Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Stop-over in Puerto Linton

22:00, Monday, December 02, 2013Puerto Linton, Panama
Yes, we finally made it out of Shelter Bay!! That magnetic attraction was broken Monday morning as we slipped the dock lines and motored out of the harbour in light winds and a , somewhat, calm sea. The weather overnight ad been dreadful with a strong squall about midnight but, by morning the wind had died and several boats headed out. With the light wind we were finally able to bend on our headsail and we headed out shortly thereafter.
It was a motorboat ride all the way to Puerto Linton, about 22 miles up the coast and just past Portobello. With no agenda for the next few weeks we decided to explore some of the cruising hot spots we missed last spring. Linton is a small bay but well frequented by cruisers, some having been here for years. Not sure why cause there are few services in the village but the road adjacent to the village leads directly to Colon and Panama City and for a few dollars you can bus it into either location with ease.
We still had a few items on our to-do list but after leaving a few more popped up. On departure we discovered that the inverter charger, that we thought had cured itself – hadn’t. Looks like either surgery or replacement; another unexpected expense….Today I finally got the gumption to climb the mast and fix the spinnaker halyard. Also had to repair a stuck winch, replace a valve in the dinghy and take apart and clean the carburetor on the big outboard. We also tried out the rain-water collection system that Fran had made last spring. With the addition of a few fittings and a filter we were able to top off the water tank during the squalls that persisted throughout the day.
But the rain didn’t stop us from taking a dinghy ride through the mangrove covered channel to Panamarina, a marina that has been carved out of the jungle and mangroves over the past few years. We had been told that they have an excellent little French restaurant there but when we arrived we discovered that it was a special day. After years of preparation they were hauling out their first boats, a small sloop and a catamaran.
The restaurant lived up to its reputation. Fran had a large plateful of mussels (moules) and I had their signature steak with pepper sauce. 4 stars!! And prices were extremely reasonable. The frites and chocolate mousse, transported us back to our visits to France many years ago!!
We’ll probably stay here for a few more days before moving on to the San Blas islands. Friday night is pizza night at a local hangout that bakes their pizzas in a home-made oven. It gets so hot that the pizzas are ready after only a 20-25 second exposure. In the meantime we hope for sun to energize our solar panels otherwise we will have to haul out the generator. Tomorrow I attack the inverter- charger. I can’t screw it up anymore than it is – can I??
09:00 Monday, December 09, 2013, Puerto Linton, Panama
It is a beautiful rainy morning. The wind has finally died and, according to the weather channels, will remain calm for the next week. Our rain-catcher is working overtime to refill our water tanks and we are nice and dry in our floating cottage. Life is good!!
Actually it has been a boring week waiting for the wind to let up. We’ve been doing lots of reading and Fran has been playing Jewel Crush on her I-phone. To say she is addicted is putting it mildly. Just finished reading Stephen Talty’s, Empire of Blue Water, the story of Henry Morgan and his career as a privateer in the very waters we are sailing. Many of the places mentioned in the book are very familiar to us. Portobello, one of his most famous conquests, is only a few miles away and the Spanish fort of San Lorenzo,  that he destroyed on his way to sack Panama City, is just down the coast from Shelter Bay. I now regret not having taken the time to hike the 7 miles to visit the site while we were closer.
My threats to repair of the inverter must have been heard. A last minute check before I attacked it with my tools proved it to be working. The clouds have persisted for most of the week so we have had to supplement the solar panel intake with the portable generator for a few hours every day. Our dilemma of wishing for sun for solar power and rain to refill the tanks is frustrating. Rain at night and sunny days would fit the bill but nature doesn’t necessarily respond to our needs.
21:30, 11 December 2013, Last night in Puerto Linton
We are leaving tomorrow morning for the San Blas Islands. The wind has abated and will remain relatively calm throughout the weekend. We did our last major shop today in Colon and we are ready.
Yesterday we celebrated Fran’s birthday at the same French restaurant that we went to last week; her reaction definitely merited a return engagement. 2 other couples were slated to go with us but it was only the men folk that were able to come. That was OK with Fran, being the gregarious lady that she is…. Actually the wives had a rare opportunity for a free ride to the big box stores in Panama, something that couldn’t be rescheduled. While there we were joined by a few more people who livened up the party.

Fran, lapping up the last of her favourite part of the meal- the chocolate mousse.

On our way through the mangrove channel we were treated with the rare sight of a 3-toed sloth and baby dipping her lower extremities in the water. It is very rare to see sloths in the water but, apparently, that is the way the poop so that predators can’t trace them through their droppings. No, I did not make that up!!

We were apprehensive of the shopping trip to Colon. The bus passes by the town at 07:30 and takes 2 hours to get to the city driving along the coast through twisty but well-maintained roads. These buses are the reject Bluebird busses from up north. Once they have served out their useful lifespan in the US they are shipped throughout Central America to become the common peoples’ method of conveyance, often called “chicken busses”. Well, there were no animals on ours but they were very typical of the style we have seen throughout these countries. Garishly painted, decorated with whatever was at hand at the time, outfitted with the loudest horns and stereo systems the owner/driver can find. Did I mention the little balls hanging from the mirrors and the network of lights for nighttime distinction? The condition of these vehicles is surprisingly good. Fran and I sat in the dreaded rear row and it didn’t hurt a bit but the speaker right above our head gave no mercy. Good thing I am hard of hearing….. The rear has a seat missing on one side and that is where the occupants stash their larger parcels. Our crap took a big chunk of that space. We got back by mid-afternoon, had a beer at the dinghy dock restaurant (another one run by a Dutchman) and motored back to the boat.

 Personalized Bluebirds!!

Gosling will be listed on the Yachtworld website in the next few days. You’ll be able to find her by entering the criteria: Sailing vessel, Manufacturer: Nicholson or Camper Nicholson, Length: 42 ft, Year: 1974. We have listed her with a British broker: Kings Easton in Buckler’s Hard, not far from where we lived from 1993-1996.
On to the San Blas and the best snorkeling area we have ever experienced. Maybe I will be able to break-in my new  Christmas present spear gun.

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