Posted by: catamarantwooceans | December 18, 2014

Panama December 2014

12.12.14 – Friday – I arrived at Shelter Bay marina at 2230. When you leave the boat for an extended period you may find surprises  waiting. In my case it was the battery bank voltage. With nothing switched on and the solar panels charging I expected the voltage to be relatively high but it was only 12.1 V. The accumulation of mold on some parts of the interior was not surprising at all. This is what happens when dehumidifiers are not available in Panama’s hot and humid environment. Both would be dealt with tomorrow.

I brought with me a list of worries: would the battens I ordered arrive from the U.S in time? My information was that they would be ready for pickup on Friday and that the shipper did not agree to send them to the marina and suggested I come and pick them up. Calling them the day before I ran into the language barrier. I’ll ask the marina people for help. Next item – did Vladimir the sailmaker, who did not answer my phone calls and e-mails, repair my mainsail? Will Greg come to fix my outboard?

13.12.14 – Saturday – Jetlag woke me up at 0500; at 0700 I left a note on Greg’s boat to let him know that I came back. I then started the cleaning up project with some intermissions for searching for Greg. I found him working on another boat on my dock and he promised to come the next day at 0930. Having missed the bus to the shipping mall I bought some food at the marina’s mini-mart, which is operated by Carol, Greg’s wife. Back to work. Here’s a picture of the salon ceiling, partly cleaned.

IMG_0003 - Copy

The sailmaker’s loft is in plain view from our berth. The moment I saw Vladimir’s bicycles at the entrance I hurried over; Vlad said that his sawing machine broke down and that it was doubtful he would be able to do the job. A friend of his from Panama City who has a good machine might come over tomorrow and might take the job .

Next I visited the marina’s boatyard office and had Keylanie, who seems to be the most efficient person around, call the shipping company. They promised to call her back and they did, saying that they would deliver in the afternoon; good news!

20141213_111634 - Copy 


Sending stuff from the U.S to Panama almost doubled the price of the items bought but I really didn’t have a choice; the battens were completely ruined.

Checking the Solar system revealed that the regulator fuse simply melted inside its housing; I replaced it, cleaned all the electrical connections and it was operable again. I did not mention the fact that it was raining most of the time; in the evening it intensified in a way that made me fear for the dinghy which was quickly filling up with water. When a lull came I changed into swimming trunks and foul weather jacket, baled the dinghy and lifted it on board, taking out the drain plug for the night,

14.112.14 – Sunday – Cleaning; raining. Had a visit by a young Israeli girl who heard about me from an "American couple with a dog". Einat Hadad, who is a skipper and divemaster in addition to her university degrees, is travelling in the area, looking to join a boat sailing to the Caribbean islands.

IMG_0004 - Copy

My plans for the next two months: Sail to Kuna Yala, where my Californian daughter and her family will join for eight days. Then my friend Doron and his daughter will come for about two weeks. In mid January Gili and a couple of friends from Caesarea will arrive; once they leave, Gili and I will sail to Bocas del Toro and keep the boat there for a while.

15.12.14 – Monday – In the morning I took the marina bus to town; first to the port captain to arrange a Zarpe for my trip to San Blas. The only man in the office was one I saw when I checked in. Same as our previous meeting, he was busy feeding himself, doing nothing that looked even vaguely as work. I had to wait half an hour for another clerk to arrive and fill the completely unnecessary document.

Next to Quatro Altos  where I bought a Panamanian SIM card and a 2G data bundle, which would hopefully allow me internet connection in areas with cellular coverage. Next to the Rey supermercado where I purchased goods for five people for eight days. A big load!

Back at the marina I saw Vladimir, who told me his sailmaker friend from Panama City took the sail and will return it Wednesday morning. Luckily I gave the leg to Kuna Yala three days, so I would leave Colon on Thursday and reach Porvenir on Friday.

16.12.14 – Tuesday – Working on the boat: it never ends.

17.12.14 – Wednesday – "The sail will come around noon" so said Edwin, boatyard and maintenance manager. Just before 4pm, the office’s closing time, he says:"Early next morning". I almost blew up, told him it was unacceptable and that I wanted the sail RIGHT NOW! "Have it sent by taxi! what’s the problem?" "O.K, I’ll go and bring it myself". Frankly, I thought he was trying to placate me but at 2100, as I was watching a movie, he knocked on the hull. He brought it! (plus another big one that probably had somebody else pissed off as well). "Tomorrow morning Vladimir will check the repair and we’ll bring it to the boat".

20141218_093726 - Copy

18.12.14 – Thursday – It is 0836, I can see Vladimir opening the loft. I went over to help; he declared the repair was O.K and lost interest in me and my sail, not willing to help me carry it to the boat. Simple explanation: since the job went to another, he was not being paid for it, so why bother?

I had to adjust the diameter of three of the new battens to fit the fittings on the sail. Carlos, a nice guy working for Edwin, used a circular grinder to reshape them and also cut a piece of plywood, 45x15cm for my bosun chair, it all took 30 minutes. I was presented with a bill: 35$ labor and 15$ for the ply. When I told Edwin I thought it was too much he quickly cancelled it all. "We want to give good service". Carlos helped me carry the sail to the boat; not an easy job! He was happy when I offered him a beer.

20141218_101749 - Copy

                           Carlos on the job

A few minutes after 1200 I motored out of the marina. With a light wind from the north, I motor-sailed with an opened jib. I had to give up going to my original destination – Isla Linton – due to the delay in departure and went to Portobello, which is closer to Colon, instead. Portobello is notoriously the rainiest location in the area; true to its nature it started raining cats and dogs just as I lowered my anchor. Plans of connecting the main to the mast were shelved. I’ll have to do it in Kuna Yala, where Shay, my son in law, will have to lend a hand.



  1. Have great time and fun withNogah, Shay, Aya & Yotam.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: