Close your eyes.
We are now travelling back in time.
Okay, we’ve arrived – you can open your eyes now.
“Good morning Shelter Bay Marina...”
As the voice crackles over our radio, I tie my hair up in a loose bun.
“…is there any medical, emergency or priority traffic? Please come now.”
The last time we had had a proper net was in Trinidad, over a year ago. I sit down on the saloon floor with my legs in ‘butterfly’ position, bending my head down over my feet to stretch out my lower back.
“Nothing heard on that one, which is always a good thing. Is there anyone new to the marina who would like some information on how things work here? Please come now.”
I enjoy doing some stretches every morning while listening to the 7:30 net.
“Nothing heard. Okay, just some general information: The marina bus runs twice daily…”
Yep, the dear marina bus! Shelter Bay Marina is on the opposite side of the canal from EVERYTHING. Need ‘_______________’? You’re going to have to take the bus into Colon. Immigration, grocery store, dentist – it’s all in Colon. The catch is getting across the canal. See, there isn’t a bridge. In Panamá city, yes, but the one being built here isn’t finished yet. (The bridges need to be high enough that all the very tall ships can pass beneath them.) It takes up your whole day to go into Colon, but enough moaning – we are actually very grateful for this service the marina offers!
I ease up out of my stretch and shift my position to stretch another part of my body.
“…and also we ask that you please return the white trolleys to their place in front of the pool so that cruisers coming back on the bus can find them again. Is there anything else before we move on to buy, sell, trade or giveaway?”
As I get into my stretching routine properly, I feel the perspiration forming on my forehead and back. It doesn’t take a lot to get uncomfortably hot in Panamá!
“Nothing heard. So on to buy, sell, trade or giveaway! Is there anyone out there who wants to raise their waterline?”
I listen to the boats calling in. One offers an aluminium cylinder, another is looking for a specific size bolt. Two are getting rid of charts and sailing guides of the places they’ve already been and are not planning on returning to. I smile. That’s só never going to be us! We like mementos too much and with a steel boat – hey, a few sailing guides aren’t going to make a difference!
We recently bought a kayak that another boat had advertised as ‘for sale’ on the morning net. We haven’t transferred it to Shang Du yet, as we’re still located on the hard. The previous owners aren’t going through the canal for a while yet, so they’re willing to hold onto it until we get back into the water.
“Last call for buy, sell, trade or giveaway.”
After a short pause the net controller continues.
“Now for social events and activities. Ultra, you there?”
Since Ultra arrived at Shelter Bay marina, the social calendar has definitely become more crowded. 😉
“Yeah, Ultra’s here.”
“Good morning net, this is JoAnne on Ultra with the activities for this week…”
Christian fellowship and Potluck on Sunday, movie night on Wednesday, Friday night cock-tails at the cruisers’ palápa and talks in-between – our whole week planned out! 😉 But it’s loads of fun, especially since these are the people who will plan to have an ice-cream party and then actually make it happen. ^_^
“There is aqua fit in the pool every day at 4:15 with April, and Vicky does a nature walk at 8 o’clock on a Monday morning…”
Karin comes in through the main hatch and as I’m right in the middle of the saloon floor, I just lean to one side so she can step past me.
”…crew wanted or offered?”
Sometimes there are a lot of boats needing crew, sometimes none. It’s usually people looking for line-handlers to go through the canal. We all did that a few times for the experience, but now we prefer to stay at home. I’ve been through 4 times now and Shang Du really needs me to stay put and work on the rust spots.
“…you can also check the bulletin-board outside the marina office, there are loads of adverts there…”
People tend to find long-term crew via sources other than the morning net. 😉
“…any commercial announcements? Please come now.”
“Go ahead Carol.”
“Hi good morning everyone this is Carol from Dutch Dreamer with a shout-out for my husband Greg…”
Even after more than two months of hearing the same commercial announcements each morning, I’m not tired of them.
“…generator, small outboard engine and refrigeration needs. Come on by, he’d love to help you. We’re the big yellow motor-sailor at the back of the yard with the big wooden staircase…”
Since they’ve been here in Panamá so long, the staircase makes sense. The only reason we endure the ladder is because we know it’s temporary.
The sail-loft, with it’s big mahi-mahi painted on the side of the building along with numerus other art of sailors who have left a ‘lasting reminder’ of their stay in Panamá. We still need to go and paint out boat name up there with the rest, I just haven’t gotten around to doing it yet!
“…herb garden made by the cruisers for the cruisers, so just bring a baggy and a pair of scissors and help yourself..”
One side of the sail-loft is turned into a garden with all sorts of edible plants. =) There is a big bush of basil growing there too. Someone told Sophia that you can grow basil by just picking a twig and putting it in water, it will grow it’s own root system. So she tried it. Now she has a little basil plant growing in an old peanut-butter jar in her cabin, sitting in the sunshine beating down through the hatch.
”Is there anything else for the net before we move on to trivia?”
Now is the time when people who had missed the first part of the net catch up on any important details.
“Bill, I believe you have some trivia for us.”
I can’t remember when it started exactly, obviously only after Ultra arrived in Shelter Bay, but at some point Bill started giving out rewards for answering the trivia questions. I sit up, my full attention on the radio. The ‘free beer’ holds no attraction for me, but I do like to try and see if I know the answer to the question.
“…okay, I’ve got my cards now. So, for a free beer: what was the lowest price ever paid by someone to go through the canal? …. Go.”
“Very good! And who is this?”
Missed it. I mostly do, but it’s still fun to listen. A few more questions are asked, then the net is handed back to the controller.
“Is there anything else before we close the net for today?”
When no-one answers she continues,
“Well, then that’s it from me. Have a good day everyone! Standing by on channel 67.”
A FEW GLIMPSES OF LIFE AT SHELTER BAY: