News aboard Sol Surfin


Feb 07 Update

Hello Family and Friends,

I know it has been awhile since you have heard from us. We are safe and sound and all is well on board. We just arrived into a very small beachside surf town called Santa Cantina in Panama. This place is known for the big surf in the summer with waves crashing on the reefs. Not exactly my kind of place to surf especially with the razor sharp coral and jagged lava rock. I am glad there is no real surf to speak of so Gary does not tempt himself into these waves. The closest medical outpost clinic is an hour away. There are 200 people living here. It is such a small town with a few local gringos who told us they have one restaurant, one very very small store and one internet café. So I am taking this opportunity to say hello and send out a brief update.

We have spent the last 2 months cruising the western Panama islands on the Pacific side. These islands are very remote and uninhabited. It is a miracle to see that there are still places in the world that is not crowed with people and houses. The only downfall is that many of these remote islands are now owned by Gringos and no longer in the ownership of the Panamanian people and their families. The good news is that a few chains of these islands are now National Parks and will never be owned by anybody.

We left Puntarenas in December with our friend Karen joining us for about 10 days. She brought us down our navigational equipment that we believe was fried from a nearby lightening strike. Although it did not hit us directly, the flash must have been close enough to zap us. This has been known to happen and our friends on another boat had the same thing happen to them and lost everything. We were a little lucky because we only lost our auto pilot steering and wind vane instruments.



Anyway, we left Costa Rica with our zarpe (exit visa) and headed south. It took us about a month of slowly taking our time heading down the coast. The southern coast of Costa Rica, known as the Oso Peninsula, is the most beautiful part of the country with lots of green on the hillsides and clear blue ocean waters. We especially enjoyed the diving on Isla Cano just off of Drakes Bay. The island is a national park and has protected waters with lots of schools of fish and amazing coral heads. We hiked in the Corcovado National Park on the mainland and saw many types of animals of which I especially enjoyed seeing the monkeys in the trees; Howler Monkeys, Squirrel Monkeys, White Face Cappuccinos, and Spider Monkeys. It was fun to see them actually swinging Tarzan style from the trees. We have lots of pictures.

We spent Christmas in Drake’s Bay and had a party on Sol Surfin with 6 other boats joining. Sol Surfin has the biggest layout so we all fit very comfortably and had a fun exchange of gifts and good food.

We entered Panama sometime in early January and absolutely loved our first stop which was Isla Parida. This island is the first of a series of beautiful islands along the north western coast of Panama. We spent 10 days and became friends with a few of the local families. We met one man named Juan that asked us to take a photo of his family. He did not have any pictures of his family. He summoned his wife and she came down the hill with a bright red hand sewn dress that she had made for herself and a matching one for her little toddler girl. She would not smile even though her teeth were beautiful. The 3 little boys were shy but curious. When we were finished, we delivered about 12 large printouts of various photos and brought them to their home. Their house sat on a bluff overlooking the beautiful cove with amazing ocean breezes for air conditioning. It was really more like a large shack with no walls only a concrete floor (which is a luxury) and a thatched roof. They took all their water from a fresh water creek and this family lived very simply. The kids played on the dirt floors and looked very happy and well fed living on the fresh fish that Juan caught. Little Juan Jr., got really good at posing and smiling for the camera. Their smiles and excitement of seeing their faces on paper was rewarding. Although the boys had tattered clothes and hardly no toys other than the coconuts and plastic boxes that washed up ashore, they were dirt poor but seemed extremely happy and content. I wish that next time I come back to the boat, I have enough room to carry children’s’ clothes and toys instead of boat equipment and navigational stuff. We gave the kids colored pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners, and pens for school. I am constantly amazed to see that we live in a world of huge extremes. I cannot help but compare how these families live to the way that we live in the states. It seems like such a huge gap.


We visited many other island chains including the Isla Secas, Isla Contreras, and the Isla Coiba National Park. We visited these islands and stayed at many beautiful coves, sometimes by ourselves and sometimes in company of our boater friends. The waters have been so clear and the visibility is great. We swam for hours enjoying the colorful reefs and spectacular fish. We have even been swimming with white tipped reef sharks and nurse sharks which are a little scary. We drift with our dinghy in tow and I hang on to the sides incase I need to catapult myself up into the boat. Not sure if the sharks will ever get hungry but so far they are docile creatures but extremely intimidating.

We are now heading around the point of Punta Mala, which is a dangerous area with extremely high winds. We will wait for a weather window to make the point crossing and go on up into the Bay of Panama. The Las Perlas Islands will be our destination for a few weeks before we head on into Panama City.

We are well fed. Gary has been catching lots of fish and the local fruits and vegetables are delicious.

We feel very blessed for the opportunities we have had and the people we have met along the way.

We hope you are well and life is good for you.

Blessings always,

Celeste and Gary