Monday, May 14, 2007
On The Road Again, But Killing Things As We Go.
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That's my version of Aussi for hello. I'm practicing my Australian. Since that other wanker died, I figure I have a shot at the "getting close to animals for no good reason and then being surprised they hurt" front man. I'd get to do lots of stupid human tricks with animals, and be paid for it. Which is better than what I'm doing now.
Today, we went swimming with jelly fish. Why, you might ask? Because we could. The water sucked at the last few anchorages we'd been at (the Pacific side of Panama has, so far, been pretty dirty water near the coast) so we haven't really got in any good swimming. We were hot, tired, sweaty and getting a bit briney smelling.
We decided to head out to sea, and perhaps some cleaner water. No wind, so we motored for a few hours, got a ways off the coast then stripped naked and *almost* dove in. Until, that is, I noticed the cute, little, almost translucent buggers floating all around the boat. Okay, still no wind, so lets motor some more. There must be some clear water further West, this was just a fluke, must be less of them as we get away from the canal.
Couple of hours later and it is stunningly beautiful. We stop the boat and peer over the side. Now we see a few different kind of floating killers. There are the traditional disc-like ones that wash up on the Jersey shore all the time, but also there are these weird coil-like things that look like pipe cleaners with a bright orange fluffy tail, and some other things that look like spaghetti that's been left in water too long. Are these dangerous? Do they sting? We have no idea. Our solution? It's hot, we're tired, sticky, and need a bath - what do you think?
So, I'm swimming around with what probably amounts to hypodermic needles filled with neurotoxins and all I can hear in my head is "Krikie, but aint that a beaut! Those little buggas carry enough venom to slack a village. Ai'm gonna see 'ow close ah ken git before a'm covered in welts the size ah me ego"
Needless to say, the swim was less than enjoyable, but it felt great to cool off and rinse with our precious fresh water. We are "rationing" it now, as we've just started our long leg up the coast of Panama and need to conserve as much as possible. We wash and initially rinse all our plates with salt water (but we take out all the jelly fish first) and then only use the fresh stuff for the final cleanse.
We missed a great opportunity during the last rain to refill our tanks, thinking there would be fresh water in the next town. It poured more than six inches and we foolishly ignored it. Next time we'll rig a plastic sheet and collect it. We've used up most of our first tank and have only one tank and several emergency gallons left. We may have to limit ourselves to only two showers a day if the going gets rough.
The ride has been quite wonderful in terms of animal life, some of which we've killed and eaten. We managed to break the Mota curse by catching a three pound Trigger Fish. We think that's what it is, but I'm not sure. When we brought it onto the boat we realized we didn't have anything to knock it unconscious with, so, I grabbed a three pound sledge hammer and bashed it upside the head. I think the first whack did it, but I hit it a couple of times more, mostly because I was mad about the jelly fish.
Holly T. filleted it and she and Thorny cooked it up with garlic and butter. It was amazing. She also offered us some "sushi" but I declined. While I'm willing to pay big bucks for something some professional has spent twenty years learning how to prepare, I'm less enthusiastic about eating a raw fish I just caught near the Panama Canal and can't even identify. I'm not sure that cooking it made any difference, but I just couldn't bring myself to eat it raw.
After lunch we motored again, everyone felt sleepy so I took the helm while they dozed. As I sat listening to tunes and playing along, our diesels providing a low backbeat, I couldn't help but grin. This was exactly how I had hoped life at sea might be. I was with good friends, on a great boat, with fantastic music (not only did Thorny bring his 80gig IPOD of music [many thanks to MeanBean], but Holly T. brought hers as well. It has been an incredible sound track to the trip) and aside from the fact that AnnMarie couldn't be along for the entire trip, it was a perfect moment.
Then it got even better: a dozen Manta Rays began leaping from the water, going about ten feet into the air (flapping their wings the entire time) then landing with a slap back into the sea. Amazing. They must have done this a dozen times each, I've never seen anything like it.
The wind came up a bit after that. We raised the sails (the first time we've had both up since we got through the canal, I think) and shut off the motors. The sound of the boat slicing through the water is a wonderful, peaceful thrum that makes everyone happy. Not long after we shut down the motor we were visited by a pod of dolphins. There must have been more than twenty of them. Beautiful, graceful, sleek animals that swim up to the boat's bow wake and pop out of the water, gasp a breath and slide back in again. They do this over and over, it must be hella fun, 'cause they're grinning the entire time.
We are working our way north again, at N07,50.359, W079,11.680, we're motoring again now, we sailed for a bit but the wind gave out just after sunset, and we're now headed for Punta Malo, but keeping well away from it. We've been warned by several folks and guidebooks to give it a lot of berth. We believe them. Anything named "Bad Point" probably isn't the best sailing on the coast.
From there we head more Northerly, and then on to Isla Perida, our first stop. It is dark now, we're eating dinner and about to start our "shifts". I'm tired, having been the only one who didn't sleep today, so I'll probably go last, which means the grave yard shift. Hopefully by then the wind will be back up and I'll have some great sailing to look forward to.
Hope all is well back home!
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