Loading Map

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Panama City, Panama

This has not been a good week on NAKIA.

It all started last Thursday, the 29th. Linda flew to Seattle leaving the two boys, John and Ziggy, to their own devices. Then on Saturday the owner of the dock here in Panama City threatened to close the dinghy dock. You're not allowed to land on the shore. It's basically a rock jetty anyway and would make a terrible dinghy landing, so you either have to keep your boat at the Balboa Yacht Club (moderately expensive), Flamenco Marina (very expensive), or anchor at La Playita and use the dinghy dock. The owner said he was going to close the dock because very few people pay for the dock (it's $5 daily or $100 a month). I listened to him and told him I'd get on the radio and tell the fleet that they need to either pay or the owner would close the dock. A heated discussion resulted on the VHF and I think only a few people ended up paying. Cruisers, in general, are cheap. The non-payers seem to think they need better services or a lower price. My personal feeling is that they would not pay no matter how inexpensive it was.

On the Friday before the dinghy dock issue came up I did something that Linda and I had discussed before she left. Since the South Pacific is a difficult (and expensive) place to take a pet, and since Ziggy really doesn't like sailing, we thought it would be best to find him a nice house to live in. I put an add in Panama Craig's List looking for a new home for Ziggy. There's not much traffic on Craig's List in Panama so I really didn't expect much to come of it.

Last Saturday night (the same day as the dinghy dock thing) I got an email from a local woman looking to adopt Ziggy. I called her Sunday and arranged to meet. She's a very nice Panamanian woman who lives in her family home (of 40 years) with her parents. Her mother takes care of the house and her father is a Professor at one of Panama City's many Universities. She is a software engineer and has had cats before. Anyway, she came out to La Playita and met Ziggy, then we all loaded up in her car and drove to her house. Everything looked good so I left Ziggy in her care.

So in three days I'd managed to become totally alone on NAKIA with the threat of not being able to get ashore hanging over my head.

Things didn't get much better during the week and on Friday they got worse.

First some background: The dinghy dock in La Playita is really a commercial dock. The commercial dock is for ferries that go to Taboga Island (about 7 miles from Panama City) and for ship service boats (40-45 foot steel and aluminum boats that deliver crew and supplies to ships at anchor in Panama Bay). You really have to watch where you tie up your dinghy because there's risk of getting in the way of the ferries. The dock isn't level, and in an attempt to lower the high side there is a large concrete mooring block sitting on one corner. The concrete block has a ring on top and some cruisers had been using the ring to tie up their dinghies. Well Friday was very busy at the dinghy dock end of things. There were maybe 30 dinghies tied and some were definitely in the way of the ferry. A ferry backing away from the dock caught one or more of the painters of the dinghies tied to the concrete block in its prop and dragged the concrete block off the dock. Unfortunately, the block landed on a couple dinghies, damaging them badly. I've been told a scene occurred involving cruisers and dock employees that probably wasn't pleasant.

On Saturday the office manager for the ferry/work/dinghy dock got on the radio and announced that they would no longer allow dinghies to tie to the dock. If you had pre-paid you can use it until your pre-pay time runs out, but after that no more time will be sold and dinghies will not be allowed to land at the dock. You can't even drop people off without tying up.

Personally, I'm on the dock owner's side. With few exceptions the group of cruisers here in La Playita are probably the cheapest, whiniest assortment I've ever had the displeasure of being anchored with. Worse even than in Bahia de Caraquez. A lot of it may have to do with being in Panama City and/or La Playita (this is not a nice anchorage; between the ship wakes and wind chop boats anchored farther out roll terribly) but there is absolutely no excuse for not paying for a service when you are using that service. Particularly when the owner threatens to remove the service if you don't pay for it!

So there it is. I'm living alone on NAKIA in an anchorage that I can't stand and after the 13th of February (Friday the 13th, by the way; that's when my pre-pay runs out) I won't be able to land my dinghy unless I drive it 1.5 miles around the point through heavy wind chop to get to Flamenco Marina (they also have a dinghy dock but it's primarily used during the wet season when the wind/swell comes from the south).

Oh, and I really, really, really miss my cat.

John (just John)