The longest sail…

Our first landfall – The Gambier islands

Sailing from The Galapagos or Panama to French Polynesia is the longest stretch any curcumnavigator will do without landfall. It is one of the rites of passage and can take anywhere between 20 – 40 days depending on the winds. Halfway across we would be as far you are can be from humans as possible on the planet – not a place to have anything go wrong with your boat so we had checked and re-checked everything and felt confident we would be ok. One last check of the weather and with a beautiful sunny day, excellent winds and a fully stocked boat we were off…. this would be our longest sail of over 3,000nms to the stunning islands of French Polynesia. We had planned on going to Nuku Hiva but opted instead to go to Gambier – a group of islands further south as we knew we would not have backtracked to see them if we had gone straight to Nuku Hiva.

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First port of call in the Pacific- The Galapagos islands…

The first island we arrived at – San Cristobal

We had a good sail from the Las Perlas islands and had a few visitors en route. We were joined by lots of red footed boobies who would not leave – even when we put the hose on them… initially they were lovely to watch but as our boat got more and more covered in their crap – we decided they had to leave and that’s when the battle of wills began. Eventually we won and they did leave, but they hung around for ages!

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A Step Back in Time..

The famous old cars in Havana

We set off in tandem with Medea for Cuba. The first 24 hours were awful, with short waves, big swell and really uncomfortable – the dreaded mal de mer hit me and for the first time ever I was actually seasick. It’s a horrible feeling but after the first 24 hours I was much better thank goodness. I can’t imagine what it would be like to suffer for days on end. The last 24 hours was brilliant though, we had a wonderful beam reach and had the Code 0 out so we were flying along at between 8-10knots. We were hoping to crack the illusive 200nm in 24 hours but for the third time only did 196nm! One day we will do it….

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The islands of Belize and Isla Mujeres

Punta Gorda – baskets for sale

The journey from Guatemala to Belize was one of the shortest new country sails we had ever done. We left at about 8am and were anchored in Punta Gorda in Belize by midday! Wonderful – now for check in…. should be easy because they speak English but Belize time moves very slow and it took most of the day even though all the offices, harbour master, immigration, customs and quarantine are all in the same building. They did allow us to go into the town to get a sim card and some internet and we took the opportunity to grab some lunch. Punta Gorda is a very sleepy little town, with dusty streets and run down buildings but we liked it… it felt very safe.

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Guatemala – so much to see…

2 brothers and the visiting backpackers inside – 2 worlds living side by side.

We rose early the next day and got the public boat across the lake to visit the small village of San Pedro. There are about 10 villages on the shores of Lake Atitilan and each seems to have a theme. San Pedro tends to be where the backpackers hang out, there’s one that make textiles, one that is an alternative village offering meditation, yoga and retreats, a religious one, and some that are just typical Guatemalan villages that don’t cater at all for tourists. We were time poor so we could only visit a couple and chose two of the most popular.

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Marina life again… on the Rio Dulce Guatemala

The Guatemalan ladies still wear traditional costume

We arrived at the mouth of the mighty Rio Dulce at the port of Livingstone. This was where we had to check in and organise our internet. We were using an agent who sent out one of his guys within about 20 minutes of us dropping anchor. As we had prepared everything and sent through all the paperwork beforehand, all we had to do was sign a few things, give him our passports and wait for an hour or so. We walked around Livingstone for a while, bought some of their local bread and got some internet and then headed back to pick up our passports. Not only was it one of the easiest check-ins we have ever had but we were given a cap and a mug as a welcome gift. Think we are going to like this place!

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Panana – More than a canal

Morning bread being delivered by hand.

We headed back to Linton Bay to get our Panama cruisers permit which we had been told can take up to three weeks to come through. We liked Linton Bay, especially the ramshackle cruisers bar that had an honour system for coffee and produced magnificent burgers and pizzas from a very humble kitchen. After a few days Ian from Blue Infinity turned up and we got a few boats jobs done while waiting for the permit to come through.

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Islands, jungle and a canal…Panama

Colourful, loud music, crowded and slow but…. so much fun to travel by bus in Panama.

It was a 2 day motor sail all the way to Linton Bay in Panama which was frustrating but we arrived in time to call into the marina office, pick up some parcels we had waiting for us and check into the country – all before dinner. We were spending a day or two in the marina while we waiting for Darryl to come in from the San Blas islands.

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