28 June 2013

Sloth Hunt!

Dear Ean....

I went to dinner at Mi Ranchito with Heather and Ron (s/v Sundancer) and Jill and Matthew (s/v Rock and Roll Star).  Back to the scene of the crime, so to speak.... But I'm proud to tell you that - this time - when Heather suggested a second bottle of wine, I Just. Said. No.  And having said no to Bottle #2, the question of Bottle #3 never came up.  Phew!  We had the kind of conversation that I know you would have enjoyed, so it made me miss you: we talked about trash and plastic and human impact and evolution, and many other Topics of Great Importance.

When we walked back from el restaurante, it was black dark.  A beautiful night.  We were walking towards the Smithsonian gate, just about to take a left into the marina's parking lot.  (Here's what it looks like during the day: did you ever notice those cables overhead?)

This is the cable that the "night sloths" were hanging on.
 When Jill pointed up, I couldn't process what I was seeing at first.  Big indistinct blobs hanging from what I knew to be the overhead cable.

But then the "blobs" became "sloth blobs."  I didn't have the camera - to my great regret. We continued walking to the dinghy dock, slid down the ramp (supermoon low)....  Then I dinghied back to the boat, grabbed the camera, dinghied back to shore, hiked back up the dinghy dock ramp, walked across the parking lot - and there they were, of course.  "Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close up.  But I'm not coming down, so use the zoom, 'kay?"  

Lesson learned: I don't think this will work with OTHER types of wildlife - but with sloths, if you forget your camera, don't worry - they'll still be there when you get back.  Note to self: Carry camera constantly.

This Night Sloth Sighting, of course, reactivated my sloth obsession.  Remember the sloth in Shelter Bay Marina?

Bradypus variegates, or, a three-toed sloth

I've been poring over and completely engrossed by the website of the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica... when you get home, let's start planning our little "overland" trip to Boquete and Costa Rica, shall we?  

Anyway, remember the mysterious markings on the Shelter Bay Sloth's back?  I read about it on the website: it is, indeed a Mystery.  They call it the "Male Patch Mystery."  While I was engaged with Sloth Sleuthing, I also discovered that the video of the baby sloth and the flower - remember that one? - was actually taken at the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica.  Can I just point out, that the woman who took the video must have been on the "Insider" tour, because I don't think you get to go in to the nursery and the "Slothpital" if you just take the plain old boring (cheap) "Buttercup" tour?  I'm just sayin'.

The next day, about an hour before sunset, I decided to go on a Sloth Hunt.  Excellent timing, as it turned out - superhigh!  So I piled all the trash into the dinghy and took advantage of the auspicious ramp sitch.  Sloth Hunt AND Trash Run - see how I'm multi-tasking?  I even brought in the two gallons of waste oil that had been sitting around in the cockpit for a month.  

In the big tree just behind and to the right of the dumpster (can you picture it?), I found this guy.  (And you know when I say "guy" I don't mean that it was actually a male sloth; I'm using "guy" in that generic, ungendered way.  Two-toed sloths don't have "male patches," so no clues there.)

Choloepus hoffmani, or, two-toed sloth
Dude's got an itch.  So he stretches his leg out, and - ahhhh, those claws are good for scratching those itches.  On the Sloth Sanctuary website, they actually call them "fingers," not toes.  Both types of sloths have three "toes" on their back legs, but the two types differ in how many "fingers" they have on their front legs (arms?).  Yep, that's me: a fount of knowledge.  Seriously, check out the website.  More than you would EVER want to know about sloths, written by people who LOVE LOVE LOVE sloths.

Still itchy, can't quite reach... yeah, that's the ticket.  Life is good.

After a bit more scratching and stretching, he's apparently ready to get on with his evening.  Off he goes; back to the trunk, where he will catch onto another, higher branch and make his way further up into the tree.  The picture's a bit blurry, because he was moving so fast.  Just kidding.  The lighting was challenging for our little point-and-shoot.

I walked across the parking lot, half-way hoping to find those same sloths still hanging from the overhead cables... but at some point in the intervening 18 hours, they had made off to greener pastures (that would be TREES, presumably).

I found this "guy" just 8 feet off the ground, nestled into a comfortable hammock of intersecting tree branches.

Close to sunset, now, and and I was pointing the camera into the depths of the tree, so the flash went off.  He showed his dismay by blinking, slowly, in my direction.  "Dude. [blink] Not. [blink] Cool."  So I apologized and left him to it.

There it is: all the news that's fit to be digitized.  Reporting live from Slothsville.

XXOO, Jane

P.S. I know you think I'm a little crazy, about the whole Sloth Love thing.  But you don't know nothin'.  Watch this video, which is a clip of Kristen Bell (she's an actess - you don't know her - never mind) talking with Ellen DeGeneres about her Sloth Meltdown.  Kristen Bell's Sloth Meltdown.  She is crazier than I am.  Be relieved.  (Rebecca from s/v Summertime Rolls sent me this video.  Isn't facebook fabulous??!!!)

P.P.S. It hasn't escaped me, of course, that this is our 200th blog post.  I thought you'd be jumping all over it, the chance to do #200, since you were so gung-ho about writing #100.  But, sorry!  You were TOOOOOOO SSSLLLOOOOOOOWWWWW.  Sort of like a sloth, come to think about it.

26 June 2013

Plain Jane, the non-cruiser

Dear Ean,

For the past couple of days it's been SUPER here in La Playita.  Get it, SUPER?  As in, the SUPERmoon?  Here for your enjoyment are pictures of the dinghy dock ramp at a supermoon high and a supermoon low.  You have to guess which is which.  S/v Pi just dinghied past, saying they were going to do their final pre-canal-crossing provision.  I wonder if they remembered, about the supermoon low.

Ever since we decided to quit cruising, I find myself, in various moments, imagining: what would a “normal” (land-lubber, first-world, not-too-terribly-adventurous) person think of this particular aspect of the cruising life?  Would a "normal" person be paying attention to super highs and super lows?

I was messing around with the dinghy this morning – climbing up on the arch, pulling one drain plug and unscrewing the other, replacing both plugs, jumping into the engine compartment to flip the breaker to the dinghy lift motor, lowering the dinghy and unclipping the lift cable, securing the lift cable to one of our stanchions so it wouldn’t rock ‘n roll ‘n bang in the constant swell.  Later, when I sat down with a bowl of cereal, I realized that I had a little blood dribbling down my arm.

You’re not here, and I can only spend so many hours on facebook, so I have to talk to myself.  In an effort to make talking to myself more entertaining, I carry on imaginary conversations between Sailor Jane and a hypothetical “normal” Jane – let’s call her “Plain Jane.”

Here’s how the conversation went, this morning.
Plain Jane:  Aaarggh!  I’m bleeding!!!

Sailor Jane:  Pffft.  Barely.

PJ: When did this happen?  Was it the edge of the engine compartment?  That sharp hinge? Or the corner of the solar panel?  A stray strand from the lift cable?  What happened?  Why did this happen?  Who let this happen?

SJ:  It’s a boat, wussy.  A bit a blood.  Bound to happen.

PJ: What should I do?  I’ve got to clean the wound, so I can see how bad it is.  All this blood, I can’t even see the actual wound.  Is it a puncture?  A scratch?  A cut?  I think there’s too much blood for it to be just a scratch.  I think it’s deep.  Am I up to date on my tetanus shot?  It’s my LEFT arm, OMG, I’m left-handed, what if it gets infected.  I COULD LOSE MY ARM!

SJ: Yer cereal is gonna get all soggy if you start some big “wound-cleaning” program.

PJ:  Well… that’s true… I hate soggy cereal.


PJ: I’m going to get out the first aid kit now.   I’ll wash all the blood off, check it out.  Didn’t we buy some sort of antibacterial wound cleaner stuff?  And then a bit of antibiotic ointment.   I could use that gauze stuff and the sticky tape, but how am I going to wrap that around my arm without help?  Maybe I should go over and get Paul from s/v Pi.  What was his wife’s name again?  Maybe she has some medical experience; she’s very friendly, anyway.  She would probably take good care of me.

SJ: Huh.  [eye rolling]

PJ: Well, maybe it’s not that bad.  At least it’s not bleeding anymore.   I won’t use the gauze roll, I’ll just use a couple of regular Band-aids… I'm sure it will clean up nicely - I'll probably find that the cut itself isn't that big.

SJ: That blood has already congealed – if you wash it off, you’ll start bleeding again.

PJ: OMG I don’t want to lose any more blood... I think I’m getting faint…..

Honey, don’t worry.  I am, after all, up-to-date on my tetanus shot.  And I cleaned the blood off the settee.  It’s all good.  I AM a cruiser, after all.  Tough as barnacles.


P.S.  Here's a good link: What is a supermoon?

21 June 2013

Ean Has Fun While Jane Has None

Dear Ean,  Thanks very much for your live(ly) report and the reminder that you are off having fun (and showers and cable TV) while I am having none.  Here is MY report.

Picked up the new Raymarine control head from Air Facility yesterday - only $27 for shipping/handling and customs - how cool is that?  Had a couple of drinks with Rick at the Balboa Yacht Club, talking about how unlikely it is that we will actually get the control head installed sans hitches.  Oh, yes, there will be hitches, Rick warns.  You know how he is - ever the optimist.  But if you're lucky, the hitches will be unhitched before you get back.  

Steal THIS, panga-gang!
Then I had a couple of drinks with Ron and Heather, and I think I must have seemed a little pathetic, so Heather encouraged me to ramble on at great length about my Navy days - ha.  I mentioned about the drinks, right?

Shared a taxi from Balboa back to La Playita with an Aussie couple - they were headed for pizza night at La Eskinita.  They're staying on a mooring at Balboa, they told me, because they think it's a tad bit unsafe down here- four dinghies stolen from Las Brisas! Don't ask me about the fourth dinghy - I think it's just the cruisers' coconut telegraph, telescoping the bad news from the wrong side of the tracks causeway.

So, home sweet home!  I had a healthy dinner: some chocolate chip cookie dough and una copa de vino blanco con es-SKWIR ( that's a glass of wine with Squirt - in case you've forgotten all your espaƱol, now that you're in los estados unidos).  And then I went to bed.  But I didn't actually go to bed.  I was feeling a bit creeped out, I have to admit, being ALL ALONE out here.  And no way to raise the dinghy by myself.   I not only locked up the dinghy - I actually locked the door.  I even closed some random sea cocks, to ensure that the boat would remain afloat, and tried to check our anchor waypoint, to make sure we hadn't dragged.  Yes, it's true that we haven't budged from this spot for months - but still.  Then I realized that we put the waypoint not on the chartplotter, but on your iPad, which you are probably using to read this blog post, over yonder in los estados unidos.  So will you check it for me?  Have we dragged?  

New dinghy lift motor: fun, fun, fun all the time!
Finally fell asleep at about about three in the morning, after a fearsome lightning storm and lots of rain.  I slept with the fan running, even though it wasn't hot, after all the rain.  I wanted the white noise to cover up the sound of the panga quietly approaching the boat... of the swimmer slipping into the water and boarding JOY to cut the dinghy free so it could drift off.. of the panga picking up the swimmer and putting the dinghy under tow, once safely away.... None of that actually happened of course. But I'm going to thank Heather, when I see her, for all this helpful imagery about how dinghies get stolen here in Panama.

Tonight, though: no worries about the dinghy.  Juan and his amigo (did you catch that guy's name?) have finished installation of our shiny brand new dinghy lift motor.  The dinghy, as I live and breathe, is High and Dry.  Steal THIS, panga-gang. 

So... All is well on JOY... except... the cats miss you.  Not enough humans here to serve their needs.

20 June 2013

Dear Jane

Affordable luxury in the heart of Ft. Lauderdale
[If you're here to BABSAM (Buy a Boat, Save a Marriage), please click here.]  

I've only just arrived today and already there is so much to report I hardly know where to begin!

First of all, let me just say that America is every bit as exciting as I remembered!! And the people are so friendly!!!

On the plane, I met the nicest young man, born in Honduras, raised in Panama of Palestinian descent with an American name and perfect English because he was educated in Kentucky. Fascinating! Talking with him during the redeye flight was so much better than catching the only few winks I would get in over 24 hours. He was extremely knowledgeable. He explained that the reason the airline I chose seems to offer only overnight flights is because the winds die down at night which translates into fuel savings that they then pass on to their customers. He also mentioned something about not needing to use air traffic controllers since no one else in in the sky at that time, but I didn't quite understand it.

It turned out that the company that I rented my car from is not actually on site at the airport. I got confused about the instructions for getting there and thought I needed to get on a city bus. I didn't have any change, but a nice man who was on the same flight as me kindly gave me all the change he had, $3.55 for my five dollar bill. How nice was that? Then it turned out that I wasn't supposed to get on a bus at all, but call the company for a shuttle pick up. Unfortunately, I'd already put one of my dollars in the fare box on the bus. The bus driver was very nice, though, and gave me an emergency pass, which means I actually made a net profit of 75 cents. Not bad for not even having had my first cup of coffee.

For dinner, I had jambalaya and collard greens and, no, I didn't drive to New Orleans to get them, just walk half a block to the Shuck 'N Dive in the Winn Dixie strip mall. Who knew there were regional variations in jambalaya: "Ft. Lauderdale style" is served without shrimp. And speaking of "jamba," yes, there is a Jamba Juice in the same strip mall. I thought about depriving myself out of deference to you, but then I decided you'd much rather I just didn't enjoy it very much, so I promise not to.

Traveling, as you have averred so often, is difficult and it is true. Did you know that this is the first time I've ever flown back to the U.S...on my own, that is? It turns out that to "declare" what you're bringing into the country to Customs does not mean to state it loudly. None of the customs officers particularly appreciated my announcement regarding the rum I had brought with me.

By the time I could finally check in to my motel room, I was pretty delirious from sleep deprivation. I didn't realize how bad off I was until I had this persistent hallucination that the reruns weren't subtitled in Spanish.

If you were to ask me when it finally hit me that I was back home, it would be the moment that, standing in the Winn Dixie liquor store, I was faced with the decision of having to choose between my three favorite whiskeys: Knob Creek, Makers Mark, and Jack Daniels. Ultimately, I wasn't up to the challenge, so I consoled myself with a decent bottle of scotch. I'm not sure it did me any good, but Larry gave me his extra Winn-Dixie loyalty card when I "declared" to the cashier that I didn't have one. Who's Larry?  Beats me. Just some guy trying to get back home to watch game 7 of the NBA playoffs between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs. I mean is that friendly or what?

Well, tomorrow I'm going to head over to Sears to buy some shorts since without the pair that we forgot to pull off the jib sheets and pack, I only have the pair I'm wearing. Don't forget to keep the two terminals of the wire we are using to charge our generator battery separate from each other or they will arc. Trust me, I know. Hopefully, we will sell JOY before we have to trade places, but if not, I vow to pull my weight as the other half of our crack sales and cat care team.

Reporting live from the Tropicana Motel in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, FL.


13 June 2013

Operation BABSAM

In the spirit of NOT BURYING THE LEAD:  For the low, low, SEVERELY LOW price of $210,000 $175,000 $165,000, JOY, a 1993 Fountaine Pajot Venezia, is yours. At the bottom of this post, you will find links to a detailed spec sheet and a web page with tons more pictures.  Send speedy and serious inquiries to ahoy@morejoyeverywhere.com. [8/17 Update: after the lightning strike.]

Shiny new bottom paint, a couple of months ago
We’re using our two-year escape clause. Cruising reminds us of camping, which we hate. Sailing involves lots of water and nature, which don’t appeal to Ean. Beaches are full of sand, which Jane finds icky. A boat requires constant maintenance and repairs, which we are neither qualified for nor interested in.  And although they didn't officially get to vote, our middle-aged cats, like their middle-aged owners, are unanimous in their desire to live and die on land.

Cockpit - bright new bimini - and you can see
the back of the Raymarine MFD in the forground. 
We want to move on to new adventures, and thus, JOY seems less Magic Carpet and more Millstone. JOY is making us all quite crabby. It’s not her fault, really.  JOY needs a fresh start with fresh owners.

So we are initiating Operation BABSAM (Buy a Boat, Save a Marriage). We will probably list JOY with a broker, unless we can make a quick deal with some eager beaver who is ready to make the leap. Hey, maybe YOU?! ...
...if you’ve done your research, you’re seriously looking and ready to buy a 40-something foot catamaran - cash in hand - and you want to come to Panama (or possibly Mexico) to pick it up.... 
...if you know how to fix stuff when it breaks, because JOY is seriously tricked out with gobs of stuff, and it all breaks, and if we’re telling you something you don’t already know, you should NOT be buying this boat....
...if you want to be a live-aboard, blue-water cruiser on a well-equipped, safe and sea-worthy 42 ft. catamaran that has already circumnavigated the globe once and is ready to go again....
The BFFs (Big Fat Features) 

Vitrifrigo fridge, toaster (free with boat purchase),
panel to the right of the toaster is the top of the freezer

2 38 hp Yanmar engines
1540 amp hour AGM house battery bank, new in 2012
654 w solar (2012)
6 kW Northern Lights generator in sound-proof cabinet
Magna 2000 watt pure sine wave inverter/ charger
Balmar high-output Alternator (on starboard engine) with ARS-5 regulator


Raymarine E-120W multifunction display with charts for Caribbean, S. America, and Indian Ocean (2011)
Raymarine autopilot with new P70 control head (2013)
AIS 250 receiver
Radar (Raymarine RD418D 4 kW digital Radome scanner) (2011)

The dinghy behind the bimini, lifted high on the arch
with solar panels on top. Also, in the foreground,
solid handrails instead of the standard lifelines.

Vitrofrigo 2 drawer DC refrigerator (2012)
Drop-in Engel 40L fridge or freezer (2012)
Force 10 oven with broiler (2013)

And there's more...

Sunbrella bimini with dodger (2012)
Cruisair air conditioner in Salon with a Dometic Breathe Easy air purifier in-duct model (2012)
Sea Recovery Aqua Whisper mini 170 DC watermaker, 7 gph capacity (2012)
Carib dinghy and 15 hp Yamaha outboard (new in 2011)
50 lb CQR anchor with 285 ft of 10mm chain
beautiful custom arch for solar panels and dinghy - motorized dinghy lift
strong and solid anodized aluminum handrails instead of lifelines
bottom paint new in March 2013
mast height is 64' - allowing for ICW travel (NOT that we recommend ICW travel - but hey, different strokes for different folks).

And There's More!  

Starboard aft cabin - port aft is similar
For the same low, low price....  

Do you really need to know about the EPIRB, the fully-battened mainsail, the roller-furling headsail, the VHF radios, the Lifesling2, the heads, tankage, the 2 burner stove, and the rest of the 93 features that you might find if you were reading this listing on yachtworld.com?  Well, of course you do, if you are a prospective buyer.  

Port forward cabin
(Starboard forward is set up as workroom/garage)
Please email us.  BABSAM.  We'll send you a thank-you card every year on our anniversary.

Update - Spec Sheet and More Pictures!

Update, 6/17: Lots of pictures of the salon, nav station, and galley, click here.  We will be adding pics of the rest of the boat within a few days.

Update, 7/14: More pics (finally)!  This page shows pics of the deck and some tech. stuff.

Update, 8/17: Post-lightning strike, an updated spec sheet - JOY details, PDF  (If you have trouble with google drive, send us an email and we will attach the PDF to our reply.)

05 June 2013


This dinghy, along with the boat behind it, will soon be FOR SALE.
We are overJOYed.  The title for the post is Ean's pun, of course.  Anyone who knows him would guess it.  As in: Dear JOY, we are OVER you.

When we started this crazy adventure, we set a goal - to get 'round the world - but we gave ourselves a two-year "out" clause - if, after two years, either of us wanted OUT of this life, then we would get OUT and get a NEW life.

The first time we WANTED out - really discussed it seriously - was in Key West last June.  I just went back to reread the blog post.  I wrote, "I'm sure I'll look back at this juncture and either laugh or cry hysterically."

Well, I'm looking back now, and I realize, it's not an either/or thing.  I can do both.

After we'd been cruising for about a year, I wrote a post called "The Backside of a Dream."  I admitted:
We're coming up on our one-year cruising anniversary, and Ean and I have been reflecting on our new life. We're still pretty clueless.  We've found this life to be more difficult than we expected.  Things break all the time and we don't know how to fix them.  Ean misses toast.  I miss floor space.  We hate being mono-lingual and sand.
We realized, even then, that this lifestyle is not a good fit for us.  But hey, we had agreed to two years.  Let's see what happens.  We had this GOAL, you see.  Of circumnavigating the world.  We thought we could do it.  We wanted to have done it.

To cruise or not to cruise....we've been back and forth a dozen times.  It's hard to explain, but as I wrote a few months ago, cruising has made us bipolar.  A couple of months ago, I was SO excited about making that big leap out into the Pacific.  A couple of weeks ago, I was getting excited about gunkholing around Panama and making our way down the coast to Ecuador.  Hey, maybe we'll do Galapagos after all!  Hey, Easter Island, how cool would that be!

A couple of days ago, after many long conversations, some bitterness and tears, some wistful sighing and wicked blame-slinging, we finally admitted to ourselves that the highs aren't high enough to justify the lows.  Or the lows are too low... or too numerous...?  Maybe, if we would have made it across the S. Pacific, we would have decided to stick out.  SO close.  But Things Fall Apart.

If you're a little sad for us... yeah.  But don't be TOO sad.  Me and Ean, we are lucky, and we don't lose track of that.  We need to figure out what the new life will be - and we have lots of good choices... more than we deserve, probably.

I'll end here for now... although of course there's more to say. Stay tuned. Our next post: JOY FOR SALE (cheap).