SO STOKED! I (Dito) am a longtime Survivor fan, so when we came to the Perlas Islands, my antenna cameup to try and figure out where they shot the 2000 season (Exile Island, Las Perlas). The guidebook and rumor said they shot Survivor on Mogo Mogo, which is a smallish island that didn't make much sense to me, except for immunity and reward challenges, possibly. . We explored the northernmost islands for the past week, then came back to cell phone range in Contadora (northern, developed island). Last night I found episodes from the Perlas survivor season on YouTube, and started scanning for clues to locations. . I knew things would have changed. It's been 20 years, plus the tidal shifts around here are 15-20 feet, making things constantly different. . Also complicating things were the tribe names: Casaya, Mina, Viveros, and Bayoneta (they started the season with four tribes and quickly merged to two). All those tribe names also happen to be the names of islands that are within five miles of each other. We spent many of the past fourteen days at Casaya, Bayoneta, and Viveros. . I searched satellite images and the cruising guides in vain last night, then went to bed without finding a match for any of the main beaches. . I woke up this morning at 6 am with a bolt of inspiration. What if our favorite anchorage was one of the merged tribes beaches? I remembered seeing a distinctive rock in the background of one of the shots of Cerie, from the Casaya tribe. I pulled up drone footage I shot on the island, and...voila! . We hung out on that small island for two and a half days, one of which we spent with another family boat. We chilled under a rad tree in the corner of the beach and watched the kids build a massive Crabitat for hermit crabs in the sand. I tried to walk around the entire island but got stumped by cliffs at the last turn. Zoe and I kayaked together to a few hidden beaches. . I know it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things but for a guy who enjoyed the show, it's pretty rad.
Kicking it in the Perlas Islands! Note the twenty foot tide:)
Tracked vocals for our new theme song today. Gearing up for new video episodes:)
HAPPY NEW YEAR! I’m proud to say that, more often than not, 2019 brought out the best in our crew. So much about happiness is determined by expectations and if this trip has taught us anything, it’s to lower our expectations (just kidding. I started that sentence and the end made me laugh, so I’m keeping it. Interpret it how you will). To all our family, friends, supporters, cheerleaders, and silent well-wishers, thank you for being in our lives. 2019 has been Rad to the Extreme and we're stoked to see what 2020 has in store! Thanks for coming with us.
Feliz Navidad from our crew to yours! We hope you have an amazing holiday with great memories and abundant joy! Thanks for being in our lives.
I could show you photos of Panama City's ENORMOUS Albrook Mall in full Christmas swing. Or I could show you photos of us getting attacked by mascots at different entrances.
Panama Canal transit (2/2)! A few more shots from the adventure. I'm glad we crossed the first locks at night, so the daylight crossing felt totally different. . Although, each lock is a unique experience regardless. There are so many variables at play: 1. How are you going to chamber? Center chamber with four lines? Are you rafting up, and if so, in what formation? Are you going sidewall? 2. What are the currents doing? Going up, they are relatively gentle. Going down, they get intense and make rafting a challenge. 3. Are your lines and fenders tended well? Lines break sometimes, to destructive results. Also, our pilot was happy to share horror stories about terrible accidents that happened in the past when people didn't pay attention. . We did most of our locks as the outermost vessel on a three-boat raft that was tied sidewall, which means a fishing trawler managed their lines to the wall while a racing sailboat was tied to them, with us tied to the racing sailboat. The pluses of the arrangement were that once we rafted up in each lock, our responsibilities were limited. The minuses were watching the guy handling the line on the trawler's bow while reading on his cell phone at the same time. Three vessels and possibly a host of lives were at the whim of his short attention span. . But, we made it! Mom and Dad were thrilled to pass under the Bridge of the Americas in Balboa. In many ways they've come full circle. Forty-five years ago, they lived in Balboa. This is where they bought their first boat and learned how to sail. It's going to be fun exploring their old haunts for a few days before we head for the Perlas Islands!
Panama Canal transit (1/2)! Our run started at 630 pm and ended in Gatun Lake at 10 pm. Then a 6 am start had us across the lake, in the locks, and in the Pacific Ocean by 2 pm!
The Zapatillas lived up to their reputation! Excellent snorkeling and lovely beaches. We waited until the day tourists left the beach then went ashore to frolic, only to be approached by a man from the Turtle Conservation group. Would you like to see a nest of hawksbill turtles hatch? . ABSOLUTELY WE WOULD! . Zapatilla #1 has 450 nests on it this year. Zapatilla #2 has 5,000 nests. . The eggs hatch after 70 days, so the man keeps track of what's happening on a spreadsheet. He's a pretty busy guy. . This hatch contained 140 turtles. They are incredible little guys. It's a free for all with their siblings to climb into the air, then they follow the light into the water. They know how to swim from the instant the first wave sweeps them into the ocean. . The kids loved seeing the little turtles truck across the sand. A turtle hatching was on my bucket list, so smiles all round. . What a privilege to witness! Bocas del Toro is a wonderful destination, but today we leave for Escudo de Veraguas, 30 miles away. Stoked to see even more of what Panama has to offer!
Zapatillas! Thanks to rainy season, we are hanging out here by ourselves (not counting the Armada of day tours who swing through for a few hours). Lovely place, reminiscent of South Pacific islands. Ironically, after more than a few days of rain and dirty harbot water, we spend a lot of time doing laundry, scrubbing the hills, and boat maintenance:) But when that's done, we party. Today the girls and I drug behind the boat on a rope for some high velocity coral snorkeling (or as dad calls it, trolling for sharks - a name I didn't bother sharing with the kids). Finally busted out the kayaks too and found a couple of waves to surf. We are a bit more remote here, which means cell reception is sketchy. I'm super cheap and unwilling to pay the five dollars to charge my data plan so I'm hot spotting off mom's phone to upload this. We shall see if it gets through.
Bocas del Toro is blowing our minds! What a lovely place. Once we got away from Bocas Town and listened to advice from locals, we had a plethora of adventures. . Dolphin Bay is aptly named for it's role as a dolphin nursery. We spun the boat in the nautical equivalent of donuts in a parking lot and the dolphins danced in our bow waves. . Sarah and I rowed our dinghy out to race three Panamanian school children who were paddling their cayuco four miles across an open bay to get to school. The language barrier didn't matter once I said, Tres...Dos...Uno....Arriba! (I drew on Speedy Gonzalez cartoons for race appropriate vocabulary). Needless to say, the three children smoked me as I flailed about with oars. They never said much, but smiled a ton and someday they will tell their grandchildren about Los Gringos Rapidos. . Also enjoyed a most unusual snorkel site in a mangrove, where hundreds of sea anemones dot the reef and plant roots. It's spooky and otherworldly swimming amongst the mangroves.
Two years ago TODAY, Dad and I loaded up and drove from KY to FL to refit the boat in two to three months. We finished the first refit seven months later. Then Dad's gall bladder exploded so I pulled the boat back out of the water. Then he healed. Then Sarah and I worked and saved and sold our house. Then we repainted the hulls because the antifouling had failed. Then we put the boat back in the water. Then we lived in a marina while getting engines sorted. Then, four days before departure, Dad fell and broke his hip. Then he recovered off the boat for ten weeks. Then we left and hit the Bahamas, Panama, and Cartagena. . Today we are anchored in Dolphin Bay, Bocas Del Toro, Panama. We spent the morning hanging out with a large pod of dolphins. We snorkeled amongst the largest garden of anemone I've ever seen. . It's been a long road, but well worth it. In the next few months we hope to cross the Panama Canal, explore the west side of Panama, jump to the Galapagos, then hit the milk run across the Pacific. . It all started with this photo.