A few goings on today
23 April 2021 | 09 22.025'N:79 56.642'W, Shelter Bay Marina, Cristobel, Panama
09 22. 025 N
79 56.642 W
Weather; hot and humid, wind n/a, waves n/a
I'm starting todays blog with the continuation of the story of trying to transfer money from our bank account in Australia to the Agent in Panama. You might recall that I spent a considerable amount of time on a phone call to the bank yesterday morning and ended up with being told that we needed to talk to the international staff who were only available during business hours Monday to Friday. So having gone to the bar for happy hour we arrived back on the boat at around 8pm local time and ascertained that it was indeed business hours in Australia and we made the call. This time Gerry took the lead and spoke to the person who answered the phone on the "direct number" that we had been given by the bank employee in the morning to save us from having to go through the general enquiry team. The person that answered the phone listened to Gerry going through the explanation of what we needed to do and I could see the steam coming out of his ears as he was told that he needed to ring a different number which she was about to quote to him. A quick interruption from him where he asked why she couldn't just transfer our call as we were overseas and not wanting to keep calling international numbers and he was (eventually) put on hold for the transfer, "just this once". A bit more waiting and finally another voice to explain what we needed to do. This lady had a positive "can do" attitude but first she needed to identify Gerry through a series of a million and one questions - all very well except Gerry, who never does banking stuff, had no idea what his secret passcode was and after a couple of guesses the lady said that she would ID him some other way. A further million and one questions followed including "what is your phone number" this caused a stumble as she was after his Australian mobile number which he hasn't used in about 5 years and could only partially recall. He tried to explain that we have had a different number for every country we have been to in the past 2 years, only to be asked if he wanted to update his phone number to our current one, the answer of no because we would only have it for another 2 or 3 weeks didn't sit well with her, she needed a contact number to put against the transaction so in the end he had to give the Panama number and then he pulled the old Australian number out of the back of his head so he finally passed the ID check and got around to the purpose of the call, arranging the transaction. We had all the details to hand and repeated them to her as she completed what we can only assume is the computer generated form. We had an "are you brain dead moment" when she asked if we wanted to add a message to the transaction to which Gerry replied yes " Canal transit fee, Opal of Queensland" after in putting this she then asked what the purpose of the transfer was, we were a little incredulous thinking that it was obvious from the message we had only just given her, but no, so Gerry repeated the same information whilst I smirked in the background. Finally all the information was done and checked and we thought that we were at the end, huh who were we kidding. There are 3 recordings that had to be played to Gerry and after each one he had to acknowledge his agreement to the contents which basically indemnify the bank on all accounts for every reason including overseas legal stuff, Gerry argued that he isn't a lawyer and how could he honestly agree to this not knowing the international laws that Australia might or might not be breaking, in the end it didn't matter what he thought as without agreeing there was no way the transfer would happen, so he agreed. With the transfer now organised (we hope) the lady told us that he might get a phone call from her superior at some stage to discuss the process and the transfer at which point Gerry pointed out the time difference and said that he didn't want a call at 3am to discuss something which has been so arduous. The next thing out of her mouth was that she would text him the receipt details right now to our Panama number and could he confirm that it arrived, he also asked for it to be emailed as this had a better chance of being received to which she replied that she could do that and she had his email address on file. As I type we are still waiting for either the text message or the email to arrive! I have checked our bank account and the money has been debited from our account but there are no details as to where it was sent etc. we can only wait and see if the process works and until it clears our agent's bank we cannot go through the canal. How difficult can this be?! I received a survey regarding the original call I made so I have fired both chambers at them, no doubt my survey response will make it to the round filing cabinet! I hope that Gerry gets a survey regarding the second interaction, it will be like a bomb going off!
With the fee, hopefully, in the process we needed to go to bed to sleep off the aggravation it had caused.
It's the day after the auto pump installation and Gerry was chomping at the bit to get back outside in the cockpit and try switching the instruments on once again to see if they had reverted to the previous settings. As he had spent quite a while last evening reading up about the installation and settings for the Auto pilot he had more than second guessed his set up from yesterday, I think that reading the manual had added to the confusion rather than giving him confidence in what he had done. As soon as he had finished breakfast he turned the instruments on and vanished outside to see what the readings were. After spending a while outside he reappeared and, thank goodness, seemed to be quite happy with the results. All the readings were as per his set up and the auto pilot moved the rudder from one side to the other when programmed to move 10 degrees in either direction and returned to midships at the end of the messing about. So as far as we can tell, without doing the sea trial, we have a fully functioning auto pilot once more, only time and the sea trial will confirm if this is actually the case. The non-skid pads that Gerry had re stuck to the cap rail haven't stayed stuck so he peeled them off once more and is going to have another go at getting them to stick once he has some more sticky gunk. Today is our anniversary date for coming into the marina and as we were not yet ready to go through the canal (we are still waiting on the delivery of another set of brushes which are coming via the international space station apparently) we had to go to the marina office to tell them that we would be staying for another week. Gerry was going to set off by himself but I needed to get off the boat and take a walk so we both walked up the dock stopping by to have a brief discussion with a couple on the dock about the settings of the auto pilot which they had some experience of, it seems that Gerry has done everything right as far as we can all tell. After that Gerry went to arrange our extended stay whilst I made my way down to the Haus wind to see if the lady who sells the Kuna molas (they are embroideries specific to the Kuna Indians of the San Blas Islands) was there today selling her work. I was perusing the work when Gerry appeared and between us we picked out 3 pieces of work and paid the asking prices which some people might consider expensive but I think they are worth every cent as they take ages to make and are so intricate. I was a little disgusted with an American woman who came to browse whilst I was buying my pieces and tried to talk the Kuna lady into a discount if she bought a certain number of pieces, this woman was rude, interrupted and was quite condescending and as it turned out had no idea of why the Kuna make these embroideries nor how much time and effort went into them, she didn't buy anything in the end, hopefully she went back later and bought something and paid the full price. I'm hoping that I'll get the chance to buy a couple more before we leave here as I know I will never get the chance again.
Anyway by now Gerry was walking off towards the chandlery to buy some oil and some 5200 (gunky white stuff to stick things with that gets everywhere, even if you haven't actually put it in that place) from there we made our way into the mini mart to put our name down for the laundry for Friday, finding that the list was full and we had to settle for Saturday at midday. As we went past the bar I noticed, for the first time, that there is a clock on the patio and had to take a photo of it as it tells the same time as our salon clock!
We headed back to the boat and ate a quick lunch before once more setting out up the dock to the shopping centre free bus. Once in the shopping centre we walked the length and breadth trying to find someone who sells our particular HP printer cartridge, with no success, there appear to be about 3 HP printers in Panama and not our particular one, we are going to have to try in Panama City when we get through the canal or manage without - not so easy when everyone wants copies of every document that we possess regarding the boat. With just an hour and a half left we did a quick shop at the supermarket, which turned out to be much easier than when we did it last time on a Friday. We still had about 25minutes to kill after completing our shopping and before the bus was due back, so we made our way to Dairy Queen and indulged in an ice cream in the comfort of air-conditioning. We could see the bus arrive from where we were sitting and as soon as it appeared we made our way on to it for the return journey to the marina. This was followed by the routine unpacking and stashing of our purchases and then we went to the restaurant for a cheap and early dinner before the rain began for the evening. One thing of note occurred whilst we were at dinner, a German catamaran from the end of our dock which had headed out to the canal early in the morning was spotted coming back to the marina with a tug boat as we sat there. We speculated as to why they had returned and thought that it might be an engine problem but we dismissed this idea as both of their engines were running. Our next guess was that they hadn't gotten the prescribed line handlers for the transit - they have a few young boys (maybe 2) and we thought that they might have intended using them as part of the line handler team of 4 and been refused transit when the adviser thought that the boys weren't old enough or capable enough to do the job. We know from our last experience of the transit that it requires a degree of strength and ability to keep the boat steady in the locks once the water begins to rush in and it was possible that these young boys weren't up to the job, but it was just speculation on our part at this point. Once we left the restaurant and made our way down our dock we got talking to another Australian couple who had been docked next to the Germans and as one of the young German boys went past the wife asked why they were back and he told her that they needed to get more line handlers - our assumption had been correct, we feel sure that they will lose their deposit for holding up traffic in the canal, it's not a good way to start their transit and we wonder if they will be able to go tomorrow instead.