Indecisivitensity at the Canal

January 30th, 2007 by: cheyenne

East or west? We’ve on our way to this point for several months now. We have conveniently avoided making any concrete plans but now that we are at the canal, the Big Decisions must be made. There are many options, naturally.

A. Go on to Ecuador. Everyone here says that Ecuador is where the pot of gold lies. Armed with a pair of rubber boots, Ecuador is rife with possibility. We could just go down for the season and head back to Panama later on; this would set us back another year for the Caribbean, however.

B. Go on to Ecuador and then keep going across the South Pacific! Galapagos, atolls, Fiji, scurvy… My god the mind boggles. Sadly, I’m just not feeling terribly excited about thirty bleedin’ days at sea. All at one time and more than once. (Cheyenne = pansy.) Reading Jack London’s ‘South Sea Tales’ didn’t help, what with those stories about hurricanes hitting atolls with no more than six feet of elevation. Climb a coconut tree.

C. Stay in Panama! Panama is great and there are lots of uninhabited islands to gunk around. But. No.

D. Cross the Canal. Now we’re getting somewhere. Sorta expensive and a hassle though. Payoff better be good.

E. Cross the Canal then do a bit of cruising possibly in the keys off Honduras or San Blas before making all speed for the Mediterranean! Hmmm, that’s interesting. But what route should we take?

F. Panama – Providencia Island (Colombian) –Roatan – Yucatan – Not Cuba Because It’s Illegal – Not Florida In Case We Had To Stop In Cuba For Some Sort of Emergency And We Are Now Fugitives From The Law – Bahamas – Bermuda – Azores – Lisbon, Portugal – Some Other Places – BARCELONA, Spain.

G. Put the boat on a boat and beam it direct to Someplace, Europe. Like on deck of a cargo ship or on a container ship. We’re checking into it but helpful people in the shipping industry are mighty elusive down Panama way. (Is this cheating?)

H. Sell it and buy a boat I can actually stand up in. (I’m just kidding.)
(Sort of.)

Anyway, minds are changing almost daily and as it is, we’re leaning for the canal crossing since nobody will get back to us with any concrete information about shipping a container. We have to get a larger motor in order to get through the canal; our 6hp can push us at 4.5-5 knots but only in perfect conditions and the prop does not stick down into the water far enough; we would be able to go upwards of 8 knots probably if we had the 9.8hp (plus, it has a longer shaft). It seems stupid to get a motor just to cross the canal but having one that actually buried the prop in the water behind us would be a huge improvement; also, the 9.8hp has a charger attachment and functional remote controls to the [center] cockpit so a single person could potentially drive the boat without having to run back and forth to adjust gears or the throttle (what luxury!).

The only thing I worry about is having it take forever to extract our motor from Panamanian customs. If this happens, maybe we’ll take a side trip down to the Darien to decompress while waiting.

Or go to Ecuador.

7 Comments on “Indecisivitensity at the Canal”

  1. Peg Bowden says:

    I met a guy at the Gem Show yesterday who is sailing around—and selling his jewelry made of seashells and gems and stuff. He sez head for San Blas, his favorite place to explore. Forget crossing the Atlantic (or the Pacific). That’s my vote. I’ll meet you in San Blas, or some cool island in the Caribbean. Be good to Mama. Go island hopping, and take me along. Love, Mom

  2. Bozo says:

    A few comments…

    While it’s been done before with less boat, I don’t think you have enough vessel for a safe and comfortable ocean crossing. (Pacific or Atlantic)

    If you go through the canal… unless you have a boat that really likes to go to windward, or a big engine with good fuel tankage I wouldn’t consider a ‘wrong way’ Carribean transit either. I don’t think it would be much fun in a searunner.

    However, If you went through the canal and dinked around the San Blas for awhile, you could work your way north to the Bay Islands of Honduras or the Yucatan and set up for a managable reach back to the States.

    Staying on the Pacific side… I think a visit to the Galapagos would be pretty darn hard to pass up. You could go via Cocos Island and check out the marine preserve there… or work your way down the coast.

    If I was in your shoes, that would probably be my first option. Have to look at the pilot guides for wind and current projections though.

  3. nada says:

    I took my searunner 31 across the pacific and it was fine. Only I had a good windvane & 215 feet of 1/4in. anchor chain. You guys apparently don’t. Big minus.

    Since SoPac doesn’t quite seem to catch your fancy, I imagine you might not look favorably upon the challenges getting/moving about it entails.

    Insofar as the caribbean…make the jump to Cartenga when the trades lighten (say june-ish)…then, if you’re keen & wait and watch, you might even get a westerly window to Aruba in October that an OB powered searunner could make.

    P.S. if you’re shopping for a new ob, check out the nissan/tohatsu 9.8 4-stroke. Yeah, I know, likely not as easy to get down there as a yamaha, but it’s 15 pounds lighter than the other brands, just if not more reliable, and (most importantly) comes in a 25 inch (extra-long) shaft length to help the fight cavitation blues.

    good luck

  4. Bozo says:

    BTW: Don’t forget that hurricane season is coming.
    You need to start thinking about positioning your boat to avoid it… either by staying south or finding a hurricane hole/other place to store the boat.

    Remember in ’05 places that were thought to be ‘hurricane safe’ got hammered. Last year was a bust for Carribean hurricanes but a fairly big year for the East Pacific… who knows what this season will bring.

    Those thoughts about Ecuador are interesting… that would get you out of the hurricane latitudes and position you for a run to the Galapagos.

    Have you thought about working your way down to Chile? Easter Island? Taking the path less travelled.

    ——- on boats

    “a boat I can actually stand up in. ”

    Why I wouldn’t want to take a searunner across the Pacific… but heck, you guys are young and tough.

    What sort of tankage do you have? You won’t be able to motor for extended distances so you’d need provisions for potentially a long time at sea should the trades fail you.

  5. joshua says:

    I’d love to go to Chile but it’s just too cold for this boat. One of the reasons we’d like a bigger boat is so we could explore the colder regions. Remember we froze our asses off until about Mazatlan.

    I’d also love to go to Easter Island but it has no good anchorage. Regulations are that someone must remain on the boat at all times. That won’t be too fun for the two of us. We’ve heard that the harbor master will waive this requirement, but it’s still pretty sketchy to be 2000 miles from a safe harbor.

    The TimeMachine is totally capable of ocean crossing. Sister ships have done it many many times.

  6. cheyenne says:

    If we head across to the Caribbean, we’ll be making haste north along the eastern coast of Honduras up to Yucatan. The current plan is to get our butts out of hurricane areas before the season starts of course, be this off across the Atlantic, or Texas where we can leave the boat with Joshua’s family. (Not that this is out of hurricane territory exactly..)

    That 9.8 Tohatsu extra-long shaft is exactly the motor we want but we have to order it from the states and nobody will get back to us with any useful information. Smaller hp outboards here do not come with the extra long shaft (in fact, local dealers aren’t aware that their brands even make extra-long shafts half the time–when the Internet says they do). So… we’re still looking into how to get one. We could always just pay the penalty and stay with what we have but the idea that we would be out $830 that could have been put towards a new outboard steams me.

  7. kamini says:

    you know, pennsylvania is well out of the hurricane areas. granted, we don’t have a coast, but that’s really a minor point. it’d be great to see you guys again…

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Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell