After six brilliant weeks in the UK we arrived back in Panama City on Wednesday evening without our bags! We’d flown British Airways from Heathrow to Miami and then American Airlines from Miami to Panama. The bags were checked in at Heathrow to go all the way through. However, due to a ground handling incident we had to change planes at Heathrow and our departure was delayed. The knock on effect was that we missed our connection in Miami and had to spend the night there. American Airlines staff assured us our bags would be on the flight with us in the morning, they lied. To compound the problem I lost my reclaim receipt so the staff at Panama airport are currently only looking for Sheryl’s. Fortunately the new cooker nozzles which I’d taken back to the UK to replace were in my back pack so at least we could have a brew. As we don’t have a local phone Chuey, the moorings owner, is trying to chase our bags for us.
Sheryl’s bag arrived this morning. To be fair to American Airlines they had it delivered to Taboga via the ferry and Chuey was waiting for it. Once the bag was on board we set off to motor the few miles across north to La Playita anchorage where we plan to spend a week or so doing boat work and provisioning for the Pacific. However, when we let the mooring go and engaged the engine EL hardly moved! Back to the mooring and an impromptu swim for me. The prop was completely covered with Goose Neck Barnacles and I spent half an hour snorkelling and scraping them off. That done we set off again. It took us an hour to get to the anchorage and we dropped anchor in company with about a dozen other boats. Six weeks ago there were 50 or 60 here, they have mostly gone west by now. I expect we’ll be one of the last boats crossing this year.
After anchoring I went ashore to top up my phone and get some wine to go with our evening meal. The staple here is Clos, a cheap Chilean wine that comes in one or two litre cartons at about $3.50 a litre (Panama uses the US Dollar). Its very palatable and we will be stocking up for the months ahead. Back on board I managed to talk to a very helpful person in a British Airways call centre who gave me the details of my missing baggage receipt. Tomorrow we’ll go to the airport to talk to American Airlines.
LA PLAYITA ANCHORAGE, PANAMA CITY
My missing bag was returned safely to us late on Monday evening. Most importantly a bottle of Scotch my brother Mark had given me was in it and still intact!
LA PLAYITA ANCHORAGE, PANAMA CITY
We have spent the last ten days working on the boat and grocery shopping. The work included:
o Fitting a new forestay to accommodate the new roller reefing system we bought in March.
o Fitting the new roller reefing system.
o Fitting a new, hot rated high output alternator (100A) to the engine together with new cable runs to the batteries and ground.
o Replacing the water maker pump with a spare we carry as the old one was leaking and I couldn’t dis-assemble to repair it.
o Fitted a replacement hand pump on the after head.
Provisioning involved multiple trips to the supermarkets. Last Friday we hired a taxi for the morning to run us round. Here is some of what we got, click or touch the photo for some more…
Today we are pretty well ready to go. We’ve bought an extra two 20 litre fresh water plastic Jerry cans and now have four of these and two of diesel stowed on the deck, aft. This morning we walked to the Port Captain’s office to get our zarpe (clearance to leave) and then took a bus to the immigration office at Balboa Yacht Club. It was closed so we decided not to bother with that formality and are leaving tomorrow anyway. We also did some last minute duty free shopping and bought a bottle of Hendricks and one of Caol Isla, only for very special occasions.
When you arrive in the Galapagos the bottom of the boat is inspected for fouling by a diver. It is therefore a good idea to leave Panama with as clean a bottom as possible. We are back here so Chuey and another guy can clean the bottom for us – $80. We will be leaving early tomorrow to take advantage of the ebb tide as it flows south out of the Gulf of Panama. Initially we are heading back to Las Perlas.
I know this is a travelogue but I have to comment on the Brexit vote that took place in the UK yesterday. Unbelievably the country has narrowly voted in favour of leaving. I am virtually speechless not to say upset by this monumentally stupid decision. You might wonder why I care as we don’t really live in the UK at the moment. Its where we are from and a place we care deeply about and plan to live in again. Our children and their futures are there and to see self-inflicted injury on this scale is deeply worrying.
Isla Chapera, Las perlas
We motored down here on Saturday and are having a last leisurely day before heading to the Galapagos tomorrow. The passage should take about a week so pick up the story in July’s installment.