Laura's Blog

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19-05-2011

Last night I have seen my very first moonrise at sea! I was outside to do my usual round when I noticed a yellowish shimmer on the horizon, which was very similar to light-pollution of towns' lights coming from an island. But the nearest coast is about 1000 nautical miles away [1852 kilometres or 1151 land miles]. So I first thought it was a crashed airplane or a ship on fire. Hmm, no. Maybe a cruise ship with all lights on. But then I was very much surprised when a huge yellow ball slowly rose from above the horizon, splashing Guppy in light - it looked like wizardry, so much so it was beautiful! By the end of the night a series of squalls,the usual blows, hit me.. Anyhow, I am now sailing with crosswinds and ‘Gup’ and I are moving along at a speed of 6,5 knots [12 kilometres or 7,5 land miles an hour]. My foot is getting better and healing well, I can stand on it a little bit!

Laura

 


18-05-2011

Toiing-Flap-bling!... There are two wind directions I really can't stand: strong winds coming from straight ahead, and little winds coming directly from astern. And so, winds coming from astern kept me busy all night long. Because Guppy was not leaning to one side, which is the case with crosswinds, she started rolling which made the sails flap in the wind. And so I have been busy all through the night with correcting course and adjusting the sails until the noise from the flapping sails finally stopped, although it meant I wasn't sailing on the correct course..! Forget that.., and so I enjoyed the full moon and the beautiful trace of phosphorescent light that Guppy left behind in this endless swell. And then there was the sunrise, which reminded me of the fact that I had been busy scrambling with the sails all night! The wind has now picked up a little bit. It is just enough to stop the noise of the flapping sails. In the morning sun I enjoyed eating some cornflakes while I kept an eye on the speedometer that is now showing a speed of 5,5 knots [10 kilometres or 6 miles an hour] again. I hope it will stay this way so I can catch-up on some sleep.

Laura

 


17-05-2011

My foot is healing very well, thank you all for the many good advices. I think I won't have to walk like a flamingo any more when I reach land in about eight or nine days, but till then the largest distance I can go to is no more than 12 meters [39 feet] any which way...! Now I will enjoy the peacefulness and the easy going pace of a large crossing for about eight more days. There are no islands, no shoals or reefs to run aground on, and there is not much ship traffic around here. And so my radar system can perfectly keep watch by itself and I can sleep a little longer.. Because it is not necessary to keep the course too precisely, my heading being west like is just fine.. so it is all just great sailing right now. Unfortunately, those fabulous days won't last forever, and so, as soon as I round the Marquesas Islands, I will sail, literally, through a minefield of reefs, islands and atolls again..

Laura

 


16-05-2011

I have now learned that one leg hopping in a kind of non-stop fairground ride is much harder than I actually thought, and I am afraid I might cause even more trouble for myself by doing this... In spite of the wound under my heel I can still use my toes very well! It's only that I now have sore toes! Obviously they lacked some training... but this is about to change. Last night I passed the half way point. Unfortunately I could not dance a jig, but feeding myself home-baked cookies to celebrate did just fine. Besides that, there is a mega-large swell over here caused by a more southerly storm. Happily, the swell is very long so it is not worse than usual. But, oh my! Some of the waves are at least 7 meters high [22 feet], giving me a spontaneous vertigo when I am sailing on the very top of them..

Laura

 


15-05-2011

Blang!... My intuition that rightly recognizes every single noise on the boat woke me up. There was a new unknowned noise. Clang, clang, pff... I had to get out of my warm bed – if anything goes wrong, I can always be sure that it will happen at night – and so I went to check on the windvane. Humm, the stainless eye-clip that holds the pulley that guides the cables to the tiller had broken off, but by using a rope and a little improvisational talent I managed to fix it, and in a short time the whole thing was working again. Then I stood still for a while in the hatchway just to watch the almost full moon that draws a mysterious glow on the swell, when an unexpectedly high wave smashed over Guppy making me fall backwards and down the stairs. I came to a stop half-way into the cabin as an acute pain went through my foot... that is bleeding like crazy. There is a large wound at the bottom of my foot. After limping back and forth through the cabin several times and dressing the wound, the cabin's floor is very nicely covered with drips and streaks of blood. Well, it matches with Guppy and it is also my favourite color... If I avoid standing on my foot, the pain is bearable, and I am now quite busy practicing the Flamingo' stance...some other challenge that goes to show that sailing is really unpredictable…

Laura

 


14-05-2011

Beep...Crackle...Hiss...The sailors' daily radio network on the short wave radio has started again, and out of the squeaky English that comes from the black box in front of me I try to make sense of what is being said. Sometimes the reception is loud and clear but sometimes it is not. But there is always a boat call that can be understoodd better than the others so if you can't contact a boat directly, the conversation is done by interconnecting from one boat to the other. This is the only way to find out if and where there are other yachts around on the ocean. There is another yacht sailing 200 nautical miles [370 kilometres or 230 land miles] from me. After an hour, everyone is babbled out of things to say and the chatter box turns off and everything turns quiet again. I have won the fight against the over ripened bananas, and the clock is set back another hour. The time difference with the Netherlands is now 9 hours [UTC/GMT - 7 hours]. 

Laura

 


13-05-2011

Hup, Guppy, Hup! You are the best! Yeah! I established a new record: 194 nautical miles [359 kilometres or 223 land miles] in a day's run. It is both a personal record and I even beated my father's record by one mile [1,852 kilometres or 1,15 land miles]. The wind is coming a little more from astern and the waves have stopped visiting the cockpit. So now I can read a book sittting in the cockpit without having to deal with pages that are stuck together! Our current speed is about 7,5 knots [14 kilometres or 9 land miles an hour], and there are only 450 nautical miles [833 kilometres or 518 land miles] to go until I am at the half-way point!

Laura

 


12-05-2011

Gee whiz! Guppy has got hot peppers up her tushy and it is the same with the wind!! For the last while the wind has picked up and our current speed has increased to 8 knots [15 kilometres or 9 miles an hour]. The Windpilot windvane [self steering device] can easily take it. There are still 2140 nautical miles [3963 kilometres or 2464 land miles] to go. Now I am getting sick from eating bananas, that have suddenly all of them mellowed at the same time, and I'm trying to dodge the waves that are coming in to wash over me. Today there was a record-breaking number of twenty flying fishes laying on the deck! Hallelujah... And in a miraculous way, they all lay in the middle of the portside gunwale.... Maybe this is because that is the only place on the boat that was not washed over by water…

Laura

 


11-05-2011

This morning the birds flew away. I guess they are now well equipped for their next leg... And so I am alone again but for the lizard that is very good at hiding away. The weather conditions are still the same - what bliss! There is a nice and strong crosswind and a clear blue sky with some stray clouds here and there. If the weather stays like this, the land does not need to appear on the horizon soon, for all I care. Well, I actually hope this does not happen for real because it would mean that I have done something wrong. After the hustle and bustle and the uncomfortable nights in the Galápagos I could fully recover here, and I even found time to do some schoolwork. I have not seen a boat or a dolphin recently but the number of stranded squids and flying fishes increases everyday. When I get up in the morning, the deck looks like a cemetery…

Laura

 


10-05-2011

A high and long swell is rolling under Guppy and washes over her sometimes... then we both I and everything that lies in the cockpit get wet - and then I curse the wave... It is already our third day at sea. And it feels all so familiar. I sleep a lot better now than when I was at anchorage. I woke up with the first daylight and with the short wave radio I listened to the chatting of other sailors. I cooked dinner, I read something, and I am checked on the bananas' huge stalk at the stern to see if they had mellowed yet. Right there I found a strange insect with antennas - I dropped it over board. Then I found a small lizard, but I felt too sorry to throw him over board - he escaped and I have not seen him since. Life at sea is so simple. The day comes and goes, and Guppy is hobbling along tirelessly. There are 2500 of the 2980 nautical miles [4630 of 5519 kilometres or 2876 of 3430 land miles] still to go!

Laura

 


09-05-2011

Today started smoothly with some chatting to other yacht crews via short wave radio. While I was busy throwing flying fishes and squids off the deck, I suddenly stood face to face with a bird! This animal sat 10 centimetres [4 inches] in front of my nose on top of the sprayhood, enjoying being rocked back and forth by the waves. On the other end of the sprayhood I discovered another one, and since they had no intention of leaving I struck up a conversation telling them that they were allowed to stay if they promised not to poop over the boat... They have not moved a single centimetre since. Guppy really enjoys the trip and with good crosswinds she still is going at a speed of about 7 knots [13 kilometres or 8 land miles an hour] so all is well, and so far so good.

Laura

 


08-05-2011

I said Hello and Goodbye for the umpteenth time. I set sail for the umpteenth time to bring Guppy towards the next unknown island. But for the first time it now feels quite familiar. I am back at sea and it feels like I had never done anything else before. Guppy is rushing towards the Marquesas Islands at a speed of 7 knots [13 kilometres or 8 land miles an hour] while I am skilfully catching each wave that washes into the cockpit... The Galápagos Islands are out of sight, and to my great surprise, I immediately fell completely into my own rhythm again. A great start for what I hope will be a great crossing.

Laura

 


07-05-2011

photo's ( see the dutch weblog, or hyves.)

 


07-05-2011

I am hoisting my anchor in a few hours, Guppy and I will sail the longest sea crossing of our whole trip. As always one day before sailing off I am really looking forward to the journey, and a few hours before leaving I am a little nervous about having forgotten something. But as soon as I sail away everything will be fine and I will be sailing the ocean with a smile. I must also say goodbye to the best friends I've made ​​during this last part of my trip. I am leaving behind perhaps the most extraordinary of islands that I have visited. The meeting here with some people of Sea Shepherd also was very special to me. But Guppy and I long for the Marquesas! We are going for it now. We are ready. Water, fuel, food all set and then some good wind!

Laura

 


05-05-2011

I am just back from Isla Isabela. It really was very beautiful. There is a small village with only dirt roads, a few houses, restaurants and hostels. After a two hour ride in a speedboat which was crammed full with 15 people, we arrived in Isla Isabela. We arrived late in the afternoon. After admiring the penguins that swam between the sea lions in the harbour, we rented surfboards and we went surfing for two hours. We spend two nights on the beach under a beautiful starry sky! Most of the penguins and sea lions swim about in the small harbour, so we decided to admire them by sitting in the shallow water. After one hour they came closer and closer. Just within arm's reach! We also did have a swim with the sealions. The penguins are super fast and small! The water at Island Isabela seemed to be a bit colder but this was only because we had been sitting still in the water for way too long... Early this morning, at 6 AM, our boat was going back to the Island of Santa Cruz and so we went. The crossing [to the Marquesas Islands] is getting even closer and closer, and the more time I spend ashore, the more I feel like sailing the sea again. I am thinking of hoisting the anchor on Saturday or Sunday.

Laura

 


03-05-2011

Exactly one year ago, Guppy was launched, and I sailed the first meters with her. Now one year later, she is berthed in the Galápagos having many thousands of miles under her keel!! This had to be celebrated. Yesterday I have been very busy cleaning her. Now she is spick-and-span not just on the inside - well, yes, I am an expert at making mess... - but also both the hull and under the water level hull are clean again!! Especially the water level line was very dirty and there had been very much growth on the hull below it. Armed with diving goggles and a snorkel, I hung under the boat for two hours yesterday. Now she is well prepared for the biggest crossing that lays ahead, and that is getting ever closer and closer. I repaired all the things that had broken on the way over here, and I checked on everything else. The Diesel fuel tank is filled and I have plenty to eat - I just need to replenish with fresh water and then she is completely ready for the sea. Along with a good girlfriend, I am going to the Isla Isabella today, an island that is 40 nautical miles [74 kilometres; 46 land miles] away from here, where you can't go to with your own boat without a special permit. Of course I do not have this permit, so we will go there by ferry. It seems that it is a very beautiful place, not too touristy, and the penguins are there, too!! I really have to see them. I will be back on Thursday, and then I will share all of my adventures with you!!

Laura

 


02-05-2011

Yesterday I decided to spend a quiet day after all the latest hustle and bustle. I went back to Las Grietas to cliff dive again. I am becoming well known over there... I spent the rest of the day with some maintenance work on Guppy. To catch up for my lazy day yesterday, I decided to go diving near the Gordon Rocks with three sailor friends. We had the company of Hammerhead sharks, White-tip sharks and Galápagos sharks. We hoped to see the Whale shark that was spotted yesterday, but unfortunately we did not encounter this sea giant. But while we swam the underwater world of the Galápagos, we met some turtles, manta rays and many coloured fishes. And the sharks were an adequate compensation for the Whale shark! So in the end, I defeated my shark-phobia! Since I was eight years old I suffered from an extreme shark-phobia, but this is over now. Those were exactly the sharks I had seen in my nightmares, and they did not do any harm to me. About ten of them swam below me and they were not interested in us at all! The water was extremely cold down there, and I almost came out of the water as frozen as an ice cube - despite the 7 millimetres [0,28 inch] thick wetsuit. It took me about two hours in 37° Celsius [98,6° F] outside temperature to come back to my normal body temperature again... If I had closed my eyes, I would almost have thought that I was back in the Netherlands... It really was THAT cold...

Laura

 


02-05-2011


30-04-2011

After a slow start, I still had very much done today. I went back to Las Grietas to cliff dive again. I could not resist... I have seen the craters and the giant tortoises in the wild. In the afternoon we walked through a lava tunnel. Both the craters and the lava tunnels were mega large. It was very touristy though, which disappointed me very much. The tortoises 'in the wild...' were surrounded by some 40 tourists!! So we tried to get away as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, it was nice to see. Up to now, watching the wildlife around the boat is much more beautiful than at all the parks or zoos. Indeed, it is a very special place here!

Laura

 


29-04-2011

Another crazy day! Guppy is rolling back and forth at anchorage (well, that's what boats do...) while I am exploring the island. Today I have been to a lake in a valley between two cliffs from which you can jump... Which of course, I tried at once. After that, with some other people I walked for two and a half kilometres [1,5 land miles] towards the beach to go surfing again. Today it went a lot better, and I have not been chased by a shark so far... At the fish market, we watched the seals and pelicans trying to catch fish remains. It is very nice to see that the people here are living with all those animals!!

Laura

 


28-04-2011

Once again, my beloved 'sea-rhythm' is interrupted by the stresses of life ashore. Unlike all the other places I have been to, the official duties - for example clearing customs and inspection of the boat - are more stringent here. Of course there are nice things too. On the first day I met some good sailor friends that I had not seen since Panama. I went to watch the big turtles and surfing for the first time. Unfortunately it was more than a one hour walk to and back from the beach but it definitely was worth the effort. Looks like that not only do I have a talent for sailing but also one for surfing (uhum!)... I managed to surf a wave on the first attempt!! It was a mini wave and it was just beginner's luck of course, for I landed in the water innumerable times in the most idiotic ways thereafter. But I will certainly try it one more time. The Galápagos Islands are wonderful. The water is clear and not cold at all, as everybody had told me. The Island has everything a tropical Island usually has, greenery, palm trees and it is very warm! At the dinghy dockside the seals just lie in front of your feet, and the only way to pass them is simply stepping over them. Then they start making crazy noises and close in on you though. It scared me a little bit the first time, but I wanted to go ashore and I could not avoid them without falling in the water... The anchorage is very bumpy, there is a swell of one meter [three feet] coming from the sea, and when I lie in my bed, it feels like being in the middle of the ocean... I am pushed from one side of my berth to the other end. So, I have to think of a solution for tonight since I woke up all black and blue ( as happens many times while sailing )... And this when I was hoping to sleep in one stretch the whole night through!

 


Laura

 


26-04-2011

Ha! I killed two birds with one stone... huh, with one blog. I found the Galápagos Islands AND the Equator. It was dark closing in to the Equator but at the very moment I reached it, lightning flashed up in the sky and Poseidon rose from the water to admire little Guppy. This was... just the dream I had the night before crossing. In reality it went like this: during the day I met with another boat and at 9 PM [my time] we crossed the Equator, all swinging to loud music. Since I had heard from reliable sources that Neptune has a weakness for pancakes I gave him one specially made for him. Crossing the Equator just felt like New Year's Eve! After a few short naps, this morning I reached the Island of Santa Cruz, Galápagos. I am lying at anchor now and I can see many well knowned yachts again, also I am eager to go ashore.

Laura

 


25-04-2011

Only 50 more miles [93 kilometres; 58 land miles] and then I leave behind me the northern hemisphere. After expecting calm winds as is usual in these parts [ of the Pacific Ocean], I have been having good winds now for over 24 hour! I shall probably be sailing across the Equator at around 22.00 hour my time [ 03:00 AM / GMT ], if I can find this thing in the dark ... After the equator it is not too far to the Galapagos Islands and I hope to be there by tomorrow night. This was a wonderful trip with more wind than expected and no high waves. There is a swell 3 meters high but very long so Guppy floats just like a bathduck over it.

Laura

 


24-04-2011

A good side wind still fills my sails. I expect to cross the equator between tomorrow night and the day after tomorrow. By short-wave and VHF-radio we already started discussing colourful ideas on what each of us will give Neptune; a freshly caught fish, rum, bananas, diving goggles...? Early this morning (at 5 AM), I was already busy baking pancakes. As soon as the sun rises it becomes too warm and I wanted pancakes for breakfast in any case. Yesterday I experienced a heavy squall, but unlike other squalls there was no wind this time. Hence, I could clean the boat, take a shower and I collected 11 litres [2,4 gallons] of water. Being covered in so much fresh water just made me feel over the moon.

Laura

 


23-04-2011

Last night the wind lacked courage but came back with the first daylight. Guppy is now blowing forward at a speed of about 6 knots [11 kilometres or 7 miles an hour]. I am in the middle of a group of three boats who set sail together from the Las Perlas Islands en route to the Galápagos Islands. One of the boats has been out of sight from the first day and is now 40 nautical miles behind [74 kilometres or 46 land miles]. The other boat, a American with a catamaran, is still visible on the horizon, and via VHF-radio we have conversations about the weather, the covered distance and of course the day's highlight, the dinner. I have been with these boats since the San Blas Islands. Sailors are always very sociable people, there is always someone to talk to if you feel like it, and at least you know for sure that you are not the only creature that is roasting in the sweltering heat while bobbing ahead slowly. Besides the chats via VHF-radio, I use the short-wave-radio which makes it possible to call other boats that are out range of the VHF-radio. I have already been in contact with sailors who are berthed in the Galápagos Islands 400 nautical miles away [740 kilometres or 460 land miles]. Besides that, I read a lot.

Laura

 


22-04-2011

Wind! After running on the engine all night again, finally some wind came and since this morning we are moving under sails. With a good wind of about 8 knots [15 kilometres or 9 miles per hour; force 3 on the Beaufort scale] coming from astern, 'Gup' and I are going at a speed of about 5,5 knots [9 kilometres or 5,8 land miles an hour] again. The clouds are gone and Guppy is slowly turning into a baking oven again; it is getting warmer day by day. And in four days, I will sail across the equator. Yesterday it rained for about two hours and I kept busy with collecting water. Now it is too warm to do anything, and I am mostly busy showering myself with buckets full of water, and keeping an eye on the course and the sails while sitting in the shade.

 


Laura

  


21-04-2011

Unlike yesterday there was no wind at all last night and so to the noise of the engine, Guppy softly slid over the moonlit sea at a speed of 3,5 knots [6,5 kilometres or 5,6 miles an hour]. Last night I heard a thump, a sound meaning that I had hit something. Most likely it was a tree trunk, there are many adrift around here. I cannot find any visible damage, probably because we weren't moving so fast when we hit, as I think. There is some wind now and Guppy is running under sail again. Luckily the sky is a little cloudier for Guppy nowadays is more like an oven during the day with the sun straight up above.

Laura

 


20-04-2011

Last night Guppy made very good progress. I have had wind so I travelled 140 nautical miles or so since I left [259 kilometres or 161 land miles]. Yesterday evening, I was accompanied for almost two hours by a school of about 30 dolphins. They played along with the boat, looked up pryingly and then dived away. Today I have not yet seen any dolphins, and unfortunately it is the same with the wind. The good wind has disappeared again, and Guppy and I are now slowly bobbing towards the Galápagos Islands and the equator! I think I will be sailing across it in about five days into this trip!

Laura

 


19-04-2011

The Pacific Ocean is great! On my trip to the Las Perlas Islands I saw  dolphins, a jumping ray, a shark and a whale! I have seen more in one day than during six month in the Atlantic Ocean. The anchorage and the scenery were not so nice though, so on the following day I sailed to La Esmeralda, a small village on the south coast of Isla del Rey along with another boat. The scenery and the anchorage are better here. There are tall cliffs with much greenery. The water is a bit colder because of the cold Gulf Stream. The anchorage is not very clean and there are many jellyfishes, so I had to skip scrubbing the underwater hull of my boat. This morning I set sail towards the Galapagos Islands. At the start there was not much wind but since the wind picked up. The swell is soft and large here, and with the halfwinder, the mainsail and the mizzen up, I am going at a speed of 4,5 knots [8,3 kilometres or 5 land miles an hour]. Just so I won't break any speed records...

Laura

 


16-04-2011

I am very busy with preparations for the Pacific Ocean. Shopping for provisions, stowing away the MiniCat and cleaning the boat. After the passage through the Panama Canal with six people on board, it became a big mess and I have been busy with cleaning up. Yesterday I made big purchases. The food in the Pacific region is very expensive, so I tried to cram Guppy full of food that should last until I reach Australia. Now Guppy has a 5 centimetres [app. 2 inches] deeper draft [ below the water line]. Tomorrow I will head for the Las Perlas Island, an island which lies about 40 nautical miles [74 kilometres, 46 land miles] off shore, so I can do this trip easily in one day. Panama City is very large with plenty of very tall buildings. But the water in the anchorage is not very clean, and Guppy and I want to sail the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean!!

Laura

 


13-04-2011

The passage through the Panama Canal was great. Especially the Gatun Lake was very beautiful. Along with one of the line handlers (that I am good friends with), we slept outside on the deck. In the morning, we awoke to the howling of - most likely - shouting monkeys. It was extremely loud and very fascinating. One monkey starts screaming and then it goes on like a wave through the entire forest. The Gatun Lake was very beautiful, but I had already seen it of course. But I had not heard the monkeys at that time. I went through the Canal along with a boat that I have been with since the San Blas Islands, and it was great fun. Water jockeying and with very loud music on, we sailed up the Gatun Lake. We have had great weather, but when we exited the very last lock, it began to pour. The only two not mutinous crewmembers on board also started to mutiny and went inside the cabin. Hence, I navigated through the heavy rain towards the anchorage alone. But I don't find this to be so bad. Sailing with a crew is very difficult. You have to keep an eye on everyone and everything that they are doing. Everything gets mixed up, the whole boat is a mess and they always stand in front of your nose or run in your way. Well... it is very much fun though. Yesterday night I went to a concert by Shakira along with a good friend. Actually, I am not the biggest fan of Shakira. But we had very much fun anyway. In the huge crowd, we suddenly met an acquaintance from one of the yachts I had occasionally been with since Bonaire. She had lost track of the rest of her family, and so she joined us. After we all have had lots of fun, we all went to bed at 2 AM, and by 7 AM this morning, we are already back working on anything and everything again.

 Laura

 


12-04-2011

Here are a few pictures of the Panama Canal. Please also see my Dutch weblog or http://solozeilster.hyves.nl for other pictures. It was really a great experience and Guppy is now safely anchored. Tomorrow I will write some more about it. But first, I will have some sleep and I will explore around my new anchorage.

Laura


08-04-2011

The Rib Barbecue in Shelter Bay Marina yesterday night was fun and the ribs were really delicious! So I ate with a big-strong appetite.

Two more nights before Guppy heads for the Pacific Ocean. In the evening of the 6th, I came back from my trip as a line handler on another boat going through the Panama Canal. We went in the Canal three boats at a time, which had to be tied together going into the locks. The first time it became a big mess since most crewmembers did not understand what to do. Ahead and behind us, the cargo ships blew their horns, wanting us to give way. Once in the lock, it all went fine. We spent the night in the Gatun Lake at a mega big mooring. The following day, we sailed the remaining part of the Gatun Lake after some water jockeing with the other yachts. It also went well in the other locks. Only the two yachts ahead of us had some problems. They rolled back and forth heavily - only music was missing otherwise they could have joined in a dance contest for yachts (which will be held from now on... hi hi). Later we heard that someone from one of those yachts had lost his fingers, and that an ambulance had picked her/him at the next lock. We did not get more information so I still do not really know what happened. In the meantime, I have had a run with my MiniCat again. There were strong winds, and I sailed super fast. It is so nice to be sailing with a small boat again!

Laura


Please see the Dutch weblog for pictures http//: solozeilster.hyves.nl.


07-04-2011


05-04-2011

I am back! Sorry to be a few days late. But I am experiencing so much all the time! Today I will sail as a line handler through the Panama Canal on a other boat for a little practice, hi hi! Even though I already have some experience from the locks in the Netherlands. I find it great to have the chance of doing it two times, besides getting to know the things that will be expected of me is quite nice, too. The day before yesterday, I went to Panama City with some friends. It is large and especially tall! I haven't really formed an opinion about it yet, except that it is different from all the places I have been to before. We are now waiting for the signal to let go of the mooring cables. Since I will sail from lock to lock without having internet access for the next two days, it just came to my mind to give a quick review of how things will go. On April 7th, there will be a Rib Night [barbecue] in the harbour in my honour. In return, I will give an interview to a local newspaper. I find it nice to do it this way. It shows respect for me - I have been asked for permission before. Quite different from suddenly standing right in front of my nose like on the first day and then asking annoying questions to me. At this very moment, the tires that will be used as fenders/bumpers in the channel are thrown on my deck. I will go through the Panama Canal on April 10 and 11, so I still have some days before I can sail the Pacific with Guppy.

 Laura

 


01-04-2011

Yesterday I went cycling with some friends from another yacht. We went to Fort Lorenzo National Park, a 10 kilometer uphill and downhill ride on a folding bike. The fort and the view where beautiful.  From the fort you can see the sea and the Chagres River. We where a little bit late and just before sunset we went on our way back. There were lot of noises from the monkeys and other animals that started to get active in the jungle at dusk. I was looking at the monkeys up in a tree above when I  almost drove over a snake! I looked just in time down and stopped my bicycle 50 cm from the snake while letting out a scream. The snake went to another place and we where able to take some good picture's. Just before dark we where back at the marina. Today I went to Colon to get some food. Colon is not really a safe place and I would not feel safe if I had to walk there alone. The houses look ruinous and the people seem rushed and nearly run each other down. It looks like there's no organization. Luckily I was not alone and Guppy is not docked in Colon.

Laura 


30-03-2011

After a night crossing from San Blas Islands to Shelter Bay in Panama, the
adrenaline rose to my head. The crossing was great with only a little swell
and wind speeds of 10 to 15 knots [18 to 28 kilometres or 11 to 17 miles per
hour; force 3 to 4 on the Beaufort scale]. Early this morning I arrived in
Panama, right into the thick of crowds of people and cargo ships. I have been
busy non-stop since. The press people stood immediately in front of my nose,
and because the Shelter Bay Marina sponsors me, I could not ignore them.
They always ask me the same questions over and over again and are often
clueless about me. This time, I even was asked my name......! She really did
not know, and I was so perplexed it took me a while before I could utter that
my name is Laura. Sure I was tired after the night crossing, and now I really
felt very tired of all the people around me pretending to be interested and
knowledgeable about me. My good mood slowly faded to an inner anger that I
always feel when people treat me like a celebrity. And then they often come
up with the most mind boggling or stupid questions.
Enough negativity, I should try to look at the bright side of things as I always
do. I have a berth in harbour again and I have already managed many things
for the passage [through the Panama Canal]. Besides I have met again with
the great people I was with in the San Blas Islands for a week. I wanted to
write earlier but because of all the hustle and bustle, I only got around to do
so now. So now I will take some rest and I will also try to keep my Blogs up to
date in the future.

Please see the Dutch language Blog or go to http//:solozeilster.hyves.nl for
the pictures from the past weeks.


Laura

 


26-03-2011

Today the three boats I was with for the past days are setting sail. Probably I will meet many of them again in Panama. A lot of paperwork is waiting for me there, too. The boat has to be measured, I need to have four line handlers [people who willl handle the lines/cables while in the canal], also four long and thick cables, good boat fenders [bumpers], and there is still much more which has to be organized. But I am looking forward to it. The Panama Canal seems to be very beautiful, but completely different from here. Mountains, monkeys and crocodiles – all with a view of the white beach, blue water and islands full of palm trees here. By the way, it is nuts that all the coconuts belong to the Kuna Indians, and because of that you are not allowed to eat them... Even though they are almost drowning in them since there are so many. After some busy days spent snorkelling, swimming, knee boarding (with my self-made kneeboard) and notably having so much fun of course doing schoolwork, maintenance work on the boat and preparing for the rest of the journey, I will take some rest today. Many boats will set sail today, but many other boats will be coming in though, so there is a chance to make new contacts.

 



Laura

 


24-03-2011

Finally, it is a little dryer here. For the past two days it has hardly rained. At the party for all the yacht crews I met with many people, and I became good friends with some of them. There are two Dutch yachts - one with little kids on board - one catamaran from California and one American boat with two of my peers aboard who I already had met in Bonaire. In short, it is all very cosy. Yesterday we made a drift-dive (without scuba-gear), just by hanging on the dinghy. But with a current of about two knots, it seems like you are flying over the moon. Really beautiful. During this dive, we saw a small shark and a very big ray. The day before yesterday, I saw a big turtle with three pilot fishes at a depth of ten metres while snorkelling. The water is extremely clear and the many kinds of colors are wonderful. I can enjoy this all for one more week and then I will sail to Colon to put my paperwork in order for the Panama Canal . 

Laura

 


22-03-2011

It is really beautiful here. Finally, the sun is back from its vacation, making the scenery even more beautiful. At sunlight, and you see all those different kinds of water colors: light blue means withe sand,  blue color means deep water, and brown color means that there is a reef. Yesterday I had diner aboard a Canadian Yacht. It is great not having to cook by myself, and it is a perfect opportunity to practice my English. Tonight there will be a party on one of the islands for all yacht crews. Hence, I hope to gather some more knowledge there about Panama and to meet many new people of course 

Laura

Ps there is no internet, so unfortunately a can not place  photo, s on my website

 


19-03-2011

This morning the strong winds had not stopped blowing and unfortunately the sun also did not show up. I had hoped that the wind would decrease, but then I spotted the first small palm islands and I gave up my hope that it would. Instead I was welcomed by a school of dolphins one of which jumped three metres out of the water right in front of the bow, it was really great. Slowly the islands became larger and I saw waves surging onto the reef. We approached with a reef on the lee side and windspeeds still at 25 knots [46 kilometres or 29 miles per hour; force 6 on the Beaufort scale] and a high swell... The anchorage is located between the reefs and the small islands... By VHF-radio I asked if someone could pilot me in. I received an answer immediately and a short time later I was sailing behind a dinghy through the reefs towards the cloudy version of a "Bounty advertisement-trailer". The islands are just full of palm trees and pristine white beach. It is so beautiful.

Laura


18-03-2011

After a night with strong winds everything - really everything! - became salty. My bed, the floor, the cockpit and the cushion I sit on all day long while keeping an eye on things from the cockpit. Eventhough my cushion really needs to be replaced, it is disgustingly salty and soaked now. I am also salty and soaked so I still sit on this cushion in the cockpit watching the waves. The wind slowly decreased to 30 knots [55 kilometres or 35 miles per hour; force 7 on the Beaufort scale], but the waves are still pretty high. Because of that, one moment you are enclosed in water and the next moment, you feel like you are riding a rollercoaster when surfing down a wave. Nevertheless, I made good progress last night, and there is chance I will arrive tomorrow with the first daylight.

Laura

 


17-03-2011

Today I had a record-breaking number of flying fishes, six in the cockpit and five on the deck! And I rescued two of them last night. The first one had not yet landed that the second one hit me, and this happened with the full moon shining. One would expect that they could check where they are going jumping out... Besides flying fishes and a passing ship from time to time, and the water which I never tire of looking at, there has not been anything special today... The wind is still blowing from astern. Tonight I experienced a number of small squalls but now most of the threatening cloud masses have drifed by in the distance. I can sit in the cockpit most of the time without being splashed over by a wave. Splendid! There are still 340 nautical miles [630 kilometres, 392 land miles] to go, and I am still going at a speed of 7 knots [13 kilometres or 8 miles per hour], so the distance to cover is quickly decreasing.

Laura

 


16-03-2011

After more than a month ashore, Guppy and I are on Route again. Both Guppy and I enjoy this. A nice wind from astern is blowing us to an average speed of 7 knots [13 kilometres per hour, 8 miles per hour] towards our next destination, the San Blas Islands. Up to now we passed by two cargo ships which were both on a collision course with us. I think they did not see Guppy, so I gave them a call. The first one answered and changed its course. I did not receive an answer from the second one, but by squarely sailing away from its course I escaped that monster too. Today I have spent most of my time watching the sea and the waves. I never get bored of this. I still have about 500 of the 675 nautical miles [926 of 1250 kilometres; 575 of 777 land miles] to go, and I expect to arrive on Saturday or Sunday.

Laura

 


14-03-2011

Not long ago, I wrote that I sailed with an inflatable mini-catamaran with my sister. Due to some coincidences, I will be the owner of my very own mini-catamaran soon, and then I will enjoy speeding around even when lying at anchor. Also I will be getting 100 EURO for each Minicat sold through me! Sooo... I will do a little bit of advertising: It sails really well and it is very fast. It is easy to assemble and the boat is very well thought out so you do not need much storage space if you are not living near to the sea. It can be carried along in one big bag. Usually advertisements are very much exaggerated but this one really says it like it is.I have seen and sailed numerous inflatable catamarans and this one really stands above them all.

Tomorrow I will set sail. This time I will head for the San Blas Islands. I am really looking forward to it. I feel I have been at berth for too long. Really. Sailing through bad weather now is not such a pleasant thing but according to the weather forecast, I will have good strong winds from astern, so I hope the trip will go nicely. Then I'll be writing about all, every day again.

Laura

 


11-03-2011

I am home again. I flew back on Wednesday morning and I arrived in Bonaire in the evening. Once inside the cabin, I threw my stuff on the sofa and ignored the mosquitoes and the little cockroaches still running around (I think I have never told about this...). Since the Cape Verde Islands I have been travelling in the company of stowaways - a small species of cockroaches. In the time, we have become chummy-chummy [good friends]. But we have fights from time to time, so I definitely want to break-up with them now. They are very resistant, but there are less and less of them... After sleeping for eleven hours, I have recovered a little. I am planning to set sail on next Tuesday, but it still depends on the weather and my mood. For the coming days I will be busy with preparations. However, I will occasionally find time to relax a little bit from the busy past week in the Netherlands (well, I hope) 

Laura

 


08-03-2011

My time in the Netherlands is almost over. It was fun to be back here again. I found it nice to tell about my journey while at the HISWA [HISWA Amsterdam Boat show] and in Ijmuiden, and I think that more clarity has come about my journey and what it is that I am actually doing. But I am happy to go back to Guppy. It won't be too long before I leave the Caribbean seas behind me, and to sail a new Ocean. I am looking forward to it, and the Panama Canal also seems to be a great experience. From there I will have to keep steadily sailing with Guppy to finish the crossing of the largest Ocean before the next storm season. I hope to be in Australia in November. But until then, I hope to have many new experiences.

 Laura  

 


04-03-2011

The first days at the HISWA [HISWA Amsterdam Boat Show] are behind me now. The first day was quite stressful but very nice though. It was much calmer yesterday and today so I had some time to walk around the HISWA boatshow. Yesterday evening [correction: the evening before yesterday, March 2nd] I gave a long lecture to a large audience in Ijmuiden for the first time. It all went well generally. I received many positive reactions. However, I think I talked a bit too fast at the beginning. After the break it went a little better. There is nothing scheduled for tonight so I can enjoy some rest. It is very strange to be back in the Netherlands, it is very cold but I am beginning to get used to it again. The traffic jams, the apartment buildings and the hustle and bustle also take getting used to again. Well, it is a nice change from my life aboard Guppy. Nevertheless, I will be happy to be back on Guppy next week and to go sailing again. I am planning to sail to Curaçao after my return and then to the San Blas Islands, and from there on towards Panama.

 Laura

    


28-02-2011

 

On February 27th, I arrived in the Netherlands, and ever since I have been very busy. But now I have some time to keep my website up to date. On the 26th, I had to leave my bed early to catch the plane to Curaçao where I had to wait almost six hours for the next plane. Nevertheless, this was too short a time in someway. Waiting, I went to Willemstad for dinner along with some other people who were also waiting for the plane connection. While I was enjoying my tuna salad, suddenly I saw the 'Stad Amsterdam' sailing by. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to go for a short visit. Early on the following morning, I arrived in the Netherlands. While I already found it very cold inside the airport terminal – I thought that this was also the outside temperature - my heart stood still when I stepped out of the building... I am finally starting to get used to the idea that it is cold outside and that I have to put on a coat. It is nice and strange to be back here again. It really does not feel like I am back in the Netherlands. Nevertheless the idea of being here again is nice in itself, knowing that I have the good luck of being back with Guppy in about one week. Today I received some vaccinations at the harbour hospital in Rotterdam for protection against several diseases. And tomorrow the HISWA [HISWA Amsterdam Boat Show] starts. It is nice and a change from Guppy who I already miss as my house by now. Nevertheless, I do feel like telling all about my adventures with Guppy.

Laura 


24-02-2011

Today my sister Kim flyes back home. But before, we will go kayaking in the mangroves one more time. She will fly back tonight so I can enjoy her being here with me for the whole day. Yesterday we had planned to have a barbecue, but it rained heavily all day long. And since my grandparents had rented a thing that can be driven and that is called a car, we went to the slave huts at the southern tip of Bonaire. On our way back, we drove past the crumbling but still operational lighthouse. The wind blew quite strongly, so the waves sometimes surged forcefully over the reef. Because the wind actually blows steadily from this direction there is very much waste laying around there. If you are looking for some cheap slippers, you just have to walk past there. Not only shoes lay around on the reefs but also bottles and many kinds of plastic junk from the ocean. Kim and I also went sailing with the Mini-Cat again. The wind blew pretty strong and we sailed really super-super fast. Even Kim started to like it!! Normally she does not like sailing too much. We also went sailing on a bigger boat from some people we met here, but she got seasick because she wanted to finish reading a book that I had given to her just in case.

Laura

 


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