11/07/2013 04:36 EST | Updated 12/31/2013 05:12 EST

Crossing the Darien Gap on a Crazy Horse

Crossing the Darien gap was a pleasure. Sure getting to this point was a touch stressful at times, but the actual voyage was a delight. Getting the bikes OFF the boat, however, was another story.

Canadian brother and sister Philip and Jayne Davidson are traveling on motorcycles from the Arctic Circle to Patagonia. This is the latest entry in their travel blog. Read their adventure so far, and see where they are right now, here.

Crossing the Darien gap was a pleasure. Sure getting to this point was a touch stressful at times, but the actual voyage was a delight. Getting the bikes OFF the boat, however, was another story.

All up there were five of us on board. Captain Marc, First mate Dida, Greg, Jayne and Phil. Plus the three bikes of course.


Captain Marc practicing in the dingy before tackling the big boat.


Dida filets us some fresh caught fish!


Greg takes the dried flying fish like a champ

Jayne tames that Crazy Horse, if only for two hours at a time

Phil pretends to man the wheel, while really just posing for a timed photograph.

Leaving Colon, Panama. Avoiding ships heading for the Canal.

The captain mandated two-hour shifts, which was great, giving you eight hours off between "watches". Basically, keep the boat straight, don't hit things, yell if there's a problem. The first 24 hours was fantastic smooth seas and while there were distant thunderstorms, no rain. The thunderstorms were quite incredible to watch overnight, my second shift going from lightning lighting the night, to the sun lighting the day as it rose up over the bow.

Eventually we even got the autopilot working right, making watch quite easy. The only strife was when someone wouldn't wake up in time to replace you on your night watch. I slept through my alarm when due to replace Jayne, and had the favor returned with Greg oversleeping the start of his shift a couple times. Still all in all very pleasant "sailing". With little wind, we motored the full distance.

Successful sailing:

The first day wasn't without scandal and excitement, when Captain Marc yelled down that he had found two stowaways hiding on the back of the boat.



That they got a free ride was a little tough to swallow.



Beautiful scenes while taking a pee in the head (aka toilet)


A bit sea sick early on, fortunately Jayne made a quick recovery

Jayne reminds us how crazy our horse is.


My room. aka the kitchen aka the living room.

Trolling for our catch of the day.

Sunsets happen everyday, but I still love a good one.

Finally arriving in Cartagena!


Confiscated homemade submarines!


Dropped anchor next to the Stahlratte. Hoped to see Tanya and Ernesto but they were already on land

Much troubles finding a way to unload the motos. No dock with a deep enough draft (Crazy horse sits over 9 feet under water) will take us. Turns out that bringing bikes around the gap on a sailboat is technically illegal, so the dock owners want no part in it! Eventually a couple locals and they're skinny dingy came by to offer their services.

Local bike-unloading-company, at your service.

It looked a little tippy, heck our dingy was wider than that one. But the men claimed to have unloaded many bikes in the past. I'd seen video's posted by others using dingy's to unload their bikes, so maybe. "No, no no no no no no no no" Jayne was not having any of it. "Absolutely not". She didn't like how skinny it was, nor trusted their assertions that they had even done it before. If the bikes go overboard, that's the end. There must be another option.

Unfortunately, our final dock hope soon called back to say we would not be able to unload there either, and suddenly these boys looked to be our only option after all. Fortunately, here were a couple other moto's on another sailboat nearby, so later that day we watched them go first.

Watching the test bike, our new friend Tom and his Suzuki DR650:

All going smoothly, and Jayne away in town, Greg and I decided that this was our only option, and went crawling back to the gents who had been so adamantly told to go away. Marc called Jayne to inform her that this was the only recourse, and we unloaded the bikes without Jayne's presence.

Last loaded, first off. Greg's bike trial run. I didn't argue.


Next up: Cricket. Quick, before Jayne sees.


It always feels a little different riding Jayne's bike.


Easy... easy does it!

Marc holds tight while Jugs goes slowly overboard.


Jesus on a motorbike: Riding across the water.



Then the final heave to get Jugs on land, only one minor stumble along the way.


Good haul for the local boys at 50 000 COP (25$) a bike.


Great deal for us too, as we actually had our bikes on land now and could finish importing them. Down to the DIAN office to meet our agent for some paperwork signing. We had been told that, officially, we rode our bikes through the darien gap, bringing them in over land. Without using a recognized air/freight shipping method, over land is the only legal means. That said, no one gives you any hassle.

Caused us no problems, other than overpaying a bit for the agent at 40$ a bike. We hadn't negotiated beforehand, again our fault, but we also only ever had to show up when signatures were required. For the record, you can do all the imports for free if you do it all yourself. AFTER you have your temporary import papers, head over to buy your insurance for 15$/month. Don't listen to anyone who tells you you can get insurance without the import papers.

During all this commotion of trying to find a way to unload the bikes, real-sized Kelly arrived for round two as part of the Ultimate ride!

Kelly is here, and ready to save you should you fall overboard


Working on falling overboard.


Now complete with real-sized Kelly, our import papers and insurance, we would say goodbye to the crazy horse and it's crazy crew.

Captain Marc doesn't think he'll do another run with bikes, but if he ever does, I highly recommend a ride on the Crazy horse.

Now to explore South America!