Saturday, April 12, 2014

When It Rains It Pours

The Bay of Portobello
It’s in middle of April and I’m still in Panama, which is a beautiful place to be, but I’m not used to stay in one place for a longer time.

Before coming here, I use to hear that Panama is one of the places where dreams come to an end! Which meant that people sailed from around the world with the plan of transiting through the Canal and sail the Pacific Ocean, but many would settle here for a longer period of time.  Sailors would simply not feel ready to cross the big Pacific Ocean. Many would return to their home counties and leave their boats behind in Panama.

I’m not a superstitious person, but I think there is a unique energy in this geographical location!   

It took me three months to break off Turtle Cay Marina, which became my home and it was a little difficult to leave behind. I have to give credit and thank Yogi at Turtle Cay Marina for the reimbursement of my cost of hiring the crane.
My Turtle Cay adopted family aboard for dinner
When Earthling was splashed in water, the engine would't start, even though it started the day before on land. I took care of the starting issue, reconditioned the starter with new solenoid and so forth. Right after that I realized that the backstay terminal was cracked! With the help of friends I got a new backstay, one size bigger than the original. 
Before leaving the marina, I was confident that most things were in good shape. The engine was serviced, new belts, impeller, oil, filters, etc. But when I left the marina, right outside the channel, smoke started coming out of the engine room. For one second, I thought about returning, but then I acknowledged that I just escaped one place, so I shut the engine off, furled out the Genoa and sailed away. I checked the engine during the passage and realized that the new belt was loose, so I tied it up, but the belt was slightly damaged. At the mouth of the bay in Portobello, I started the engine and slowly motored into the anchorage, before I found a good place to anchor, the belt broke, so I anchored under sail.  

I was excited to row a shore with the brand new oars that I had made and varnished. The oars were strong and would not brake as the last one did. I rowed ashore and came back to the boat with a friend. After an hour, we noticed one oar was gone!

Once a new belt was in place, we went out for trial sail. As we were entering the anchorage to Playa Blanca, I recognized there was very little water coming out of the exhaust, the engine started overheating! Once again, we had to anchor under sail. 

Now, the belt issue is straightened out. I order a new oar from the same Indian gentleman. But I still got water circulation issues. This morning I realized there is water in the oil! For some reason the water is blocked in the system. I really hope I can repair everything sooner than later and get the engine going so I can sail away to new destinations.   

Playa Blanca
Dinner Party
 On April 1st as everybody in the marina were celebrating a staff’s birthday, a boat got caught on fire. The celebration ended quickly with tragedy. The Catamaran was burning fast and there was nothing anybody could do. The fire distinguishers were not operating and the water pressure was too low to put out the fire. Everybody stood around and watched the French Catamaran burn till it sank. The owners were devastated! Luckily nobody got hurt!

Johannes's Birthday  
Sad Moment
     

Love from Panama

Friday, March 21, 2014

Happy Norouz Persian Kitty

Since the recent time I visited Iran, I’ve been wanting to write about the Persian Kitty. Today is Norouz and a perfect time! Norouz is the Iranian New Year, which takes place on the first day of spring and it’s a secular holiday celebrated by many. Norouz means literally a “New Day”
"Hafsin" is the traditional table for Norouz, which contains seven items that start on the letter "S"
There is a cat in the Middle East called the Persian Kitty. Persia is the former name of Iran, which was officially changed in 1935. However, the citizens of Iran prefer to go by as Persians. Especially since Iran has not had the best impression in the world community in a few decades! The map of Iran looks like a cat! Persian cats are well known as well as the Persian rugs, and the Persian Gulf! 
The Map of Iran, on the top left corner is the head of the cat, on the right bottom corner is the tale, the cat is resting on the Persian Gulf
In the world today, media has a large influence on our minds. Entities like governments and corporations are capable of programming us through media. Wise citizens should not let propaganda affect their minds, people are the same all around the world, in general we are all citizens of this planet and our planet is just a small corn in the universe. We have different ways of doing things and we think different, we look different, and our social environment have programmed us a certain way, that doesn't mean that one is better than another!

Inside Iran is not as bad as it's presented worldwide. Living standard is as high as many other developed counties but there are some restrictions. There is a lack of freedom, freedom of speech, thought, clothing, and certainly, political view. Inflation has been a problem because of sanctions. But the sanctions has forced Iran to become self sufficient.

Every country has a role in the world. There are about 200 countries and Iran is by population and size around the 18th biggest nation. Our world is striving to become ONE and all counties must join sooner or later! The fight for freedom and equality is going on in all corners of the world. Our planet is craving for an unified intellectual system. Ultimately the natural resources must be distributed balanced between the nations and people of the world. No individual nation should be allowed to have fully control of the world resources and it's distribution. Today we have to take down walls and build bridges. Because the world must become ONE. 

I have recognized more freedom in Iran in the recent years. Women let their scarfs fall on their shoulders while driving and there are less appearance restrictions. It seems as the new president is opening the doors to the west world. Lets all hope together that freedom and human rights take place peacefully in all the counties. Human life is valuable and humanity should be at a place where we solve issues without loosing people.

During Norouz people give money to each other as a gift. I remember as a kid,  excitedly gathering money during Norouz. Today, I got a deposit to my account for the same amount I paid last week to get my boat in water from two kind people in Panama!  

The nature in Iran is spectacular; four season climate make the land change color several times a year. Pictures are better than thousand words. Enjoy these sceneries of Iran. 

Alborz Mountains cover in snow in the beginning of Spring
A village in the middle of Alborz Mountains
Alborz Mountains outside Tehran
More Alborz Mountains
The Capital of Iran "Tehran"
"Kelar Dasht" is a small town on the Northern Iran

A street in Tehran
On the road to the Caspian Sea
Alborz Mountains view in Spring
The road through the Alborz Mountains
Stone Hills outside the City of Mashhad, Northwestern Iran
The Rocky Hills in Mashhad's outskirts
An old rest stop on the Silk Road
Canyons on the Silk Road
Rolly Hills on the Silk Road

More Unique Mountains
A view of Tehran in Spring
More Mountains on the silk road
A typical Persian nut store

Blossoming Apple Trees in Spring
Traditional Historic Estate in Kashan
Another View of Tehran
Traditional Historic Estate in Kashan
Pistachio Trees
The town "Lahijan" by Caspian Sea on the Northern Iran
One View of the Ancient city of Tabriz
A view of Tehran from the top of the Mountains
Iranian Woman
Recently discovered "Ghale Rudkhaan" located on the Northern Iran
Fort "Rudkhan"


The Forest of Wind (Jangale Bad)

Karaj Dam


The scenic "Chalus Route" through Alborz Mountains
The Bazaar in Tehran
And my lovely parents
 
Happy Norouz and Love from the Persian Kitty
 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Three Full Moons are the Charm

Earthling Getting Launched
Finally Earthling got launched and it feels great to be floating. Last season she was launched in Grenada right before Christmas and this season launched a few days before the Persian New Year, “Norouz”. The fifth leg of this sailing adventure is about to start, although it's much later than previous years, but I’m still feeling fortunate to live and experience this lifestyle. The agenda for this leg is to sail Northbound. First to San Andres and Providencia, followed by the Islands off Honduras, then Rio Dulce in Guatemala, and then Belize. I have to be back to Chicago for summer and the Mackinac race in July and I would feel bad to store my boat on the hard somewhere in the tropics again! Boats stored unattended in the heat and rain simply can get destroyed. Therefore, if everything goes well, I am contemplating to sail back to the U.S. by end of this season. The previous legs are as following; the first leg started in Chicago and ended in Florida through various rivers and the intercostal waterway. Second leg started in Florida to the Virgin Islands through the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. Third leg was from the Virgin Islands to Grenada through the Leeward and Windward nations/Islands. And the fourth one came true from Grenada to Panama through Trinidad, quaint Venezuelan Islands, Colombia, and the San Blas Islands. I would have liked to visit Bocas Del Toro Islands in Panama as well, but there is no more time left for Panama.  

I will always remember the stress and trouble I had to go through in this Marina to get my boat back in water. Yesterday was full moon and my third full moon here at Turtle Cay Marina; it took three of them to get Earthling in water! 
Turtle Cay Marina have charged boaters for haul out and launch, but they refused to launch the remaining boats. The boat owners had to pay from pocket and hire a private crane company to launch our boats. This marina is located in a very peaceful place but it’s lacking intelligent management system! Bathrooms are rarely running, Internet gets disconnected constantly, it doesn’t have laundry, and it’s far away from stores without a consistent reliable transportation. But it’s the closest marina to the San Blas (Kuna Yala) and it’s a great stop before hitting the Panama Canal. The only person that knows how to run this place is the harbor master, Yogi. He has been a cruiser for many years and is experienced and can assist you with your needs.
 
Illusion was the biggest boat to get launched first, without the input of her owners, I would have still been on land
Uli's boat almost took the new bathroom roof down, that would have been funny :-)

Celebrating the Diablo Festivities, Yogi in the center along with Uli and Toti
People perform in different Diablo costume
Water tanks spray over people as they are dancing
The music setup in Nombre De Dios

Diablos signify the Spaniards

Not sure about this one

Diablos whip people as if they were slaves
The Monkey Family at Turtle Cay Marina
The true settlers of Turtle Cay Marina park :-)

I’m floating but nothing is better than being on the hook. At anchor you are within harmony of nature. That’s the real cruising! 

Love from Panama