Monday, March 3, 2008

Leaving the marina to anchor out

February 27, 2008 Wednesday

Yesterday was the best day in Bocas so far during our stay here.  Winds were nice and temperature pleasant.  We took the dinghy over to Bocas Town (we are at a marina directly across the channel on Carenero island).  Went back to the Mexican restaurant and again feasted on spicy pork soft tacos with the chopped cabbage and jalepeno version of pico de gallo.  Yummy!! 

Last week we had bought one bottle of wine at one of the Chinese grocery stores and one frozen steak at the Gourmet Grocery.  We have learned to test things before buying in any quantity.  Both were acceptable, so today we returned to buy more.  Returned to the boat with a case of Shiraz-Malbec blend from Argentina and all the frozen Berard brand ribeye steaks that were available today.  Our freezer is again totally full, and we have probably total of three cases of various red wines onboard. 

Bill also found the local beer distributor (located inside a restaurant) and learned that Balboa beer is available for only $10.65 per case.  Balboa is the Panamanian beer that Bill prefers.  I don’t drink the stuff so don’t care which brand he buys.  I enjoy one Coca-Cola Light or Pepsi Light daily while Bill enjoys two beers.  The red wines are saved for either steak or pasta dinners, or for evenings of wine and cheese, or if guests visit.  Anyway, as I have said previously, beer costs up to $5 per can in French Polynesia; so buying it for only $10.65 per case sounds wonderful to us. To last us eight months to New Zealand we will need twenty cases of beer and ten cases of diet coke/pepsi—assuming we can find diet drinks with appropriate expiration dates.  Good thing we have such a huge stern lazarette, affectionately known as the trunk. (Note that only in the United States are these products marketed under the name of “Diet” Coke or Pepsi.  Same products are sold in the rest of the world as Coca-Cola Light or Pepsi Light because the rest of the world has a problem consuming something labeled “Diet.”  To them, the term diet implies that it is for diabetics.) 

Bill’s back has been bothering him since the last time he went up the mast about two weeks ago.  He twisted while reaching way out to grab our starboard flag halyard.  Then he spent several hours hunched over the engine.  And his back has been hurting ever since.  That is another reason we hired a mechanic to clean the turbo on the engine and check everything out.  Bill’s back prevented him from working on that stuff.  Since his back is still painful, we did not buy his twenty cases of beer or my ten cases of soft drinks today.  But we certainly want to get that purchase done before we leave here.   The water is so quiet and calm here that it will be much easier loading all those cases into the dinghy and unloading onto the boat than it would be either in Colon or Balboa where the waters are not nearly so calm.

Back to Panamanian food.  We tried another local dish called chicheme.  It is basically nothing but cracked corn kernels that are cooked a long time in sugared water until soft and liquid is cooked away.  Then they add a small quantity of evaporated milk.  It was not bad but I did not go crazy for it.  Bill would not touch the stuff.  So overboard it went.  Surely there must be a local food that is good because every country has at least one, but we have not found it yet in Panama.  On another note, Bill bought some bread last week and did not notice that it contained raisins.  It was just a plain white bread with chopped raisins in it, no cinnamon or sweeteners added.  Since he bought the wrong thing, he decided that it was his responsibility to eat it.  So he ate ham and tuna sandwiches on this raisin bread for lunch for several days.  Yuck!! 

March 3, 2008  Monday

Nothing really to write about but thought I should update the website because we will be leaving internet access tomorrow.  We are leaving the marina at high tide tomorrow.  Our plans have been delayed a few weeks because our buddy-boat friends now have guests coming to Bocas to visit next week.  So we will not be heading to Colon until the first weather window after those guests leave.  Still hoping to transit the Panama Canal before the end of March and depart for Galapagos Islands during the first week of April.   Just have to wait and see how everything goes. 

We now have our 8 month supply of beer loaded on the boat.  And a few cases of decent wine.  Plus 5 cases of Pepsi Light for me.  That puts us one step closer to beginning our Pacific journey.  Things we need to do:  one major supermarket trip in Colon and then 2 small taxi shopping trips in Panama City, one last refill of propane in Balboa, top off the fuel tank and jerry cans, visit the French Embassy and get our 90-day visa for French Polynesia, clear out of Panama and get going. 

We will spend the next week or two exploring various anchorages in the Bocas area.  Here’s hoping that we find anchorages with lots of wind and no bugs.  This is such a nice area that it is a shame that it is spoiled by these darn noseeums.

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