Loading...

2/12/2012

John's Passing

To all our friends, loveones, supporters and followers.....




5:30am on February 10th, 2012 My beloved husband, friend, captain, partner...John Harold Rodgers had finally find permanent relief from his physical suffering and peacefully passed in the hands of the Almighty God. John had been suffering long enough and wanted to sleep forever. He had said his goodbyes to all of us peacefully and knowing that the love of the Lord is in his heart. He had accepted Christ as his Saviour and Christ on Thursday morning just 24 hours before his last breathe.




John had inspired many, impacted alot of lives inwardly or outwardly. He wanted to be remembered that he lived a full life. A life that meant to be lived.  A bold and strong spirit that fought till the end, even his body is shutting down but his spirit is still strong and able to determine who is around and whats going on in his sorroundings.



He said in that morning that he don't think that he would make it throughout the night. And he didn't hope to end it this way but he is tired and wanted to just sleep. I told him it is not up to him and me but up to the Lord. The same day, all our friends from the marina, my pastor and his friend that introduced him to sailing showed up and for the whole day they have a bit piece of him. His parents have also have a quiet and personal time with him at that day. With many tears..we all gathered with laughter and jokes, and John even told the cruisers about some tips on reading the charts.
Amazing he can still recognize everybody. That includes me, of course!



Don and Jo are very good couple that John used to charter in the Bahamas, they been friends for almost 35yrs. It was a relief for me that they were there during those times. I called them in the morning and in five hours drive they arrived in Jacksonville, Florida. Don was one of John's very closest friends. They both share the same passion..and both good sailors. Indeed he was his good friend and he had always prove it. He loved John deeply and his lost is something that no one can pathom.

I am glad that John will not suffer anymore and will rest in peace, but part of me is aching for his presence knowing he will be no longer around me to hug, kiss, argue, talk to, run, share laugh and work around the boat and house. I will missed him and yes I promised him I won't be sad but try to move on with my life as he wished for me to live a fuller life like he did. I just need to absorb his absence and I am trying to get that over with...so help me God.

I have forgotten to mention that when we are staying at a friends house, she is a  herbalist and have saved her husbands life for a stage 3 prostate cancer just doing herbs. Indeed in three weeks the tumor that  was huge and sticking at my husband's nect shrunk, so we have to reduced his pain medication because the tumor is not pulling all the nerves anymore. However the tumor in his liver that metasteses had already been too late, it has swelled bad. For the last few weeks he had been jaundiced and have shown signs of shutting down. So we moved him from the house where he had hospice for a month, and moved to the center when we cannot manage his deterioration of strenght.  So theres really hope for cancer...if it was in early stage and it can still be reduced by eating raw fruits and veges and blend them into a juicer and have alot of herbal supplements.

We give special thanks for Maria Collins and family for helping me take care of my husband while I'm at work, this family bathe, cleans, fed, entertain, prepared his meds and walk him to the yard when Im not around and they keep him company. They are a heaven sent! I wouldn't be able to do this all by myself. 

Many thanks to alot of people that help, support, prayed, help us through all this storms. Our boat is still in Panama and we are still raising money to bring it back here in USA. We already have someoen to sail it back and knows the boat since he had been on it for many many times. We hope to get it back before the hurricane season. Or John will surely be so unhappy it will sit there again and rot!



I told John to go in peace and go to the light where the Lord awaits for him, I said that I am letting him go in peace and may peace find him and he should go in peace and time to let go. His love will stay in my heart and no one can ever compare it. He nodded and smiled. His eyes are still open and I whispered and said, Honey you need to close your eyes...anything that is unfinished business we will take care of it. You need to go in peace and knowing you were cared and loved, and everything from here will be alright. He closed his eyes and he took his last breathe.....I started singing...Amazing Grace.
It was the most peaceful time we have together. I have received a feeling of relief to whatever he is going through...he is now free...free from all the restrictions of life. Free from suffering and pain.


We all die anyways, its a matter or how and when. Nobody gets out here alive. Soon we all are be history. What we left is our legacy, how we touched and impacted other peoples lives. We came into this world naked, and surely when we passed we will also be naked. From ashes we came and so from ashes we return. I am glad that he finally John recieved the Lord before he rested forever. What profit a man if he gains the whole world and lost his own soul...as what the bible says. I guess my point is theres alot of us out there who are alive but are dead inside, or  wanted to die before their time and there are those who wanted to lived but have a shorter life. I guess we have to do what we can, when we can, to whoever we can,  wherever we might be.


http://youtu.be/9Q0Eyw3l3XM


In Memory of JOHN HAROLD RODGERS (04/17/51-02/10/2012) From your loving family and friends and supporters...May you rest in peace in the hands of the Almighty God.

1/02/2012

John going back to USA

Hello Friends..

John's health have deteriorated and he was confined in Panama Sto.Tomas hospital. His tumor came back in the neck and is now experiencing tremendous pain without the relief of pain relievers. It has occur to me as a wife to get him in Panama and bring him back to USA. The Panama doctors were unable to help him over here and has suggested he came back to USA. His fighting till the end. As for the boat, we are forced to leave it in Panama under the care of Taboga Moorings by Chuy and Susan, same couple that watched over our boat last year when John went to UCSF for his chemo and radiation treatments.

Right now our plan is for him to get back to USA and see what is his other options. We are looking forward to sell the boat to help us out for the medical cost and perhaps keep us a float in this situation. Both our savings have been drain as well our friends and family. We cannot sell the boat in Panama unless someone is willing to pay for its price or atleast a decent price on how much she is worth. Our only hope that our friend will be able to bring the boat back in the US soil as soon as we get situated in USA. However to do this we need some finances to make it work for the boat to cross the canal and get it back to Florida. We have the crew to make it but we do not have the funds and working on it to raise it.


I am hoping John will respond to macrobiotic as others respond well on this. Only miracles is all I can hope and pray and God to watch over him when time is near. Not much to say but alot of prayers and hope we have all the strenght to face what is ahead and able to resolve issues. John's fear is that the boat will be wasted in Panama and unable to secure whats left on us. Right now, it has been a challenge for us and without our friends, families and supporters I will think that life wouldnt have taken us this far.

Thanks to all.

11/01/2011

CHECKING IN TO OFFICIALDOM

CHECKING IN TO OFFICIALDOM
Visiting another country is about being accepted into the country. I have been to at least a half a dozen countries. Mostly via air, and checking into the country is a walk in the park, or should I type airport? Customs, Immigration, are right there waiting for you. You are just one of many, and they want to get rid of you as soon as possible. I am sure a cup of coffee, tea, or some other snack is waiting for them. Maybe they just want to get around the cooler, and talk over the day, or a new grandchild? Just like any other job it’s about getting it done, and over with. At least for the most part. The U.S.A can be as difficult as any other country. Actually I have had more unpleasant experiences in my own country that in a foreign country.
I sailed from S.F Ca. to Mexico on good old Frolic. After several months I left her in Puerta Vallarta. The auto pilot nearly killed me twice, and caused confusion a number of times. I went back to work to buy a wind vane, but every chance I had I would fly down for some sailing. This was often enough that even during winter I had a constant tan. I worked in a car dealership, and one of the ladies that I only knew from sight. She asked me why I was tanned all the time. I told her with my devious mind working.
Have you noticed that at times I am not here? She had, because her job depended on my job, and I was very efficient at what I did. I told her I have a sailboat in Mexico, and when I can I fly down to go sailing. She looked at me long, and hard. Then she asked just how much do they pay you in the backroom? My reply was not enough. I can afford the boat, but not new shoes while pointing at a pair of very worn tennies. I could see the gears turning in her head, and as we parted she smiled, but it wasn’t a smile of happiness. It was more of confusion.
On one of these trips returning to S.F. from Mexico. Going through immigration the official did not like my answers, and he sent me through as special line of Customs. It has been 20 years, so it may have been the other way around. I just can’t remember.
The agent was a tall Chinese man. His English was worse than my Spanish, and he was impatient. He wanted to know where I’ve been. now I am thinking this whole plane just arrived from Mexico. How does he not know where I have been as he thumbs through my passport?
I‘ve been to Mexico.
What were you doing there?
Sailing
What do you mean sailing?
You see I have a sailboat in Mexico, and I go down to sail when it’s cold, and raining here!
and now the fun begins!
Don’t you work?
No I SURE I DON’T!
Well what do you do for money? As he starts eyeing my belongings
I don’t
What do you mean you don’t? Now he is handling my belongings
.
Well, you see my wife supports me.
What do you mean your wife supports you?
She has a lot of money, so I have no need to work.
Now he is feeling the seams of my clothing, and looking deeper into my sea bag.
You mean while your wife works you just go sailing in Mexico????
YEP!
Now he is taking my shoes apart, and I can see frustration building. He knows for sure he’s got some kind of criminal on his hands!
How long were you there?
Now I am thinking it’s stamped on the passport stupid, but I reply with a smile.
5 days
5 days? only 5 days to go too Mexico to go sailing. I can see the gears turning in overdrive.
By now everything is dumped out on the table, and he is feeling the seams of my sea bag in desperation to find some contraband.
You can look all you want for as long as you want, but you won’t find anything there. I gave that crap up years ago, and went straight. I guess I am just lucky to be a kept man. With a very straight face, and a huge smile lurking underneath it.
I think he would’ve loved to have choked me! Instead he stuffed everything in the bag hap hazard, and told me to leave while glaring at me. I was giggling all the way out of the building.
Mel is a Filipina, and a citizen of the Philippines. She is a legal immigrant here. This took a lot of money, and time to get her into the country. We had to jump through a lot of hoops too. For an example immigration wanted proof I could support her. They wanted bank statements of my business, and personal account. I asked if my tax returns would do? Oh no we want the statements. I told them it was well over 200 pages, because of my business. Well, they wanted it anyway, and with a nasty reply it was well send them!
So I spent 2 days opening, and pulling out sheets of paper to make copies. Then folding them up in order again, and placing them back in the file. They got the 200+ pages, and I am sure no one really took a look to diagnose what it all meant. Along with other requirements of her health, back ground check, and just an overall are you worthy to enter.
Now the Filipinos were some brave warriors in WWII. They fought alongside us, and in the jungles alone. They think America is just the greatest place on earth, and love Americans. They have shown loyalty to us that far surpasses most countries. They were also promised access to the USA. Many of many promises to them have been broken, yet they still love us. This is why I think it is a slap in our face for illegals to just be granted amnesty. That is yet another story, but an example of officialdom here in the USA.
After Mel arrived there was yet more officialdom. Some of it was pleasant while at times we dealt with tiny tyrants. I have power, and you will wilt for me! NOW I NEED YOUR PAPERWORK NOW is what was yelled at us. All because we didn’t have the paperwork in hand as we approached the counter. The woman was not 4’10”, and slamming the palms of her hand on the counter. Once again her English was barely understandable. She had Mel so flustered she couldn’t find the copies of her photos. She in a very loud voice demanded we leave, and go get copies made across the street. I asked when we return if we should get to the rear of the line, or come to the counter? Her palms slamming the counter said come here to me!
Between my clenched teeth I told her it’s only a question, and I am not able to read your mind!
On an earlier visit we met officer SO & SO. He was intrigued with our questions about what to do about our situation. He asked as many questions as we did. Our plan was to leave the USA., and board Imagine in St. Maarten. Then sail her home to S.F., and find work again. He was extremely helpful, and even made phone calls to find information, so we could make good decisions on what we would do in the future. It turns out officer SO
& SO was the manager also.
As we left the counter of the tiny tyrant. I told her she should talk with officer SO & SO. He knows us, and has our personal information. Whenn we returned we approached the counter, and stood to the side while the person in front of us was dismissed. Officer SO & SO was standing in the background. We waved to him, and smiled. He waved back, and gave a smile of his own. The tiny tyrant looked over her should. When she turned to us there was the prettiest smile on her face. Her voice was sweet, and kind. Maybe she was bi-polar, or maybe she was just warned about her behaviour? I don’t have the answer, but my sneaky suspicion is. Since officer SO & SO stood there the whole time there was some influence from that. Our paperwork was finished in a blur of busy hands, and we were dismissed. We smiled, and waved at officer SO & SO. He smiled back, and stepped into his office. I looked the lady in the eyes, and mumbled BITCH!
Everything changes when you enter a country via sailboat. The line is not easy as in the airport. As a matter of a fact there is no line. What there is are buildings that are usually on the other side of town waiting for you to find them. it’s kind of like an Easter egg hunt for adults. You just never know what color of personality you will find. The same as the USA. as in my examples above. Now throw in a different culture, and a possible language barrier. Not to mention finding these eggs all over town. This is why many use an agent, and an agent makes life simple. He takes the needed papers, and returns soon with stamps of clearance and approval for you to stay.
What takes them hours may take you days. AH, but there is a cost to this this simplicity. Sometimes it’s a fair price, and others you know you’ve been cheated. When do you use an agent? Mostly it’s a feeling about what to do. Other cruisers will advise you, but like all free advice sometimes you get what you pay for!
The easiest place we have been has been the Bahamas. I have checked in at Bimini maybe a dozen times at least. The good thing about there is that the buildings are next to each other. It’s usually a matter of 30 minutes. They relieve you of some cash, and you’re in!
While coming from the Caribbean our fist stop was San Salvador. We anchored off the town, and I took the dinghy into the marina. There were no other boats to be seen. Until I came into the marina. An area cut out of the reef, and rock that was nothing more than a small rectangle. Possibly it could hold a dozen boats, possibly? In there was one boat being sailed single-handed by an Englishman. He too was checking in, and had directions. If memory serves me right there was basically one road around the island, and a few offshoots in town. The direction were to follow this road until the airport, and then enter it. It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful walk along with my new companion. Check in was easy too. All officials were at the airport, and it was a matter of walking from one room to the next. STAMP, STAMP, STAMP, and you’re in in a matter of 30 minutes again.
Nassau has to be the very easiest of them all. If you check into a marina. The marina will call, and all officials come down at the same time. They are friendly, and helpful. In 15 minutes they have your money, and you’ve been STAMPED, STAMPED, STAMPED. As I remember they always told us too enjoy their country, and we always have. I think the Bahamas is one of earth’s greatest pleasures for a cruiser. You can have naked benches without a footprint, but your own. You can be naked in this solitude if you wish without offending anyone. Hell the birds, and fish aren’t embarrassed. Then there are the cruising gatherings. Where boats abound with lots of social life. Many times that solitude is just minute away with a walk, or a couple of hours to sail to the next island! I’ve been cruising the Bahamas since 1981, and I sorely miss them already. I doubt I will ever return. I have great memories, and lots of pictures to remind me of their BEAUTY!
All of this leading up to my current situation. During my cancer treatment my brain was cooked, and poisoned to kill the cancer cells. Unfortunately the chemo touched every cell of your body. Some of the good ones wither & die as well as the bad ones, hopefully. The radiation I can imagine is like crawling into a microwave. Once again there is collateral damage. They can narrow it down, but my experience is that they don’t. They’re taking on areas not affected yet to stop it from spreading. I feel in a lot of ways I have had to relearn some things. My hearing was not all that good from my work. The treatment made it worse now I have hearing aids. These can make matters worse at times by picking up background noises, and drowning out what you need to hear. The reason being is the microphone is behind the ear, and pointed behind you. Everything behind you is magnified many times over. While what is in front of you, and what you need to hear is only magnified a wee bit. You’re left hearing unneeded information. Such as people walking, fans, tires on the road, and the list goes on. It was suggested by the doctor too me to get this kind. The reason being is they are more water resistant, and I am a sailor that needs to be in the rain at times.
Tagalog is a mixture of Spanish, and it allows Mel to think in Spanish. While I have to think in English, and then translate. By this time a new sentence has already been spoken, and I am lost. With the loss of my hearing, and the hearing aids added it has become very difficult for me to converse. For these reasons since we returned to Imagine in May. Mel has pretty much taken over the check in requirements. I sit off to the side like I am being baby sat. I have no problem with this, because what ever it takes to accomplish our goal I will do. Besides Mel is as cute as a button nose on a teddy bear. I know I would prefer to exchange thoughts with her over me if I was the official.
The problem being is she’s not here anymore. Deep inside my chest she is always with me, but in reality it’s me alone here. As I typed above I have no problem with this. This is what it’s going to take to accomplish our goals. I do feel for the officials that have to deal with me. Usually I don’t have my ears in although I carry them with me all the time. I am trying to avoid the confusing background noise.
This is kind of how it goes in the office. I approach the counter, and say I want to check in. Of course I have asked if anyone speaks English in my best Spanish. Sometimes I get a wave of a hand like a see saw board. Meaning that their English is so so. I tell them my Spanish is so so. We smile at each other, and start to make our attempt to communicate. We pass back, and forth some information. All the while I am asking them to repeat themselves. Then I remember I have got to put in my ears. I explain my ears are no good anymore, and I get another smile.
So my ears are in, and I can hear the fans of air conditioners. A woman walks by on the hardwood floor wearing high heels. It sounds to me like the floor goes from ear to ear, and she is walking inside my brain, CLICK, CLICK, CLICK! Some one walks into the office, and I hear every step. The door sounds like it has been slammed shut with my ear being the keyhole, OUCH! You can go ahead, and laugh, because I do all the time. As I typed I feel bad for the officials that have to deal with me. Now that I have set up the situation. Let me get to my point of checking in here in Panama. We used an agent to transit the canal. When we left, and had to return we used the agent again. On our third time Mel did the paperwork with the officials when we moved the boat. When we arrived from the states we came via plane, so there was the easy, and convenient line at the airport where everything is done at once. Now I have returned to Panama alone, and will face officialdom alone with bad ears, and bad Spanish.
I took 74 hours to sail from Costa Rica, Golfito to get here, and now we begin. I arrive Sunday evening, so I will, and appropriately so, start on a Monday morning…..AHHH the beginning of the week! My first problem is Mel’s system of filing. Running my own business for over a decade. I have a very efficient system. Mel’s is a wee bit more complicated. She doesn’t throw away, or sort anything. She does well with this, but for me. I have to now sort through 3 other check in, and 2 check outs. I spend my morning with papers spread all over the table. My brain not being what it use to be. I struggle with what is what. I set something aside to only pick it up again, and then I don’t know why I picked it up. I am looking for the cruising permit. In hopes I am still covered, so I can avoid the $193 fee. While we moved around in June having work done on the boat. We were double charged, so I am trying to avoid that.
Papers in order, and the Captains office a 2 block walk once ashore. I decide to start there. The good thing is when I walk in they remember me, and he speaks ENGLISH! He does have an accent, and a soft voice. I ask him to repeat himself, and then remember my ears. I stuff them into my ears, and they always feel like an elbow going in. The secretaries keyboard sounds like an old fashioned typewriter, and the damned a/c unit is whirring like mad. I tell him I want to check in, and he tells me to go to immigration first. I ask him which one? He doesn’t know which one, but then come back here with a crew list, boat registration, and passport that’s stamped. I ask if I am going to need a crew list. I have no crew, because it is me alone. He looks at me with a surprised look. He ask is I had sailed here alone? Last time he saw me in July I was a bit pale, looking rather anemic, and had crew for help. I told yes, it’s only me. He told me I looked great, and that’s a big boat to single-hand. I walk out of his office about an inch taller.
The day is already coming to an end, so I wait for the next morning to go to the Balboa Yacht Club for immigration. I am told I will need to go to another office, but I know where this one is, and immigration is immigration isn’t it……wrong! As always my first question is do you speak English, and the answer is a flat NO! OK, but my Spanish is very small, and it begins.
I have hand written a crew list, and have an old copy of the boat’s registration. Unfortunately I don’t have a copy of my passport, or my Zarpe. A Zarpe is the paperwork you get leaving one country with the destination of your next port. He wants my original Zarpe. They don’t have a copy machine, so he tells me to come back tomorrow with a copy of my passport, and stamps my passport. I know there is a copy place between the 2 offices, because we have used them before. Unfortunately the copy machine isn’t working, and now the end of the day is coming again.
Next morning I am at the Captain’s office again. I know they have a working copy machine. He makes me a copy of my passport, and reminds me to bring my Zarpe. I tell him that immigration took my Zarpe. He says no he has no need for the Zarpe that he needs it. So off I go back to immigration with my passport copy, and in search of my Zarpe.
Immigration is all smiles when he sees me, and I hand over my copy of my passport. I tell him I need my Zarpe for the Captain. He’s not getting it, so I word it differently. I word it several times differently, and finally he realizes what I want. Oh no he needs it. I tell him the Captain says he doesn’t, the Captain needs it, and he wants the original. I point out his name on paperwork, and ask him to call. He says no, and hands me the Zarpe RELUCTANTLY! I can see there is doubt in his mind. I ask if he would like a copy, and he’s all smiles again. I am thinking does anyone know what is needed here? Where in the hell is Mel? Oh yeah she’s in the states working to support Imagine, and my deaf butt!
The Captain is all smiles. I have his Zarpe, but not his $180 US Dollars. I tell him I will have to send for the money. He tell me it’s okay, and I inform him it may take 3-4 days. He’s okay with that, and tells me if it doesn’t come this week. Then next week will be ok too, we’re closed on the weekend.
Back too the boat to get the laptop, and return to the dock where the little shopette has free wifi. I am lucky Mel is online, and has some money. She transfers it to our account. She wants me to go to the ATM now, and get it. This way she will know I have the money. I pack up the laptop, and get over to the ATM a couple of shops away. I have the money in my hot hand, and head back to the shopette. Now she can be at ease. She knows I am in Panama, and within the day I will be legal.
I see her webcam, and it’s good to see her. It’s been over a month we have been apart. It’s not out of sight out of mind for me. It’s absence makes the heart grow fonder. We get in some chat time, and share our cams. It’s getting dark, and I am getting hungry & tired. I make my way back to the boat, fill my tummy, get in some reading, and go to sleep land.
With a copy of my Zarpe in hand. I once again greet Immigration. I ask if I will have to go to immigration on the other side of town. Why he ask, I am immigration, and you’re stamped. Off to the Captain’s office once again with money this time. As usual, he is all smiles, and friendly as he finishes my paperwork. I hand out the money, and the secretary looks at me with a questioning look. I just know something is wrong as she talks to the Captain. He tells me I need $13 more. I repeat what he told me earlier it is $180. He says, but there are taxes! I am good with that, so I put down another $20. They look at each other again. We have no change he says, and she repeats it in Spanish. I tell him you trusted me, and now I will trust you. Keep the $200, and I will bring back the proper change tomorrow.
He walks me outside, and points to a small shop to get change. I know this is not good as I walk in. There are no customers. I pick up a package of cookies to get change. The lady tells me she has no change I can’t have the cookies. I am thinking I don’t want the damned cookies I want change. I walk outside into the lobby. Down the hallway is a store with a hundred customers. It’s a no duty store, and a bus has just unloaded. II act as if I am with the bus, and greet the armed guards as the open the doors. The cash registers are ching chinging like mad as wealthy people are spending money quickly. A new register open, and with a smile I walkup, and ask for change. She sees I have nothing in my hand to purchase, but with a shrug of her shoulders exchanges my twenty for 2 fives, and a ten, YES!
I walk back into the Captains office all proud of my latest move for change. I lay down the 2 fives, and the ten. They look at each other. I look at them. We look at each other, and I hear we have no change as looks pass back, and forth! They exchange a couple of sentences in Spanish. I am ready to surrender the $2.00 to them. The Captain opens a drawer, looks through an envelope. There is the Holy Grail of CHANGE! I get my change, and with fear in my voice I ask, am I finished. Oh no he says you have to go to immigration on the other side of town. I ask for the address, and he shrugs his shoulders.
I have been told the where abouts, but I don’t know how to get there, and a taxi is too much to spend. I do know how to get ¾ of the way there by bus, and that is a total of 50 cents. Then a very short taxi ride. It’s only mid day, and I want to get this over with. I take the 25 cent bus ride to downtown. Then another 25 cent bus ride to the outskirts of town to the Albrook Mall. Once there I walk up to the first taxi in line. I ask if he knows where the Diablo Immigration is. He nods his head yes, so I get in.
I tell him what I am told. You go to Reys Market, go across the tracks, up the hill, and next to a new restaurant is immigration. I tell him this, because he is asking me where it is? I thought we established the fact that he knew before I got in? I really have got to work on my Spanish!
After crossing the tracks we go up the hill. I am looking around. but he is driving pretty fast for someone who is as lost as I am. I see a building of possibilities, but he goes right past, and past, and further. I tell him to ask, but like most men he doesn’t. After driving into a residential area he gives in. He ask, but this person doesn’t know so we drive on. We come to an official looking building. It is definitely government of some kind, and he ask again. This person doesn‘t know either. He drives off away from the building. I see the tracks again, so I repeat the directions. We drive back to the train crossing road, turn left up the hill. There, there is the building of possibilities. I point it out again, and he pulls into the drive way. There is a group of men outside, and the drivers ask. One man points to the steps leading upstairs. I get out, and pay. Now my Spanish is weak, but I am sure what I heard is this from the taxi driver to the group of men. These foreigner never know where they want to go. I thanked him, and went up the steps.
There was never a sign, or indication on the street, or on the building that this is immigration. On the door about the size of a small notepad was a sign though. This is a cause of relief I am finally at immigration. I ring the bell, and they buzz me in.
The lady motions me to come to her, and my question is. Habla Inglese? there is a smile from both with a definate NO! It doesn’t take long, and we realize I need copies. In my hurry to get out of the Captain’s office I forgot to ask for more copies. NO, we don’t have a copy machine here. You have to go to Reys Market, and get copies. I ask inside Reys, and she tells me yes.
I walk outside, and down the street. It’s about 3 blocks away, and it’s starting to sprinkle. I am thinking just my &%#(^%# luck! I walk a block, and the sprinkle stops. I look to the sky, and say AH my lucky day! I walk inside Reys, and ask for the copy machine. No one seems to know if there is a copy machine. Finally I am told no there isn’t. I begin to walk away, and a lady approaches the last person I spoke to. She stops me as doing so, and I wait. She looks at me, and in my poor Spanish if she speaks English. She replies NO to me, and ask what it is I want. I tell her, and I can only guess compassion came over her. In perfect English she explained there is a copy machine, and they will make me my copies.
She walks away, and disappears somewhere in the store. The girl can’t figure out how to make a copy. Finally the man who told me NO comes over, but he is of no use also. After 5minutes they surrender too the machine, and give up. The man walks towards me, and with his finger indicates to follow him. We walk to the door. He points his finger across the parking lot. THERE, YES right there in big red letters is a copy place. What joy fills my heart at this sign!
I walk in, and here comes my usual question, habla Inglese? NO, but this is easy. I already picked out every know piece4 of paper I have to be copied. Not once, not twice but several times. I am thinking should I get copies of my library card from Hayward Ca.? I mean what’s the chances they will ask for that? I decide to live on the wild side, and push the thought aside.
With many copies in hand I walk outside, and it’s starting to sprinkle. I look to the sky, and repeat. I need a *^$(&@# break, and it stops immediately For once someone is listening, and it appears to be the rain gods. AH MY lucky day is my thought again.
I am in the groove now, and making progress. I am buzzed in. The lady indicates to take a seat. I sit for 5 minute, 20 minutes, people come, and go. More time passes, and then. Then there is this familiar sound ringing in my ears. I look to my left, and there as big as a house it seems. THERE is a copy machine spitting out ten, twenty, hundreds it’s possible thousands of copies one after another. In my mind I shrug my shoulders. I can hear her supervisor telling her. THERE WILL BE NO UNOFFICAL COPIES MADE HERE. I am thinking but this is official, and I am going to give you money for that stamp, and visa. Just charge me for the &(%^@#% copies. She gets up to gather her copies. I bite my tongue, and just smile at her. After all this is the land of OFFICIALDOM, and you don’t want to make any enemies here.
She’s pleased I have everything in order. I am pleased she’s pleased, and everything will soon be in order. She pulls out a stamp half the size of the page of my passport. Carefully she takes aim, no that’s not right, so she takes aim again, the stamp is applied. I give a sigh of relief, but wait she is reaching for tape. She covers the stamp with tape. Then she reaches for another stamp. She takes aim, but NO she realigns her hand then sets the stamp down. She forgot her initials. She initials it, and picks up the second stamp again. She takes aim, and let there be mercy if she misses, but she doesn’t, and it’s applied. Then more tape, and she stand erect with a smile, and her hand out. Ten dollars please. Hell I would gladly give more if I had it to get it over with.
I hand her the ten, and with fear I ask….CUSTOMS NEXT? She replies yes. With more fear I ask…..WHERE? I get a shrug of the shoulders. A man who has come in, and sat down listens to me. He ask if I have a car. I tell him NO I walk, and bus it. He tells me he is going, and offers a ride. 3 times in one day is more luck than I might be able to take! He ask if I am here on business, or pleasure. I tell him pleasure. Then he ask for my paperwork. He looks it over, and walks to the lady at the desk. He points to something, and they have a conversation. She shrugs her shoulders. He turns to me, and advises me I have no need for customs. That I am good to go. I look at the lady, and she shrugs her shoulders once again. Come on now I am a man. I can take it, go ahead, and give me some more luck, but I have my doubts.
Back in the anchorage I stop to say hello to Donna. Now if I had followed Donna’s advice in the beginning. I would have gone straight to Diablo Immigration to begin with. I might have had problems with copies anyway. I would’ve started in the right location though. I told her my story of customs, and she agreed with the man at immigration. I have decided to press my luck for just one more time of the day, and consider myself finished with OFFICALDOM!
One last thought. It took me longer to sail the 400 some odd miles to get here. Than it took to check in to the world of OFICIALDOM!

10/14/2011

TESTING


TESTING..KNOCK KNOCK 1,2,3,TESTING..KNOCK KNOCK 1,2,3, do not change your channel this is only a TEST!
I am in yet another test. It seems like my life is a test. Another challenge, another hill to climb, another hill to decent. Pick myself up, and dust myself off. Push harder against that load, and move that mountain. This test is just about half over, and so far so good.




In 93 I singled handed Frolic to Mexico from S.F. Ca.. I hadn’t meant to do that, but my wife at the time just couldn’t let go of the security. The night I met her she asked me what my dream was. I told her I had just bought a business, and plan to sell it in six years, and sail away. I didn’t know how to sail, but I had been on other people’s boats, and on a charter from Lauderdale to the Bahamas. I was sick with tonsilitis most of the trip to the Bahamas. It didn’t stop me from snorkeling, or having a good time half the time. The other half I laid in my bunk thinking I might die. This was in 81, and the hook was set.


5 years, and 11 months I had slipped the dock lines of Frolic. She stood on the dock saying I can’t believe you’re doing this. I told her I got the boat, I fitted her out. It was obvious that over the past 18 months what I was preparing to do. I backed her out of the slip, and never looked back. I wanted to look over my shoulder, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that.
I made it to Cabo, and she joined me there. We sailed to Puerto Vallarta, and then I went home with her. I had been thrown across the salon, and off the boat. Only to be drug back onto Frolic before I hit the water. I was going home to buy a wind vane. One thing led to another, and the autopilot was never replaced. The relationship soured, and I was on the street. Eventually made it back to Frolic, and I finally got her home to the S.F. Bay Area.


As life moved on for the next couple of decades there were still more tests. You already know how I ended up in Golfito, Costa Rica. Bad crew, bad timing, and a bad economy. Saint Melanie flew home to work. She will be supporting Imagine, and I until it’s time once again to leave Panama. Yep that’s right the old burning bridges, and back to Panama.

Imagine in Panama
Bridge of the Americas, Panama

Actually I am sitting in the navigation station writing this. The boat is gently tossing this way, and that way. Being alone, and needing to get back to Panama. Has kind of left me between a rock, and a hard spot. Hah what else is new? I am alone, and need to sail 356 miles. I thought I had some help, but the logistics just couldn’t come together for her. I needed to go, and so I decided I would test myself.

When I went to Mexico I was 19 years younger, and a whole lot stronger. The sail then wasn’t so much a test as it was to see what’s over the horizon. Now with my recent health problems. It’s a test, a test of what I am made of, a test to see if in my sailing abilities I have learned to finese the boat instead of muscle it. OOOOOH SHIT, I got to go there’s a test outside, a big black squall. Be back when it passes…..
Well, I got lucky, and nothing came of it. Although I did roll up the jib, so I could drive into the wind, and drop the main. The blackness started to disappear into gray. It thinned out, and moved away. I rolled out the headsail, and am on my way to Punta Mala.

This is the kind of test I am typing about. What will I do, how will I do, or even if I can do it. Mel would be proud of me. She always wants to put the sails away when there is any indication of problems. Where I wait, and want to see if we are going to miss it. Sometimes this leads to a wee bit of excitement. I believe in keeping the boat moving. Now though with my diminished strength, and being alone. I was very cautious, and just got rid of all sail. Then slowly added some to the boat as I felt the squall was moving away.



It’s gray, and ugly outside, but at least that keeps the burning sun in hiding. There has been little wind that is steady. Last night though there was a nice wind, and I turned off the motors. To just hear the boat sailing with no mechanical noise except for Otto the autopilot. He tends to squeak, and groan. He doesn’t eat, drink, or ever fuss about missing sleep. Just to hear the boat sailing is a beautiful thing!


Imagine was doing 8-9 knots with a reduced mainsail, and a full headsail. She was smooth, and whispering through the water. Unfortunately it only lasted for a couple of hours, and then back down to 6 knots. Then down to 4, and one of the motors came on to assist. I want to keep at least 5 knots, so I can just get there. I worry about lack of sleep & freighters.

I can only sleep 20 minutes at a time. Freighters come over the horizon, and can crush you in that amount of time. I also sleep on the cockpit bench. I want to be able to feel the wind. I can tell if it increases, changes direction, and worst of all if the wind tempature drops. Well, that means a squall is coming. I need to be prepared for that, and not surprised. Sleeping inside the boat insulates me from all these things. I see one right now, so I better change my course. Seems like we both, freighter & I, have to nudge the wheel over a wee bit. That means some one is on watch. Which is not always the case. Sometimes there no one at the wheel. On the freighter, and Imagine, since I might be napping. Ah how I miss the luxury of another set of eyes!
Tonight will be a busy night. I am coming to the turn to the Panama Canal, so ships will be coming, and going constantly. I’ll be drinking a lot of tea,, until I turn the corner, and can get out of the shipping lane. The ocean is like a hiway with much traffic in certain places. They have their own road to cross the oceans. It’s pretty easy to be relaxed in some places, and get lots of sleep. While others can be nerve racking for a single-hander. Handling the lack of sleep, and heavy traffic is part of the test though.

Well, it’s been 24 hours, and things have gone smooth. More motoring than I want, but it’s that time of the year for little wind. The wind is suppose to kick in tonight, and I am wishing it will. I would like to use less fuel. Not to mention the noise as compared to sailing with just the wind.
Typing of freighters there is China Shipping in my sights. It appears we are on a collision course. She is still several miles away, but I keep a watch on her progress. If you take up a piece of the boat while you stay in one position. Then line it up with the freighter. If the freighter stay aligned in position with this piece of the boat. Then you are on a collision course.
I call them several times over the VHF radio before they answer. I identify myself, and my position. The man on the other end of the radio isn’t happy. He asks again where I am. I repeat my position, and then there’s silence. I can only assume he is looking for me. Then he asks in his unhappy voice if I am plotting him. He is asking if I am following our positions. Only they use fancy instruments to plot those around them. My reply is that yes I am by eyeball. I hear in his voice a questioning statement when he replies EYEBALL? Yes, I am just a poor single handed sailor using my eyeball, and it appears our courses are merging. SILENCE once again, and it is nerve wracking. I give it a moment, then state that I would like to maintain my course, and stay out of the shallow water, or keep from tacking.

More SILENCE, and I am beginning to think I will have to tack, or fall away to the shallow water. Turning into the shallow water means all of a sudden with the same wind. That the waves will increase dramatically. Less than a mile away the depth goes from well over 1500 feet to around 200 feet. Tacking means rolling up the headsail, so I can turn across the face of the wind. The once across I roll out the head sail until I am sure we are no longer merging.
Then roll up the headsail, and turn back across the wind again, and then unroll it. Also adjust the position of the main each time. I have made the decision to tack, and I am preparing the lines to do so. I notice he is turning, and as I watch he is turning maybe 60 degrees. It’s much easier for them to turn the wheel than it is for me to turn the sailboat. We part, and both of us go on our merry way. I think the grumpiness of the man on the radio is due to I have woke him up?
I am past Punta Mala meaning Point Bad in Spanish in the feminine case. Just the name is enough to give me worry. Names were given for a reason. Mostly they are of description, and when it says on a chart a bad point it is for a reason. This is a place where the waves crossing the Pacific Ocean come to rest against the shoreline. WELL, maybe rest isn’t a good description. More like come to crash against the shoreline. The waves have had a long fetch, distance traveled, and have the chance to grow.

The water drastically lessens in depth which also makes the waves grow in heigth. So, because of this I am giving Punta Mala a wide berth while rounding her, and round her I do. I have dropped the main, because my home made batten has broke. A batten is a flat stick running through the sail to help keep a good shape as in a wing of a plane.
Imagine is sailing fine with the wind on the quarter, headsail only, and doing 6, then 7, then 8 knot. Back down to 7, and then 6 knots while she being to climb to 7, and then 8 knots. Are you seeing a pattern here? This is the boat climbing up the back of a wave which takes more effort, and slows her down. Then getting up on top, and starting the sleigh ride down the face of the wave, and being pushed by it at the same time. This is called surfing, and it’s what we sailor like with the wind behind the beam, center of the boat.

It’s time for one of my small naps, and I set the cooking alarm. When the alarm goes off, and wakes me I am in a deep sleep. It takes a moment to open my eyes, and then I feel a different sensation from the boat. She is smooth, and there is a wonderful hissing of her passing through the water. She feels strong, and able at the moment. I can feel the powers of the boat, the wind, and the water. I sit up, and look out. The white caps are much larger, and more plentiful.

The wind has picked up, and the boat is nearly flying on the wave tops it seems. I step inside the navigation station, and with a glance the GPS is reading 11+ knots. It doesn’t even register in my mind how much the + is. I know we are going too fast. Remember way back when I was sewing on the sail? I had to sew the clew. The clew being a steel ring attatched to the sail, so ropes can be attatched to the ring so you can move the sail left to right, and back again. This needs more attention from a sewing maching. I have doubts of how strong I made it. If it comes loose I have a big problem, so my goal is to reduce the sail, or roll it up.


The wind has gone from 15-18 knots to maybe 25, or 30 knots. This may not sound like a lot of wind. Next time you are riding in the car at 30 mph. Put your hand out the window, and lay it flat against the wind. The turn your hand so it’s no longer a wing, but a barrier, and flat against the wind. Can you feel the difference? There is quite a difference in force isn’t there? Now imagine your hand being the size of your living room wall. Just think of the force that would be with the same wind, that’s what I am typing about, it’s hell of a lot of pressure, and I need to reduce the area before something breaks, and RIGHT NOW!


I the line holding the clew, the sheet, and then I roll up a few feet of the sail. Then I ease some more sheet, and roll in a few more feet of sail. I do this until the whole length of 25 feet of sail is rolled up. With Mel it is easy. She feeds out the sheet while I roll it up, and things go mostly fairly smoothly. Alone I have to inch, and finesse everything that I use to muscle. Finally the headsail is rolled up, and Imagine is still surfing at 6-7 knots. The force of the wind against her body is pushing her up the back side of the waves, along with some inertia. Then once on the top gravity kicks in a wee bit, and off she goes at a higher speed.
She has got my attention, and I am awake now! She is doing this under bare poles. Which means she has no sail up at all. I feel she is a wee bit squirrely as she goes down the wave. I decide to roll out about 6 foot of sail. This will give strength pulling from the bow, and help keep her going straight forward. This takes pressure off of the autopilot to help keep her under control. Now we’re doing 6,78,7,6,7,8 knots riding the waves much smoother, and steadier. Another test has been put behind me.

If Mel had been with me in this situation. I would’ve put 2 reductions, reefs, in the main sail size. Had half the headsail out, and we would’ve been doing 12-15 knots steady riding the waves. The boat would be like a train on rails going fast, and steady. We’ve done it numerous times, and I just love the sensation of all the powers coming to be in the movement of the boat.
It’s 6:30 am on Sunday October the ninth in the year of 2011, and the sun is above the horizon. There are still clouds in the sky, so the sky is grey. I am sitting at the salon table having breakfast. The wind has calmed down. The headsail is all the way out again. No motors running, and life is GOOD! As I sit there looking out the 8 front windows. I see a large shape maybe 10 feet from the side of the boat. It goes higher than the boat itself, and I realize after being startled it’s a dolphin. I stand up, and look at the bows, and they are playing there, frolicking.



Normally I would go to the bows to watch. Without Mel here means I have to put on my harness clip onto the boat climb up over the top. Unclip, and clip on again at a new point to get to the bows. I just stand there, and smile. They always give me a warm fuzzy feeling when they ride the bow waves. I feel as though they know what I feel. I have laid on the bow of Frolic, and dropped my hand down. We have looked into each other eyes, and a feeling of knowing over comes me. Knowing what I do not know, but the feeling is there. A sense of we understand each other.

I finish breakfast, and clean up my mess. I step outside, and I can see the Islas de Farollones. I get the feeling I am home, and the word home is a feeling of security. I have been here 4 times, and several of those have been returning for reasons that be. In the distance I can see Taboga where I kept Imagine for nearly 9 months while I was being treated. Once agai n I can’t be thankful enough for the understanding, and help that came from Chuy, and Susan while Imagine was in their hands.
The clouds are breaking apart, and to my left I notice a partial rainbow. It’s no a large rainbow, with extreme colors as some I have seen. Yet is a rainbow, and like the feeling of the dolphins, and the word home give me. So does a rainbow. I want to sail in front of Chuy’s home, but that will leave me anchoring in the dark. Anchoring will be yet another test.

As I am turning away from Taboga I put in my favorite CD. It was made for me by a friend who also sails. On the label is my naked butt while sailing into Puerta Vallarta on the bow of Frolic. My butt is white as can be. While the rest of me is like a dark chocolate. One year I sent it out as a Christmas card. It was titled DREAMING OF A WHITE CHRISTMAS, and did I have fun with that! I sent it without a signature thinking everyone would know it was me. Many didn’t know it was me , and some were accused of being me. While others claimed it was them. Even Lat38 the famous S.F. sailing magazine printed, and Identified me as #141 of the 2nd annual Baja Haha cruise to Cabo. They even had the nerve to call me eye candy….hahahaha
The second song is Imagine by John Lennon, and the third is ‘TIL THERE WAS YOU, and as this song started. There was a strong grasp on my heart. Tears came to my eyes as I thought of Mel. We first shared this song in the Philippines at the resort of Pearl Farm soon after we met. We were seated for dinner with a view over the pool, and Gulf of Davao. The troubadors asked if we had a request. I asked Mel, and misunderstand her sending them away. I could see in her eyes I was wrong. I got up, and went to them, and asked if they knew ‘TIL THERE WAS YOU.
They did, and came back to the table a moment later. There was maybe three strums on the guitar, and Mel looked at me, and said ‘TIL THERE WAS YOU with questioning eyes. It was like a strike of lightning that hit me. It was a sealed deal for me. She is the one. Not number one, but the only one. Number 1 indicates there might be a #2? It’s kind of funny. I don’t know if Mel feels this way, but I do, that it is OUR SONG.


Pearl Farm, Island Garden of Samal-Philippines
We have our uncomfortable moments like all couples do, but when we return to each others arms. The glue that holds us together becomes stronger each time. Many feelings swept over me while the CD played on. Many of the songs are related to feelings that I have. Some of love, the lack of love, and of course there are the sailing songs. For now life is a crow bar prying us apart. Only is our grip lost, and I can not reach out for her hand. But those fragile strings that intertwine our hearts. They have become chains of huge dimensions, and will keep us together! I miss her affection, her body, her laugh, her smile, her pouty face when she wants something. Because love is a very complicated thing I even miss our disagreements. Not because I like to argue, but it means she is with me.


I avoid getting close to Taboga, and sail on the outside of little Toboga. I am in a hurry to get to the anchorage in day light. It may take me awhile to get the anchor down. I have never anchored Imagine alone. Someone has always been with me to drive the boat while I drop it, and set the hook. Because the bow is narrow on a mono hull. It’s a matter of dropping the hook, and letting the wind blow you back to set it. With a catamaran when the wind blows the bows down I fear the chain will run across the windward bow, and cut the bow.

I have been giving this some thought, and I have come up with a plan. I charge Mel’s Panama phone. I give Donna a call to see if she can help if I have a problem anchoring. She says she will stand by. This gives me comfort to know if help is needed then I can have it.
I approach the anchorage, and can see my favorite spot is open as always. It is the farthest away from the dock. I like it because it is also away from the cluster of boats that sometimes break loose, and damage other boats. There is a much better breeze, and at times there is no breeze at all in close. The breeze keeps the wind generator putting out electricity. It keeps the insects away for the most part. The water is much more shallow. Shallow water gives more scope, anchor chain, out per depth. This gives better holding, and that means much safer.
As I approach I am a wee bit anxious to do this alone. I pick my spot, and make a false approach. I want to test the boats reaction, so I will know if my plan is a good one. I turn up into the wind slowly. I put the boat in nuetral. I walk to the bow, and ready the anchor, by unlashing it to the boat. Get the switch ready, and in place. I give the anchor a kick to release it from the roller a wee bit. I put a plastic tie on the chain to indicate 10 feet, and drop the anchor down to that mark into the water. I was going to place another plastic tie to indicate 20 feet. Then I noticed I had a long time ago placed several yellow ones there. I watch the boat as the wind grabs her bows, and she drifts back. Even though it’s fairly windy she moves slow off to windward, and back.

I walk back to the cockpit to spin her bows into the wind once again. I move her forward slowly. I slip her into nuetral again, and walk to the bows. She is preparing to stop, so I drop the hook down until the chain goes slack, and I know it’s on the bottom. I let out another 15 - 20 feet, and snub the chain. The chain slowly rises from the water. It goes straight, and the bows of the boat are in place with the sterns swinging into alignment. I look for reference points on shore to gather my bearings. The hook is holding. I let out another 20 - 30 feet. The bows swing down once again.

Again the chain raises out of the water, and Imagine comes into alignment. I let her sit to make sure she is stuck. I do this until a total of 150 ft. of chain is out. I put the bridle on the chain. Go back too the cockpit, place the motors in reverse, and give her a good tug. The boat comes in to alignment again, and seems to be stable. I take the motors out of gear. The boat is pulled forward with the weight of the chain. She comes to a stop, and in reverse again I give her more throttle this time. I do this one more time at 1,500 RPMs. She comes to the end of the chain, the bridle stretches, and creaks as it strains over the rubrails on the bows.
 I look around at my reference points, as the motors pull. She is stuck, the hook is set. I take her out of gear, and the weight of the chain pulls her forward. The motors are idling.

I look around, and I think of the meaning of harbor. A place of refuge, and we’re safe. Yes. we as in Imagine myself, and Mel. Imagine, and I are one for now. Mel is also safe, because now her worries of me single-handing can be put to rest.

Over 400 miles sailed in 3 days adding 2 hours. You always sail more than the route laid out. Wind changes, and conditions change. On paper it’s one number, but in reality it is another. Nearly 2 days of motoring, or motor sailing. A day, and a half of what brings joy to my soul, real sailing. No motors running, just the wind, and the sails working to get you there. We got here, and in decent time even though at times we were only doing 3 knots motoring along at low RPMs to conserve fuel. Even though my home made batten broke, and I was reduced to just a headsail, even though I went with out any real periods of good sleep.

My body was just getting into the rythum of sailing with a bakers clock. Cooking, and cleaning while underway. While the motors were running turning them off now, and then. So I could check oil levels, and look for any unwanted problems such as water leaks, worn belts on the motor pulleys. Checking my location, and the predicted weather along the way. The weather can be very unpredictable, but it is what it is, and you adjust to it.
There’s one test left now that I have arrived to my place of refuge with the anchor set firmly. That’s the world of officialdom in the third world. Dealing with paper pushers in any country can be trying. In the third world, and especially with any machismo by officials. You sometimes want to pull your hair out. It’s Monday morning, and I will check into Panama for the fourth time. I have found great difficulty here at times. Then again at times I have found beautiful smiles, and great kindness.






My friend Z from the sailing forums. She has under her screen name a signature that says. LIFE IS AN ADVENTURE MEANT TO BE LIVED. Well, I have lived my life this way. As long as it is possible I will continue to live this way. I just can’t help myself as hard as I tried to live a more structured & normal life, but it’s just not me. TESTING,, TESTING,, this has been a TEST. You may now return to viewing your favorite channel, but the
TESTS will go on……….

9/24/2011

BURNING BRIDGES





BURNING BRIDGES

Yosemite National Park taken by John Rodgers


One time when I was a young man. My dad warned me about burning bridges. He advised me it was something I shouldn’t do. My reply to him was If I can’t back then I can only move forward. This remark did not make him happy, and it was obvious on his facial expression. It is something I’ve done all my life, and it has served me well. Sometimes making life hard, but always pushing me forward.
Flying the kite


John scraping the bottom for an hour on both hulls

I have left Panama 3 times in an attempt to sail to Hawaii. All three are explained here, but for some new readers. I will give a very short explanation for my returns.
I had a new mainsail built for our trip. I explained to the sail maker where I was going, my distance, and what weather to expect. What I got was something way under built for the task. We lost the head of the sail in our first attempt. As soon as I could pull the sail down I could see that there was no reinforcement. I did a maneuver I have always done when the wind is building. Having no faith that the hardware would fit back onto the old sail. We returned to lick our wound.

Imagine by John Lennon logo

Damage on the bottom of the main sheet
The second time was the discovery of my tumor behind my left ear. We left in the morning, so we could keep an eye for debris that covers the Gulf of Panama. That night the pain started in my head. Over the top, and around the bottom rear of my brain was like fire. The pain burnt so bad I couldn’t sleep. After 2 days of sleep deprivation. Then I couldn’t stay awake. This left Mel to manage the boat, and me wondering if the pain would ever stop.
Once again we returned, and we flew home where I was diagnose with cancer.

John's last scan at UCSF Hospital


The third time was bad crew, and the fear that problems were occurring would only worsen, jeapordize our lives, and or Imagine too. As my patience wore thin, and my fears grew along with the return of pain in my head, and my eye. I made the decision to once again turn back. As we were leaving the island of Taboga. I turned back, and looked at Panama City. I wanted to yell out NEVER AGAIN, and then this thought hit. Never say never, so I turned my eyes south, and we continued on. All the time in my mind I am saying to myself this is it. We’re gone, and free of Panama, yeah right. Man makes plans, and the gods laugh. Or as John Lennon sang. Life is what happens when you make plans.
 
Sunset at Las Brisas de Amador Anchorage




So here I am in Golfito Costa Rica. Mel flew home a couple of weeks ago to work. We need to refuel, re provision, and Imagine herself needs some attention. Mostly some good old fashioned elbow grease. The kind that creates spit,, and polish. She hasn’t received some for a number of years. Life just kept me busy, and then it was time too leave Florida. Then she sat for 8 months in the heat of Panama withering away.








Hauled in Vacamonte, Panama
You might ask why not just leave again, and for those that do not understand sailing. There are seasons to sail. Just like there are seasons to snow ski. All 3 times we left at the beginning of hurricane season. I took the risk, because the beginning is relatively safe. If weather came we could always turn south to avoid any storms, or hurricanes. Imagine is very fast with the wind on her rear quarter in a strong breeze, so this gave me comfort to run away from bad weather. We would be sailing below, and to the west of normal paths of hurricanes. Now it is the heart of the season, and risk multiply for a safe sail. So here I sit in Golfito without Mel. I am tending to Imagine’s needs, and stripping weather worn wood. Placing varnish back on it, and tending to some small mechanical needs to.


What I am finding is there is nothing here. The materials I seek are not what I want, or they don’t exist. Shipping materials in is very costly, because they want to tax you another 50% on top of shipping, and cost too. I have searched, and hunted all over town, and I have come to the realization what I want, and need is just not here.

To the point of burning bridges I am coming to. I am glad I didn’t yell at Panama City, because for the fourth time. The third time returning I will arrive in Panama City once again. It was said too me when it was first suggested that maybe I would feel like I failed. I don’t know failure. What I do know is sometimes you can’t accomplish a goal. That means it’s time to pick yourself up off the ground. Dust yourself off, and continue moving forward. Another phrase I know from when I was growing up. Is when the going gets tough. The tough get going. I know these sayings are corny in today’s world, but I didn’t grow up in this world. I grew up in a different one.

Las Brisas de Amador Anchorage

 
                                                                       Skyline Panama
                                                    
 Another one is you have to sometime step back to go forward. This is what I will be doing. Even though it breaks my heart to give up 1000 miles to once again move forward to cover over 4000 miles. It’s what I need to do to move forward. I have been fighting it for 2 weeks now. I have done my research, and hunted for what I want, and need. it’s just not here, and logistics, and logic tell me to go back over that bridge I so happily thought I left behind on July 18th. It’s nearly 2 months now, Sept. 16, and once again I will see the skyline of PANAMA CITY!

Panama City, Panama Skyline

I will go there, and feed Imagine attention with varnish, paint, fiber glass, bow repair, sweat, and a few skinned knuckles. I will sit out the rest of the hurricane season there. I will patiently wait for the winds of change in my life, and of the earth. My fingers are crossed that my health remains to improve. That I will have the strength when it’s time to go, to simply go! It will be the time of year when the winds should be consistent. They should be on my rear quarter. Giving Imagine a chance to stretch her legs like a long distance runner. Place mile after mile behind us swiftly, and with ease. Another old saying that is in the sailing life. May you have fair winds, and seas on the quarter. 3 times I have fought against Mother Nature, and 3 times she has pushed me back. This time I will let her carry me too Hawaii!







IMPROVEMENTS

I think the thieves that stole the dinghy tried to kick the door in. There was a split piece of wood on the door, and the hinges were bent very far over. The door use to not drag very much, and now on our return it did. As you can see I screwed the hinge down, and pried it over to straighten them out. Now the door has very little drag to it. Even less than before. There are also comparisons to be made with the wood of last week, and what it looks like now. Hand rails, door frame, and the door itself at least now have some protection. After I arrive in Panama I will work on the becnches, and table for the cockpit. Then nearly 300 feet of rubrails on the topsides will need some attention too. Then some new red paint on the hulls. Go over the top of the white stripe, and the white in the cockpit. I have not made up my what what to do about the deck yet. The past 4 years she has had very little cosmetic attention, so now it's time.





Before and After  (doors)


Finished






 


 Before and After Rails













New look for the varnished rails





Before (Bend hinges)
After (Fixed Hinges)

        
Fixing the Hinges