Can I tell you about my day? (in Panama City, Panama)

Panama Canal - Tires on deck

Just a day in the life…

6:30 am – Wake up. Start running through the list of what needs to be done this morning.

7:00 am – Call the Admeasurer’s office. When asked if we have lines and fenders ready for the Admeasurer to inspect, reply “yes”. Remind self that we are interpreting the question as “will you have lines and fenders ready by 11:00 am when the Admeasurer shows up?“. Admeasurer asks us to call at 11:00 am to confirm they are coming today.

7:10 am – Call Rogelio, the taxi man with the line connection. We need 4x 125′ lines, and they’re in hot demand. Roger answers. Roger has no lines. He’ll have some tomorrow, but that doesn’t help us for our inspection today.

7:15 am – Start brainstorming. There are lots of boats in the anchorage getting ready to transit, and they all have lines.

7:20 am – Jon starts working on the bilge pump again. What should be a simple replacement is turning in to one of those super fun ‘chase the bad wiring’ projects.

7:50 am – Jon has finished his first two cups of coffee, so it’s safe to tell him: I scheduled the Admeasurer for today. Like, for 3 hours from now. And Roger still has no lines for us. We need lines and tires asap. Abandon the bilge pump project.!

8:00 am – The morning net. Listen in case anyone has lines or tires (for fenders) available. They don’t.

8:25 am – Go harass a neighbour boat about borrowing their lines. Get a little lecture about this ‘not being quite right‘, but in the end they lend us their lines so I don’t mind.

8:35 am – Bring lines back to the boat. Start thinking about tires.

8:55 am – Go in to the dinghy dock. Find the dumpster. Snoop around. BINGO! Find 6 tires, already pre-wrapped in black garbage bags (so they won’t mark up the hull). Roll 6 tires down to the dinghy. Entertain many locals with our tire-rolling antics.

9:15 am – Install tires all along Brio’s hull. Comment that we are looking more and more like a gypsy boat.

9:25 am – Start looking around for iPhone to make sure we can call Admeasurer and confirm our appointment. Keep looking for iPhone. Can’t find iPhone. Realize iPhone was in a pocket in the dinghy chaps, and the dinghy has now made multiple trips in and out to the dinghy dock, and the iPhone is… gone. I’m upset about the iPhone, but ironically I’m most upset about the Claro Panama SIM card that was inside it, that we just bought the day before. It took TWO HOURS to get the SIM card, and now it’s gone. Unfortunate side effect of all this: we now have no way of confirming the Admeasurer appointment.

9:28 am – Put aside upset feelings. Focus on passing our Admeasurer inspection. Realize we are supposed to have a horn (does a bell count??) so send Jon to friend’s boat Copernicus to see if we can borrow a horn for our inspection.

9:45 am – Decide to clean up the aft cockpit area, to show the Admeasurer that our cleats are easily accessible. This involves emptying out the entire lazaretto to “reorganize”.

9:55 am – In the midst of “reorganizing”, look up and see a tug-like boat getting kind of close. Smile, wave. Go back to organizing. Realize the tug boat is getting closer. Look more closely at the men on the tug; realize they are approaching; realize it’s. the. admeasurer. *SH*T*

9:56 am – Call Copernicus to try to get Jon back. No answer. Call again. No answer.

9:57 am – Start madly throwing stuff back in the lazarette, while simultaneously smoothing flyaway hair-do and running through potential drinks I might offer the Admeasurer to distract him from our lack of horn.

9:59 am – Help the Admeasurer leap aboard Brio. Turns out those tugs have more freeboard than you might think.

10:00 am – Admeasurer introduces himself, smiles, looks around, inquires: “Is there a man onboard who might help with the measuring?”. Almost die of laughter. Inform Mr. Admeasurer that ‘the man‘ is currently on another boat, but I would be *happy* to help with the measuring. In fact, Mr. Admeasurer might be interested to know that while I am the woman on the boat, I am also the Captain. Admeasurer smiles wide. “That’s great!” he says. Decide this is going to go well.

10:01 – 10:35am – Help Admeasurer measure the boat. Answer his list of questions (“do you have a toilet?”, “can you provide a meal for your pilot?”, “what is your maximum maintainable speed?”, “do you have a horn?”, “are there any deficiencies on this vessel?” etc).

10:36 am – Launch into in-depth conversation about ribs. Turns out Mr. Admeasurer’s real passion is BBQ, and he’s got a popular joint in town. Enthusiastically make plans to visit said BBQ joint on the weekend.

10:37 am – The man returns, a shocked look on his face. “Is it 11:00?” he asks. “No, no, but the Panama Canal likes to be efficient so we are early”, Mr. Admeasurer responds. The look on Jon’s face is well worth it.

11:10 am – Admeasurer finishes our paperwork. Tug returns, magical leaping ensues, and it’s over. While Jon didn’t get a horn from Copernicus (so that may have been a small white lie at the time), he did bring back a conch. And Jon plays trumpet, so Jon plays conch 😉 I think technically we’re covered?!?

11:30 am – Start making photocopies of new official canal paperwork. Having checked in to the country yesterday, we well understand the need to have 4+ copies of all paperwork at all times.

11:45 am – Finish putting the lazarette away. Realize it’s almost noon and we’ve eaten nothing. Scarf down tuna sandwiches while printing paperwork. Bemoan lack of iPhone again. Return borrowed lines (thank you!).

12:00 am – Head ashore to go pay our canal fees at the Citibank. Once we pay these we can get our official transit date 😀

12:05 pm – Grab taxi to the bank. Realize I have $800 of the $1875 (CASH) that we need to deliver to the bank. Start the debit card roulette, fingers crossed and prayers uttered. Successfully manage to extract enough cash (try not to think about how much this all just cost in bank fees).

12:25 pm – Show the gun-wielding security guard the inside of my purse (“nothing in there but cash, my friend!”). Enter Citibank. Clerk informs us that the only person capable of processing our paperwork is on lunch. Come back in an hour.

12:26 pm – Find a strange cafeteria-like cafe. Order cheesecake and coffee. Exclaim over the most delicious coffee we’ve had in ages. Spend time counting $20 bills and discussing tires.

1:15 pm – Decide it’s been long enough. Show the gun-wielding security guard the inside of my purse (again). Give teller $1,875 (in $20s). Watch as teller counts bills. Watch teller count bills again. Watch teller run bills through counting machine. Watch teller count bills by hand again, this time with a twist every 5th bill. Watch teller run bills through counting machine again. Watch teller count bills one. more. time. Wonder how long it took him to be able to count so fast. Wonder if he has a secret bill-counting fetish. Wish I could take a picture of the bill-counting guy.

1:25 pm – Receive our official receipt showing that our canal fees are paid. Walk outside $1,875 poorer. Discuss if we have enough money to make it home. Decide we’re good.

1:28 pm – Hire a taxi to take us to the wood store (kinda forgot we have projects outside of the canal to work on!). Taxi asks for $3. This is the least scammed we’ve been by a taxi driver so far. Quite exciting.

1:55 pm – Arrive at wood store. Wander around trying to figure out where the wood is. Find the wood section. Wander around trying to figure out what kind of wood we’re looking at. Find the right kind of wood (whatever that is!). Ask for the price of the board we want. They don’t know — you have to go inside for that. Go in to the office. Find a guy in an official shirt. Get the price. Go to the cashier. Try to pay for the wood. Can’t pay for the wood, we haven’t yet registered that we want to buy it. Go back to the official shirt guy. Get him to enter in the computer that we want to buy that piece of wood. Go back to the cashier. Pay for the wood. Go back to the wood section. Show receipt. Get piece of wood. Get piece of wood cut in half so it will fit in the taxi. Amuse taxi driver with our wood-fitting antics (if only he’d seen us fit our rudder in a cab in Puerto Vallarta!). Drive back to the dinghy dock.

3:30 pm – Head back to the boat. Stop by line-lending-folks’ boat to say thank you again. Stop by Copernicus to tell them our stories. Head back to Brio.

3:35 pm – Pass by a boat with tires stacked on their decks and a Swedish flag flying. Put 2 and 2 together and deduce they’re probably headed across the Pacific. Ask if they are getting rid of tires. Yup. Ask if we can buy tires. Nope — they’ll give them to us. Bingo! 8 more tires. Let the tire-yielding gypsy boatness continue.

3:45 pm – Stow tires on deck. Quick change of outfits (rolly anchorage beside the busiest canal in the world = lots of wet-butt dinghy rides). Pick up friends on Copernicus. Head in for “Cruisers Pizza Night”.

4:05 pm – Realize I have a work project due in less than an hour. Abandon pizza night temporarily. Find internet. Work. Finish work.

5:10 pm – Write a blog post.

5:15 pm – Post blog post 🙂

…And sit down to consider the bilge pump installation that’s still waiting for us when we get back… 🙂


Can I tell you about my day? (in Panama City, Panama) — 5 Comments

  1. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog Leah, although it’s usually prompted by your facebook posts. I try to send the links to Peter and Lisa, and I think they too enjoy reading them.
    I finish up here at Hit Productions on Aprill 11th, and then Lisa and I fly off to Europe for a few weeks the next day. We’ll have a fortnight with Peter on Robert on the canals of France and Belgium.
    Safe travels.

    • Thanks Leon, and thanks too for passing on the links to Peter — I so hope we can all meet again one of these days! Maybe Maine will be calling?? Please send pictures / emails about your time on Robert — I would love to hear more!! Hugs to you & Lisa 😀

  2. BIG DAY OUT Leah and JON ! Hope the transit itself is more relaxed !
    All Ok here . Leave in 3 weeks for Italy , Croatia , France . Meeting John and Helen and 4 Troops in Ancona for ferry trip to Split and a week on a lovely new Bavaria 45 ; then France and onto ‘Robert’ ; exchange Family for Lisa and Leon a week later . All 9 of us will share my 86th in Nancy before Family sets off for home , and L and L and I head into Belgium ; AH me , someone has to do it !
    IT IS SOOOO nice to keep up and catch up Leah . Love the poster about ‘heart of the matter’ . I guess that is the very shared spirit that brought us together in Melbourne . Love to Both Peter

  3. Nice timeline! I helped deliver a boat through the canal two years ago. We only ended up rafting to on other boat, so halftime he tires were for naught. Better to have them than not! Good luck on your transit, it’s a cool experience!

    • Thanks Bill! In the end we *really* didn’t need our tires, since we were always centre-chamber… but it sure felt good to know we had a bit of extra protection in case anything went squirelly! Now we just have to figure out how to get rid of the suckers 😀

Leave a Reply