The last article by the HelmsMistress on the last day of the year....but more to come in 2023.
Lowering the Mexican Flag as we leave Mexican waters.

With the Christmas hype over, I can’t help but reflect on the past year as I look forward to what the future holds for our family.  This year was very different from the prior two as COVID-19 was better managed globally, and we finally felt comfortable heading south out of the comforts of Mexico.  We spent time in seven different countries and traversed over 2,000 nm on our floating home to our present location in Panama.  This year brought far less time exploring our underwater world in lieu of land exploration.  In advance, I wouldn’t have voted for this as I believe I am part mermaid, but looking back at our experiences, they have been truly transformative.  2022 was a year of firsts, family, friends, food, forests, and tons of fun indeed!

I’ve been there kid, it gets better.

– A year ago, we were pulling into Acapulco and tying up to one of Vincente’s mooring balls to rest and ring in the new year before prepping to cross the potentially turbulent gulfs of Tehuantepec and Papagayo.  We watched the famed clavedistas brave the heights and the surge as they deftly dove off cliffs at sunset into a tiny crevice of ocean between the rocky coastline, sometimes carrying firesticks.  These speedo-clad daredevils put on an impressive show!  Following this, the New Year’s fireworks show on the bay was by far the best we’ve seen and well worth staying awake for.

One Year Ago, Fireworks in Acapulco.

Throughout the year we:

– Embarked on two incredible road trips; one to Oaxaca City and the artsy seaside community of Zipolite, the second to San Cristóbal de las Casas and Palenque.  Both were nice breaks from the boat and reminiscent of a more familiar life, as we love road tripping.  These trips immersed us in the ancient civilizations of the Olmec, Maya, and Zapotec people and exposed to unfamiliar cultural experiences which we felt we had missed the first few years during the pandemic.

Oaxaca, making rugs.
Learning to make chocolate by hand.
Real Olmec Head, in an outdoor museum in Mexico.
The family exploring Palenque.

– Decided our family circus was not chaotic enough and adopted Oreo, our fierce Oaxacan street kitty and immediately indoctrinated her into the sailing world with the notorious Gulf of Tehuantepec*.  She proved herself a seaworthy scallywag, so she can stay.

Oreo, dressed for Halloween.

– Traded whale spotting for monkey spotting; realized there’s nothing like waking up to the roar of the howler monkeys bellowing throughout the forest.

– Took our first flight since leaving the US 3 years ago – big event!  Celebrated some important birthdays (are there un-important birthdays?) with parents back in San Diego and Twentynine Palms.

– Spent way too much time in the Gulf of Foneseca (renamed FUN-SUCK-AH) while waiting on a weather window to cross the Gulf of Papagayo, but honestly, because of our company (S/V Kyrie and S/V Mango – AKA: The Fonseca Yacht Club), we had a blast in the 3 countries that surround this bay

Art and Color in Honduras.
15th Birthday Party

– Checked-in to Costa Rica which was not realistic for us the prior year due to COVID-19 restrictions and additional fees.  Realized that monkeys are everywhere, sloths are hard to find, and thoroughly enjoyed the Banana Republic with its diverse ecosystems abound.  Met up with good friends Brian and Christina of S/V Blue Ayes and enjoyed the best of Puravidaville together.

– Ziplined as a family over the magnificent rainforest canopy.  I realized my kids are fearless and I am still not a fan of heights, however, this was a total juxtaposition of adrenaline rush meets tranquility -unreal experience!

– Unraveled the boat tarps and re-rigged our rain collection system, embracing the rainy season…welcome to the tropics!

– Saw our first shark in the wild….from the dinghy after snorkeling the reef, BUT all 4 of us saw the same distinct silhouette of a beautiful reef shark swim underneath the dinghy– a great sign for Mother Ocean!

Day we saw the reef shark, northern Panama.

– Transited the Panama Canal with buddy boats S/V Kyrie and M/V Soulmate.  To some, it is but a system of locks, to us, it is a historic memorial,  marvel of engineering and an incredible experience to leave a known, familiar ocean for a new one in a 15 hour period – WOW!

– Realized that the tropical forest is equally as engaging as my beloved underwater wonderland, I just had to get out and explore.  I find peace out here and feel fortunate to observe the animals in their native habitat.

– Grasped the idea that our oldest is now towering over both of us and the youngest is not far behind!

– Went to our first movie in a theater as a family since pre-pandemic times – Avatar: The Way of Water – much better on the big screen!

– Met new friends from literally every corner of the world and enjoyed reunions with old ones who made us laugh till we cried, and who always seemed to have our back when we needed them most.

As the year draws to a close, we’re so grateful for safety during transit, the friendships we’ve made and rekindled, and the blessing of being able to live this lifestyle.  Sending good vibes to you all in the coming year.  Thank you!

Posts by the HelmsMistress are written by a women who is a mother, wife, sailor, teacher and too many other titles to put into one single posts.  All photos in this story were taken by the HelmsMistress and she writes from a cruising sailboat currently in Panama.  She usually writes for this website on Weds, but we wanted to do this special end of the year post today, so we spent more time working on it for publication today, vice Wednesday.  Yup, this is our last post for the website on the last day of the year, we’re really ready for 2023.

The first half of this year, we moved constantly to get to Panama (January – July).  From July – December, we’ve been here in Panama working on Tulum-5.  Four out of these six months we’ve been stuck here working on our engine, which should be fixed in early January, allowing Tulum to start exploring again.  Putting on more than 2000 miles and exploring seven different countries ticked the exploration box for us…we’ve definitely slowed down here in Panama to enjoy life a bit.  2023 will bring a good year and we’re looking forward to our continued adventures, whether by land or sea.  There’s no “swallowing the anchor” for us cause I hate that term, we’re super excited to keep exploring and traveling with kids as we go.

We’re all looking forward to 2023 and invite you to continue to FOLLOW and read this website and blog as we go.  See ya next year!

2 Responses

  1. I love this and all of your posts. The experiences are just amazing and ones that very few have had. Love you all.


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