I forgot to mention that we broke our steering cable two days before arriving in Panama, mostly because we’ve been sitting on the dock and its absence hasn’t been an issue. But there is a reason we havent taken the boat anywhere since weve been here, and it's not only because the swell has been so big. With Christmas and New Year’s thwarting our hopes of receiving replacement parts within a few days of arriving, our planned week in the marina stretched into three and we began to really miss being able to throw off the dock lines and go. Access to laundry, showers, and wifi makes life much more convenient, but being able to anchor where we like and having the freedom to move on a whim is part of the reason we live on a boat.
Marina Carenero sits in a corner of a small cove just across the water from the relative bustle of Bocas Town. It’s a mostly quiet place... until evening, when a repetitive and irritating mix of calypso and reggaeton starts up at the local club just around the bend. The weathered wooden building hangs over the water, its windowless facade decorated with playing cards and poker chips in an airbrush-style mural, highlighted by sweeping washes of color and a couple of faded palm trees. Substitute the cards and palm trees for an American flag and you’re in Lake Winnepesaukee. Sounds of drum and bass interspersed with accordion and airhorn don’t so much drift across the water as march toward any open hatches, where they remain, uninvited, sometimes until 6am. It’s a bit of a mystery, really; anytime we’ve driven past while the music is going the place is nearly empty. We can usually spot at least one guy sort of sway-dancing, beer in hand, but as far as I’m concerned one man a party does not make. (Unless it’s this one friend of mine - I'll call him "Ted" - standing in the living room drinking a Rainier, bouncing and singing along to old reggae on the record player after having spent the day out on the river casting for steelhead.)
Anyway, besides the neverending solo danceparty whose greatest hits play on repeat each night, the marina is quiet. It’s home to about 15 boats, 10 of which it's safe to say are there permanently. Boats seem respond to Panama’s sun and rain the same way their expat owners do: they age more quickly and become less likely to ever leave as time goes on. Staying on top of maintenance and keeping things clean in this climate is vital, but the atmosphere around Bocas Town make it an easy place to shirk responsibility, put off small jobs - "mañana..." - and blend into the backdrop of slow decay, claiming to be living the dream.
We’ve passed the time waiting for the new steering cable to arrive trying, and mostly failing, to dry out gear and laundry and air the boat out. We spread out the charts nightly, planning and replanning the next part of our trip and routing our passage through the Pacific. I’ve read every issue of Outside Magazine we have onboard, and can list their top rated "superfoods" both chromatically and chronologically by month of popularity. And when we run out of responsible things to do, we feed the wildlife and set off fireworks.
Today we're excited to be off to Cusapin for a few days. Check out the map to see where we are. In the meantime, here are a few scenes of life at Marina Carenero.