March 7, 2013

400kg plastic collected in Columbia

Our media coverage in Columbia here!

More pictures here!

Saturday 23th of February: Expecting around 20 people we set off to the meeting point, we even had a plan if only five people showed up. No one was at the meeting point so we went on to the beach to prepare the bases for the planned contest.
At the beach we got a slight shock when we found around 300 students waiting for us. We had never even dared to think of the number of participants being in the hundreds. Nevertheless we started with a competition Switzerland against Columbia who could collect more rubbish in ten minutes.
Again we'd been quite skeptical about finding any rubbish as the beach was very clean, there are people employed to collect the rubbish and there are a lot of bins next to the beach (and in general all around the town).
Yet the participants were extremely enthusiastic and all ran off to find as much rubbish as possible. Some emptied the existing bins to get more rubbish; others went beyond the set boundaries to get all the rubbish hidden between the stones. Ten minutes turned into thirty minutes and soon two large piles of full bin bags could be found around the two flags that served as the bases. Switzerland won by quite a few bags.
Unfortunately, time, weather and the logistics of organizing so many people didn't allow for us to do the second more creative contest. Instead we did a big NO PLASTIC!

2013-02-23_colombia-santa-marta_students-visiting-pachamama-after-clean-up.JPGAfterwards, all the students got a quick tour of the boat to end this very successful clean-up. The plan is that this was the first clean-up in a series of clean-ups here in Santa Marta that will take place on every first Saturday of the month. The official meeting point will be the beach next to the Marina Santa Marta at 9am. We would like to thank Maria Janeth for volunteering to be the coordinator for these following clean-ups.
In the afternoon we went to the Gratiferia held at the Biyuka School. The idea of the gratiferia is that we shouldn't throw away items that are still intact and could be used by others who need them. So everyone brings some things they don't need and can take what they need, like a flea market but all for free. A few of the children going to this school had visited Pachamama the day before. We paid our contribution by doing a "chiaiai". The children loved this school; Salina even said it was the best she'd ever been to.
Thanks to Maria Janeth and her family and Oscar we got a chance to see a little of the surrounding area of Santa Marta- Taganga and Minca. We spent two lovely days with them.
We would also like to say a big thank you to Manuel Davila, the President, and Mauricio Cucalon Micolta, the Sales Manager, and all the staff of the Marina Santa Marta. We have had a great time here and we can only recommend this Marina.

Posted by dario at 2:23 AM

March 12, 2013

San Blas - circumnavigation completed

Watch us transiting the Panama Channel today and tomorrow the 12th and 13th of March 2013 from 16 h on (Panama time = + 6 h MEZ)!

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More Pictures here!

Our Panama Mobil Number: + 507 600 18 100

13-03-02_san-blas-islands-panama_caya-holandas.JPG13-03-01_san-blas-islands-panama_once-around-the-world.JPGAfter a wonderful time in Columbia we left for the San Blas Islands. It was a rocky but short passage. Even as we approached the riff in front of the Island we could see quite a few other sailing yachts anchored there; last time Dario and Sabine were there they were alone. On that note, arriving in the San Blas Islands marks a very important event for Dario and Sabine: They have finished their circumnavigation! It took them 8 years 10 months 14 days 13 hours 20 minutes and four kids. Read the report and see the pictures when we anchored there the 1st time in April 2004 joined by Hanspeter!
The initial plan was to only stay one maybe two days but really bad weather hit us, delaying our voyage to Panama by a few days. To be honest it was great because it allowed us to do a clean-up and celebrate Sabine's Birthday there.

It was really interesting to hear that the Island had been completely plastic free eight years ago and no one had live there. Funnily enough the plastic doesn't come from the local inhabitants but is washed ashore. The amount was incredible we filled more than twenty bags and covered a minute amount of the beach.
Julio the owner of the Island cleans-up a little part of the beach every day. As there aren't any other means to dispose of the rubbish he burns it. As a thank you for cleaning up, we all got "pipa (coconut) juice. Yummy! Sabine was also able to help as a nurse and we donated again food and cloths.

The other two families on the Island rotate an a three monthly bases to watch and guard the coconuts.
For Sabines's Birthday we organized a little get together with all the other SY. Salina and Andri got some time during school to organize a treasure hunt for Sabine. It was great fun.

Posted by dario at 10:59 AM

March 21, 2013

Panama Canal - Las Perlas

2013-03-13_panama_canal-transit_sgs-toptotop-team-2.JPGMore pictures here!

Ever since we left Trinidad the kids asked every time: "Is this the Panama Canal?" - Now finally we could answer: "Yes!"
Once the special extra fenders and ropes had arrived, we busied ourselves by cleaning the boat ready to host 14 people plus a pilot for around 24 hours.
All aboard we sailed half an hour to an anchorage near to the entrance of the canal to eat, meet our pilot and get an introduction course on line handling from Dario:

• Fingers never less than 10cm away from the clamps - or you could lose your fingers
• Lines never too tight - or the force could rip the clamp out of the hull of the boat
• All lines should be slacked and tightened simultaneously - or the boat could get smashed against the wall
• Never ever go in the water! - You are dead for sure.

Unfortunately, the boat dropping off the pilot rammed into our boat a little and managed to bend our stanchion inwards by about 10 cm. When we asked what options we had to take the case further, we realised quite quickly none that wouldn't cost more than the estimated cost for the repairs. Nevertheless we called the port captain Mr. Cap. Alberto Herrera and a boat came to meet us on the lake Gatun and advised us on what further steps to take. They basically advise us to write a letter of protest and tell them what happened so that the incident would be in the archives. Heeding their advise Dario wrote a letter the same night to Cap. Miguel Rodriguez and handed it over the next morning. Our request of compensation was not answered till today, even we emailed the Panama Canal Authorities already twice?

2013-03-13_panama_canal-transit_johannes.JPGline handler Johannes

We went through the first three locks to the Lake Gatun tied to two catamarans; the SY Yam Yam (a Swiss/Norwegian catamaran) and another French one. We were on the left hand side, which meant we only had two instead of four lines to handle. A mistake could have cost the value of the three boats, which was around 2 million dollars. We had a few close shaves due to some of the line handlers on the side of the canal being a little slow and the three pilots, one on each boat, shouting different instructions. But we made it through without any further damage. It's impressive to see how fast the water rises (and sinks - the next day).

In the evening on the lake Gatun we had another funny incident when, what looked like a buoy, turned out to be one of our floating fenders. Thankfully, Guillermo wasn't scared of the crocodiles, that are said to live in the lake, and jumped in without hesitation thereby saving the day.

Early the next morning we awoke from our various sleeping places all over the boat and set off towards the last three locks. After around five hours of crossing the beautiful Lake Gatun, we once again found ourselves tied to the SY Yam Yam and began the descent.
Without any problems whatsoever, at around two o'clock we saw the huge gates of the last lock open in front of us: we had made it through the Panama Canal to the Pacific! See the difference when Sabine and Dario transited the Panama Canal the first time on the 24th of April 2004:2004-04-24_panama_canal-transit_sabine-dario-1st-transit-2004.JPG Sabine & Dario 2004
2013-03-13_panama_canal-transit_familie.JPGSabine & Dario 20013; what happens without TV...

On our way to the Marina we passed under the famous 'Puente de las Américas' (an important part of the Pan Americana), which was quite extraordinary.

It was a pleasure to have Karen, Guillermo, Anthony, Gabi, Jael and Aldair with us for this experience.

2013-03-16_panama_las-perlas_pachamama.JPGLas Perlas
2013-03-19_panama_las-perlas_fish.JPGour dinner
Soon after we left to clean up Las Perlas and met there between Chapera and MogoMogo Island SY Geronimo. We last saw them in St. Helena Island one year ago.
While exploring the islands we kajaked accidently to two beaches where the US TV is filming the "Survivor"series. Where we played stupid, but soon chased us away. There is no coconut tree on the island so they have to bring some coconut by speedboat to play "Robinson". A local told us on MogoMogo that they move every evening to Contadora Isalnd to sleep in a nice hotel....

Posted by dario at 5:27 PM

March 22, 2013

Launch of world record around the 2 Americas

toptotop-1st-circumnavigation-of-2-americas-in-fig-8.jpg1st circumnavigation around the 2 Americas in a figure 8 to our last 2 TOPs of 7: Mount Denali in Alaska, Mount Vinson in Antarctica.

More pictures here from Gustvo Miller and here!

2013-03-21_panama_marina-flamenco_presentation_sgs-customers-toptotop.JPGOn the 21st of March 2013 at Flamenco Marina it was the start of the 1st circumnavigation of the 2 Americas in a figure 8. Thanks to the support of Flamenco Marina and SGS we had a great event. Among the many participants there was the Swiss Honorary Consul to Panama, many SGS employees and customers.

2013-03-21_panama_marina-flamenco_presentation-2.JPGAfter a presentation by Dario, there was a cocktail and everybody was able to visit the expedition sailboat Pachamama.

2013-03-21_panama_marina-flamenco_presentation_powerwomen-sabine-ana-karen.JPGMany thanks again to the core organization team - the 3 power women: Sabine from TOPtoTOP, Ana from Flamenco Marina and Karen from SGS Panama.

We are sailing soon North towards the Arctic and looking forward to be back in Flamenco Marina in 2 years time when we are heading to Antarctica.

Posted by dario at 4:13 PM

March 24, 2013

TOP of Panama

2013-03-23_panama_baru_top-of-panama_meret-johannes-anthony-jael-salina-andri-jacqui-iris-dario.JPGThe Volcán Barú (also Volcán de Chiriqui[1]) is the tallest mountain in Panama and is 3,474 metres (11,398 ft) high. It lies about 35 km off the border of Costa Rica.
Due to its height and Panama's relatively short width, it is possible to see both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea from Volcán Barú's peak on a clear day.
SGS supported this clean up to transport all 15 participants from TOPtoTOP, SGS and SY YamYam to Boquete at the boarder to Costa Rica. We started at 2 a.m. without any sleep, because of the long journey to get there. We all manage to be on TOP by 9 a.m.. Andri with 6 and Salina with 7 became the youngest people ever who climbed it in one day. They did 2000 meters and 32 km (return) without support. Congratulation!

We were at the base of the montain by 1.30 p.m. and back on Pachamama at 11 p.m.. Today the 24th we started to stock up the boat with food for the next 2 months. Thanks again to Marina Flamenco were we are currently docked.

The plan is to set sail towrds Hawaii early Tuesday morning to collect data for the debris research program of Nikolai Maximenko from the International Pacific Research Center based in Hawaii.

Posted by dario at 6:36 PM

March 26, 2013

Pacific Ocean

Goodbye from Panama, hello Hawaii!

Setting Sail from Panama! from TOPtoTOP.

It's time to say goobye to beautful Panama! Thank-you for the memories!

Best regards and sincere wishes from all the crew onboard PACHAMAMA.

Posted by dario at 12:57 PM