Red Frog Marina

Two days after I arrived back to Bocas, we moved over to Red Frog Marina. We’d enjoyed Bocas Marina’s close proximity to town, and their weekly bbq nights, but the property was very small, and gave us little room to stretch our legs.

We made a short, hour long  trip over to Basimentos Island, which is part of the Bocas del Toro archipelago, to settle in at Red Frog Marina, part of Red Frog Beach Resort. The vast property is being developed with many homes, as well condominiums, while still keeping a remote island feel.

After we arrived, and were settled into our slip, DeCi, the dock master, took us on a golf cart tour of the Red Frog property. Built  amid a rain forest, the resort community also offers a spa, zip lining, jungle trails, horseback riding and soon a pool and beach club.

Here  at the marina, we now face the mountains of Panama, which are very visible each morning. The marina is also more protected from wind, wakes and swells, so the Aluminum Princess is happily tied behind us.

The property here is beautiful. Just walking the path to the office area is relaxing and scenic.

There are several beaches within easy walking distance, and also a few beachfront restaurants. The trees along the many roads are full of birds, lizards and sloths (we have yet to see monkeys).

I caught this guy having some lunch.

Just off of Red Frog beach, there is a path that leads to an observation deck. It’s most always a shaded, breezy spot, and we enjoy stopping to cool off and take in the view.

Back at the beach, there is a weekly bonfire each Saturday. We went for a bit our first week here, but the heat of the fire soon had us moving on, as we noticed the sky over the beach at sunset.

And of course, we rented a golf cart for a few hours one sunny day.

We rode past the many houses that line the hills. There are generally three levels of development; upper, middle and beachfront. The upper and middle seem to be mostly complete, while beachfront lots wait to be developed.

One lot in particular had an especially great location. It sits toward the top of a hill, with much more open space than the rest. Framed by thick, tropical foliage, the views across the water were breathtaking!

We’ve been told that someone has purchased the lot, so I’m glad we had the chance to sit up there and appreciate it.

There is also a Jungle Village, with several homes and rental bungalows. They share a relaxing pool with, of course, a view.

We parked the cart at Red Frog beach, and had tacos at Nachyo  Momma’s, which had been recommended by many cruisers at the marina. It did not disappoint, and I was especially happy to get a great meal at a place that also shares the same name with one of my favorite Baltimore restaurants!

The roads here are dirt, gravel, mud and ruts for now. The plan is to pave them all with brick, a monumental undertaking! They have built their own brickworks, and are making all the bricks her on the island, saving much money on shipping them into the country. Still, a monumental task!

For the most part, we enjoy the roads being unfinished as we walk the property, except for the occasional muck and mud after a good rain.

However, they do not make for a comfortable golf cart go. We’ve rented carts on other island with tires and suspensions better equipped for bumpy, muddy roads. Our little cart was more challenged, and it wasn’t my favorite ride…give a listen:

Aside from our wanderings, we’ve made some new friends here, and are having fun spending time with them. The weather has been beautiful, but brutally hot. When the sun is out, you feel like an ant under a magnifying glass, and walking on decks or piers without shoes is like walking barefoot on the surface of the sun.

Thankfully, by 5pm the heat wanes a bit, and people venture out. We usually make a happy hour cocktail and walk to the beach, or meet other cruisers at a gathering spot along the main pier. The people, sights and sounds here at Red Frog marina make the heat bearable, and we’re loving our temporary rain forest home.

Here are many more photos of Red Frog’s property, and the beautiful views.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Scott’s Bachelor Days

While I was gone for five weeks, Scott enjoyed some serious bachelor time. A conversation two weeks into my trip home went something like this:

Me: How is everything?

Scott: Ok, but the boat kinda smells.

Me: Have you done laundry? (keep in mind, I’d been gone for two weeks)

Scott: I’ll probably do it tomorrow.

Me: Are you showering regularly?

Scott: Well, maybe not as regularly as society would like.

Me: Ok, so the laundry stinks, and you stink and therefor the bed sheets also stink. Maybe this the cause of said smell.

Scott: And I may not be rinsing the sink as good as I should, ’cause it kinda has a smell, too.

Me: Please pay someone to clean the boat before I come back.

Scott’s answer to the squashing the smell? When I talked to him the next day, he’d sprayed some body spray into the air conditioning vents, so the smell would travel down into the stateroom. I told him I was actually fine with that, but to still do the laundry, and shower more often! Thankfully, when I came back, everything smelled and looked normal.

In the meantime, Pete, our neighbor across the pier, had to empty his fuel tanks for repairs, and offered it to us…free of charge. Scott just had to get it from Pete’s boat to ours.

After waiting in vain for the mechanic at the marina to help out with pumping the fuel, Scott went to town and bought 100 feet of hose, removed his pump from our engine room, assembled everything on the pier, and pumped 350 – 400 gallons of fuel from Pete’s boat, across the pier and into our tanks.

Before beginning, Scott moved all of the fuel we had into one tank, just in case Pete’s fuel wasn’t the cleanest. As always, Scott filtered the fuel down to 10 microns as he pumped it, and said that it looked great. It was a bit of a hassle, but the process saved us approximately $1,000.00!

There were also several excursions on the Aluminum Princess while I was gone. Scott’s first outing was to the Snyder Canal.

Bocas del Toro is home to Panama’s first man-made canal. The Snyder Banana Company received permission from the Colombian government in 1899 to construct a canal from near Isla Colon to nearby Changuinola, in order to develop banana plantations on property recently obtained from the estate a German banana grower in the area.

There needed to be some way to transport banana bunches to ships waiting in Almirante bay, so construction of the the Snyder Canal began. The United Fruit Company purchased the Snyder Banana Company in 1899, and completed the canal 1903.

In addition to bananas, the canal was used to barge construction materials, supplies, bridge and steam locomotive parts and personnel to Changuinola. A telephone line was installed along the length of the canal, to communicate the control of heavy barge traffic.

Bridges and railroad systems were eventually built, connecting port facilities to plantations from Changuinola to the Costa Rican border 30 miles away.

 By 1909, with the railroad system in place for transporting bananas to newly opened port facilities located on the mainland, the Synder Canal was declared obsolete and was abandoned.

Referred to as “the other Panama Canal,” the Snyder Canal parallels the Caribbean coast, not far from Bocas del Toro. These days, the shoreline has grown into the canal in many spots, making for interesting travel. Scott also passed several local Indian homes on his journey.

As most of the land along canal is also fronts the Caribbean Sea (canal on one side, Caribbean Sea on the other), Scott noticed many investor signs along the way. It seems that they intend to eventually develop the shoreline here.

As the canal ends, the water opens up again, with field-like grasses on either side.

Scott next traveled the Rio Banano, a small, natural river nearby. Unlike the man-made canal, the Rio Banano is thick with mangroves. They crowd the shoreline, and hang down from above like tropical stalactites.

Scott navigated the twisting, turning path through the muddy, sediment-filled water. He hoped that his prop didn’t snag anything along the way, not wanting to put his hand in the murky water to free it.

Scott loves a good day of exploring, and enjoyed discovering these two interesting waterways. Here are more photos of his Aluminum Princess excursions near Bocas.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Back To Bocas

Holy cow, I cannot believe it’s been almost a month since my last post!! I finished up my visit home with a day at the Fell’s Point Festival. Located just east of Baltimore’s “Inner Harbor,” the neighborhood of Fell’s Point has a maritime past, and the air of a seafaring town. And, it also has the greatest concentration of drinking establishments and restaurants in the city….a perfect place for a festival!

I was able to spend time with our former neighbors, giving me a chance to take a peek at the house, yard and pier we sold last year. I was only able to sneak a photo of the pier, at the left.

Our friends Eric and Mary were great neighbors, and it was nice to catch up with them, their daughter and grandson. The views of Shallow Creek were, as always, beautiful and peaceful.

My friends Amy and Joe, and Nan and Mike put me up for many nights while I was in town. A BIG thank you to them, for graciously sharing their homes with me. Both have awesome views of the city from their rooftop decks, just one of many things I love about Baltimore.

On one of my last nights in town, I met up with friends, to watch the Orioles try for a spot in the playoffs. Unfortunately, they didn’t get past the wild card game, but it was a great final night out with friends.

From there, it was back to Annapolis, and my sister’s house. She and my brother-in-law also allowed me to crash in and out of their lives during my visit. They are invaluable with helping us manage mail, bills, and many other mundane details as we cruise; we cannot thank them enough!

My sister plays cello…scratch that, “electric” cello, with several people in the Annapolis area and also on Maryland’s eastern shore. On my last night in town, she played at a record store in downtown Annapolis. I was shocked to see how popular records have become again!

They drew quite a crowd, and the store was packed with people. Please forgive me, but it  has to be said, my sister kicks ass!

So, that wrapped up my visit home. It was great to be back for awhile. I recently heard someone describe Baltimore as being like an old, worn shoe; a little scuffed up around the edges, but don’t polish it, because the scuff has a story. All my Baltimore stories and memories are great ones, and I’m proud of the “scuff.”

My trip flew by, and I had an awesome time, but all the running and doing had me pretty beat by the end. It was time to board a plane and head for Panama, via Atlanta. I enjoyed some great sunset views from my window, along the way.

When I landed in Panama City, my trusty cab driver, Willie, was waiting as I rounded the corner out of customs. Hurray, as I was lugging quite a weighty load!

After an overnight in Panama City, Willie met me first thing the next morning, and dropped me a the domestic airport. I arrived extra early, to beat city traffic, and was rewarded with an offer to take an earlier flight. I hesitated, knowing I had no way to let Scott know the change of plan, but decided to just go with it.

I took off just after 7:30am, and again enjoyed some great views, during the short flight back to Bocas.

We flew right past Isla Colon, and Bocas Town.

I waited for the plane to make it’s turn toward the airport, but it kept going. I was sure I’d boarded the right plane, but now wondered where this thing was headed. We landed at a remote airstrip, similar to that in Bocas Town, but it was definitely not Bocas Town.

As people began to disembark, I went forward, to ask the flight attendant what to do. I asked her about Bocas (dealing with language barrier), and she motioned that I had to get off the plane. It seemed that I had to change planes, but I wondered how I’d do that, with just a torn ticket stub.

As I gathered my things and headed for the door, an America couple ahead of me was asking about Bocas as well. A different flight attendant, with better English skills, told them to stay on board, that we were continuing on to Bocas next. Whew!

Soon we were off to Bocas, landing eight minutes later (really, eight minutes!). I easily got my bags, as only seven of us got off the plane, and a cab driver called to me as I came outside. He dropped me at the water taxi stop, and called for someone to come help me with my bags, that were as heavy as if they had dead bodies in them.

I made the five minute trip across the water to Bocas Marina, was dropped at the pier, and lugged my way to Sea Life just before 9am, much to Scott’s surprise. Luckily, I caught him before he’d left to pick me up! We discussed having  a “plan B” in place for future situations.

So, I’m back to life at sea, or should I say marina life for now. I’ve caught up on sleep (getting 12 straight hours my first three nights back), laundry and cleaning, and we’ve moved locations to a new marina (more on that to come). It’s great to be back on Sea Life, with Scott and Howard, and I’m looking forward to enjoying the area before we shove off to discover more of Panama’s Caribbean coast. Here are more photos of my final days at home, and flights back to Bocas.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”