Waiting in Shelter Bay, Panama

We were getting towards done with our projects, and we heard from our agent that we could get admeasured for the canal on Monday. So we set sail from Linton for Shelter Bay, dragging watermaker filters behind us and flying the spinnaker until the big anchored container ships started doing funny things to the wind. These ships are so huge that it’s disconcerting passing them. AIS might confirm that you’re half a mile away, but it still feels like they’re right up in your business.

So we dropped anchor in an anchorage that, given the size of its breakwater, was surprisingly rolly. We went into the marina to visit NautiLife, and were amused at the not-very-functional dinghy dock. The day rate here is the weekly rate at Linton Bay, and doesn’t include access to any of the marina’s services. Over the next few weeks we would grow to really hate the Shelter Bay Marina; entrepreneurs, please start a competing marina at the Atlantic mouth of the canal.

Also pictured: Villa, as viewed from the dinghy, looking tiny compared to her neighbors.

On Monday, we were informed that the inspectors had taken the Tuesday holiday on Monday instead, to have a long weekend, so we would have to wait until Tuesday to get admeasured. So we started on a couple other projects, like painting markers onto the chain. At which point we realized, switching to our backup anchor, that the backup windlass was also due for a service.

Somewhere in there, Andrew tripped on a cleat and joined the cut-up-toe club. Fortunately medical care was close at hand.

On Tuesday, we were informed actually the inspectors would be taking the holiday, and Wednesday as well, and that actually we would be measured on Thursday. Grauh. So we kept on working… We mixed pigments into a “Corrostop” product we hoped would take longer to fall off than our other options. Spray paint is usually better for marking chain, but we weren’t going to spray paint on board the boat, so we were limited to what we could find in Portobello. After the first coat, it rained off and on for three days, and we couldn’t get the second coat on until it cleared up.

We also started to gelcoat the space under the captain’s chair. This turned out to be kind of a debacle, because on our first attempt, we used some gelcoat we had had on board, and the catalyst was too old to make it cure. So we had to scrape it all off and start again, twice. We eventually got it done, though, when we switched to our fresh product. The computer work went better.

On Wednesday, Jazz went into Colon with Patricia and saw this terrifying bike, and Andrew took advantage of some rain to scrub the boat.

Meanwhile, every afternoon, we watched wistfully as a group of boats exited the marina, anchored for a couple of hours, and then headed off towards the locks. Soon, soon, soon…

On Thursday we got measured, which is supposed to be a thing that happens on your boat. But the water was kind of rough, and I think the inspector saw our tiny boat and didn’t want to be bothered, so we did a remote inspection in the marina cafe. At this point we were pretty sick of the Flats anchorage, but we didn’t really have time to leave, because we’d agreed to crew on another boat across the canal starting Sunday. So we waited, and projected, and messed with the cat.

Captain, by the way, remains a really big fan of lunchmeat.

Since we had the extra time, we glued down the rug over our special water check-hole. Getting the carpet tucked back under the salon seats was a little fiddly but we got it done.

We also scored a hookup from Drew and Patricia on some vegetable oil containers. These would hold extra fuel for our Pacific crossing, where we expected to do an unusual amount of motoring. But their first role would be as a cat jungle gym.

We had just gotten them on board when we had to pack up the family for our first canal crossing.

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