Monday, February 28, 2011

Catch Up: Costa Rica to Panama

Tried this last night and it didn't work out. Hopefully, today will be better.

Here is a collection of pictures and video covering our trip from Northern Costa Rica through to the beginning of the Panama Canal. It's a bit long, but my Mom says it's good! So, it must be.



Friday, February 25, 2011

Catch Up - Most interesting restaurant thus far...

This is no ordinary aircraft but a restaurant & bar!  Although the plane itself does have quite a history as part of one of the biggest scandels of the 1980's. The plane was eventually left in Costa-Rica where the locals purchased it and transformed into the “El Avion” restaurant.  See below for a more detailed and very interesting history!

From the restaurant history write up...
"Our Fairchild C-123 was a part of one of the biggest scandals in the mid 1980's. During this time, the Reagan Administration had set up a bizarre network of arms sales to Iran designed to win release of US hostages being held in Lebanon and raise money to fund the Nicaraguan, counter-revolutionary guerilla fighters, commonly referred to as the "Contras." By artificially inflating the prices of the arms, NSA official Oliver North, was able to reap profits that could be diverted to fund the counter-revolutionaries of the Cuban allied Sandinista government.
Of the $16 million in profits raised, only $3.8 million actually funded the Contras. With the CIA's help, they purchased several items, including two C-123 cargo planes (one of which is our plane), two C-7 planes, a Maule aircraft, spare parts, and munitions. They also built a secret airstrip on an American-owned, 30,000 acre ranch in northwest Costa Rica. On October 5, 1986, a US cargo plane (the twin sister) of El Avion's own Fairchild C-123, was shot down over southern Nicaragua. One of the crewmembers, C.I.A operative Eugene Hasenfus, parachuted to safety and was captured by the Sandinista army. Led out of the jungle at gun point, Hasenfus's very existence set in motion an incredible chain of cover-ups and lies that would mushroom into one of the biggest scandals in American political history known as the Iran-Contra Affair. As a result of this successful Sandinista strike on our Fairchild's sister plane, the cargo operation was suspended and one of the C-123s was abandoned at the International Airport in San Jose.
In August 2000, we purchased the abandoned Fairchild for $3,000. We then disassembled and shipped the pieces of the Iran-Contra relic to Quepos. From San Jose, the fuselage was shipped via ocean ferry (from Caldera to Quepos) because it was 10 inches too wide for the antiquated Chiquita Banana railroad bridges! After hauling all seven aircraft sections up the Manuel Antonio hill, the C-123 finally found its current cliff-side resting-place.

The Pub Plane
Monica Quesada, Tico Times

Now, our C-123 has been retired to less risqué endeavors as a restaurant, bar, coffee store, and an enduring Cold War relic.
Now El Avion is ready to serve up a food, drinks and beautiful sunsets! Join us under the wing at our restaurant or in the fuselage at our pub."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

More Catch Up - Mexico to Costa Rica

Nothing too special here, but some video and pictures covering our last stop in Mexico and our trip to Costa Rica. That last stop was Huatulco. This is a relatively lightly visited area by cruisers, but a very popular stop for those heading further South.

Huatulco is a very nice town that is benefiting from some serious investment on the part of Mexico's tourism authorities. Beautiful harbors and beaches, lots of inexpensive but nice places to stay, and some very nice people. If you are looking for an inexpensive but very nice vacation in Mexico, Huatulco has our stamp of approval. Check it out!

The primary reason for Huatulco's popularity with Southbound cruisers is that it is a great place to clear immigration and customs as you leave Mexico, and it is very sheltered while being the last "safe" harbor prior to crossing the much feared and rightly so, "Gulf of Tehuantepec".

The Gulf of Tehuantepec, it is a large bay on the Pacific side of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the narrowest area of land which separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Pacific Ocean. Northerly winds that originate in the Gulf of Mexico funnel through the gap created by a narrow break in the Sierra Madre Mountains and into the Gulf of Tehuantepec with average winds of 30 to 40 mph. These winds can increase rapidly to gale, storm and sometimes hurricane force bringing with it huge seas that can push you hundreds of miles out to sea.

We waited in Huatulco for a few days, saw a reasonable break in the high winds and headed South. All and all, it turned out very well. We saw winds in the 30's for a few hours on the morning of the second day, but by that evening things were down to the low 20's and then spent the next few days alternating between 5 and 25 knots. Not too bad, considering.

Once out of Mexico, the coastline became very interesting with lots of towering Volcano's to see along the way. Some of which were somewhat active.

Landfall was made in Bahia Santa Elena, where we spent a night anchored in the middle of a beautiful bay surrounded by dense rainforest, listening to howler monkeys and creatures we could only imagine. It WAS like being in a Jurassic Park movie!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The fish that stole my lure!

Way back on Dec 23rd, I posted that a huge swordfish took my favorite lure (a plain cedar plug), bit through the line and swam off while leaping from the water 8 or more times.

Some amoung you suggested that I must have been smoking too much of the local product, and claimed that without photographic proof, my story would be ignored.

Well, here you go....and remember I had time to watch several jumps, then run below, grab my camera, turn it on and still get the footage that you see above.  This was a big angry fish with a headache!


Catching Up - San Blas Video Footage

We've fallen a bit behind sharing some pictures/video from the trip. I'm going to try to catch up while here at the dock in Roatan with solid Internet access. Here's the first of a few catch up items that should hit the blog over the next few days....

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Waterspout on Video!

Too tired to edit, so here it is raw...



Arrived Safe and Sound

Alls well.

It seems we are not the only ones that have seen plenty of rain. Those here are calling it the rain of their time on the island. No idea how long they have been here!!

Anyway, right now the water looks more like the Panama Canal than Grand Cayman.

Not happy about that.

Ita on the otherhand stood on land for the first time in a month!! She was very happy about that!!

Time to find ice, laundry, and to figure out how to clear into the country.


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Squalls, Lightning, and only 12 miles to go!!

We've just turned on the engine and are now motor sailing in 5 knots of wind.
Had a good nights sail last night if you can call 30 knot squalls and lightning on the horizon between us and our destination a good night.
Despite all the forecasts, our wind held at 18 knots all night which was great for getting where we wanted to get. You just had to try not to think of that lightning.
I hate lightning!
- Jim
PS> Have heard that the local authorities are performing a search for a diver that went missing last night? We are keeping our eyes open as well...
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Interesting Night

Sailed all night in 18-25 knots of wind. If you have to do it, this is the easy way to go - downwind with the breeze. At about 3am the showers/squalls started much like they do on the way to Hawaii. At one point, the moon had set, it was blowing 33 knots, and dumping rain. No way to see anything on deck so, I went below, closed the hatch and monitored things from the Nav Station just praying that the auto pilot would not choose that moment to go out on us. The boat was fine - steady twelves riding the waves, no issues.

This morning I was woken up by Debbie shouting "Jim, Jim, there's a waterspout in front of us!!!" Right Deb, don't panic, it's just raining really hard!! "Does really hard rain go round and round in circles???" Well, no let me see. Holy (s*&^ that IS a waterspout, which way has it been going?? "I don't know." Damn. Well, I bet they can't go upwind, RIGHT TURN and grab my video camera!! (I will be posting a video of this small waterspout tomorrow!)

All's good. Rain off and on, but warm and winds forecast to calm as we get closer.


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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to start moving again!!

Grand Cayman is such a nice spot, and that free mooring seemed so nice safe and secure!
But, we did it! We are on our way to Roatan!

19 knots of breeze blowing right at our destination. Sunny skies, and hot as usual. Feels just like racing to Hawaii only there is no spinnaker and there is a double reef in our mainsail.

Updates as we go,
PS. Andrew - How did yesterday go in San Diego's Etchells racing??
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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Should have left on Friday

Departure temporarily aborted...

Winds and swell came up fast this afternoon, and we were not ready prior.

So...we are here until things calm down. Sunday evening perhaps??


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Off for Roatan Island!


After our rush to get to the Panama Canal, we certainly have slowed down with long stops in both the San Blas Islands, and now Grand Cayman.

We are planning to leave Grand Cayman bound for Roatan Island this afternoon.

300+ miles and about two days later we should arrive.

Watch SPOT if you want to follow our progress.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Friends & Did they really ask that???

Meeting lots of new and interesting people along the way is a great thing about trips like this.  If you are hanging out along the water, there is a good chance that you already share a few things in common with folks you run into while shopping, dining, or sitting at a waterside bar.

Tonight we ran into a young twenty something guy that told us he was 2 to 4 months away from following his dream and setting off on a multi year sailing trip.  Never mind that he'd not yet purchased his boat, or done much offshore sailing.  His plan was to island hop through the Caribbean for a year and learn by doing.

He was so excited by the prospect of this trip and interested in ours that I have no doubt that he will make it happen.  He was also super motivated to make this happen due to severe weariness with his current job running a beachside activity center and dealing with folks off the cruise ships every day.

We asked him what that was like and whether or not he got tired of the same questions day after day.  His eyes lit up and he said that was exactly what he was sick of and then told us his two favorite all time questions....

  1. He was once asked if divers could swim UNDER the island from one side to the other.
  2.  And, his all time favorite was one day in a dive boat crossing a shallow area with the propeller kicking up sand from the bottom.  The boat was moving fast and left a straight line of sandy water behind it. Looking aft, one of the young ladies onboard asked him (seriously) if that sandy line was the equator!!!
Nice guy, we hope he makes the trip!!

-Jim and Deb

Monday, February 07, 2011

Picture Collection of the Day

Now that our friends Gibb and Tory Kane have headed home, we are beginning to prepare for the next leg of this journey.  Looks like we will be leaving this coming Thursday or Saturday.  Never on Friday!

"In some cultures, Friday is considered unlucky. This is particularly so in maritime circles; perhaps the most enduring sailing superstition is that it is unlucky to begin a voyage on a Friday" - cut out from Wikipedia.

Below is a link to a collection of pictures taken during Gibb and Tory's visit.

Roatan Island is next!!

-Jim & Deb

2011-02-06 kane visit

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Gibb and Tory Heading Home. Why????

Afternoon On-board

The deck of "Hammerheads" bar

No posts for the last few days.  Having too much fun with Gibb and Tory.  Our visitors for the Northeast helped to remind us just how lucky we are to be here enjoying this weather while the majority of the US is freezing!

We all had a terrific time, and they are sitting at the airport now waiting to fly home to New York.  Ugh!

Good friends, good times!!  Come back soon!!!

-Jim & Deb

Morpheus from the bar at "The Wharf"

After our Morning Swim