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Date: 04 Mar 2012 16:11:03
Title: Finally onboard Mystic in Bocas!

09:20.06N 82:14.48W


Hello from Bocas del Toro!


We arrived here on Wednesday after a chilly day in LA and another night in Panama city. The journey was long – it basically took us 3 days to get here, but our day in LA was productive and we managed to drop a large sum of money in West Marine on various parts and then spent an hour in the airport rearranging our bags to avoid a further $200 excess baggage fee. We were those annoying people that unpack everything all over the floor – highly embarrassing but we saved $200 so Mr. Massey was pleased! Then on to Panama City via Houston, where we spent the night in a lovely hotel up on Ancon Hill overlooking the city. In the morning we jogged up the hill to the summit and had great views over the city and the canal, as well as seeing monkeys in the trees and a Toucan. We had a free morning so went down to Isla Flamenco where there is a marina and and more marine shops. We will probably spend some time here after the canal transit before we set off for Galapagos so we wanted to see what was there. We travelled with 200lb and could only take 60lb to Bocas so we have left the majority of our luggage in the hotel in Panama City – fingers crossed it’s still there when we get back!


In the afternoon we flew to Bocas del Toro and arrived in a torrential downpour – Sydney style! The marina is only accessible by boat, which we hadn’t realized, so we had to get a water taxi over to the marina. It’s inaccessibility probably means that security is better, although this is a town where everyone has a boat of some sort – not much need for a car here. We finally saw our boat – Mystic and stepped aboard and cracked open the beers!


Mystic is a Beneteau Oceanis 423 and is 43 feet long. Having bought the boat unsighted (although our knowledgeable friend and broker did come out and inspect her for us) we are pretty pleased with her condition. Everything seems to work that we’ve tested so far, except for the things that we already knew needed repair. So no nasty surprises yet (although as I write this Archie is testing the generator and there is white smoke billowing from the lazarette….too much oil I’m told). There is lots of room, lots of storage and lots of windows so it doesn’t feel claustrophobic at all, and I think I am getting there after a few days of adapting to living in a confined space! Everything just has to be kept tidy all the time, which for those of you that ever came to our place in Bondi will know is an eternal struggle for both of us!!


We have been working on the boat, testing things, checking things, learning how things work, and going through all the stuff left on the boat and deciding whether it stays or goes. We have been working in the mornings and then going out sailing in the afternoons. Most of the people here are retired Americans, and I think they are surprised that we had the boat running and out sailing so soon. They seem to have all been here for 4+ years and there are not many people “passing through”. They are all on 20-30 year long voyages, so our time scale for getting back to Australia has raised a few eyebrows! They are all quite friendly though and full of advice which is great. There is a resident mechanic who is going to service our engine tomorrow – another American, and there is also a shipwright and a canvas maker so we are contemplating pushing our sail to Shelter Bay back by a week – if we can keep ourselves busy here then there is no reason to leave. At the moment we don’t anticipate that the work we need to do will take 6 weeks and everyone says Shelter Bay is extortionate so we might hang here a bit longer.


Bocas is a really cool place, and reminds me very much of a Honduran island called Utila that I went to on my gap year. A very chilled pace of life where everyone gets about by boat or bicycle and most of the houses and bars are on stilts over the water and the beer is super cheap at $1.50 a go! We have had some awesome afternoon sails around the bay and around the mangrove islands. We tried snorkeling on a wreck but it wasn’t that great. Yesterday we sailed for about 6 hours down to a house in a bay 9nm away to pick up a dinghy. The couple that live down there (Americans of course) are fairly isolated and live in an amazing house up the hill overlooking the bay. They have 45 acres of virgin rainforest as their garden and have cacao trees growing so they make their own chocolate. A pretty nice place to retire – once you get past the vipers and scorpions in the garden! Bocas was straight up wind on the way back so it took us a while, but we reached a max speed of 7.4kts with 15kts of wind so we were pretty happy with that.


So we are very happy here and might stay for a bit longer (our schedule has fallen at the first hurdle!!) Technical problems mean I can’t upload pictures today, but will try and put some up tomorrow.


More soon







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