2021 Life Logs, Day 56:  From the Atlantic to the Pacific

2021 Life Logs, Day 56:  From the Atlantic to the Pacific
Date:  Thursday, February 25, 2021
Weather:  Sunny, Still a Little Windy; High 48, Low, 26 Degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

A French company started building the Panama Canal in 1881 but gave up eight years later.  In 1904, the United States got involved and in 1914 the canal was opened.  Until then, the only way to get from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific was to go north through the Northwest Passage or south around the tip of South America known as Cape Horn.  Both were long and treacherous trips.  So, this little man-made cut across Panama made a huge difference in world transportation.  Going around Cape Horn was an 8,000 mile trip and took ships two months.  With the advent of the Panama Canal, that trip was shortened to eight hours.  What a difference.  Today in my writing, I got to relive Windbird’s transit through the canal.  Our transit was actually easy, but the preparation and uncertainly beforehand was hard.  At the end of my writing day, Windbird made it to Balboa, Panama, on the Pacific side of the canal and is preparing for the sail to the Galapagos.  I thought I was going to take tomorrow off writing and get some other necessary things done, but I don’t think I can do that.  I want to at least get underway to the Galapagos before I take a break.

I did spend my morning dealing with life instead of writing.  I made soup that I then delivered to a friend recovering from Covid.  Then I went to the Post Office to get my mail for the first time since early last week and I took advantage of the beautiful day to take a long walk with Shadow and later to play fetch with him for the first time in a while.  It is hard to play fetch with snow on the ground as the tennis balls get buried easily.

2021 Life Logs, Day 55: Ready to Transit the Panama Canal

2021 Life Logs, Day 55: Ready to Transit the Panama Canal
Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Weather: Mostly Sunny, A Little Windy; High 47, Low, 38 Degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

I spent my day in the San Blas Islands today and it was glorious. But in checking out a few things to make sure I had it right, I came across an article reporting that the Kuna Indians, an indigenous group of Panamanian people, are in the process of leaving their homes on the islands and moving to the mainland of Panama due to sea rise caused by climate change. It made me so sad to think of them losing their independent island life. And while researching, I saw that the area is no longer called the San Blas. When Mark and I were there in 2006, it was referred to both as the San Blas Islands and Kuna Yala. But in October of 2011, it became Guna Yala when the Government of Panama recognized the claim by the Kunas that ‘Guna” was a closer representation to the Kuna language. All of this piqued my curiosity as to how the Kunas gained their independence from the Panamanian government in the first place. So, I researched a little more. I learned that the Kunas had originally come from an area that is now in Columbia. In the 1600’s when the Spanish came into that area, the Kunas moved westward to the Darian region that is now in Panama. They lived there peacefully by their own laws and customs until the 1900’s when the Panamanian government moved to Westernize them. The Kuna men started wearing modern clothing, but the Kuna women refused. They have a very distinctive dress called a tulemola which is very colorful with intricately designed and embroidered panels called molas. They also wear distinctive beaded bracelets, red head scarves, and have pierced noses. An American who had taken up their cause helped them wage a revolution and in 1925 the American government intervened. Eventually the Kunas won their battle and have been allowed to live in their own region of Panama following their customs, ruling themselves, with the women still wearing their traditional clothing. In my writing today, I finally sailed away from Guna Yala, reached the Panama Canal region, and tomorrow I will write about that transit and reach the Pacific Ocean. I have been writing for a complete month now and am not even a fourth of the way through year one of The Voyage of Windbird. Last night in my log I said it would take the rest of 2021 to finish this book. I think that was not realistic. At this rate I will not get through year one until the end of May. It is quite a project. I just hope I continue to enjoy it as much as I am right now.

2021 Life Logs, Day 54: Arrival in the San Blas Islands

2021 Life Logs, Day 54: Arrival in the San Blas Islands
Date: Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Weather: Mostly Cloudy; High 41, Low, 34 Degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

The outside temperature today reached 41 degrees F, but there was a bit of wind making it feel much colder. Most of the snow has melted, so I know it wasn’t as cold as it felt. Tomorrow is windy and Thursday is even windier. Both days will be sunny or partly sunny with a high in the low 40’s. Then on Friday it will be cooler, but with very little wind. I’ll bet Friday will feel the warmest since the winds will be lower. If that’s the case, I might take the day off writing and do some preliminary gardening work. I need to do a little shopping around to find the best organic compost available. One thing I learned in the gardening docu-series I have been watching is that you need to add 2 inches of compost to your garden every year. And I also need to add biochar that helps your soil retain moisture and Azomite rock dust that adds minerals. I had never heard of biochar or Azomite. So, I have some researching to do to even find out where to purchase these things. And, yes, I also need to order seeds. But purchasing these things can be on yucky, rainy days. I’ll do the outside prep work on Friday.

I titled yesterday’s log, ‘Stuck in the Netherlands Antilles’. Today I found out the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved as a political entity in 2010, so I can longer be stuck there. Today the Caribbean islands that were part of the Netherlands Antilles remain a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The group is now commonly called the Dutch Caribbean. Who knew?

Today in my writing process, I made it to the San Blas Islands in Panama. I can’t wait until morning to write about the short but really exciting time we spent there. I’d like to think I might then get through the Panama Canal tomorrow, but that probably won’t happen until Thursday. Writing this book is a slow process. It is going to take all of 2021 to complete it. Right now, I am ignoring almost everything else in my life, but I can’t continue to do that unless I hire someone to clean my house, cook my food, do my gardening, walk my dog, and exercise for me. You get the picture. I am enjoying reliving each and every experience so much that I could literally just sit here and write non-stop. At least today I remembered to turn the lights on late in the afternoon so I wouldn’t be writing in the dark. I really don’t even notice when it gets dark, but I feel sorry for Shadow sitting in the dark wondering what in the world is wrong with me. The problem is that there were just too many wonderful experiences in The Voyage of Windbird. I know I can’t include them all, but it is difficult to decide which ones to exclude. Probably half of what I am writing now will eventually be cut, but for now I’m cramming it all in.

2021 Life Logs, Day 53: Stuck in the Netherlands Antilles

2021 Life Logs, Day 53: Stuck in the Netherlands Antilles
Date: Monday, February 22, 2021
Weather: Overcast, Then Rain; High 41, Low, 31 Degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

I’m beginning to feel like I live in two realities. One of me is immersed in sailing around the world while the other is trying to make it through a New England winter. Guess which one is having the most fun!

The weather today was a bit warmer and the snow was beginning to melt a bit. But it was a dreary, overcast day for the most part. And then late in the afternoon the rain came tumbling down. When I took Shadow out after dark, t was really yucky out. But I spent most of day ignoring the weather and sitting at the dining room table writing my way from Bonaire to Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles. Three islands in this territory are in the northern group in the Leeward Islands, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten. Bonaire and Curacao, the islands I was writing about today are in the southern group down near the coast of Venezuela. Until I started rereading my logs from our time in Bonaire, I had honestly forgotten just how much we enjoyed our time there. So, I got stuck there today writing about the place. Before I stopped writing, I at least got out of Bonaire and on to Curacao. Hopefully tomorrow I will write about leaving Curacao and heading to the San Blas Islands. We were only in the San Blas for two days, but what a special two days those were. I can’t wait to write about that experience. The Panama Canal will have to wait until Wednesday.

Today I got an email from Margaret, my daughter-in-law Jo’s mother in England and loved what she wrote about her experience in getting her Covid vaccination. I do hope she won’t mind that I quote her here. “Well, we have had our vaccinations! The aim in the U.K. was for everyone in the top 4 risk categories to have been offered one by 15th February . . . we are in group 4 which is the over 70s, although I must confess I still struggle with the idea that we are vulnerable people! And we had ours on Saturday 13th February. It was the most amazing feeling when we had had it, and for the first time in many months I started to look forward positively, rather than existing on an almost daily basis. The vaccination centre we went to is normally a village hall and was staffed by volunteers although obviously qualified staff actually gave the injections. We had seen a video on the BBC news with the actor who played the Earl of Grantham from Downton Abbey working as a volunteer … and he was there to greet us too! I think this was all part of a drive to boost take up in the vaccinations, but so far numbers have exceeded even the most optimistic expectations.” Now I want to go to England to get my Covid vaccine. I think it is fabulous that the Earl of Grantham from Downton Abbey was there to greet Margaret and Phil. We need to get more creative in the campaign to get everyone vaccinated and use some of our star power!

And speaking of star power, today I downloaded and read an article from the December 2020 edition of Yachting magazine about Windbird. Sam had an article published about the life he and Dawn have led living aboard Windbird since they bought her in 2016. And the photos were fabulous. Congratulations to Sam for getting the article published. It made me feel so proud to see that sailboat that I love so much looking so good. And it gave me even more incentive to get that book written.

2021 Life Logs, Day 52: Bright White

2021 Life Logs, Day 52: Bright White
Date: Sunday, February 21, 2021
Weather: Sunny; High 32, Low, 22 Degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

The white snow cover is still with us and with today’s bright sunshine, I had to put on my sunglasses in order to see anything on my first walk with Shadow this morning. The sun shining on the white snow was blinding, but beautiful once I had my sunglasses on and could see. I diddled away the rest of the morning, went for a lovely walk with Heather, Jed, the boys, and Shadow in the afternoon and heard all about their week of skiing and snowboarding in Maine. They had a wonderful vacation week. Heather said the house they rented was expensive, but it was worth every penny to get away, forget about work, forget about Covid, and just enjoy life. And they did. I came home and continued my writing until I realized it was absolutely dark in the house because it was already 8 pm. Yikes. Time flies when you are having fun. I got to Kralendijk, Bonaire, this evening. What a fabulous three-day passage we had from Union Island in the southern Grenadines to Bonaire. Hopefully I’ll get through the Panama Canal tomorrow.

2021 Life Logs, Day 51: Winter Wonderland

2021 Life Logs, Day 51: Winter Wonderland
Date: Saturday, February 20, 2021
Weather: Snow Overnight, Mostly Cloudy Day; High 33, Low, 20 Degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

When I took Shadow out late last night, we were welcomed by snow. And by this morning, our world looked like a winter wonderland with snow laden branches bending under the weight of the heavy snow. I think we got another inch or two of the white stuff. It is so beautiful, but those bird songs I hear on my walks with Shadow are beckoning spring. It is a long way off, but I’m hoping that at least this is the last of the snow. Shadow, on the other hand, would probably like snow all year round. He loves to dig tunnels in the snow with his nose. I don’t know what he is looking for under there, but he sure was funny looking this morning when he emerged with a white, snowy face.

I spent a bit of time this morning trying to figure out how to make an appointment for a Covid vaccine. Unfortunately, I didn’t know until Thursday evening that the 65+ group can now make appointments in Massachusetts. The announcement was made Thursday morning and almost immediately the state website crashed for a couple of hours with so many Baby Boomers trying to make an appointment. I did try yesterday with no luck, but I had gotten some advice from a member of a Newcomers group I am in and thought I’d give it another go. The advice didn’t help. All available appointments in Massachusetts are currently booked, but the websites do say to keep checking as things could change from day to day. Some people who unsuccessfully tried all day on Thursday got up at 4 am on Friday and found success. I’ll be patient and keep trying, but I must admit that this is a frustrating process.

After striking out in my attempt to get a Covid vaccine appointment, I headed out to do some chores in town. I did a little shoveling to make a path from the road down the driveway to Heather and Jed’s front door, delivered the two pans of lasagna to their refrigerator, changed the guinea pigs’ bedding and fed them, did a couple of errands in town, and drove to water plants for friends who are out of town. I didn’t get a lot of writing done today, but I certainly enjoyed rereading the logs I wrote on our three-day passage from the eastern Caribbean to Bonaire. The first night’s log was entitled, “Somebody Left the Porch Light On.” On the first night of that passage, I’ll never forget coming up to the cockpit for my first watch and searching to find what light Mark had left on. The full moon was that bright. Sailing on the ocean offers so many wonderful experiences. And today while I was watching my gardening docu-series, I was reminded of the expanse of the world’s oceans. They contain 97 percent of the water on earth. The episode today was about the importance of water to plants. Not sea water, of course. But the focus was on giving plants the water they need without wasting a drop. There was this quote by scientist Sylvia Earle, “No water, no life. No blue, no green.”

I got a text from Heather around 5:30 pm saying they were a few minutes from being home. She sent a couple of photos of the happy winter vacation crew. They shared the rental in Bethel, Maine, with the other family in their pandemic pod, the Simpkins. The five boys looked very happy, but in one photo four of the boys were pointing at Sam’s feet. He was outside and barefooted. That’s our Sam. I’ll be anxious to talk with them tomorrow to find out all about their week skiing and snowboarding and to hear the result of the lasagna cook-off.