Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Monday 21st May


9 20.716 N
79 54.555 W

Today we sat waiting. The admeasurer was supposed to be coming out to measure our boat and fill out the paperwork needed for us to transit the canal. We were told that he would be coming out to the boat between 09.00hrs and 12.00hrs. So we sat and waited. It was humid and uncomfortable but we put up with it as we were going to be tied up in the marina in the afternoon with the promise of air conditioning and water plumbed into the boat – luxury! At 11.45 hrs our agent called us on the VHF and told us that the admeasurer had cancelled us for the day and rescheduled us for tomorrow – all that waiting for nothing! We told the agent that we were going to be tying up in the marina very shortly and he arranged to meet us there. We hauled in the anchor which was covered in thick gooey mud; luckily it washed off a lot easier than the stuff in Luperon, and proceeded to motor into the marina. We were allocated a slip which was on the T junction of the first dock, behind a 44 foot French, Swan design boat which had a beautiful bright red paint job (bet it goes faster than all the other boats because of its colour!) We drew up alongside and I was about to leap off on to the dock with the lines when a man appeared and caught them for me, tying us up to the rusting cleats. We very quickly got the power cord plugged in, unfortunately the power outlet is only 15 amps and we really need 30 amps to run the fridge, freezer, air conditioner and all the power outlets including the battery charger. Not to worry we could manage by alternating the running of the fridge and the air conditioner. The man who caught our lines introduced himself it turned out that this man was our agent – Enrique Plummer. We chatted for a while and handed over our passports and boat papers in order for him to clear us Panama and organize the transit through the canal. It seems like there is a mountain of paperwork attached to each transit and we are glad that Enrique is doing it for us. When we asked about the admeasurer Enrique told us that there was only one working and he was snowed under but he would definitely get us done in the morning BUT we needed to go back out to the flats to anchor so that the admeasurer could do all the boats out there at the same time – it was a small inconvenience. Once we had asked our questions about the paperwork and Enrique had taken our passports away to get the visa stamps (he was going to take them to Panama City rather than the Colon office as it was apparently less traumatic to do so – Colon officers want to physically see the passport owners whereas the Panama City office doesn’t), Gerry and I made our way to the Yacht club bar for lunch. There is a Chinese cook there and he does a good chow mien, it’s much better than his regular meat and vegetable meals. There were a couple of “art and craft” vendors plying their wares in the yacht club, I was keen to buy a couple more of the Brazilian style embroidery pieces, having already brought a few in Colombia I wanted to add to the collection however when I asked they wanted $20 a piece – that was $13 more expensive than the ones I bought in Colombia and I wasn’t sure I could justify the extra dollars. Once we had finished lunch we returned to the boat for an afternoon of scrubbing the decks and then, once the scrubbing was done, watching the rain descend in bucket loads! We had been invited to a 50th birthday bash for an Australian guy on one of the other boats in the Marina, so at the appointed hour we made our way to the bar, bought a drink and joined the smallish group of Antipodeans who were getting stuck into the stories of their sailing (or their beer). There were about 20 of us and after a few beers we all adjourned to the dinning room where someone had arranged for a meal to be served (it turned out to be more Chinese!), along with various bottles of wine and finally birthday cake. As the evening went on, and the antipodean crowd became more lubricated (that’s drunk by any measure), the noise level rose and the jokes and lies became bawdier. Suddenly one of the older gentlemen stood up and offered to entertain us with some “Australian flavour Poetry”, he then proceeded to recite his version of “The Bastard from the bush”, I can’t remember when I last heard so many swear words in a poem or laughed so much at a recitation!. This rendition was closely followed by a Maori “welcome song” sung by a New Zealand school teacher who could just about stand up without falling over. The evening degenerated from there on in, the birthday boy kept pointing his cam corder at everyone throughout the evening – I’m sure it’s a birthday he won’t forget in a hurry!
As we listened and laughed along we wondered what Dale and Lorie would have made of this gathering – it was very typically Australian with the exception that the men weren’t at one end of the room whilst the women were at the other. It was bawdy, loud, funny interesting and entertaining, made up of Australians (plus a couple of blow in Kiwis, Pomes and a Yarpie) of all walks of life with one thing in common – we are all nuts – oh no that wasn’t it – we are all on sail boats stuck in Panama! A good time was had by all and we went back to our boat home having met some new and interesting people.There is one thing to say about the dock and that is every time a large boat goes through the channel into the canal it sets up a wake which rocks the boats in the marina quite violently, we didn’t notice the motion when we were out at anchor on the flats but in the marina the motion is quite bad and we needed to have all our fenders out to stop the boat from hitting the dock and causing damage (to the boat – the dock is beyond the damaged point!). We spent the night in air conditioned luxury. Gerry’s sore throat and cold necessitated taking medication prior to going to bed, along with the alcohol he had consumed it made sure that he slept like a log. Happily my sore throat hasn’t developed into anything worse and I’m trying not to share Gerry’s “boy germs”.



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