1st Time: Leaving Winterlude on the Hard, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

Here’s the update I wrote the first (and only) time we left Winterlude on the hard.   We were in Shelter Bay Marina, Panama and needed both an out of the water survey for insurance and new bottom paint.  It seemed like a great time to leave the boat out of the water!  Since then, we’ve always left the boat in the water, but when we need our next out of the water survey & bottom paint, we might consider leaving it out of the water, we’ll see.

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Hola from Shelter Bay Marina, just across the bay from Colon, Panama & where Winterlude will spend the next six months on the hard.We
arrived here after the perfect sail, and as I mentioned in the last update, David could not wait to take his first “real” shower (as opposed to sun shower) in several months. We made sure Winterlude was safely tied in her new slip and then he ran for the showers & I ran for the laundry. Unfortunately for me, Shelter Bay has no laundry service, but they do have great commercial washers & dryers, so much for handing off my mountain of laundry. After doing all that laundry, I deserved a shower too & Shelter Bay is known for it’s shower facilities. We even know one boat that urged us to spend at least one night here if not for anything other than to SEE the showers! There are several variations ending up with a Jacuzzi hot tub. Exploring the seemingly never ending hall of shower possibilities, I finally settled a free-standing shower, with two seats & all kinds of nozzles, jets and sprays. I stepped into the shower anticipating the hot water & steam pressurized water flow that I would soon enjoy. But alas…

Amazing, Totally Private Showers with a View!

Amazing, Totally Private Showers with a View!

To my dismay, I quickly discover, you have to be a rocket scientist to work the shower! Stepping into the shower, I reviewed the wall of controls which looked amazingly close to the control panel in an airplane … too many knobs, wheels & buttons and no instructions! I take a deep breath & push the knob that looks closest to being a “regular” shower control. Water halfheartedly pulses out of the footwide rainshower head above my head … but it definitely wasn’t warm and lacked the pressure I was anticipating. So OK, that was obviously the wrong knob … so I tried the next likely suspect & warm water shot out of the holes behind my back, but nothing over my head. Time to shut everything down & start over, it cannot be this hard! After thorough review, I choose a button & VOILA, I enjoy all the hot water & pressure I had dreamed of … unfortunately it was coming straight up under my feet!!! Quickly hitting that button again, I sigh with frustration…

Taking a simple shower can’t be this hard! All I really want to do is stand under the streaming pressurized warm water and enjoy. Trying all the controls was getting tedious – water squirting from tiny nozzles everywhere but where I wanted it – over my head. – I had it up & down my legs, from under my feet, from under the seat, from beside the seat, aaarrrrggggg… I left the “real world” for less than six months & in the meantime, simply taking a shower has turned into an alien nightmare! Needless to say, the next night, I chose the original shower in the ladies bathroom, no more of these fancy, shmancy shower rooms for me!!!

Tied to a Dock in Shelter Bay, US Army Buildings in the Distance are Desolate

Tied to a Dock in Shelter Bay, US Army Buildings in the Distance are Desolate

Shelter Bay Marina occupies the marina space from U.S. Army base that was returned to Panama when the canal was returned in 1999. In 1999
it was a busy place, with office buildings, a YMCA, barracks, officers houses & condos on the beach overlooking Colon harbor. There were
nice roads throughout … very reminiscent for those familiar with Ft Benjamin Harrison. Except, when U.S. Army left, Panama abandoned the
base, leaving the jungle and rainforest to overtake it in just 10 short years! There are overgrown bunkers built to defend the canal during the World Wars, the base’s jail, mixed in with howler monkeys, chattering white faced monkeys & those in the boatyard even claim to have seen a couple of jaguars in the dusk. There are several other types of cats that reside in this jungle as well, but you’re lucky to see one because they’re residents of the night. While it was strange to walk the overgrown paved roads & climb through the bunkers & other ruins, it was even stranger to realize that the Panamanians tore down all the top officials private houses … the lawns are clearly visible, the foundations are there, but there are absolutely no houses. Why the barracks, bunkers & other structures remain and the officers houses were destroyed is beyond my imagination. We enjoyed walking “Kennedy Loop” – the street sign is still there almost every dusk watching the antics of the monkeys and searching to find our own sloth!

Winterlude & Kristiana's Adventures to Machu Picchu

Winterlude & Kristiana's Adventures to Machu Picchu

After parting with Kristiana, we’re thinking more & more about joining Doug & Rayene on their land adventure to Peru later this year. As most history buffs, I’ve always wanted to visit the land of the Incas, and see Machu Picchu, the lost city from the lost civilization for myself, but mountain trekking is not our area of expertise. Unlike Doug & Rayene who lived in a log cabin they built themselves in the mountains of Montana for 19 years, I have never even BEEN on a mountain bigger than the Smokey Mountains and I don’t think they qualify. Now we’re talking about a 4 day trek with multiple passes over 14,000 feet…. Hmmmm….

WL Anchored on the Rio Chagres

WL Anchored on the Rio Chagres

So one day David & I decide to walk to Fuerte San Lorenzo … in the same national park as Fort Sherman, but the other side of the peninsula. It’s 6 miles each way on a good road with a jungle overhang, sometimes turning the road into a tunnel… which provided shade, which was good because the temperature had to be around 100. The backpack which we packed with plenty of water, as well as lunch & snacks was heavy & we alternated the task of lugging it around. Luckily for us, each time we stopped to enjoy an apple or some Gatorade, our load lightened. About ¾ of the walk to the Fort a National Park ranger drove by & offered us a lift to the Fort. This wasn’t part of the plan and definitely defeated our rationale to hike this far, but since there had been no other traffic, we jumped into his truck & rode in the air conditioning the rest of the way. Ft San Lorenzo sits high above the cliff overlooking the opening to the Chagres River. We had entered the Chagres months earlier & gazed intrigued at the fort high above. Now we’re exploring the fort & gazing longingly at the boats anchored in the serenity of the Chagres. We loved it there & will go back, but for now, we have to head back & get Winterlude hauled out & put to bed so we can head back to the US for Y Flyer season! We wisely ate our lunch at the fort, so now all we were carrying was the water & Gatorade. Both of us discovered our feet could hurt places we didn’t know existed, but we make the trek & actually walked 10 of the 12 miles in the heat & jungle. Along the way we saw toucans & parrots, lots of howler monkeys – a couple of times they even threw stuff at us from above, and troops of white faced monkeys. You’d catch a glimpse of color or movement in a tree out of the corner of your eye & when you stopped to look closer, there was some jungle creature looking back! No big cats or jaguars though, David was glad of that!

Hauling at Shelter Bay Marina

Hauling at Shelter Bay Marina

Friday bright & early Winterlude was due to be hauled out & the crew was ready. But as life in a marina goes, we had to wait while a GIGANTIC yacht came in to the end of the T dock on the first dock. Bruce, the yard manager, came down to tell us that Winterlude probably wouldn’t be able to sneak by this enormous floating palace until it was safely tied to the dock, so we waited. Eventually we were hauled out & placed in a nice spot with a breeze, water and electricity so we could finish all our “leave the boat” preparations. We’ve never had any trouble leaving Winterlude in a marina outside the U.S. & don’t anticipate any now, but this was the first time we’ve left her high & dry out of the water. Out of the water necessitates some different preparations. David wanted to loosen the plug in the bottom of the keel so any water that gets into the bilge while we’re gone – including that from the heavy duty dehumidifier we left running inside – can simply drain & he can unhook the batteries & not have to worry about keeping them charged. But, of course, the plug had been sanded over during the last paint job in LaCeiba, Honduras & the slit for the screwdriver painted over. Hmmm… David gets his trusty Dremel & voila! Next thing I know he has the plug out & bilge drained! WOW!

Under the Full Cover on the Hard

Under the Full Cover on the Hard

That was amazing, nothing EVER goes that easily on a boat!!! We also got out the full cover for the first time … we had the cover made in 2001 and it was one of the things we had decided maybe was not the best use of funds since we’d never used it. BUT, it went on easily & despite not fitting the stern exactly right (we’d added an arch since we had the cover custom made), I think it will be a big help in keeping the UV rays to a minimum, maybe preserving that new shiny teak that we just had sanded & coated with Cetol Gloss!

Full Cover, maybe a mistaken expenditure, Covers WL at Shelter Bay, Panama

Full Cover, maybe a mistaken expenditure, Covers WL at Shelter Bay, Panama

We only spent one night on the hard & the next day were on our way to Panama City to fly back to the US. One night was enough, you can’t
use your onboard head while the boat’s out on the hard so life is a bit disrupted … especially for us older folks who need the bathroom during the night … nothing like trying to climb down a ladder 15 feet in the air and stumble through a boatyard in the middle of the night several football fields away to get to the marina bathrooms!

For now we’re back in the US …. In September & October we’ll make our land adventure to Peru to climb the heights of Machu Picchu and then
head back to Winterlude. Until then, have a great summer!

If you have comments on leaving your boat for several months on the hard, please let us know so we can all learn from your experience!   THX!   Jan

 

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