Sunday, 22 February 2015

2015/1 Return to Panama

Hi from Clare,                                                Thursday 19th February, 2015

No.1 Return to Panama

Firstly our apologies for the computer crash we had in December. This happened in the remote San Blas Islands and left us without the means to send our last newsletter for the year.

We spent two lovely months back in Australia enjoying the friendship and hospitality of Col and Denise's home, catching up with family and friends and celebrating the wedding of Andrew's daughter Sarah to Brad in January. The time went very quickly but the memories will last forever, so many thanks to all.

We arrived in Panama City on Tuesday after a long trip consisting of a three hour flight to Auckland, two hours in the airport, a thirteen hour flight to Los Angles, eight hours in the airport and then a seven hour flight to Panama City. We are still tired but jet lag is a mysterious thing, it is now 3.30am and we have been up since 1am. As I write this Andrew is cleaning an engine part. But the activity is better than lying in bed wide awake for hours.

Water front at Panama City

Our arrival in Panama City coincided with the last day of Carnival, so after a quick nap we walked down to the beautiful waterfront to join in the festivities. As you can see by the photos the floats we very colourful, the girls gorgeous and everyone was having a good time. The parade area was fenced off and the crowd waiting to get in stretched as far as the eye could see along the road and around the corner. The police presence was huge and everyone was being frisked and bags searched at entry. I don't know if trouble was expected but the police were certainly being very vigilant.

The following morning we had an appointment at the French Embassy in Panama City to get a long stay visa for the French Polynesian Islands in the Pacific. We asked the female taxi driver who picked us up at the airport the previous day to take us to the Embassy. She agreed to wait with us at the Embassy and then drive us to the bus terminal. The round trip took two and a half hours and the charge was $15, in all conscience we had to give her a decent tip. The traffic in Panama City is chaotic and a real case of 'who dares wins'. It was fascinating to watch our driver nudged her way through many a cross road not giving an inch but courteous at the same time. Who would want to be a cab driver in Panama City? We then took the bus to Colon; we were the only whites on the bus. We were upstairs and all the windows had black out curtains so we could watch a very violent Spanish speaking film on one of the three TV screens. The noise was horrendous, some people watched the movie but most played on their iphones. Colon is a pretty dodgy place with a lot of poverty and a high crime rate. From here we caught a taxi for the 45 minute drive to Shelter bay where 'Eye Candy' was waiting for us. She was is good condition and lovely and dry after having a dehumidifier running for the two months we were away.

Hotel after Carnival

So now we are down to preparing the boat for departure. Andrew is working with a mechanic overhauling the sail drive. You can see by the photos that it is a very messy job and hopefully the rope and noose dangling in front of the engine is for lifting the engine out and not for hanging themselves in despair. Today I took the marina bus to the supermarket in Colon. I really wasn't up to the job of navigating a new supermarket and interpreting Spanish labels, but managed to get the necessities.

The work and the mess
We are on the hard next to English friends Mark and Sue on Macushla. We had dinner together in the restaurant last night and enjoyed happy hour there again tonight after a long day of work. Fortunately the weather is very pleasant with a sunny days and light winds. The rainy season has passed and it is nice to have all the hatches open


Just work and then organise the transit through the canal in a few weeks.

Love Candy xx

Friday, 14 November 2014

30/2014 Rosario Islands

Hi from Clare,                           Thursday 13th November

When we wrote ten days ago we were in Cartagena Colombia organizing a trip to the dentist and repairs to our AB dinghy which is still under warranty.

The dentist trip went well; we fronted up Tuesday without an appointment but armed with our Spanish-English translator. Fortunately we received help from a Spanish patient, a local lawyer who could speak fairly good English. He phoned his friend a retired English dentist on vacation and asked him to come to the surgery and between them they communicated my requirements to the Colombian dentist. I needed a porcelain front replaced which after thirteen years had cracked and partly fallen off. I was given preferential treatment and ushered into the surgery immediately. The cracked porcelain front was removed, impressions taken and a temporary fitted. The following afternoon the job was completed and for about one third of the Australian price. We were very impressed with the generous help we received and the efficiency of the dentist.

The bubbles in the seam is where the aluminium is corroding under the rubber
Sadly, not so much efficiency with the dinghy repair. We thought this would be easy as AB dinghies have an excellent reputation and are made here in Colombia. However it became complicated because Customs required the dinghy to be imported into Colombia. Importation enables the necessary paperwork for the dinghy to pass in and out of the factory which is a tax free zone. It was said that the paperwork should take two days but in fact it took eleven very frustrating days and "manyana" is alive and well. Eventually the dinghy was transported to the factory on Tuesday for an estimated four day repair. At this stage we think it will be returned next Wednesday which another eight days "manyana" still lives.

Scenes around Cartagena's modern city

We planned to go to Peru for a week and we spent endless time with the travel agents and broken English trying to organize the trip. But with the additional uncertainty of the dinghy repairs, it all became too difficult; South America will have to wait.

So we have moved fifteen miles away from Cartagena Port to the Rosario Islands. It is very peaceful and great to get back into clean 29.6 degree water. Andrew has been busy for the last two days cleaning the bottom of the boat. After installing the ultrasonic Anti-fouling device which supposedly prevents barnacles growing he is a bit underwhelmed by its performance. Granted the largest barnacles are the ones furthest away from the device but there are still many small barnacles everywhere.

So during the last week in Cartagena we have been planning our days around keeping cool. We are 10 degrees north of equator so it is hot and humid. We have had our tarpaulins up over the boat for both sun and rain protection. The humidity is such that we drip perspiration as soon as we are out of the breeze. I have been cooking dinner straight after breakfast to keep the heat out of the boat at night. Most afternoons we hide in an air conditioned shopping centre or café for a few hours and then we have a cold shower at the marina before coming back to the boat.
Kids and the pigeons in an old city park

Our friends on "Saraoni" have ventured onto The San Blas Islands which is reportedly very beautiful but currently pouring with rain. Keith on "Sadiqi" has been great company and we have enjoyed a few dinners in the cool of the cockpit on Eye Candy. Keith has helped Andrew with Clean Up programs for the computer and was hoping to leave for the San Blas this Friday but the Harbour Master is on holidays until Tuesday and so "Manyana" once again.

We will continue on to the San Blas Islands as soon as our dinghy is returned to the boat but for now I must away and practice my tennis shots with the fly swat.

Love Candy xx

At 6:54 PM12/11/2014 (utc) our position was 10°10.92'N 075°44.29'W

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