For 2 years, while traveling south from Canada, to the states, to Mexico, and into Central America, inevitably when you meet fellow cruisers, the question is asked, “so where are you off to next, and what’s the long term plan?” I had happily told every one of our plans. Apparently, they were MY plans, but not my captain’s plans. According to ME, we were headed down to Panama, would spend a few months there, and then cross through the canal, first heading right to experience the famous San Blas Islands, and then retrace our footprint to head north along the coast, to sneak into Rio Dulce, Guatemala as our hurricane hole. We had just crossed over the Costa Rica/Panama frontera, when Ron turns to me and said, “You know, I really don’t have any desire to head left, to the Caribbean. I think I’d rather turn right and go across to the South Pacific." I was stunned, as this was the first I had heard about it.
After a moment, I realized I didn’t care. I had sailed in the windward islands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, and had chartered in the BVI’s. I was looking forward to heading back over there in my own boat, but….I had never been to French Polynesia, or any part of Oceania, so I had no problem with the change in plans.
We DID end up spending a few months in Panama, 6 to be exact, but the lightning was on the way and Panama is not a good place to be during the July-December time period so we thought that a few months of traveling in South America, basing ourselves out of Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador would be a good stopping point in the journey to head west. It WAS really good. So good in fact, that we have decided to postpone our Puddle Jump ‘til 2015. Another winter in Panama didn’t seem like a hardship to us, with a return here to Bahia next summer for another 5-6 months. There is still the Amazon rainforest to conquer, and I desperately want to see Patagonia or Tierra del Fuego. Not to mention that we’ve only scratched the surface of Ecuador, (and the obscure countries of Uruguay and Paraguay may be fun) and it seemed like it would be folly to leave South America until we had explored a bit more.
And so we will.
But back to the countdown. We hope to start the journey back north within the week. We had a new bracket for the new wind instruments made and it’s now installed at the top of the main mast. We had a new keyway broached in our generator pulley, and it too is installed. The fuel tanks are almost full, but we need another 75 gallons to top them up (at a cost of $1.03/gallon for diesel, there is no way we are leaving here without the tanks overflowing!!!). A bit of water, our second propane tank filled, a short provisioning list completed, and we should be set. The usual crap floating around the salon is pretty well put away, and even better, the v-berth is completely clear, save the asymmetrical spinnaker ready for deployment.