Archive for January, 2007

Finally !!! Escaping from Panama City !!!

The paperwork for the checkout was easy, the airline tickets for the April/May trip back to OR and MT are purchased, the Balboa YC has been paid, we have fuel for the dinghy, we went to the Monday Cruiser’s Pizza Nite to say goodbye to friends (many of who will be catching up with us in the next weeks, or in Ecuador, or maybe they’ll still be here when we get back!) and we just finished our 5 km walk back to the YC (stopping at our favorite Ice Cream store for two big banana splits!)

We will cast off the lines from the mooring ball early tomorrow morning (Tues, 30 Jan) to head to Isla Toboga, where the water will be clear enough to dive on the boat and clean the hull. We’ll get the watermaker restarted and check out the rest of the systems that have been idle since we got into Panama City on 2 Dec, which seems longer ago than the actual 2 months it has been. Then we will be off to the Islas Perlas for six to eight weeks before heading back to Bahía de Caráquez in Ecuador.

Cruisers’ Pizza Night


Monday Again
Every Monday the cruisers get together at a local eatery for their two-for-one pizza special.  The group was quite small when we first arrived in early December, but the last few get-togethers have taxed the facilities of the restaurant.  After the pizza many of us walk to a nearby ice cream store for a dessert of great ice cream before walking the 5 km along the causeway back to Balboa Yacht Club. 

Panama Viejo

Friday January 19, 2007
Yesterday we took off early to fix the engine water pump that needed new seals and bearings.  It had started leaking just before we left Ecuador and we swapped it out, but now needed to get it repaired.  We headed out to the industrial area near Ciudad Viejo to a recommended shop.  Neither the recommended shop, nor its neighbor, could do the job – so since we were near the ruins of the old city we decided to explore. 

We walked the short distance along Calle Cincuentenerio and were soon among the ruins.  The first ruin we encountered was the old bridge into the north side of the city – the “Kings Bridge”.  The old city originally was on a small dry area surrounded by swamps, mangroves and at low-tide, by large mudflats.  The Pirate Henry Morgan sacked the city in 1671 and it was burned to the ground.  After that the city was moved to what is now called Casco Viejo.  There were few stone structures in the old city.  Only the churches, convents and homes of the very wealthy were constructed of stone and the remains of these are what is visible today.  The area has recently been cleared of the jungle that had protected the area for many centuries.  Although there had been some taking of building materials for construction of the “new” city (Casco Viejo) and later on for nearby small buildings in the modern city, there is still enough rock piles and walls near the main plaza to get an idea of what the city was like.  It is now being restored and has a park-like atmosphere with the many mowed lawns between and within the building remains. 

There is a new museum built just before the bridge to the west side of the site, opposite from where we entered.  The bridge there was the beginning of the King’s Highway connecting Panama City with Nombre de Dios on the Caribbean coast.  In the colonial days, gold from Peru arrived in Panama City and traveled the King’s Highway to Nombre de Dios, where it was loaded on ships for the journey to Spain.  The Museum is small but contains archeological pieces from both Ciudad Viejo and the earlier Indian inhabitants of the area.  It also contains the stories and information collected in the recent archeological research of the area.  Some of the signs are even in English.

We left the area and ate a late lunch at one of the big shopping malls on that side of the city before returning to Lanikai.


The ruins are now in a park and are being protected.


The tower of the old cathedral has been stabilized and has new stairs inside so visitors can climb to the top.


Ruins with some tall buildings of the modern city in the background.

Compass Repair

Yesterday while we were in the city I picked up some post cards for the grandchildren.  We stopped on the way back to Lanikai for lunch at Niko’s Cafe, which is within walking distance from the boat.  While we lunched at Niko’s café, I got the post cards written.  We therefore stopped by the post office on our way back to Lanikai.  While we were there sending the cards, Bill decided to check on our lost compass parts.  Of course their first response upon checking was that the package had not arrived.  The parts had arrived into the airport in Panama on December 21 and they should have been forwarded to the Balboa Post office immediately.   Bill had the US Express Mail tracking number and when he presented this fact to the official, she went back to check again and found the package!  Since it was just us picking the package up directly and not somebody from the Yacht Club, Bill had to do some fast talking with the Aduana to avoid the import taxes.  Bill finally convinced him that the parts really were repair parts for a “boat in transit” and we walked out of the post office with the package tax-free.

This morning Bill got an early start on installing the new parts.  The old cracked and leaking dome of the compass was removed along with the remaining old oil.  The new dome was installed and then several hours were spent slowly refilling the compass with new oil. 


Bill installs the new dome on our main compass.


The new compass oil went in very slowly thru a very tiny fill-hole.

A Tour of Casco Viejo

Friday, January 12, 2007, Chuy and Susan, sailboat Libre, organized a tour of the Casco Viejo area of Panama City. This is the old city formed after the pirates sacked and burned the original city. There is lots of history in this area. It was an important city even before the canal construction, for the forming of the country of Panama and for the canal construction. We walked on the wall that gives this area its name and visited several historic buildings and churches including the theater and President’s Palace. It was a rather large group of boaters, but in the 4 hours that we toured, we covered a lot of history. After the tour we enjoyed lunch in a restored historic building near the waterfront before returning back to the boat for a late afternoon rest.

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A street of the old city showing old buildings with their overhanging balconies. Some have been restored, others are just hanging on.

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This is the golden altar from Iglesia San Jose which was hidden from the pirates that destroyed the original city by hiding the gold behind a layer of paint.

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A Kuna vendor selling molas on the walkway on top of the old city wall.

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Inside the national theater which was originally built in 1907 and has been beautifully restored.

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Inside the President’s Palace. This is the table where new laws are signed.

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The state dining room in the President’s Palace is not very large.