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Old 05-17-2010, 09:22 PM   #286
Jammin OP
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Pictures from Panama, Part 2: The Canal and Darien

May 7 - 9, 2010


After a nice two days in Chitré, I continued on south to Panama City.


Crossing the Bridge of the Americas (Puente de las Américas) as it goes over the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal.


Riding alongside the Panama Canal Railway, which was built in 1855 in response to the Gold Rush in California and the numerous people traversing from the East Coast of the US to California, avoiding the wild interior. They took ships down to Panama, crossed the 50 mile isthmus and sailed onward to California. The railroad was also pivotal in Panama being chosen for the canal as it greatly helped during construction in hauling equipment in and debris out. Today, it helps transfer cargo from one side to the other in addition to ships traversing the canal.


The first of three locks in the Panama Canal, Miraflores.


sanDRina at the Miraflores Locks in the Panama Canal with a Hapag-Llyod Panamax cargo ship traversing the lock.


Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal with a cargo ship in the far lock. The Panama Canal was constructed to reduce shipping times from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, saving around 13,000 kms (8,125 miles) of going around Cape Horn. It costs about $100,000 per transit of the canal for big cargo ships compared to around $1 million that would be spent in fuel and other costs to go around Cape Horn.


The Hapag-Lloyd Panamax cargo ship at the last lock before reaching the Pacific Ocean. Instead of cutting straight through the continental divide, which the French tried initially when they started building the canal in 1880, the American design uses locks and dams to raise ships to an altitude of 26 m (86 ft) before dropping them back to sea level.


Slowly being lowered as the water level drops in the lock. Panama was originally a state in Colombia and the US helped bring about independence to Panama in 1903 so that they could construct and operate the canal, which they did till 1999 when they turned over the operation to Panama.


Two more Panamax cargo ships coming through. Panamax is a designation for the maximum allowed dimensions of a ship that is allowed to pass through the locks of the Panama Canal. Ships are designed specifically to fit through the locks. Supertankers that are much wider and longer than the locks are referred to as Post Panamax.


The water is pumped from the top lock to the bottom lock (note the first ship is almost level with the ocean surface now).


Being released into the Pacific Ocean. Look at that thing, it's 13 semi-trucks wide! Each time a lock is opened, 101,000 cubic meters (26.7 million gallons) of fresh water is released into the ocean. Seeing the wastefulness of this, the canal authority in cooperation with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development has designed into their future expansion water-saving basins at each lock that will reuse 60% of the water in each transit.


The next ship being lowered as the water level equalizes.


Once the water level is equal, the gates in the lock open...


...and the ship is tugged through to the next lock. The electric tug trains cost $2 million each and about 6-8 of them are used on each ship to help stabilize it thru the lock. There's only 2 ft of clearance on each side of Panamax ships.


Heading down to the last lock. It takes about 10 hours for a ship to transit the whole canal.


The containers securely tied down.


The Panamax CCNI Punta Arenas, heading to Chile. Biggest users of the canal are the US, China and Chile. Most impressive to see this engineering marvel in person, paying respect to the thousands of workers who lost their lives in its construction.


The Puente de las Américas, one of two permanent bridges connecting the north and south American land masses as it passes over the Panama Canal. I'm geo-technically on the southern American land mass :)


Heading down the Calzada de Amador (Causeway), which juts out into the ocean for about 3 kms. It was constructed by the debris from the canal.


It's a pleasant drive with space for jogging and bicycling; popular with residents and tourists. Note the ship on the right side, it was the first one I saw through the canal.


Panama City skyline from the islands in Panama Bay.


Panama City skyline with boats. It's probably the most modern looking Central American city I've come across, some say resembling Miami, with more English spoken here :p


Heading back into the city with a view of the Puente de las Américas.


Casco Viejo, the old town in Panama City. It's a bit run down, but it's being slowly restored. Before construction on the Panama Canal began, all of Panama City was in Casco Viejo. It was abandoned for the new city as economic expansion dictated more real estate.


Staying at Hospedaje Casco Viejo for $10. My first backpacker hostel of the trip. The area was considered dodgy a few years ago, but it's quite safe nowadays.


Casco Viejo was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003 and its restoration continues.


Iglesia de La Merced, an old church still active with service. It looks like new construction was built to support the old facade.


Parque Herrera at sunset. Lots of locals were milling about and the place was very active.


Coming across a restaurant, run by Chinese with good looking food in the display window and approval from exiting locals.


Rice and beans with chicken in a sauce and fried plantain and special sides of fried chicken gizzards and liver. Mmm, mmm, good. I've been craving me some gizzards. Cost $2.70.


Walking back to the hostel I came across this small plaza where the chic outdoor restaurant in the corner was piping beautiful jazz music and I just had to sit down and soak it in with the fresh evening breeze and clear night skies up above.


With one day left to catch my boat to Colombia, I decided to head out early to get to Yaviza, the town at the end of the Pan-American highway in Central America.


Catching a nice sunrise over the eastern part of Panama City. The southern corridor road cuts across the bay and is tolled.


Heading towards Tocumen with the sun breaking through.


After Chepo, the road gets smaller and there were numerous one-lane bridges with sheet metal coverings; slippery when wet.


This ride was quite a challenge a few years ago when it was unpaved, but now it's a leisurely paved ride. But the scenery is still nice and there's some twisties here and there.


Welcome to Darien, the famous remote province of Panama with less than three people per square kilometer.


It's a UNESCO World Heritage site for its primeval landscape, which hasn't changed much in a million years due to lack of development. Surprisingly all these trees haven't been felled by loggers and it feels good to ride under the shadow of such lush forests.


The scenery changes a bit (less trees around) as you get near Yaviza and the road gets twistier.


Welcome to Yaviza, the last town on the Pan-American highway until Colombia. The reason they haven't connected the road to the Pan-Am in Colombia is mainly because of the tough jungle terrain with lots of rivers and swamps to cross. I'm sure they could if they really wanted to and might at some point in the future, but for now, there is no intention to connect the road as it would destroy a lot of virgin forest and might spill over the fighting from Colombia into Panama and could ease drug smuggling.


The Pan-Am just ends into this single lane concrete road as it circles around the township.


There are military guards all through the Darien and they take down your passport details in case something goes wrong. Once you enter Yaviza, you're directed to go check in at the local police station and have to tell them what your intentions are (staying the night, just having lunch, etc).


This could be considered the symbolic end of the road as the Darien continues on the other side of this bridge. People have crossed the Darien Gap overland into Colombia, but it's a serious expedition.


Locals pulling ashore with plantains to sell.


You can get a taste of what lies ahead in the jungle. Colombia is just about 150 kms away. I'm happy that there's a gap here as it adds a bit of excitement in getting to Colombia.


Having lunch at a decent looking restaurant in Yaviza. There were lots of locals about, but not unsafe in anyway. Having left Panama City at 6 am, I got to Yaviza by 10:30.


Having sancocho, a typical food around the whole of Panama, basically a soup with some meat and cassava. This one was with goat meat. Cost $1.50.


The colorful public transportation of Central America. All through these countries, the buses, usually old American school buses are decorated and painted in wild colors. This isn't the best example, but this was the last one I would be seeing so had to snag a pic of it. Made it back from Yaviza to the town of Chepo. Last night in Central America, boarding the boat tomorrow.


My ride back from Yaviza was exciting as I incurred another flat. I was slowly losing air in the rear tire after lunch and decided to just keep adding air and riding it to my destination for the night where I could work on it leisurely. This small nail was the culprit. I found it as it poked me; good thing for that tetanus shot.


Having a nice place to work on it at the back of Posado Caledron in Chepo. Room cost $12 plus $3 for the bike.


Using the Tyrepliers Beadbreaker successfully. It works well on one side and the other side usually requires a bit of wrangling with a tire iron to get the bead to break. (The bead on a tire is the contact area that secures the rubber tire to the metal rim).


Three huge 15" tire irons, making an easy job of getting the tire on and off the rim. Not really easy, but much better than using standard smaller tire irons.


What a coincidence that this new puncture was just about an inch away from my first puncture. I thought at first that the patch on the first puncture had failed, but I found the angled gouge from the new nail.


I had to remove the first patch and tried a larger patch to cover both punctures but the patch wasn't sticking since I didn't have the right tools to overcome the curvature of the heavy duty tube, so I walked over to the local tire mechanic and had him patch the tube. He's grinding the area here.


He applied hot vulcanizing rubber to cover both punctures and set it in this press to cure.


While waiting, another customer came by for an inner tube for a truck. He's running it through the water tub to check for leaks.


$1 for a nice, thick, huge patch. He liked the heavy duty tube and complained of the cheap, thin Chinese tubes that are widely available here. I'm going to keep patching this tube :)


Two hours later, tire is back on and ready to ride to Carti tomorrow to load onto the boat. Enjoying a nice chowmein at the local Chinese restaurant for $2.50.
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Current Ride Report: Global South | Past Trips: CDR '09, Alaska '08, Mexico '07 | YouTube Videos

Jammin screwed with this post 03-19-2011 at 08:34 AM
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Old 05-18-2010, 09:42 AM   #287
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Excellent reporting! Love the food shots! I remember well the various "Chifas" (Chinese restaurants) throughout Latin America. A nice change from local cuisine! In Ecuador, Peru', Bolivia you'll appreciate them even more as local food can be a bit bland.

I'm envious of your success with the "Coach Surfing" thing! How does that work? Seems you've found folks in every country so far.

Glad you found a Llantera to fix your tube. Some modern, heavy duty tubes resist sticking with bicycle type patches because they are Butyl not pure rubber. Vulcanizing seems to be the best for long lasting patch.

Be careful with those long irons ... you can damage the tire bead or even bend the wheel with them. Love your bead breaker! (Tire Pliers?) Nice. That Kenda looks to be wearing nicely. How many miles on it so far?

Looking forward to more reports. Safe riding!
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Old 05-18-2010, 02:21 PM   #288
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yum!
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Old 05-18-2010, 04:21 PM   #289
Jammin OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adv Grifter
Excellent reporting! Love the food shots! I remember well the various "Chifas" (Chinese restaurants) throughout Latin America. A nice change from local cuisine! In Ecuador, Peru', Bolivia you'll appreciate them even more as local food can be a bit bland.

I'm envious of your success with the "Coach Surfing" thing! How does that work? Seems you've found folks in every country so far.

Glad you found a Llantera to fix your tube. Some modern, heavy duty tubes resist sticking with bicycle type patches because they are Butyl not pure rubber. Vulcanizing seems to be the best for long lasting patch.

Be careful with those long irons ... you can damage the tire bead or even bend the wheel with them. Love your bead breaker! (Tire Pliers?) Nice. That Kenda looks to be wearing nicely. How many miles on it so far?

Looking forward to more reports. Safe riding!
Hey Mickey, yeah, was good to mix it up with some Chinese food. I'm carrying an array of spices in preparation for bland food.

Yeah, CouchSurfing has been working really well. Basically I get on there, and look for possible hosts in cities along my route and hit them up with a message a week or so out. A lot of people don't reply, so it's hit or miss. Users have a profile page on there (similar to facebook) and you can get an idea of who they are and what they offer to travelers. Also, the biggest thing is that people leave references on there and that gives the best impression of the host. Then they get a chance to look at your profile and read your references before deciding whether to accept or not. Once they accept and the dates work, they give directions and phone numbers and I show up. So far, the directions haven't been bad to follow. Some people don't speak that much English, so using Google Translator to communicate back and forth. And it's helped me get immersed in Spanish. It does require you to be more flexible with your plans but I've really liked getting to meet and stay with locals, as you know, that gives the best impression of a place. Also, it adds to bike security as I'm parking in residential places.

Ah, so that's why the patch wasn't working. Thanks. Yeah, good thing llanteras are everywhere here.

I've been careful with the tire irons. I understand that the longer lever transfers more torque and I keep in mind Neduro's tire advice of never to fight the bead - if I need a lot of force, it means something's not right, like the opposite bead isn't down in the well. Yeah, Tyrepliers from Australia, good product. Compact and effective.

7000 miles so far on the Kenda K761 (from San Francisco). Yup, I pay attention to the air pressure and adjust it according to the road condition. I think I'm going to buy new tires in Medellin, just cause prices and options will be good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by timk519
yum!
Yup, am eating good, but probably not the most healthiest. That's the only downside to eating while on the road - trying to keep a balanced diet.
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Old 05-18-2010, 04:49 PM   #290
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Sailing on the Stahlratte

May 9 - 14, 2010

Journeying overland from North to South America presents all travelers with the question of how to cross the Darien Gap, a 150 kms (95 mile) stretch of dense jungle that has seen no development due to its harsh environment of swamps and rivers. It's for the better to preserve some raw nature in today's high-paced world. The Pan-American highway ends in Yaviza, Panama and picks up past the jungle in Colombia. The quick option is to fly over from Panama to Bogota or Quito, but it's also the expensive option. The more fun option is to put the bike on a sailboat and cross over to Cartagena, Colombia, across the Caribbean Sea.

There have been quite a few riders who've taken the sailboat option and had a bad experience as the captain was either inexperienced or didn't deliver as promised. With that in mind, I wanted to make sure to sail with the most reliable captain and boat in these waters: Ludwig on the Stahlratte, a 40 meter (130 ft) steel-hulled sail ship, built in 1903 and still going strong. I contacted Ludwig before I began my trip and planned the Central America portion of the ride in order to get to the boat on time. May 10 was the last sailing date before the Stahlratte was going into maintenance for about two months in Cartagena, and as I got delayed leaving the US, this was the earliest I could make it down here. When Ludwig informed me that the trip was booked completely by a group, I asked if there was someway I could still come aboard as part of the crew and work my way across, not requiring much comforts, as I was mainly looking to just get across to Colombia. He happily agreed and said he could use the extra help and I would only need to pay $360 to transport the motorcycle over. I was feeling good about this and excited to be part of the crew of a sailing ship, that too on my first voyage across open waters.

Ludwig, along with all the other captains, offers a four day sailing trip where the first two days are spent exploring the beautiful San Blas Archipelago and then sailing across open waters to Cartagena in about 30 hours. I came on board a day early to meet the crew and get familiar with my duties.


The Stahlratte was anchored near Carti on the Caribbean side of Panama (upper-right on map) and from Chepo (blue marker), I had to take the Llano-Carti road across the divide (black line along the white makers). The road is to the right of the right-most white marker.


The route of the voyage from Carti, Panama to Cartagena, Colombia. Click on it to go to the interactive version in Google Maps.


It was a beautiful ride as the road crossed the continental divide.


The road was mostly paved, but had gravel spots in the troughs. The route also steeply descended and ascended rapidly.


Entrance fee of $9 required by the Kuna Indians as this is a protected area.


Riding through dense jungle with a bit of rain.


The fast-flowing Rio Carti Grande, which was about a meter deep. In the dry season it's easy to cross the river, but with the start of the rainy season, there was no way.


The road picking up on the other side. They're building a new bridge, which should be done in a year or so.


Ludwig arranged with the Kunas to have a canoe ready for me to take me to the Stahlratte.


I felt like I've done my part in getting to the end of the road here on time and now things were happening to get me to Colombia.


Heaving the front wheel into the canoe.


Balancing on the frame and turning her forward.


And lifting the rear of the bike into the canoe. The guy at the back was holding onto my rear tool tube and snapped a zip-tie, but besides that, it went quite smoothly.


Aboard my first canoe with sanDRina.


They used planks on either side to stabilize the bike but I remained sitting on her, just in case.


Heading out.


Kunas paddling upstream in a slim canoe.


The lead boatsman checked the silt build along the way, from perhaps known sand bars.


Cruising down the Rio Carti Grande.


Heading out to the open sea.


Huge pieces of driftwood at the mouth of the river.


The brown, murky, sediment-filled color of the river slowly getting diluted by the blueness of the sea. The Stahlratte off in the distance.


Coming up to the Stahlratte.


The Stahlratte, meaning "steel rat". A Bremen, Germany registered vessel. It was built in 1903 in The Netherlands and started life out as a fishing vessel. It was bought in 1984 by the Association of Advancement for Sailing Navigation in Germany and converted to the current twin mast schooner layout and is heading on a long term voyage around the world. Besides a hefty diesel engine, two generators, a seawater-desalination unit, she's also equipped with all the necessary safety equipment, including satellite communications.


Pulling up alongside.


The Captain, Ludwig getting the ropes ready to lift sanDRina on board.


Yeah, just as we got close to the ship, the bike started leaning over with me still sitting on it and I feared we were going to fall in the water. Quick save by the Kunas.


Ludwig's First Officer, Roland or Roli, stabilizing the bike as she was winched up.


Easy does it.


Getting some air.


The pulleys used for lifting the bike on board. She was tied around the handle bars and the luggage frame.


Safely on board the Stahlratte.


Passing my panniers onto the ship.


Roli securing the bike to the side of the ship. He's also a rider and has been traveling for many years, setting off from Austria. He custom-built a motorcycle and rode around South America for five years. After Ludwig helped him in getting across, he decided to stay on board and help restore the ship before finding passage onwards to Asia, hoping the Stahlratte heads that way. He's skilled in electronics, among other things and re-did lots of the wiring on the ship.


The canoe that we came in. Cost $20.


Woohoo, finally on board the Stahlratte! I was impressed at the size of the ship and being greater than 30 meters (100 ft), she can be called a ship instead of a boat.
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Current Ride Report: Global South | Past Trips: CDR '09, Alaska '08, Mexico '07 | YouTube Videos

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Old 05-18-2010, 04:50 PM   #291
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On the upper deck looking back at the captain's bridge.


Looking ahead at the ship's wheel, used for manual control. The two levers beside it control the rudder and engine speed. She also had auto-pilot, which was used once we were on open waters.


Ludwig preparing dinner in the ship's galley of steak and potatoes. They liked to eat well and both were good cooks.


Having dinner at the main dining table on the upper level. The girl on the right is Peggy, a friend of a friend of Ludwig's who spent about two weeks on board, who was leaving the next day for Costa Rica when the main passengers were due to arrive.


The interior of the Stahlratte - looking towards the front from the library/office into the kitchen. The hatch door behind the bench was the entrance to my cabin.


Heading down into my cabin for the trip.


It was a good-sized room at the back of the ship and that fan made it a pleasant journey.


The cabin was right behind the engine room and there were some diesel fumes but at least I had one small window to the outside world.


Ladder leading out of my dungeon.


The back of the ship where Roli slept. Watermelons in the net.


The exhaust pipe from the engine exiting the side of the ship with a workbench above it.


Food stores in the back of lots of fresh vegetables and fruits.


The kitchen preparation area and indoor dining.


Cooler stacked with sodas and beer (part of my duties were to keep it restocked).


Filling up on fresh water for the trip. There was an on board desalinization unit that could pump out 120 liters of fresh water in an hour.


Pantry with lots of food for the trip.


Heading down to the main passenger cabin from the kitchen.


The main passenger cabin, which slept about 20 people.


A typical bed for paying passengers. Most of the them complained that it was hot and stuffy, so I was glad to have a fan in my face.


The shower, which proved quite tricky while the boat was swaying wildly.


The engine room (under the kitchen). It's a Volund Diesel from Denmark, built in 1954. It's an in-line 4 cylinder and each cylinder has a capacity of 20 liters. It's pumps out about 300 hp at a maximum of 280 RPM. The sound was quite rhythmic, almost like a train. We ran on the engine most of the time, since the winds weren't right for using the sails for propulsion.


Ludwig at his office entering in all the details of the passengers.


He arranged for an immigrations officer to come on board and process everyone's passport - getting an exit stamp out of Panama.


Nearby Kuna islands. The Kuna Indians were pushed out to the San Blas Archipelago as the Spanish took over the mainland and they've been here for about 500 years making their life on the open waters.


The passenger group loading onto the canoes at the river. It was two cyclists doing Alaska to Tierra del Fuego who had their friends fly down for the sailing trip. They met two other Irish cyclists and invited them to join them across the waters.

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Old 05-18-2010, 04:52 PM   #292
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Setting sail on Day 1 of the voyage.


The jungled mountains of the Darien staying close as we hugged the coast heading down the San Blas Archipelago.


Ship detail on an island.


Arriving at Isla Moron (in Kuna language: Narrasgandup Dummat), our destination for the first night. Bike was covered to protect against the salt spray.


As soon as we dropped anchor, Steven here jumped in.


Getting ashore and exploring the island.


The steel rat, rusting a bit and requiring regular care, but a handsome sight nonetheless.


Heading ashore in the dinghy to prepare dinner.


Roli in the dinghy. I basically stuck to Roli and helped in whatever he asked.


The girls collecting shells on Isla Moron with our home for the next few days anchored offshore.


Pristine beach all to ourselves.


Eliza and the Stahlratte.


Roli getting a chicken barbeque going.


Mmm, barbequed Jamaican jerk chicken. Besides Cartagena, Ludwig also makes trips to Jamaica and gets some good spices while he's there.


Having dinner on the island as dusk grew into night.


Sailing about two hours the next morning to our destination for the day, Coco Bandero (in Kuna: Ordup).


An island for the day.


Too small, ok, here's another one nearby. Amazing to see so many small islands across the landscape. This is all protected area and the Kunas harvest the coconuts from all the islands.


If you're really bad, you might get castaway on this two-tree island.


Shipwreck.


One of the cyclists, Parker having a swing on the boom line.


Letting go...


...and plunging into the Caribbean.


View down from the crow's nest up on the main mast with people relaxing in the net up front.


Looking back at the ship. Black netting was put up to provide shade.


While anchored for the day, Ludwig had some Kunas scrub the side of the ship.


View of our island for the day from the crow's nest. I tried snorkeling here for the first time and really liked it - nice window into the world under the ocean surface. It was also my first time swimming across deep open waters and I'm not a strong swimmer but managed to make it to the island from the ship.


Preparing orange juice in the kitchen with the passengers whose turn of kitchen duty it was. Along with Roli and I, about four people took turns each day helping with the food duties. The guy in the middle is Seth, the organizing cyclist and the three girls are sisters: (L-R) Maddie, Hannah and Eliza (Seth's girlfriend). Everyone on board was super friendly and cordial. Giant Roli getting in on the picture.


Seth is actually sponsored by fishing companies for his cycling trip and they're all about fishing in interesting places. He and Steven caught these two fish on the island and Roli is cleaning them up for dinner.


One of the girls, Danielle, wanted to learn how to clean a fish and Roli is showing her how to make fillets.


Fried fish for dinner. Along with the fish Seth caught, we had barracuda.


Dinner on top, the night before setting sail for Colombia.


Cleaning the ship, getting ready to sail.


Breakfast with a view.
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Old 05-18-2010, 04:53 PM   #293
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After breakfast on the third day, we got the ship ready for the open water voyage. Ludwig got a weather report from his agent in Cartagena that there were 3-4 meter (10-13 ft) swells on the voyage ahead. If it had been greater than 7 meter (23 ft) swells, Ludwig said we would wait it out.


Roli cranking the bow motor to reel in the anchor.


The anchor raising up and we're underway. Note the rich blue color of the water.


Hoisting up the sails to add stability to the ship. To move forward only with the sails would take longer and since the ship was on a schedule, it was an engine-powered voyage.


Dolphins surfing the bow of the Stahlratte!


A huge pod of them kept us company for a while before breaking off. The ship was moving wildly up and down and we were wondering how they know not to get hit by the ship.


Ludwig at the captain's wheel with the sails fully deployed.


The swells on the first day were quite impressive. The ship pitched up and down as she rode the swells. We would see a big swell coming our way and everyone would brace and yee-haw as we went up and over it. It was wilder than any roller coaster ride I've been on.


Everyone got a little sick and some people were not feeling good the whole voyage. The mood became quite somber as everyone found their place of comfort on the ship and tried to sleep it off. It was better to be up here in the back than in their beds down low in the front. I started taking sea-sickness pills before getting on the ship, but it was still too much for me and I had to hurl twice. But I felt much better after that and keeping busy also helped.


Preparing breakfast on Day 4, last day of the voyage. My usual duties were to cut tomatoes, pineapple, prepare the cheese and meat plate and anything else that was required. I actually enjoy cutting vegetables, so it wasn't so bad. And I liked how Roli placed importance on presentation as you eat with your eyes as much as you do with your mouth.


The stove with supports to prevent the pots from moving while we were underway. The three little pots on top were used to make espresso - good strong coffee.


The view from the kitchen. I had to keep an eye on the horizon to quell my queasiness.


Getting sprayed with salt water as we crashed down from a swell. Good thing for that bike cover, but my rotors still got rusty. I was told to spray the bike down with WD-40 before getting on board to protect against the salt, but forgot about it as I was repairing my flat tire.


Dolphins again as we neared Cartagena.


Looking back from the bow (front).


Ludwig keeping a watchful eye on the waters ahead. He and Roli took turns through the night to man the ship. I asked if I could help, but they said they still needed to be on watch because I wasn't experienced in this, of course.


Reading up top by the captain's wheel. After I got over my queasiness, I spent lots of time up here with a great view all around.


Looking ahead on the starboard (right) side and first land sighting ahead on the right.


Everyone feeling better as the swells died down near Cartagena.


Sun setting on a wonderful voyage across the Caribbean Sea from Panama to Colombia.


The tattered German flag indicating where the ship was registered.


Heading into Cartagena with a cargo ship chasing us. If he caught up, we would need to let them pass, since they have higher priority for getting into port.


Beautiful colors over Colombia.


The modern Cartagena skyline, as we pulled into port around 7 pm.


Passing by the cargo ship terminal, Colombia's largest port.


The next morning, Ludwig heading ashore with my bike papers to process the temporary importation. He has to work through a shipping agent and takes care of all the fees. He also got all our passports stamped into Colombia.


Waiting a few hours for my customs papers to process. sanDRina, say hello to Cartagena.


Bringing sanDRina ashore in the dinghy.


I hoped there would be a crane to help unload the bike, but that was wishful thinking.


We just hauled and dragged her onto the pier. Good thing she's not a pretty bike and doesn't mind a few scars.


Sneaking a picture at the customs office.


On the ground at last in South America! Good to be back on two wheels and happy to have voyaged across the Caribbean sea on the Stahlratte.
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Old 05-18-2010, 05:16 PM   #294
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Old 05-18-2010, 05:19 PM   #295
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Holy Crap!

That is by far, the most amazing page of a ride report I have ever read!


I'm inspired, humbled and awed!


Thanks for going, sharing, taking such good pictures and writing so well.
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Old 05-18-2010, 07:03 PM   #296
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Wow, really enjoyed your voyage

Could almost taste the salt air, feel the warm salty breeze and hear the old schooner creaking and banging as she rose and fell in the swells.

From the other end of computer screen, I think this was one of the best legs of your journey, thanks for the sharing.

The crew seem like a very resourceful bunch of lads.
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Old 05-19-2010, 09:07 AM   #297
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That's a great RR update. Most thorough and detailed one I've read about sailing the Gap.

Did you process your bike out of Panama? Or just left without doing the customs paperwork?

Buen Viaje!
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Old 05-19-2010, 09:40 AM   #298
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Whooo Hoooo! You are so lucky to find a good Skipper and crew. Are the Steel Rat guys planning on continuing running passengers or are they moving on to another part of the world?

Loved the pics from the Crow's Nest. Stunning little islands! Can't believe they got your bike into that Zodiac! Wow! They need to find a common concrete boat ramp for loading/unloading. Would be much easier on the cargo Or even a beach?

I looked at your tire ... very impressive at 7000 miles! I looked up Kenda but that tire looks different to yours. I want one of those Kendas! Price is right for sure ($47). We all appreciate all your hard work in doing this excellent ride report. Safe travels! Below is pic I found of K761, yours looks a bit different?


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Old 05-19-2010, 10:08 AM   #299
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The Kenda 761 looks change with miles. I does not take long before you are running on a wide strip of slick looking rubber.
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Old 05-19-2010, 10:14 AM   #300
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Eek Holy cannoe Batman

Great leg,

I know sometimes you gotta trust faith to get you there, but considering that there is the alternative to fly over the gap, I think I would've probably done that, for no other reason than the initial cannoe ride.

I know the trip to the San Blas and the sail accross is worthwhile but the V shape cannoe loaded with bike and gear... hum I don't know, risky... risky... don't get me wrong I am sure you thought about this before doing it, and with a 650 far less heavy than the big GS's it might have looked more shaky than it really was. Where you a bit surprised when you saw the cannoe, or is that what you expected?

Great that it worked out, and glad to have you back on 2 wheels.

Ride on Jay.
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