|S/V Pearl S. Buck on Lake Pueblo, Colorado, USA, 2003|
|Panamanian sailing vessel Paharo Jai opens I-495, 0600, July 6, 2006. The old bridge is first and the new bridge is not yet open completely.|
|Jupiter's Smile trailing behind and photographing Pearl heading north in 2006|
|"I'm a cruiser and cruisers are not just a little nuts!!!"|
|(L to R) Oscar, Jay, Barb, Sue, Chris, Whisper, Mary, Judy, Ted, Skip & Bryan aboard Oscar and Sue's S/V Nautilus, St. Augustine, FL, January 10, 2007.|
|Heading up the Rio Dulce, Guatamala, May 28, 2008 ahead of Hurricane Alma|
|Macaw Mountain Bird Sanctuary, Copan, Honduras, Oct 23, 2008.|
|Dinner in Copan with Jay, Barb, Dorothy, VIVA Bob, Richard, Bryan, Pam, Sue and Pat.|
|Tikal, Guatamala, Nov 5, 2008|
|Bryan took this photo of Maestra y Dra. Iliana Sotomayor, Jay and Barb at Spanish class, Fronteras, Guatemala, 2008.|
While we were in Colorado, our house sitter remarked that a cruiser had been killed in the Rio Dulce. We thought he was kidding at first, but it was true. The victim was a man that Barb never met and one with whom I shared a couple of hours at a cruiser's weather seminar. He was from Alaska. He intended to ready his newly purchased boat for cruising here in Rio Dulce so I felt some connection. Bryan had met the man and his wife while we were away.
Four local bad men boarded his boat looking for dollars. They killed Dan and seriously injured Nancy. The men left with no dollars and only a little of the Guatemalan currency. Nancy has recovered. The long version and details may be found on the family’s blog:
While Bryan and I were visiting the agent, Raul, to renew our Guatemala cruising permit, the surviving wife came in and Bryan introduced me to Nancy. Her family had joined her and when Bryan inquired about her plans, she shared that she wanted to take the boat out sailing, but that they would need a captain because they had not had a chance to ever sail the boat and didn’t know how. Bryan volunteered to captain and I volunteered to help if they thought they needed help.
Bryan and I met the fledgling crew aboard S/V Sunday’s Child, soon to be renamed Kwiana, and we all went sailing and had a wonderful time. If you have checked their blog you already have a sense of the quality of people we accompanied. They are wonderful. I was at the helm initially while Bryan held a class for the rest of the crew on the foredeck teaching the differences between "port" and "starboard", "ropes" and "lines, sheets and halyards". Nancy was gracious and eager. Daughter, Jess and her husband, Brian seemed to take to sailing like they were born to it. Son Daniel, III, was a wizard at the helm and the instigator of a man/woman/whole crew (under the age of 50) overboard drill. Family friend, Alejandro took a turn at the wheel as well. While Renee seemed shy, she was watching closely. It was an almost perfect lake-sailing day with enough wind from the stern quarter to keep the boat moving, but not so much that any fears arose. At one point, after coming about, we had the boat heeled a bit and running with the wind just forward of the beam so she was moving out smartly. The crew seemed awestruck as the only sound that moment was the hiss of the bow cutting through the water. Nancy was moved to tears. This was what her husband would have wanted – a fine craft, doing what it was meant to do, with his family aboard and working together.....and life goes on. Get up each morning and treasure every minute. Hug your family. Help another. Accept another. Give everyone a cheery greeting. Appreciate. Celebrate.
I feel blessed to this day, because Bryan Nellor reached out, yet again, to help his fellow man and I was lucky to be there to stand in his shadow as he did it.
|S/V Jupiter's Smile and S/V Pearl S. Buck were often side by side, even on land! Abel's Boat Yard Fronteras, Guatamala November, 2008.|
|Christmas pot luck celebration at Coco View Resort, French Harbor, Roatan, Honduras, 2008|
Three weeks went by quickly and as New Year's Eve approached, Bryan realized he could not find his Honduras Cruising Permit. The permit needs to be surrendered upon leaving the country and Bryan and Dorothy wanted to be on their way to Panama soon. VIVA Bob was still in Le Ceiba and tried to get the Port Captain to give him a copy of Bryan's Permit to send to Bryan, but the fellow refused. We had met Rich and Pat on S/V SoCal SoGood and they had a scanner/copier/printer. Recalling the Elton John Civil Partnership solution, Bryan and I took my cruising permit to Rich and Pat's boat and after a little copying and photoshopping Bryan had a new cruising permit. We all got together on S/V SoCal SoGood to ring in the New Year. January was spent exploring West End and other anchorages on Roatan. We also had a delightful reunion with Kwiana in French Harbor. In February Bryan and Dorothy set out to Guanaja, the eastern-most "Bay Island" in preparation for the challenge of waiting for weather for going east around Nicaragua and then heading south to Panama. They got their weather window.
We were waiting for new anchor chain, but when we checked it seemed to have been sold to another cruiser out from under us. I got our deposit returned and we left on the voyage to Bocas Del Drago, Panama, arriving the end of May. Bryan had heard we were on our way and left Bocas del Toro to meet us at Starfish Beach so that Barb and I would have company while we waited there until the next day, a Monday, to check into Panama. That was very thoughtful and we enjoyed another reunion
|No panic in a cayuco (canoe) in Laguna de Bluefield, Panama, Jun 22, 2009.|
|Bryan entertains young Panamanian boys from Tobobe, June 23, 2009.|
Richard and Pam arrived on S/C Tisha Baby and we met Wim and Annette (Austrian and German) on S/V Thetis. We all bummed around Bocas and the surroundings for some time and then we put Jupiter's Smile in the Marina so we could leave the country to "recharge" our visa by visiting and touring Costa Rica.
We left Bocas with Pearl and Thetis, to cruise the local islands and then made our way, day hopping, to Cayos Zapatilla, to Laguna de Bluefield, Tobabo, Escudo de Veraguas and then entered the Rio Chagres, the river outlet below the dam that forms Lago Gatun, the water source for the Panama Canal. We went up the river, almost to the dam, to a small lake to the right of the main channel. The three boats stayed here for several days. We saw lots of wildlife including crocodiles, howler monkeys (heard them too) and toucans all the while surrounded by thick jungle. There is a dock and a dirt road to the main road where we picked up the bus, crossed the dam and went to Colon and did some provisioning. The water in the lake is clean, fresh water so we all did laundry using the washing device on Thetis. Wim and Annette left their boat in our care and went to Panama City to see the sights. Bryan and I had ordered portable generators while we were in Bocas and these were delivered to us at the dock while we were here.
One day a Panamanian patrol boat came into the lake and ordered us to leave. How many times had I been told by officials, "It is impossible!" as an answer to my requests? I turned the tables and said, "It is impossible!! Our friends on Thetis are in Panama City and we are charged with watching their boat. We can not leave. Impossible!" The official in charge made a couple of phone calls and then responded that surely two boats need not watch one and so one boat must leave. Bryan said he would leave. The official then softened and said Bryan just needed to be down the river to the first bend and be out of sight of the road so his superior would know that he had done his job. I called Wim's cell phone and told him that he needed to get back as soon as they could and that seemed to please the patrol captain. The captain took pictures of our boats, of us and of our passports and left with a wave of the hand and a smile. Nothing is entirely impossible.
Wim and Annette returned and we all departed, anchoring upstream of the river's mouth to explore old Fort St. Lorenzo. Next morning we said farewell to Thetis' crew and we sailed the seven miles together to the San Cristobal breakwater entrance where they entered the harbor and we pressed on to Portobelo. In Portobelo, the holding is difficult but we both got our anchor's set. Portobelo is an interesting historic site and a bus runs to a suburb of Colon where one may transfer to the bus to Panama City. Bryan, Barb and I did that to purchase batteries for our boat staying in a hotel for a night. That evening, my wallet went missing so I spent many hours calling our credit card companies canceling and arranging for re-issuing of new cards. Our replacement debit card could be delivered to the hotel, but the visa credit card could only be sent to a US address - damn! Bryan suggested we use Chris' address in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida because he decided he would fly to Florida (cheap Spirit Airline rate) to renew his Passport anyway and he could return with our credit card if the fates allowed. Barb went back to Portobelo alone, Bryan left for Florida and I arranged for five batteries and a taxi to deliver them and me to our boat.
While Bryan was gone, a storm blew through the anchorage and Pearl began to drag her anchor. I dinghyed over to help; and as we got Pearl secured, I noticed a catamaran, S/C True Companions, moving backwards, unattended. Some cruisers call this, "going walkabout". Dorothy and I dinghyed over, boarded and noticed that the keys for the engines were in the ignition switches. I started the engines and maneuvered. Wim realized what we were attempting to do and came over from Thetis to help as well. Wim and Dorothy got the anchor reset and we had saved the boat.
It turned out that the owners of the boat, Steve and Vickie, planned on crossing the Pacific and they were looking for crew. Dorothy agreed to join them but would stay with Bryan until we got to the San Blas Islands, a destination for her as well. When Bryan returned we left for the San Blas. After visiting a few islands, Dorothy departed at Carti for the van ride to Panama City to return to the States for a visit. She subsequently joined Steve and Vickie for the passage across the Pacific. I'm pretty sure that having Dorothy aboard saved their lives while she completed her circumnavigation with them.
With Dorothy gone, Bryan single-handed Pearl, cruising around the San Blas Islands for a week with us before we sailed back to Portobelo and then to Shelter Bay Marina. Headed back to Bocas del Toro, he intended to anchor in the Rio Chagres, but ran aground. He got himself free and returned to Shelter Bay Marina to assess the damage. We left for Panama City and a flight to the US.
I believe Bryan left Shelter Bay and made it to Bocas del Toro with a plan in mind to earn a living transporting "backpackers" between Portobelo and Cartagena, Colombia. We know he had transmission troubles in Cartagena and got towed to the anchorage to effect repairs. We saw him again in the winter of 2009 in Cartagena. We had anchored in the Bay of Cholon. There is a fast, bumpy and sometimes wet open-boat ride that departs the Bay at 0600 arriving in Cartagena in about 45 minutes the only return trip is at 0945, leaving about three hours to do whatever business one needs to do. Bryan offered us shelter aboard Pearl so that we could spend some time together and we could catch the return trip the next day. He sailed into the Bay of Cholon with an eclectic group of travelers bound for Portobelo in January 2010. Even then, he was on a mission of mercy for one of his "crew members". We visited for the one day/evening he was there, and he and his crew sailed out the next morning. That was to be the last time we saw him on Pearl.
I do not know how many "backpacker" trips he made, but he eventually found his way back to the Rio Dulce. Finances conspired against him resulting in the loss of Pearl S. Buck and that must have been devastating, but I'll bet Bryan shrugged it off as much as he could and he went onward. What else could he do? He found friendship in Antigua, Guatemala, but I know very little about that. He came back to the US and was helping Clint and Carol do some remodeling at their home in Denver. Barb and I visited them, and Bryan returned the visit to stay with us for a night. That was the last time we hugged.
We sailed many miles with Bryan. We had many wonderful experiences with him. That we will not see him again is very saddening. Rest in peace my friend. You are missed already.
|Happy at the helm in Galveston Bay, 2005. Farewell my dear friend!|