November 29, 2002. Holandes cays, San Blas, Panama.
Yes we are still in the San Blas. As you may recall, we were going to leave last weekend for Providencia but were delayed by a powerful (and out of season) cold front which brought high winds and rain all the way down to Panama. Cold fronts are not supposed to do that until January. Then we worried about a tropical wave which had hurricane tendencies. The tendencies dissipated and the tropical wave passed over us quietly, so we were planning to leave Saturday 11/30 when the early forecast suggested that the winds would get lighter. It has been very windy with high seas for a week now. But, according to today’s forecast, weather conditions changed so that winds are supposed to stay strong until at least Tuesday. So we keep waiting. We have to sail close hauled (almost against the wind) to go to Providencia and we do not want to do that with 25 knots of winds and 9-foot waves if we can avoid it! It is much harder bashing against wind and waves than sailing with them downwind.
We are worried about the weather because these steady northerners and northeast winds are early for the season and may be indicating an early winter in the Caribbean. It may be difficult to find a good weather window to sail north in these conditions. But at least, we should not have to worry about hurricanes anymore in December (statistically).
So instead of spending Thanksgiving in Providencia, we celebrated it in the San Blas with our friends Neil and Brycea from Windchime. We had a traditional diner with most of the trimmings. The turkey came out of a can but since it was a very expensive can of high quality American turkey, it tasted almost like a freshly roasted one. In fact, Clark suggested we should forget the trouble of finding, defrosting, and cooking a turkey, with all the risk of not having it ready on time or over-cooking and drying it, and only buy the perfectly cooked and moist canned meat (search for Brinkman’s on the internet). We had a jar of good gravy, a can of whole cranberry sauce, a can of green beans, stuffing, fresh mashed potatoes and cornbread, with a cherry pie for dessert. It was wonderful to have such traditional comfort food, so far away from home, and we all savored it thoroughly. We missed our families but gave thanks for our friends and the beautiful surroundings.
It was so good that we forgot to take a picture before we finished dinner!
Today we moved from one anchorage to the other, inside the Holandes Cays, to gain more protection from wind and current. Our previous anchorage was very pretty but open to the 20 knot-wind and with a lot of current generated by the tall waves pushed over the reef by the high winds. The wind kept our batteries fully charged (thanks to the wind generator) but also reminded us constantly of the fact that we are stuck here, which was getting depressing. The wind waves also made any dingy ride quite wet.
Besides watching the weather, Clark has helped Contessa to fix the damage brought up by a lightning strike and has also worked with Neil to re-vamp his faulty charging system, which was destroying its batteries. We also re-installed the lee-cloths on Temptress to protect us from
boarding waves. I (Birgitta) have been more lazy, in part because I fell on a step and badly damaged some tendons in my toes, resulting in a lot of swelling and bruising. So I have been hobbling, avoiding putting weight on my right foot. That gave me time to ponder superstring theory thanks to a challenging physics book written by Brian Greene and to meander through one more Jane Austen novel.
We will keep listening to the weather reports, hoping for a reasonable weather window to sail north. I hope we will not have to wait too much longer as we will run out of fresh vegetables in a few days and we risk getting short on propane as well. We can survive on dry and canned food for a long time (given propane) but I do not relish testing my culinary skills with just canned vegetables.
We hope all our American families and friends had a great Thanksgiving (assuming our European families and friends have not adopted this celebration).