Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Staying In Panama

We've anchored in an area called Las Brisas. The water is too dirty to swim in, yet sometimes we have to go in to scrape barnacles and slime off the bottom of the boat..not much fun but it has to be done. David runs the starboard engine so that there will be hot water for a good hot shower when we finally drag ourselves back on board. Always when I look back at the weeks we've spent anywhere, I ask myself.."what have we been doing?", and realise that I should have kept a daily log...I know that for the first week and a half we were clearing into Panama and then zooming off to the Las Perlas Islands for a week with Claire and Denver....then we started to do odd jobs on the boat..and the days and weeks seem to have merged into each other till we notice that we've been here for almost two months!

Buses are individually owned here in Panama. Some of the owners paint their buses up beautifully and some of them light them up like Christmas trees at night...soooo pretty

Down town

Looking for a post office. Pretty area this.

A new spiral building going up.
The city center has some interesting spots....but it's, of course, not all like this ;-D
In an area called Cinco De Mayo there are a lot of vendors selling all sorts of things, fresh fruit and veg, hamburgers for a dollar, a spiral cut sausage stuck on a stick, wrapped in bacon and cooked, but the most interesting one I saw was an instant sugarcane juice machine. They'd shove sticks of cane in and the dried crushed sticks would come out one end and lovely sweet juice out the other....so ingenious!

David had noticed that one of our jammers were tearing the outer covering of our main halyard and the last thing we needed was to have that break, then jam up the works and inhibit the mainsail from being dropped....just what you don't need if the wind comes up..so he first spent about 4 days traveling around Panama trying to find outlets for things we needed on board....an almost futile pastime. Panama doesn't really cater to us yachties. We are only here for about three months of the year then we're off again, either into the Caribbean or off across the Puddle to the South Pacific islands...so why bother get a business running for that short a period of time. Consequently if we want any specified parts we have to fly them in from the USA. So While he was ordering a new jammer or clutch he also ordered new lockable latches for all 10 of the outside lockers where we store our fenders, extra ropes, extra water and diesel, our spinnaker, and hose pipes, cleaning fluids....all sorts of  things that we need periodically on the boat. We also needed spare impellers as the ones we'd bought before were the wrong size... and other little things that we wanted to put on Puddytat so that our trip over would be a good one. :-D

I've started a new blog page. It's to do with all of us Africans,  who create things that are influenced by our time whilst in Africa. There will be several authors posting on this blog. I'm sure it will soon prove to be rather interesting. The blog is called Africa Bursting Out!

The part of the saloon seating that's finished.
I've been finishing some painting, getting my stock for my online business up to date, then I revamped the photo's and hopefully made my shop more user friendly. The internet connection we have here on the boat can be very slow..so this has taken me longer than I first thought. I've also been sewing for the boat...a new cover for the cushion that runs along the back of the cockpit, a repair and adding on of some shade cloth to the surfboard cover, I also painted the bimini with waterproofing so now the rain doesn't come pouring through any more. :-D.... I've nearly completed the saloon seating..finally getting that job done! Never again will I undertake upholstering...It's not something that I enjoy at all....I'll be really very pleased when I've finally finished it...I've made a waterproof cover for our huge igloo that doubles as a cockpit table, so that rain and sea water will no longer get into it, keeping the food we have stored in there nice and dry.

David has also been fiddling with the starboard rudder, putting in a new platform for the hydraulic arm to sit on . It looks very smart now. He's also had to work, and is still working, on our water maker which packed up just before Claire and Denver got here...
New base for the hydraulic steering.
Old locker locks..the circle couldn't reach the hooks!

Nice neat new lockable locks.
On occasion we treat ourselves like on Saturday just past, we went to the movies for the afternoon very pleasant. On Thursday night we'll go to the local pizza restaurant, meet up with some buddies and drink beer, eat pizza, talk rubbish and come home..great fun ;-)

We have had a lot of rain and when it rains we can't do any work outside the boat. In this area, when it's started to rain we sometimes get winds of up to 35 knots racing through the anchorage. Sure enough boats start to drag. A few of them would surely have ended up on the rocks but for other sailors leaving their boats in driving rain, jumping in the dinghy and racing over to the stricken yachts, climbing aboard, lifting the anchor and moving the yacht, either under its own engine ( if it's not locked up and can be got at) or towing it with dinghies, or getting another motor yacht, ( which happened about two days ago), to tow it away from sure disaster, and dropping the anchor again making sure that it holds before we all go back to our boats to dry off and rest. WHEW!
A rain storm building over Panama City.

Different day, different storm..notice the mirror smooth water.
                         The mirror smooth water doesn't last long. It's a genuine calm before the storm.
David was given a bottle of Rum today, as a thank you for rescuing another cruiser's boat...yum :-)  We don't expect to be given gifts for doing things to help our neighbours. We are like a small village and we get to know each other...even if we don't know the owners of the boat we'd still race over and try and save it...The thought of coming home after a day searching town for some spare part or other to find your boat wrecked on rocks is too much to bear...we wouldn't want that to happen to us so why would we sit back and let it happen to others. Our motto : "do unto others as you'd want to be done unto you".

Last Thursday or Friday we went to town, to a store called Mega Depot where we bought about 6 months supplies of cleaning stuffs, canned goods, nuts, dried fruits..flour for bread making, etc, etc. We ended up with two huge trollies packed full...(shopping carts to some) and we still need to stock up with our fresh fruit and bulk rice, sugar and salt...strangely it seems that one of the things that islanders run out of, is salt! David and I can't understand this....when we've run short of salt we fill a bowl with sea water and leave it on deck to dry out...hey presto..salt....Out there deep in the ocean the water is lovely and clean, we use it in our cooking when we make pasta, potatoes or rice. We're also going to buy kids 't' shirts, shorts, skirts, toys, some educational stuff, toothpaste and tooth brushes, nail polish and remover, perfumes, body lotions and anything else feminine I can think of ..oh yes needles and thread.....these are great to use for trade for fresh fruit and stuff out there on far away islands.

And so the time flies by, We seem to be always be busy, then the rains come, work stops and we are outside watching to see if anyone is dragging, needing help, or making sure we're not dragging. At the same time I'm collecting rain water to do laundry in....and once I sprayed soap all over the cockpit floor and got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed it..letting the rain water rinse it down...the air here in Panama is very dirty, what with the hundreds of ships passing by, the car exhausts and soot from burning sugar cane fields...things turn black in no time at all.

Late afternoon is always the best time of day. The air has been cooled by the rain and there is a slight breeze blowing .. we put our feet up and read or surf the internet. Sometimes someone stops by for a chat and a cold beer. This is okay...but I must admit I'm pretty sick of this place, I really do not like cities..I yearn for the fresh clean air of the open ocean...and I'm really looking forward to our adventure to the Darien Rainforest.

YUP we're going to sail there and venture up the river. We intend dropping our anchor, way up river and experiencing the toucans, parrots of all kinds, myriads of butterflies, howler and other monkeys...watching the snakes and crocodiles swim by...but no humans... There are humans around but there aren't many and it's apparently easy to find a place devoid of them. So that's what the next post will be about...

There will be a long period of time between this post and the next. After we leave the forest  we will be heading out to the French Polynesian Islands...that will take about 4 weeks...We don't have an SSB radio and so don't have 'sailmail' therefore we will have no contact with the outside world till we arrive in Hiva Oa or somewhere like that.......so no posts sorry....I will be writing while we are sailing so that when we get ashore I'll post them up for you to read.

Until then..... :-D