Viva Panama !

Well arrived in Panama 5 days ago, we made the mistake of taking the quickest way in to make the entrance… which took us 5 days!
Sunday 20 : waiting at the anchor
Monday 21st: visit of the Harbour Master who calls the medical managers for a crew check-up: appointment for 5pm: very efficient and friendly but as we are yachtsmen we have to go through a private lab to do a Covid Test despite our 16 days at sea ($45 *2 + 25 for the shuttle).
Tuesday 22nd : 08:30am Geraldine the laboratory assistant comes despite her fear of water and tests us with her very long stem in the nostril, promising us the result around 9:30am max.
Having no telephone and no internet connection at anchor, she will send them to the Harbour Master.
At noon, we still had no news so we called with the VHF radio. It’s OK we are both negative but immigration will only be able to come Mañana at 9am.
Wednesday 23rd: A young guy comes to stamp our passports
a. he forgets to put the date
b. then he does not set the right date (his watch showed the previous day…)
c. he needs to take photos(copies) (long live smartphones)
d. he forgot to make us pay 25$.
So he calls us back 4 times with many excuses.

We finally have the right to go into town to buy our telephone simcard!
Long way along the road to get a good sunburn on our shoulders, but we find a Chinese shop and Lilia: 2 shops “I have a little bit of everything, a little bit of nothing” … plus a cart with some poor vegetables (we already miss Mexico a lot) Lack of fruits and these are American prices.

Thursday 24th: We had gone for a small sail to test the pilot’s repair but then we remembered  that we didn’t have a sailing licence so we go back to the anchorage.
The harbour master jumps at us and gives us the paperwork in 2:30 minutes.
At the office they take care of entering everything in the computers but to have the return from Panama City we will certainly have to wait until Monday 28th after the holidays of La Navidad)). Without a fan we’re going to die 3 more days at anchor here !
Green light, we can’t believe it, the secretary and her young apprentice are struggling on the phone to find a good solution for us … They can charge us 185$ (for one year : against 50$ for 10 years in Mexico)
I’m now going to get the Zarpe (authorization to leave the region to go to the capital)… the paper costs $4.60 and the shipping taxes to set it up is $22.40… and another hour of waiting.

You will have understood that the shortest way is not necessarily the fastest, but as we had problems with the auto pilot and since we had never been here before, we wanted to visit some remote places….
We sail again for the few islands on the road to Panama and its canal…
Yes, you read it right!
We arrived with a pilot failure (the last 152Nm only out of 1787 to stir… it’s an adventure we hadn’t practiced yet) it seems restored now but we’ll tell you more after sea tests and calibration.
We’ll post the diary of the sailing from Mexico to Panama before next year on the site: we promise ! With pictures!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all, enjoy the cold temperatures we are dreaming of!