Back to the USA

Trip Start Dec 13, 2006
Trip End Jan 31, 2011

Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines

Flag of United States  , Florida
Thursday, June 9, 2011

Yes, here we are, back in our condo in Florida.  Although it feels good to be "home" right now, can't say that we plan to stick around.  

We were very fortunate to sell our boat, as hoped, in Panama.  A lovely couple, Ian and Robin Christie, came all the way from Melbourne, Australia, to finalize the sale in mid-May.  Ian had a 5-inch thick binder tabbed and highlighted, full of information and research on our Perry 43.  Mike and Ian spent hours going through the book, then more hours and days going over all the boat's systems.  In the end, the Christies seemed pleased with Jus' Now, and we closed the deal. They are leaving the boat in Panama for the time being hoping to go back in the not too distant future and sail her back to Australia, unless they decide to do something else--which in the sailing world is not all that unusual.

While we were in Bocas getting the boat ready for sale, we met some fun people, as usual.  One of the highlights was Ray of s/v Aventura, a street juggler from San Francisco originally, who performed at various events as well as anchoring the morning radio net.  Then there was our marina manager, Mary, who was quite the character.  My words for her, "Mary is her own party," which stemmed from hearing her laughing and giggling as she dove off the end of our dock after a hard day's work.  We also enjoyed a lovely family, Isabelle and J.C. on s/v Shaka with their charming 7 and 5 year old daughters,Alexe and Milla.  Milla was always busy when she wasn't "in school" doing things like challenging Mike to a water gun battle or gathering nails to build a house for Mary's cat.  Alexe was often seen riding her scooter up and down the docks, daring her sister in various water feats.

Then there was Henrik of Baltic Lady, a songwriter from Denmark, whom we met after Mike helped rescue him coming into Bocas, often a challenge with the current and the wind.  Along with Henrik was Celeste Dorage, a Boston restaurant owner/chef turned delivery captain who had bailed on a delivery to North Carolina.  The boat she hustled to ready was in fact not at all what she had been told.  Although it did make it safely, we put Celeste up in return for sorely needed cleaning services for us.  Of course, in addition, we found a delightful new friend and excellent cook.  

Speaking of rescues, Mike had yet another opportunity to go out to rescue a couple of seasoned sailing friends who also were caught in the nasty current and wind.  He provided the necessary GPS to locate the boat while a great fishermen, Oriel, skilfully managed the waves and weather in his large panga.  Exhausted, cold, wet and hungry, Mike finally straggled in at 12:30 a.m. after 8 hours fighting the waters.  Our friends were safely stowed on an island several miles from Bocas and would be brought in the following day.

One more major event was the biggest thrill for Mike.  A friend from the marina, Jim of Against the Wind, asked Mike to captain his boat through the Panama Canal.  Could we resist the trip we had been hoping to make?  No way!  So on March 20 we flew to Panama City then on to Colon by bus.  On March 23 and 24 we made the journey through the canal--an experience not to be forgotten.
The Dariens, our long-time Colorado friends who after hearing the news of Mike's health, bad weather and boat problems on their way to the airport and decided to cancel their plans to meet us in Portobello New Year's Eve, joined us for a few days in April.  Although we didn't sail, we had a lot of fun showing them around Bocas and having them whip us unmercifully through  games of Wizard!  

And before it was all over, Mike's brother, Ray, and sister-in-law, Lou, spent a week at the end of April.  Traveling to the popular mountain town of Boquete--though not by bus, as we usually do--gave them an opportunity to see another side of Panama including the beautiful, pastoral scenery. Having visitors gave us a respite from the grind of clearing out the boat and making it as beautiful as we could.  We were so happy to have these guests!

We were also fortunate to find a very good worker named Marco who cleaned our boat relentlessly day after day in the hot sun and/or rain.  He was the most steady, reliable person we came across in seeking local workers. 

Cleaning and readying our boat turned out to be a huge task!  We could not believe how much stuff we had stored on our boat.  We filled two storage lockers at the marina from floor to ceiling.  To do that Mike hauled many a load down the dock in the horrendous Panamanian heat in a ramshackle wheelbarrow.  The water line on the boat actually was raised 4 inches!  Then, once we signed the contract with the Christies, we hauled back onto the boat lots of stored boat parts, tools, books, etc. What we didn't put back, we sold to other sailors via the radio.  We also had a garage sale.  Finally, what we didn't sell, we gave away to the local Panamanians and Indians who were very happy to help us clear our stores. 

Getting home was yet another challenge.  With six 150-pound bags--scavenged from fellow sailors and our generous marina manager--in addition to two heavily packed carry-on suitcases plus two stuffed backpacks, we hired a water taxi to get us to the bus from Carenero Island to the mainland at Almirante, a 30-minute boat ride away.  Of course, our taxi was late, made three additional stops including one on the water to allow a passing boater to use his cellphone--while we waited--and got to shore 10 minutes after the bus had left!  No problem though.  We were able to hire our shoreside taxi driver to chase down the bus, which, $60 and 30 minutes later, we accomplished.  Ten hours later we arrived in Panama City at the bus station, but the taxi stand to get a ride to our hotel was on the other side of the terminal!  No way could we get our bags to the other side ourselves!  Mike was even sure we'd need more than one porter.  We did manage to locate one of two porters who handily stacked our luggage on his cart and away we went.  Spent the night at our favorite Hotel Milan in the El Cangrejo district of Panama City and were able to go to our favorite nearby restaurant, Cafe Pomodoro, for a relaxing evening.  The following morning, off to the airport.  All went well until we reached Houston where we had to change planes after first going through customs.  We only had one hour, and the line at customs snaked around and around and around with hundreds of people and only 5 customs agents!  To make a long story shorter, we managed to get through customs to our luggage, found another porter, who made short work of getting our luggage right to the next plane, but then we had to go through security again!  And again, there were the same huge lines snaking through the security lines.  Once through, we had to catch a train to another terminal just as our plane was scheduled to take off.  Found by an airport passenger cart driver as we were hurrying through the next terminal, we were scooped up and raced through the corridors to the waiting--unbelievably so--plane.  We were the last ones on!  Phew!  We had similar good luck in Fort Myers locating one of the two porters still on duty when our plane got in at 11 p.m. He took us right to our rental car.  WOW!

All this to say that we were truly exhausted --for days-- after getting here. Now we are busy doing needed maintenance on our condo but primarily finding doctors to determine Mike's course of action.  We're anxious to get on with our lives which we hope to mean boating on the canals in Europe.  But, first things first!



Slideshow Report as Spam
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • You must enter a comment
  • You must enter your name
  • You must enter a valid name (" & < > \ / are not accepted).
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address


Wayne & Cici on

Hope all's well

Geff Willstrop on

You asked about Bill & Anne of S/v Memory Maker. Please e-mail me direct at Geff

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: