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Passage: Key West To Panama

March 15-25, 2015 – by Anne – KEY WEST TO PANAMA

Get your sunglasses and smiles ready because you will be experiencing thrills and fun on the Caribbean Sea with Joyful on her passage to Panama! However, you won’t be hit in the chest by a flying fish like Bill was. I hope you enjoy looking at some of the photos from this great passage, and I hope the captions under the photos will make you feel like you were with us! You won’t believe your eyes when you see some of the photos, like the wild bird sitting on top of Jeff’s head or the squids next to Flat Mr. Davis on deck!


First and foremost, our approach to operating Joyful is safety first, fun second. So in order to accomplish this, while underway, we have a person on watch 24 hours a day. On this passage we have a 4 person watch system to operate Joyful, where every hour is dedicated and designed so everyone has allocated scheduled time for group boat work, scientific and educational endeavors to support the goals of the Blue Planet Odyssey (BPO), personal time, group meals, running Joyful (called “standing watch”), and group fun. Everyone can choose to sleep during their personal time, or simply enjoy being with one another, a beautiful amazing boat, and God’s natural wonders of the sea! Sleeping arrangements are thus: Jeff and I slept in the owner’s stateroom, Ruud snoozed in the pilot’s berth on the settee in the saloon, and Bill occupied the fo’c’s’le (pointy end of the boat). There are two bathrooms on Joyful, called “heads”, one in the aft suite, and one in the fore cabin suite, both with showers.


This 10 day passage proceeded extremely well, as the Lord blessed us with favorable winds and seas most every day! Joyful is such a fantastic boat! Even when some of the seas were quite rough and confused, she behaved admirably, and always gave us confidence that this Wauquiez 40 PS was the ideal boat for us to buy for this circumnavigation!


Secchi Disk –

Once Joyful sailed from Key West around Cuba’s west coast and headed basically south toward Panama, we tried twice to carry out one of the scientific endeavors requested of the BPO by the University of Plymouth. These London scientists need data regarding phytoplankton utilizing a rudimentary instrument called a “Secchi disk”. Under the leadership of Mr. Mike Muldowney, fifth grade science teacher at the Round Hill Elementary School of Round Hill, Virginia, fifty of his young scientists kindly constructed a Secchi disk for Joyful to use to collect data from all over the world, wherever she sails with the BPO. Students at the Good Shepherd Academy, and the Hun School of Princeton will also follow the project. The results of these first two Secchi disk data collecting attempts were inconclusive due to too much current in the Caribbean sea. We will try again at the next opportunity.

NOAA Drifter Buoy Program –

Joyful will assist in the NOAA Drifter Buoy program by deploying several buoys throughout the world. The buoys will supply data for use regarding weather, sea state, search and rescue endeavors, etc. As you can see in one of the photos, Ruud is securing a 55 pound NOAA drifter buoy with strong ropes under my art desk in the aft cabin. Students at Joyful’s three schools will study about the oceans through their involvement in Joyful’s participation in this important program. We have been asked by NOAA to deploy our first drifter buoy at a certain point south west of the Galapagos Islands, so stay tuned to our blog for what promises to be an exciting time deploying that buoy!

Bird Encounters Along the Way on this Passage –

We are collecting photos and other data on birds we will encounter throughout our circumnavigation for the benefit of Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology. Almost every day we are visited by glorious birds of various types. Some even fly into Joyful’s galley, perch on top of Jeff’s head, and others land on her and stay the night! Some even revisit Joyful every day, and they are welcomed to do so. Take a look at the photos we took of some of these amazing birds!


Once we sailed away from Key West and progressed to our first landfall, Shelter Bay Marina at the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal, even through we were at sea underway on Joyful, we continued to work for the Lord. I (Anne) worked on an illustration for the book I plan on publishing relating to God throughout the world, and on other artistic expressions relating to Jesus. Also, every morning at sea Jeff and I prayed together to open the day, praising and thanking the Lord, and asking for His hedge of protection for Joyful, our loved ones, the rest of the BPO organizers and fleet, and all others at sea. All aboard Joyful did the same before every meal.

Artistic Inspirations From the Lord About this Passage –

Regarding the book I plan on publishing of my inspirational paintings reflecting every passage and landfall on Joyful’s circumnavigation, I was inspired on this passage between Key West and Panama to incorporate into my painting a verse from the Holy Bible, Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This was my inspiration because it took a tremendous leap of faith in God for me to leave the relative safety of land, and venture out into the sea, with only Joyful as my physical world. Because of my strong faith in the Lord, I was not afraid, but on the contrary, had a strong, unshakable knowledge that the Lord would indeed look out for Joyful, all who sail in her, and our endeavors with the BPO and Mission Joyful.

1. British Admiralty chart Key West to Panama.

1a. For Joyful’s course planning, we used many data sources including this chart from showing the Gulf Stream.

2. Joyful sometimes sailed using her high tech light weight downwind sail called a Parasailor.

2a. Sometimes Joyful sailed with her Parasailor, a lightweight sail used for sailing downwind in light wind conditions.

3. Flat Mr. Davis examed the Hydrovane wind powered steering mechanism as Anne looked on.

4. Anne & Ruud in Joyful’s cockpit as they ate lunch.

5. Jeff, Ruud, Bill ate lunch together with Anne in Joyful’s cockpit.

6. Flat Mr. Davis assisted Anne on March 17 during their first attempt to obtain a Secchi depth measurement. Data was not acquired because the current was too fast.

7. Flat Mr. Davis and Anne made a second attempt for a Secci Depth on March 21, but the current was too fast.

8. Dolphins jumped, swooped, raced, and played around Joyful.

9. Countless deadly Portugese Man of War jellyfish floated around Joyful and as far as could be seen in the North section of the Caribbean Sea.

10. Anne with one of many flying fish that were found some mornings on Joyful’s decks.

11. Anne and Flat Mr. Davis marveled over another flying fish found on Joyful’s decks not far from Panama.

12. Birds flew over a fish feeding frenzy in the Caribbean Sea off of Panama. Maybe somebody large must have been rounding up the fish!

13. Joyful sailed through large flotations of sea weed for about three days east of Nicaragua.

14. After several attempts, a magnificent large bird landed on Joyful’s mast and stayed all night. At night, the tricolor navigational light reflected on the bird, making the left side of his head red, the right side green, and his rear end white!

16. The bird on top of Joyful’s mast could see the Netherland Antillies flag flying on the port spreader halyard in honor of Joyful’s Dutchman, Ruud, while he was on board. The BPO banner always will fly on this circumnavigation.

17. East of Nicaragua and Coasta Rica, this colorful and personable bird flew around and even inside of Joyful for several days as Joyful approached Panama. He even spent the nights with us on Joyful.

18. The colorful bird took a liking to Jeff, and especially his hat. At night, Jeff left his hat in the cockpit, and the bird chose to sleep all night on the hat.

19. Jeff’s bird flew into Joyful’s cockpit, and after looking into Joyful’s saloon, flew down into Joyful’s galley, where he lighted on the cooker. Notice how the glamorous bird posed for YOU!

20. Jeff asked the bird to hop on his finger to go outside.

21. The bird hopped from the cooker onto Jeff’s hand.

22. Jeff invited the bird to join the festivities in Joyful’s cockpit.

23. Jeff offered the bird bread and water in Joyful’s cockpit, but the bird only wanted to sleep. So the bird looked for Jeff’s hat again, and promptly went to sleep.

24. You can see the bird in Joyful’s cockpit cubby hole at sunrise, where he stayed the entire night. A minute after this photo was taken, he woke up, stretched his wings, looked around, and flew directly to the Bay of Panama toward the mountains.

25. Land Ho! – Panama!

26. Anne and Flat Mr. Davis hoisted the Panamanian & Q flags with Panama on the horizon!

27. We saw lots of shipping near the Panama Canal.

28. Jeff made dock lines ready for use in the Shelter Bay Marina, Panama.

29. Joyful & Bill at Shelter Bay Marina, Panama.

30. Jeff, Anne, Bill, and Ruud at Shelter Bay Marina, Panama.

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