Back in the Jungle Again

Filling Beatitude’s water tanks in Shelter Bay marina

It has been difficult for me to be tied to the dock for the last three months. Although it has still been nice to be on our boat on the water, the adventurer/explorer in me has been eager and restless to move on and explore new islands and anchorages. Since we began cruising two and a half years ago, this is the longest our vessel has been tied to a dock. I’m aware that, all things considered, my life is not all that bad. While friends and relatives are freezing and suffering through frosty temperatures, Cindy and I are enjoying sunny days with highs in the upper 80s and lows in the upper 70s. Other than the nice-enough marina pool, its difficult to enjoy the water here in Shelter Bay. There is no nearby beach on which to relax in the sun or swim in the clear waters. There are no easy dive or snorkel opportunities from here. As I’ve mentioned previously, Shelter Bay Marina is tucked into the Jungle on Panama’s Caribbean coast next to the canal. There’s not much else to do here.

A ride into town on the bus takes us over the Gatun Locks.

Three American teenagers on a cruising sailboat pose for a photo

Refreshing

A relaxing afternoon at the pool

Poolside

The one thing that we can do, and that we have enjoyed daily, are walks up into the jungle on the old Fort Sherman roads. Since our return, we’ve resumed our quotidian routine of a two-to-three mile, nature hike. Almost everyday, we meet the usual cadre of howler monkeys and capuchin monkeys. We almost always see toucans fly by, although capturing them on camera is another matter. Since our latest return, we’ve not seen any coatmundi, which were relatively plentiful before. A variety of new, small birds have been sighted. Our one-time encounter with a sloth in the wild has not been repeated. However, a few days ago, we saw our first deer in the Panamanian jungle. Unfortunately, I was unable to photograph him as we surprised him while he was in the roadside brush. He quickly turned tail and shot up into the forest, flashing his white tail behind him. And, then today, we saw our first anteater in the wild. We had originally mistaken the raccoon-like coatmundi for an anteater, but this time we saw the real thing. He was walking down the path toward us as we were walking up the path toward him. He came to within about two or three feet from us before he nonchalantly turned off the path and up into the brush. Cool!

A fallen palm across our path

Jungle walk

On our hike

The Jungle

Any one know the name of this yellow/orange beauty? I think it is some kind of Oriole

Beautiful (and a little blurry) red-bellied feathered-friend? Any one know what kind?

Panamanian Black Hawk

Toucan in Flight

Jungle Spiders!

Tree-climbing Capuchin

Shy monkey

Cute Capuchin Monkey

Mrs. Howler

Howler out on a limb

Ubiquitous Creatures of the Forest Floor

Anteater!

I read that these guys can eat over 9,000 insects a day. Go anteaters!

I’m finally feeling slightly optimistic about boat repairs. Almost all the needed parts are here, with a few more on the way. It is even possible that Beatitude would be in shape to depart port prior to our next return to the states in about two and a half weeks. We’re hoping!
Hopefully, my next blog post may have some lightning-strike repair updates. Until then, stay warm!

Doctoring a fellow cruiser, Linda, who fell in the shower and cut her forehead

Her husband, Tom, takes credit for the injury

A Long-Awaited Update!

Our last blog post was over a month ago! I assure you we are still alive and kicking. And, in response to Nikki, a recent commenter, we will keep on blogging. The problem has been that we’ve been away from our beloved vessel for the past month and we’ve been extremely busy. Here are a few photos from before we left Panama:

Before we left for the U.S., we ascended the mast once again to survey for damage.

There was surprisingly little visible damage, except to the VHF antenna which had been blown to smithereens!

Cindy’s turn to climb the mast. She didn’t go all the way to the top, but made it much further than the last time.

A Christmas gift exchange prior to leaving Panama.

I was asked to lead a Christmas morning sunrise service for any cruisers who were interested. We were happy that 13 turned out to participate.

Here is a brief summary of our whirlwind month in the U.S.:

We flew back to the States the day after Christmas. I flew to Green Bay, Wisconsin to work for a few days, while Cindy flew to Ohio to be with family. I rejoined my wife on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the beginning of 2017 with family. On the third of January, I flew back to sub-zero temperatures in Wisconsin for ten additional days of labor at the Bellin Health emergency department. On the fourth, Cindy flew to California to be with our four-month old grandson, James. On the thirteenth, I flew out to California to partake in the grandchild love-fest. This was to be short-lived however. Having only one full day to visit with my son, his wife, and our grandson (and our wonderful hosts, Deanna and Gordon), Cindy and I flew to Vero Beach, Florida on the 15th. Given its proximity to Lakeland, Cindy was able to meet up with some old friends while I worked a few more days in the emergency department at Indian River Medical Center. On the 19th, we drove to Tampa, where we would meet up with Julie and Tracy for the largest RV show in the United States. As usual, it was great hanging out with them while looking at RVs. Then, on the 23rd, the day before yesterday, we boarded the plane in Tampa for our return trip to Panama. A long taxi-ride later landed us at Shelter Bay Marina around 1:45 a.m., yesterday morning. Whew! We were so happy not to be greeted with mold and mildew covering everything from wall to ceiling. We arrived to minimal mold. I’m not sure if wiping everything down with vinegar prior to leaving helped, or if the primary factor was that Panama has finally entered its dry season. The daily deluges have desisted.

Taken during my brief stay in Ohio. Christy (Cindy’s twin), Cindy’s mom, and us.

Charming little James.

4-month old James.

Jeremey, his wife, Fran, and their bundle of joy, James.

With Deanna and Gordon, our hosts while in Berkeley visiting our grandson.

Green Bay in January

Bellin Health, my place of employment in Green Bay.

I was able to attend Sunday morning service in Green Bay at this lovely church.

Interior

Besides spending time with family, one of the most exciting events for me was to attend the Green Bay Packers wild card playoff game vs. the New York Giants. Sitting in the storied Lambeau Field (“The Frozen Tundra”) watching the Green Bay Packers was amazing. My co-workers in Green Bay provided additional heavy clothing which kept me adequately warmed for the 11°F temperatures. The home team, who I have followed since childhood (although they rank behind my two favorite teams, the Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers) earned the victory, making the partisan crowd extremely happy. I sat next to a gentlemen who flew all the way from Scotland the day before the game and would fly back to Scotland the next day. He was a life-long Packer fan who had never seen an NFL game in person. This was his once-in-a-lifetime chance to see his favorite team. He talked to me almost the entire game, but I was only able to decipher a small portion of what he said because of his strong Scottish accent.

Ready for the game! If only I could move!

Lambeau Field. Vince Lombardi’s statue guards the entrance.

Almost game time.

Go Pack Go!

My Scottish neighbor and I.

The Tampa RV show was also great. The weather was warm and sunny. Cindy, Julie, Tracy and I spent nine hours on Friday wandering through acres of RVs in an attempt to locate our future home. By the end of that day, we had narrowed our choices down to five 5th wheels. Although we were open to changing our mind, we had pretty much decided beforehand that a 5th wheel was the way to go for us. After revisiting the five semi-finalists, we narrowed it down to two — a 40′ Montana and a 36′ Bighorn. Finally, we decided on the 36′ Bighorn. After some intense haggling, we got the price we wanted (Thanks to Tracy! If you need a good negotiator, I can highly recommend her.). We then put down a deposit on the vehicle of our next adventure. By the way, on the way to Tampa from Vero Beach, we also stopped at a Ram dealership to test drive a Ram 3500 dually diesel, which will likely be the vehicle to tow our RV across North America. Woohoo!

We’ve just entered the Tampa RV Supershow!

RV Show roadside entertainment. My late father-in-law, Don Harris, would’ve loved it. 🙂

Julie and I on a lunch break in the middle of 9 straight hours of RV shopping.

Cindy and Tracy resting at the RV show.

Cindy in the kitchen of our future home (or at least one like it).

More roadside entertainment.

We test drove this Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn Diesel Dually with AISIN transmission. This one has the short bed. We’d want the 8′.

My niece, Holly, along with her husband, Jason, with Julie and Tracy. It was nice to visit with them, however brief it was.

Here is a link to the official site of the Bighorn 3160EL.

So… What’s happening with Beatitude, you ask? She remains docked at Shelter Bay Marina awaiting her lightning-strike repairs. No work has actually been performed yet, but parts have been ordered and some are aboard. In fact, we brought back a number of items in our checked luggage from the states, including a 61 pound charger/inverter, an alternator for our engine, and a membrane for our water maker. I hope and pray that most of the work is completed before we return to the states in the middle of February. I’m sure that, once these initial repairs are performed, a few other things will pop up that will need fixing. We are still hoping to start making our way northward sometime in March. I love being on the boat and on the water, and Shelter Bay Marina has decent facilities. But, there is not much adventure being tied to a dock. I am so anxious to cast off the lines once again to enjoy the open water and sail, swim, snorkel, fish and dive to our hearts’ content.

Boat Parts and Clothing on the way to Panama.