We began the month at Isla Leones, just downriver from our favorite little fishing town, Puerto Mutis, which we used as a basecamp to prep ourselves and Serenity for the long passage up to Mexico.
First step: provisioning. We made three big trips to the supermarket in Santiago to fill up our otherwise empty larders. On our most recent trip from Boca Chica to Puerto Mutis we finally completed the Pantry Challenge, eating up the several random cans of food (minus the Chicken in a Can and a very old can of bean sprouts) that hadn’t found their way into meals the months prior. Our successful execution of the Pantry Challenge came as a result of the fact that we didn’t really provision before we left Boca Chica, figuring that while we didn’t have a lot of food on board, we certainly wouldn’t starve. And if came down to it, we could survive on Mountainhouse for a week. Highlights of our canned meals include: a dynamite minestrone (V8 juice + a can of mixed veggies + a can of garbanzo beans + pasta + chicken boullion + water + oregano), pickled beets as an accompaniment to tuna salad on crackers (they actually go quite nicely together), “meatballs” made from canned corned beef atop spaghetti with fried mushrooms, garlic and capers (this one didn’t turn out as well as imagined), and a killer alfredo dish with fried spam and artichoke hearts. But I digress…I didn’t actually intend to tell you so much about what we ate…just that our cupboards were bare and we had a lot of shopping to do. Get me started talking about food and see what happens…
In addition to provisioning we filled the propane tanks, topped off our diesel tanks, captured enough rain to fill the water tanks, cleaned the entire boat, changed the engine oil and filter, worked on several other boat projects (there is always a list), ate terrible chinese food, spent many hours on the internet in Santiago trying to get caught up before we disappeared, and checked all the necessary regulatory boxes. I made a side trip to Boca Chica to pick up something that I accidentally left at our friends’ house and also to see the kids perform in their marching band (a very happy coincidence). They were extraordinary and it was worth a day spent on buses. I also spent half a day trying to figure out from the officials in Montijo and Panama City if and how we could spend a night at Isla Jicaron, which is a part of the Coiba Park system (it was a fun, though frustrating day).
This month, in its entirety, was pretty fantastic. The high highlights were our stopover at Isla Montuosa and our incredible passage from Western Panama to Southern Mexico. Isla Montuosa was on our Panama “bucket list” and we were enchanted by her shores before we even set foot on them. We played and relaxed on her beaches and prepared for the long journey ahead. The passage to Mexico was our longest to date, which had us both a bit anxious, but once we got into a rhythm, it was bliss. I think we might be hooked. I’m hard pressed to think of a low…maybe eating skipjack for two meals in a row? Though, that is a pretty high low.
We made it to Mexico two days before Thanksgiving, well rested and excited for the journey ahead, whatever shape that may take. Thanksgiving was celebrated by a bike ride to Playa Linda with a cold six-pack and some beach reads, followed by a meal of roasted chicken that we picked up from our friends who own a Pollo Asado stand along the road to Playa Linda. We have much to be thankful for.
Here’s the quick recap in numbers!
921 … miles travelled
286 … hours, total travel time
3.2 … knots, average speed
55 … gallons of fuel purchased
23.5 … gallons of fuel used
39.2 … fuel economy
13 … nights at anchor
11 … nights at sea
6 … nights at a marina (our first time at a Marina in over a year!)
$1048 … USD, monthly expenses for November
10 … number of kids who live at the house near where we anchored our boat on Isla Leones – they were incredibly shy, but very sweet – their father asked a couple of them to show us the walking path and we returned with some goodies from the tienda as a thanks
5 … times we’ve checked in with the Port Captain in Puerto Mutis
3 … times our dinghy has sunk during this rainy season thanks to epic downpours
9 … hours I spent on a bus to go back to Boca Chica to retrieve the lid for our Omnia stovetop oven, which I forgot at Mary and Perry’s house (this partially helps to explain the failed meatballs)
8 … friends who were sitting at a table at the local bar drinking beer, waiting for the parade to start when I rolled into Boca Chica
5 … beers I drank before getting back on a bus to Puerto Mutis (keep in mind these buses don’t have toilets…danger)
60 … days that the kids in Boca Chica had been practicing their instruments in preparation for the parade (we could hear the drums all the way in the anchorage a couple days a week) – all the practice paid off, they were awesome
3 … hours I spent on a bus next to a man who was surreptitiously trying to touch my boob while he “slept”
5 … holidays celebrated in Panama in November, el mes de La Patria
193 … years of Panamanian independence from Spain (celebrated on Nov 28)
111 … years of Panamanian independence from Colombia (celebrated on Nov 3)
$50 … USD, what we had to pay to immigration to check out of Panama on a holiday – usually its free, but they drove down early in the morning from Santiago on a holiday to stamp our passports
$1.50 … USD, the cost of our international zarpe from the Port Captain’s office
$70 … USD, the cost of staying one night at Isla Jicaron in the Isla Coiba park system ($20 per person entrance fee and $30 per day for the boat [$1 per foot per day]) – the boss would not budge on this figure
$230 … USD, the amount we paid for 4 people + the boat for 5 days in December (definitely pays to stay more than one day…though it’s still pricey)
10.5 … months we were in Panama
4 … nights we were anchored out at Isla Montuosa
3 … miles, the approximate circumference of Isla Montuosa – we walked around the entire island at low tide
25 … bananas on the stalk of a banana tree that we found toppled over at an old abandoned homesite
816 … miles, our longest passage yet
5 … books we read on passage
9 … freighters we saw on passage
3 … fishing boats that we either got close to or that got close too close for comfort on passage
35 … knots, max wind speed we saw off of the coast of Nicaragua (an area known for strong gap winds, ie. the Papagayos)
8 … knots, max speed that Serenity went in the Papagayo region – she was screaming!
10 … days that we were visited by dolphins on our passage (nearly every day)
4 … times that we got rained on during our passage
5 … rainbows seen while on passage
6.1 … knots, max speed we went under motor off of the coast of El Salvedor and Guatemala (a new record for us)
2 … very small bags of garbage we produced during 2 weeks at sea
25 … gallons of water consumed during 2 weeks at sea
7 …. other cruising boats encountered at Marina Chiapas when we pulled in – it’s fun to see other cruisers again!
1 … other cruising boat that is heading North rather than South (looks like we might be spending lots of time alone again?)