Wednesday, April 12, 2006

San Blas to Colon

As it was nearly a month since we left Curacao, we thought that we should head to the customs post at Porvenir in the San Blas and check in officially before heading to Colon. The following day the customs officer made fast work of a bewildering array of paper-work and we'd officially entered Panama. We celebrated our official arrival with a spot of hunting and gathering for a French delicacy .... sea-urchins. After gathering a dozen sea-urchins from the nearly-by reef, we watched as Michele chopped off the bottom, washed out the partially digested sea grass, scooped out the innards and declared it delicious. All the time the sea-urchin's spines continued waving.
Next was my turn and with a little less enthusiasm I waded in with a spoon to sample the delicacy - not as bad as I'd feared. Ellen reluctantly sampled some, but wasn't convinced despite Michele's protestations that in a few years they will be up with Caviar as aspirant sea-food.

As we were preparing to leave, Eagle's Wings arrived at the anchorage fresh from Caracao. We decided to delay our departure and called an impromptu lobster party - Ouf had previously bought the entire catch from a dug-out - around twenty miscellaneously sized crabs and lobsters for $20 and a well-fed evening's catching up followed.

We mentioned we were having problems with our new fridge and Ken (Eagle's Wings) immediately offered to help, despite having just spent five days at sea. Armed with his refrigerant sniffer, pressure gauge and an impressive array of refrigeration repair tools, he set to work the following day and soon the temperature in the cool-box was noticeable lower. We're slightly in awe of Eagle's Wings - they appear to be incredibly well prepared in comparison to ourselves. Not only do they have all the tools, they can instantly locate them and have even qualified as EPA approved refrigeration specialists. Their boat has a real engine room - you can stand up and walk around the engine!

We're now in Colon in Panama, we had a great night sail here and dropped anchor at 7.30. A mad dash around town resulted in Kika being measured the following day and we received our transit date the day after; April 29th. It's a long time to wait, but there's plenty to do on the boat and we're planning to act as line-handlers on other boats transiting the canal before us.

Panama has the record for paper work so far. We've amassed:
  • Canal ship identification number
  • Port captain form
  • Handline lockage Request form
  • Ship's information and Quarantine Declaration
  • Handline undertaking to release and indemnify
  • Admeasurement clearance and handline inspection
  • Navigation permit for pleasure vessels
  • Immigration form
  • Visa request form
  • Port clearance form (Porvenir -> Colon)
  • Crew list x 2
  • Reciepts x 5

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