Logbook: January 2016 - December 2017

19 March 2017 (original German post 7 March 2017)

A visit with jaguar and company

As always, time has been flying. Many things have occurred. I'll keep first things first and summarize recent events in order.

Despite our best planning, I recently found myself with a tourist visa for Panama that was about to expire. We had wanted to renew our visas by flying to Ecuador and Peru for our Amazon film. Since we hadn't finished all our preparations for this trip, we only flew to Peru. To Iquitos.

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Iquitos can only be reached by boat or by air plane. We planned to get shots of the animals living in the Amazon. For this, we visited the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm and Animal Orphanage. Gudrun, the owner of the orphanage, has a large heart for both small and large animals. Hence, the eco-police keep bringing more orphaned animals to her. Animals, whose parents were killed by poachers.

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The animals get the opportunity for a new start. The goal of the center is to release as many orphaned animals as possible back into the wild. The orphanage is not a petting zoo! However, Gudrun did allow us to enter the enclosures to film the animals. “But please don't touch any animals.” We kept to the rules. Some of the animals, on the other hand, didn't...

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Yesterday evening we gave an improvised presentation about our trip. A short film clip will also soon be available.


After our Pilpintuwasi presentation yesterday, just as Laura and I wanted to get something to eat, someone came in in a rush and asked “Where can I find someone from the marina? There's a boat sinking outside, in front of the marina – with 5 people on board!” I took the handheld VHF radio that was pressed into my hand and coordinated the response. Kudos to the other sailors who helped out. Everything worked perfectly. No discussions. Lenny had his dinghy ready to go within 3 minutes, I was been given a handheld VHF radio and a flashlight to use, and we were underway. In the meantime, Laura notified Carlos, a local marina employee who is always ready to go. Carlos came with the marina dinghy to help out.

Fifteen minutes later we had safely rescued 5 people and 1 cat. The shipwrecked sailors were offered places to sleep in various boats in the marina.

Due to the wave conditions and the darkness at night, the boat could not be taken off the reef immediately. Hopefully we can pull the boat off the reef and get it out of the water today.

More news will follow soon.

- Thorsten

2 May 2016

Small boat on a big journey

The boats of the clients at Shelter Bay Marina vary greatly in their size. At the moment, a 173 foot (50 meter) long yacht is planning to spend its yard period in Shelter Bay Marina. But much smaller boats also put in a stop here. Such as Birgit from Germany, with her 22 foot (7 m) long boat Poco Loco. After Birgit made it through the Panama Canal on her second attempt, the next small sailboat was already here. The American Donna Lange stopped at Shelter Bay Marina with her boat Inspired (In)sanity. At 28 feet, Inspired Insanity is only a little longer than Poco Loco. The big difference between the two boats is that Inspired Insanity doesn't have any type of auxiliary engine. Since sailing is not allowed within the area of the Panama Canal, Donna needed a little help to leave the marina. Shelter Bay showed a big heart for small boats and offered Donna the use of its dinghy with a 50 hp outboard to tow her out.

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Laura in conversation with circumnavigator Donna Lange.

Since Laura and I wanted to document the departure of the engine-less solo circumnavigator anyway, we volunteered to be towboat captains. During the 30-minute trip through the harbour and out of the breakwater, Donna told us about her adventures in the South Pacific. Once outside the breakwater we found a light breeze, so that Donna set her sails and made her way between the large freighters anchored in front of the Panama Canal and through to the open sea. We waved goodbye and watched a little wistfully as the little boat with the big plans sailed away.

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Donna in her element – open ocean, a little wind... what more can you want? Next planned stop: Rhode Island, USA

Speaking of plans...

what are our plans? After our plans were upset this past autumn due to the assault and theft of our computers, we are organising ourselves again here at Shelter Bay Marina. We have to re-film some of the lost shots for our Running Downwind series. And we also have to make preparations for our film production in the rainforest of Ecuador. We have to finalize the shot list, plan the financing, apply for a film permit and then plan the trip to Ecuador. We will probably return to the jungle in approximately six weeks. After that comes the post-production. The third part of our Running Downwind series also has to be finished. So we have lots to do! At the end of this year or the beginning of next year we will go into the Pacific with our Corinthian.

- Thorsten

13 April 2016

Thorsten wrote several entries in German within the past month about our experiences in Panama, but I didn't manage to keep up with the translations into English. Here they all are at once, from the most recent on Apr. 4 (An athletic weekend) to the oldest one from Mar. 17 (Recently in Panama). Enjoy!

- Laura

4 April 2016

An athletic weekend - bicycle tour and soccer

We had basically already planned to do it sometime - a bicycle tour to nearby Fort San Lorenzo. But the fort won't run away. Last Saturday (i.e. Apr. 2) our friends from the German boats Fajo and Infinity said that they were planning to bike there. That was the kick in the guts that we needed to leave our work behind and get on our bikes. We made it only as far as the entrance to the Fort San Lorenzo National Park before we had our first break. A tame coatimundi approached us curiously and wanted - of course - something to eat. The park ranger gave us a few slices of bread to feed to the little guy.

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Who has the bigger nose, Thorsten or the coati? To reach a bit of free food, the coati (right) performs tricks.

We continued 8 km through the rainforest to the old fort, which once guarded the entrance to the Rio Chagres.

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Fort San Lorenzo, with the Rio Chagres in the background.

A day earlier Laura could match up with international soccer players. Two teams with players from Panama, Colombia, Venezuela and Canada played each other. Laura, as an enthusiastic old soccer player, was in the middle of the action.

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Now Laura is on the ball. Attack on the small goal (in the background).

They were playing for nothing, the goals were the size of ice hockey goals, and the field was at most a third the length of a regular FIFA field. But everyone enjoyed themselves and had lots of fun.

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Even Messi (10) couldn't stop Laura - the goal and opponent Christian are lying (destroyed) on the ground.

I joined in for the cake eating afterwards, as my contribution to global cooperation.

- Thorsten

27 March 2016

First of all, happy Easter! Cable fire and canal work

Recently, we treated ourselves to a short holiday - one time through the Panama Canal, helping our friends on board Tignanello through the locks. But it turned out that we couldn't sit back and relax the entire time. When the advisor came on board in the anchorage before the canal and we wanted to get going, the anchor windlass of Tignanello didn't want to work. With combined efforts we pulled the chain and anchor up by hand. A working anchor windlass is important in the Pacific, so I took a multimeter and tried to find the source of the problem. We re-wired the solenoid and voilà , the windlass sprang back to life.

Tignanello in the locks

Night shift in the canal - Laura, Willem and Remco keep the lines tight while the water shoots into the lock.

Now we're safely back on board Corinthian. Shelter Bay Marina is slowly becoming emptier and we have a little more time. We're working on several projects. Preparations are running for filming in Ecuador and Peru. Our shortwave radio needs to be repaired, the seals on the watermaker need to be replaced, and there are a few other little things to take care of.

Speaking of little things - two days ago an unwanted Easter fire gave us a fright in the early hours of the morning. Approximately half a year ago, we equipped our boat with several 12 V fans. In order to hook them up to electricity, I installed an old 12 V double plug socket that I had on hand.

This temporary solution was so good that we forgot about installing a permanent solution. When we wanted to turn on the fans in a completely calm, windless night 2 days ago, the fans didn't want to start. Laura quickly found the reason. "It smells burnt here" she said in the calm, toneless voice of a sports commentator. Then, "The socket is smoking," already an octave higher. Another second later, "The socket is burning!" I couldn't take much time to admire the small orange flame. I pulled heartily on the wire. The plastic had already reached the consistency of chocolate on a hot summer day, so the burning wire came out without much resistance. I blew on the little flame and the fire went out.

Burnt 12V plug socket

Smoking forbidden - since the 12 V outlet didn't stick to the rules, it's high time to get rid of it.

I can vaguely remember that I originally removed the 12 V outlet because I didn't consider it be completely safe anymore. Maybe Laura is right that we should install smoke detectors...

- Thorsten

17 March 2016

Recently in Panama

On a steel thread

I only wanted to climb up our neighbours' mast to quickly change their windex (the masthead wind angle indicator). The mast already seemed a little shaky to me on the way up. When I reached the top, I noticed right away that 7 of the 19 individual wires of the the forestay (the steel wire that prevents the mast from falling to the back) were rusted through. With my weight at the top of the mast, the gap in the wire widened before my eyes. Thankfully Laura let me down again quickly.

By now, we have changed the forestay and Gymnopedies has set sail. We wish her crew fair winds.

On the rocks

It began in November. Laura and I were in Germany, driving from Berlin to Kiel, when my cell phone rang. Phone call from Panama. Christian, the owner of the 16 m X-yacht Danish Blue, had run aground on a reef that wasn't in the charts. After spending a night on the reef, the boat was pulled off the reef and hauled out of the water at Shelter Bay Marina. Both the rudder and the keel were damaged.

After an odyssey of two months, during which various experts all gave their opinions at the various stages, but during which no real progress was made, Christian had had enough. He asked me for help. Together the two of us got the boat back into a seaworthy condition and into the water.

But Christian's bad luck would continue. The new rigging that was shipped from the USA didn't fit, and the crew had to improvise. Vibe, crew member and Christian's partner, knocked on our boat the night before they planned to leave. She asked if we had any 4 mm stainless steel screws. I found 11 screws and gave them to her with the solemn words "In Germany they cost a few cents, but here in Panama they're irreplaceable. Bring whatever you don't need back." Before Danish Blue left, Christian gave me eleven 4 mm screws, just a little longer than the original ones.

We wish Christian, Vibe and the rest of the crew of Danish Blue fair winds and, as they say in German, always a hand's width of water under the keel.

Lazy animals and diligent hikers

Besides doing boat repairs, there are also other ways to spend your time in the area around Shelter Bay Marina. Laura went for an early-morning birdwatching walk together with other cruisers. Eagle-eye Laura spotted not a feathered friend, but rather a furry tree inhabitant - a sloth mom with baby who was trying her best to look like a termite's nest.

Sloth in the tree

Laura's sloths. Well-camouflaged, they look like a round ball in the branches.

A sloth mom and baby

Here you can see mom and baby.

- Thorsten

11 January 2016

Happy New Year (and merry very belated Christmas) from Panama. We are still in Shelter Bay Marina, where we are replenishing our depleted cruising kitty (i.e. finances/budget).

At this point we'd like to say thank you once more to everyone who supported us in any way after the robbery. We have replaced our stolen camera and received an old netbook as a donation. And there was some money left to put towards Laura's new used Mac.

A trip through the Panama Canal is a welcome change to the day-to-day life and work in the marina. We often have the opportunity to go through the Canal on another sailboat as line handlers. Here are a few impressions:


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While we are waiting for our advisor in the Flats Anchorage, I pass the time by experimenting with our new camera.


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An old acquaintance – Monte Cervantes in the port of Colon. I worked on the construction of this ship about 10 years ago in Korea.


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It's already dark when we enter the first Gatun lock. We join a Chinese hospital ship in the lock.


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Morning on Lake Gatun. Swimming is forbidden – there are large crocodiles in the lake. Everything that's forbidden is especially fun…


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Four of these small locomotives steer the ship through the locks.


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On the right a life raft for 8 people. The Canal isn't so wide, but what was that about crocodiles?


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The visitor's tower at the Miraflores locks. As the only yacht, we are the center of attention for the tourists – and vice versa.


- Thorsten

Other logbook entries

Here you can find all our other logbook entries:

Current logbook (2018)

January 2016 - December 2017

January - December 2015

Year 2014 in review

January - December 2014

October - December 2013

February - September 2013