Hotel Panama

When I was 18 years old, the Eagles released their hit single, “Hotel California.” The lyrics close with the lines, “You can check out any time you like, But you can never leave!” That California hotel has nothing on Panama. When we first entered the country in the beginning of October, we never imagined that we would still be sitting in Shelter Bay Marina in March. No matter how many times we “check out,” we can seemingly never leave.

Four South-African young ladies who are traveling the world with their parents. They are wonderful girls who stopped by the boat on a birthday scavenger hunt for the youngest one.

I’m happy to report that $31,000.00 and 5 months later, we have completed most of the repair work from the lightning strike in San Blas. We now have completely new and functioning Garmin Electronics (including chart plotter, radar, autopilot, depth and wind transducer, displays, and AIS). We have a new VHF with remote in the helm station. We have all new engine starting batteries. We have a new charger/inverter. We have a new watermaker display and control board. We have a new engine alternator. We have a new generator fuel pump, raw water pressure switch, relays, toggle switches, and starter. We have a new PCB (printed circuit board) at our master electronics control panel. We have a new navigation lights, both bow and stern. I probably left something else out of the list, as well. This does not count the non-lightning strike related repairs done, such as the $3000.00 or so spent on our new genoa furler.

Beatitude has left her slip! (for the first time since late October). We are taking her out for a sea-trial calibration of our new autopilot.

Cindy’s happy to leave the slip. 🙂

I’m at the top of the mast again, attempting to untwist the main halyard, which over time has twisted upon itself to the point where it is difficult to raise and lower the mainsail.

I’m sad to report that we’re not yet finished! Another PCB at our master electronics control panel needs replacing. At this time, our navigation lights are malfunctioning because of the problem with the board. The control PCB and one other part needs replaced on our generator. We also have to troubleshoot and fix a problem with some of our outlets. I have to replace our deck flood lamp bulb. And, lastly, there is a problem with one of the engine ignition switches. Whew!

Cindy helping untwist the main halyard

Cindy holds my life in her hands as she lowers me down the mast.

Partway up the mast, checking our deck flood lamp, which isn’t working. The bulb was fried. Hopefully, I can locate another.

We hauled the boat out on Friday in order to assess the hull for lightning damage. Thankfully, we found no evidence of any. Julio, the local surveyor hired by the insurance company, was here to do a (semi)final inspection to make sure all has been repaired satisfactorily. Instead of leaving immediately to head northward toward the states, we had decided to wait on the rest of the repairs to be completed here. But… we also decided to celebrate the work which had been accomplished by heading out to the San Blas Islands again for a week. (It’s the dry season here now, which means there is almost no lightning!). Unfortunately, when we splashed back into the water and was motoring back to the slip, we noticed no raw water exhaust from our starboard engine. Assuming, correctly, that it was the impeller, I grabbed my tools and the replacement impeller, hopped down into the engine compartment and proceeded to change the impeller. As suspected, the impeller was completely chewed up. Not a single blade on the rubber wheel was present. When I reached my hand into the raw water pump to find the broken blades, I knew something was wrong when I felt a sharp prick and noticed my finger was bleeding. Our raw water pump had corroded and presented sharp metal prongs to the impeller and my finger, inflicting damage on both. So much for the San Blas Islands! So much for leaving Shelter Bay! It doesn’t seem to matter how often we “check out,” we never seem able to leave!

Approaching the lift for our haul-out.

The slings have been placed beneath our vessel and will soon lift us from the water.

Cleaning the barnacles from the engine raw-water intake in the sail drive.

Cindy is scraping a few barnacles from the hull.

The crew and the vessel out of water.

The bladeless starboard-side impeller.

Notice those two sharp prongs extending out over the hole. They are supposed to be joined together in one smooth band. For some reason, they’ve corroded away, leaving sharp, damaging burrs to chew up impellers.

Having said all that, I am, surprisingly, not too depressed. I’m actually thankful that I discovered the raw water pump problems before we started out for a significant passage back toward the states. I’m now trying to locate two raw water pumps (Yes, two. The other was also corroded.) to install on the engines, hopefully prior to our next return to the states. We just hope and pray that we don’t discover another significant problem when we are ready to leave in April.

The best-homemade pizza. I made the crust from scratch. Cindy made the sauce from scratch and did the rest. Mmm!

In the meantime, Cindy and I have been loving our daily jungle walks. We are blessed to have such an amazing place to get a little exercise and hang out with God’s crazy creatures. We see lots of birds and monkeys with a smattering of other critters mixed in. We’ll continue to enjoy the Panamanian jungle for two more weeks, at which time we’ll fly back to the U.S. for work and visiting. Enjoy the wildlife photos!

Beatitude’s Crew

Hummingbird with spider webs

Montezuma Oropendola

Capuchin on Bamboo.

A Panamanian Agouti.

The Lineated Woodpecker, a large impressive bird with a beautiful bright red crest.

This Coati thinks he is hiding from us. But, we found him.

Little monkey.


Beautiful hawk.

Another red-headed woodpecker hollowing-out a place in this tree for a dwelling.

Social Flycatcher (I think)

Be Not Slothful (unless you’re a sloth)

Hebrews 6:12 admonished us to “be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Time and again, the Proverbs warn us of the hazards of slothfulness. That’s all well and good… unless you happen to a sloth, in which case it is not only perfectly acceptable to be slothful, but even admirable.

Adorable sloth face

My ramblings on about slothfulness is prompted by additional sloth sightings in the Panamanian jungle. We had only seen a sloth on one other occasion until recently, when on two consecutive days we spotted our sluggish, furry friends. We look forward to our daily two-mile hikes into the jungle where we come face-to-face with some of God’s most interesting creatures. What follows are numerous photos of our jungle adventures:

Sloth sleeping upside down wedged in a fork in a limb.

The main predators of the sloth are jaguars, harpy eagles and humans. They can be difficult to spot in the trees, not the least because of their slow motion.

The claws of the sloth

Lazy Howler

Howler Monkey

Lunch time.

Baby howler on the back of its parent

Dining out.

Howler in silhouette

A wary capuchin monkey

You can barely see the rodent-like creature on the right side of the path up ahead. I believe he may be an Agouti. We’ve seen several, but they’re difficult to photograph given their haste in departing our paths.

On a jungle walk.

Cindy on a jungle walk.

Pretty jungle moth

Green Heron

One of the many beautiful birds

The Montezuma oropendola.


A beautiful bird

Building a nest atop a broken-off palm tree.

Hummingbird at a feeder someone placed in the jungle. A Green Hermit?

We spent ten days at the end of February in the states: Cindy, once again in Ohio, and I splitting my time in the emergency departments of Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach, FL and Bellin Health in Green Bay, WI. Green Bay was kind enough to order a snow and ice storm on the night of my arrival. I survived, and we returned to Panama on February 28th.

A Green Bay Welcome

Since then, I’ve been fighting the temptation to be slothful. Boat work has been slowly progressing. The fuel pump and raw water pressure switch were installed on the generator, but it still would not start. Finally, we pulled out the printed circuit control board and found that it was fried. More parts are now needed from the States in order to attempt further repairs. We’ve been waiting for all of the additional electronics parts to come in for those to be replaced. The order was complete on Friday, so one day this next week, Radio Holland will return to finish up the electronics.

Beatitude. She hasn’t moved in a while (She’s been slothful!)

The fried generator control PCB. You can see areas where it was burnt by the current..

If the electronics are completed and functioning, we then have a decision to make. If our insurance will approve the final repairs on the generator to take place back in the U.S., we could leave Panama as early as next weekend. It looks like a weather window will open up on Saturday or Sunday and last a few days. (Right now, the western Caribbean has gale force winds and 12 foot seas!). So, we could possibly be out of Shelter Bay in a week or so. However, if the electronics are not complete, or the weather window doesn’t materialize, or the insurance company does not approve our departure, we will have to wait until the second week of April (at the earliest) to leave (due to my work schedule).

We’ve spent a few afternoons in the nice marina pool to cool down. Highs have been 90ish and lows in the upper 70s.

The next blog will contain an update on our plans.