We’ve been sailing for two months and 25 days and now we have completed the Caribbean portion of our journey around the world. Two days ago, we rounded Portobelo National Park, which is the last point we had to clear before we could make our turn into Colon and the Eastern side of the Panama Canal.
As we were making our way, I looked to the East. With my face in the wind, I closed my eyes and felt the breeze that had brought us this way. I was reminded of all of the islands we sailed through on the opposite side of this warm sea. Sailing to destinations allows you to really feel the distance you are covering. Although we were moving down the Eastern Caribbean the first two months, we managed to cover the entire Westward passage in less than 20 days (including 10 days in Cartagena and 4 days in the San Blas Islands). Now our time in this sea is coming to a close; it’s a strange sensation.
When we were planning our route, we knew that the Caribbean would be place to learn and to get our feet under us. We knew we would be challenged, but we felt we couldn’t ask for a better place to learn. The Caribbean felt like the shallow end of the swimming pool. Passages are typically short, there are plenty of places to stop and plenty of resources to keep J. Henry sailing. The Caribbean is also close to home. If we ever needed anything, if we ever needed to make it home, it was close. The proximity of home also allowed us to enjoy the company of friends and family. In the nearly three months we have been gone, we have had about fourteen people come to visit us. We have had seven people joining us on passages. It’s been warm, welcome company. Thanks to all of you who have made it to J.Henry in the past few months.
Now we are docked at a marina in Panama. J. Henry was measured this morning for the canal and we will have a spot in line to go through the canal by the end of the day. We will have a few more familiar faces visiting here but in 10 days, when we sail away from the West coast of the Panama canal, we will be sailing away from familiarity and proximity into a new ocean and new horizons. From here on out, it will be harder for people to visit. Shortly after we leave Panama, we will begin our longest passage yet, the Pacific crossing. It’s a brave new world.
All of this stirs a profound feeling within me. It’s not fear. We are not afraid by any means. The feeling is surreal. It may be the sensation of feeling alive. It may simply be the feeling of leaving the shallow end. The safety net is no longer available, but it is also no longer needed. We’re ready.
It’s wild to think about how quickly it all happened. It seems like a short time ago, I was sitting on my porch in Charleston, watching an afternoon thunderstorm pass by, day dreaming of the big adventure to come while simultaneously trying to soak in every bit of what I love about home. That smell of a thunderstorm! At this point, it is very easy for me to say, I truly miss and love the Lowcountry. Our home is a treasure.
At this time, reflecting on what it has taken to get here is unavoidable. The places and the journey is one thing that comes to mind, but what is much more poignant are the people that helped us to get here. I feel infinitely lucky and thankful. I’m thankful for the boat full of people who carried us, supported us, encouraged us and reassured us. I think of the people who shared with us, more than we could ever think to ask for. In the end, we absolutely wouldn’t have made it off the dock without the help of so many great people, who sincerely cared about us and believed in the course we had plotted out for ourselves. To all of you that may end up reading this, please know how thankful we are. A day doesn’t go by that we don’t think of you. We just hope to make the most of it all, never take it for granted, and find ways to share as much as we can. Already, the love and support people have given to us, has changed us for the rest of our lives.
Next week we will be sailing away from Panama. As of now, we plan to sail south, to Ecuador. From there we will begin our Pacific passage. We will likely sail South of the Galapagos, and we hope to join the Trade Winds shortly thereafter. We will do our best to keep in touch and write home. The big passage should take about 30 days. I am sure I will write more before that passage.
Thank you for helping us along the way, please keep in touch.
Warmly from Panama,