While not a huge accomplishment, we've been able to haul our sorry asses out of Panama City, to begin our second assault on the equator.
Sails were returned to us with brand new stitching only 2 days after they had been picked up by Roland (a fellow boatless French cruiser holing up in PC for awhile), for what we felt was a pretty decent price of $250. It's all about the equipment and of course while I have a sewing machine on board, that didn't mean that my trusty friend Ken would be able to sew through 13 layers of sail material. A bit of repair to the main, the blown out clew, new halyard loop and some repair to our sail cover on the jib, and we were back in business.
We patiently (or not) waited for our friend Ean to make it back to Panama from his self (and needed) imposed exile to the US - he seemed to be quite happy regaling us with stories of unlimited water for his showers, great Thai food, clean sheets on his bed, museums and (gasp) culture, and proudly showed off a brand new shirt. Bastard! But....he did also agree to return with a suitcase of goodies for us, the most important being a brand new windicator. Man, this thing is so pretty, and does so many things, that I fear I have been made redundant. If I fire it up and it starts to make a pizza, I might as well throw my hands up and content myself with reading another book.
This lifestyle is one of chance meetings. We meet so many people in the various anchorages and villages we rock up to, but while the time spent together with new friends may be funfilled, we know that everyone has a different schedule and destination as their next port of call. Over the last few years, we've met some people that are good for drink or two, but others we end up spending weeks and months with, rendezvousing in various bays and countries. Ben Doolittle, of Knee Deep fame, was one of those men that we've spent considerable time with in El Salvador, and with his family had shared some pretty good memories. Leo Lestant, while time spent was fleeting, was a memorable French character that we met years ago in Mexico, while he aided and abetted the mighty crew on Aquadesiac (is that the best name for a boat, or what?!) Somehow, not knowing each other, they both ended up being hired to bring Andiamo lll from Bahia del Sol, El Salvador to Panama, through the canal to the Caribbean, and put her to bed in the Shelter Bay Marina.
We were disappointed to hear ourselves being hailed on the VHF, the day before we had decided to head out of the anchorage and to try to make Ecuador again. It was Ben and Leo, saying "hey, let's get together for a beer on Friday night" (we were scheduled to pull up the anchor on Saturday morning). I say disappointed because I knew how it was all going to turn out. I anticipated it being ugly, and it was.
Hauling the More Joy crew with us, Ean and Jane were to be our buffers when we met up with the two guys up at the Balboa Yacht Club for "a few". We proceeded to camp out there, not having a clue how the 20 jugs of beer kept showing up. Jane, she was totally innocent.....she quietly plowed her way through her own 20 rum and cokes. As I said, it was ugly.
Now I must explain where we were anchored. In the summertime, the preferred anchorage in Panama City is on the north side of the causeway. This is due to the increased wind and swell that arrives from the south/southwest direction, sometimes making "the other side - La Playita" and bit (really) rolly. We had taken refuge in Las Brisas, but the downside is that it has a difficult and dangerous dinghy dock (my use of alliteration would make my English professor proud). Receding tides make for VERY slippery steps, and if one isn't paying 100% attention, problems could crop up. Something about all that beer made me a bit less cautious, and I slipped my way from the stairs and into the briny blue. It certainly wasn't a tragedy, and while I wasn't very happy with all my scrapes and slices from the barnacles, the thought foremost in my brain was the sight of a used condom on the steps the day before.
Sometimes this life isn't so glamorous....
With a well-deserved hangover, we managed to get to the fuel dock the next morning, and with old beer streaming out of our pores, we made our way through filling up the diesel and water tanks, and headed south to Contadora. Now, you might be wondering why, with our seeming lack of urgency to move ANYWHERE, why we felt it necessary to get out of town that morning. Well, Jill on Rock and Roll Star was having a birthday, and we were not going to miss the party that was sure to be had at Isla Contadora. We made it by dark, in time for round 2. By the time we got back to our boat around 10pm, I was WRECKED, and hardly able to stand. Fatigue, alcohol poisoning, too much fun.......it all contributed to a state I might have called "passed out" in my college years. Apparently, this state of being follows you as you get older.
And this is how we started our second assault on the equator.....