Internet access of any decency is next to impossible to find. Let me appologize in advance for how long it is taking to get posts out. I have tons of video and pictures that I would like to upload, but it is not so easy as back in the US. In any case, this should bring us up to date.

Shelter Bay got pretty boring pretty fast, and Colon was sort of dangerous and far away. Nate and I never got to do any inland travel as there was just not enough time and it was way too inconvenient. So after tiring of walking through the jungle it was time to help the Evergreens go though the locks. They had a couple that was coming so only I went with them. It was another easy trip though the Canal but this time we went at night. It turns out that someone in Colon with some authority apparently hates cruisers so now we all go through in one day. No problem for us though since Jon, Heather and I had already gone through during the day. A word of warning to any future cruisers reading this. The Evergreens got really screwed by Shelter Bay Marina because of the way they run their pricing, if you stay for 11-15 days it costs more than staying for 16 days. We stayed for exactly 16 days and it cost us almost half what they paid for 14 days. Anyway, it was actually nice to go through at night as there was not the intense sun, just no scenery. When we reached Panama City, we moored up at the Balboa Yacht Club. They had a huge hose, so Heather was really happy.

Next was Slick’s turn, Luisa came for the transit and on Saturday we all went back to Colon. Nate had all the canal provisions ready and so the 5 of us plus an extra Frenchman named Max came and we all proceeded though the canal, again. It went smooth with the only casualty being a broken cleat on slick in the first lock. I took a stop action video of our up-locking, which will be uploaded when I can. The canal and locks are a marvel of engineering but after doing them 3 times, it loses the magic.

We anchored off the La Playita Yacht Club and returned the lock equipment. Panama City is a growing metropolis and there is everything here you can imagine. It is a place where the third world meets the first in a strange dichotomy. The old town dates back to the 1600’s and the new town is full of tall and very narrow sky scrapers. It is actually shocking how modern the new downtown is. It was a good place to provision and we found most of our supplies to go further west in a Costco rebranded as Price Smart. However I spent three days looking for closed cell foam to make cockpit sittery. When I finally found it, it came in the form of a baby mat. Upon purchasing it, the ladies behind the counter asked “Cuantes mesas tiene tu bebe?” or how many months old is your baby? I told them I didn’t have a baby and that it was for cushions on my boat. They where shocked that I had no children and were very confused. They wanted to know what was wrong with my girlfriend and why she would be with me without a baby. Ahh, this is what happens when cultures collide.

Slick has new fuel cans too, we hired a cabby to take us to the special market to get some real Panamanian fuel storage. They used to hold hydrogen peroxide but now they are for diesel. This is what all the locals do, so we are now carrying 120 gallons of fuel to get us to the Galapagos, which is through the doldrums and will be a straight motor. The cabby also took us to the local propane dealer where the deposits on bottles are cheaper. Good thing as they are not getting the bottle back. We needed a new regulator for foreign gas and the girl said it had to be professionally installed. I told her not to worry about it and it would be taken care of in Ecuador and that was apparently good enough.

We met the Evergreens for some pizza and on the way home, in the skiff, the luminescent plankton was the brightest Nate and I had ever seen, it was glowing bright green in a 10 foot radius around the skiff. We played a little and through a team effort we manged to roll our skiff at 11 at night. The only casualty though was my 4 year old Iphone thanks to Nate’s efforts to repair the outboard. Since I never synch the phone, I have lost pretty much everyone’s contact information that I don’t have memorized, so please send me your address and phone number if you ever want to hear form me again.

We had an easy day trip to Las Perlas, an archipelago off Panama City. We though the water would be cleaner than Panama City so we could clean our bottoms. There were two other boats in the anchorage. They actually drove around us to talk to the Evergreens if you can believe that. No one ever comes to visit Slick, we have no idea why. Anyway, the water was filthy there and we got a little of the bottom cleaned prior to departing for a 7 day voyage to the Galapagos.

The transit here was about as easy as I have ever had. The doldrums gave us 5-15 knots of breeze with only a couple of nights completely becalmed. The trip was mostly uneventful with us flying the two spinnakers with no main depending on the wind. We saw some whales, dolphins (both during the day and the glowing kind), turtles, Mako and Hammerhead (or Tiger) Sharks. The luminescent plankton is also amazing. We saved a big brown sea bird that got caught in our line and also caught a tuna. We were in contact with the Evergreens almost the whole way, as we slowed down often for them to catch up. We arrived in the Galapagos at about 6 AM fairly rested.

We checked in with our agent to find that we are currently only authorized three days stay as the rules apparently changed while we were underway. It looks like we won’t get the autographo that allows us to cruise to other anchorages either, so hopefully we will get a 15 day extension and take some tours. This was all bad news and sort of the bullshit that is to be expected cruising a boat now. We keep saying we are 20 years too late.

The last two days though we have been trying to make the most of it since we may be kicked out tomorrow. So we took a tour of the island, played with tortoises and blue footed boobies and climbed an extinct volcano. Today we went snorkeling with seals, turtles, sharks, marine iguanas and a menagerie of other undersea wildlife. It was all pretty amazing to see and again I will post pictures and video when I can.

So lets just hope that we are able to stay for two more weeks, otherwise we will be greatly disappointed and in the Marquesas about a month or two before we though we would be.