Annual Summary of 1998

Following is an overview of our 1998 travels which included 9,000 miles, 8 countries, 101 days of sailing, 37 anchorages, the Panama Canal and crossing the Pacific. Now we're safe in New Zealand for the South Pacific's cyclone season.

Trinidad: Talked with Harold LaBorde, Trinidadian author who sailed around the world twice with his family in boats he built. Saw beautiful north coast with a local hiking club.

Venezuela: Climbed Testigo Grande under Frigatebirds & Tropicbirds. Stocked up on cheap rum in Margarita. Partied with friendly fishermen at Blanquilla. Snorkeled in Los Roques. Saw thousands of Red-footed Boobies nesting in Los Aves.

Curacao: It was mostly modern, but they couldn't fix our computer. Our all-time fastest sailing was when passing Colombia.

San Blas Islands: Traded for many colorful molas. Watched effective Cuna fishing. Rode in a dugout up a jungle river. Visited thatched villages. Little kids were terrified by Jerry's beard. They thought we were odd. Fixed food "our way" for them. Gave away lollipops and presents.

Panama: Celebrated 401 years of Portobello, port of gold galleons. Worried, but had no problems in Panama Canal transit. Swam with caimans (tropical American crocodiles) in the canal's lake at Gamboa.

Galapagos Islands: Dorothy sailed the 1000 miles from Panama. Became "shellbacks" when we crossed the equator. Strange volcanic landscapes had wonderful wildlife and plants such as Blue-footed Boobies, land and sea iguanas, giant cacti, giant tortoises, Waved Albatross, and mating Frigatebirds. Snorkeled with penguins, sea lions, manta rays, & sharks. Officials used rules to suit themselves and charged high fees. Anchorages were terrible and travel restricted. Toured one week on a funky small boat with lively European travelers.

French Polynesia: Had a wonderful 24-day 3,000 mile passage to the Gambier Islands. Tuamotus are coral atolls, while other islands are high volcanic islands with reefs. Polynesian pearl farmers and copra producers were friendly to us, while ambivalent towards the French. Flowers were everywhere, worn by men and women every day. Enjoyed Bastille Day and tamure dance performances. Made jewelry from "cat's eye" operculums (cover openings of shell) found on beaches. Hiked and rode bikes around and over several islands. Ate poisson cru and other fine Polynesian cuisine. Were given free fruit and coconuts. Had good fishing in lagoons. Tricky passes had swift currents. Marvelous trade winds blew almost constantly. People paddled outrigger canoes. Jellyfish stings bothered Jerry. Officials required a bond. Checked Papeete Post Restante daily and socialized with other cruisers on the South Pacific "coconut milk run."

Aitutaki, Cook Islands: Kedged through the pass and were the only cruisers there. Very friendly locals exchanged gifts with us. Nina learned many new recipes involving arrowroot flour and fruits. Saw great Maori dancing and drumming performances. Sailed dinghy and rode motorboat to motus in the lagoon.

New Zealand: The "la Nina" weather pattern produced more wind and rain than usual during our slow 23-day, 2063 mile passage to New Zealand. We tied up in a Tauranga marina & bought a cheap car. Beautiful country & friendly people, but they drive on the left and have Christmas in the summer. We're upside-down! Hilary visits here in December. We tour the country, get things fixed, and restock the boat for the next sailing season in the Pacific Islands.