Our flight arrived at the gate in the Panama City, Panama Airport a little after 10 p.m. last Wednesday evening. After clearing customs and immigration, collecting our bags, and a 2.5 hour taxi ride across the Panamanian isthmus from south to north, we arrived aboard Beatitude just before 2 a.m., extremely tired and ready for sleep. Unfortunately, we were greeted by a mold and mildew convention which had taken up residence on almost all of our ceilings and walls. One of the crew members (I’ll name no names) left a window cracked on her side of the bed which, because this is Panama’s rainy season, means our mattress was soaked and somewhat mildewy, as well. We were too tired to address at at that time, so I slept on a couple of foam mattresses in the other hull, while Cindy tried to sleep on the salon settee. The bulk of our Thursday and Friday were spent scrubbing and cleaning the walls and ceilings with vinegar and/or bleach. It was a chore requiring abundant elbow grease, but we finally got Beatitude’s interior back into reasonable shape. Friday evening, we rewarded ourselves with our first Christmas movie of the season: It’s a Wonderful Life.
On Saturday, we took the marina shuttle into town (Colón) for some groceries, since we had virtually none remaining on the vessel. The trip into town has turned into a colossal undertaking since the bridges which allow one to transit the Gatún locks at the Atlantic opening to the Panama Canal are closed for some reasons. That means all vehicles must take the ferry across the canal, which turns a four-mile (as the crow flies) journey into a 1 or 2 hour trip each way. Nonetheless, we enjoyed our trip into Cuatro Altos (a shopping complex in town) where we bought some Christmas lights for our tree, some much-needed groceries, and a few other odds and ends.
On Sunday morning, we joined three other Christians for a brief time of scripture reading and devotions in the cruisers’ lounge. In the afternoon, Cindy painted a Beatitude memorial on the side of the sail-loft here at the marina. This is a tradition found in various places where cruiser’s can leave a token of remembrance, so that other’s may know that they have been this way before. In the evening, we joined 20 or 30 other cruisers for a potluck on the “cruisers’ patio before returning to Beatitude for the second installment of our Christmas movie watching, White Christmas.
The most important task before us here in Panama is the repair of our vessel from the lightning strike sustained in the San Blas Islands. Due to very poor communication (primarily on the part of the insurance company), nothing was done while we were away for four weeks. Nothing. Fortunately, I was able to get the ball rolling again upon my return. Today, Julio, the surveyor hired by the insurance company, met with a couple of electronics surveyors, Erik and Francisco, who went over Beatitude’s electronics once again. I still need to get someone else to come look at the engines, generator, and water maker. Julio is apparently my go-to man for moving forward. All estimates and invoices must go through him and he must approve any decisions I make in regard to repairing the vessel. Anyway, hopefully the initial reports will be filed this week and perhaps I can start getting estimates next week. Then, the work can begin when the parts are in. I am hoping (although not holding my breath) for a late February departure. Time will tell.