Архив постов: November 2023

Living the life in San Blas

November 27, 2023

We left Shelter Bay Marina a week ago, and headed NE, our destination was San Blas but we stopped for the night in Portobello, an interesting settlement, steeped in history. The little harbor area is well tucked away from the open ocean but the swell overnight had things flying off the counters periodically. From there, it was another 5 hours to San Blas. Frank chose East Holandes as our first stop. We found a safe anchoring spot with no trouble. There are a few sail boats anchored in The Swimming Pool and boats are coming and going almost every day. After we had settled in and launched the dinghy, we started to explore. We stopped at the largest of the islands and met Ibin. Ibin is a Kuna who left the islands to become a chef in Panama City. He met the owner of a mega yacht who offered him a job on board. Ibin then ended up in French Polynesia where he spent a couple of years but family and local commitments saw him return to San Blas where he has set up a restaurant on the beach. He has plans to build his own Bora Bora, starting with 3 honeymoon suites. He has lofty ambitions and I have no doubt he will fulfill them. He is already growing all his own Papaya, squash, plantains and other vegetables. We had a great meal there. Well worth a visit.

Every now and then one of the Kuna will arrive at the boat in a cayuco selling fish or lobster at a very good price so we have saved them the trouble of circulating to every boat, and bought all the lobsters to enjoy at a later date. A few of them were small so we threw them back in the water.

We have been to a few snorkel spots, most notably the sand bar which is surrounded by coral. When looking down into the water it appears to be crystal clear. Not so much once we jump in with masks on, it is always a bit milky but still beautiful to snorkel around. There is an abundance of coral and relative to Bocas del Toro, not much dead coral. I am a bit disappointed in the fish life tho, nothing special to see, no rays, no trigger fish, no lobster, just the usual most common reef fish. I did see an octopus in his den and set the GoPro up to try and get him to come out but the camera fell over and when I went to sort it out, I noticed it was not working. RIP GoPro. Honestly, the camera takes very nice footage underwater and above but I have had such problems with it I am kinda glad it’s RIP coz at least now I know for a fact I am not going to have any footage as opposed to always hoping the GoPro is behaving. I just don’t know of any viable alternatives. The DJI Action does not get very good reviews.

Today the wind is blowing 15 to 20 so it is a boat work day. I have been cleaning showers and heads (toilets) and now I am waiting for the generator to come on so I can do laundry. Proof that boat life is not all fun and games.

Time for a bottom job.

November 16, 2023

We had arranged with the marina to have the boat hauled in order to give her a new coat of anti fouling paint. They ordered the paint and told us it would be an overnight job. Because of the oppressive heat and humidity we decided to get a room in the hotel for the night as we would not be able to run the air conditioning while not in the water. First world problems.

On Tuesday afternoon the boat came out of the water without incident and the workers immediately set about pressure cleaning and then scraping the bottom. By the end of the day, the hull was almost ready for paint. The following day, Wednesday, they finalized the sanding with sanding machines. Come Thursday, nobody was able to get to work due to ongoing protest action taking place country wide in Panama. One day wasted. Friday, it rained most of the day. Another day wasted. Saturday, it rained almost all day. Another day wasted. Monday, it was not raining and all workers were present in the yard, but nobody was working on Kariwa… until Captain Frank started shouting, albeit via WhatsApp. The marina manager, the yard manager, the boat services supervisor, they all heard from him. By knock off time at 5pm, the bottom was fully painted. Tuesday they lifted the boat and painted the keel where it had been resting and an hour later we were back in the water. Yay! Finally! Over a week later! Not quite the overnight we were hoping for. The bottom was red before, it is now black. I think it looks pretty good.

Being in the hotel room was no fun, it is small and there is only one chair so the other has to sit, or lie on the bed all the time. There is no “free wifi”, instead you have to pay for it and it is just not the same (read SLOW) as having StarLink on board. The boat is hot and stuffy, so also not ideal for spending days, but at least the wifi is good and we can have tea or any other food whenever we want. Swings and roundabouts as they say.

After we launched, as soon as we docked, I loaded up the washing machine, and then went about cleaning the inside. It is amazing how dust settles when nobody is on board. We also went to the shops the next day, to resupply the food stores a bit. And bought a pressure cleaner. Now, 3 days later, I have to admit, its nice to be back on board. The pressure cleaner sure makes cleaning the decks outside a lot easier, I need to bring it inside and try it in the showers. I hate cleaning those areas.

We had a visitor

November 10, 2023

Wednesday evening, Frank suggested we go for a sundowner at The Dock restaurant in the marina. I do enjoy a sundowner so was only too happy to oblige. A few minutes later, one of my daughters, who lives in Cape Town, South Africa walks in. I was so happy, what a surprise. But I had to confess to them both, I already had suspected they were up to something. Frank is pretty good at organizing these surprises for me but this time, I had figured it out a few weeks earlier. My suspicion was confirmed when we were watching the Rugby World Cup semi-final on TV in the salon, we were able to watch it because Frank was mirroring his phone to the TV as the game was only available on his phone. Technology, it can be great but can also confound one to such degrees of frustration. Anyway, to cut a long story short, at half time he resorted to messaging Jodie on WhatsApp, but neglected to stop mirroring to the TV. I could see everything they were saying. All this was being planned during the height of the Panama protests and it was touch and go as to whether she would be able to get from Panama City to Shelter Bay or not. It was a brief visit of only one week but I was not complaining.

We took a cruise from Colon to Bocas del Toro, and had planned to stop at Escudo De Veraguas on the way up. When we arrived at Escudos at 8pm. the wind was up to 26kts and it was raining quite hard. We slowed a bit to see if the storm would pass but eventually decided to press on to Bocas. We dropped anchor there at 2am. We visited the town of Bocas, went for supper at Palmar on Bastimentos and snorkeled and chilled in Dolphin Bay before heading back towards Shelter Bay. The protests had intensified and we did not want to risk the flight from Bocas and taxi ride to PTY airport.

We dropped anchor at Escudos De Veragua in the afternoon and took a dinghy ride around for a couple of hours. This island is truly beautiful. The water is clear, and the place is deserted. We decided we would do some adventuring around the following day. But, Mother nature had other ideas. It rained and stormed the whole day. Well, at least until after we raised the dinghy in the late afternoon. We never did get to adventure around or snorkel at Escudos which is a great pity. This island is only comfortably accessible in favorable weather conditions because the anchorage has very little protection and so can be quite rolly. We had to be back on Shelter Bay for Jodie to get to the airport in good time for her flight on Friday.

Jodie left, mommy was sad, but life goes on. Thanks to Frank for arranging this surprise for me, and to Jodie for coming all this way.

Right now, Kariwa is out of the water to get the bottom painted. Unfortunately due to protests and public holidays, it is taking much longer than anticipated.

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