“Adventure is worthwhile.” -Aristotle

Our first sail was to the Galapagos and it was a bit of a rough start for our beginning forays into the world of sailing. We had headwinds and after a couple days decided to turn back to Las Perlas, Panama to wait for better weather. After a couple days we decided to head off again even though we never got the winds we were hoping for, as they weren’t as common this late in the season.

This second attempt took nine exhausting days. It was cold, windy and no one slept well. The sea was rough and when in bed you’d lose contact with the mattress as we’d crest over a wave and be in a free fall. It was jarring to say the least! Our first night watches were unnerving and I felt like I clung to my safety harness looking for boats and other perils while trying to figure out how to navigate. (We had come across small fishing boats, got tangled in their lines and had to cut ourselves free. The fishermen were not happy with us and so we apologized and paid them back with beer and a coke. They made us nervous and we were not always convinced of their trade given our proximity to Colombia. We were concerned about a whole different kind of coke.) But it was also enthralling watching the phytoplankton and jellyfish light up as we sliced through a field of them.

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One night we were awakened by a horrible noise and I literally think my heart missed a few beats. It was 4:00 am and my first thought was that the boat was sinking! Well, no we weren’t, in fact we were crossing the equator. Sailors like to make an offering to Neptune as they cross over, sometimes baptizing themselves in the ocean. Given it was the middle of the night, rough seas and freezing, we decided not to take a dip. Instead our captain dressed himself in green and banged on a pot with his trident of forks. As an offering to the god of the sea we all did a song and dance to appease him and for a safe crossing.

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When we saw the Galapagos from a distance land never looked so good. We spent most of the week on the island of Santa Cruz. We went to El Chalto reserve and saw the giant tortoise in the wild (one hissed at me). We spent all day walking and so a nice woman who worked on the reserve gave us a ride back to town in her gravel truck. We went to the Darwin center and learned how they were protecting the baby turtles, visited a beautiful beach, saw salt flats and went to a chasm. Interesting animals were everywhere, marine iguanas, seals (they got up on the boats), sally lightfoot crabs and pelicans (one took a snap at me) to name a few.

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It’s hard to get around independently because everything is protect. So we took a boat to the bigger island of Isabella. There we went to another Darwin center, saw flamingos, seals (one barked at me), penguins and lots of sharks. We even went for a very cold snorkel.

Our week in the Galapagos was up and it was time for the big crossing to French Polynesia. I was nervous for this after the last sail. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be at sea for so long. But as I would find out this first sail would be some of the roughest we would encounter and it would literally be all down wind from here.

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leaving panama

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”  -John A Shedd

We met “The Swedes” (otherwise known as Andreas and Karin) out for dinner and drinks to make sure none of us were too crazy and get any remaining questions answered before we joined them on the Pacific crossing. We got a good feel for them and decided to go for it. Sailing has long been a dream of mine but it always seemed a little out of reach. Last summer Ez and I took sailing lessons and joined a sailing club but wanted some more experience other than in the calm Minnesota lakes. So this plan of becoming crew was hatched and here we are, in Panama and ready for what we hope will be quite the adventure.



It was an interesting first few days learning how to provision for such a massive passage. It was an epic shopping experience (one I hope to never repeat) – three solid days of running around Panama City just buying food. (Another day was spent just filling up water and Diesel.) We filled somewhere in the ballpark of 12-15 grocery carts. Months later we would still be savoring the delicious canned goods on the other side of the Pacific.

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One of our taxi drivers was horrified at what we were about to do (although he was driving us around a little loopy on pain killers-you tell me what’s more dangerous) and so pulled out an 8×11 laminated picture of Jesus (who doesn’t have one of these under their visor?) to take with us on our voyage.  We kept our savior in the hanging fruit basket and asked him to watch over us and our passion of the fruit.  Maybe even turn a few pieces into wine.  We had a great many chats with him in the upcoming months.

I was glad when that tool show was over and we were ready for our first sail out of Panama City. We were finally on our way to Las Perlas islands, a six hour day sail. We were giddy with excitement and I had a hard time processing that we’d made this happen. We spent the next week on the islands of Contadora and Espírito Santo getting used to the our new routine and discovering what life on a sailboat was all about.  How do I do dishes?  Do the solar panels produce enough electricity to power my e-reader?  How often can I shower? We got the answers to these questions quickly.  One night while rinsing my hair with salt water (you use just a bit of fresh water at the end to rinse) I noticed bioluminescense dripping from my hair and hands.   I’m sure this is the closest I will ever be, to feeling like a fairy.  It was an absolute beautiful moment.

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We also beached the boat to do some repairs on the rudder. It was quite an interesting day sitting on a catamaran, on the beach.  Repairs were made, the tide came up and thankfully we were out at sea once again.

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