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Landfall-Learning > Ship's Log

Ship's Log: Updated March 15, 2008

Savoring Bocas

We are still based in the Bocas Yacht Club and Marina but are planning to head out to do some local cruising. Tracy-the-day-laborer has some work to finish up at Garry's house in Tierra Oscura (Darkland), and we thought it would be fun to take Landfall down there while he does that. We can anchor by the house and Tracy can work a few hours a day, and then we can snorkel on the reef just off the property, go explore the area by dinghy, and in general just enjoy a change of scenery. Two other boats from Bocas may join us. Can you say "potlucks and sundowners"?

Great to See You, Ken and Kathy!

As always, having friends and family visit us is the highlight of our stay. This month it was Ken and Kathy Carter, our good friends from Homeport Marina in Gulf Shores, Alabama, who came to visit.

We first met them in 2005 right after Hurricane Katrina, when our marina in Mobile was destroyed and we found refuge in Homeport Marina. Jasmine's loud calling our first morning there brought Ken, then the dockmaster, to our boat because he thought their bird, Tiki, had somehow gotten loose. Tiki is also a yellow-collared macaw, and they look and sound like twins. You can see why he was confused--who's who?

Kathy and Ken are the only other people Jasmine lets handle her, and when we told her they were coming, she flared her pupils and chortled loudly with excitement. Well, so did we!

Unfortunately their trip this time was fraught with travel problems, including an airplane cancellation, so they arrived in Costa Rica a day late. In fact, we weren't even sure whether they would make it down to Panama after all. But just in case, since we wanted to be sure to welcome them if they did arrive, we dinghied over to town to meet the afternoon water taxi from Changuinola. As we chased the arriving water taxi in, we saw a big wave from Ken--they made it!

Not a bad way to travel...well, at least when it's not raining!

We only had 24 hours to spend together before they had to return to business meetings in Costa Rica. But we made the best of those hours! Celebrating Kathy's big 5-0 with champagne on Landfall; a lovely dinner at El Ultimo Refugio; and after dinner drinks at Bohmfalk's, where Tracy got to watch the Duke-Carolina basketball game, the final game of the ACC regular season and the one that determined the regular season conference championship. Probably not Ken and Kathy's first choice of entertainment, but they are such good sports, and they knew that watching the game made Tracy so happy (except for the Duke losing part). And as always, Ken and Kathy ran into some folks they knew from other places they've lived and traveled, so it was like old home night for them, anyway.

Zapatilla Cays Day

Next morning Chip picked us all up in his boat and we headed off to the Zapatilla Cays, two small islands in the Bastimentos National Marine Park, about an hour away. Greer and Julie, friends of Chip's who live here in Bocas, joined us, and Gellie got to go, too!

Deserted white sand beaches, coconut palms, a sheltering reef teeming with fish offshore; even with the clouds, absolutely stunning.

All Gellie cared about, of course, was "Do I get to go to the grass? Huh? Can I go to the grass?"

While we waited for the sun to come out Chip asked if we had any "pork chops" in the cooler. Pork chops?? Well, look in Ken's hand and you'll see what he meant...Those Texans!

A little more background: Ken and Kathy recommended that we visit their friend Chip here in Bocas two and a half years ago, and so we did. And that's a big reason why we are here now--it was so beautiful, and everyone was so friendly, we just had to come back!

All too soon we were heading back to Bocas, but not before stopping for lunch at Crawl Cay, a little over-the-water restaurant at the end of Bastimentos island. You stop by on your way out in the morning to tell them what you want to eat and what time you will be back, and when you return, they serve you what you ordered--brilliant!

When we got back to Bocas Ken and Kathy had to shower, change and be headed to the airport within 10 minutes--and they did it. Are they good travelers! We walked them to the airport, watched them check in, get their boarding passes and get cleared through customs and immigration, and then their plane landed. It was 24 hours almost to the minute since they had arrived in Bocas. It was so hard to see them leave! But, we are so glad they made the effort to get here! And since they may be doing business regularly in Costa Rica, we are hoping we see them again soon!

Staying Legal

Since we are visitors entering Panama by private boat, we can stay here legally for five months, which is two months longer than visitors who arrive by airplane. However, we can only do this with a "Maritimo" visa, available only in Changuinola, an hour-long water taxi ride from Bocas. Then every month we have to return the Maritimo visas to Changuinola to have them signed by the immigration officials.

The original Maritimo visa is prepared on an extremely high-tech machine--and you should watch those two fingers fly over the keys!

Tracy took our visas for renewal in Changuinola the other day, and when he got home, he told Sharon that he had stopped by the Changuinola Zoo while he was there. "They have a zoo in Changuinola??" she asked, very much surprised. "Sure, look, I even took pictures!" he said.

Well, at least we know where to get started on building up our chicken and duck flocks, when we do buy some dirt...

Still Looking for Land

We continue to look at property along this end of the Caribbean side of Panama. We have been tantalized by some beautiful pieces, for sure. This piece is 12 acres, waterfront, incredible views and protected deep water for the boat. And if the owner will take less than half of what he's asking, we can even afford it!

There's a piece for sale we just heard about from a new acquaintance; she owns property near the land that's for sale. It's on the mainland, four acres, titled, waterfront, protected deep anchorage, and in our price range. Owned by a local family for generations. Can't wait to see it!

Tracy the Fixture Fitter

After installing about 150 electrical boxes and running conduit and wire to connect them all, Tracy got to start installing the fixtures.

Does OSHA know about this??

He installed all of the downstairs fans and lights before Garry had to leave for the States, including the porch fans. But since they all weren't finished and still needed to be made "neat", Tracy agreed to head down there on his own and install the upstairs fixtures and tidy up the wiring.

Gellie and Sharon got to go to the job site the last day the guys were all working. While Sharon was reading, Gellie found her own water dish.

Not a bad view from the porch, huh?

So we'll be back down there in a couple of weeks, on Landfall. We'll anchor off the house, so Tracy can work for a few hours a day, and we can start exploring that whole Tierra Oscura and Loma Partida area. When we're back in Internet range we'll post an update with pictures of the house, and of our discoveries. Until then...

Stay tuned for the next update!

Old Logs


Hunkered Down in Paradise

Moving on Again (to Bocas del Toro, Panama)


Christmas Greetings from Isla Providencia

Halloween Fun and Fiestas on Isla Mujeres

Feasting on Isla Mujeres

Living on Isla Mujeres

More Isla Mujeres Adventures: Hurricane Dean!

Isla Mujeres Adventures

Staying in Isla Mujeres for a While

Key West, Florida to Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Pensacola to Key West, Florida

Gulf Shores, Alabama to Pensacola, Florida


Olympia, Washington to Half Moon Bay, California and Half Moon Bay to Mobile, Alabama