Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The Wind at our Back and a Following Sea
Super long post covering several days--( I had a lot of time on the water to write)--sorry for the longwindedness--then again you know me! I never seem to be at a loss for words...
At a beautiful dawn on December 7, 2008, the show finally got underway as we left Marina Flamenco and off into the Pacific slowly making our way up the coast from Panama towards Costa Rica. The day could not be more spectacular. Thousands of birds fishing and the Bonita were literally leaping out of the water in this magnificent spectacle.
The sun is out, the water sparkly, it is hot but with the sea breeze and the occasional spray in my face and along my back, I am convinced that this is some kind of heaven. We are making really good time, clipping along at 14-18 knots. Captains Mark and Joel are totally in their element and in fine spirits as a result.
Joel has proved himself to be good crew so far, fixing things in the engine room, radios, navigational tools tying down the hatches and all manner of engineering/maintenance chores. He even drives the boat when Mark needs time off (like just now as we went down to “captain’s quarters” for a long overdue rumble) So I am choosing to see Captain Joel as an asset, even if he is incredible irritating.
Islands are scattered around this part of Panama like little jewels jutting out from the sea. Once we got past all the big ships in the Canal Zone, I suddenly realized that we are alone in the big blue ocean- not a vessel in site. This is both eerie, ( very big, very blue and very alone) and utterly magical. As the waves lift us up and down in the most rocking natural rhythm, and my seasick prevention patch giving me that yummy drowsy feeling, I imagine that I am being rocked to sleep but Mother God herself.
We have this wild Panamanian radio channel piping in to the speakers on deck. Oley!!! Fiesta music as only the Latinos can do and then the coolest Middle Eastern and world beat tunes. This yacht is so big that we can each be in different parts of it and have plenty of space. I am down in the Salon, Joel is eating fresh fruit upstairs and Mark is going back and forth fishing and looking for things he has misplaced (I can’t even comment on this anymore- it has cost me too much serenity already) so I am choosing to try to ignore his inner chaos (I have enough of my own thanks very much. Instead, I am determined to RELAX and have FUN.
We may carry on through the night if the seas stay calm all the way to Isla Cobeia where we will anchor and finally go swimming and snorkeling and where I keep reading that the whales are thick and playful.
I have no Internet right now so I am composing on my laptop and will cut and past when I get to an anchorage that has a wi-fi hot spot.
After a full day at sea, we found a safe looking anchorage (this after a couple of hours of searching for the spot Captain Mark had been headed for) when pressed; he finally admitted that he had lost his radar or something. Jeez, there is nothing that this guy isn’t capable of losing! But remembering my new resolution to go with the flow, Patrice keeps her mouth shut.
We did end up finding a beautiful spot on a truly deserted beach, save, one house up in the hills and a couple of thatched hut type dwellings on the sand.
As soon as we anchored we heard something that sounded to be a cross between sea lion and mountain lion howling at us from a small jungle island to our right. The roar continued till we realized it was a bunch of Howler monkeys welcoming (or warning) us to the hood.
Mark and I jumped in the water as soon as we were parked, and it was warm and lovely. I made a pretty yummy guacamole and we amused ourselves looking at fireflies and the strangest weird red bats that were flying around the stern of the boat attracted to our lights. Dozens of them dipping their wings in the water and circling us. Very cool!
Not much on the boat to do at night except eating and reading. I am thoroughly enjoying an abundance of both. I am deep in a hilarious book called The Sex Lives of Cannibals, a real life memoir from a guy that spend two years on a very primitive island in the South Pacific. Fitting and a really good read. Nothing like actually having the time to knock off many pages at a time, which I managed to do today. Twelve long languishing delicious chapters were consumed by a
(Believe it or not) now getting very mellowed, and nicely chilled, Patrice.
December 08 am
The days are all blending together and sometimes I have no idea what time or day it is…We have been at sea for two days, completely off of the grid. I have no idea what is happening in news world. And this can’t be bad! Last night Mark and I stayed up on the top deck, there is nothing like watching the moonlight glow on the water, while grilling chicken and the boat gently rocking in her anchor that makes one forget about all the noise in the brain that usually assaults. It was spectacular. Strange squealing and squalking from deep in the jungle to our right, Joel down below asleep and snoring happily in the salon’s recliner. We felt like it was just us. Only the distant light from a couple dwellings on the coast, the rest was all God—the waves, the birds, the silence….Ahhhh
Sleeping last night, not so good. Mark was paranoid that we had anchored too close to what we now affectionately had named Monkey Island and all the rocks surrounding it, created Mark deciding that a night watch was in order so as to make sure that we didn’t “drag anchor” and wake up to a yacht beached on the shore with monkeys eyeing us for breakfast. He didn’t feel comfortable that our anchor alarm we had set on the GPS could be trusted if we started drifting, so he chose to stay up most of the night.
This decision made me miserable—since I have taken to claiming the large couch in the salon (living room) as my sleeping crook (I just don’t like being claustrophobic down below), I heard his every move—all night snack-a-thon complete with fridges, freezers, drawers, microwaves and cupboards being opened and shut every few minutes, lights going on and off, various, buzzers, beepers and alarms sounding for no apparent reason, his continual marching around the boat, hatches and doors gone in and out of. It was all just unnerving to say the least.
By 3am I was at my wits end and begging him to shut the f—k up and go to bed. I tried sleeping in his downstairs bunk but hated it and was quite frustrated when I came back up to finally see him crashed out on the couch—my couch!
Eventually he decided that we were'nt going to be going anywhere we were'nt supposed to be in the nights, so he grudgingly went downstairs to sleep, the couch was mine once again. I drifted hungrily into dreamland. By 6am we were all up and at ‘em again and by 6:30 we shouted our goodbyes to the monkeys and were on the roll once more. We have a good little routine going on now- we all know our particular duties and all in all we seem to making quite a nice team. We are now clipping along on route to Isle Coiba, which is a national marine park rich with underwater life, whales reefs.
I can’t wait to get there and get deep into the water—I love the world underneath the surface (in more ways than one!)
December 08 3:30pm
After a strong 7 hours at sea with visits from spinning dolphins that were surfing our wake, we anchored at a little cove in Coiba National Park and Marine Preserve. Mark and I swam to shore to discover a little island that time forgot—iguanas of multi- colors, monkeys swinging in the trees, Tito the crocodile (who had his own sign warning people not to swim in his lagoon) and various other creatures. I snorkeled a bit but didn’t see too many fish, just lots of coral, sea anenomies, and crabs etc…
Okay so big adventure moment of the trip happened at around 5pm, we had re anchored ourselves after some locals in ponga came by and told us (in Spanish no less that we needed to move the boat because we were in much too shallow of water. We ended up next door to the only other boat in the middle of the ocean. This funky barge that has a full on bar/café/hotel if you will, for hardcore fisherman dudes that come and stay on “Pesca Panama” and Jay the proprietor/ captain and his Panamanian crew and fleet of little fishing boats take these guys out or some serious fishing. Any way the place was so trippy looking that we were really curious what it was all about.
Now here is where it got interesting, I had decided to go for another afternoon swim/snorkel but no sooner had I jumped in the water when Jay and his crew started screaming at me to get out of the water. Mark is turning white as I swam back to the boat. Turns out that not only crocodiles, but bull sharks and tiger sharks are very prevalent here and if I wanted to go back to Los Angeles with all of my limbs in tact then I better get out like NOW.
So Al who is now my lifesaver calls us on the radio, who comes on over by one of his boats to for a visit with a couple of his Panamanian crew. He comes aboard, makes himself right at home and fills our ears with tales of his long oceanic career as a captain and fisherman who has lived out in these very same Panamanian waters for 20 years. I get us invited back to his place and so he whisks us all over to the “Pesca Panama’ introduces his current clients on board, (all different age dudes from all over the US that live in cramped, dude smelling, 4 to a cabin bunks all for the love of “The Catch”)
Jay’s hospitality does not end there as he has his bartender serve us up cocktails, his two Panama lady cooks bring us out this spicy appetizer full of shrimp, squid, octopus, crab and fresh fish…So sitting out of the back of his barge looking at the Lor-E- Lei and realizing that we are really out here in the middle of the sea—I am downright blissed out.
Then the icing on the cake, I mention that I would love to catch a fish and with that Jay calls over one of his fisherman who proceeds to help Mark and I catch two huge Jackfish, which they proceed to cut, clean and hand back to us ready for grilling, which Mark did and we all sat up on the top deck of the boat eating fish that was less than a hour old and gently rocking in the balmy Panama night air.
It does not get better than this.
Footnote: When I was sitting by myself for hours today, I fell into a beautiful meditation/prayer moment with God. What came to me as I started pray was that I clutch at prayer with a panicked clinging stance—I was guided instead to open my palms, my heart, my mind and being—to simply allow goodness to happen, grace, miracles…blessings. It was nothing that I haven’t heard, studied, read for most of my life and yet the metaphor of the letting go of the terror grip I have had with God and instead trusting and allowing just seemed so much easier to understand on a deeper level while being hypnotized by Mother Ocean for hours on end.
As I sat looking out the stern of the boat I imagined leaving behind all the “ painful stories” of my life and as I moved to the bow and looked forward as we sped through the sea, I imagined all the adventures and wonder yet to be had.
If somehow, fate/destiny/God/ My vibration has so created or allowed me being out in the middle of the Pacific in Panama with my husband on a million dollar yacht grilling jackfish that we just caught outside in the warmest most beautiful night air--- well, just what other dreams are might be dropping by.
This vacation is most certainly underway.
December 09 7am
I awoke at 4am and decided to go outside and see what might be going on in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the sea—when I looked up, I gasped, the cloudless sky was blanketed with millions of twinkling stars- outrageous beautiful stars. I woke Captain Mark to come see them with me, and before long Captain Joel was out there with us too.
It has always struck me how “star” deprived we as a modern civilization are. The only stars that we seem to care about are celebrities! Meanwhile since time began, mankind has been able to look up at the wonder of our galaxy and the countless others that live out there. To ponder his place in the universe. Then came all the lights of the cities and 99% of the stars we now never see. I consider this a tragedy. To not be able to see the true night sky and therefore our own truth as spiritual as beings in the universe is very damaging, I believe. Why don’t we turn lights off at night? I want my stars back!!
Anyway, I was blessed with three shooting stars before I came back in to crash for another couple of hours.
Mark and Joel got Lor-E-Lei ready for today’s journey and at 6am we snuck out into the early morn watching the sun rising up and reaching out from the horizon.
Next stop Gofito, Costa Rica, Banana Bay Marina!
After a full 8 hours on the water we are just now rounding into Costa Rica…We still have another few hours till we will reach Banana Bay Marina and finally get internet and some land for a bit. I am craving some terra firma for a decent stretch. Highlight of the day so far: Dolphins, Mark loses a huge Dorado fish but brings in a big Bonita (which he then released) oh and a little thing called. We may be running out of fuel! Now neither one of the guys will out and out tell me this. But how else do you explain after hushed conversations between themselves, complete with odd guilty worried looks and gestures, several hours ago we went from 14 down to 8 knots, turned of the generator which now means that all GPS’s and charts tells me that something is up. When pressed they both have the same preplanned pat answer, we just want to conserve fuel. Well in my mind that is another way of saying “ we may not have enough fuel to get us to our marina to fill up.”
I am trying not to panic by making killer tuna fish sandwiches for us all and sitting on the bridge listening to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin on an ipod.
I am becoming so mellow from all these days being
Rock a bye babied by the water, that even the thought of running out of fuel in the middle of nowhere is not carrying the same level of terror that it would have if I were not feeling catatonically medicated by a cocktail of the seasick patch, the movement, the humidity and the sheer relaxation of it all. And that is probably a good thing.
I am just praying while listening to The Dark Side of the Moon to please let us get there, while stealing all of the M&Ms out of the giant trail mix bag and searching the horizon for whales.
I think that I could get used to this.
post note-- we arrived at the Banana Bay Marina in Golfito, Costa Rica in the dark and with just enough fuel. Awoke this morning to the most beautiful sounds and colors--went exploring in the village with Mark and bought bananas for the monkeys that we are going to visit after breakfast...This beautiful marina is right in the rainforest...God I love the tropics and I have really good HAIR! From all the moisture I finally have the perfect ringlets that no amount of product could ever achieve.
And that is reason enough to move down here. And in 3 years..Patrice will do just that-- live in a place with warm water, warm air and most of all warm people.