Features March 1, 1999 Issue

Offshore Log: On To Panama

After a tune-up in Bonaire, Calypso heads toward the Pacific, with stops in the San Blas Islands and Panama.

In early January, Calypso was ready to make the 720-mile jump from Bonaire to the San Blas islands of Panama, less than 100 miles from the Panama Canal. This will be our longest passage in over a year, and the longest non-stop trip that we have undertaken with just the two of us aboard.

We stayed a month in Bonaire, going through open water scuba certification courses, organizing the basic provisioning for our trans-Pacific crossing, and finalizing insurance for two-person long-distance voyaging.

Calypso's rig received a thorough going over. Spreader ends were untaped, repositioned to correct minor alignment discrepancies, then re-seized and re-taped. All the turnbuckles were untaped, their cotter pins removed, the turnbuckle screws freed and oiled. The rig was then re-tuned, with slightly more bend to the mast. Every bit of standing and running rigging was inspected, every cotter pin re-taped or re-siliconed.

I spent over eight hours up the mast, sometimes working for hours at a stretch suspended between heaven and earth, or at least water. I began to feel, look and smell like the baboon's less-hairy brotheróbut without his agility aloft. I began to see that trapeze artists might really have fun.

We completed a semi-permanent boom preventer system in anticipation of a lot of downwind sailing. Additional folding pad eyes were installed on the foredeck to better secure the dinghy.

We emptied and re-packed virtually every locker aboard, creating an inventory on the computer. I overhauled the head, breaking it down into an astonishing number of machine screws, springs, valves and improbable-looking castings.

We began to get nervous. The ocean began to look dramatically larger, the distances infinitely huge.

It's time for some serious sailing.

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