Our latest entry always comes up first...

Click this link if you want to start at the beginning of our trip from
South Carolina (where we bought the boat) to Lake Ontario Click this link:

If you want to see the story of our 2 1/2 year project getting
Blowin' Bubbles ready for our life on board click here:

If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP - July 2014
2015, 2016, 2017

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Almost One Year.....

Welcome to our Blog. Our latest entry always comes up first... 
Click this link if you want to start at the beginning:
If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
If you want to see the story of our trip from South Carolina
(where we bought the boat)
 to Lake Ontario Click this link:
It's true... Shelley and I have been travelling for almost one year now.  We have traveled some 3,400 nautical miles (3,900 statute miles or 6,300 kilometers). To date, and assuming we won't leave the marina in the next week or so, we will have spent 60 days underway and 305 days in port.  Said another way:
Days Underway: 60 16%
Days in Port:         305 84%

In terms of where we spent our "nights", it breaks down as follows:
At anchor: 56 15%
At a dock: 215 59%
At a mooring 79 22%
At Sea 14 4%

According to our log, we have spent 595 Hours Underway (or about 25, 24 hour days)
Unfortunately given our route, and the time we spent in the inter-coastal waterway we used our engine for almost 60% of the time underway.  We ran the main engine for 444 hours this year.

In the next few weeks I plan to publish a little more information as it relates to expenses in our first year.

Over the last week we have had rain almost every day. It has limited our ability to get many outside jobs completed but we have more than half our list checked off.  It looks like the things we have ordered from the States will arrive sometime near the end of July.  We are so appreciative of Stan & Joanna in Florida who got our orders re-packed and sent to the container service for transport to Panama.

One of the big inside jobs we completed this week was to re-design the scuba shop in the mid-ship cabin.  We decided the gear that was hanging could be better stored in a couple of large duffel bags.  This freed up the space to accommodate our new fridge/freezer coming in the container.  We also moved the scuba compressor to the lazarette which has made more room for school supplies.

As far as activities goes, Shelley and I went to Panama City 2 weeks ago to pick up some boat parts and see the city.  What an adventure! It began with a water taxi ride to Admilrante where we caught the overnight bus to Panama City.  

The bus was fairly new and as cold as a meat locker.  We were "assigned" seats and the man in front of us was travelling with a little girl.  Before we even left the station he reclined both his seats so they were literally in our laps!  Less than an hour into the trip we stopped for some reason and EVERYONE was ordered off the bus.  An inspection maybe?  Nope.  The driver wanted a rest so the conductor made everyone get off the bus...  By this time a few babies had their diapers changed and since the on board toilets were LOCKED, the smell began to mix with the cabbage from one of the passengers meals, which he purchased at the stop.  Added to this,  the bus had a curtain across the front so we could not see in front of the bus...  After some 3000 nautical miles at sea we found ourselves taking motion sickness pills on a bus!

The bus ordeal ended the following morning after TWO MORE stops throughout the night that were the same as the first one... The only highlight, was one of the stops had no working toilets! 

We took a cab from the Panama City terminal and arrived at our hotel around 6 am. We had left the marina at 430 pm the day before. We had made a reservation at the Central Park Hotel , Spa & Casino and made arrangements to check in early.  We arrived and with no one else checking in, the process took more than 20 minutes. 

When we got to the room, the toilet was dirty, there was no toilet paper, the phone did not work, the safe was not working, the internet was spotty at best, and we discovered that we had to go OUTSIDE and across a driveway and up another elevator to use the dirty swimming pool. 

On the tenth floor (where we stayed) the ice machine was not working and there were two old beds stacked in front of it. Only one of the three elevators worked. The "free" breakfast was terrible and there was nothing to choose from. Finally, the toilet ran intermittently ALL night... Oh did I mention the spa was no longer in business. And lastly, the Casino was a small dirty place without the advertised poker room.

Oh well, we were still going to make the most of this trip so we contacted a driver who came highly recommended.  His name was Roger and he was wonderful. He took us to all the places we needed to go and we were only charged $40 for everything... 

We went to a chandlery and picked up some sealant and other bits and pieces then went to meet the people at the Raymarine dealership who were looking after our broken autohelm.  We met the manager, Luis, and learned that the unit was shipped to the US for evaluation.  We would have to pay $195 for the shipping....  He did indicate  that there was a good chance that they would repair it under warranty so we are still hopeful.  Roger (our driver) agreed to send us the unit if and when it got back to Panama City...

Our last stop was at the Perkins dealership where we purchased a replacement water pump.  We still can't seem to find a replacement pulley.  They told us after we got back to Bocas that a replacement from the factory in England was going to be $300...  We are not sure what to do now.

Anyway the rest of that day and the next day we spent shopping at the biggest mall I have EVER seen. The Albrook Mall boasts over 800 stores!  Shelley was in heaven!  We found two big duffel bags for $9 each! and a plethora of other goodies we probably didn't need...  We broke down at lunch time and ate for the first time since South Carolina at a McDonald's! 

Everyone gets a map!
When it was time to return to Bocas del Toro we decided an extra $60 was worth the money to fly home in 1 hour. I'm not sure if it was real or not, but the Air Panama flight was one of the best experiences I have ever had flying.  From check-in on, everyone (even airport security) were happy, cheerful, competent and relaxed... What a difference from the bus...

Free Internet!

The RED FROG Beach
Bocas Town (where we are staying)

One day we met up with our friends from Rafiki and 4 Coconuts who are staying at another marina (Red Frog).  They are quite far away from town but they have access to a beautiful beach.

For the last week or so I have been feeling unwell.  No appetite, headaches, nausea, and as usual a really sore back.  Finally after listening to me complain too long, Shelley insisted on me seeing a doctor.  There are no English speaking doctors in Bocas, so we contacted a doctor in Admilrante who agreed to see me. He sent us to Changinola for blood and urine tests and ruled out any of the local nuisances like dengue fever, or a parasite.

What he did decide is that my back pain was causing my other symptoms and that over the coarse of 5 more visits he may be able to help...  How much?, I ask.  
$200, says the doc... 
Each visit?
No, he said, for the whole treatment....

For $200 we think it is worth it so when that's all done I'll let you know how things turn out...  It would be pretty remarkable after the 25 years of suffering, a bush doctor in Panama figures it out and fixes it with no surgery!

Last weekend, Shelley join our friend Laura (s/v Nylaya) house sitting the marine owners house on the other side of the island.  On more than 10 acres his home and property was stunning.  Shelley and Laura spent the weekend walking and painting and getting in some girl time.  Her husband Jim and I joined them Sunday night before we all came back to the marina on Monday. 
The CHIQUITA Banana Boat!

Sloths and Monkeys

Laura painting

A GREAT view!

Schooner the dog
The only moment came when I adjusted a pillow in one of the deck chairs and found a small boa constrictor under the pillow.  We summoned  the gardener who made it go away...A great weekend.

Well, I would say that is enough for this blog.  We hope you are enjoying this and we always welcome suggestions or comments...