Holy Week here in Panama has proven to be an insurmountable cultural obstacle to our attempts to leave for the Galapagos.Â We have not made it off the dock, and Spectacle will remain in Panama City until at least April 9.
A bit of explanatory background is needed here.Â Having long ago (as was required given the preposterous lead times with which these trips sell out) booked a god-awfully expensive SCUBA adventure in the Galapagos, we have known for weeks that yesterday was the last possible day to depart Panama City for the Galapagos without resorting to Plan B (i.e. flying there and back from Panama).Â We need to be there on the 29th.Â It’s 900-950 miles away.Â Our boat does about 150 miles a day (and will easily do that if we motor 24/7).Â The math is not hard.
We had been told by people who know things that the typical wait for a Panama Canal crossing is about 5-9 days, and our research pretty much confirmed this.Â We began the process on March 1st (while still in Colombia) and were admeasured in Colon on March 7th.Â For whatever reason (and there certainly isn’t a good one), there are presently HUGE delays at the Canal.Â So when we were told that we wouldn’t be crossing the canal until late March, I pretty much threw a fit (although others have had it worse — a boat that came in two days after us was given an April 14th transit date).Â At this point it seemed pretty unlikely we’d be making the March 22 cutoff.
Employing my litigator training, I pretty much table-pounded and screamed my way into a March 19-20 (“maybe”) crossing appointment.Â So at this point, everything had to go right — not only did the March 19 appointment date have to be “real,” but we had to have the boat otherwise completely ready for the Pacific crossing 48 hours later.Â This involved about 7-8 non-trivial things going right.
Slowly the pieces began to fall into place.Â Sure enough, we made it through the Canal on the 20th and pulled into the Flamenco Marina late that Thursday afternoon with three items left on our checklist.
Well, to make a long and not very interesting story short, these fairly simple jobs have been rendered extraordinarily difficult by virtue of the subsequent Friday being Good Friday.Â The entire city is basically shut down from Friday through Tuesday, booze is not being served (the horror), and people are not working.
After a great deal of gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, we managed to get two of the three simple jobs done — they took 30 hours and should have taken three.Â But, alas, we could not find a single marine electrical store anywhere in town that was open to sell us an inverter diode (not a particularly hard part to find), which was the part our electrician determined is causing problems with out batteries.Â There’s literally one boat store in the whole city that was open either yesterday or today, and it specializes in fishing gear.Â Without said diode, we can’t guarantee proper, consistent charging of our batteries and that wouldn’t be a particularly enjoyable thing to live with for 90+ days.
So, alas, we have tripped over the final hurdle and will have to move to Plan B, but no big deal … we’ll fly in about 5-6 days, come back, and then cross the Pacific.