Thursday, February 21, 2008

A birthday party & we have internet again. Getting excited about upcoming Pacific!

February 18, 2008  Monday
Bocas del Toro, Panama

Still sitting at the dock at Carenero Marina.  Still cooped inside the boat with air-conditioning running 24/7 and not liking it here one bit.  There have been a couple of pot-luck or fish-fry dinners since we arrived.  There are only 6 boats here that are occupied; the rest are empty while their owners do land tours or visit back home.  I have cooked something for each of the dinners and Bill has attended to visit with the other cruisers, but I have avoided these get-togethers.  The very first night we were in this marina we attended a pot-luck and that was when I received the 100 or so noseeum bites that are still driving me nuts.  So I have become pretty much a boat hermit.

But tonight I will cover up in long pants and high socks and a long sleeve shirt so we can go over to Bocas Marina for dinner.  The restaurant at Bocas Marina serves a rib special on Friday nights and meat loaf special on Monday nights.  Meat loaf is not something we would normally cook on the boat so we plan to try it out over there.  Plus we should be able to bring a laptop and have internet access.  That will be a real treat.  This morning I bundled up and we put the dinghy in the water for a quick trip over to Bocas Town for a few groceries.  By the time we were back on the boat I was drenched from the heat.  
Hopefully tonight will be a cool evening so we can enjoy our night out.

Bill and I have been reading some of our Pacific crossing guides.  I brought many books about this area of the world when we moved aboard because I hoped we would sail there.  Now that we will soon be in the Pacific, we have lots to learn.  I already know a little more about it than Bill because I have read so many cruiser logs of Pacific passages and visits to the various islands.  This is all new to Bill.  He is reading about the optional routes to return to the States from either New Zealand or Australia without doing a complete circumnavigation as he has no desire to circumnavigate.  I don’t care one way or the other.  My main desire is to sail the South Pacific islands and visit New Zealand and possibly AustraliaThailand and Indonesia hold no interest for either of us.  I would love to visit Madagascar but the thought of sailing across the entire Indian Ocean just for that one place isn’t exactly appealing.  The northern route to return via Hawaii and San Francisco is rough and not something I would want to do either, but Bill figures that we would be so used to sailing in all kinds of weather by then that the heavy seas shouldn’t matter at that point.  Any way, this does give us options to consider in a year or two.

I spent all day yesterday reading logs of another Amel called Sabbatical3.  I had copied these blog web pages to a hard drive last October when we were in Cartagena and totally forgotten about it.  Sabbatical3 is on a circumnavigation are is exactly one year ahead of us.  They transited the Panama Canal on March 13, 2007.  We plan to transit March 13, 2008 (or as soon after as the agent can arrange).  It was interesting to read of the places they visited and the sail plans they used for the various passages.  We know that no 2 ocean crossings are ever identical and that we will experience different weather, but it was interesting nevertheless.  If we get internet access tonight at the restaurant then I hope to download more of their web pages.  In late September 2007 they had just reached Vava’U, Tonga via Apia, Samoa.  That was the last log available when I downloaded them in October, and I would like to read about their onward passage to New Zealand.

Our friends on FREE SPIRIT are in Miami for a couple of weeks for a family wedding.  They were kind enough to offer to obtain Pacific paper charts and country courtesy flags for us since Bluewater Charts is located very near to where they are staying.  Bill also is having the gaskets and O-rings for our engine shipped to them in Florida.  It took several friends and family helping us, and the gaskets and O-rings should arrive in Florida before our friends depart for their return trip to Panama.  Timing is very close.  If for some reason the shipment does not arrive in Florida before they depart, our secondary plan is to have these parts shipped via FedEx to Shelter Bay Marina; and we can return there to collect the shipment.  Another cruiser gave Bill some gasket making material and Bill was able to make the 2 weird shaped gaskets that we must have in order to reassemble the engine.  Then another mechanic gave Bill an O-ring to replace the one that was damaged when our mechanic took the turbo apart.  So we have replacement parts and can now reassemble the engine this week.  The gaskets and O-rings that our friends will bring back from the States will be spares.  Definitely want to have these spares on hand before we begin a Pacific crossing because who knows how long these substitute replacements that we are using to reassemble the engine will last.  They might last for years or they might last only a few engine hours.  Since we are talking about sailing more than 6500 NM before reaching a place where even simple boat parts can be obtained, we need to make sure we have everything on hand to be self-sufficient until then.  There will be nothing available until we reach New Zealand.  Bill is maintaining a very thorough Excel spreadsheet for our spares list; so, hopefully, we should be well set.

Late last June when we were in Isla Margarita, Rick on PANACEA gave us a bunch of music in mp3 format.  Yesterday Bill finally put these 1300 songs onto our iPod.  This adds to the 16 gigs of music that I had already put onto the iPod.  So now we have a playlist called PANACEA and we are thoroughly enjoying it.  Rick has put together an unusual combination of music – from Broadway musicals to country to zydeco to classical and everything in between.  Broadway musicals are really not our thing when it comes to music, but we are enjoying everything else, even the very old Frank Sinatra songs.  Thanks again to Rick.

February 21, 2008 Thursday

The photos with this blog are from Merric’s 5th birthday (from S/V FREE SPIRIT) on February 2nd.  They had a great birthday party with quite a few kids from other cruiser boats.  They had face painting, a game of balloon toss, bobbing for apples and the statue game accompanied by one of the dad’s on guitar.  Mary, the owner of Carinero Marina, also played her guitar and sang a few songs for the party.  There was lots of food and birthday cake, and the kids had a great time playing the simple old-fashioned games.   This is what little kids birthday parties should be like; instead of the currently fashionable big fancy expensive theme parties that are so popular back in the states right now.   

Internet has been restored to this island.  Yippee!!!   We have WiFi on the boat again.  

And the mechanic came today and reassembled our engine.  Things are going right today.  He used the gaskets that Bill had made.  We will have the correct gaskets on-hand for spares as soon as Paul and Michele return from their trip to Florida.   They are also bringing us other spares as well as paper charts and courtesy flags for the South Pacific.

We will remain in the Bocas area until the first week of March.  Have not yet decided if we will do a land tour while here or not.  Might be nice to see the mountains. 

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