Friday, September 30, 2011

Photos !

First, look to the right of this page and see: "New Photo Page".  Click on it and it should take you to the new photo album (we hope).We have finally added some new photos. 

We are also in the process of changing from our old photo page to the google photo page.  It is easier and quicker to upload.  So, maybe, just maybe, we may get new pics on the page more often.

The Bocas Experience

We've been hanging out in Bocas del Torro now for a few months. We traveled to the states and safely kept the boat moored here and now we're getting back into organizing Astarte and ourselves for the next leg of the adventure. Meanwhile, we're enjoying the archipelago. Yesterday (Thursday) we moved into Porras Lagoon (also known as Dolphin Bay). It wasn't a long journey from Palos Lagoon (aka the DarkLands or Tierra Oscura or Laguna Palos). We're now anchored in a lovely bay near with the mainland of Panama on one side and an open bay dotted with little magrove islands on the otherside.

We came here because the little town of Buena Esperanza had a "diaz de campesino" or farm day. Unfortunately, we missed the main event (it happened earlier than our hostess thought). The kids put on a little pageant and they crowned a king and queen (elementary school kids). The king is selected by popular vote, the queen gets crowned because she collects the most firewood. Hmmm...what's wrong with that? But there were little booths with some local crafts and food as well. It was an interesting little local Indian community.

We also had the pleasure of getting invited to Camrykaland owned by Mary and Carl. It is a lovely home in the hills owned by sailboat cruisers (their boat Camryka sits in the bay here). We had a lovely potluck up at their home last night and it was really wonderful. Two howler monkeys were in trees very close to the porch where we were sitting outside, so you could really see them – and they were very active. There was also a sloth (two toed we think) in a nearby a tree and he was also active (for a sloth that is!). Their home is very pretty and the company was wonderful – nine of us from boats and nearby properties. We'll head up the hill again today to take advantage of some fresh wild lemons that are in full bloom and take another look at all the beautiful plants and flowers.

We helped another cruiser move her boat from Red Frog marina to Tierra Oscura where she's housesitting (her husband is working in the states). It was a lovely day to move and we got to take it through what's known as "the gap" between Solarte and Bastiamentos islands. That's a very narrow cut between the islands and a shortcut.

Swimming is a bit difficult lately as there are lots and lots of jellyfish in the water. Some are the harmeless moon jellies, but unfortuantely others are the ones with the toxic tentacles. So we haven't done much swimming. We did another hike on the Jackson Finca with some friends from "Adancara" and really enjoyed that – learning more about some of the local flora.

Barbara also enjoyed another afternoon of mah jong and we had another Sunday afternoon at Rana Azuls. So the social life in Bocas continues while we are doing research on getting a new shaft made and a haul-out planned. Michael is also reading a lot of Pacific cruising guides and getting excited about the next adventure.

We'll continue to explore the Bocas area and then move on to get the new shaft made and installed and then the next leg of the adventure will begin.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Empty Berth

Tom has left the good ship Astarte and should be arriving back in Portland, OR today (Sunday). We enjoyed our time with him and now have to get back to work getting Astarte back in shape.

Bocas Town was packed this weekend because of their annual Sea Fair. We decided that after dropping Tom at the airport and seeing him off, a quick pick-up of a few items, and a dinghy trip back to the boat, we would head out of town and back to Terra Oscura. Last night, we had a big thunder shower with good rain collection but lots of scary lightning. The repaired watermaker still needs to be reinstalled so collecting rain is a priority – especially because we have lots and lots of laundry to get done.

Sunday's in Terra Oscura usually means a trip to Rana Azul (Blue Frog). It is a great little restaurant that serves a Sunday dinner or brick oven pizza. We'll probably take advantage of it after some morning cleaning and organizing. We get the "laundry room/wet locker" back (also known as: forward head). And we get the garage back (V-berth). And in the end that means the salon area, aft cabin and aft head also get cleared out. That will be today's project then the reward of dinner out and if the rain holds off, a swim.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Nobody said there would be an essay!

I'm pretty sure the travel brochure never mentioned anything about a compulsory essay (blog entry) for a visiting guest to Astarte... But here goes...My name is Tom Babich and I am from Portland, Oregon. I have known Barbara and Mike for half my life. We were all are in the TV business in Portland. But more importantly we have sailed together for many years on each of our various boats. I have had five boats, Mike wins having had seven. We have stood up for each other at our weddings... and I have always considered him a "brother from another mother".... thus the sibling rivalry. Barbara always knows when MH and I are together the mental age level of any conversation falls to that of eight year old boys.
Following their adventures via email and Skype I thought I had better come see my friends in Bocas del Toro before the head into the Big Salt Chuck (That's a Pacific Northwest term for the Pacific). So here I am in Bocas del Toro, a Temperate Zone Boy (TZB),sweating away and feeding the local bug population with fresh blood. I made it here traveling through Costa Rica with "mi esposa en la bolsa*" Actually, a new cruising spinnaker Mike had made in Hong Kong and shipped to me that I carried in the largest duffel bag known to man. The joke works better when you know I had just gotten divorced... (insert comment here). (*translation: "my wife in the bag")
Anyway, I make it to Bocas with the whole family to meet with Barb to help her get Astarte back into shape after two months of being closed up. While we were provisioning for the week in Bocas "the bringer of rain" appeared once again. Back story... Being from Oregon whenever I visited M&B in Florida it always seemed to rain. Including the "Super Squall '93" event in the Dry Tortugas. After weeks of dry weather in Bocas I show up and the town is hit by "Super Squall 2011"... tons of wind and rain lasting over an hour, streets flowing with rivers, roof tiles falling, small children flying through the air, me and a new non English speaking friend pressed against a building in the only cover we could find. Welcome to Panama.
After a wet ride to the boat Barb and I set about getting Astarte in shape and me back on a boat... long story. Boat bites... those smacks, cracks and shin barkers that we all get when in the locale of any sailing vessel, usually followed by the #@%$$ that your dad taught you. Mr Mikey showed up Sept 9 glad to be back from being on the road. As the days followed I was fortunate enough to meet some very nice, warm and friendly Bocas folks. A great pig roast at Red Frog Beach, or wonderful pizzas at Rana Azul (dancing the swing with Janice and BS-ing with Bill, meeting the owner,Joseph), a death march photo op for frogs in the Finca, swimming at delightful Cindy's in the "dark lands". Now I see why people live here... maybe me someday... if I ever get used to the heat (TZB).I have done the Kuna Yalas (1998) and will always put them Number One but this is a close second.
To me this area is like Barkley Sound but with heat and not many beaches and no salmon.
One thing that is fun for me was watching M&B work together on Astarte. Like I said I have had a few boats and few partners... these two have it together.
Sometime the "Battling Bickersons" but never for very long... I think that's the key to living in such a small space for any length of time. They are each an individual and a part of a team. As any visitor will soon find out the treasure that come from the Galley are amazing. Barb has known me for so long that she knows I will eat a can of cold beans and call it supper.... but not on her boat. I have not eaten so well in many years... truly amazing.
As this week wanes on I am due to fly out this Saturday back to CR and then the next day to PDX. I will miss my good friends and their good ship Astarte but I will know the crew and boat will do just fine in the Big Salt Chuck. For me I will also miss the comfort of the V -berth (I'm 6'3 and 220 lbs, I am the V-berth) and feeding the local bug population. But more importantly, I am taking away with me much more than just photos, memories and an adventure. For the past 14 months I have been re-discovering myself... looking for Tommy 2.0. These past two weeks being here with my true best friends, being back on a boat again, all this has been good. Thanks Barb and Mike, Astarte, Mario and Caspar (the pet geckos).


radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Family, Friends, Work and 200 lbs of Stuff

Time to step back and catch everyone up on what the last two months were like for the crew of Astarte. After arriving in Bocas del Torro, Panama, we spent some time exploring, but most of it was spent getting Astarte settled for two months of sitting empty.

In mid-July, we left her at a dock (thanks Anna and Ian) and headed to Panama City for the flight back to the states. Stops at the US Embassy for more passport pages for Michael, a bit of shopping and then aboard the big silver bird. We arrived in Boston and the first stop of the adventure to Salem, MA and Barbara's mother's home. After a few day's of errands in Salem, Michael took off for Shanghai, China and work. He worked the World Swimming event there for two weeks – earning some much needed boat units. (translation: we call every $100 dollars a boat unit). He enjoyed seeing some of Shanghai and connecting with his workworld again. The crew he worked with was great.

While Michael was working in China, Barbara's first article in "Cruising World" magazine (August 2011 issue) came out so it was exciting to go to a magazine rack and pick it up!

Michael returned to Boston/Salem and helped get ready for Barbara's mom's 90th Birthday. Spending time with family was wonderful and it was nice to have a little longer than the past visits to really have some fun. We had the pleasure of seeing friends from all over. We are so grateful that Sandy made the trip from Oregon to visit. It was a blast. Tim came from Philly for a Saturday with his brother and Barbara was so happy to see them. And in Salem, we reconnected with good friends Nina and Kenny, Ted, and Barbara got to see Dorothy along with Joe and Paula. It was great to see everyone. The Birthday Event was great as the entire family was together and mom looked beautiful and turned 90 healthy and happy.

From Salem, Barbara and Michael travelled to Nashville to see Michael's brother and sister-in-law. His mother, Trish flew in for a family reunion as well and we had fun enjoying Derek and Margie's hospitality and the "pool." It was a really wonderful visit with time to connect. We even got to see Derek and his band "The Yardboys" perform at the Wilson County Fair. From Nashville Michael flew to Korea for more work – this time the track and field events in Daegu, South Korea. He worked much harder here and again, though it was that four letter word w-o-r-k, he did enjoy the experience and the folks on the job. More boat units will also come in quite handy.

Barbara flew on to St. Petersburg and had a whirlwind of things to do Our friends Richard and Rene were more than gracious hosts and threw a wonderful get-together for Barbara so she could see lots of friends. Aside from the enjoyable time with friends there were tons of things to get done. She came back to Panama with two big bags filled with boat parts and stuff (104 lbs of freight in two bags) and a 35 lb backpack a computer case! That was an adventure. She got back to the boat ater several planes, taxis and water taxis. Astarte was still afloat, but in much need of tender loving care.

Michae meanwhile was still in Korea working. He finished in early September and then went to St. Petersburg for a repeat of what Barbara had done – and Richard and Rene were kind enough to also repeat the process with him. He had a much shorter time there and really had to scramble to get everything done. He loaded his two bags with another 100 plus pounds of stuff and returned to Panama. Unfortunately, his bag of "freight" didn't arrive with him on the small plane to Bocas so we needed to make a return trip for that big bad bag.

Before Michael got back to the boat, our good friend Tom from Portland came to Panama for a visit. He was kind enough to schlepp our new cruising spinnaker here with him and a very large duffle. That's a good friend! Barbara got to enjoy his company for a bit and he helped get the boat off the dock and out at anchor to get a better breeze and fewer bugs. is required on can read about Tom's visit from Tom. He's still with us a few more days.

So that's the catch up on the Astarte blog. We are back on the boat now and need to store or install that 200 plus pounds of stuff and get the boat organized again. We'll be in this area while we accomplish those tasks and start getting the boat ready for the next big adventure.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Long Absence

We are back! Barbara and Michael are finally back on Astarte and after much cleaning and fixing stuff(mostly Barbara), things are getting back to normal. We were back in the states for visits and some work(Michael). We will fill in more details as we get back into the routine.

Our very, very good friend Tom is visiting and having a great time, in spite the heat and humidity for a "temperate zone boy"! We have had some "communication" issues and apologize for not keeping up to date after we returned. As soon as the repaired SSB gets installed, we should be fully back up to speed.

We hope to head off to Terra Oscura today and have a meal at Rana Azul and then take a walk in the next few days at the finca we visited before we left Astarte.

All is good and it is great to be back aboard.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: