We sailed back to The Marquesas over Christmas, skipping holiday celebrations for a rough five day upwind sail from the Tuamotus. Don’t worry! We had a huge late celebration at a traditional Marquesan oven with cruisers in Hapatoni. I’m not talking about eating with a group of cruisers. This goes well beyond that. Participating in a Marquesan oven is immersive, something people back home would pay big money to experience. Preparing for the meal, eating the food, listening to music, and enjoying it all with a huge group of cruisers and Marquesans was better than Christmas!
what is a marquesan oven?
The Marquesan oven in Tahuata made one of the best meals we’ve eaten in a while. They’re also called Polynesian ovens, or earth ovens, because they are dug into the ground. Once deep enough, the pit is filled with coals and lit on fire. The fire burns for several hours, and when the temperature is optimal, banana tree branches, palm leaves, and baskets of wrapped food are placed into the underground oven. Layers of palm leaves, then tarp, and then dirt, are piled on top, enclosing the oven, and infusing the food with smokey flavor, for more hours, usually overnight.
Living on a boat has made us very aware of power usage. Our boat mostly runs on 12V power – lights, fans, water pumps, instruments – which comes from batteries on the boat. In this post, I’ll detail why and how we upgraded our boat to lithium batteries. We think it’s a good decision.
Rules of Batteries
Batteries on a boat are challenging. There’s all sorts of rules on things you should and should not do with traditional boat batteries. The main rules as we understand them:
Replace them all at once
Never let them go below 50% charge
Make sure they are all the same type and brand
It goes on. But the world of batteries is changing rapidly with innovation going on in other industries finding its way into the world of boats. The new technology uses Lithium Ion and is far more efficient and takes up far less space.
We’re in our second month in the archipelago of Bocas del Toro, Panama. Time is flying! We’re keeping busy, seeing the sights, and spending time with fellow cruisers. Here’s an overview of Bocas del Toro boat life.
About Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro (or Bocas, familiarly) is a province on the Caribbean side of Panama. Part of it is located on the mainland, but the important part is the chain of islands. Bocas del Toro means Mouth of the Bull, and the island chain has 3 big islands and many smaller islets and atolls.
Bocas del Toro is a popular tourist destination, and the site of many banana plantations. It has an airport, with several daily flights from Panama City, and multiple water ferries and taxis from the mainland.
There are three big islands in Bocas del Toro, where most of the activity happens and the majority of people live and work.
Isla Colon is the main island, with the airport and main town, called Bocas Town. That’s where the stores are and lots of hotels and resorts. It’s the “big island” where we go to provision at the supermarkets.
Right across from Isla Colon, Carenero has a small marina, and many resorts, beaches, and restaurants.
Located on the Caribbean Sea, Santa Marta is a busy port and Colombia’s oldest city, founded by the Spanish in 1525. It is interesting geographically because of the proximity of high mountains to this city by the sea. It makes for beautiful views when approaching on your boat or walking around the town.
In addition to the marina, Santa Marta has an airport and a bustling downtown with restaurants, museums, and historic squares. We aren’t bored staying in Santa Marta on a sailboat.
I consider myself more a “seize the day” than a “one day at a time” type person. Lately, seizing the day hasn’t been an option. Having health issues on a sailboat means you take each day as it comes and that’s how it’s been these days on Sava.
Brian’s been dealing with health issues and I’ve been trying to keep everything going while he heals.
The Health Issues
It goes back to November, when Brian went to a doctor for a checkup. The doctor thought he had a hydrocele, which requires a simple procedure to drain liquid from the scrotum. With Covid lockdowns and hospital staff in quarantines, getting an appointment for surgery took over a month. Finally, Brian got scheduled for surgery in mid-December, a simple “day procedure” they said.
It’s now late January so how are we still dealing with Brian’s health issues on a sailboat when he had his surgery in mid-December? We should be in Colombia now! We thought so too. It’s another chapter in our “don’t make plans on a sailboat” catalog.