All posts for the month December, 2007

Cruise Photos

I just put photos from our cruise up on my static web site. There are seven pages with 5 pictures each plus descriptions. Comments are welcome here.

Wind StarThis is a picture that my good friend Mike Apsey captured from the web-cam at the Panama Canal Miraflores locks while the Wind Star was passing through.

Thanks Mike!

At Sea – 4

The trip is winding down.  Two more days at sea, sailing up to Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica.  We will dock there on 12/15 and go to San Juan by bus.  We fly out from there on the 16th.

This has been a great vacation, more relaxing than previous cruises we have been on.  The small size of the ship has made it easier to get to know people on board and I have enjoyed the days at sea where there isn’t anything to plan and no early rising to go on a shore excursion.  I’m not sure that Jan is keen on the idea, but I think I would like one of the 14 day trans-Atlantic crossings.

This may be the last blog post until we get home.  We are down to our last 40 minutes of internet time which should be enough for tonight and tomorrow.  I can’t see buying more though I am glad I bought what I did.  It’s been fun being able to post from the ship and keep in touch with my friends.  If I have a couple minutes left tomorrow I’ll post a final report but don’t worry if I don’t.

I will try to add more pictures, probably as a separate web page, once we get home.

Panama Canal

We got up very early this morning as we were to arrive at the Gatun Locks on the east end of the canal at 6:30am.  It was extremely humid and hard to keep lenses and glasses from fogging up.  It seemed that every passenger on the ship was up to watch us enter the first locks.  This was the main reason for the trip for nearly everyone, including me.

The canal was impressive, and to think it was built around 100 years ago!  There have been improvements and modifications but the basic infrastructure has not changed all that much. All that work without modern earth-moving equipment must have been backbreaking.

We got through the Gatun Locks in less than an hour and then we were out on Gatun Lake for several hours.  Got to the locks on the Pacific side just after lunch.  We had been told it would be later than that but later I learned the average passage time is around 7 hours.  Unfortunately, the tall masts on The Wind Star mean we can only go under the Bridge of America in Balboa at low tide.  Hence we are docked until around 11PM before we can continue into the Pacific.

The weather was hot and sunny all day until we passed through the last lock and then we had a cloubburst with rain so hard the decks had 1/2 inch of water running on them.  Now (3:45pm) it’s overcast and still raining.  Another on-deck barbecue was planned for tonight.  Don’t know if it will happen but I’m sure all will be fine.

Two more days until we reach Costa Rica.


Spent today at the San Blas Islands, Panama.  A group of over 360 islands, only about 60 inhabited, all by indegenous people.  We went ashore at one island which was all thatched huts with narrow paths between.  Quite a difference from the previous ports of call.  Lots of native crafts for sale and many interesting sights.

We will be going through the Panama Canal tomorrow (12/12)  I’m really looking forward to the passage.  I’ve learned that there are web cams that allow you to watch ships in the locks.  I can’t give exact times but I think we will be going through the eastern locks around 6:30 am (EST) and the western locks around 6 or 7 pm.  The url is here  Look for a large white sailing vessel with 4 masts named Wind Star.

Anyone who can capture an image – I’d appreciate getting a copy.

At Sea – 3

Today another day at sea – actually we will be at sea for two days before we get to San Blas Island, Panama. The water is fairly rough and we are regularly having waves crash over our cabin’s portholes. The ship does have stabilizers so it’s not too uncomfortable walking on deck or in the cabin but it is necessary to be careful and keep one hand on something when not sitting down.

We had a bit of excitement this morning when the captain announced we were responding to a distress call from a vessel off the coast of Columbia. Turned out to be a freighter with engine problems that only kept from being swept ashore by it’s anchor. Eventually our captain was able to relay communications so a (commercial) tow vessel would come out to help them.

When snorleling the other day I got a small amount of sea water into my nose and now it is feeling very uncomfortable. Otherwise today we have been been sitting on deck enjoying the sun and sea breezes. I could get used to this life.

We had a wonderful anniversary last night.  The ship was having some sort of barbecue shin-dig for dinner by the pool deck.  Jan and I wanted to have a romantic dinner so we ate ashore at a place called Salsa.  It was wonderful!  Had a bottle of a good South African wine and a meal of fish soup, gamba’s (a kind of shrimp I think) and a curry dish for two with Wahoo, beef, and other stuff I don’t remember.  Topped off with Death by Chocolate.  This will probably be remembered as one of our best anniversary meals ever.

Today we are in Aruba after a rough night at sea.  Lots of wind, waves and rain but, luckily, neither Jan nor I had problems with it, other than being awakened by waves crashing against the porthole.  This morning we took an excursion on a small submarine down to 130 feet depth.  Saw glorious fish and coral.  Jan and a new friend then went shopping – something available in abundance in Oranjestad.

We hear about the bad weather hack in the states.  We don’t think our being in a warm place is in any way the cause of the storms.

Next – two days at sea heading towards Panama.


We had docked at Bonaire last night – earlier than expected.  This morning we were greeted with a heavy rain shower with some strong winds.  Since we were scheduled for a snorkeling adventure at 9am this was a concern.  But things gradually cleared up and we boarded a unique vessel – the Samur, a sailing junk built in Thailand in the 60’s.  Our scheduled snorkeling was at a beach of a nearby island which is also a wildlife sanctuary with nesting grounds for four different types of sea turtles.

I had a great day in the clear water and the reef was full of fish.  Saw some really huge parrot fish and some huge schools of an unidentified (by me) type of fish.  While we were there some conservation officials were checking on hatchlings of Hawksbill turtles.  They found one nest where eggs had hatched and there was still one tiny turtle remaining.  They brought it down to the shore and released it.  It was fascinating to see it’s efforts to make it to the sea while the waves kept pushing it back on the beach.

After that we wandered some shops in the town and looked for a place for dinner tonight.  This is our 33rd anniversary and Jan and I thought we would like to eat alone rather than attending the on-deck barbecue.

Tomorrow we sail to Aruba.  We will be interested to see it again as we were there in 1986 and wonder how it has changed.

At Sea – 2

Today was another day at sea, sailing from Isla de Margarita to Bonaire.  We weren’t supposed to arrive until the morning of the 7th but favorable winds got us into port on the night of the 6th.  Not a lot of excitement today. Mostly sitting on deck reading and talking with other passengers.  We have to be up early tomorrow for a catamaran snorkle trip.  I’m looking forward to that.

Isle de Margarita

Today we pulled into the harbor around 8am at Isle de Margarita, 18 miles off the Venezuelian coast.  It’s actually quite a large island, 20 by 41 miles.  I had never heard of it before this cruise but there are probably plenty of places I don’t know exist.

For some reason Jan and I were late waking up this morning.  We have both been sleeping very well on this cruise, maybe due to staying up later than we usually do, maybe due to all the fresh air or maybe the very comfortable bed in our cabin.  Anyway, we just barely made it to breakfast on time and were a little late catching the tender over to the dock.

One of the HUGE Princes Cruise ships was in the port at the same time so there were people all over the place.  As a consequence most of the little stalls selling crafts and jewelry were open – I doubt they would have bothered if it was just for our little ship and its small number of passengers.  We wandered around for a while but didn’t buy anything except a beer at an outdoor bar by the beach.

The weather is hot and humid but with a little relief from clouds and a nice breeze.  There were even a few dark clouds that looked like rain but nothing materialized.

Tomorrow will be another day at sea, on our way to Bonaire on the 7th.  We are planning a snorkeling excursion while there and that is also our 33rd wedding aniversary.

At Sea

Today we will be at sea for the entire day. We are on our way to Isla De Margarita, Veneuzala but won’t arrive there until the morning of December 5th.

So far the ship has been very enjoyable, even though it is small. For example, the pool is smaller than our dining room at home. But the small size makes it quite easy to get around, unlike the large ship we were on before. The only negative is that shade is at a premium on the deck. The food has, so far, been wonderful with enough variety to satisfy a ‘picky eater’ like me.

The other passengers have been great and, because there aren’t so many, we are already getting to know a good number of them by face if not by name. There seems to be a good mixture of ages and backgrounds on board although none that are very young. Not a lot of wild nightlife on board either. Jan and I seem to be the closest thing to ‘party animals’ among the passengers and that’s only becaues we like to stay up late by the pool bar, looking at the clear, un-light-polluted sky.