Posted by: catamarantwooceans | November 2, 2014

Panama – part 2

25.10.14 – Saturday – The day’s destination was Green Turtle cay marina, 34 miles away. Gili would fly tomorrow to New York on the way home and I will go on to Shelter Bay marina in Colon. We motored most of the way, the wind appearing only when one and a half mile was left to go. We entered the jungle surrounded marina and tied up at the fuel dock.

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                        the marina entrance

Yogi, a German yachtie who became the marina manager and his   Rottweiler bitch, Samantha, welcomed us. We knew that the Simon family, whom we met in Bonaire and Curacao, left their boat here to go on a trip to Florida. Yogi told us they were coming back the next afternoon. Gili, going to the airport very early in the morning was devastated; she really missed that nice couple and their kids.

After filling up our fuel tanks, we relocated to a different spot. A very important mission was laundry. They have three washing machines and one drier, all in the same building where the office, toilets and showers are located. We ran a washing cycle and then tried to work the drier; it did all the moves except heating, which left our clothes wet. We had to hang them out to dry on the boat, praying that it will not rain.

26.10.14 – Sunday – Yogi arranged for a taxi to take Gili to the airport at 0500; the trip takes three hours and costs 150$. A flight from Kuna Yala to Panama City would be about half that much but the timing was not right for us, plus the domestic flights land at Allbrook and one has to shuttle to Tocumen, the international airport. With Gili gone I needed to buy a some things to keep me alive in the next few days. Yogi mentioned a Chinese supermarket in a village "10 minutes away", so I came over to the office to ask for directions.

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"Oh, the village is an hour and a half away to walk and you go up and down the road. I’m going there in an hour; I’ll take you". I bought some potatoes, tomatoes and peppers, a few beers and three eggs; I was left with 48$ in my pocket. Got to get fast to Shelter Bay, take their bus to the shopping center, where an A.T.M and a modern supermarket will return me to my regular station in life. The Simons came late in the evening and found that a few things were not functioning on their boat, one of them the fridge. Having lots of space in my fridge and freezer they put their stuff on Two Oceans, hoping to fix their unit the next day.

27.10.14 – Monday – Shai and Orly Simon were busy working on the boat; I was able to help with some spares that I had. We discussed our future sailing plans; the Simons are going to wait in Kuna Yala till mid November, then – keeping an eye for a possible late hurricane – sail to Florida, where they will return the long term chartered yacht to the owner and fly home. I told them about the idea Gili and I were playing with; sail in March to Florida and then up the Intracoastal Waterway up north, spending the hurricane season in the U.S. Putting the route to Florida on the chart, seeing how close to Cuba it would take us, a stop in northern Cuba was tempting. Shai, who wanted to visit Cuba too but is short of time, gave me a guide and three chart books for that country.

I thought I had some material about Mexico that I wanted to show them, so I dived into my chart locker and in addition to the Mexico booklet found charts that were stocked in there by the previous owner, about which I was absolutely unaware during the almost eight years we have her. He sailed all the way to Chesapeake Bay and kept a lot of charts for the way there from Florida; they would definitely become handy if we would realize the U.S idea.

David, their eldest, went playing with an Austrian boy from another boat and I had a visit by Gali and Ben who came by for a chat.

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In the late afternoon we all went to the lovely beach near the marina and then had dinner on their boat, "Bojangles". I brought the fish and Orly cooked it in tomato sauce, "khreime" style. We had a very pleasant evening.

28.10.14 – Tuesday – The Simons gave me a big sendoff on my way west; I decided to stop for the night at Playa Blanca, which would put me 22 miles from Shelter Bay, Colon, my final destination for the trip. Again, no wind meant motoring; I got there and anchored in the bay, surrounded by the jungle and having it all for myself. 

29.10.14 – Wednesday – The Howler monkeys woke me up at 0615 and I was quick to take the anchor up and sail to Shelter Bay marina which is inside the Colon breakwater. Getting close to Colon I could see a lot of ships waiting to go in, either to the Canal or to the port.

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I contacted Cristobal control and received clearance to go in keeping clear of a ship going out. Shelter Bay answered on channel 74 and directed me to a berth at their last dock.

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After the obligatory visit to the office I started looking for a mechanic to fix the outboard and an electrician for some electrical work. It turned out the electrician, Pierrick, lived on a catamaran (Edel 35) right next to Two Oceans. He came in the evening to look at the required work and promised to come the next evening. Greg, a yachtie who does mechanical repairs, delegated the task of finding the necessary part for the outboard to me. Not exactly my idea of the right way for a repair man to conduct the business but I didn’t really have a choice.

Dinner at the marina’s restaurant; Pierrick came in a few minutes after I sat down, so I invited him to join me. He is an enthusiastic conversationalist but with the place’s acoustics and the fact that I did not have my hearing aid on me, a large part was lost.

30.10.14 – Thursday – I went to town on the marina’s bus; first stop was the Capitania – harbormaster office; I needed to check in. I was directed to a room where six employees were present. Two young ones were messengers, sent from time to time to copy a document but most of the time sitting on a couch in the corner. Two others, a man and a woman, were busy nourishing themselves with food and drink. The last two sat at the opposite sides of the same table scribbling away at some documents. One of them raised his head: "Sit down, five minutes". Five turned to twenty as a T.V set was loudly broadcasting the morning show.

Finally my turn came; a long form with the header "general declaration" was slowly filled, in it items like the daily fuel consumption of the boat. The clerk was pleasant enough but all the thing seemed pointless. I then took a taxi to Quatro Altos, the mall where the big Rey supermarket and many other shops are located. The marine store, Abernathy, did not have the impeller I needed but had relatively cheap fishing equipment. An ATM replenished my dwindling resources and Rey the food I needed for the next few days.

Back at Shelter Bay, Vladimir the sail-maker who, despite his Russian name, is as French as a Frenchman can be, came to take a look at my mainsail, in which quite a few stitches became undone.

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He found a lot more damage that I didn’t notice and a decision was taken to re-stitch the whole sail. As we took the sail down, we extracted the battens and found out that most of them needed repair too. The list is becoming bigger every passing hour!

In the late afternoon Pierrick showed up and started working, explaining each and every move he made, including the theory behind it. My head was spinning but the end result was that we finally had shore power. He also checked the port alternator which had been giving me troubles for a long time.

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He’ll continue on other items tomorrow. We had a beer and a conversation and as he left I went to shut the port engine’s door and found out water trickling from the water-lock tank of the engine exhaust system. Another item for the list…

31.10.14 – Friday – It rained cats and dogs during the night. In the morning I dismantled the water-lock tank and found a crack on its bottom; I took a piece of dinghy repair material and laminated it over the crack with gasket silicone; it needs 24 hours to achieve maximum strength so I’ll put it back in place tomorrow.

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Passing the starboard aft cabin I noticed to my dismay that I neglected to close one of the hatches there and that the mattresses  were soaking wet, so were a few electrical diagrams and manuals that Pierrick needed for his work. I put everything out to dry but around noon had to take it all in when the rain returned.

1.11.14 – Saturday – Water lock back in place, engine run and no leak; that was satisfying. The marina has a office dealing with haul outs and repairs; they sent a guy who was their fiberglass expert to look at the battens. "Impossible to repair" was his verdict. Those would have to be imported from the U.S and for that I hope to get help from Juda Tzynder, who has a boat management business in Fort Lauderdale and who did a lot of good work on "Two Oceans" when we bought her almost eight years ago.

Another item which was surprisingly unavailable was the impellor for the outboard. Panama is full of Yamaha outboards so how come the chandleries here can’t get it? I’ll buy it in Israel. And here’s another one – in the past I rented de-humidifiers from the marina and returned to a dry boat. I wanted to do the same now and was actually promised they would be available. Now that I’m here, Edwin, the man in charge of the boatyard, tells me there was a recall on all the units they use due to risk of fire; so no de-humidifiers after all.

I plan to fly home November 5th and the days ahead would be dedicated to preparing the boat for the five weeks I will be absent.

Until then – Adios from Miki on Two Oceans.


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