What to write? After the excitement and drama of the Panama Canal, the world has turned on its axis, flipped a couple of times and ground to a shuddering halt in the last few days. If you’re musing, “ah, to be on a boat in a far flung place, how liberating’, isn’t an accurate portrayal of how things are for us. Let me explain a little of our situation.
Good friends on a kiwi boat left Panama just over two weeks ago. Society was still functioning ‘normally’ at that point in time. We’d imagined following in their wake a week or so later. However…..
Countries all around have closed their borders. French Polynesia, where we’d planned to sail to, 4000 miles away is struggling with CV cases, limited medical services and in some places, dwindling general supplies so boats arriving after 4 to 5 weeks at sea are severely restricted in their movements. And not really wanted either. Anchorages are filling up as boats arrive and freedoms no longer exist as the authorities implement quarantine procedures then want boats to move on, but to where?
Panama is now in quarantine. Essential journeys for food or pharmacies are allowed for a couple of hours a day, depending on the last digit on your passport / identity card.
We are safely anchored off an island about 35 miles south of Panama City. The island is small, with maybe 125 residents. Many have already left to return to the city. We have direct contact with the island administrator and she is both helpful and informative. Plus she speaks great English making up for my flagrantly inadequate Spanish. We are unable to go ashore other than to collect pre ordered grocery runs or to get rid of our rubbish.
There are maybe 20 boats here covering a real mix of nationalities…..Dutch, Brazilian, South African, Australian, French, Brits, Austrian, Belgium. An informal catch up each morning on the vhf radio allows folk to share knowledge of developing situations, both near and far, and ask for any specific help.
Skipper Dave has been doing a sterling job coordinating this conversation. The upside is most of the boats here know us now which may prove helpful down the line. I can’t say he’s enjoying doing it but his efforts are valued. And they also feel necessary to help and inform our current shared situation. And no one else is fighting him for the job!
Today’s plan (may change tomorrow, or next week to next month) is to sit tight and see how the situation develops. Current options for travel are pretty limited. We are however provisioned up for a Pacific crossing so probably have enough food on board for several months.
And boy are we glad of that water maker. Thanks Doreen. 😀