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Catalyst Log 2-8-13


Dear Friends and Family,

Have you been wondering where we are?  It has been over a week since I wrote and I am still on stories about our stay with Peg and Vic in Panama!  I don’t really have an excuse.  I have been pretty lazy.  We had committed to a week with Leato Loco which kept us pretty busy but they left and are now in Providencia, a Colombian Island off the coast of Nicaragua.  They will leave there soon to head around the corner to the Bay Island of Honduras and their next adventure.

We did enjoy our time with them and their guests.  We shared many dinners on our boat and theirs and serving for 9 was a bit of a challenge.  Some people say to get a boat that serves cocktails for 6, dinner for 4 and sleeps 2.  I could never be happy with that, and thus we have Catalyst!

One of the things we did was to visit several anchorages together.

IMG_6859 One of the islands was a new one for us.  We met the two families that lived there and some molas were purchased.  I found a couple of shells I wanted.  PICT0011We walked all around the island and found a photo op on a log just off the beach.  Here we are with the Leato Loco family.  IMG_6839

We found some interesting things on the beach.  It is common for the water to undercut trees that have been growing for awhile.  Here is Rob standing next to a tree.  You can see that the sand has been washed away under it and it is just on a small shelf.  I think it will topple before too long.


Along the way we also spotted two dead sharks washed on the beach.  One was a nurse shark and one a hammer head, both young ones.

PICT0021IMG_6874 PICT0022

We anchored in front of a very small island a couple of nights and Rob had to go up the mast so he took a picture of Leato Loco’s boat and the island.  It gives you a little idea of the beauty here though the day was overcast so the water is not as bright as in full light.


We did take the time to go ashore and burn trash.  For boats that don’t flush the toilet paper (and that is the majority) there is a lot to get off the boat and burn.  It was especially so with 7 on board Leato Loco.


Leato Loco is gone now but we enjoyed our time hanging out with them.  The best part of cruising is the people you meet and the worst is seeing them go off and leave.  Still, you are joyful that they are on to the next adventure and of course so are we!

I will regress a little to fill you in on our last afternoon in Panama City after coming back from visiting the Embera tribe which I wrote about last time.

Peg and Vic had spent several days in the city before coming to see us and really felt that they left wanting more.  Panama main land is also very interesting and worth spending some time on.  I will only write about the places we went together.

I think we told you about Deb and her boaters hostel.  Here is a picture of Linsey who had left our boat and had been at Deb’s.  Peg is in the middle and Deb on the other side.  Linsey, by the way, is in Costa Rica now and waiting for her Mom to come visit in March.


Deb is now in a penthouse apartment in the middle of the city.  The views from the big windows are really something.


The problem is that even though it is on the 22nd floor, the windows stay open for ventilation and between the sound of the wind and the city noise below, it is quite noisy!  What is nice though is that it is safe to walk in the area and it has lots of restaurant choices close and a grocery story within walking distance, though you need a taxi to take you back with your groceries.

One area that is of concern to the city is keeping up with the infrastructure.  They are building a subway system that they hope to open at the same time as the new larger locks in 2014.  Lots to take on.  They are not spending as much time doing the wiring for the city.  Here are a couple of examples Peg saw in up scale areas.

P1010278 P1010280

Here is an example in the old town that we visited the rest of the afternoon.

P1070920You would expect it in the old part of the city but, in fact, where buildings have been improved, we didn’t see this type of wiring.

The old part of town really fell in to disrepair.  Currently, there are many streets closed to reconstruct the buildings as well as the streets.  It is built with a combination of French and Spanish architecture and is reminiscent of the French Quarter in New Orleans.  There are many places that have been fixed up right next to those that still need work.

P1070940Here are some of the reconstructed apartments.

P1070918 P1070921

They may sit across the street from an apartment that is as of yet untouched.


We saw alley ways behind some of the doors with apartments looking out along the side.  They were certainly lived in by many people who would not be able to afford to live in the refurbished ones.  It will drive the poor out of the area for sure.  This is a  problem for cities all over.  I think if I lived in the city, I would seriously look at this location as it is much quieter than the main city.  The area of the old Canal Zone would be most like a suburb in the U.S. and probably my first choice.

We enjoyed the buildings and also the areas that held the views of the down town.  There is a long promenade atop what used to be a prison.  It is covered with a wire roof and bougainvillaea growing over it.  People set up tables, usually selling molas and the items like baskets and masks and carvings we found in the Embera village.


There is the ruins of an old church in the city.  It was already in ruins when the U.S. was staking out a place to build the Canal.  The choice of location was between Panama and Nicaragua.  This ruins had an arch that was considered unsupported and yet it still stood.  They took this to support the idea that earth quakes would not cause a problem with the locks.  While Panama does have earthquakes, so far so good on the locks and the arch!


The walls of another ruin defined a craft area and Vic modeled a Panama Hat.  While still famous hats, they don’t last very long as they are very light and easily damaged!


After a dinner at a side walk table in one of the many court yards in the city, we made it an early night as it has been many early mornings.  Rob and I chose to leave a day earlier since we had done our shopping and saw what we wanted to see and so loaded our purchases and 4 large batches of clean laundry on to the 4 wheel drive vehicle and joined 3 other people and their large supply of luggage and made the 2 ½ hour road trip back to the launcha which took us back to our boat.


If  we had not lived in Panama with the Navy in the 1970’s and had not done some sight seeing in the last year when leaving the boat and returning, we would want to spend more time seeing the main land.  Panama has it’s flaws but over all it is a very exciting place to visit and many people have made it an expat haven.  There are good reasons for this.

Well, we have had some leisurely days here but all are filled with adventure and we will share some of that next time.

Fair Winds,

Sue and Rob

Aboard Catalyst

East Lemons, Kuna Yala

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