Covid lets the world hold its breath.
We have been at anchor for 5 weeks and have not left the ship for several weeks. So a shopping trip turns into a little adventure. One day we dared to take the cover off the dinghy, let it into the water and started towards land. But first we went over to a neighbouring ship to say hello. About 300m away there is another German yacht. We had already wondered about how the other inhabited ships are doing. Some of them continued their journey, sometimes after they had been visited by a police control. Now only our ship and the other German ship are left here. Through a WhatsApp group from French Polynesia we learned the names of the other crew, the world of sailors is small 🙂 So we knocked and now we made contact. They have been ashore several times and told us that it is relatively easy to get by bus to a shopping centre with a big grocery store. That day Mathias was at the small supermarket nearby. Since it was Thursday, only men were allowed to shop. I will try my luck next (see below).
If you read the blogs and reports of other sailors, it is similar for all of them. They suffer most from the fact that their freedom is restricted. The ideal spot does not seem to exist either. In French Polynesia there are movement restrictions, the supply of food is tied to the arrival of the supply ships. There are no cash machines anywhere, so if the dollars run out, things look bad. But the surroundings are paradise. In New Zealand the supermarkets are full and there are ATMs, but the winter starts. Here in Panama you can only shop at certain times and it is always hot, but we don’t have to worry about hurricanes. So everybody makes the best out of where they are stranded.
The reports reaching us from home are also mixed. The daughter of a friend got married, on the photo after the registry office ceremony the parents keep a distance of 2 m (as pharmacists they are potential carriers, because they have constant customer contact). Some way to make the celebration something special 😉 The friends in our village are still relatively well off, they can go for a walk in the forest. At Easter we received many pictures of mini Easter fires in the gardens.
The topic of getting enough exercise is a little trickier for us. The water does not invite to swim, the ground is quite dark and you have to look out for a soap wave from the excursion steamers or driftwood floating around. I don’t know if swimming would be considered as a break of the curfew like in some other areas here. Anyway, so far we have limited ourselves to doing laps on deck. Now, the trimaran is quite big and wide. But one round is only 30 m, after all with 2x 2-step stairs. To notice an effect, we run 36 laps, that is about 1 km (+ 58 meters altitude 😉 ). Mathias said the other day, how lucky that we are not British or American, then we would have to run a mile 😉 Even though it’s not a super sport activity, you can only do it in the evening when the sun has set. Afterwards we each take a shower on one of the swimmer hulls under the outside showers. There’s got to be luxury 😉 . That way we can start the TV evening refreshed and get into bed free of sweat.
If the bandwidth is not enough, a smaller screen will do the trick – Mobile TV
Often it is very calm without wind. Only for a while there was some metal work done opposite, that went on all day long:
Not only the number of inhabited ships has decreased, but also the number of uninhabited ships at anchor has been reduced by one. It had broken loose during a stronger wind, had crashed against the boulders on the shore and leaked. The owner was informed, but lives in France. He sent an acquaintance who put the ship on a buoy and installed pumps to pump the water out of the ship. But this idea did not work well and only until the batteries were empty. The ship gradually filled up more and more until the bow was noticeably lower than the stern. One day boats from the Panama Canal Authorities came and towed the ship to shore. There it sank in front of the stone wall.
During the strong wind that had caused the ship to leak, we turned with the stern towards the shore. So we lay on the other side of our swoi circle. There the shore looked very close. We decided to carry out the circulation of the diesel engine at this time. If there was something wrong with the anchor, the engine would already be on. Luckily everything held and as a bonus there was warm water for showering 🙂
Besides the daily activities like cooking, baking, eating, cleaning, emailing and reading, Mathias has been working on contributions for our “Fun Facts” section and I am again editing trimaran SAN movies for my You Tube channel. A lot of material has accumulated. There are 5 films in progress: the route from Hamburg to the Canary Islands, the Atlantic crossing, Caribbean Sea, San Blas, Panama Canal. This will be enough footage to keep busy at anchorage for a while. The newly added film will be linked from our homepage again. Otherwise you can find the channel under “Birte Films”.
Be sure to watch my first music video as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BqdhjwIEOA
It has great water images. The song is called “drifting” by Maika Rose, a very talented young artist*, and fits into the Corona times, because at the moment there is not much left to do but to drift. (*degree of kinship purely coincidental)
In a packet of long-life cream, creamy butter has formed all by itself through the gentle rocking.
The VHF antenna project of Mathias has been successfully completed. With a radio test it reached a tanker 27.5 nm away and the connection was good. Although other sailing boats do not have masts as high as tankers, we are now able to receive weaker signals better.
Mathias spends a lot of time with his calculation on chain length at anchor. As you can see from the story of the sunken ship, a very hot topic. After his first essay was published on our webpage and on Sönke Roever’s “Blauwasser.de” page, he got in contact with sailors who also deal with the topic. Through active exchange the update was created.
Now he is working on summaries for different sized wind attack areas with 3 different chain strengths each. These summaries are in English and will soon appear under “Fun Facts”. We have wondered from the beginning why such calculations did not already exist for a long time and why there are no tables available yet. They certainly exist somewhere in the annals of the British Admiralty, only on the Internet the selection is small or not to be found. In Germany, the recommendation of the DSV persists that triple the water depth is a sufficient length for the chain. Mathias’ next project is to persuade this association to change its opinion. Several sailors told us about encounters with German sailors in Croatia, whose ships had broken away because they had not put enough chain, but were unwilling to admit to a failure because they took the rule 1:3 as the last word of wisdom. Take a look at his essay and form your own opinion.
Today three new ships were here, two catamarans and a monohull. They anchored a bit away. A control boat talked to the skippers. Afterwards the two catamarans continued their journey. We always wonder where such ships go. The three might even have come through the channel. There is a new rule that three ships smaller than 65 feet can join together if there are enough people on board, so that they don’t need extra line handlers. There must be at least three skippers and 4 line handlers on board these three ships. If there are children on board, there must also be a person to look after the children. But the trip through the canal is only worthwhile if you have a destination in the Pacific that will open again soon, or if you have already been only allowed to anchor on the Atlantic side.
After long weeks on board, I set foot on dry land. It was surprisingly easy, no land sickness, felt quite normal. Even if it swings during anchoring, it is not comparable to real sailing.
The way to the road was deserted and the road itself had little traffic. First I was rewarded with a great view of palm trees, bay and Panama City.
The bus from our outpost on the island of Flamenco to the city still runs very regularly. It was Monday, so only women are allowed outside. But I was the only woman for miles around. There were two other guests on the bus, but they were men. On the way back it was even more noticeable when the bus filled up with men and I was the only woman again.
The bus ride passed closed restaurants and government buildings with “Quedate en casa” posters. We drove through two roadblocks where the bus was waved through. The further one got into the city centre, the bigger the streets became and there was more traffic. The bus route leads through industrial areas with run-down buildings. If I had not received the directions from our neighbours I could have sworn I had ended up in the wrong area. The shopping mall is right next to the train station, I only had to cross a pedestrian bridge and then go through the bus station building. On the way I saw more men than women. One was carrying the shopping bags for his wife. I wonder if the others were all on their way to work? At the station only a bank, a Western Union branch and a pharmacy were open. In front of the Western Union branch was a long queue, where people kept their distance. The people in the pharmacy stood close behind each other.
At the supermarket I waited in front of the police officers at the entrance, together with another woman whom I had already followed through the station. Since it was not yet 4 o’clock (then our shopping hour began according to the last digit in the passport), we waited to see what would happen. But a few employees just walked past the policemen into the supermarket and then a woman came from the side and marched in. After exchanging looks with the woman in front of me, we decided to just go in as well. The Panamanian just walked in without being checked. I held my passport under the policeman’s nose. He was obviously irritated and certainly could not discover the passport number. But I was allowed to go in anyway.
There were more women than men in the supermarket, at least among the customers. There was the individual soldier who went to get something to drink, otherwise the women did the shopping. Nobody paid attention to keeping a distance, but everyone wore face masks. The cash desks had additional protective shields made out of cling film at the height of the cashiers’ heads. The helper, who helps you to pack your bags, also wore a mask, but came up close.
The selection in this supermarket is good, but not outstanding. I just wanted fresh fruit, vegetables and yoghurt. Bananas again at last!
The one hour allowed to go shopping was enough. I was on my way back before 5 p.m.
Just when I was about to manoeuvre my shopping bag, the shopping scooter and myself through the turnstile in the bus, the bus started to move. It was a bit jerky and my well filled backpack made me fall backwards right at the feet of a nice gentleman. No way I could keep a distance anymore. But that was not a problem, communication worked very well despite masks and language mix. Everyone was super nice.
For someone like me, who washes her hands 10 times a day at normal times, it was good to have hand disinfectant with me. One does think about how much one is exposed to an infection on such a trip.
On the way to the supermarket I felt as if I were in a bad science fiction movie, the way back felt different. The bus was almost half-full (every second seat has a red cross and must not be used), the shut down was not noticeable. Only the masks still looked strange, but I almost got used to that.
On the way from the bus to the marina I passed some guards, but they immediately asked me if I wanted to go to the marina. How did they guess? 😉
Back on board we were happy about the fresh things with which we could sweeten another week of quarantine.