Lightning Scares and Flying Squid! – Sailing to Ecuador

Lightning Scares and Flying Squid! – Sailing to Ecuador

Out to sea we blow!  We’re sailing from Panama to Ecuador and have over 675 nautical miles ahead of us.  That’s at least a five-day passage and while we’ve done our best to prepare our vessel and download the latest weather files…there is nothing predictable about life at sea.

Grab your foulie gear and join us for our first four days of sailing in the Pacific Ocean.  Storms, lightning scares, flying squid and spoiler alert; a serious cliff hanger at the end.

I know what you’re thinking, how could we leave you hangin’ like that!?!  Well, it wouldn’t be a cliff hanger if we hashed it out now…you’ll just have to wait until next week.  But don’t worry, everything works out fine.

beautiful sunset at sea

What the Billfish?

Can you believe we almost caught a billfish!  I said sailfish in the video but, honestly it could have been another type of billfish.  It was too fast and too far away to tell.  If your one of our sport fishing friends you’re probably super bummed we lost it.  Jason had no desire to tango with that fish at that moment so he wasn’t too sad.  He was still wiping the crust from his sleeping eyes.  Maybe we’ll catch another on the way to French Polynesia?  Not that we’ll eat it, but it would be neat to catch and release one!

For those curious, we did swap our fishing line and that should stop us from losing another lure.  Not only do I hate the idea of more junk floating in the ocean, I don’t like throwing away money either.  Luckily, our Irish friends sent us a huge spool before we took off from Florida (thanks Roger and Ross).  Plus, I recently learned how to make recycled lures…but more on that later.

Life At Sea

Other than some close calls with the lightning (always nerve wracking) our first few days at sea were fantastic.  I know it’s not for everyone, but I love being out here!  We disconnect from the digital world, reconnect with ourselves and nature.  Waking up to new creatures on the deck. Making my favorite meals. And listening to audio books while the bioluminescence sparkle in the sea, mimicking the stars above.  I’ve never been more present and in-tune than I am while sailing.  And the kitties like it too!

creatures on a sailboat
flying squid on a sailboat
two cats sailing around the world with their humans.
sailing with cats

Three On Six Off – Watch Schedule for a Trio

As I mentioned in the video we’re all being lazy with these calm seas and drizzly days.  With Kate on board we decided to do rotating 3-hour watches. Because she’s an experienced salty sailor we completely trusted her.  What that meant for each of us is up to 6 lovely hours in between watches…as long as we didn’t hook a fish, have to make a sail change or get hit up by sea scoundrels!

Plus, having another sailor aboard is cool, but getting to sail with a friend is unforgettable!

scrubbing our hulls
Sea what a good friend I am, offering up bottom support! Scrub Kate, scrub!

Cooking at Sea

It always blows my mind how choppy the seas can be and yet, pots and pans don’t take flight.  Ok, not yet anyway.  We’ll see what I have to say if we ever encounter 20+ foot seas.  Of course, I did my little non-slip trick to keep plates and glasses in place but not the pots and pans.  Between the stability of a catamaran, the galley up (not down in a hull) and the snug u-shape galley,I am rarely intimidated to whip up a feast.

I am an experimental improv chef.  I buy what’s affordable, local and on sale.  Which means my ingredients are always changing and so are my recipes.   With that in mind, here is my ever-changing but always a crowd pleaser veggie chili.  Sometimes I will add additional veggies like corn, bell peppers, carrots or even broccoli.  All depends on my mood. I believe you should always feel free to play with your food.

Sea Salted Veggie Chili


  • Salt – Salt brings out flavors and should always be used during cooking.  Same goes for butter but everything in moderation of course.  I don’t have a set amount because I salt my ingredients as I cook.  So, it’s always to my taste and not measured out.  I have been known to rub my hands along the lifeline and then dust them off in the pot. ?
  • 2 cups dried beans soaked, rinsed and ready to cook (black, pinto or a combo)
  • 2 dried chilies (ancho, chipotle…whatever I can get my hands on locally)
  • 3 teaspoons of fresh or dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons of dried cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • Secret Ingredient Alert!  These two things combined create cooking science magic and can be used in many vegetarian/vegan recipes!
  • 1 cup of dried shiitake mushrooms (I stock up on these when I can: )
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts (the recipe will work without them, it’s a world of difference with them)
  • 1 – 28 ounces of can diced tomatoes, drained with juice set aside
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste (I rarely have paste but salsa, BBQ sauce or ketchup work great as a substitute)
  • 6-8 garlic cloves chopped finely
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (any medium to high heat veggie oil works)
  • 2 pounds onions chopped
  • 6 cups of water


My secret to good veggie chili is flavorful beans.  Which doesn’t require a pressure cooker, but it sure makes the whole process faster and easier.

Don’t have a pressure cooker?  Get one!  Until then…use all the same ingredients and either slow cook your beans first or use caned ones.  Simmer all the ingredients together for at least 20min.  It won’t be the same but still good.

  • In a skillet toast the dried chilies until they puff up.  Let them cool, then stem and seed the chilies.
  • Use a food processor if you have one,  (I have a ninja: ) to grind the toasted chilies, mushrooms and oregano.  It should resemble very course ground coffee that would be used for a French press.  Set aside.  Coarsely grind the walnuts (similar to the mushroom mixture). Set aside.
  • Ok, time for the wet stuff.  Process drained tomatoes, tomato paste, jalapeño, garlic and soy sauce in food processor until tomatoes are finely chopped.  Set aside.
  • Heat oil over medium-high heat, add onions and about a teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown. Lower heat to medium and stir in ground chili/mushroom mixture.  Next, add water, beans, dried cilantro, cumin, cinnamon and paprika.  Place on the pressure cooker lid and cook.  If you soaked the beans, cook for approximately 15 min.  If you did NOT soak the beans (I forget sometimes too) cook for 20-25 min.  We’re looking for the beans to tender.
  • Once beans are tender, stir in ground walnuts, tomato mixture, and reserved tomato juice. Cover pot and simmer 10 min.

My Fave Garnishes

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh spring onion
  • Diced jalapeno (or sometimes habanero or serrano)
  • Grated cheese
  • Plain greek yogurt like Fage (the full fat, not the “0” stuff) or sour cream

Sailing Report

To see our full map with interactive pins, click here:

sailing from panama to ecuador
  • Dates – January 16-19, 2018
  • Nautical Miles Sailed – 480  From Las Perlas to the latitude a few click north of Tumaco, Columbia.
  • Hours At Sea – 100.5

Gear Used In This Video

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Curious About Kate

Kate is a salty sailor hailing from South Africa (we introduce her here).  She is joining us for some Ecuadorian adventures.  You can snoop around on Kate’s blog here:  and poke around on her Instagram account here:  and while you are there, give us a follow if you haven’t already: