Archiv der Kategorie: North America

Parades all over the place

Sounds of drums clang all over the anchorage, make their way into the marina and add a very special atmosphere to the Bocas tel Toro Archipelago these days. It is November and official life in Panama has come to a slow over the many public holidays this month. Everywhere colorful Parades are held while the residents celebrate the founding of not only their own country. – A must see for everyone traveling along the western caribbean coastline.

20141104-203942-Panama-School children were already practicing their marching, baton twirling, and playing mostly drums and xylophones for weeks already. Many of them will march in uniforms while those not playing an instrument dance in traditional costumes of vivid colors. The dancers, swirl their full bright skirts and twirl down the street to the beat of the all ruling drums.

The first day of celebrating was November 3rd, when Panama every year celebrates becoming its own Republic back in 1903. Officially it is called „Separation Day“ and is just followed by „Flag Day“ or „Dia de la Bandera“ the next morning. Now we celebrate the brave Panamanians that secretly designed and sewed the Panama flag to fly the day after separation was declared.

The country’s huge party continues on November 5th with „Colon day“. This time the groups parade along the streets to remember when the provinces of Colon and Panama City joined forces to to separate from Columbia. – Time for a break!

But only until November 10th when Panamanians remember the “Cry for Freedom” or “El Primer Grito de Independencia en la Villa de Los Santos”. There, in the town of La Villa de Los Santos, the full separation from Columbia was proclaimed throughout the whole nation. The last holiday celebrated in this row will be next week on November the 28th. This one is rooted back about one hundred years further, when Panama at that time was a part of Colombia and still they celebrate the independence from Spain on this day in 1821. Therefore, even though it is not a true Panamanian day to remember, it still is called the Independence day.

Right within this series of events another one settles in on November 16th. The „Fundacion de la Provincia de Bocas Del Toro“, the founding of the province in 1904.

Tomorrow Bocas Town will be full of people. The festivities are shared with residents from all the other towns, villages, smaller islands and neighborhoods within the province of Bocas Del Toro. It also is a great time for People from Almirante, Changuinola and other communities to join the local residents.

Legs that don’t belong on a beach

The air smells salty, fresh and is sentenced with an undistinguished taste of adventure. Some silver glitter sprinkles all over the bay behind a narrow line of palm trees. The beach on Isla Colón is just a stone throw apart from the open car window I am sitting at. On the other side shadows of a the deep jungle, black and gray, seem hostile and inviting at the same time this night. It feels almost like a call to venture into the woods. – But such undertaking will better be done at daylight than tonight.

Our taxi makes a slow progress along the dirt road that winds north along the shore from Playa Bluff. As usual the trade winds have become more intense over the day and are now on their nightly decline. On the other side of the island Paulinchen is well protected from them at her anchor.

Isla Colón Beaches
Isla Colón Beaches

Even in the car the sound of huge waves breaking over the large reef north of the Islands overtones the rumbling of overstretched dampers and a niggling engine. Nobody speaks much. Less because of the late time, more because we all wander back and fourth through the last couple of hours and the impressions on the beach that we just left behind. Weiterlesen

Returning Home to a Sailboat

[button color=“#fff“ background=“#000″ size=“medium“ src=““]…previously published on Fort Myers Beach „Island Sand Paper“[/button]

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Returning Home, from Island Sand Paper Sep-13 2013
Returning Home, from Island Sand Paper Sep-13 2013

Everyone needs a vacation from time to time. A week or two to think about what has been archived and what are the goals to go for: A camping trip into the woods or laying back on a mountain lake shore, just watching clouds passing the blue sky. A changing scene generates new inspirations and frees the mind. Like changing wallpapers at home can make an old house look new, another lookout can help to refresh an old life. I experienced this every time I felt uncomfortable with what I did. A week focusing on the problem while looking ad fresh images always revealed the way I would go next. It made and enlarging time between jobs to travel and finally led to where I am now: Living on a boat in Fort Myers Beach. And doing so changed the pattern.

Wallpapers at home stay the same and a vacation means to return to them at the end of a trip. Sometimes this is the bad part of a journey, returning from an exciting place to face the reoccurrence of the day to day life that was just left behind. But what, if the wallpaper change is the day to day life.

I live aboard for more than five years now and since than returning home has changed a lot. Sailing back to Paulinchen‘s homeport does not feel like returning home anymore. Over time it just became a destination on the trip, to finish a circumvention not to end the voyage. My home is floating along changing scenes and seasons. And a vacation has become to see friends and family at the life I have once lived.


A Life on the Sea

I met Island Sand Paper Editor Keri at Matanza’s Upper Deck, a casual bar at the motel ashore from where Paulinchen is currently docked. And maybe my office dress (Shorts, Flip Flops, T-Shirt) and having my computer with me made her write that the bar became my regular office here in Fort Myers Beach. In fact, it was for that day.

And so we started chatting over a beer about cruising, living aborad and how I got from where I once lived to where I am now. Her article was published in Island Sand Paper and you can read it online on the newspapers Website.

A Life on the Sea - Island Sand Paper
A Life on the Sea – Island Sand Paper

October all over

Office at Matanzas Inn
This summers office at Matanzas Inn – Maybe I should bring some patties for lunch…

Looks like this summer turns out to become a rather slow one. Good for me, as there are many projects on the list and a maintenance season here is maybe even better than the original planned one in Trinidad. Lets just hope I will not get blown away… because after staying already for a while in Fort Myers Beach I decided to even stay a bit longer and spend the rest of Hurricane Season here. Only I had to head out of the US for a two week trip to renew my US cruising permit. A requirement that sounded a little odd to me and everyone else who heared about the fact that although my visa would allow me to stay, my boat had to leave and come back.

Finally the day I was almost ready to head out I took the bus to the airport to obtain departure papers and surrender my current permit. But than I met Office Blending and her colleague – the nicest officers ever!  „Impossible“ became „possible“.

Of course they could not issue me an extension for my cruising permit but I did not need one. I was fine with leaving in fall from here straight out of the US for Cuba or Mexico, whereever the wind wil blow me. So they agreed to give me a permission to stay in Fort Myers Customs jurisdiction until end of hurricane season. Once again it’s proven that phone calls and emails are a total different thing from talking to someone face to face.

How else could I better party this permission than with a parade and fireworks the next day in Fort Myers Beach? Well it was not really my party, so: Happy Birthday USA, at the same time!

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Think of me as of a Koala

Osprey feeding on a Catfish at Matanzas Pass State Park
More successful in fishing than I am

Over a lazy Sunday morning coffee I was thinking about what it tells about me that as a kid I never got much interested in Lions, Tigers or other classic predators. Instead I could spend hours on reading or watching films about Pandas, Koalas, Manatees, and other animals most boys that age would think of as maybe cute, but pretty boring? And I began to wonder if there is some sort of mental connection to this and that it is the reason why I cannot catch any fish besides lots of Tuna at open sea while next to me the guys pull out one after another. – At least I am far from starving.

But maybe this non predator attitude is also why I am more annoyed than thrilled of what most people think of as an exciting action. I never was a great racer nor sports fanatic. Most times playing a game when someone else won I was more happy it was over than sad about not wining. To me a perfect day is a calm one that just provides all I need to survive it.

The same happens when it comes to bad weather. Currently I am waiting for the arrival of what still has a 10 percent chance of becoming the Gulf’s first tropical Storm in 2013. Thats a low chance and if the remains of Pacific Storm Barbara will become that, they have to hurry up. – Tomorrow it’s here.

Tropical Storm Barbara arrives as bad weather in southern Florida on Monday.
Grib-File forecast of Barbara’s remains arriving in southern Florida tomorrow.

Currently only gusty winds, some thunder and lightning and lots of rain are forecasted. In up to 30 knots on anchor I would set a second hook if I had not lost it the other day. But I have sailed in worse than that and anchored in worse too. If so had to be done to get somewhere but I never asked for it. On a mooring ball designed for yachts up to 50 feet here are probably not many reasons to be afraid.

The only preparation will be to dig out my generator from the aft compartment this afternoon because the solar panel will not keep up pumping sunlight into the batteries to work below deck.

But even out on a hook this weather would be more annoying to me than thrilling. I won’t want it, but can’t change it. So I stay put, and wait for it to pass over. If that sounds maybe a little bored, it’s not. Think of me as of a Koala just cewing another eucalyptus for hours watching the rain go by and the sun come up and go down again. Is there a reason to ask for more? No!


Look what’s in the mail today

New kid aboard: a Garmin GPSmap 292 Chart Plotter just needs a chart for the Caribbean
New kid aboard: a Garmin GPSmap 292 Chart Plotter

Look what’s in the mail today 🙂

Many many thanks to Angela and Clive who are cruising onboard „Cosmic Dancer“ currently somewhere on Lake Erie towards the Atlantic Ocean. As soon as I find a way to get a Caribbean chart installed, the Garmin will be Paulinchens new – and first – chart plotter!

Also in case someone needs some virtual cooling this summer, these guys probably have it for you.   The England based „Cosmic Dancer“, just departured from Chicago after a quite long winter towards  Greenland where Angela, Clive and some friends have not at least sort of a little „hiking“ planned.

Don‘t lock yourself on your boat

Torqueedo 401 Travel Electric Outborad Engine
With a smile a cruiser from England called me „The stealth german“ in an anchorage as I was the only one comming close with no engine sound.

Ever since my very cool Torqueedo 401 decided to stay in the Bahamas late 2010 I had in mind to buy a Mercury / Nissan or Tohatsu 3.5hp engine one day. The exact brand was no matter because all three of them are exactly the same and have even build in the same factory. The size of these engines is perfect to have it stowed on Paulinchen‘s limited space and it is known to be quite durable and reliable. in short: They are perfect for a cruise and that is why so many cruisers have them.

On the other hand I really enjoyed to silently cruise into creeks and especially to get way closer to wildlife than it is possible with a noisy outboard. Alone for that reason, being a photographer an electric outboard was always a very tempting option too.

A brand new engine, not only for economical reasons on the other hand, never was an option. For some in my eyes stupid political reasons: Selling new two-stroke engines became illegal in many countries today. Maybe banning them will one day result in a huge leap in environmental  protection; I doubt that! I more often think about another side effect for cruiser: reduced safety.

The key problem with four stroke engines is their size. Compared to two strokes they seem to be pretty huge to a certain amount of power where this levels out. – That is around 20hp, pretty much for a dinghy. Until then boaters have to trade safety for weight and size. Remembering the Ladies of Louise for example who carry a Honda Engine sitting on their transom that had almost the size of a 10hp two stroke build in the 90th. As far as I remember it only a 2.5 hp engine.  And that was the power my Torqueedo 401. So I know it was barely enough to walk my way up against a three knots tidal current on Hudson River or into some Inlets between Islands in The Bahamas. If you could go for a stronger engine by size and weight you would, but today you have to take the smallest one you can fit on a boat because its heavy and huge for political reasons.


Paulnichens new Outboard Engin: The Tohatsu 3.5
Not a matter of the brand. All difference between Tohatsu, Nissan and Mercury 3.5 hp engines are their housings.


Current models of electric Torqueedo engines are also stronger. But as much as I can not state how great the 401 series was and how much I liked this engine, I honestly do not like them anymore. Simply because of the ugliest change in design I have ever witnessed on a product since Volkswagen introduced the new Beetle. Seeing them instantly Joda‘s voice comes to my mind saying: „Huge they are and close to the design of the Emperors battleship is the appearance.“

But finally looking for an outboard is over! A decision has been made: I just found a Tohatsu 3.5 that was for sale and seems to be in a fairly good condition. Getting it was not a hassle too, I simply rowed to where it was for sale in a marina next to the mooring field I am in.

So after I spend yesterday motoring around, running to other boats, to the dinghy dock, to the super marked and all the way down the sound into the mangroves. I can say: I got so much used in not having a dinghy, I almost forgot how much I locked myself on the boat. Propulsion on an anchorage or in a mooring field is the ultimate freedom!

Dingy ride in Floridas beach resort Fort Myers.
Even in 2 knots of current the dinghy dock at Fort Myers is only a minute away.


Trade winds you can’t buy a thing for

Thumbs down. – Looks like I will stay put for another few days. I deverted from heading to Tampa at only one third of the way and cut east to Panama City yesterday. Too strong SE winds, too little progress. They call this wind „trade wind“ but I don’t see much to buy for it. However if I could, yes, I would trade it for anything but southeast and have to admit: I underestimated its strengs and endurance. Thinking of being a big boy who crossed an ocean in my imagination that little up wind sailing did not look that bad. – But bad is the mildest word I used in the last days to describe it.

In general the weather pattern seems exaclty the same as last week and the week before: „WINDS TO GALE FORCE AND RAPIDLY BUILDING SEAS ARE EXPECTED IN THE WAKE OF THE FRONT… THE FRONT WILL WEAKEN AND STALL OVER THE SOUTH EAST GULF SATURDAY.“ (NOAA Forecast from today) Experience tells, it will then lift back north as a warm front on Sunday and back south and back north and so on and so on … Weiterlesen