Sunday, January 30, 2011

Molas and Bracelets

The traditional Kuna woman dresses in bright colors – she has bracelets and leg decorations (that look like colorful stockings) made of beads in vibrant, primary colors. The skirt is a dark background fabric with a bright yellow, orange or green print. The blouses are the traditional molas (a fabric tapestry design made by intricate stitching and cutting of multiple fabric layers) attached to sheer bright colored fabric sleeves. Many Kuna Indian women also wear a red and yellow head scarf, a gold nose ring and a black straight line painted down the bridge of their nose. They make molas of varying quality. One of the fun events of cruising in Kuna Yala is having the ulus (canoes) come to your boat with a mola maker and have them show you their works of art. They hope you will buy one or many of these traditional fabric art pieces. Lorna and Dave's visit (unlike our previous guests) have been able to see many different mola makers – from the well-known masters Lisa and Venancio to some of the less known local islanders. It's hard to resist them as they are quite beautiful.

We are currently exploring the Naguargandup Cays – a long row of many islands with beautiful sand beaches and many palm trees and numerous reefs. We started on the Western end in Salardup and are currently at the eastern end of the chain in Canbombia. On this island we've met the Saila (chief) and his family. In fact, Carmelina, his wife, has made both Lorna and Barbara lovely ankle bracelets of the colorful beads. The Saila has given us permission to walk around the island (without charging Kuna fees).

Michael and Dave have done lots of snorkeling and hunting and all of us have done some reef exploration. The bugs unfortunately have seem to made a meal of Dave – but he's being a great sport and not complaining much. Must be all that sweet smelling bakery goods and chocolate he's around all the time! We're having a good time, eating well and even playing a few games. But mostly relaxing and enjoying the islands and the water.

Monday we'll head back to Nargana for their Tuesday morning flight. We'll do a river adventure on Monday up the Rio Diablo. The weather has been magnificent – a steady breeze at night has made sleeping comfortable. We hear it's cold in Ohio – so it's a good time to visit the tropics for Dave and Lorna.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hola David and Lorna

Sorry for the lack of log writing – we've been busy entertaining – something we love doing. Our last guests Margaret and Lloyd made it safely back to chilly, snowy Maine. Our new guests (and frequent visitors to Astarte) Dave and Lorna came from cold Ohio. They were loaded down with goodies for both us and Astarte. Dave has a lovely bakery/candyshop in Oberlin and brought us many baked goodies along with CHOCOLATES!!!

They spent a few days in Panama City touring prior to getting on a mighty tiny plane (seven seats and one small Kuna woman who sat on the luggage) and landed on an equally small runway at Corezon de Jesus a few hours late. They were over the 25 pound each baggage limit and conned some other passenger into carrying one of their "bottles" of evening entertainment. Unfortunately, Lorna's wine coolers (of the mojito variety) got confiscated and didn't make the trip with her to Kuna Yala. We've had to make up for those with Astarte Rum punch.

Dave and Lorna have visited us on Astarte while we were in Florida, in Turks & Caicos, in Roatan, Honduras, and now here. So they're used to life on Astarte – but this time we didn't have a big grocery store to start the trip. With Margaret and Lloyd we hit the tienda jackpot loading up on eggs, veggies and fresh fruit plus we had many Kuna fishermen selling us lobsters and crab. This time, the pickings were VERY slim at the tiendas – eggs but no fresh fruit or veggies to be found. And so far (three days into the visit) not a single Kuna with gifts from the sea.

We've enjoyed re-connecting with them, snorkeling, eating and drinking and even played a game or two. There's been some early bedtimes and even napping, a little book reading and generally some good visiting and relaxing. They've been invited to do log entries as all our guests are asked to do – but so far they are having too much fun to write.

We started in Nargana, anchored off Esnasdup and now we're in the Eastern Holandes in the Swimming Pool. We'll stay in the pool a few days at least to explore some of the great snorkeling in the area.

The weather is great...and Dave Goldberg, we haven't "blown up and died" yet!

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Adios Margaret and Lloyd

Our guests have departed Astarte and hopefully have made it back to Maine safely. It was fun having them on board and they were good boat guests. Thanks again to them for carrying supplies and goodies to us. We enjoyed their company and getting to know them better.

On Saturday morning before the plane arrived, groups of Kuna men were clearing some brush near the runway. The small plane arrived a bit late but they seemed to be able to get it turned around really quickly – offloaded with about ten people and re-loaded with the same and lots of boxes.

On Sunday, we went up the Rio Diablo and did three hours worth of laundry in the river. It was a beautiful day and we got a lot done. Upon returning to Astarte we hung it all out to dry and used every clothespin we owned (and we own a lot!).

We also did a run into Tienda Eide's because we heard he had eggs and lots of fresh veggies. We were a tad late for eggs – scored some but not all we wanted. Also got some veggies and watermelon.

We got great news via e-mail. Barbara's article with Michael's photos that was published in Compass (The Moody owner's magazine – a high gloss publication) was awarded the Godfrey Rose Bowl award for the most interesting cruising article. Cool! That motivates the writing bug!

Today, (Monday) we'll stay in Nargana and do some repairs and more tidying. Now we await our next guests Lorna and Dave from cold Ohio.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Guest Log Entry #2

Margaret and Lloyd continue to share their it is:

So, we have to leave tomorrow and are going home with a wonderful week under our belt. We've seen pipe fish and lion fish and camo fish of all kinds. We've done a reef a day and marveled at how different they are one to another – some much denser with coral than others, some primarily sponges and softer animals. And then we met the veggie boat, and a couple of mola ladies, and bought crab (twice!) and lobsters from the Kuna who come up beside the boat. Apparently we have lucked out and gotten much more fresh fruit and veggies than other guests may have enjoyed. And then there are lovely cans of cold Balboa beer that somehow pop out of the fridge just when you want them the most.

It was disconcerting tonight to watch the Kuna kids watching TV tonight when we gave Barbara a cook's night off and ate at a little restaurant in Corazon de Jesus. The disconnect between the subsistence culture here and the hyper TV shows was enormous for me. The kids here hang with the adults doing the business of the family – gathering water in the river because the water pipe to the island is now broken, fishing, hawking molas or bracelets to the tourists. They seem very quiet and don't have much more than the clothes on their backs. Then on the TV are teens with skateboards hanging out with some other guy with his ATV, buzzing around in places that could not be more different than how they live here.

Since we last wrote, we visited Salardup and Cambombia – both inhabited islands. We could snorkel from Astarte both days. We shared Cambombia with 5 catamarans – the San Blas have definitely been discovered. Now that we have come into Corazon de Jesus/Nargana, we do not wish to get in the water at all, so had a river trip on Air Mary to see fabulous birds, butterflies, and the Kuna doing laundry and gathering water. We didn't see any monkeys, though there could be both white faced and howler monkeys in there. Barbara and Michael will go back tomorrow to do laundry of their own. So we shall think of them as we wing our way back to the apparently snowy northeast. So many thanks are due.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Guest Log Entry

As is a tradition on Astarte, our guests are asked to submit a log entry. So enjoy the adventures of our friends Margaret and Lloyd from Maine. They are racing sailors who own a J120 (note they are "racers" - we are cruisers and Astarte is our home!)


On January 6th, Margaret and I left Brunswick at 0600 with 10 degrees F on the thermometer and Casco Bay freezing up quickly. We spent a night in Ft. Liquordale with relatives and then flew on to Panama City. After a pleasant evening there, on the 8th we took the puddle jumper across the isthmus to land on a glorified driveway at Corazon del Jesus, only to find that it is still winter down here! For the last three days we have had unremitting weather in the low 80's in the steady tradewinds. Water temperature is also in the low 80's, but we will struggle on and try to bear up with the hardship.

But seriously folks, we have had a wonderful welcome from Michael and Barbara, lucked out at the tienda with a great selection of veggies and fruits before our departure sailing, and have been happily bobbling in the turquoise water. Barbara has been cooking up a series of terrific meals for us. And they have introduced us both to snorkeling on the reefs, which I think is almost as good as sailing! I'll let Margaret tell you more about that in her entry, but we did a long dive yesterday drifting with the current for a half mile over the grass and coral, marveling at the sights. Only this morning does Michael tell we were floating in Alligator Alley! All fingers and toes are present and accounted for, though.

A great part of the cruise is getting to know Michael and Barbara better. We hit it off well last October at the wedding, and it's still feeling good. Michael and I were up till eleven last evening talking of battery technology, downwind tacking angles, and generally solving the world's problems. The last turns out to be remarkably easy: delete all the assholes and we will be good to go. More in few days. Margaret is next.

I am thrilled with my new snorkeling mask that opens up an amazing view that really doesn't look much like the dentist's office. Actually the viewing lens is much larger than my normal glasses, so all is clear to me now. Michael reports as we speak that they are squid hanging out by the anchor chain – what we have to put up with!

I was a little worried about the heat down here and it is indeed hot, but 2 hours plus in the water yesterday took care of that (the 15 knot trades blsoing through the boat probably helped too!

The float snorkel yesterday was interesting because of its variety. There were long stretches of sand or grasses with little that I could see except star fish. Then we would cross a fabulous block of coral that was loaded with fish. I saw the most incredible ray winging past me and wasn't even scared.

For all of you looking at your atlases, the first night we were at Esnasdup, 2nd in the Western Holandes Cays near Waisaiadup. Then last night we spent here in the Eastern Holandes near Kalugirdup and Ukupsuit. Westerns have nick-named this last the "Hot Tub". "Dup" means island in Kuna; "Hot tub" means fabulous snorkeling in English.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Spring Cleaning or Guest Cleaning

Some folks do the big cleaning projects in spring or fall – onboard Astarte – we do the major cleaning when we have guests coming. That's why we've been lax on writing on the log page – we've been cleaning.

Our guests Margaret and Lloyd arrived today (yippee) and we've got the boat all spit shined and polished – inside and out. Over the last few days Michael's tackled the outside – he cleaned and waxed the hull and did the underwater cleaning. Barbara's cleaned inside from ceiling to floor, rugs and curtains, and even bookshelves.

So Astarte was ready for company – looking her best and we were ready for company to relax and enjoy the boat instead of cleaning it. Like all our great guests, they came laden with boat bits and great snacks. They still haven't unpacked everything as we immediately got moving once they landed. But before we hand the computer over to our guests for "Guest Log" entries, we'll step back a few days.

Post New Year's Day we left the Eastern Holandes to actually clear into Panama and get our passports stamped. We had a lovely sail to Porvenir to accomplish that legal stuff then pulled anchor immediately and headed to Soledup. This ended up being a bit too rolly to get projects done so the next morning we again pulled anchor and went to Cambombia (no not Cambodia). This was the first time we went here and it was extremely lovely – unfortunately we were working the two days we were there. Non-stop. So we had little time to enjoy the reefs or beautiful beach. But we'll go back there – it was very nice.

Once all the work was done, we haded to Nargana to pick up a few items and then meet our guests when they flew in on Saturday morning. Friday turned into a most interesting day. We met the Captain of a Panamanian Naval ship "28th de Noviembre." He invited us aboard for a tour of the ship and we accepted. We saw the entire vessel from engine room to Captain's quarters. Then, we invited him aboard Astarte for a tour (from engine room to Captain's quarters). He accepted and we dinghied him out and shared a beer and some good spanish lessons. His english was very good, but he made us speak in Spanish to practice. Later that evening, he also joined us at a restaurant where we were meeting some friends and he had a few more beers with us. Barbara did bake a chocolate cake for the boat and traded it for a dozen eggs. It seemed there were no eggs on Nargana, so the Panamanian Navy came through!

These are the kind of meetings that make this life so interesting.

Now, we have company and headed to Esnadup for our first night. Our guests are a bit tired after having to get up for a cab to the airport at 5 am! Tomorrow's entry will be from them (hopefully). Tonight we'll dine on local (not Maine) lobsters that we bought from the Kuna.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 2011

First congratulations to Michael's brother Derek and Margie on their New Year wedding. Sorry we weren't there to toast you two.

Happy New Year to all and best wishes for a healthy, fun-filled, satisfying and peaceful 2011.

We actually toasted in the New Year in the same place we celebrated 2010's start. So it was a full circle of starting and ending the year on the same little island. We had different people around – but it was in the same spot. 2010 turned into a pretty good year, so we hope the island is a lucky spot to start another year.

The crew of Astarte ended up "hosting" the big party. It seemed nobody was willing to get things going about a week ago, so we decided we'd just announce there was a party on the island and it snow-balled from there. We collected a portable generator, lights, a boom box and music from other boaters and did a dessert and party-snack potluck. The island looked quite festive and we ended up having a lot of help from several boats. A few boats here have kids on board and they ended up gathering a lot of wood for a giant bonfire. We did a "burning man" (a paper and palm frond stuffed effigy where you put all the things you want closure on from the last year written down and stuffed into the man so they burn up with him). That was fun and the giant BP sign from some New Orleans folks was draped around the "man's" neck.

We had live music after 11ish and we actually made it up past midnight. We popped a bottle of champagne and toasted in the New Year. We are grateful for what we have and the cruising life we've been enjoying these last few years. We wish everyone dreams coming true in 2011.


radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: