Wednesday, March 22, 2017


At night we can see the Southern Cross and the Big Dipper at the same time, emblems of the choice that we will soon set into motion. When we leave Panama, which of our two countries will we return to? Which way will we turn, left or right?

We have found a little Galactic oasis here in Las Perlas Islands, off the Pacific coast of Panama.

The ocean around this place is rich. Hundreds of pelicans dive bomb the waters around our anchored ship on the turn of the tide. Flocks of terns are like mist rising off the distant water. We had a close view of a humpback on our sail into this anchorage, and also the first-ever look at a hammerhead shark for three of us, as one of those beasties from the menagerie of evolutionary delights swam at the surface behind the mothership.

The beach here is our own. The boys, bless them, are old enough to just take the dinghy ashore and play without us.

This place keeps reminding me of the eastern seaboard of Australia. Something about the tropical forest down to the beach, and the ancient flat rocks that are revealed around the points at low tide.

My main business here has been painting the decks. The nonskid in our deck paint has worn down after six years of constant use to the point where areas had become deadly when wet. We have all had slips in the cockpit, and resurfacing the most worn spots was one of the few must-do jobs before we went on passage again.

So the random orbital sander has come out of deep storage. I have been sanding, and answering Alisa's questions about whether I really need to sand so much. I painted the second coat for the cockpit benches and well late one evening and listened to the boys and Alisa playing an uproarious game of Uno down in the saloon.

Elias has shamed me into taking him spearfishing with the replacement spear that we finally bought in Panama City for the speargun that Alisa found floating, spearless, in the lagoon of Moorea nearly six years ago. But we find the water impossibly opaque here. Visibility is nothing. We dive again and again, hoping that a fish will swim nearly into us at the right moment so that we can spear it. We know people who have been spearfishing successfully here, but they are not the beginners that we are.

Eric took Alisa for a sail in Frisky while Elias and I spearfished yesterday. He steered that little boat for nearly a mile in each direction. Alisa reports that he is cut from the same cloth of idiot-savant small boat sailor as his brother. Looking at the sail not at all, shoulders slumped in complete relaxation at the tiller, giving a casual bloke in a boat wave to the fishermen driving by, while he makes the boat go just where he wants. No idea what they're doing when they sail, these boys of ours, but they do it well.

The three Litzow men live without shirts, except for when we are venturing into the sun. At night the air blowing down the hatches feels liquid in its capacity to refresh. I tell the boys to enjoy it now, as there will be nothing like it when we get to Alaska.

And that's about as much anticipation of Alaska as we have indulged in. It feels too far, too unknown, to contemplate much.

A friend who has just bought a traveling boat with her family and is now drinking from the fire hose of boat ownership asked me, with some urgency, what I liked about the sailing life.

This is one thing. Being self-contained in our family life, while we are also being expansively, and exuberantly, of the world.

This post was sent via our high-frequency radio as we're far from internet range. Pictures to follow when we reach internet again. We can't respond to comments for now, though we do see them all!

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  1. If you guys do decide to turn right and head back to Alaska, I hope you make a stop in Juneau! I imagine you would probably make it up here before our target date of leaving in 2019. :)

  2. Hi Mike,

    I've found your site while looking for some inspiring stories about sailing and travelling. Traveling and yachting are also a big part of my soul, I've sailed a lot in Mediterranean during my vacations some years ago when I had just got my skipper license and was still working in the office in Moscow. A year ago I left my job in the office and started round the world journey I'd been dreaming of since childhood. Many countries, people and adventures since then - paragliding in Iran, diving in Maldives, trekking in Nepal, surfing in Sri Lanka...

    Recently I came across a project about sailing, they publish stories in Russian - They want to popularize sailing in Russia, since many Russians still consider yachting and sailing to be luxurious and the priviledge of extremely rich. But we know the truth;) and I want more people who dream about wind and salty water to be inspired.

    I want to ask your permission to translate some stories from your site to Russian and publish them on website. I also ask your permission to use your original photos in the stories I will translate. Of course in the translation there will be a link to your original story. If you have some special conditions please let me know.

    Thank you in advance for your reply!

    Best regards,