Updated September 2003
Note: Now that some of Horizon's logbooks have been returned, this section will be greatly expanded soon.
We bought Horizon in February 1988, then moved aboard and spent the next 3 years getting her ready for cruising and learning to sail on San Francisco Bay. Our cruising life started when we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge on January 1, 1992.
Our first 18 months cruising were spent in Mexico, mostly Baja and the Sea of Cortez. While there, we weathered one minor hurricane, Lester, riding snuggly on 2 anchors in San Francisquito, a small well protected cove north of Santa Rosalia. Our cruising in this fantastic area ranged from La Paz in the south to the northern tip of Isla Angel de la Guarda. We gunk-holed our way from one end to the other, rarely staying more than a week or two in any one anchorage but mostly soaking up and enjoying the experiences, the interesting places and fun people we met. We finally decided to strike out for new territory and headed for Pacific mainland Mexico making notable stops in Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Bara de Navidad, Z-Town, Acapulca, and finally Puerto Madero.
We sailed directly from Mexico to Costa Rica. The political climate was a bit too uncertain at the time for us to feel comfortable visiting ports in between. Despite our caution, we were boarded by the Nicaraguan Navy while we were about 13 miles offshore. They looked like they mostly wanted company though so we spent a rather pleasant hour chatting with them.
We then spent 3 months in Costa Rica, starting in the quite windy Mercialagos, then Playas del Coco, Gulfo de Nacoya and finally Golfito. My folks came to visit for a couple of weeks while we were anchored at Isla Gitana just outside Punta Arenas. Once their blood pressure recovered from the bus trip from San Jose, I think they had a great time. In all, we spent about 4 months in Costa Rica and the Pacific islands of Panama.
Panama City, Panama was a shock for us. For the first time in 2 years we were able to watch TV, and it was in English! Well, it was the "mommy channel" (Armed Forces Radio and Tv System) but for us, it was a novelty. We were in Balboa, Panama for a while learning the ropes and getting ready to transit to the Caribbean. We found working as line handlers on other boats made us feel more ready to take Horizon through the ditch. Finally our day came and on October 12, 1993 we spent 2 days transitting to Colon, Panama.
The next 2 years were spent in the area from the San Blas Islands, Panama, arguably the best cruising grounds in the Americas, and Cartegena, Columbia, one of the safest, cleanest, and prettiest cities we found. We felt so safe in Cartegena in fact, that Joyce stayed aboard by herself while Mike returned to the U.S. for 3 months. Our time in the San Blas Islands usually consisted of 3 months on the hook in perfectly protected coves interspersed by 3 day provisioning trips in port.
We finally dragged ourselves away from that beautiful area and started north. Christmas we spent at Savannah Cay, a tiny postage stamp sized isle off Cabo Gracias a Dios, while Norther' after Norther' plastered us. We felt bad about not spending the holidays with our cruising friends but at least we got to talk to them every day on the ham radio. Plus, Savannah Cay is a lobstering center and since the natives kept dropping off Christmas gifts, we were kept busy trying to invent different ways to eat lobster day and night and day and night... Eventually, the winds eased and we weighed anchor and set off for French Harbor, Roatan where we met up with our friends and spent several weeks catching up.
My passport was expiring so we sailed to Belize since there was a handy US embassy there. In all, we spent about a month in Belize but got fed up with the poor holding in the cays (mainland anchorages were great holding). We then sailed off to Isla Mujeres, Mexico where we whiled away the days trying to get psyched to return to "Normal" life, whatever that is.
It took a while but we finally decided to leave our little "Heaven on Earth" and sailed to Ft. Myers, FL where my father lived for our return to society. We are now in Tampa Bay, Florida, rebuilding Horizon and pumping up the cruising fund for our next jump in a few years.
She is no longer a member of Horizon's crew, but some of you may recognize Joyce's call sign, KC6BZC, from the many maritime radio nets where she was net control. Or maybe you will remember mine, N6ULB. Anyway, for anyone out there who wants to go cruising and is undecided about getting your ham license before leaving, DO IT! We got better, more up-to-date information from on-the-spot cruisers than we could from (outdated when published) books and chart guides. The radio nets also gave us the opportunity to meet many wonderful cruisers who we could never have met in person. Hopefully, some may find themselves in Tampa Bay, FL and we will get a chance to meet them face to face. We are going through cruising withdrawal and need professional (cruisers) help!