Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ruth's Update

Lightning, Radar, Kittens and Impetigo. The Stanford Achievement Test (SAT) question would ask what do they have in common or something of that sort and then there would be an option for none of the above or in our case, all of the above. Maya and Kai have been doing sample SAT questions online this morning because the Oregon School District warned us that if Maya doesn't take her Third Grade SAT test, then she might not be able to get her driver's license. Well, keeping 9 year old Maya out of the driver's seat is something I support fullheartedly, especially since she can't reach the gas and brake pedals.

But, back to the hypothetical SAT question. Lightning, radar, kittens and impetigo have a lot in common in this month's life on board Kamaya.

Lightning and Radar

Lightning and radar don't go well together, and when they do, the result spells trouble. Somewhere in Costa Rica, probably when we were sailing around Drake's Bay, and encountered a big storm where lightning blazed the sky and thunder banged and cracked loudly, we experienced a "near-hit" that fried our radar. Caput. It didn't work anymore, making it difficult for us to spot ships and understand the lay of the land at night. So we "blindly" made our way to Panama City where thanks to insurance, we were able to get a new radar installed as well as do lots of work on the boat. Now we're back in action.

As I write, we've made it out of Panama City and are now anchored in Contadora, one of the few developed islands in Las Perlas where the posh Panamanians come to swim, fish and play. The water is clear and warm and teaming with food for the humpback whales that frolic around. The Shah of Iran called Contadora home for a short time and this small island is also the place where secret political talks occur in the very fancy homes built with stellar views. One of the most famous talks included former General Manuel Noriega just before the US instigated Operation Just Cause. Remember that? With characters like Oliver North and loud rock music that US Marines blasted in Christmas 1989 around the house where Noriega sought shelter.


Somehow Maya has impetigo, the same contagious skin disease that infected some of the kids in the Gorge while we were visiting this summer. Once you've learned to say the word, you're half way there to curing it. It's fairly common and can start with an irritated insect bite and then it grows fast, especially if itched and not treated with bactroban or some sort of strong ointment. If it's severe, which Maya's was, then antibiotics cure it pretty quickly. Fortunately, Maya is on the mend and today, she can finally jump in the clear water.

Mochito the Kitten

Lastly, we've agonized about the possibility of adopting a cute little kitten that our friend Roger and his wife Gladis found near the anchorage in Panama City. The little tiger kitten was abandoned by his mother and had a broken tail. Roger has a huge heart, especially for cats, and he was feeding the kitten and bathing him. He had brought him to the Balboa Yacht Club where there are a lot of stray cats who Tito, the manager of the yard, takes care of. They had named him "Mochito" which is related to the fact that the tip of his tail was cut off.

One day, Roger and Gladis graciously took me to a number of grocery stores in Panama City so I could provision the boat. At the end of the day, they were were going to take Mochito to their home in Panama City for a flea bath. Maya and Kai came along for this part of the journey and took a quick liking to the kitty. For the week, we kept Mochito on the boat and didn't get any sleep, but had such fun playing with him. Maya and Kai stepped to the plate and took incredible care of Mochito.

We made lists of the pros and cons of keeping Mochito with us on Kamaya and we agonized over the decision. On the positive side, the kitten was cute, fun, needed a home, would come in handy if mice ever boarded the boat and, most important, he was a bundle of love and the kids were super excited to have a new friend to play with. But on the negative side, Mochito was nocturnal, needed feeding, attention and kitty liter and some of the places where we're going like Hawaii and New Zealand require quarantining animals. Moreover, when we travel inland, we would need to find someone to take of the cat. So all this combined, we opted to leave the kitten with Tito. Fortunately, when we brought Mochito to the yacht club, Tito's eyes lit up and the other workers seemed super happy that Mochito returned.

But all this has made us realize the importance of neutering cats and we encourage all to help minimize the number of unwanted animals roaming the earth.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Message in a Bottle

In November, my grandparents sailed with us to Espiritu Santos in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. During the passage I wrote an old fashion style of communication, a message in a bottle.

The message was carefully rolled so it could fit neatly into the Kahlua bottle. I took out the message again, I had forgotten to put an email address on. Then I rolled it back up and put it in the bottle, and corked it. I walked from the main salon to the companionway and then walked outside. I took a few steps out to the deck. Extending my arm I held the bottle out over the water. Was I littering? I thought. Maybe. What if this is just going to end up on some island where no one ever goes, or maybe an unknown island. Maybe it will just drift in the ocean forever until it smashes against the rocks somewhere. No, I told myself. Someone would find it. And with that I dropped it into the water. Though I didn’t really think anyone would find the bottle.

Much later, in late July, I checked my email. There was one message entitled “Bernado Castro Moreno.” I clicked on it, and in spanglish it read:


Then I remembered the bottle dropped on the way to Espiritu Santos! I quickly replied. I supposed it wasn’t littering after all. And it didn’t end up on an unknown island, or smashing against the rocks, it ended up being found. What are the chances of that?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Maya just got published!

Maya wrote an article for the August edition of Latitudes and Attitudes. Here's a link to her article and then you have to click on the white page on the bottom left. It's so exciting!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Interview with Kai

Kai, where are you now?

I’m in the Pearl Islands.

How did you like swimming with the Humpback Whales yesterday? Tell us about it.

It was good but all I saw was the tail when I was underwater. It was REALLY close.

How close were you to the whales?

Really close, like 10 feet away from the dinghy.

How many whales in the pod did you see?

About 15

Were you scared?


What kind of shells have you been collecting?

Scallops, limpets, tiny trivias and lots of coral.

Yes, and lots of pink and purple shells from the pink shell beach in Isla Bayoneta. How about pearls? This area used to have tons of pearls, one huge one that went to the King of Spain and eventually ended up on Elizabeth Taylor’s neck. Have you found any pearls?

We got 1 mini pearl which we found in an oyster Daddy found.

What’s your favorite ice cream store in Panama City?


Oh, the fabulous one in the Old City. Yes, that’s my favorite, too. I think Oma the ice cream connoisseur in our family, would agree. It might be the best ice cream we’ve ever had!

Have you seen the new Harry Potter movie? What did you think? What was your favorite part?

I thought it was good.

What have you been reading lately?

Percy Jackson and the Olympians, that’s my favorite series I’ve read lately.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Learning to do with Less

“Cruising is learning to do with less,” Pedro the carpenter told me a few Fridays ago as I helped him load pounds of groceries onto his boat. He left the following Saturday for a 30 day plus sail to Easter Island and Chile. It will be the longest journey alone for him. But for Tomek, who anchored near us while we were in Panama City, 30 days is nothing. He and his dog, Wacek, sailed their boat Luka non-stop around the world for 391 days. Imagine that – 13 months with the open sea and your dog as a companion. His dog is slated to be in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the first dog to sail around the world non-stop and they both did it the wrong way, wrong in terms of currents.

But I’ve been thinking about Pedro’s comment -- that those of us living at sea are learning to do with less. When we’re out at sea, we can’t run to the grocery store to pick up milk or fresh vegetables. Hopefully, we’ve provisioned sufficiently so we don’t have to survive on rice and beans every meal. And hopefully, we’ll catch a fish to feed us for days. If we’re lucky, there might be a small town along the way where we can get mangos or avocados. But, for Tomek and Pedro, who don’t stop en route, they have to buy all their food in advance.

When we’re at sea, we need to do with less water. Even though we have a water-maker on board that converts salt water into fresh water, it requires power and filters and so we still need to conserve. We still need to be careful and take a “military shower” about every three or four days and not every morning like I did when we were back on land. We need to carefully wash our dirty dishes with minimal use of water and we need to catch rainwater to increase our supply.

We’re living with less electricity and are always searching for ways to conserve. We can’t keep the refrigerator door open for a long time to search for the pickles stowed in the way back. We have to turn off lights when we leave a room and are thankful for the invention of LED that are tremendously more efficient than standard bulbs. We can’t log on to the internet anytime we like and whittle away hours with Google, pogo.com or my favorite, the New York Times online. Instead we need to experience the world, rather than read about it.

Maya and Kai are living with less toys. They need to make do with what we have and improvise along the way. Here in The Perlas Islands where the 2003 tv-series of Survivor was filmed, the collected limpet and barnacle shells have taken on a new role. Instead of bracing themselves as the tide rolls in, the shells line up on our cockpit cushion and are carefully sorted. Maya says that some of the big shells gobble up the little shells, just like the big fish eat the little fish.

I have to do with less clothes and overall less stuff. Tim reminds me of all the stuff we have in storage and scattered around Hood River and Sausalito. He asks as we swim to a desolate island with coconut trees, “is there anything there that you miss?”

“Well, maybe my bicycle,” I respond, wondering what is in all our unopened boxes.

In some ways we’re living with Less so we can have More. We’re living with less so we can have the freedom to make our home anywhere we choose, to visit countries and sail amidst the world of the dolphins, turtles and whales. We’re living with less, so I can hold Maya’s hand as we swim together in the clear blue water and she points out all the names of the fish. We’re living with less, so Kai and Tim can catch yellow finned tuna and dorado and we can eat sushi for lunch and dinner. We’re living with less, so we can sample chapulines in Oaxaca, chat with the Mayan Indians in Guatemala, marvel at the Kuna Indians living in Panama and enjoy ice cream in every port. We’re living with Less, so Tim and I can fulfill our dream together, to sail as a family and see the world. We’re living with less so we can have more.

Looking Back

It took me more than seven years to turn our blog into a hard covered bound book. At first, I was leery of wrapping up our adventure because...