Shelter Bay and Panama City
Our computer decided to take some time off and refused to start for over a week. But as a result of some gentle persuasion, and a reinstall of the operating system, we are back in business. But this means that we are playing catch up with the content on this website, so here’s a briefer-than-usual summary of what we have been up to:
After leaving San Blas, we stopped for a night at Linton Bay (listening to the howler monkeys howling); dodged traffic coming out of the Panama Canal as we were headed towards it; parked Lady Jane at Shelter Bay Marina in Colon, and removed our sails to have them checked and repaired. Then, after booking ourselves flights for a flying visit to the UK, we spent a couple of nights in Panama City at the same time as our friends on JaJapami.
Panama City exceeded our expectations by a long way. We certainly didn’t expect it to look like a less-sanitised version of Singapore. And it’s a city full of life and, luckily for us sailors, supermarkets.
While here we paid a visit to the visitor centre at Miraflores locks to see the Panama Canal. The centre explains the fascinating history of the canal. And, luckily for us, a few sailboats came through the canal in the afternoon. And the ease with which they went into the locks alleviated any residual crew anxiety.
On 26th February we checked out of our hotel and headed off to Panama City airport for our flight home.
The primary purpose of the visit to the UK was to pay a special visit to see my favourite mother-in-law – as she has a significant birthday this year – and to see the rest of our family and friends, where possible. To achieve this, we had to plan the visit with the precision of a military planner:
- To get to London, we flew Air Canada from Panama City to Toronto, dragged ourselves on a connecting flight four hours later, and arrived at Heathrow at noon the next day.
- From Heathrow, we hired a car and drove to our hotel in Chester.
- Later that evening we took Maria’s mum out for dinner.
- The next day we went shopping for clothes. We have both dropped a couple of dress sizes over the last 20 months.
- That evening we met with our Chester friends and family at the hotel bar.
- On Friday we went to Rochdale to see our daughter, partner and grandchildren and went out for dinner
- On Saturday afternoon, we drove to Basingstoke and stayed with our other daughter and partner – and stuffed our faces with takeaway curries
- Sunday was another shopping day, followed by dinner out at a restaurant
- On Monday, I drove to the Hamble to get some new radio equipment from Hudson Marine, and some watermaker supplies from Sailfish (I recommend both suppliers). Then I called at my old workplace and went for lunch with a couple of old friends while Maria did the same.
- That evening we met some more friends at the Portsmouth Arms pub
- And the next morning, we drove back to Heathrow for our flight back to Panama
We were already knackered, but then we met United Airlines.
I could launch a diatribe that would make Victor Meldrew seem like Pollyanna. So, in brief, they froze us half to death; served food that prisoners could legitimately complain about; plonked us in comedy seats passed off as premium, and treated us to their brand of scornful service dished up by someone ironically resembling Pee-wee Herman. Then, at Newark Airport, they routed one of our bags to Houston – this was more than a mild concern because the bag contained many of our yacht spares. Tossers.
Fortunately on the eve of our transit of the Panama Canal, United delivered the missing bag to us, and we had a “farewell Atlantic” dinner at the Shelter Bay Marina restaurant with the crews of JaJapami and Krabat. Coincidentally, all three of us Atlantic Odyssey boats were scheduled for the 8th March.
Next… the Panama Canal