All Quiet on Emma Jo

Bocas Marina
Bocas del Toro, Panama

Life on Emma Jo is kind of quiet these days, with Ole gone and Jan reverting to her normal night-owl schedule, staying up ’til verrrryyy late (or early, depending on your perspective) and rising in mid-to-late morning.  The month of March, Bocas del Toro received something on the order of 30 inches of rain, most of it from the first to the 12th.  As the boat dried out, Jan turned her thoughts to varnish – the cap rail has for some reason blistered (gee, do you think it might have to do with something like 13 FEET of rain since November????) and the table on the back deck needs some attention.  But we’ll need more than just a day or two of dry weather to get anything done. [Read more…]

Exploring Almirante Bay

On October 1, we cheerfully left the dock, picked up 100 gallons of fuel, and headed out with four other boats from the marina for a week to ten days’ worth of relaxation. In the group were Pamela Jean, a 50-foot Formosa cutter from Texas with Bill and Pam aboard; Mariah, a 63-foot Choy Lee sloop with Evelyn and Dave from Key West; Serenity, with Steve (who’s the staff captain on NCL’s Norwegian Jade); all following Guavi, with Ariel and Michelle from Puerto Rico out to some of the islands and anchorages in Bahia Almirante.

Cayo de Agua (Water Cay)

Our first stop was Cayo de Agua (Water Cay), where one of our marina-mates has property he’s hoping to turn into an eco-resort. The weather was fantastic – the sea flat as a table – which was a good thing, because Cayo de Agua is right up against the Caribbean. We anchored on the south side of the cay, off Daniel’s dock, where we were greeted wildly by his three mixed-blood hound dogs who have the run of the place when Daniel isn’t there. [Read more…]

Back to Emma Jo in Bocas

Bocas Marina
Bocas del Toro, Panama

Getting back to the boat was fairly straightforward – Barcelona to Madrid to Guatemala City to Panama City to Bocas del Toro…with a stay in one of the sleaziest hotels never to be frequented again in Panama – Hotel Riande Airport. A dump of unworkability priced at about $92 per night, it’s the only hotel conveniently located five minutes from Tocumen International Airport. Stench of mould covered over with Lysol, irregular surging from the air conditioner, and a non-functional toilet. After coming from the state-of-the-art Independence of the Seas, the third world was an abrupt comedown. Eeesh. [Read more…]

We Bought Dirt in Panama!

Bocas Marina
Bocas del Toro, Panama

The Bus to David

Buying Dirt in Panama

Okay. We’re now Panamanian landowners. We just couldn’t resist the opportunity. With the US economy stalled out, and Panama growing at about 7% a year, the choice seemed obvious. Call us optimistic, but we chose Lot #279 at Montanas de Caldera, just down the hill from Bozuete. We took the bus up to David on Tuesday, paced the property, wrote the deposit, and celebrated at El Renegado.

On Thursday morning, we decided to go out for a long weekend before Ole goes back to work on the 18th, and before I meet up with my friends in London on the 23rd to join the ship in Southampton and cruise with Ole for his whole 10 weeks.

Update on Maggie, Trip to David

Bocas Marina
Bocas del Toro, Panama

Well, if all goes according to plan, Ole gets back on Sunday morning. He phoned me on arrival at Turku to tell me that American Airlines had “misplaced” his luggage in Miami on the way into Finland…a few worries for a few hours…but it showed up on Monday.

I took Maggie in to see the volunteer vet, and wonder of wonders, she’s put on 2 pounds, her fur is looking better, and she appears to be tolerating the thyroid medication (Tapazol) quite well. The ride over was even pleasant (relatively speaking). In the lancha, from her travel box, she seemed a whole lot less frightened than in the dinghy—and there was only discharge from the forward end this time. The vet is pleased. Now for the challenge of finding a steady supply to keep her motor from racing. She looks more like a cat (a svelte one) than a p.o.w. cat. She had us worried! [Read more…]

Exploring Pacific Panama — Road Trip!

David and Boquete

Tuesday morning we set out on a road trip across the mountains to the city of David and on to Boquete, a spot high up in the mountains. Getting there was a combination of boats, busses and rental cars, and took most of the day – starting with the water taxi to the tour dock, where we caught the 8:00 am lancha to Almirante (the porqueria) for $4 apiece, then to the bus station to take the mini-bus to David ($7 apiece). The drive was beautiful, crossing Panama’s continental divide that rises to 5-6,000 feet. The road is relatively new and in great condition, offering some spectacular views once you get up to the top – you can see both oceans from some places. David is the 3rd largest city in Panama, located right at sea level. We rented a car and drove 45 minutes north to Boquete, which is up at about 3000 feet, nestled in a steep valley with a little river flowing through. [Read more…]

Repairing Your Boat in Exotic Locations

At Anchor, Conch Bay
Bocas del Toro, Panama

Ole worked on the outboard for most of the morning, hoping to identify the annoying sound and lack of function of the cooling water pump. No luck. And out of nowhere, we lost our GPS signal. He checked every connection, traced every wire, ran every reset problem, and called Raymarine for help, to be told “you’ll have to find an authorized repair person.” In the process, he disconnected the antenna/receiver, and found it was full of water. After some hours of drying, he reassembled it and poof, we have GPS again. Wish he could do the same with the motor! While he worked on the mechanical parts, I worked on updating journal entries for the log.

Hitchhiking for Boat Parts

Punta Caracol, Bocas del Toro

Just after lunch, we motored back to drop anchor in front of Bocas Marina, and called a water taxi to pick us up from the boat to get into town. When the taxi didn’t show after about 30 minutes, I stuck out my thumb as a lancha full of tourists was zipping by – and who knew – you can hitchhike from your boat here! New impellors in hand, we motored an hour up to Conch Bay to anchor for the night. At the entrance to the bay is a wonderful resort, Punta Caracol, built on stilts across the mouth of a shallow lagoon. We glided past it into the bay, then up about a half mile to a quiet, narrow spot in the mangroves. There is not a soul up here but us.

A Few Days Cruising the Bocas Archipelago

After a quick blast through town for provisioning, we left Marina Carenero to explore the area for a few days before moving over to the Bocas Yacht Club and Marina.  Who knew that just an hour’s cruise from here there were absolutely deserted bays where the only sound was the howler monkeys hooting back and forth.  Superb!  We dropped anchor at  Big Bight, the first of the three bays north of here, and were stunned by the quiet – and the noise!  We figured we’d stick around here until tomorrow, do a quick run into town for the new impellors, then head for the next bay up tomorrow night.

A New Dinghy Arrives

Marina Carenero
Bocas del Toro, Panama

Testing New AB Dinghy

Hooray! A brand new, 9.5 ft AB RIB dinghy arrived in town today. We ran over with the Marina Carenero guys in the big lancha, and stood by the back of the truck to manhandle the box to the boat and back across the bay. We offloaded the dead Danard and donated it to the marina for use as a weed barrier and planter box, hung the outboard on the new AB, then set off for a test zip across the bay, only to have the outboard die. [Read more…]