When time stood still…
Corona virus cancelled out all our travel plans to San Blas and beyond, as well as receiving visitors, indeterminably.
Meanwhile, the Panamanian government has eased up on the quarantine measures via a staged approach. The women and men’s days for shopping no longer exist. We can now go to town whenever we please, as long as we wear the obligatory ‘mascarillas’, wait patiently in the marked areas, have our temperature checked before entering the shop, step onto a dirty wet patch and wipe our feet on an equally dirty mat, have our hands sprayed with alcohol and so on. The booze ban has been lifted, thus we no longer have to be secretive about our weekend purchases.
Travel inside the country is still not allowed. We organised ourselves some type of fishing permit, so that at least we are able to leave the anchorage on weekends without any hassle.
When time stood still, Exodus did not… we kept ourselves entertained, living the lazy life the ordinary cruiser lives…
- Up button on anchor winch: We installed deck switches for the anchor winch during the Christmas holiday. These are however poorly designed with only a tiny tailor made switch inside that breaks after a mere 5 months of usage. Luckily Exodus’ handiman made his own adaptation to insert an ordinary sized switch.
- Down button on anchor winch: Two weeks after finding a solution for the broken ‘up’ switch, ‘down ‘ also decided to die on us… The modification process was repeated.
- Solar regulator on the hybrid solar – wind energy regulator had to be replaced. As this regulates the output of the main big solar panel that charges the house battery bank, we opted to split the system and buy a seperate solar regulator that can be controlled and monitored via our smartphone. In this manner we can adapt the settings to a rainforest climate (overcast days) and still have our batteries charged optimally.
- Replace cockpit table and burn a drawing on the wood
- Replace connectors and wire on big solar pannel. Corrosion was seriously curtailing output.
- Leaking fuel can (small almost imperceivable leak on seam): Clean up dripped fuel in one of the back hatches.
- Scrub entire deck with first big rains
- Hull scrub
- Stitch new bedsheets for our oversized rhombus shaped bed. Naturally, our sewing machine was completely jammed up when we were full of high hopes of quickly starting and finishing the sheets in one afternoon. The salty air managed to find its way through the machine’s cardboard box and styrofoam housing. Captain Arch consoled Exodus’ disappointed seemstress by taking the rebelling sewing machine apart and drowning it in oil until it decided to resume service. The machine left oily tracks on the new sheets as a last utterance of disapproval.
- Fix outboard gear level. Guess what. The blimey gear level was made of moulded plastic, mounted on a metal bar. The inside of the plastic wore away after 3 years of daily duty. If you see how these things are made, it is a minor miracle it even lasted that long. Whilst at it, the outboard was also given a proper service.
Exodus is a good strong boat, but she is 30 years old and after 3 years of hard usage some areas are in dire need of maintenance. Things that are fine one minute, just perish and disintegrate the next…
- Replace sikaflex on top cabin windows.
- Recork companionway step
- Revarnish worst touched spots inside the boat
- Overhaul oven
- Make a plan for the lounge hatch handles that broke
What do you do when you feel frustrated or disappointed with things that are outside your control? Do you sulk, feel sorry for yourself, cry oceans of tears? Or do you take that negative energy and transform it into something else? Freud calls the latter sublimation. And your writer has been having a go at it. Take a sneak peek here:
Arthur used his work time productively to tinker away at this trading skills and has been transducing his ensuing excess adrenaline in spearfishing. He has been exploring the turbulent reefs around Bastimentos island successfully, together with Argentinian sailor Francisco. Putting excellent food on the table.
Of course the rest of the crew is also allowed to work on their Exodus Emblem: the dive mask print, most commonly seen around the dinner table. The Bastimentos reefs are not only great for spearfishing, they also provide great snorkeling (if there is not too much swell or current). All the fish we are used to can be spotted there in a bigger size: surgeon fish, parrot fish, bassets, fairies, grunts, trumpet fish, lion fish, butterflyfish, angelfish, … Also found there are big sholes of breams, black parrot fish with a blue facemask, several nurse sharks in different sizes (see pictures). One rock or coral head teams with life and can keep you entertained for quite a while. The topology is interesting with big slates, lots of crevices, nooks, crannies… and crooks. The spearfishermen encoutered black tips and bull sharks so it serves one well to keep one’s eyes peeled and stay alert.
The water is still rather clear, and the weather has been rather cooperative for this time of year. We’ve only had rain every few days, mainly at night, providing us with just enough water for washing and showering. Most days have been rather pleasant, completely unlike our first July and August in Panama which had endless amounts of rain.
Foraging with Esin
Did you know that 50% of all the sea weed on this planet is edible? And that sea weeds account for 70% of our planet’s oxygen and for 90% of our plant life? Neither did we. That is a lot of food, right at our doorstep.
Personally, we would never have thought of eating the brown, red or green algae that surround us. Except of course to wrap sushi in. Yet all this changed when we met Esin. Esin lives on the catamaran Samba with hubby Malcolm and their adorable 4 year old twins Melody and Dylan. Samba was anchored next to us during quarantine. Esin is a forager in the true sense. Take her for a walk and she’ll find you a bunch of plants to turn into a lovely salad. Take her to the sandbar and she’ll come back with a big pile of sea weed, teaching you about Irish Moss and other edible sea weed. She has shared different versions of Irish Moss salads with us. Very tasty and yam packed with vitamins and minerals. You can also boil the stuff up into a jelly, which can be used to thicken any sauce or make pudding. The jelly also works well as a hydrating body or face cream.
We are also learning how to make vinegar from pineapple peel, how to use katuk, breadfruit, and so on. Did you know nutmeg looks like this?
In the jungle, the Panamanian jungle, the capybara snorts tonight… As Panamanian government eased up on the Corona regulations, and we finally could move as a family again, we took full advantage of our regained freedom to go for jungle walks. We cycle out to an area on Isla Colon that borders on the reserve with lots of the wild life spilling over in there. We have seen tucans, hummingbirds, spider monkeys, armadillo tracks, fireants, interesting spiders and caterpillars.
Alternatively, we hang out at Bastimentos, where most of the island and its surrounding waters is part of the Bastimentos Nature Reserve. If you anchor in front of the Old Banks village you can take various (muddy) walking trials through the jungle to Wizard Beach. If you anchor in front of Red Frog marina you can take the nature trail from the public dock and walk to Red Frog beach. One day we spotted 3 small cayman in one of the pools.
From 3F to 3B
On one of our quiet highly enjoyable evenings the captain was pondering on life… Failing to understand how he moved from 3F to 3B. Nope, we are not talking cup size here but rather the smooth transition from being ‘Footloose and Fancy-Free’ to ‘Bride, Brat and Broke’. Luckily for the first two B’s, the unanimous decision was that triple B wasn’t a bad place to be…