We arrived in Panama with our 4 checked bags, each weighing 49.5 lbs, 2 carry on’s and our one personal item each. Vancouver to LA. LA to Houston and finally Houston to Panama City. Customs took a quick look through our bags and we were on our way. It’s a long day of travel but Floris, our prearranged driver, was waiting at the airport for us when we landed. We schlepped everything to his SUV and loaded it up.
Its normally about an hour and a half drive from the airport to Shelter Bay Marina where the boat is located. There is however a potentially huge wrinkle. Panama is currently in a state of civil unrest with a number of protests and roadblocks taking place. Just a few days prior we learned from some other cruisers that their normal 2 hour drive to their marina turned into 8 hours that day. In many parts of the country the roadblocks have lasted several weeks and people are having difficulty getting food, fuel and medicines.
The protesters are focusing on a current contract between the Panamanian Government and a Canadian mining company but that’s really just the final straw in a long list of things the citizens are upset about. To us outsiders, it does seem odd that they are blocking roads and thereby goods and services to the people they claim to be representing.
We luck out and the protesters have moved on and none of the roads we need are affected. Dodged that bullet. We did notice that the grocery store shelves were lacking in many ways and prices were dear on many items. Meanwhile lots of produce is rotting in the fields as the farmers can’t get them to the stores.
The marina has a small hotel and we have booked our first 3 nights there. We arrive late in the afternoon. The gate to the yard is locked so inspection needs to wait until the morning. We checked in to the hotel and enjoyed dinner and a cold beer at the restaurant. Cold being the key word here because even at 6PM its still 28 degrees Celsius and 80% humidity.
Day two begins with the first look at the boat. The boat has weathered the off season well with no sign of mold, bugs or leaks. It is dirty and must be washed before all the stuff that was stored within can be moved out. We will be moved from the “storage’ area of the yard to the “working” area of the yard that morning. We get the dinghy from its storage spot under the boat and back hanging on the davits just as the machines show up to get us moved.
I’ve said it before, but boat yards are not fun places. Its like camping in a sand box. They are dirty and dusty, hot and sweaty, even more so in the tropics. You need to climb a ladder to get into or out of the boat and inevitably if you are down the part you need is up or vise versa. We had originally planned on 3 nights in the hotel but with the heat, rain and humidity we elected to take 2 more nights just to enjoy long showers and air-conditioned sleeps.
Everything was progressing well. The bottom got two coats of antifouling paint. We had moved back onto the boat. We are scheduled to launch the boat the next day. Derick woke up in the middle of the night with some issues peeing. We though maybe dehydration so he drank lots of water and the condition subsided. We launched the boat did a short sea trail to check out the systems and returned to a slip in the marina. Derick has pee issues again that night that get a bit better after lots of water. Friday the symptoms persist and Saturday he can’t pee at all. Hello emergency department at the Hospital in Colon. With the insertion of a catheter comes relief but also instructions to get home to see my Urologist.
After a couple of days of undoing of a bunch of the work we did to prep the boat for the season, calls to the travel insurance company and some quick flight reservations and we had travel booked home a day ahead of an appointment at a Vancouver area hospital for tests.
In a strange twist of fate on the last night we were at the marina, our friends’ on Ghillie arrived to start prepping their boat for the season and friends from Stella Blue arrived by boat prior to their passage north. What a great unplanned reunion!
As they used to say in Sesame Street this episode is brought to you by the letters B P and H. Shorthand for benign prostrate hyperplasia which is medical for a prostrate way bigger than it’s supposed to be. After Dr.’s exams and tests it looks like I’ll need a small surgery before we can go back. Its our hope that in January or February we can head back and salvage some of the season. On the bright side we will be home for Christmas. We hope Panama will be back to normal by then too.