04/04/2013, South side of island
Was on the North side of the island but moved to South side to be close to wifi (can actually pick it up on the boat). Here is close to Bocas Marina where local cruiser hang out also. Only about 400' to marina. Sure wish I had taken my cruising friend, Ben, up on making a wifi receiver though.
There are considerably more people who speak English here. I think as a result of the Panama Canal influence.
This is a small town with only three main streets. People here commute via water taxi from surrounding islands. It's very odd looking to see these panga like boats zipping around with 10 to 20 people sitting in them like a bus.
Went to town Sunday afternoon and found a city block where vendors were selling their wares. There was also a boxing rink set up by the local fireman where local teenagers sparred. After watching several bouts there was this loud screaming and carrying on. Looked up and a huge fat lady was walking around the outside perimeter of the ring just carrying on like crazy. First thing you note us the huge pendulous boobs bouncing as she is walking. When she walks away you notice there is nothing on her whatsoever. She was so big that the only things showing were her boobs and very large rolls of fat covering her privates. Was kinda gross. A local guy said she is married and does this about every week. Just a tad bit touched.
Found a guy that gave a great haircut for $5. Sure feel better.
Went to a water color class at the outside bar at the marina this morning. Was very fun.
Planning on leaving for Providencia Wednesday the 10th weather permitting. Will be a long 245nm trip without Mr. Auto. Oh well, you do what you gotta do.
Hope to go from there to Rio Dulce then Belize where my son, Nathan will be joining me May 15th for two weeks. Then my friends Bill Wickham and Peter Robinson will come to Belize May 22nd or about for two weeks also. Nathan will fly back from Isla Mujeres and Wick and Peter will continue on to Pensacola with me. I am really looking forward to these visits.
03/24/2013, Western Panama
Arrived in Bocas Del Toros 4:30pm yesterday. Just now found wifi. Left Portobelo Tuesday 11:30am. First day was great sailing. Wed, Thur, Fri. and Sat were all Light and Variable ( 2 to 6 knots). Finally broke down ald ran engine last three days. Steered 12 hrs then hove to for the nights. Only drifted about 4miles during the nights. I dang sure miss the autopilot but not Roni. Very peaceful on the boat now.
Seems a bird a day hitched a ride with me. Great company! Always slept under the stars and even played some pan band music. How great is that?
Caught a very fine Wahoo Thursday and a 4' Bull Dolphin Saturday. The Dorado jumped about a dozen times trying to shake the hook.
Broke the ring that attaches the spinnaker pole to the mast. Wasn't helping much anyway.
This seems to be a great place. The water is very clear and there are a lot of sailors here. We also have a net in mornings.
Roni jumped ship to work on another boat. It definitely makes over night passages more difficult without an autopilot, but this is fine by me. When I get tired will just heave-to and grab a little sleep.
Have a nice weather window coming Tuesday and will leave for the 156nm trip to Bocas del Toro. Winds NE at 15K. Have to go to Port Captain's office in morning to get my dipatchio.
Took a $5 tour of the local museum today in Portobelo. This was one of two major end points for crossings across the Panama isthmus from Panama City to the awaiting Spanish trading ships carrying the gold and silver back to the mainland. They have the remains of 3 forts here. I've been to two and will hike up to the third today. The forts had a water front cannon fort then a higher cannon fort then a yet higher rifle fort with moat to keep enemies from coming through the jungle side.
They had the world's largest trade bizarres here when the caravans came across Panama with their goods once a year.. The silver was so abundant that it was stacked in the streets. No wonder the pirates, English and Dutch came to loot.
They also have an annual festival called the Black Christ which brings pilgrims from all over as they transport a black statue to the church. Two steps forward one back to musical cadence.
Will try to find a camera and take more pics for the blog.
03/06/2013, Portobelo, Panama
Sitting here in a tricked out bus coming back from Colon to Portobrlo. Had to take a 45 min ride to get my cruising permit $193 US and a long wait. Had to go find someone to make copies then back. Totally legal now. I will have to get some pics of these buses. They are the size of school buses but there the resemblances end. This one had glass packed riser mufflers and was totally airbrushed on the outside with all kinds of do dads attached to fenders and roof. They have many note horns that they love to blow. The ride only cost $1.60. Colon is noted for its crime but I lucked out and with 3 other cruisers hired a cab from the bus terminal to the Capitan de Porto.
The bus ride back was filled with children in their neat uniforms.
I will have to go back to Colon to get a despatcho before leaving. Only $12.20.
Portobelo is undoubtedly the dirtiest town that I've been in yet. All sewer runs right into the bay, trash all over the streets and in peoples yards. The town trash pile is open to dogs and about 30 buzzards. It is impossible to get in and out of your dinghy at shore without getting your feet in the nasty water. You really get to thinking about hepatitus.
Have to do some major work on dinghy this week. It leaks in water and out air. Getting to be a real pain. Having to haul water by jerry can from town. It's a gravity fed water system from up in the hills.
Tried taking a shower in the local shower stall (loosely called that). Got undressed and turned on the shower head. Not even a drip. Got dressed againn and took a hose into the shower stall. Could get water flow if I didn't raise the outlet above 18 inches. Refused to get on the nasty floor. Got a five gallon bucket after dressing again and ladled water from that. Think boat bathes are easier.
I'm a very early riser. Sitting in the cockpit drinking my three cups of coffee and it's still dark. This is my favorite time of the day. It's long before Chris Parker comes on with the SSB weather report. You can hear the roosters crowing in town. The boat is gently rocking and a nice breeze is keeping it cool in the cockpit. You can hear the waves slapping against the dinghy and a loose halyard banging against the mast. You can see and hear the tricked out buses starting their run into town and out. Some are gaily decorated with many lights. You hear them down and up shifting on the steep grades in and out of town. Best of all you occasionally hear the Howler Monkeys in the jungle to the East. You see why they call them Howler because they sound like a howling wind. AS I said this is truly my time of the day and I feel truly blessed.
Arrived Friday about 4pm in Povenir, Panama. Just got back from customs and immigration. Only government open was cruising permit at $45. Everyone else close for a few days for holiday of some sort. We had heard on the VHF that there was a pot luck that night on a nearby island so we headed over. Missed the food but sure enjoyed the fellowship and cruiser band. Even met a couple from Pensacola.
Monday the Kunas started showing up in their dug out canoes. The whole family comes selling molas and bracelets. Some come by peddling fish, lobster and crabs.
Went over to Isla Elephente which had an internet connection for rent. Just a grass covered shack with dirt floors.
Later went back to Povenir and anchored ao could go to town on nearby island. I was in the dingy bailing out the water and for some reason the blond woman (sorry my blond friends) turned the painter loose. When I looked up had floated away from boat. No motor, paddle or anything but my tennis shoes. I started paddling with one shoe and Lauren swam out and retrieve the painter.
We left at 9pm for Portobelo to get the backpackers to a bus line. t the end of my watch Roni came on. she was to maintain about 60 degrees off the wind to stay on the course line shown on the chart plotter. She wakes me up 45 minutes into her watch saying there is a rock ahead. I always stay in the cockpit just for such emergencies. We were 1/2 mile off course towards the reef. in 17 feet of water and surf crashing just 200 feet to port. Made an immediate 90 degree turn to starboard and got us out of danger. That was the closest ever to shipwreck and very scary. She took me literally on that 60 degrees off the wind. The only thing is that the wind changed. And oh yea, that's the blond one..
Finally got the back packers cleared through immigration. Now will go to Colon tomorrow by bus to clear cruising permit, $190. Our agent in Santa Marta did not have the other 3 on the crew list. What a tangle that caused. You really, really need to know Spanish out here.
02/25/2013, San Blas, Panama
Sorry about the lack of posts. Out here internet is rare to non existent. Sitting in a palm frond covered palapa with no walls and dirt floor. Beautiful water all around this small island.
Cell phone bit the dust and wont charge. Camera shot. This environment is extremely hard on electronics.
Will head to Portobela tonight at 12:00 to drop off last three backpackers. I think they have better wifi there so will elaborate on cruise more then. Perhaps I can borrow a camera and send pics.