Sorry guys….but I love my wife!

June 29, 2012

Driving along with my wife SHE noticed a bumper sticker that said:  I Love My Wife!….  So of course I murmured something under my breadth aimed at the guy driving in front of me and she cooed about how romantic the guy probably was… Of course he could have been a wife beater – but the bumper sticker elevated him to saint status.

In my younger years I would have dismissed that episode and not though about it again….but only after catching up to the guy and telling him he wasn’t doing any of us married dudes any favors….

But after being married 27 years on this 4th of July I’ve learned quite a bit – and usually the hard way!

My wife and I have been through many ups and downs with most of the downs being my fault.  She has stuck through thick and thin, through wealthy and poor and through the passing of both our parents.  We raised one girl now 23 and are ATTEMPTING to raise a soon to be 13 year girl/woman to be….

So what do you get a life partner who has stuck with you for so long and who has, fortunately for me, never been a materialistic person?  Yes, I am very dense about these things sometimes – but this time I got it!  Yes, my brothers, I know you will be very jealous of me…So go out and get your own sticker!

A delibitating fall and pirates at gunpoint?!

June 26, 2012

Hello my friend, hope you are doing well.  Sorry I have not written to you sooner, but the last few days have been very hectic for me. Our last communication was on Tuesday of last week before we departed from Cancun, Mexico for Roatan, Honduras.  We fired up our engines at about 11:30pm and headed out of the channel at 1:00am on Wednesday morning.  Our trip to Roatan was uneventful thank God, however the seas were very sloppy and we had a beam sea to port with winds of 15 knots with occasional gusts of 20 to 25 knots.  The ride was a little bumpy and we had to decrease our previous speed from 7 knots to 5 knots for a good portion of the 300 mile trek to Roatan. 

About 100 miles from Roatan the wind died down and we were able to increase our speed to 17 knots, allowing us to make up some lost time.  We were at sea for approximately 31 hours, and upon reaching Roatan I was presently surprised to find how beautiful the island was.  We stayed at a marina called Fantasy Island, which not only offered us with dockage and fuel, but also has a first class hotel and a beautiful beach area.  The place resembled very much the TV series with the same name Fantasy Island starring Ricardo Montalban and his side kick, Tattoo.  I asked one of the employees at the front desk if in fact this was the same place, and she answered yes.  Don’t hold me to that, but in any event the place is beautiful.  That night we went to local sports bar and were able to watch the Heat game as they defeated the Thunder in game 5 of the NBA finals.

The next morning on Friday, we headed out to sea at approximately 9:30am for our stop which was the island of San Andres, Columbia.  As I mentioned to you in my prior email, this is where we our trip would become somewhat dangerous, due to the long stretches between one island and the next, and due to modern pirates.  This leg of the trip was to be 400 miles from Roatan.  The weather report we received said we could expect a smooth crossing with winds ranging between 5 and 10 knots.  

The first of our mishaps, occurred around 11:00am.  The wind starting picking up and changing direction from the east to a head wind directly out of the south.  Wind speed increased to 20+ knots and the seas soon followed, increasing from 2 to 4 foot seas to 4 to 6 foot seas with an occasional 8 to 10 foot sea.  Once again as I have done throughout the trip, I took out my finger rosary and began praying from calm weather.  The captain trying to gain time decided to increase the speed thinking he could out run the bad weather.  As he gave it full throttle we hit a large wave that sent me flying into the console on the bridge and back in my chair located next to the captain.  Unfortunately, as I landed in the chair, the base of the chair broke and I went backwards towards the boats cockpit.  Fortunately, my fall was broken by the rocket launcher (rod holders) located on the fly bridge of the boat.  Thankfully the captain realized what had happened and eased off on the throttle and he and the other mate helped me back to my feet.  I could have been crippled….

I continued to pray asking for calm seas and to thank God for my many blessings, and guess what,  my prayers were answered but not for very long.  At about 5:00pm we were still heading south along the coast of Honduras when the other mate unexpectedly got to close to the coast of Honduras.  Our captain, which has many years and miles of experience quickly noticed the mishap and started heading us out to sea again to get away from the coast.   The reason we stayed of the coast line in this area, is primarily due to modern day pirates.  Since we are in the Caribbean, I guess it is only fair to call them Pirates of the Caribbean! 

 Prior to heading out of Cancun, the captain told us that we needed to be aware of the surroundings since most of the pirates just wanted to rob you of your money, and that they would not hurt us.  However, he also mentioned that some would kill us to take our vessel. 

 We started heading out to sea once again to correct the mishap as the wind and seas were beginning to calm down when out of nowhere a small vessel carrying 10 heavily armed men wearing camouflage clothing came upon our starboard side of the boat from the rear.  Jorge, I cannot believe to tell you how scared I was for my life and that of my companions.  I honestly thought they were going to kill us or simply throw us overboard to steal our vessel.  As they boarded our boat they asked us to come down from the fly bridge and sat us down in the salon of the boat with their rifles pointed at us.  One of the men accompanied by 3 of his men started asking us questions as to where we were coming from, where we were heading to as the 2 of his men started searching our boat.  The fourth man stayed in the cockpit of our boat, with his finger on the trigger of his rifle.  At that point the last man to board our boat began to tell us that they were with the Honduran Marine Patrol and that this was a simple search. 

 Although I began to breathe a little easier, I still had my doubts of who they really were.  Not until the left our boat and boarded theirs and drove off into the distance did I not calm down.  My thoughts and fear were that if they killed us at sea, my daughters and my family would never know what happened to me.  That thought scared me more than the men actually killing me.  During this whole ordeal I pray to God, asking him to protect us from any harm.   For once my prayers were answered on the spot!   They left us alone and went back to their boat….Geez, This is much more than what I bargained for!   Boy do I have an Emmaus testimony or 3 in my bag!

As we went on our way continuing our trip to the island of San Andres, the sun had begun to make its decent for the day and the winds and seas picked up tremendously.  The seas went to a constant 6 to 8 foot wave, with the wind out of the southeast at 25+ knots.  The sea conditions got rougher as the waves increased to 10 feet with and occasional 12 foot sea.  Although I have been an avid boater in the past, I did not like navigating at night, nor had I been in such bad conditions.  Now not only am I on 38 foot Ocean Yacht fighting sea conditions that I have never seen before, but at night.  I turned to the captain and asked him how long these conditions would last.  Silly me was expecting an answer of “no more than 30 minutes”, but the answer I got from him very calmly was 3 to 4 hours.  Not the answer I was looking for.  At that moment for some reason I kept thinking of how Gilligan felt on his three hour cruise.  Finally the seas and the winds died down and we were able to continue safely to the island of San Andres.  We finally reached San Andres at about 6:45pm on Sunday evening after navigating approximately 58 hours since Friday morning.

I am thankful to God, my friend Felix who got me this job and to the captain for allowing me to be part of this trip.  I have learned many things on this adventure, and I am certain that God has many good things planned for me. 

Unfortunately my trip has come to an end after reaching San Andres due to the fact that the captain does not feel that I have the physical ability to continue the trip due to my weight and the fact that I have no ligaments in my right knee due to a snow skiing accident I suffered many years ago.  According to the captain, the seas on our way to Panama are expected to be rough and the actual crossing of the canal can be tough.  After encountering some rough seas on our way to the island of San Andres, the captain felt that I would not be safe to continue. 

 Unfortunately I will not be able to complete my dream of crossing the Panama Canal, but that does not mean that I won’t someday.  I will be leaving the island of San Andres for a brief layover in Panama on Tuesday morning, then continuing to Miami.  I will be arriving at Miami International later that evening at 7:45pm.  Thank God!

May God continue to bless you and your family my friend!   See you soon, and please continue to pray for my companions as they continue to deliver this boat to its new owner in Manta, Ecuador.

Brief posting by Manny! He made it to Routan!

June 23, 2012

After almost 3 days of not hearing from our seafaring banking brother…. He made a quick post to his FB of a picture of a marina at Routan, Honduras….  Apparently the internet communication at the island is very poor and he hasn’t been able to write  a full update… But at least we know he is OK!  More news to follow…..Photo: After 31 hours at sea after departing from Cancun, Mexico we finally arrived in Roatan, Honduras.  Next stop, the island of San Andres, Columbia.

Marina at Routan, Honduras…  the 37 foot boat keeps chugging along !

60 hours and counting….no news from our brother Manny.

June 23, 2012

Our brother Manny was supposed to reach Routan Island yesterday after leaving Cancun. The crew left at 2am from Cancun Wednesday morning.  The captain estimated it would be 30-36 hours in 5-7 foot waves to arrive to Routan.  This morning at 2am it was 48 hours  – so we are nearing 60 hours with no contact.

 It could be lack of internet access at the Routan marina..or not….They could have decided to stay the night elsewhere or may be going even slower than anticipated.

Keep him and the crew in your prayers! I will update the blog the moment I hear either way!

Post from our navigating brother: June 20, 2012

June 20, 2012

Good morning my brother.  We are still in Cancun, hoping for the wind to die down so that we can head out to Roatan, Honduras.  This leg of the trip is approximately 300 miles, and unfortunately we will have a beam sea, meaning that the wind will be hitting the boat on our port side, which will cause the boat to rock.  The winds are expected to be 15 to 20 knots with seas 5 to 6 feet for this leg of the trip.  No fun on a 37 foot boat!  As I mentioned in my prior emails to you, after leaving Roatan, we are heading to the island of San Andres, Columbia which is approximately 450 miles from Roatan.

Well after long deliberations the captain has decided to set sail for Roatan, Honduras at around 2:00am, Wednesday morning.   The winds have not let up since arriving in Cancun on Sunday afternoon, and they are expected to increase.  For that reason the captain has determined that this is our window of opportunity to set sail for Roatan.

We spent Sunday. Monday and Tuesday fueling the boat with diesel fuel, topped of the water tank, searched for provisions and made sure all engine parts were in good shape.  We also performed some minor repairs to the generator before we begin our 300 +/- mile trip to Roatan.  I am truly becoming a real first mate, performing duties that I had never done before.  I even did laundry this morning at the marina for myself and my 2 companions.  No, this wasn’t your typical touristy trip to Cancun!

On this trip not only has my faith & prayer life gotten stronger, but I am really beginning to let go and letting God direct the path my life should take.  I can honestly tell you that I truly missed being with my daughters on father’s day.  I thank God for my family, my Emmaus brothers & sisters, and my friends.   I feel blessed.  That doesn’t mean I am not concerned for the safety of the crew and for myself.  It’s just that I try not to focus on the long days and nights at sea.  I’m trying to take this adventure one hour at a time….

As I mentioned we will be departing from Cancun at around 2:00am.   As per my prior emails, the boat we are on is very slow.  We anticipate that it should take us approximately 30 to 35 hours at sea before we reach Roatan.  This should be a grueling trip with seas of 5 to 6 feet expected.  The wind is out of the east at approximately 15 to 20 knots.  Again, on a 37 foot boat!

I don’t know what plans God has in store for me, but I am ready to accept whatever at would be.  I know that there is a life lesson for me to learn on this journey.  I thank God for this opportunity that he had provided me with.  My professional life back home is very unsettled.  But out here I am trying to push the negative thoughts out. 

I am looking forward to crossing the Panama Canal, as it has been a long time goal of mine.  I had hoped that it would have been on my boat, but “se la vie”.  I also look forward to bring back home soon, and to personally sharing my stories with you and the other brothers. Please continue to pray for us as we enter the most grueling,  longest and dangerous part of our trip.

Your brother in Christ, Manny

Day 3 and 4 come to an end! and now Father’s Day……

June 17, 2012

We made it to a safe harbor a few days before I thought.  Still,  these long days and nights at sea are taking a toll on me.  What a difference it is from being a weekend yachtsman to being a real first mate!
Well Jorge, as days 3 & 4 come to an end I find myself sitting on the boat docked in Marina Amada in Cancun Mexico wondering how to put this adventure, that sometimes feels like an ordeal, in perspective.  Having all these duties actually helps to break up the monotony. While at sea it goes from beautiful to scary to peaceful to agonizing – all in a moments notice!
As I mentioned to you in my prior email, we left Wednesday evening from Miami towards our first stop Key West, Florida.  After navigating 150 miles at a speed of 7 knots, we arrived Thursday afternoon at 5:00pm at Conch Harbor Marina located in downtown Key West.  The captain checked the upcoming marine forecast and determined that it was best for us to leave for Cancun as soon as possible.  After going to Home Depot & Winn Dixie we had dinner, and decided to sleep a few hours before leaving for Cancun.  At 2:00am we fired up the generator & engines and started our 360 mile journey to Cancun. 
Being a prior boat owner and an avid angler I have traveled long distances before, but nothing like this and at night.  As we headed out to sea you could not see 5 feet in front of you!  We depended solely on the navigation system and I continue to grow in my faith on our Lord! 
As morning broke on Friday, on our starboard side of the boat (for those non-boaters, the right side) we had the Dry Tortugas, and on the port side (left side) of the boat the island of Cuba was in the distance.  We chugged along at a speed of 7 knots and the island of Cuba was there right next to us.  I wondered wether we would find some poor souls on a rickety boat or inner tube trying to leave that forsaken island but never did.  We did enjoy nature though as we saw bottle nose dolphins and huge sea turtles accompanying us on our journey!
We took turns at the helm doing 2 hour shifts.  As I mentioned before, this helps  break up the monotony of a long trip.  As Saturday morning broke it dawned on me that we were running out of food on the boat & our water supply was running low.  Fortunately, we caught a dolphin that weighed approximately 20 pounds.  We immediately filleted the dolphin and prepared ceviche.  It was delicious. 
As the captain predicted the bad weather appeared as we were finally approaching Cancun.  The once calm Yucatan Canal was now getting sloppy & the winds picked up considerably.  Remember this is a 37 foot boat!  We tossed around and had more water in the boat than I would have liked..My prayer life has improved dramatically! This seemed to take an eternity. Fortunate for us, we were not far from the marina.  After most 40 hours at sea, we reached Cancun. 
We plan to stay at port Sunday and possibly Monday to allow the bad weather to pass us before we make the approximate 1,000 mile journey to the Panama Canal.  Our itinerary has changed somewhat due to the fact that we will not have sufficient fuel to reach the island if San Andres as originally thought.  This is due to the fact that our vessel is extremely slow and we can only carry 300 gallons of diesel fuel in the boat tanks, and additional 100 gallons in two (2) 50 gallon tanks in the boat’s cockpit.

After leaving Cancun, we will be stopping in Roatan, Honduras to refuel & spend the night before continuing to the island of San Andres of the coast of Columbia.  This part of the trip is approximately 750 miles, which at the speed of our boat, it will us 5 days at sea! A little too much for me. Honestly I know this is a change of pace the Lord has presented me with but 5 days at sea!  I am really going to need the brothers to pray for me!  Roatan is approximately 300 miles from Cancun so before we leave on the 5 day trip we will spend about 2 getting to Roatan.  

I am exhausted & tomorrow will be a tough day for me.  Not only because it’s fathers day & it will be the first time without my daughters, but because I have to wash the boat, something I am not used to doing.  When I had my boat, I paid someone to do that for me.  In fact now I look back and remember thankfully that I used to treat my crew with respect and as part of the family…  I know that is how they are treating me now as a lowly first mate! It is tiring and humbling but I do thank God for this opportunity he has presented me with.

Have a great & blessed fathers day and I will keep you updated on my trip through your blog. I have a new app making it easier for me to take pictures and will start doing that soon for your blog.  Blessings to the brothers…. Manny


No rest for the weary…Still day one!

June 15, 2012

After a tiring first day having traveled only to Key West, we found we had transmission problems. However we had no time to fix it because of bad weather prognosticated for the Yucatan Straits in a couple of days.  So instead of resting up over night for the long 3 days – we need to leave this evening!   I’ve had 4 hours sleep and one turkey sandwich – I am not a happy sailor right now!  So because of the transmission issue, we will have to travel slower, taking maybe 3 days instead of two, in the open water. 

I really haven’t had time to think, let alone meditate.  We are a 3 member crew. One captain, one mechanic and myself the first mate! We take 2 hours turns on the bridge navigating.  And can sleep only in 4 hour shifts. 

What have I gotten into! I have ridden a bicycle for 15o miles in one day but that is a kids game compared to navigating for 3 days non stop. I hate to sound like a whiner but I am exhausted and hungry.  The captain did have time to stock up for our food but doubt there are any churrascos on the menu!  Oh, and so much for seeing the Heat game tonight.

I will be without being able to email  for I don’t know how long.  I hope and pray we hit the next port in Cancun safely and don’t come across bad weather.  The other boats we are taking in subsequent trips have satellite communication and I will be able to communicate during the trips. But not this one. I have to wait to get to the next port. 

By the way, remember we have to take 2 more boats after we fly back once reaching our destination. The day after I get back from this trip I have a job interview for an accounting job.  God I hope I get that and not have to make the next 2 trips!  But first let’s get through this one.  

Don’t worry if you don’t hear from me by Monday.  Start worrying a little if I haven’t communicated by Tuesday – Really worry if you don’t here from me by Wednesday! 

Keep us in your prayers, please.

Message 1 from our sea traveler……..

June 14, 2012

Day 1:  

We finally left yesterday at 9:00pm for Key West, which is approximately 150 miles from Miami. We navigated all night at a speed of 6 knots, taking turns at the helm.  I was able to sleep about 4 hours total.   I am a bit anxious but know God presented me with this opportunity!

We plan to spend the day at Key West stocking provisions before continuing the second leg of our journey to Cancun.  The weather so far has been good, seas 2 feet or less with a slight wind out of the south.

                              Please continue to pray for us!

                             Sunrise from Key West, Florida



Next leg:  Through the Gulf of Mexico to Cancun…..

A seafaring adventure…..starring….a banker?

June 13, 2012

This great recession, or whatever you want to call it, has caused many personal hardships.  One of our Emmaus brothers, an accomplished banker with 30 years experience, has been out of fulltime work for over a year.  He is caught in the never-never land of being over qualified for some jobs or not experienced enough for a new field…Then you have the young bucks willing to work for less money and twice as hard.

One of our faithful banker’s closest friends is a yacht broker.  As in all recessions, the wealthy typically continue to do well, so his business, especially from international buyers, has continued to prosper.  Knowing his friend is hurting financially, he offered to have him be part of the crew delivering 3 boats on 3 separate trips to Central and South America.  The boats range in sizes from 37 feet to 57 feet. In a past life, our banker brother had his own large yacht and was an expert navigator.  Now instead of employing a crew, he is to be part of one!

Our brother left port today from Miami and his itinerary is as follows:  Key West, Cancun Mexico, San Andres Island, Panama and the Panama Canal, then Ecuador.  The first stretch will be 360 miles from Key West to Cancun, braving the unstable weather of the Yucatan Peninsula. The next stretch will be 750 miles to San Andres off the coast of Colombia.  

Passing through the Panama Canal alone will take 2-3 days!  The round trip should be 9-10 days weather permitting.  And weather is not the only danger… The crew will have to brave modern day ruthless pirates around the coast of Colombia.

The first boat will be a 37 foot sport fisherman…Normally a nice size boat – but not the most comfortable ride through large stretches of open water…. Our banking brother, now turned seaman, will email me at every port with tales of navigating the high seas…I will promptly post those reports to this blog:

Follow his reports over the next 10 days and more importantly, keep him and the other 2 crew members in your prayers.  Even in good weather this will be a huge task with many obstacles to overcome….

St. Nicholas, patron saint of sailors, protect our Emmaus brother and the crew during this adventurous voyage!

Tweens and high heels….what a funny combination!

June 9, 2012

My daughter celebrated her 13th birthday last weekend….even though it’s not until August! One of her closest friends is also a summer baby and is leaving for Spain for the summer…So of course they came up with an idea of celebrating their 13th first teenage b-day together. She promises she won’t ask for another bash on her real birthday in August… wish me luck on that one!

My wife and I are on the same page in not allowing our daughter to wear high heel shoes….So our daughter, the lawyer to be, came up with a compromise – wear platform shoes! Hey, they are actually not heels, but still 2-4 inches high; depending on the type of shoe… Since my wife and I are learning not to make every decision World War 3 and trying to choose what battles to fight, we let her buy a pair of platform shoes….talk about viral communication…. Every single girl at their party had huge platform shoes!

It was hilarious to see the girl’s tower over boys of the same age since the boys have not yet begun to develop their bodies….yes ladies, I know, even as adults we still haven’t developed our brains……. We parents had a ball watching these otherwise coordinated girls trying to maneuver their platforms! It was a miracle there were no broken ankles! My wife went to the girl’s bathroom at one point and saw about 10 girls on the floor exchanging shoes with each other because they were so uncomfortable! About mid way through the night most of the girls were shoeless…beautiful, fanciful outfits and no shoes! I have to give my daughter credit though, she actually took a second pair, these were flats, and at least wasn’t barefoot the rest of the evening.

It was your typical pre-teen party, with the boys goofing off and the girls dancing by themselves. At one point there were around 100 tweens partying. My wife and I couldn’t believe we made it through that night! We learned one important lesson though. We could have been stricter with the heels issue, but we already raised one girl – now 23 years of age. We know we have many, many rounds of battles in front of us. Many battles we had with our eldest daughter were great learning experiences for us.…

Hopefully we are wiser with our youngest…. we are definitely more tired! But we learned that by giving in a little, with something that didn’t involve a moral issue, she had fun and learned a big lesson about heels, platform or otherwise!

In fact, this evening they are off to another birthday party and guess what! They are all wearing flats!

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