The Waiting Place

March 18, 2020 – April 18, 2021

Bocas del Toro, Panama.

Ironically, the 20/20 hindsight that became 2020’s hindsight seemed to offer little clarity. More of a foggy memory filled with a year’s uncertainties and lunacy.

Nearly four hundred days here…

Our arrival at Bocas del Toro had coincided with the near overnight explosion of the Covid-19 pandemic. Globally, things were unfolding at a dizzying pace. Had we chosen to wait a few more days rather than departing Grand Cayman on Friday the 13th as we did, we may not have gotten out of the Cayman Islands at all. And had we arrived in Panama one day later than we did, we wouldn’t have gotten in.

A razor’s edge.

The drama of our first twenty four hours here still makes an occasional ripple during some introductions.

“… Exit…? We heard about you… the ones that the port captain gave a ten minute countdown to leave Panama over the VHF radio after you were visited by navy guys with guns…”

You heard correctly. Thankfully, they changed their mind.


Two weeks of quarantine aboard the boat turned into a month sitting in one place in the North Anchorage. But we didn’t care, because we had sanctuary. Our refugee status had been rescinded.

Looking back, being stuck at anchor for one month unable to move seemed minor… certainly compared to the prospect of being stuck at sea for one month unable to stop.

As hurricane season approached, the weather stability we were blessed with in the area gave us a peace of mind that could have only been matched in the Rio Dulce. Though rain and especially lightning are on the list of concerns, having any risk of hurricanes effectively off the table removes a great deal of potential stress.

As it turned out, a hurricane season so active that the weather service ran out of letters to use in naming the hurricanes came and went. So did the occasional lightning storms which rarely seemed to trigger the sheer terror level we had been warned of.

Fortunately, the hurricanes themselves never came here… unfortunately, we never got to leave here.

June became July, and then August passed by. We quietly celebrated our three year anniversary having moved aboard Exit.

No regrets.

Not even the record 89 days we spent sitting in one spot at the Red Frog Anchorage trying to sort out our windlass issues during which we dragged a thousand feet in one of the impeccably timed poo inducing 4am lightning storms… or even the thirty three knot squall we experienced while anchored in the crowded South Anchorage having just removed our old windlass but not yet having installed the new one. Eek! Ok… not regret, but both those pretty much sucked.

33 knots at anchor with no windlass

The benefits of “being stuck in Bocas” always outweighed the downsides (the archipelago, that is — not the South Anchorage). We just had to get out and about to discover some of the hidden pleasures.

Ok… there was definitely a bit of regret when we ran to of Kraken rum!

Always strange and fascinating creatures and plants:

Occasional walks to the Red Frog Beach:

Red Frog Beach after a few days of stormy weather
Maybe just a dinghy excursion…

And no matter how much Kris hates cooking, I am truly privileged to have such a crafty and imaginative chef aboard… even if an involuntary one.

Inevitably, living on a boat means that regardless of whether or not you are moving, you are always sitting on top of projects that need attention. Daily boat keeping, maintenance, repairs, and the eternal quest for improvement seem to constantly occupy one’s free time…and being it’s on a boat, it’ll take five times as long to do it, whatever “it” is.

Despite the varying degrees of full or semi-lockdown status we have seen here in Panama during the pandemic, during much of the time we have had the luxury of being able to move Exit around freely within about a twenty nautical mile circle.

Thirteen months of bouncing around Bocas

Even so, we only ventured to the edge of “the other side” by boat a couple of times. Once to Cayos Zapatilla aboard Exit for a few days:

and once to Swan Island on a day trip aboard our friend Bev’s boat S/V Aseka:

Our ability to move around and drop the hook, not just within specific anchorages, but among endless mangroves, islands, and bays in the archipelago as well as endless options for various day trips, adventures, and excursions have made this area as good as any we could have hoped for.

All the while, a balance of forces.

It is what it is…

And learning the schedule of our friends aboard the local Veggie Boat was instrumental in helping to determine what anchorage to be in on a given day if you wanted freshly delivered fruits and veggies…

However, if fresh empanadas is what you crave, then you can’t stray far from the shores near Red Frog, because Archimedes has very limited delivery range in his dugout cayuca!

Hot, fresh chicken empanadas

Months of patience and perseverance paid off when Kris finally acquired a stand up paddleboard, officially placing her in a state of SUP-bliss (and arguably making her one of the catalysts for what had to become Bluefin SUP’s biggest Panama sales to date based upon the number of other boatpeople that followed her lead).

Test paddling potential options prior to the big purchase
Inflating the new SUP for it’s baptism…

A daily visit on the SUP to see Kris’ friends… always good for a smile.

Kris… the Sloth Whisperer
A school of cow nose rays…
… daily visitors in the neighborhood

Ironically, two of the things we have best access to aboard Exit have nearly fallen off the radar since our arrival in Bocas… diving and sailing.

At anchor Starfish Beach November 2020… dead calm.

Long, long ago it seems, when we sailed the five day 750nm voyage from Grand Cayman to Bocas Del Toro, we travelled solely under power of sails for one hundred hours. Over three hundred days later, we were still in the archipelago and had only raised the sails twice since arriving… a bit embarrassing.

A Bocas rarity

However, February 6, 2021 was a landmark day. Not only was it the second time we had moved over twenty miles in a day; it was the third time we sailed in Bocas. We were adamant that we were going to be under sail when we raised our glasses in a toast celebrating 10,000 nautical miles traveled on S/V Exit!

10,000 nautical miles on S/V Exit

A salty feeling moment after a very un-salty feeling year.


A Few of the 10,000 Numbers:

  • Nautical miles travelled: 10,000
    • 20+ miles offshore distance: 5955nm
    • Inland/coastal distance: 4045nm
  • Total hours spent underway: 2016
  • Total hours spent under sail: 1330
  • Days since we moved aboard S/V Exit: 1266
  • Nights spent aboard S/V Exit: 1184
  • Longest offshore passage: 823nm (6d 5h)
  • Furthest distance offshore: 200nm
  • Number of anchorages visited: 247
  • Longest number of days without lifting the anchor: 89 (Red Frog Anchorage, Bocas Del Toro, June – Sept. 2020)
  • Nights underway: 46
  • Solar power generated: 1,400,000 watts
  • Fresh water made: 2400 gallons
  • Rain water caught: 1200 gallons
  • Diesel used: 1000 gallons
  • Petrol used: 170 gallons
  • Propane used: 60 gallons
  • States visited: 11
  • Countries visited: 7
  • Regrets: 0


In another go figure moment of irony, it turned out that, after literally hiding for a year from the coronavirus, it was actually the shingles virus that would catch me and beat the shit out of me. Fortunately, I was apparently subjected to only a rather mild case thanks, at least in part, to: 1) an early diagnosis (internet research typically resulting in me swearing at the laptop Google actually yielded immediate results typing the words “rash feels like pulled muscle”); 2) diagnostic confirmation and a prescription via cell phone provided by a Turkish doctor living aboard another boat; and 3) immediate access at the pharmacy in town for the necessary creme (the Panamanian woman behind the counter turned more than one head when, in broken English, she loudly stated… “it’s for the Herpes).

The doctor is off duty

March 18, 2021 brought us yet another first. We had been here in one place aboard Exit for an entire fucking year. At that very moment we were only seven and a half miles away from the very spot we dropped anchor after arriving the night of March 18, 2020… holy shit. We had actually travelled a total of three hundred ninety nine miles around the archipelago yet we were still within ten miles of our starting point.

Moments of contemplation

It suddenly drove home the point that many of the people we see here on a daily basis paddling around in tiny dugout caucus, even the most innovative and ambitious sailors, probably travel less than ten miles from home during their entire lives.

It’s all about perspectives

Everyone just trying to get by…

A rare Bocas at night photo… actual people and open businesses
The Corona Bucket – a bartender’s covid humor… disinfectant, paper towels and a mask.

The psychological toll of Covid-19 can’t be understated. As a planet, we have tried to wrap our heads around this for over a year now. Real health risks weighed against personal needs all tainted by petty politics and bickering. As time wears on, it becomes impossible to avoid the self pity and sense of personal impatience that inevitably creeps in. It becomes impossible to fully appreciate how well boat life has actually equipped us to navigate through all the uncertainty of the pandemic. It becomes impossible to avoid the sense of guilt for recognizing how much of a luxury that really is.

Maybe what we really need to acknowledge is the cold truth that the waiting isn’t the hardest part… it’s the dying. Which makes the waiting not nearly so hard.

And yet, even many not directly affected by the coronavirus itself, have been devastated. Jobs lost. Families impacted. Dreams smashed. Hope overshadowed by fear. Uncertainty.

Many people no longer have their boats.

Many people no longer have each other.

In the end, Kris and I have each other and we are still aboard Exit. For us, that’s what counts.

And that’s what keeps us going, even when we’re waiting.

Sometimes calm is the best thing to hope for

What gets us going is patience, persistence, and a plan…

Slower Than Steve

October 20, 2020


One of the craziest damn terrestrial animals on our planet.

If there is a Creator, sloths have to be a testimony to an Ultimate sense of humor.

They are a true exception to any stretch of a Darwinian concept of survival of the fittest.  

Not only do they seem incapable of outrunning any potential predator, they seem damn near incapable of catching much prey… and they are vegetarian!

Somehow, sloths manage to maintain a look that successfully sits atop the razor line between an irresistibly endearing smile and an absolutely indifferent look of complete stupidity.  

We’d seen them at a distance on Bastimentos, but never face to face like here in the mangroves right next to Isla Joya.

You just can’t possibly do anything other than smile back.

And… a sloth with a baby?  Get the fuck outta here…

Kris, who to be fair, does hold the title of longest data collector in the ongoing anthropological-sociological-psychological study of Steve, insists that sloths may be the first mammal she has encountered that is actually SLOWER than Steve.


Ocias, Oh See Us (The Legend Of The Spit Finger Search And Rescue)

The best laid plans…

October 15, 2020

Why would six gringos, four adults and two four year olds, one with a broken arm in a cast no less, be wandering around unaccompanied in the Panama jungle?  On the surface, as well as both above and below the surface, this seemed like far more than a rather reasonable question. 

The plan was a leisurely jaunt over the mainland from a dock just across the cove from Isla Joya (the same dock leading to Wild Bill’s infamous and now abandoned Jolly Roger Social Club) over to Green Acres chocolate farm.  It was only about one mile directly across from our cove to Dolphin Bay and not more than twice that diagonally to Green Acres… what had been described to Sharon by a local as “a twenty minute walk on a path.”

Bev and Malcom dropping us off

Ninety minutes into the jaunt, Sharon decreed, “I have no idea where we are.”  

I realized there had been much more confidence in her voice earlier, back at the dock when Bev had made a passing reference to a guide.  I thought the answer at the time had been, “I know exactly where we’re going.  We’re just following a path…”

After two hours, we had not seen a single person since being dropped off at the dock.   

We had three phones with occasional momentary reception, but only enough to get a GPS update on our current location on Google Maps —- invariably it was not far from where the last point had been.  Or to send a text —- Bev, we might be lost. 

Sharon handed me the machete. 

What had started off as a very discernible path leading from the dock into the dense jungle seemed to keep branching and branching.  The general strategy had been to keep angling in the correct direction but also try to keep to the more established, current, and traffic-worn trail.  Some trails eventually dwindled away to nothing, forcing us to backtrack.  Others split off continuously.  

Essen, the fourth adult in our party, reminded me of a rubber band as she stretched back and forth, shooting between her two four year old twins, who were themselves ricocheting in every direction through the jungle.  Dylan and Melody, who was currently sporting a bright green cast on her broken right arm from a climbing mishap five weeks earlier, were still remarkably upbeat considering the terrain we were trudging through.

On an interesting side note, I did learn that, in Turkish, the word “stop” apparently means “just continue right on doing what you were doing”… hmmmm.

The distinction between a looking at a Google map satellite photo with a straight red line from point to point and actually physically walking between those two points with your own two feet never became more apparent. 

By the time Sharon’s foresight to bring a machete was realized, it became all too obvious that we were ill prepared in almost every other way —- a hand held radio would have made sense… a reasonable supply of drinking water certainly wouldn’t have been ridiculed… I did have on a pair of running shoes but knee high boots now seemed like a smarter choice; by this point Kris had reverted to full scale primitive, opting to carry her Crocs and go barefoot… it was undoubtably a questionable environment for two four year olds with compliance issues, especially when one had an arm cast that needed to stay clean and dry…

Ultimately, a guide was the one thing we sorely lacked.  It would have made everything else irrelevant because we would have only been on a twenty minute walk on a path!


Forging a trail

Finally, I began to get a feel for clearing a path with the machete.  

Only thirty minutes ago, I had taken point.  As I recalled watching many movies featuring jungle-hacking trailblazers deftly cutting a swath back and forth through hostile vines and plants, I confidently swung the machete in front of me for the first time.

Nothing had prepared me for the violent shudder I felt through my right arm and dull clang I heard as the machete bounced harmlessly bounced off a tiny vine no more than an eighth of an inch wide.  

What the fuck?  

I looked at the vine.  It was tiny.  It did not appear to be made out of some alien alloy.  

I looked at the machete.  It was metal.  It appeared to be newly sharpened.  

I looked at Sharon.  She was trying to suppress a laugh.  “You have to cut diagonally.”


The second swing went through a one inch thick plant stem like butter.   I smiled.  This could be fun.

Three hours into the adventure, we had lost the path entirely.  After a painstakingly slow descent down a slope far too dense and steep to be carrying a sharp object, we reached somewhat level ground.  I had spent most of the time envisioning a sudden slip, only to see a machete sticking out of my belly upon standing.  Fortunately, that did not happen.  

Subsequently, we had decided to follow a small creek that —- in movies, at least —- always leads to a village.  However, an enormous fallen tree now blocked our path, forcing us to divert back into the thick and relentless jungle.  

We were getting no where, very slowly.  

By this time, multiple texts had been sent to and received from Green Acres.  Thankfully, their local employee Ocias (ironically pronounced Oh-see-us), whom we first met back in June, had already been deployed from the chocolate farm to retrieve us.  

We kept pressing forward as best we could, but any semblance or sign of human life had been absent for quite some time.  The direction we kept trying to go constantly seemed to be the densest wall of follage and growth.  

This spot looks familiar…

Fortunately, any potentially dangerous critters, and I’m sure there were many that we never saw —- fer-de-lance and bushmaster snakes (both can be aggressive and fatal), scorpions, spiders —- all seemed to be more determined to get the hell out of the way of the thundering herd of pale outsiders than to defend their home.

Even the mosquitos appeared to have sympathy for the dumb gringos, leaving us unmolested.

Had the skies unleashed rain upon us, it would have been absolutely miserable.  All things considered, everyone was still in good spirits and this still qualified as an adventure.

Eventually more than one person began to intermittently ask if anyone else had heard someone’s voice calling out.

It took a couple of stops with everybody standing still, listening, before we all agreed someone was yelling for us nearby.

Our salvation!  We would not become food for the jungle today.   

Ocias emerged from the jungle slightly to one side of us with a big grin on his face.  He was wearing rubber boots and carrying a radio… smart guy.  As we converged, everyone let out a big cheer.   

Ocias – The Dude

Immediately, I noticed we were already on a path.  Where the fuck had that come from?

During the long trudge that remained to Green Acres, Ocias kept taking photos with his phone… photos of things he saw along the way… photos of the ridiculous gringos he had pulled out of the jungle.

For the most part, he seemed rather amused by it all.  And, though some particulars may have been lost in translation, at one point Ocias appeared to express concern for our being in the jungle alone, especially had night set in.  Something about… the jungle is not for people at night… and something else about… jaguars y tigres.

Fair point.

Unbelievably, it seemed we purposefully strode for another thirty minutes —- up hills, through pastures, across mud bogs —- still always on a path, before finally reaching Green Acres… this time with someone who knew where they were going.  In the end, it appeared that after three and a half hours of walking, we had actually ended up ten minutes farther away from Green Acres than we were when we started walking.  Our first wrong turn must have occurred at the first branch in the  trail… 

Eventually we arrived at Green Acres. Four hours had passed since Bev dropped us off at the dock. 

Holy shit. 

Still, during that four hours we had seen incredible untouched scenery, surreal looking trees and flowers, bizarre mushrooms, bats, lizards… truly primitive Panama jungle.

At the chocolate farm, we were surprised to learn from Carlos and Gary that Ocias had initially been unable to find us. After searching unsuccessfully he had returned to Green Acres empty handed and spoken to an older Panamanian guy who was on the property cutting wood. It turned out the guy was an ex-police officer who told Ocias that while on the force they had been trained to use a tried and true, surefire method for search and rescue.

Lick your finger and hold it up in front of you. The side of your finger that dries will face the direction in which you will locate the people you are searching for.


I asked for clarification. Had I heard that correctly?

Yes. Apparently, I had. That was how Ocias had located us.

I stood there frozen with what must have been more than a bit of a dumb look on my face…

Now, I had heard a similar method to determine the direction wind was coming from… but… for locating lost people? Really?

My jaw began to drop. But before the words are you kidding… or that’s ridiculous… ever got a chance to tumble out of my mouth, something occurred to me.

What the fuck did I know? I was one of the idiots who was lost! He found us.

“Ahhhh… yes,” I said instead. “Thank goodness for the old Spit Finger Search and Rescue Method.

After our visit at Green Acres, suffice to say there was no drama on the way back to Isla Joya…

…we got a ride home by boat.

The easy way back…
Passing Exit, Samba, and Aseka approaching Isla Joya

Isla Joya

Isla Joya, Bocas del Toro

October 1 – 30, 2020

After our new ground tackle had been installed, the first thing we did upon arriving back at the Red Frog anchorage was to drop anchor in thirty feet of water (almost the same spot we had dragged to over three months prior) and put out one hundred fifty feet of chain —- ten feet more than had ever even been an option before.

Big squalls? No worries…

Brief time lapse

Croc sightings? No worries…

How big?

About a size seven, I’d guess.

Hey… comedy is not pretty.

The second thing we did was lower Kris’ new SUP into the water!  She had been trying for the better part of six months to acquire the perfect third option between swimming or using the dinghy to get off the boat.  Up to now she had been relegated as an observer of other peoples’ freedom.  Now she was finally the one wearing the shit eating grin.

Two days later we departed the Red Frog anchorage and arrived at Crawl Cay after having confidently navigated The Cut using the Navionics track we had saved from our previous trip in the opposite direction.  We chucked out two hundred feet of chain, just because we could… and then laughed as we realized that, even so, we still had more chain remaining in the locker than we used to have available in total. 

Crawl Cay represented the furthest we had ventured since arriving in Bocas del Toro.  During the past six months, we had remained inside a ten mile perimeter from Bocastown.   Now, for the first time, we were fifteen miles away.   

After two nights there, we decided that the anchorage was a bit too exposed for the schizophrenic shifts in wind direction we currently were experiencing.  So we very carefully inched our way from Crawl Cay through bays, around islands and between mangroves in water that ranged under us from six to sixty feet deep.  

We had manually laid a course into our Navionics software, but much of the area had no depth soundings to go by.  Many of the twists and turns we had plotted had been determined by studying corresponding charts in the well-known Bauhaus Panama cruisers guide which were created by superimposing recorded depth soundings he took over the top of satellite photos of the areas. 

Despite being very helpful in setting a tentative course, in the end, every time we approached a questionable area or the depth gauge started shallowing up quickly, someone stood at the bow to act as spotter.  Three hours and fourteen miles later, numerous anxious moments had resulted in only one actual emergency full stop and zero touches.  Our Navionics course had proven true.  

Passing Loma Partida on the way to Isla Joya

We were slowly becoming more confident in our ability to feel our way around, carefully picking and choosing a way though mangrove passages and mazes.  With good light, minimal wind, patience and slow speed, we found ourselves willing to probe into uncharted areas we would not have felt very comfortable in a short time ago.  If our draft was much deeper, a lot of places wouldn’t even be an option.  Shallow draft… deep commitment. Whoop, whoop!

Our friend Bev was currently caretaking a house on a small private island for a few days as well as looking after the three resident dogs —- Quila, Spock, and Bug —- on behalf of the owners, two Canadian expats named Sharon and Roy who had purchased the island less than two years ago.  Sharon needed to visit the nearby city of David for a short time.  Roy, on the other hand, had been stuck in Canada for the past six months on what was supposed to be a short visit after Panama’s international borders shut down in response to the coronavirus.

Our destination, named Isla Joya, is a tiny island 0.8 acre in size, which pokes out of the water at the very back of the massive Chiraqui Lagoon.  We tucked into a spot behind Isla Joya and its larger neighbor Isla Mono, in a relatively small but long cove with nearly three hundred sixty degrees of protection, where we knew we would find S/V Aseka already anchored.

Isla Joya with S/V Aseka and S/V Exit at anchor

The backstory of Isla Joya had all the makings of a farfetched blockbuster Hollywood movie except it was non-fiction.  An American white supremacist calling himself Wild Bill managed to swindle money from someone by selling them property he didn’t own, and then fleeing the U.S., murdered a man in Costa Rica who had boasted to him about sneaking a briefcase of cash into the country.  Once in Bocas del Toro, Panama, he embarked on a scheme to acquire properties.  Posing as a potential buyer, Wild Bill would set up a meeting with the owner requesting they bring the property deed (in Panama, possession of the deed represents ownership of the property), then subsequently execute them and dispose of the body, or bodies.  

Located just across the cove we were currently anchored in, on one of those very properties, Wild Bill had a bar called the Jolly Roger Social Club, which reportedly gained quite a reputation as a party location for years.  The previous owner of Isla Joya was his final known victim.  Her murder, and eventually the whole plot, was uncovered largely because the ex-boyfriend refused to accept Wild Bill’s story of the woman’s disappearance and continued to press the authorities.  

Despite the dark outcome which culminated in numerous victims eventually being dug up on Wild Bill’s property, the silver lining was not only the fact that Wild Bill still resides in a Panama prison serving forty years for murder, but also the alignment of stars which, years later, allowed Sharon and Roy to accidentally stumble across a now languishing and well overgrown island while searching for property to buy.  Eventually they were able to wade through all the confusion, ultimately purchase the island, and move in while they continue to repair and renovate the existing buildings.

We met Sharon once she had returned from David.  Day after day for weeks, she continually offered her island paradise and endless hospitality to us.  Her generosity was amazing, especially considering she had just met us. 

Playing with the dogs — Quila, a nine month old Rottweiler; Spock, a four year old Papillon; and tiny Bug, a somewhat brain damaged, eternally suspicious and always yappy though oddly adorable something or another — became a source of daily entertainment… and inevitably raised voices.  

In these Covid times of social distancing, hyper-diligence, and unprecedented isolation (not only from each other, but from what we are confident may or may not be the truth), it is encouraging… no, it is invigorating to know that strangers in completely different orbits can still become lifelong friends having to do little more than reach out.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Thirty eight years of wisdom…

October 2, 2020

Today is your day.
You’re off to great places!
You’re off and away!

So begins the first page of the Dr. Seuss book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”.  As I try to wrap my head fully around the swirling ironies before me, I turn the page and think back.

Exactly thirty eight years ago today, that day arrived for both Kris and I when we went on our first date… October 2, 1982.

Two high school students, headstrong with the typically firm conviction they already had a grasp of how everything important in the world works, plowed forward with the same awkward certainty shared by millions of other teenagers.  Of course, the sky was the limit…

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.

Fast forward ten years or so to the Nineties.  As the infernal reality for a young married couple of having to work in order to pay for the cost of living continues to dictate most of our day to day activities, a hunger to travel has already set in.  A need to experience slowly begins to dictate our long term goals.  Our mindset was changing from holiday tourists to traveling scuba vagabonds, but it would take over a decade for that evolution to fully take place.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

I’m not sure when we first came across the Dr. Seuss book.  It obviously wasn’t a memorable enough moment to stand out in either of our minds.  However, the book itself was quite memorable.  

Fast forward to October 2, 2008.  Twenty six years after our first date.  We have consciously chosen this date… the culmination of a five year plan to sell everything and leave the United States.

In so many ways it seemed like the final step of a long process.  In reality, it was actually another beginning.

Oh, the places you’ll go!
There is fun to be done!

For nine years —- as we travelled to incredible places, met unfathomably deep people, and soaked up life altering experiences —- we were simultaneously feeding two seemingly contradictory realities.  We were changing while, at the same time, we were reinforcing that which we had always been.

Thousands of dives, amazing cultures, lifelong friends we were making from all over the planet, endlessly looking at things in new ways.  How could we have waited so long?

At some point during those nine years, we stumbled across that Dr. Seuss book again on a store shelf, in SE Asia of all places…  we bought it. 

Yet, even when you are forging completely new ground half a world away from where you grew up, you can still find yourself coming full circle… the exact same situation in a totally different scene.

So be sure when you step.
Step with great care and tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.

Even paradise has its darkness.  Rarely are things exactly what they seem.  Everything is fleeting.  Nothing is set in stone.  

Eventually the new becomes comfortable… too comfortable.  It becomes time to… possibly move on?

Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker upper to make up his mind.

Somehow or another, despite all the piles of dive gear and the mementos we had to pack up when we eventually left SE Asia, that crazy Dr. Seuss book managed to find its way into our bags.

The previous decade had proven to us that, given a chance, outside possibilities have a real chance to become inside realities… even potentially something as outside as buying a sailboat to live aboard full time, despite having absolutely zero sailing experience. 

Yet, the previous decade had also proven to us that the only prerequisite for gaining experience is actually doing something.  Trial and error; research and discussion; in some cases sheer repetition (i.e. visual navigation or anchoring) and in others strategic avoidance (say, hurricanes or collisions).  And living aboard a boat 24/7, three hundred sixty five days a year undoubtedly allows substantial opportunity for all of those things.

With time, the sheer novelty of everything accompanied by a terror of the unknown began to slowly give way to a sense of confidence and occasional understanding accompanied by a healthy respect for the unknown (with the occasional small poo in the boardies).  

Exit… Sovereign Nation… Off The Grid.  Much more than simply names of sailboats.   They reflect particular mindsets… unique ways of thinking… complete changes in thought processing.

With time, we began to sense that shift of perspective.  With time, we began to realize that, once again, we were controlling the direction of our lives.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

Somehow or another, that crazy book had once again made the cut of what was deemed precious enough to bring along when we moved aboard our floating home, S/V Exit.

And it echoed the reality that, even aboard our own floating empire, we were still subject to outside influences and the inevitable ups and downs of life.

Nearly three years and nine thousand nautical miles later, as we sailed Exit from Grand Cayman on Friday the 13th, March 2020, we had no concept of how the following six months would unfold. 

Little did we know that we were headed for…

The Waiting Place…

Briefly, we were caught in the wake of the ripple effect involving the first Covid-19 lockdowns.  Providencia and San Andreas, Colombia turned us away while we were twenty miles away.  Bocas del Toro locked everything down the morning after our arrival.  And, for a time, we were fearful we would once again be cast out as refugees.

But, eventually, we were granted visas and allowed to join the rest of Panama… and, for that matter, the rest of the globe, in the process of doing nothing…

Everyone is just waiting.

A perpetual planetary time out for almost our entire species.  Pandemic.

A month… then a month becomes sixty days… then sixty days turns into three months… which quickly exceeds a hundred days… suddenly four months have passed… then five. 

Then… finally… after six months, it seemed as though the global haze could actually be slowly lifting.

A hesitant easing of Covid lockdown restrictions in Bocas del Toro—- coinciding with what looked to be our final struggles to rectify a complicated windlass, chain, and anchor issue which had, in and of itself, brought us to a virtual standstill for months —- allowed us to start moving the mothership about more freely once again.

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.

Which brings us full circle to October 2, 2020.  Thirty eight years after that first date.  Twelve years after our exodus from the United States.  

Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So… get on your way!

Maybe not our mountain… but very possibly our ocean. 

OH, THE PLACES WE’LL GO!  It’s just what the Doctor ordered, ya know…


Author’s Note:

Now, to be fair, I have always been a Dr. Seuss fan.  A fierce independence seems to course through the characters who pass on lessons and ideas from within unlimited and imaginative worlds via incredibly creative poetry, language, and storylines.  Still, teaching children the confidence to resist being persuaded to eat questionable foods like green eggs rings a bit more common-sensible…

On the other hand, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” seems to resonate like the bizarre combined poetic interpretations of Mr. Rogers, Dr. Phil, and Rick Steves… all wrapped up with an even stranger personal resonance of some Nostradamus-type-deja-vu-familiarity.  More like a mushroom induced overnight contemplation than a bedtime story… certainly far deeper shit than ever came out of the mouth of any purple dinosaur!

In the interest of full disclosure (just in case someone failed to realize), all above italicized, center spaced text stanzas are excerpts from “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” written by Dr. Seuss.  Without having gained the expressed permission to reproduce these excerpts, I am counting on the Doctor’s unmistakable sense of cool to look beyond any thought of legal action.  Barney can fuck off.

Don’t Overthink That Which Keeps You Grounded

Jumping ahead to the last page…

September 21 – 30, 2020:   South Anchorage outside Bocastown

After three months of sitting, we were finally on the move again.  Our ship had literally just come in and the shit we needed had just been offloaded.

In a nutshell:

Our old 1992 Goiot windlass

Our windlass needed to be replaced and there was no way around it.  The 1/2” chain was fine, but well over-sized for our boat (every other boat we met carried 3/8”) and the 150 feet we had was only half of what we wanted/needed.  Our Rocna 25kg anchor was okay, but on the small side for our boat…

Panama shipping issues meant we couldn’t guarantee the arrival of equipment shipping from Europe, even though this more than doubled the prices, and we were severely limited with who we could even get products delivered from.

After literally months of wrestling with options —- logistical feasibility, safety considerations, cost, availability, endless combinations…

In the end, the winning combination turned out to be a new Lofrans Tigres windlass with three hundred fifty feet of new (downsized) 3/8” G40 chain attached to a new (upsized) Rocna 33kg anchor.

Because we were able to secure everything through a company that shipped directly to Bocas Marina as a marine retail supplier, we avoided having to use the area’s regular shipping outlet which routed every package through a Miami address, circumventing all additional customs fees and delays that seem to plague every other shipping company.  But at a fee of six dollars per pound, that would have added about four thousand dollars to the bill!

I may (or may not) have been able to sort out the necessary rewiring if that’s all that would be involved.   However, while it was clear that the footprint of the new windlass was far closer than anything else to the windlass currently bolted to the deck, it was still going to require some modifications and/or aluminum fabrication to properly mount to the current deck plate.

Re-enter stage left:  Martin, the South African mechanic extraordinaire. 

Thirty dollars an hour transferred the burden of success from me to him.  Instead of insurmountable problems, we were now paying for Martin to navigate through curious challenges. 

Relatively cheap insurance.

And, as before, there was no fucking about.


We returned to Bocastown the morning after hearing the shipment had arrived at Bocas Marina.  We had no sooner dropped anchor in the South anchorage when Martin appeared alongside in his dinghy, ready to dig in.   

I still hadn’t fully wrapped my head around how this was all going to play out.  We had to switch windlasses, which would NOT be as simple as unbolting the old one and bolting the new one into the existing holes… some kind of adaptor (presumably an aluminum plate) would need to be designed, fabricated, and fitted to the original deck plate… but the ground tackle we were currently sitting on would require the old windlass to be brought up… nearly a thousand pounds of gear had to get from Bocas Marina onto Exit… the new 3/8” chain and anchor would need to be deployed while the old 1/2” chain and anchor still had to come up…

Oh ya… and our generator, the only option for AC power aboard the boat (that would likely be needed for power tools) had given up the ghost in a gigantic puff of definitive white smoke back in August. 

Oh ya… and we couldn’t forget about the boats anchored around us. 



The initial hope of pulling this all off without having to tie up in the marina now appeared farther and farther fetched as we recognized endless questions that seemed, at best, to generate ambiguous possibilities rather than clear answers.

How could we possibly switch out everything while we were at anchor?

To me, we obviously still needed to think this through a bit more…

Martin then proceeded to unbolt the old windlass and pulled it off the deck.

The “boom…done” part of no fucking about.

It’s gonna be what it’s gonna be.  We won’t know what that is until we get into it…  

The bold can-do attitude of a man who will only charge thirty dollars an hour while he’s fixing something.

Measurements were taken.  Discussions were had.  

The small discrepancy between the new and old windlass’ bolt patterns created a far more complicated situation than we had hoped for.   With the hawspipe (the chain’s entry point through the deck) dictating the overall windlass alignment, we discovered the two front windlass bolts were exactly aligned with a thick aluminum cross-brace under the deck… shit.

It was at points like this that we really appreciated Martin’s approach.  While uncompromising in what needed to be done from the perspective of structure and safety as well as aesthetics, he recognized when enough was enough.  On more than one occasion, he pointed out when he thought the end result of something would be hard pressed to justify the cost involved.

Compromise, as is always the case on a boat, was inevitable.  

Solution:  the new windlass bolted securely to a thick aluminum plate which is itself, in turn, bolted securely through the deck to the existing plate already welded to the deck.

For the aluminum plate, Martin reached out to a bloke named Kiwi Dave.

Day 1:  Dave is meeting someone else that day and can’t fit us in.
Day 2:  Dave discovers he’s mistaken.  He doesn’t have the aluminum plating after all.  Not even enough to weld multiple pieces together.  Delivery from Costa Rica could take six weeks (I was quickly regretting having pulled the other windlass).  We went to town desperately, though ultimately unsuccessfully, seeking an alternative.
Day 3:  Another call to Dave clarifies that he, in fact, DOES have the materials needed to fabricate our plate.  It will take twenty four hours and cost $80.
Day 4:  Dave has no power.
Day 5:  Sunday.  Lockdown.  Nobody goin’ no where…
Day 6:  Kiwi Dave delivers.  One ten millimeter thick aluminum plate welded, ground, and polished, in hand.

Of course, for the past week we have been in the south anchorage, far too close to other boats for our liking, still sitting on our old chain and anchor, with a very prominent empty space where our windlass should be.

Of course, for the past week it has also been volatile as hell for weather.  It is enlightening to learn that the transitional months between Panama’s typical wet and dry seasons, apparently September and October this year, can become very unpredictable with shifting winds, abrupt squalls, and intense lightning storms… fucking perfect.

From still to 30+ knots in minutes

This week the shit had been hitting the fan almost every night.

Fortunately, multiple anxious night time moments never further elevated into situations or incidents. 

And the days were more cooperative in allowing no fucking about progress to forge steadily on.

At least with overcast days we avoided the 140 degree temperatures the bare metal deck reached in direct sunlight!

The old wiring came out… the hard way.  The new solenoid and circuit breaker were installed.  The aluminum adaptor plate was now in hand.  The plate was fitted and trimmed, and all holes drilled or cut.  The new wiring went in.  The new windlass control connector was installed in the deck.  

The aluminum plate was secured and the windlass was bolted down… Ooooooweee, did that motherfucker look pretty!

Finally, the up button on the controller was pressed – the windlass gypsy sprang to life in one direction.  The down button yielded the same result in the opposite direction… Ooooooweee, did it run quietly!

We brought the dinghy to shore at Bocas Marina, remembered to mark the chain lengths (a much easier task to do before the chain goes in the bow locker rather than after), hoisted the new chain by hand into the dinghy and then fed it straight through Exit’s bow roller and into the locker with new windlass… Ooooooweee, did that come out of the dinghy easier than it went in!

The new Rocna 33 already sat on deck.  It gleamed brilliant silver in the fierce sunlight, like some fit Hollywood hero awaiting a grand entry just off-camera.  The new anchor was shackled to the new chain and reinforced with wire to guarantee the shackle pin couldn’t back out accidentally.


The moment of truth…

Now, remind me, how exactly are we going to…?

Boom… done!  

Huh?  What just happened?

Ah, yes.  More of the no fucking about.

I almost missed it, and I was there.  Let me rewind and replay in slo-mo.

Engine on, Kris at the helm, me and Martin at the bow.  The new Rocna 33, with the new 3/8” chain attached, gets lowered ten feet (half way to the bottom) by the new windlass whereupon the chain is  snubbed off, moved off the roller and set alongside over the toe rail… (watch fingers!)  Then, while Kris slowly motors forward, the 1/2” chain is heaved up manually by Martin & myself, which is actually do-able with two people (watch fingers!), and snubbed off when we reach the anchor.  Kris pulls forward a bit more to break the anchor loose, and we finish hauling up the old chain and anchor (watch fingers!), letting Exit drift backwards on the mild breeze until we are happy with the spot.  The old anchor is lifted off the bow roller and moved out of the way, making room to move the new chain and anchor, which had been hanging off the toe rail nearby, back onto the bow roller (watch fingers!).  New anchor and chain down.  Out.  And set.  Wham… bam… thank you ma’am!  Old anchor and chain on deck.  Exit sitting comfortably on new 3/8” chain and new Rocna 33 anchor… and don’t forget that new Lofrans Tigres windlass on deck.  Ooooooweee… does that new gear shine!  

All ten fingers still attached.  Muy bueno.

We had managed to successfully switch out our windlass, chain, and anchor, while at anchor.  And by “we”, of course I mean “we paid less than five hundred dollars so that we could largely watch Martin turn insurmountable problems into curious challenges,” proving that shit can, in fact, get done provided you don’t overthink that which keeps you grounded.  

That evening, as we toasted a pair of gin and tonics with extra ice and discussed picking up our new anchor and chain the next day to head somewhere new because… well, because we could… the wind started kicking up quite a stink.  For the first time, in a very long time, that really didn’t matter.

Sunset.  Fade to black.  And with that, the curtain closes on the final scene of our “Windlass-less Saga” drama… hopefully.

Six Month Hibernation…That Damn-Penic

Red Frog anchorage, Bocas del Toro

March 19 – September 21, 2020

Getting our passports stamped and cruising papers signed in Panama represented the most solid security we could hope for.  Six months for us and twelve months for the boat represented about the longest stay we could hope to be granted anywhere.  If things didn’t improve soon, this gave us the best option for longer term security, even from the perspective of potential weather.  Almost anywhere else would have a hurricane season attached at some point during the year.

In April, who realized that the ripple effect of this pandemic would cause us to still be struggling with international lockdown restrictions and very limited domestic travel more than six months later?  Six months from now, will we modifying that perspective once again —- still surprised after a year…?  Or two?

Having visited the Port Captain’s office to clear in, we were one of only two boats that been told directly by the Port Captain that we were not allowed to pick up anchor from where we currently sat.  We mumbled and groaned every time we saw one of the other boats moving.  However, we were the new kids on the block, and the last thing we were about to do was hail someone to announce the perceived injustice over the very public radio.  We already considered our position delicate enough that there was no way we’d be the ones to inform the rest of the fleet of a policy they may or may not be aware of.  No official announcement had ever been made.  Best for us just to sit there and shut up.  

For two additional weeks, after having cleared in with both Immigration and Customs following our two week quarantine in the north anchorage, we sat in exactly the same place.

We could go into Bocastown only during allocated times —- women Monday, Wednesday, Friday and men Tuesday and Thursday, during a one hour window corresponding to your passport number with a half hour granted for movement to and from home on either side.  Masks required.  Complete lockdown during weekends.   Not more than a few hours off the boat a week and never together… not ideal. 

But pretty damn safe.  

Finally… after a month… we returned to the Port Captain requesting permission to pick up anchor and move approximately five miles away to be in proximity of the closest marina with diesel.  The marina was currently under lockdown but we could anchor outside, have access to the fuel dock, and presumably get on a waiting list to enter the marina.  

We had no intention of staying at a marina; but we were happy to use any excuse that would help allow us to get the hell out of the north anchorage.  We carefully posed our request to allow us movement without clarifying any expected time frame of our return.  To our delight, permission was granted.

Our anchor hadn’t been lifted in exactly one month.

April 17 – May 1:   Red Frog Anchorage

Five miles and a world away.  

Granted, our experience so far at Bocastown had been nearer to visiting a ghost town than the reputed location of booming 4am bar music (in fact, the loudest and rowdiest nighttime venue right next to us turned out, of all surprises, to currently be the local Jewish synagogue).

Still, sitting in the tight proximity of other boats, buildings, and speeding pangas for a month had made any alternative location appear attractive.

And really, this was not a bad alternative at all…

The Red Frog Marina was in full lockdown so any shore access to get to the beach on the other side of the island was currently not on the table.  And yet, at least we had gotten away from the north anchorage.  To us, that was worth gold.

Occasionally, reports circulated regarding other cruisers who had already begun to question some of the restrictions; flaunt their movements rather boldly; do things not because they were allowed but because they could get away with it; disregard health recommendations.  Or, even more bizarre to us, questioning the entire quarantine process having just arrived from who knows where.  We couldn’t wrap our heads around that mindset.

Disrespect was not our intent.  Exactly the opposite; avoid situations that offered even a potential for misinterpretation.  We were very cognitive of the optics of two gringos moving about freely on their sailboat while the locals were struggling to survive without the economy of a functioning tourist industry.  

Largely, we were practicing 24/7 social distancing already.  And, while Panama was in full lockdown, actual Covid-19 cases in the Bocas del Toro archipelago remained very isolated with no positive tests in the area immediately around us. We were yet to hear of any cruisers having contracted the virus

After two weeks of enjoying the comparative quiet of our new environment, we decided to fuel up and try moving away from the Red Frog anchorage.  Moving discreetly, we maintained a low-profile and off-the-radar approach, and quietly relocated to a number of different anchorages throughout the month of May, all within less than a ten mile radius of Bocastown.

May 1 – May 5:   Starfish Beach

The makeshift shacks and palapas scattered along the beach, just back from the waterline, attest to the potential of both an impressive local income as well as an impressive level of noise generated by throngs of visitors who simply aren’t present right now.  Everything is deserted.  Nobody is there.  Covid.

Starfish Beach — Lots of starfish…lots of beach… no people.

It’s so strange.  We have no other reference of this place.  

Starfish Beach – Mantis Shrimp
Starfish Beach – Eagle Ray

May 5 – May 6:   Conch Point

The first place we have been to that seems completely unaffected by the coronavirus.  

That’s because there is absolutely nothing here.  And that’s largely in a good way.

A small inlet (surprisingly similar to a side creek we stumbled upon in the Rio Dulce), without a single building or person along the banks near us.  Even local cayucas paddling past us while we are at anchor are far and few in between.   

Exploring the mangroves at Conch Point

Our only visitors were the bugs.  It’s the only reason we didn’t spend longer here.

We had heard of a twelve foot crocodile being spotted outside Bocastown recently.  We saw photos of swimming boa constrictors at the Red Frog anchorage a short time ago. 

The water here is quite murky… swimming is not on the itinerary.

May 6 – May 12:   Big Bight

Another isolated spot.  More of a small bay with three hundred sixty degree protection.  No houses along the shore.  A small amount of cayuca traffic.

Dolphins visiting at Big Bight

During one afternoon, while we were both sitting in the cockpit reading, Kris noticed a rather odd cayuca at the other side of the bay —- odd from the standpoint that typically these incredibly unstable tiny dugout canoes are deftly and expertly handled by skilled locals ranging in age from six to sixty.  Yet, this cayuca was not only quite large… it was meandering all over the place, like the person paddling was either smashed or incompetent.

It turned out to be a bit of both.

Tyler, a young American who was with two other friends, zig-zagged his way across the bay, eventually paddling up alongside Exit to introduce themselves.  The three worked for a resort that was currently shut down.  Tyler confessed they had been watching our anchor light at night in the distance for the last week. In his words, it had been their beacon of hope.  They had literally snuck away from lockdown during the afternoon with a cayuca and a bottle of rum to check us out.

Later, Tyler would make good on a promise by hand delivering an amazing array of complimentary produce from their organic garden, after catching up with us a few days later once we had moved anchorages.  What a rock star!!!  Wisely, this time he was on a larger panga with an outboard.

For the next three weeks, Exit bounced between anchorages.  A small taste of freedom on a low profile…

Back to Starfish Beach.

Flying Gurnard while snorkeling

However, by the end of May, our windlass began coughing and wheezing again.  The previous September when we had windlass problems, we had found a guy in Roatan, Honduras who had been able to revive the motor in three hours for only one hundred dollars.  I was not confident we would get off so lucky a second time.

At Starfish Beach, the windlass died completely.  This was the first time I had to bring up the half inch chain and anchor entirely by hand… not fun.  In a blow, it would be impossible.

We returned to Big Bight.  For us, the isolation and protection offered a much better comfort level than the south anchorage.  It was five miles from Bocastown… not ideal but doable in the dinghy.  It allowed me to take the windlass motor into town while Kris stayed to look after Exit.  

Enter Martin, a thirty something South African living aboard his boat in the south anchorage who cut his teeth as a mechanic in the mines.  He was a man of few words and even less bullshit.  Get in, do the job, and get out… no fucking about.  Thirty bucks an hour; and that was only if something was actually being fixed.  

He was rock solid.  Unfortunately our windlass motor was not.

Twenty eight years is apparently pretty close to the life span of a Goiot windlass.  It could be resuscitated once again… but there were not many “downs” and probably even fewer “ups” to be expected from the old codger.  

And, despite earning bonus points for coming up with a McGyver repair that met Martins’s engineering approval, modifying the locally available though inadequate replacement brushes, it was understood that every time we put out or brought up the chain, it could be the last time for that motor.  All we could do was hope; and start coming up with a plan.

The silver lining?  Fortunately, we DID get lucky again.  Round two of the windlass repair… ninety bucks!

June 5 – June 17:   Dolphin Bay 

June brought a slight uptick in confidence regarding our ability to move the boat about.  We had experienced no fallout so far, nor had anyone else that we were aware of.  We opted to head for Dolphin Bay where we met up with S/V Aseka, S/V Shearwater, and S/V Bisou, all whom we had gotten to know recently.  

Eric, who arrived at Bocas del Toro aboard M/V Sprezatura the same day we did back in March, had just boldly left for Shelter Bay with the intention of storing his boat on the hard so he could return to the U.S. for some time.   We winced every time we read or heard about the States.  For us, it was like a plane crash happening in slow motion you couldn’t take your eyes off.  There was no way we were even considering going back, especially right now. 

In a different direction than we had set out before, but still within ten miles of Bocastown, we headed to Dolphin Bay and anchored right around the corner from a small village, with only a few houses overlooking the quiet bay we were in.  

A short time later we met Gary and Carlos, two California ex-pats and owners of the immaculately landscaped property we were anchored just off of (we also met their employee Ocias, ironically pronounced Oh-see-us, who would later play a prominent role in our not potentially becoming headlines in a Tourists Lost in Panama Jungle story). 

In addition to being an absolutely beautiful home, Green Acres (named after the original owner, not the tv show) is also a chocolate farm.  Gotta like dat…

Ocias demonstrating traditional chocolate production
Poison dart frog

As an added bonus, Green Acres’ dock provided an ideal setting to usher in my fifty fourth birthday, complete with impromptu jam session.  Gotta like dat, too.


After a week or so, we picked up anchor and moved to a different area of Dolphin Bay for a few days.  

At Palos Lagoon, the frustration following three unsuccessful attempts to get our normally trusty Rocna to take hold in what appeared to be exceptionally thick turtle grass led us to the rash decision of dropping anchor in nearly fifty feet of water trying to avoid the turtle grass altogether.  Looking back, we would question this decision more than once.

Our more immediate focus, however, was upon the bliss of our first visit to a restaurant since Grand Cayman (Burger King, if that counts), exactly three months prior.  Damn coronavirus.  Our presence at the restaurant, aptly named Clandestino, technically pre-dated the official Panama mandates.  Then again, it was technically a private party.  

Almost looks… normal

I wouldn’t have wanted to pay in jail time, but it was a damn fine meal worth every penny.

A higher price was paid a couple of days later when we went to raise anchor.

Even without any wind to deal with, the depth we were anchored in proved nearly fatal for our poor windlass.  The fifty feet of half inch chain hanging off the bow roller, especially once an additional fifty-five pounds of anchor was added to the end, created enough weight and drag that the windlass barely got everything up to the deck.  

A visible wisp of pungent smoke coming off the cabling from the solenoids testified just how close we came to melting the cable insulation completely enough to seriously risk a direct electrical short… not good at all.  It was some time later before Kris got full disclosure on that one.

It was time to head back to civilization and rethink things.  Now it most certainly needed to be sooner rather than later. 

In addition, word was starting to circulate that Bocas Del Toro was retightening lockdown restrictions in response to increases in Covid-19 cases. We were no longer going to be able to move freely about between anchorages and, not knowing how long that would last, it probably behooved us to get a bit closer to civilization.

We tempted fate once more, stopping along the way to get a final isolation fix at the edge of Porras Lagoon, in essentially a number of small channels and bays amongst numerous mangrove mounds, after locating a spot where we could drop anchor in no more than ten feet (a depth at which we could pick up anchor by hand if need be).

Thankfully, it didn’t need be…


Exactly two months after first departing Bocastown bound for the Red Frog anchorage, we departed Porras Lagoon bound for the Red Frog anchorage once again, this time via a narrow stretch of passages through mangroves islands called The Gap.  Though our Navionics electronic charts had been quite accurate in this area, a lot of spots had no depth information which could prove thoroughly nerve-racking.  We were more than happy to follow S/V Aseka, who had already saved a track on her own chart plotter after following someone else her first time through.  

Even behind Bev, we ended up executing emergency evasive maneuvers at one point when I apparently cut a turn a bit short and we nearly touched bottom.  Eeek!   

Local cayuca with improvised “palm sail”

June 17 – Sept 21:   Red Frog Anchorage

Arriving back at the Red Frog anchorage without any bottom paint missing, we dropped anchor in eight feet of water.  Swinging in one direction we had only six inches of water under us; in the other direction twenty nine feet of water under us… a better situation for us than having the anchor sitting at thirty feet.

The plan was to determine if a replacement motor could be found to resuscitate our windlass.  If not, what was it going to take to replace the whole thing?

Red Frog anchorage gave us access to a store, good cell reception for Internet research and contacts, not to mention more peace of mind from a weather perspective (better holding, less exposure, fewer boats). And it was simply a nicer place to be.

Plus… we now had access to the beach and small restaurant on the other side of the island, even if it did mean having to navigate a treacherous stretch of rotten dock for a period of time.  

Isla Basimentos beach on the other side

Not that having freshly made empanadas or Johnny cakes hand delivered in the anchorage by kids in cayucas doesn’t have it’s appeal… or a weekly veggie boat that ties up alongside you. Still, sometimes it’s just nice to get off the boat.

Always lots of strange and interesting critters to watch and interact with…

Even red frogs…