Tuesday, October 31, 2006

It’s Tuesday and that means left over pizza. On Monday nights everyone gathers at Flamenco for their 2 for 1 deal and to discuss where to buy chain, get canvass stitched, and who’s the best electrical guy to hire, as well as all the other repair topics we chatter about constantly. It seems to me we wage a weekly battle to keep our boats between 60 - 80% of their health. 100% just isn’t practical in these conditions. 80 is the new 100.

This place is really filling up. Everyday 2 or 3 more boats come down the Pacific coast and 2 or 3 more cross the Canal from the Caribbean side to prep here in Panama City for their Pacific crossing.

I’ll be leaving in 2 weeks, but not to sail anywhere. I’m parking Barraveigh on a mooring ball at the Balboa Yacht Club and flying home. Can’t wait! After a couple days in Miami with Terry and Kelly I’ll be in Sandy Eggo on Nov 17th. It’ll be nice to wear a jacket and shoes again. I’ll be away from Panama for 2 months and in that time I’m taking a side trip to London to visit Suzi. I’ll be back in Panama Jan 15th and she’ll be joining me along with Geoff Nelson for the passage on Feb 5th to Ecuador. On April fools day I’m going to shave my head (easier for hygiene on long passages plus I’m sick of this straw), and with Suzi, leave for the Galapagos, and then the big hop over the Pacific to the Marquesas chain in French Polynesia.

And now for the randoms:

Panamanians point with their lips. It’s true, they tilt their heads back, and pucker in the direction of what they want you to look at.

When I ran aground on a sandbar in the company of at least 20 other sailboats not one of them came to my aid. Only Clyde on a 100 foot mega power yacht helped me. He later said, “Your mistake was in yelling for help. If you wanted sailing cruisers to come to your service you should have yelled ‘free beer’ or ‘half price’ or ‘2 for 1’”. He has a point.

His other illuminating quote was this, “Maybe the lifestyle of the cruising sailor isn’t one dedicated to self sufficiency so much as it is a commitment to total inconvenience.” I like that one but have to temper it with the fact that he is viewing us from the fly bridge of a 100 foot catamaran (40 feet wide) with 2 elevators, 4 freezers, a formal dining room and Direct TV. He sailed from San Diego to Cabo with his Geo Tracker lashed to his bow. He and his Swedish wife are my all time favs and I’ll be transiting the Canal with them on the 8th. I’ve spent at lot of hours on that boat with Clyde fixing my broken everything in his full size machine shop.

There is a little van that arrives every morning at 08:00 and the man sells empanadas and chichas for 25 cents a piece. He wears a yarmulke and I finally got up the nerve to ask him if he was Jewish. “No senor, I only wear because of this.” And then he took off his yarmulke to reveal a bald spot that was perfectly hidden. I now refer to it as his Hebrew Toupe.

When eating a meat dish in Panama, it’s important to have a lot of napkins because the food goes into ones mouth and then right into the napkin which is then hidden so as not to embarrass the cook. I guess they are too poor to throw away fat and gristle. Freakin awful.

I buy 6 green bananas cuz that’s the smallest bunch you can buy. The next day they are ripe and I eat 3 of them. The day after, the remaining 3 get thrown away cuz they are rotten and full of fruit flies. Total cost, 30 cents.

I don’t like those black nights when the squalls pass through. I appreciate the moon. If I have some visibility it’s not nearly as spooky.

I’ve been out of US waters for 11 months.

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