Touring Portobello with its historic Customs House/Museum, forts and batteries was worthwhile. We hiked up to the three levels of the San Fernando Fort Battery ruins above where Interlude was anchored for a spectacular view of the Bay. There is a morning VHF radio net on channel 72 at 0900 local where the cruisers swap info and gear. We meet a couple and their two year old (born in Kuna Yala) on a budget cruiser where the woman recently had her bursting appendix out via the Panama public heath system. She went in to get her appendix incision stitches removed while we were there and they discovered a secondary infection. We wish her well. There are private hospitals.
We are now in Shelter Bay Marina, Panama (9d22.13'N, 79d57.04'W, 16 ft) the only safe place to prepare for transiting the Canal from The Atlantic to the Pacific. The Panama Canal Yacht Club no longer exists and there is no place to land a dinghy if you are in Anchrage 'F' (the 'Flats').
The marina is very compact and fully booked even with the new 'E' dock. There are some really nice big yachts here as well as the ususal mix of cruisers and quite a few hauled out for storage or repair. Fueling is hit or miss. We attempted to fuel on the way in but the fuel boat (Panama Star) was just leaving. Propane and gasoline tanks are left in the marina office for filling within three days. Fedex sent to the marina is the best way to receive packages ie:
Yate en transito INTERLUDE
Shelter Bay Marina
30 Butner Street, FORT SHERMAN,
COLON - REPUBLIC OF PANAMA
We plan to spend the Holidays here at the marina where Chris the American executive chef running the restautant has a few parties planned. With over 130 yachts in the marina we have already run into some people we know including a guy we meet in Antigua December 2010 whose boat was wrecked at Palmerston Atoll and is now heading back into the Pacific on his replacement boat with new crew.
We are sure to make new friends as well and are hoping to meet and sign on the required four line handlers before our Canal transit on or about January 4th. Our agent says it is no longer possible to transit in one day and we will have to spend the night on Gatun Lake.
We wish everyone a happy Mayan New Year tomorrow.