.  She did get her favorite- Cherry Garcia (Ben and Jerry’s) ice cream.  

Mom and Dad were wonderful hosts.  They have a 2-bedroom/one-bath apartment in downtown Topeka.  
This is spacious to us.  The 2nd bedroom was stacked with stuff we had ordered to take back with us.  We
all lived very well together.

We went to Denver to visit Lou’s dad and other family members.  Lou’s dad has been in and out of the
hospital and is in a care facility now.  We had a great time with Lou’s sister, Theresa and her family and
Lou’s brother, Den and his family.    We are grateful to Theresa and Den for being there for Lou’s dad.  
Lou spent 10 days in Denver.  I returned to Kansas with Emily and Martin.   Lou enjoyed having time with
his Dad and enjoyed watching movies with him.  

So, we came back to Panama—weighted down with new sails and lots of other STUFF!  We put on the new
main sail and it was cut too long!  So, we had to send it back to a sailmaking loft in Miami.  There are no
sailmakers in the Panama area!   The sail is back and we’re hoping to blast out of here by Wednesday!    

It will take us about 8 days to get to the Galapagos.  We hope to spend between 20-30 days in the
Galapagos.  Then, we’ll head off to French Polynesia.  We haven’t decided where we will make landfall—in
the Gambiers or the Marquesas.  

What we are reading (have read):

Mary- Stone Diaries, Fatu Hiva (by Thor Heyerdahl- a great read—I highly recommend!), and now I’m
reading “The Beak of the Finch” about Darwin and the study of evolution that is continuing in the
Galapagos.

Lou- The Pirate Hunters, Quantum Theology, Rescue in the Pacific

Emily- Shadwomancer (a book given to us by Shane Allen), Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret.

Martin-Marlfox, BFG and The Twits
Mary with some of the inhabitants of a
village named "Caoba" in the Darien
Province of Panama.
Christmas carols with kids from Ace,
Nueva Vida, Peregrinata, and Amorita.

Emily in Islas Las Perlas, before her
haircut.
This 10-year old girl traded her first
basket to Emily in exchange for a
dress.
Lou on Ace in the Las Perlas Islands.