Ecuatouring, and friends from home!!

After returning to Panama City from the epic sailing adventure we decided to chill out for a bit and look for yet another sail boat going to Ecuador. After 4 days of sitting around, we met up with our friend Robin who had been training for a cayuco race through the Panama Canal. Cayuco racing started from the indigenous people who created long canoes made from hollowed out trees. These boats (now made of wood and fiberglass) hold 4 people and can be very unstable. Racing these boats have become a competitive sport, with people of shapes and sizes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cayukoing

Robin asked us to help them train as they were 2 people short of a full boat. While practicing close to Veracruz, Panama, we met Ted Henter who has been in the last 15 cayuko races through the Panama Canal. Ted used to be a world renowned road motorcycle racer until he got into a crash in England and became blind in both eyes. Being blind has done anything but slow him down as he has won the world championship for blind waterskiing and is still active as ever. He says that being blind doesn’t make your other senses better per se but it creates more awareness of things that you wouldn’t recognize otherwise.  Ted helped create a software that helps blind people learn different skills. Ted showed us how even the biggest challenges can subside, and how happiness does not have to be seen but can purely be felt, heard, tasted and smelled.

Ted, Shredding some Cayuco!

Ted, Shredding some Cayuco!

We realized that we were sitting ducks, with little luck finding another captain and decided to look into other means of transportation. No boats heading south to Ecuador until May! We did not want to stay any longer in Panama City! Henry’s Grandparents came to the rescue, by allotting us some of their frequent flyer miles, we were able to get two tickets to Quito via aeroplane… As the sustainably south crew thought about other options and were anxious to leave Panama, they decided to push the button and get 2 flights to Quito, Ecuador! Being the sustainably aware team, we wanted to explain the impacts of flying compared to biking. In general riding your bike at a moderate speed burns 472 calories/hour, while driving burns just 148 calories/hour. We calculated our carbon footprint riding bikes 7000km from San Diego to Panama City and found out that we burned 152,000,000 calories along the way. We also calculated our footprint flying from Panama City, Panama into Quito, Ecuador which created around .54 tonnes of carbon emissions. This is a little less than .54 tonnes more than it would have been if we were able to bike through the tumultuous Darien Gap.

Airplane Contrails are NOT good for the environment... bummer

Airplane Contrails are NOT good for the environment… bummer

Living on the itchy, buggy island, we decided to ask Ted and his greatastic wife, Mel if it would be possible to stay at their ocean side adobe abode in Veracruz to get our stuff in order before the 1 hour and 2o minute flight. We stayed here for a few days hanging by the pool and packing our bikes in boxes. We also realized that we couldn’t take our chicken, Cisse’, on the plane with us so we ended up building her a new coop and giving her to the zoni couple Ted and Mel. Thanks guys! Enjoy your new home Cisse’ we’ll miss you!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cisse’s new coop

So we did it, we took an airplane.. Something we were trying to avoid on this trip.. We tried sailing.. we tried.. We had to take our bikes apart and pay around 130$ for them to be placed on the plane as cargo… The lady at the baggage counter didn’t understand and was trying to charge us 500$ but we talked to the manager and everything was cool…

FLYING IN A PLANE!

FLYING IN A PLANE!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bikes cruzin thru the x-rayer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hen walkin with bikes and bags thru Quito’s new and improved aeropuerto

After getting into Quito we quickly assembled our bikes and decided to bike to Tumbaco, a small town on the outskirts of Quito, where we heard about Casa Ciclista. This is a place where Santiago and his family hosts cyclists from around the world who are doing tours like us. Camping in the back yard free of charge was great! Had a kitchen, bathroom and a cool town to check out. Great to have a place to make homebase but Ike was on a mission to go find his girlfriend Genia who had been hanging on the Ecuadorian coast for the last month and a half. He wanted to make it a surprise so told her he was still waiting for another boat to cruz to Ecuador… again! Arriving at Casa Ciclista, Ike decided he would leave the following morning for the coast where he would try to find Genia who was supposedly staying on a farm called Finca Monoverde.

The first day was made up of city navigating ascending for the first 6 hours of the day. Ike managed to skitch a truck pulling a front end loader, making for quite the interesting train! During the climb Ike was able to stop at La Mitad del Mundo which was where the Equator crosses thru Ecuador. It is here where there is told to be mysterious energy and chilllllll vibezzzzzz.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

La Mitad del Mundo!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On top of one of the many Andean peaks

The landscapes started changing from concrete and asphalt to mountains and trees, with amazing views of the Andes and the villages buried in between.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After the never ending uphill climb, Ike finally reached the summit of one of the many peaks and started the 1 1/2 hr downhill ride. Farms built into the elevated highlands, making it look like a patched quilt laid on top the steep mountainous terrain.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Patchy farmland

 

Coasting down thru the junglesque canyon felt great as the 6 hrs of uphill had finally paid off. The day was dwindling and Ike was getting tired from the Andean ways, so he found a farmer who was scoping his land and asked if he could sleep on his land. The coffee farmer, Luis, was more than happy to host Ike and showed him where to set up camp. Luis had a family in Quito but lived by himself and his dogs in a small shack growing coffee and other crops to get by. He was amazed at Ike’s traveling kitchen and invited him to eat rice and sardines with juice made with fresh naranjillas from his property.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Luis and his dog sending Ike off!

The next day Ike awoke early with even more motivation to crank than before. Starting uphill it felt great getting an early start. On top of a ridge, the riding began to turn into a slight downhill, passing many cloud forests and foggy rolling hills. After lunch the ups and downs seemed to blur and Ike felt like he was in robot mode, pedaling without thinking about the difficulty of the terrain. Stopping towards the end of the rainy day on the side of the road, Ike noticed an abundance of snails on the road. Never being able to afford escargot, he said what the hell and started collecting the slimy creatures. He asked a few locals what they thought about eating them and they answered with uncertainty and disgust. Not having a clue about these slow strange slugs, Ike decided to stay with the original menu of rice and veggies, like most every night.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wet nights

10 hrs on the road, Ike realized he had just pedaled 163 km which was the farthest distance that had been achieved in one day since the tour had begun! Wiped, wet and muddy, Ike stopped to ask if he could stay in a muddy backyard of an old ladies cabana. She told him it was private property and that there was a pueblo 10 km up the street. Not understanding the situation, Ike continued up the hill till he saw an opening in the roadside weeds that opened into a small orchard. Ike cooked dinner and got into his tent as the rain started to pour. Waking up many times in the middle of the night from the puddles lying in his tent, the closeness of the people walking on the road and the overall excitement of what to expect when he surprises his girlfriend.

The next morning Ike woke early to everything soaking wet and snails climbing all over his tent. They seemed to be upset from the dinner joke the day before..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Snails invading Ike’s tent

Ike packed up and hit the road for Pedernales, which was where the pacific ocean was in site! 2 hrs later (around 11 am), Ike arrived in Tabuga 300 km from Tombuca, on the third day, where he would cross a small creek and open the gate to Finca Monoverde. Stoked to see the reaction on Genia’s face, Ike quietly walked the bike up the farms steep path. At the main house Ike realized that nobody was there! Thinking that everyone went to get lunch or something, Ike posted up and started reading, watching down the hill for someone to arrive. 3 hrs later he decided to take action and ask the neighbors if they had seen anyone at the farm. They said that they may have gone to the beach so Ike put the swimsuit on and ran barefoot thru the forest to the ocean a few miles away. With cut up feet and an excited feeling, Ike got to the beach where he found a family of Ecuadorians hanging out, with the beach to themselves. A little frustrated, Ike jumped into the pacific and ran back into the jungle. A house to the left appeared and he stopped to ask for a glass of water. The family gave him a glass of water and a glass of beer as Ike explained why he was so distraught. They invited him inside for more beer and Ike excepted. 3 beers later he realized he needed to continue the search so thanked the family and ran back to the farm.

Ike saw a man under the house and quickly asked if he knew where his girlfriend might be. Sam, who was watching the farm with his girlfriend Maria told Ike she had left for Mompiche the weekend and took all of her stuff. Not knowing if she would return, Ike quickly thought up a plan. He would pack a small bag, leave the bike at the farm and catch 3 buses to Mompiche before dark. On the third bus he met 3 young traveleres who turned out had met Genia in Canoa a few weeks prior. They had told him that they might know where G might be staying, which stoked the fire for sure. Off the bus, they all checked the hostal that they thought she might be at. Nowhere to be found, Ike roamed the small surfing pueblo along the moon lit streets. In and out of most all the hostals in town, there was one more at the end of the strip. Mudhouse was the last place she could be. Ike asked if a Genia had checked in and the woman at the front replied with a smile “Yea she was just sitting here at the bar!” With a sigh of relief Ike looked towards the back of the open aired hostal and saw G sitting at a table in the back with a few other travelers. Ike walked over as G turned and was totally blind sided! “Are you f#cking serious!” she shouted and the surprise was a success! After 5 1/2 months of virtual skyping, they were stoked to be back together. Stayed a few nights in Mompiche then they went back tot the farm to get Ike’s bike.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

G and Ike at the Finca Monoverde

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Small village outside of Mompiche where the waters are polluted with a orange murky tint as all the houses are stilted above

 

On the other hand, Hen was still staying at the Casa Ciclista. Realizing He didn’t have the same level of psyche that Ike had to pedal to the coast he decided to chill out and see what Quito and the surrounding areas had to offer! Luckily our friend from FoCo, Chelsea had been studying here in Quito for the last 4 months and made for the perfect tour guide!

 

biking around Quito's Centro Historico

biking around Quito’s Centro Historico

 

Chelsea, the beautiful biologist!

Chelsea, the beautiful biologist!

Chelsea is wildlife and conservation biologist who also studied at Colorado State University’s fabled Warner College of Natural Resources. She is completing her final semester here in Ecuador;  doing field work ranging from the high peaks of the Andes, to the Amazon jungles, all the way out to the bio-diverse  islands of the Galapagos! Hen was lucky enough to be shown around Quito by this lovely young lady! From riding bikes on the local trails, and INTENSE ping pong battles, hiking the local hills, to wandering the streets of Centro Historico and the Mariscal; we even tried to go to a Liga de Quito football match but got the kickoff time wrong and ended up missing the game! Oh well, still had a blast !

Hen & Chelsea on the summit of Ilalo, an extinct volcano outside Quito

Hen & Chelsea on the summit of Ilalo, an extinct volcano outside Quito

Very muddy hike!

Very muddy hike!

After hangin around Quito for a week waiting for our good buddy Jack to fly in from Colorado, he finally showed up! Ike had given Jack some directions to Santi’s house and eventually stumbled in! Its cool to have our Colorado homies showing up left and right! Jack had wanted to come on tour with us starting in October, but decided to work a winter season in order to save money! Jack works as a dog sled guide for Good Times in Breckenridge Colorado! He is super psyched to be joining us on tour and will be taking over Ike’s bike and rollin with Hen to Brasil!

Jack the dogsled guide! Enter JAck YEaton!

With Jack and everyone back at the Casa, we all decided to take a trip to Quilotoa while waiting for our Brasil Visas to be processed in Quito! Quilotoa is an indigenous village  high in the Andes (about 4000m high) that is built around a beautiful crater lake which is told to have no bottom. The water has a turquoise tint and the mountains enclose the enormous body of water. We spent 2 1/2 days here where we hiked into the crater and explored the village.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Quilotoa’s crater lake

goin swimmin!

goin swimmin!

Of course we managed to find some cliffs to jump off! The sulfuric water was extremely cold but that didn’t put the team off as we stripped down and plummeted into the bottomless lake!

We stayed with a family for a cool $3 a night where we were able to see how the family lived from day to day. It was nice to hang out in the high alpine tundra and dawn some warm clothes!

Beers and tha Boys

Beers and tha Boys

Being Easter weekend, the trail was packed with people. It seemed like most were from Quito, but also met some people from Peru and Italy. Ike visited Quilotoa 2 years prior and noticed much more infrastructure and marketing to this amazing place.  Ike explained, “2 years ago I think my dad and I saw 2 people walking the trail, now it looks like the Great Wall of China swarming with tourists!”Easter weekend definitely had a large part to do with the immense population of tourists but you could still see how this village has been increasing their tourism market.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We found many bags of trash next to the lake, which we packed out, but couldn’t understand the reason behind trashing this natural spectacle. Hen interviewed a local guide who managed the mules. They have about 90 horses and mules for tourists to use for trekking around the lake. Being budget travelers we ourselves we were put off by the 10$ price tag for a horse ride. Although if your feeling lazy these push button horses can whisk you away down or up the crater!

BIG mountains in the Andes!

BIG mountains in the Andes!

 

Back in Quito the team splits up! Ike and Genia will be heading towards Brasil on foot, while Jack will take over Ikes bike and head down the Amazon river, the mightiest river on the planet towards the World Cup!

Quito has a big bike scene!

BIKE QUITO! We’ve been stoked to see how many people are psyched on bikes here!

Having bike tour withdrawals, Ike realized that he will be starting a new adventure with Genia as they will become river rats and bus bats to Cuiaba, Brazil for a World Cup game Australia vs. Chile. Ike has traded his bike and panniers to Jack for his backpack so that Jack can bring the bike to Brazil and ride to the games that Hen and him have. Ike has had a great run on the bike for the last 5 1/2 months and wouldn’t have traveled down here any other way. It will be a crazy change of pace riding rivers instead of roads, not worrying about flat tires or semis tickling your shoulder.

 

River Rats, Bus Bats, & and Bicycle Bandits!

See you out there ! ~

– Ike & Hen

 

Advertisements

Panama pt II

 

After a relaxing week chillin in the mountains of Boquete! It was time to head to the big apple in Panama and look for a boat to South America.. Panama City!! We cruised the 480km from Boquete to Panama’ in style and arrived at the infamous Canal you all have heard about.. Crossing the bridge of americas was interesting. We set up camp on Isla Perico where we lived with a bunch of gypsies for a while waiting to set sail. Naturally we checked out what the city had to offer including the Canal zone, the ghettos of El Chorrillo, Cinco de Mayo, and the old town of Casco Viejo. We found a sailboat, the “Evenstar” which was heading to Ecuador! Perfect. We joined forces with Captain Rick and made plans to head south! Stay tuned for the next installment of Sustainably South as we head out to sea !!

O_o

The epicly amazing, terribly awesome sailing trip

So we left off with us finding a ride to Ecuador! Sweet! Captain Rick told us that we would be leaving wednesday. His boat is a 40′ Ketch named the Evenstar!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was Sunday at the time. We spent the days before departure running around doing errands and getting provisions for the sailing voyage south..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Loading up the Evenstar for the big trip!

We shoulda known things were fishy when port authority told us we needed a Mariners Visa to leave the country by boat since we entered by land from Costa Rica. So we tried a handful of different immigration offices around various marinas and it turns out you can only get a marine visa at the main immigration office in Panama City for a whopping 105$! We even tried taking a bus over to Colon, the Caribbean port to try the immigracion office over there. They wouldn’t give it to us because the boat was on the pacific side not in port over there. What a bummer.. We ended up paying the outrageous fee for our visa so we could leave Panama.

The next hiccup on the departure was that the engines starter wasn’t working so instead of leaving on wednesday we had to wrench the engine for a few days. We finally got everything sorted out by monday and departed for Isla Taboga 5 days behind schedule.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cisse hangin out on the poop deck

Taboga is an island about 15 miles from Panama City and makes for a nice anchorage for the evening. We got into an intense barefoot football match with some of the locals which was great exercise since we hadn’t been doing much lately.. It was nice to leave the hectic city life of Panama’ for the the chilled out islander lifestyle. After footy we ate huge plates of chow mein at this delicious chinese food restaurant overlooking the water and then returned to the boat.

The next day we set sail for Las Perlas aka the Pearl Islands. About an 8 hour boat ride from Taboga. the Pearl Islands got their name when pirate Henry Morgan ransacked the islands stealing all the pearls and enslaving the pearl divers for his own personal profit! Here in the Perlas we kicked back super hard enjoying the amazing blue waters of the Pacific.

DCIM100GOPRO

Our days were spent spear fishing, snorkeling, and drinking rum. The only downside of the island is that its been tapped by wealthy tourism, and everything was ridiculously expensive. Spearfishing was rad as Ike shot some trigger fish and parrot fish which we then made into ceviche’. mmmmmm delicious.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Captain Rick takin it eazy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Parrot fishin

DCIM100GOPRO

Trigger fish Ike caught with spear gun

DCIM100GOPRO

Rick and the nice Sierra he caught!

One of the days in the Perlas we had a potluck on the beach with all the other sailing vessels. It was pretty neat to meet all kinds of other cruisers. There were some families with young children who were sailing around the world, couples, and single handers. We had a schmorgesborg on the beach! Henry, who has been to a handful of potlucks in his day, believes this one to be the most scenic he’s ever attended.

DCIM100GOPRO

Cruiser Potluck on the playa!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sailing 180 degrees south!

Sailing was great, bobbing through the endless aquamarine as the only thing in the blue desert that really signifies your position is the sun, rising red in the east, berating down heat all day before it sinks into the sea to the west. We take turns on night watch, holding a steady course south, drinking coffee and reading books. You dont really have to do much except make sure you dont hit other ships. The Ocean is BIG, imagine driving your car in an endless parking lot, and then you might be able to fathom its grandeur.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Reading is a great way to pass the time..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

more reading…

Sleeping on a ship at sea is quite an experience. When its calm its not too bad but when the ocean gets choppy it can be quite a ride. Plenty of nights were spent in a half state of sleep rocking with the boat, sometimes being thrown to the floor or the wall of the cabin.

DCIM100GOPRO

sunset in the perlas…

Then disaster struck. Its not an adventure till something goes wrong right!? About midday on the 2nd day after leaving las perlas, 6th day at sea, Hen noticed the engine was smoking. We opened the compartment to a raging electrical engine fire coming from the starter! We put it out and shut off the engine. “THIS IS NOT GOOD!” exclaimed Captain Rick. No more motor. We checked our position and realized we could probably sail west back towards Panama for repairs. Even though we were closer to land on the eastern side, we would hit the Darien, a wild an uninhabited land. So we spent the day sailing and chillin on the boat, enjoying the sea. Hen had the early watch 18:00 to 22:00 and he was holding the boat steady on course at about 5.5 knots heading west. He went to sleep and left the watch to Ike and Captain Rick. We got sucked into some gnarly east west currents that were pushing us out to sea. After Ike’s watch he went to take a short nap. The next morning we realized that we had been blown off course! The northerly winds blowing us south and the east west current taking us further out to sea! NOT GOOD NOT GOOD!

So we tried to start the motor as if giving her the night off might have fixed her.. The motor didn’t turn over and then there was another fire. The batteries caught fire and fried most all of them. At this time Ike awoke from dream world walked into the main cabin to a worried look on the captain and Hen’s face. He asked what the problem was and captain said, “were lost, with no engine and no electrical.” Ike said, “What the hell happened during my nap!” Toxic smoke filled the cabin as we opened the engine compartment which at this time was FILLING WITH WATER!! Rick grabbed bolt cutters and chopped the battery cable to kill the surges running to the batteries hoping they wouldn’t explode! Time to hit the OH SHIT button! No motor, no electricity, and water in the bilge. Not good! Not good at all ladies and gentlemen.

We were scrambling to pack one bag of items to take with us, while the cabin was billowing smoke. Fear coursing through our veins as we had make critical decisions of what we wanted to salvage from this mess. Hen grabbed his computer and some clothes, Ike grabbed his waterproof pack with his sleeping bag, some clothes, camera and his crappy smelly tent buried in the bottom of the bag that should have probably been burned before the trip… Also packed up the chicken of course. Anyways it was a crazy feeling trying to pack one single bag out of the 5 bags we had. Trying to weed out the things that weren’t as important to us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Grab bags loaded with emergency rations

Trying not to inhale the noxious fumes billowing from the cabin and grab the essentials was quite scary. Ike and Hen handpumped water from the bilge into the sink while the captain was calling mayday emergency on the handheld radio! The handheld only had a range of about 10 miles so we were proper f#cked!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cabin in shambles after getting into emergency mode

After packing up we tried dropping the dingy (our smaller boat with a motor located in the back of the sailboat) into the water but the lines were twisted. Quickly, the captain grabbed a knife and cut the lines letting the dingy drop into the water with another line holding it to the sailing vessel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the dink!

Once the water that was coming into the bilge stabilized and the smoke had cleared, it was apparent that we weren’t going to be sinking just quite yet so we sat down to think things through. We had set off our emergency beacon which sends a GPS coordinates to the US Coast Guard, so someone out there knew where we were.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Water in the bilge/engine.. (fire may have melted one of the water lines)

Then Ike had an idea, would it be possible to hotwire the CV radio with the batteries? Rick climbed into the compartment where the batteries were. Luckily there were 2 6v batteries that didm’t get fried! The two in the very back managed not to get fried and Captain Rick hotwired the CV radio back online. He managed to get ahold of his buddies in the South West Caribbean net on a frequency who then got in touch with the Coast Guard. It was extremely nice to have someone on the outside working to help us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hotwiring batteries to radio

Captain Rick had shut all the valves which we think had stopped the water coming into the boat or something like that. Then we spent time just hangin out on the boat waiting for a rescue of some sort to materialize. As we were waiting, we saw the dinghy floating away!! WHAT THE FUCK!!!?? Our bikes were in the dinghy and a 20 litre jug of water we threw in there incase we had to spend significant time in the life raft! The current had taken the dingy about 200 ft away as we were trying to figure out how to get it back! We were going to use the kayak the rescue the dingy when we realized that the paddle had been washed into the sea in the rocking waves! Ike and Hen were getting ready to dive in after it when they realized it probably wasn’t worth risking swimming after it, not knowing the strength of the current. Luckily the captain had enough wind to turn the sailboat around and get close to the dingy. When we got close enough Ike jumped onto the raft from the sailboat, as his arms wrapped the inside and feet flew into the water he managed to get inside and start the motor up, saving the dingy, our drinking water and the bikes. Upon inspection the metal ring on the front of the dinghy that the rope was tied to just snapped off!! A bad day at sea just getting worse..

Captain Rick had a big decision to make. He had lived on this sailboat for the last 7 years sailing around the Pacific and Caribbean. Would he stay with the ship and try to sail her back to land so he could salvage all his personal belongings? Or would he have to abandon the ship leaving her at the mercy of the sea?? Big decisions.. He wanted his crew (Ike, Henry, and the Chicken) to be safe and sound first. Taking a look at the charts regarding winds and currents it showed that the path we were on we wouldnt be able to make land until Acapulco Mexico! We trying to go SOUTH not back north! At least if we sailed to Acapulco we could try to jump the cliffs again.. Captain Rick  didn’t think he had the mental, or physical strength to undertake such a voyage. No navigation, no power, no electrical, and to top things off our main sail that we had out to help stabilize the boat had just ripped from getting flapped in the wind for the last couple hours..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Torn main sail

Panama Map diagram

Diagram of our route. Headed south east towards Las Perlas, Then south directly to Ecuador. Engine fire off the coast of the Darien and Colombia. Sailed West towards Punta Mala, got caught in major currents and northerly winds blowing us out to sea.

Also to repair the engine and electrical damage done to the boat was going to cost upwards of $25,000. Money that the captain doesnt have…. So Rick made the decision that he was going to abandon ship with us. A life changing decision for sure….

The Coast Guard informed us that they didn’t have any assets in the area and that the Panamanian navy didn’t have any boats that could reach this far out and back. We were about 250 miles from Panama City and 50 miles off the coast of Punta Mala (the bad point) which was named for a reason. An aeronaval airplane flew over us and circled around before heading in. Awesome! Someone knew where we were in the endless aquamarine!  The Coast Guard had sent a request to merchant vessels in the area that we were requesting rescue! There were two ships searching for us now and that was good news for once!

We spent the afternoon just shooting the shit relaxing on the boat now. The panic from the morning had subsided and we were just having fun enjoying the last hours with the Evenstar. Captain Rick told us he had a sawed off shotgun to defend against pirates and we could shoot it. It was great fun shooting a sawed off, which by the way is an illegal weapon. Its illegal because by sawing off the barrel you turn a big weapon into a concealable and very power smaller weapon. Irregardless it was a blast shooting rounds into the sea, feeling like a pirate.

Around sunset we spotted the merchant vessel that was coming to rescue! Henry got to shoot off a flare, something he had been wanting to since since he was a youth. We got into radio contact with the captain of the Glenda Meryl, a Oil Tanker from India. We were hoping to get rescued before dark but as the sun set west it was apparent that this would be a night rescue!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Glenda Meryl Indian Oil Tanker

The indians set out their rescue boat and got our ship tied to theirs. While this was happening another hose burst in the engine compartment expediting the sinking process! A bad day at sea getting worse.. Ike used the dinghy to shuttle all of our stuff into the rescue craft. This was all happening in pretty choppy seas under the cover of darkness! Once all of our stuff was in the rescue craft, Ike returned to pick up Rick, Hen, and the bicycles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hen reassembling bike before getting on rescue boat

Before we left the Evenstar, Captain Rick cut the hoses and opened the valves effectively “scuttling” (sinking) the ship; sealing its fate to the watery depths below. This ended a 7 year love affair with his beloved Evenstar. He pulled the ships bell off the wall, because you never leave the ships bell. Sad moments. Hen took one last look as water was now flooding the cabin. No time to sit in revelry on a sinking ship. We hopped in the dinghy and jumped into the rescue ride.

It was bouncy in the rescue boat and the Indians who came to save us were not accustomed to the bouncing of a small vessel they were puking over the side, leaving most of the rescuing up to Hen and Ike! Hen told them that we needed to cut the rope that tied us to the sailboat because it was sinking! The indians didnt know which rope it was as there was two and they told Heinrich to do it! Hen jumped into the dinghy once more and took a knife between his teeth like a pirate and headed out into the darkness in search of the line. He found it and started sawing away with adrenaline coursing through his veins! This was one of those big hemp ropes about two inches in diameter that takes a few minutes to saw through. The indian who gave Hen the knife said not to drop it! Henry had a death grip on that shank and managed to get the rope sliced and back into the life boat! The indians on the oil tanker later told us that they had seen sharks swimming around the boats with their search lights during the rescue, adding epicness to the story.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Inside the rescue boat! Bikes and All!

As we approached the oil tanker, we were being slammed into the hull of the ship. Very dangerous work lie ahead to get the rigging for the pulleys to hoist us onto the big ship. The indians were screaming in Hindu and  were trying to converse with us in broken english! The sea was swelling one to two meters as the rigging was trying to be shackled on the the rescue boat. The indians were working hard in the bobbing sea as Ike had taken over from the sick Indians to use a gaff to push the lifeboat away from the ship! On the other end of the joust like gaff was a metal hook. While jabbing the ship, Ike had to keep looking back not to stab this hook into one of the indians throwing up on the other side! Every time we slammed into the hull it shook up the whole lifeboat! Hoping it wouldnt break in two we held our breaths as the riggers finally had the boat secure and we were hoisted out of the sea! Only to be dropped back in as the rigging wasn’t done correctly!! Once more we had to fight the swell keeping a healthy distance between us and the big rig! Eventually in what seemed like the longest minutes of our lives we were finally correctly rigged and hoisted once more out of the water! We were still being banged into the hull on the way up and now it was even worse! Each smash was like thunder shaking the whole life boat! Hen grabbed a helmet and put it on! Being hoisted onto the boat felt like one of those rollercoaster rides. We were finally rescued from the sea and on the oil tanker!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On the tanker! Feeling torqued!

The indians greeted us with juice and water and had a nice cabin for us to stay in! We were all so adrenalized it was insane! Of all the crazy extreme sports we have done from rock climbing to mountain biking, to cliff jumping; we had never felt adrenaline like this. It was coursing through our veins, our whole bodies buzzing with it. Pupils dilated and everything. We sat with Captain Rick in the mess room smoking cigarettes just trying to calm down. The indians fed us delicious curry for dinner and we retired to our very nice cabin for the night finally to chill out.

We even had our chicken spend the night perched on the toilet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Potty training Cisse’

The next day we awoke about 4 hours from Panama City where we would get dropped off! All the Indians were psyched on us that we were going to Brasil for the World Cup! Everyone wanted to take pictures of us! One of the Indian crew told us that he had done a 1200km bicycle tour in India, and that we should visit him in New Delhi! Cool, now we have to go travel in India one day!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pictures with the crew

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rescue boat

The Panamanian aeronaval came and picked us up in their cutter and returned us to the Navy base. It was here we were met by an agent from the US Embassy who was there to help us out in any way we needed. We explained that we saved all of our possessions and just needed to go to the marina to search for another ride to Ecuador..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Delivering bikes to the cutter

Back in Panama City we have been trying to worm our way onto yet another sailboat. Trying to get to Ecuador as Ike’s girlfriend, Genia, has been there for a month now and was planning on meeting up with us upon our arrival. Below is the link to the article that the Navy wrote about the rescue mission.

http://www.aeronaval.gob.pa/NOTICIAS2014/FEBRERO/SENANAUXILIAANAUFRAGOS-G.html

 

Unfortunately, the environmental effects of sinking a yacht into the ocean is detrimental. Hundreds of gallons of fuel will spill out of the boat, not to mention all the other stuff that will float around for eternity till it bunches up in the giant floating garbage patch in the Pacific. For all our good work traveling in sustainable fashion by bicycle, and avoiding using aeroplanes and busses whenever possible; we felt that sailing would be a great way to continue our voyage in this style. We never imagined we would have to abandon ship at sea. We would like to apologize to everyone, the ocean, and mother nature for this failure.

On the otherhand, we are extremely excited to be safe and sound back on dry land with all of our personal belongings. We would like to thank Captain Rick for his wisdom, generosity, and friendship. Also we would like to thank everyone who helped contribute to our rescue. Mike from the Caribbean, The USCG, the Panama Aeronaval, and the Captain and crew from the Glenda Meryl!

Safe sailing friends!

Ike&Hen

Boquete to Panama City !

We left off after our adventures in Boquete. With only a few more days in the quaint mountain town we were able to visit a couple of farms that we found on a day bike ride up into the hills.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Boquete Panama

We first found a tomato farm that wasnt very stoked on us checking out the farm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tomato Farmers

We talked to them a bit, took some fresh tomatoes and stumbled upon a huge greenhouse operation. Not knowing what was inside we decided to enter the saw tooth entity. Inside turned out to be a industrial sized hydroponic operation growing many types of lettuce.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hydroponic Lettuce Farm

We met one of the workers who gave us a short tour and also showed us their pet toucans!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What kind of Goo can stick you to a toucan? – Glue can

How many people can ride a toucan? – Two can

Who is the only person who can ride a toucan? – Lou can

Who can write more jokes about a toucan? YOU CAN!

After a handful of chill days in the mountains it was nice to get back in the saddle and head to our final destination in Panama and respectively, Centro America! What goes up must come down; this is a very true saying as  we had climbed into the beautiful town in the mountains the week prior, it was time to descend and be on our way.

After about 50km of fun flowing downhill it was time to pedal again. Panama is pretty hilly as we had come to find out along the PanAm, but it was nothing near as bad as El Diablo (the continental divide). On the way down we saw many small and Xtra small farms…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Small & XtraSmall Farms

At the end of the day on day 2 after leaving Boquete Hen’s rear quick release snapped rendering his bike useless. (The quick release is what holds the wheel on) Ike asked some locals if we could camp at there house and they were psyched! They had pigs cats dogs and chickens in their yard for Cisse to play with! We set up camp and found a pathway down to the big river we had just crossed prior to the bike malfunctions and took a great river bath!

The next day unfortunately started by us having to take a bus to the town of Santiago! Santiago is about halfway between David and Panama City! Once in Santiago Hen borrowed Ike’s bike and searched for a bike shop to obtain a new quick release. Having searched up and down the strip the only bike shop he found was closed. Hen started talking to some people in a car shop who pointed him towards this other guy who he followed down this side street to a house where a guy was fixing a generator and polishing chairs. They spoke for about 10 minutes about the generator while Hen was hangin out in a rocking chair waiting. When it was time Hen talked to the dude and followed him into the house. He disappeared under the stairs and came out with a box of bike parts. It was here that Heinrich selected his new quick release. The man explained to him that this was a much stronger one than the one that broke and could take me all the way to Argentina and back! Psyched Hen pedaled back to the bus station where Ike and the chicken were chillin. Hen replaced the quick release and it was back on the road!

We pedaled the rest of that day and camped out in an awesome farmland. Bathing in the irrigation water was a bit sketchy but we did it anyway!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Camped out on a rice farm

About 100 km from the City we were in sight of the Ocean. For our lunch break we headed to the Pacifico Ocean for some swimming and fun in the sun! This was our first time back on the Pacific since Mexico! We were greeted by beautiful blue waters and white sands!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lunch at the beach

Rollin into Panama City was insane! Crossing the bridge of the Americas over the Panama Canal was quite the adventure! Instead of cycling in the crazy traffic lanes we took the service sidewalk. This was a good choice because we were away from all the traffic, on the other hand it was the service lane so there was generators and ladders in the way. We would have to squeeze around them while cars and busses blast by in the oncoming lane at 100kph! On your left hand side was about 400 ft of dizzying exposure down to the Panama Canal. Theres a fence between you and the edge but its still a pretty awesome feeling!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

View of Panama City from Isla Perico

After gnarviating the crazy traffic, we pedaled out to the Amador Causeway! This a sweet little causeway that leads you to Isla Perico. We pulled into the shoppette to use the internet and struck up some conversations with some gypsy pirates.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Acroyogabats !

They showed us a place where we could camp on the island! The Amador Bike Park! We set up camp here for a few days! It was a perfect location for us because we love to camp and our chicken could roam free and hang with the gypsies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ike & Cisse’

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gypsies camp

Living with the gypsy gang, we learned about their “project” which was designed as a sailing community that would put on circus shows on their journey. Everyone had their own job;  collecting and drying food to collecting supplies to fixing their sail boat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gypsies food drying station

While waiting for a boat, we decided to check out what Panama City had to offer!  Which included The canal! The old town, the ghettos, the very very American Mall, and some good old fashion partying!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Oil Rig passing through the canal at the Miraflores locks

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Having outrageous fun at the locks!

During our tour we found this crazy tree that was hundreds of years old and of course, had to climb it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gangsta Gansta in Casco Viejo

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ike trying on some fresh boots at the Puma store at Allbrook mall!

Back at the shoppette we also met some sailors. Ken and Gael who had been sailing around the world for the last 15 years told us they knew of a guys sailing to Ecuador. Our new friends made some phone calls and Rick showed up and introduced ourselves. He said yup he was going to Ecuador and that we could come with him! Headed to Ecuador more on that later!

a man a plan a canal panama- spell that one backwards!

-Ike & Hen