Astra Log 23/3/08 - 5/4/08: Post-Bond Colón

Jeremy & Sally Paul
Fri 18 Apr 2008 20:25

Astra Log 23/3/08 – 5/4/08:  Post-Bond Colón


Shelter Bay felt very different on Sunday morning from the days preceding. No cameras; no film crew; no obese finger-waggling security-chumps; no Bond Girls; no Daniel Craig; and, perhaps most refreshingly, no powerful jet-boats at 5am to awake all but the heaviest sleepers (George). Welcome to post-Bond Colón.


The next step in our progress towards transiting the Canal was to get the measurer to come and size-up Astra. He had refused to come and visit us in the marina as a previous visit had resulted in one of the Bond crew’s ropes becoming tangled around his prop, followed by a torrent of abuse in Spanish and the vow that he would not return to the marina while Bond remained! We were not sure when he would agree to come back into the marina so as a result we were to meet him on the flats just outside. Ash and George arose looking bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in spite of the excesses induced by the Bond party’s free bar, and by 9AM we were in location and awaiting the measuring tape. Astra breathed in deeply and puffed out her bosom, measuring in at an impressive 61ft! While Jeremy assisted the measurer (we suspect by dangling the measuring tape a few feet forward of the pulpit) the others went ashore to investigate Panama Yacht Club. PYC gets an excellent write-up in the literature so we were slightly disappointed to find a less than salubrious, tumbledown arrangement which, according to Sally, resembles post-war Coventry. It did, however, have an excellent pool table which started a still on-going, bitter fought competition between Ash (playing with both hands) and George (playing with one!) Ash wishes it be noted that he won on this occasion.


Mid-afternoon we remembered that it was Easter Sunday and Sally set about preparing a delicious roast lamb dinner. It was a sumptuous feast with all the trimmings, undoubtedly the best meal we had enjoyed in over a month. Here it should be understood that ‘we’ means Jeremy, Sally and George; Ash registered his appreciation by falling asleep before, and remaining unconscious throughout, the meal. Apparently he was suffering the effects of the previous evening’s exertions.


Monday saw the next phase in our transit. We were required to go to the Immigration Office and acknowledge that we had arrived in Panama. What should have been a relatively straightforward process was obfuscated by our agents, the brother and brother team of Stanley and Hines.  We are relying on the wit of Stanley and Hines to ease our transit; it would be fair to say that to this wit, they each contribute a half.


Over the course of our stay in Shelter Bay Marina we gradually managed to make relations with the bar staff more cordial: initially we were met with frosty reproach, incredibly slow service and were sometimes plainly ignored; by the end of our stay we were greeted like long-lost amigos and the wait on the food came down from something approaching 2 hours to under 1! And with a smile!


Two separate sorties were made to Panama City. Sally and Jeremy visited in order to celebrate Jeremy’s birthday (number undisclosed). Likewise, George and Ash launched a voracious foray upon the Capital in the name of commemorating Ash and Nix’s (not present) 23rd. Both were civilized and sober affairs … on occasion.


Sally and Jeremy drive south…

Had a great time driving down to Panama, dodging turbo charged condemned ex American school buses along the best roads Panama has to offer!

Arrived in a very relaxed and jolly state to celebrate J’s 49th birthday (wonder where we’ll be next year for the big one. (All Welcome). Spent 3 days eating, drinking and shopping in what was a surprisingly great city. So much so that on our return we persuaded the boys to go, as they said they were in need of a bit of culture. They of course behaved impeccably and returned bright eyed and bushy tailed to carry on our merry way.


Amazed at how much money can be spent with beers at $2 a pop, Ash and George returned financially depleted and in need of gainful employment. Our friends on The Great Huf happily obliged by letting us scrub her bottom. Deciding that the water in the marina was not the best for scrubbing in, we rendezvoused out on the flats. The hull was almost uniformly sparkling, the boys having dodged the enormous saltwater crocs, when the authorities arrived to inform us that we did not have permission to anchor in the marked anchorage. Unfortunately, the job had to be completed in the fetid waters of the marina.     


The remainder of the week was spent trying to survive in the unbearable heat. We suffered a heat wave with temperatures pushing 40 degrees Celsius forcing Ash and George to erect an impressive bit of canvas work and Sally to flick on the AC. The conditions ensured that more vigorous activities were left to one side and time was passed playing scrabble and cards and watching the odd episode of Prison Break.  More constructive hours were spent planning where to go in the Pacific and on trying to work out what we were to do with the remaining time before going through the canal: easy decision – back to the San Blas!