The cruising adventures of Sid and Manuela

Saturday, December 23, 2017



During our stay in Nargana we were again visited by dolphins. It just amazes me that they like it in the muddy waters of Nargana, must be a great feeding ground.
It took a few weeks to feel normal again after the virus I contracted in Panama City. But while I was at the clinic I found the following interesting info about the difference between Dengue, Zika and Chikunguia.
It is slow season most snowbirds have flown home and are enjoying their family and especially grandchildren. Slow season means not much on veggies to provision so we returned to the Holandes hoping Ortiz the veggie boat will come buy any day now with fresh veggies.
One sunset as we were sitting on the bow, a pretty good current raced by the boat and I noticed a piece of wood floating sideways to the current towards us, my mind went odd, and I pointed at it and was just going to say: “look at this log moving against the current” but instead, all that escaped out of my mouth was: “Crocodile” as the tree trunk’s tail started moving back and forth. It came right under the bow, below from us, starring at us, yikes!!.
I wondered who it was eyeballing me, fatty, or toothpick Sid. Sid raced down below to get the camera and as he left the crocodile headed up current, guess he was not interested in fatty, sigh. I texted a friend in Shelter Bay about the croc and she texted back and wanted know if I was still going swimming here. I texted back: sure but only with Debi, she is much, much shorter than me. LOL

This year’s weather was definitely different from last year’s. It started a couple months early in March, where with the first thunderstorm on March 21st 3 boats were hit by lightning. But I have to say the only 3 boats that we know of being hit all rainy season, but then again this year there were only 3 to 5 cruising boats that spent hurricane season in the San Blas, the rest opted to go home because of the frequent lightning hits. We didn’t get much rain all summer and best never had a chocosana which is a very strong wind up to 50 knots from the SE and hits around 3 am in the morning and can last for hours. However we did have a cloud approaching from the NE showing some rain, no lightning didn’t look too bad at first but the cloud got darker and a pretty good foot was building, not much later Sid said: “temperature just dropped”, followed by, “hold on here it comes”. I was in the galley and man oh mighty the boat was healing to port and everything that was on the galley counter flew towards me. I tried to catch whatever started to bombard me but when I heard Sid scream turn the Autopilot on (which is connected with the wind indicator) and the big glass gar from the blender started flying towards me, decided it was not worth getting hurt by that heavy glass pitcher and sped to the nav station and turned the autopilot on instead. I did here that pitcher repeatedly bounce on the teak floor but to my amazement I never heard it shatter, didn’t even chip, wow.

We were hit by an instant 45 knot wind which got every boat by surprise and knocked whatever off shelfs and counters that was not nailed down. The wind lasted for a while and just as a precaution we had the engine running. Never know.
A few week later we did get another one of those freak squalls but it did not surprise us like this one did.

Another sunset sitting on the bow, we were so involved in a conversation we almost did not see the big turtle sitting on the ocean floor, rubbing its shell on our anchor chain. Wow, what a beautiful animal and after it was done it popped up right under our bow and slowly swam away. That was definitely a more pleasant visit than the big toothed mouth of the croc.

One evening it seemed like the whole horizon was engulfed in fireworks. There must have been 6 systems all sparkling a different way. One cloud exploded into fireworks like continuous lightning, the one next to it with tree branch lightning, the third one just a big cloud lighting up with one bolt after another escaping and the other ones were just flickering on and off. It was an incredible show and we watched it into the wee hours.

Debi and Regi’s family from Mexico City came for a visit. It was a great reunion and we had a lot of fun. Had lunch on the island, but Reg had lobster and as only the head of the fish with nasty teeth was left Deb and I looked at each other with a huge grin on our faces, took a photo and sent it to our dentist friend Ida that we found a new patient for her.

We had about 2 weeks left in the San Blas of course Debi and I made the best out of it. We knew it was going to be very hard to say “C ya later”. Since Deb still had the kayaks in the water from her family’s stay we went snorkeling with one of her kayaks which enabled us to snorkel much further towing it behind. I turned into quite a lion fish hunter, plus lobster and conch catcher. Sure going to miss my snorkels with Debi.

The boys worked every day clearing the island it was amazing to see how much further the island has cleared.

Sid's dragon

One evening at 9 Deb called on the radio that she is coming over to pick me up as it was such a nice full moon out. I grabbed a bottle of wine and hopped in her dinghy. We both planted ourselves onto the dinghy floor and drifted around the anchorage enjoying the bottle of wine and the beautiful moon. I asked her why haven’t we done this before. Her answer was, well you weren’t leaving, sob.

Knowing both Deb and Reg love Fondue I took my last 4 packs out and we enjoyed a last dinner on Paradise. 

On our last day in the Holandes Debi gave us a last haircut and spoiled us for a wonderful dinner on Runner.

Then the dreaded day and the heart wrenching goodbye. We cried half way to the East Lemons, where we spent a few days. 
Bye Deb
Sure going to miss this beautiful anchorage
Kunas coming by the boat in their Ulus

The beautiful islands

A hitchhiker

This anchorage now is over crowded with charter boats. Sad to see how the San Blas is being taken over by them and also the growing tourism that the Kunas themselves bring out on a daily basis. We said goodbye to all our friends here and also Siabibi who had a few tears in her eyes as well. 

Here we always see the most beautiful sunsets:

cocktail at Red Roof Inn

How do you use this phone

Sid waiting for me while saying goodbye to Siabibi
Our last stop was Chichime for a night as it is an easy getaway in the early morning when it is still dark. We had mixed feelings seeing the beautiful San Blas islands slowly disappear behind us and blend into the horizon. Some day we will head back to this little Paradise.
A beautiful sunrise greeted us with a wind coming offshore first at 15 knots then as we closed in on Isla Grande slowing down. It was a calm and pleasant motor sail and we made it in record time to Puerto Lindo.

Entrance at Isla Grande

In the almost one year we had left Puerto Lindo it had changed a lot. Seemed like all the derelict boats from Portobelo were here putting in moorings, there is not much room to anchor anymore. The marina was full and the club house still looked the same as when we had left, still the ugly trailer showers in the marina and it’s still a muddy parking lot.
And the bad stories rolled. The Linton Bay Marina is still far from being a functioning marina. They charge now $3 per day/$30 per month to use the dinghy dock which includes the cold showers in their mobile bathrooms, garbage disposal and free Wifi. Well not too bad you think at first until you get connected on the free WiFi then realizing you can connect but can’t get to any site nor your email as it is, it’s such a weak signal. WiFi here is worthless.
We surprised Sarah for Friday night Pizza night. She was so excited she forgot to flower the pizza pan and we ended up chiseling it off the pan. Sid’s pizza the whole topping came off so she just made another dough with the already cooked topping on it, so he had twice baked pizza which actually turned out pretty good.

Our last mangrove trip to Panamarina

On Sunday Ida, her granddaughter Sarah, daughter Adriana and boyfriend Andre arrived at 9:30 to sail with us to Portobelo. The wind was blowing 20 to 25 knots and dark clouds were all around us. Ida’s family decided they will weather it. We had a little problem getting out of here as the wind had changed the direction and we had a boat over our anchor. But with waiting for the right moment and right maneuvering we managed to get out of there within inches from the other boat. We warned our guests that it would be a rough ride. Although the wind funneling down the hills did calm down as we sailed further out the bay. It was not enough wind to keep on sailing and the swells made for an uncomfortable ride. This part is always a mess, wind, counter currents and swells all mixed up a perfect seasick potion. It didn’t take long for Adriana, already having fought getting sick in the car to get very green, but she was a trouper. We have never seen a smiling seasick person. Andre followed her and here they were on their 2 year anniversary kneeing next to each other feeding the fish together, ahh what a cute couple. We had a lot of funny jokes about it.
Her granddaughter listened to my advice to lay down and sleep as she started to feel sick and it worked for her, she left the feeding of the fish to her aunt with boyfriend. They were happy, happy to arrive in Portobelo. Ida was the only one that wasn’t affected by the rough seas. After we had anchored and everybody’s stomach has settled Ida brought lunch out. It was sooo much food and we ate for hours. She made the best Ribs I have ever had and she left some left overs behind yeah. It was overcast but we had a wonderful time and ended up having a couple drinks at El Castillo before they hit the road. They had left one car at the Castillo and the other at Linton so they had to drive back to Linton to get the car.

The next few days we spent with Anita, although her mooring pulled under water by too much stuff growing on the line we stayed at anchor in front of the Otro Lado Resort. It’s always nice here when Anita is here, otherwise we probably would not stop other than going to our storage. We did move some stuff out of it, but Anita wanted to have us come back and as she wanted to help us to get the rest to Shelter Bay as we were going to rent a shed there.

1st of September it was time to head to the Shelter Bay Marina as we had a slip waiting for us. Plan was to spend a couple months in the marina including to haul and change the cutlass bearing before transiting the canal back to the Pacific side end/begin of Dec/Jan. Yes Paradise is going to be on the move again, although she still hasn’t lost her turtle travel speed so she will take us to where we can find another exotic place to work on the boat.
Remember the botfly Sid had a year back in Puerto Lindo. This time it was my turn. I was bit below my armpit next to my right boob. At first I thought a mole was growing but then it looked too familiar and indeed it started getting bigger and bigger. I tried all the remedies to kill it with putting Vaseline over it, bacon, blue tape that ripped my skin around off. By now that thing was pretty big so I went to the Portobelo clinic to cut it out. Doctor didn’t even look at it but said bot flies don’t exist? They don’t?!!! It’s plastered over the whole Internet that they are common in Central America, hello!!! Instead he prescribed antibiotics to take. Told him I’m not going to take it. Why not? Told him you doctors in Latin America prescribe antibiotic too freely besides you didn’t even look at it. Well the visit cost me $1 so not too much lost except the long waiting time. Guess can’t complain for not looking at it, 1$ must be for the prescription.

Knowing the 4 Alto doctor that treated Sid for the same didn’t know about it either so guessed I was stuck with it. After 6 weeks trying to mess with it and lure it out I finally went to see my dermatologist. That was very funny as when he cut an inch long cut he jumped back and screamed: OMG it’s wiggling iiiiiii, it’s wiggling!!! (he is alternate life style so his it’s wiggly dance was really cute and too funny, we both had a good chuckle). He called his male secretary in to take photos, watching his face taking photos of the wiggling thing while staying as far a way as he could and making his arms as long as he could he took some picture an film. So when that was over the doctor cautiously closed in on the wiggling thing and tried to pull it out, but all that came out of his mouth was: “oh it’s fat!” to which I replied “are you calling me fat?!” another outburst of laughter. He sent a swap to the lab to see what kind of bacteria the puss was. That was pretty funny as well as 4 days later the results came in. The labs here send it to the patient and doctor via email. The bacteria had a strange name so of course I googled it. It described it as a bacteria in and around female and male private parts and intestines. OMG under my arm? I sent my doctor a text questioning it. His responds was hahahahaha. In the mean time I learned form a doctor friend that it is a good bacteria. Gosh for a moment there I was worried a penis or vagina growing out of my armpit.

Middle of September Ida had another Diva Event at her house, it was called Diva Fun just a casual affair. As I haven’t seen Ida for a while Carol and I went 3 days before the event to catch up and spoiled Ida with our gourmet cooking. Anita and Melania found out we were there already and wanted to join so they showed up a day early. Same time all the others did the same so the 2 day event turned into 3 days. Again lots yummy food, drinks, full of fun and laughter and also relaxation time.

Learning to make sushi

Dim Sum lunch

A week later we took the bus to Portobelo to clear our storage and spent the night at Anita’s. It was kinda weird being in Portobelo without Paradise being there. But it was wonderful catching up with Anita. 
It was amazing to see this ominous squall slowly sweeping across the bay towards us. All we saw was a white wall approaching, incredibly dramatic. It rained so hard we had to retreat inside and close the balcony door as the spray hit everywhere. As always I cooked dinner which was enjoyed, Anita spoiled us with some ice-cream and we chatted into the night. Early at 4 am I woke up to the howler monkeys good morning concert. I snuck outside to listen to them. The sun started to peak around the corner and showed off in an incredible sunrise display. The birds started singing with the howlers still screaming of the top of their lungs, making sure everybody knows another beautiful morning has arrived. Every tree surrounding Anita’s house was full of howler’s with lots and lots of cute little babies, it was so much fun watching them. An unforgettable morning with the beautiful variety of bird songs, plus 4 falcons playfully chasing each other from tree to tree, the beautiful sunrise, fish jumping around Anita’s pier plus the howler monkeys.
View from Anita's house towards 

across towards the police station, El Castillo Restaurant and where our storage was

And the Portobelo bay entrance

Her patio

cute little snail hiding from the rain

For lunch we met with Jim and Melania, Pat and Jesse and kids, plus Anita at the Castillo for lunch. I had developed what looked like pink eye which is an epidemic in Panama at the moment. What did I tell you the tropics hides many things, and as Debi always says: if it is out there Paradise gets it. Luckily it wasn’t pink eye just a sty and with a hot chamomile tea bag compress it was gone the following day. After lunch we loaded up Anita’s car with all our junk and she drove us to Shelter Bay where all is stored now in a really nice and relative cool storage.

You may remember while in town with Janet I bought a dinghy which I was not able to bring to the San Blas so I made a down payment and they stored it for us. One of the first things we did after arriving at Shelter Bay was paying the rest for the dinghy and had it delivered to Shelter Bay. We were amazed that they did so the very next day. Sid wasn’t ready to pump the dinghy up yet as he wanted to add a protection strip on the keel plus adding a long painter (line). To his surprise the protection strip was already in place, great. And after he spliced the painter he pumped up the dinghy which was 2 days after it was delivered and OMG if that dinghy wasn’t damaged. But look for yourself:

I called the guy that delivered it right away and he tried to get out of it with: “well Sid didn’t pump it up right away” to which I replied “that shouldn’t matter, it was brought damaged, besides I would have not pumped it up either bringing it to the San Blas.” I believe in things happen for a reason, like in not finding a transport to the San Blas, imagine the pain in the butt it would have been to return it from there, plus how costly it would have been. Of course it was a Holiday and the store was closed for several days but the guy said we needed to come talk to them in the office. We were worried that they would decline to replace the dinghy, anything here is possible. We also bought chaps for the dinghy which the owner of the store said they are not for the 10 foot ultralight but the regular 10 footer and should fit, I had my doubts but bought it as I was ensured I could return it. Well that didn’t even closely fit.

So we waited through the Jewish Holiday with that worry in our mind. Once we were at the store they offered us a rebate of $200.—WHAAAA?!!! No way. Well they tried but immediately said they will order a new one as they had none at the store. So in that case I told them order the unpainted as we wanted to buy in the first place but they had talked us into the painted and they agreed. They also took the chaps back and ordered the one needed, home we went thinking having to wait about 2 months. The following morning I received a phone call that the replacement dinghy was 10 minutes away from the marina. In deed 10 minutes later they rolled in with another painted dinghy. I questioned him about it but he played dumb. Now the damaged dinghy you don’t want to know what they did with that. Well OK I tell you, they brought it to the Chandlery here in Shelter Bay with plan to fix it by bending and hammering it back then selling it to unsuspecting future owners not knowing that the tube has been jeopardized. BTW we after 3 months we are still waiting for the chaps.

After a year in the San Blas it feels nice to be in a marina for a change. The constant not realizing concern about dragging, bad squall hitting, other boats parking not anchoring on top of you etc. makes you feel like a huge rock taken off your shoulder.
Sid dove right into projects. One of my favorites he polished all my pots, pans and stainless steel coffee/cocktail mugs, what a guy.

At the restaurant every Saturday they have an open mic evening I joined. A lot of fun and some incredibly good musicians. Robert OMG he is just amazing what he can do with his guitar. Steph and Stu, she plays the violin, Stu masters the guitar, banjo and traveling guitar. The only time you see Dock Assistant Frank smile is with his bass guitar in his hand. Collin a young kid of 14 an amazing blues player. Phil just started to play ukulele 4 months ago. And myself guitar and harmonica, plus whoever stops by and knows  how to play an instrument is invited. It is huge fun and a great challenge to learn more and more songs. I am the proud owner of a microphone and stand plus an amp, unfortunately only has one input but Sid is getting me a Street cube amp that runs on both regular power and batteries. Hey maybe someday you see me playing at a street corner with my guitar case open to collect money and the Boatbumms we are maybe I have Sid sitting there instead with a hat in his hand to collect money as well.

On October 13th we celebrated Sid and Chris on Moody Fin’s BD. Lucky guys their BD fell on a potluck. It was huge fun and I think both boys enjoyed the surprise party, cake, ice-cream and wonderful appetizers.

Too funny: while watching a movie, every few minutes an “Eau de Fart” odor was brushing my nose,with an interval of each about 2 to 3 minutes apart, so I finally told Sid to stop farting that his farts were super gross. After my 3rd complaint Sid said very stern: “I am not farting” but the Eau de Fart odor kept circulating and I knew for sure it was not me. Next morning I started sizzling some bacon for breakfast and reached for the egg carton which is stored above where I sit, OMG at least 5 of the 12 eggs were busted. So the Moral of this story is: if your husband says he is not farting, go check the eggs. No not his but the chicken eggs. I owed him a big apology. BTW the eggs were only 10 days old. And he finally did admit he let a few go as well.
Here a diver's rule:

We rented a car for a couple of days to run some errands and promised Silvester to drive them to Colon early in the morning to catch the bus to Panama City before returning the car. Day before Ida called that Ultra also here in the marina needed to go in early to see her at her dental office if they could ride in with us. We did squeeze 6 people into the car for the 30 minute drive into Colon. When we saw Ida she asked us to come home with her that night as she was off the following day. Told her we had too many things to do, but Ida does not take a NO easily. After we returned the car, did some shopping and sat in the bus waiting to return to Shelter Bay, Ida rings but it was Joanne on the phone saying that Ida said we can’t go home but need to come home to her house instead with Ultra and Ultra was only going if we were. So the NO turned into a YES, mind you neither of us had any change of cloth, toothbrushes, phone chargers etc, plus Ida was working till 4 pm. The four of us hit all the stores and Sid found some new cloths as all his cloths are falling off him. I haven’t found anything in years as well. Bought toothbrushes and paste and we were ready for an in-prompt-to gathering at Ida’s.

At 4 pm she picked us all up at the mall and we drove to her beautiful property. Her property is surrounded by jungle full of bird life and she opens her house to the Smithsonian to conduct their studies of birds. The group this time was studying migrating birds. It was a very interesting evening talking to all these guys and dinner was wonderful, so was the pool, it was fun.
Sid and Bill

with Joanne

Can you believe it on October 25, 20 years ago we cut the lines in front of our Yacht Club PMYC in Marina del Rey and have been cruising since. Seems just like yesterday, amazing. For the festivities I organized a pig roast potluck. We bring the pig and everybody else a dish to share. It was a fun party but oh my gosh, we did not count on 14 kids being there plus the parents only bringing a small dish not even enough to feed their own family, people dug into the pork like it’s the last in this world. Out of the 45 that had signed up an extra 25 showed up, no dish to share, so we did run out of everything and what little scrap was left of the pig that was gone as well. 10 of our guest didn’t get any pork. Luckily I had asked the chef to cut me a butt cheek and also the filet so I gave that to them. We watched people walk away with big Ziploc bags full of piggy. All that was left for us was a greasy cutting board with a few tiny crumbs, oh and the kids ate all the desserts.
But we all had a great time and that is the main thing. The palapa was nicely decorated with palm fronds and wild flowers and 18 tikky torches surrounding the palapa, it was very festive.

Getting wild flowers in the jungle with JoAnne


My fun Tampon game



We almost cried when 2 days later we saw the dishes of the marina cats overfilled with 1 inch cubes of juicy pork bites.

There are quite a few crocs here in the marina and now and then you think a stick floating by the boat is just that until you see the tail wave and eyes staring at you. One boat saw a croc as big as 4 meters they said.
Catamaran Europa took these photos, this is how close the croc hangs out

Bill and Joanne on Ultra were hired by the marina to be the entertainment comitty and that they are. They do an incredible job to keep all the boaters from doing their boat work. Every night something is going on and always a lot of fun. Tuesday is Wings and Karaoke night I organize. I tought the kitchen to make Buffalo Wings Manuela style and it’s a huge hit. There are now locals driving to the Dock Restaurant on Sundays for the Buffalo Wings.
One Sunday I organized a bloody Mary morning at the palapa, it was a good turnout but I made so much bloody mary we froze it and used it at another gathering.
And Halloween was super fun:
Sid and I found the coolest Halloween store in Panama City

Having fun in the store, we must have spent 2 hours in there
Only took 1 1/2 hours to paint this





Thanksgiving was spent at Jim and Melania’s with Ida and Melania’s brother Tery. We had way to much food:

On December 6 Deb visited and met her in Colon for lunch. Jim and Melania and Carol joined us and as a surprise I invited Noshima, Deb hasn’t seen in a long time. After that we drove to Ida’s house and spent a fun evening catching up.

Eveybody got a "Debi Haircut"

Steep drive way to Ida's house, Jim's car didn't make it to top before sliding backwards into the ditch

Everybody waiting in Ida's car for the tow truck as it was raining
 Ida took us shopping the following day in Panama City.  Same evening Patsy and Roman arrived so we had a wonderful Chinese Dinner across the street from our hotel. Sid left the following day to finish some projects on the boat while Debi and I went shopping for her provisions. She hadn’t seen a store since last March when her and I hit Panama City from the San Blas. She didn’t quite buy as much as last time.

Dinner was our favorite appetizer platter for 2 at Machu Pichu Restaurant

After Tito picked her up at 6:30 am I drove to 4 Alto picked up Sid and we did another day of shopping in town. Mind you it was the day before the Panamanian Mother’s Day plus Christmas shopping the chaos on the street was incredible, one traffic jam after another but we made it home with all we needed and in one piece. Since it was mother’s day, a national holiday on the 8th we got the car for that day at no cost, we were told that they were closed, it would be a free day if we liked. Wow!!! Do we like, you bet we like!!!

Time flies by and before you know it 3 months have passed since we moved into the marina and Christmas is just around the corner. Tomorrow Tuesday 12th we are finally hauling out to replace the cutlass bearing and to add another through hull plus painting one coat of antifouling paint and hope to be back in the water before Christmas.
And with that we wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and the best of everything for 2018. Mygosh how time flies 2018.
Besos grandes from Beautiful Panama 

A few marina photos:

The new Panama Canal Bridge to Shelter Bay is coming along

I organized a Sunday Bloody Mary morning

an incredible Sunset Ski

Howler Monkeys by the Marina

Nature Walk in Shelter Bay area


To this beautiful beach just 20 away from the marina

Approaching rain cloud

6 am in the  morning

Water drops on my orchids

 While in Panama City Sid and I watched a water spout out in the Bay


Fun chill and beautification day with Carol and Judi

with Carol's Delicious BM's

Suprise 50th Birthday Party for Steph


The Shelter Bay Marina Hotel advertises to be a high end hotel. You be the judge of that:
The lounge:
How would yo like to sit in this with a spring up your .....?

The lounge Toilette: