The jungle reclaiming Fort Sherman. An old US Army post.
We spent a total of a month in Shelter Bay. Far more than we originally planned but we accomplished a lot in that time and got ready for the San Blas.
When we arrived in Shelter Bay we had several objectives. One of the major ones was to buy a new dinghy as our old one was getting harder and harder to keep inflated. The old one was made in 2011 and we bought it used in 2014 as a cost compromise from buying a new one at the time we were outfitting our boat. We were able to connect with the dealer for Caribe who had a Bodega in the Colon Free Zone so we were able to buy it at a very good price. About $2,000 less than a comparable AB dinghy at their downtown dealer.What's left of the Post Chapel.
For two days we rented a car and drove into Panama City to do shopping. In the two days we visited Centro Marino that is an excellent marine supply store We found an excellent store, La Casa de Jamon (The House of Ham) that features top quality Spanish imports of hams, cheeses, wines, pastas, chorizos, and other delicacies from Spain.We also found a good hardware store, a very good supermarket and Pricesmart, an almost exact clone of Costco. So among the stores we were able to find so much of what we needed.Our new car (dinghy) that will hopefully last another 10 years for us.
Shelter Bay runs a twice daily shuttle bus into Colon that we took frequently. Our common stop was at the Rey Market which was a pretty average supermarket but adequate. One nice thing is that they did carry products from El Corte Ingles which is a large store chain in Spain along with a nice selection of Spanish wines. At a Rey store we found in Panama City they had an entire section of products from El Corte Ingles. They even carry Duke's Mayonnaise from the US.
Picture inside of La Casa del Jamon
From the Shuttle we also found our way into the Colon Free Zone. The Free Zone is an area of several square miles that contains stores that feature duty free products. Many of them are clothes, accessories, electronics and housewares much like you find in airport duty free shops. We were able to buy beer and liquor there at excellent prices to fill our lockers for the trip. At one store we found Marie Sharp's Hot Sauces from Belize.El Diablo Beach at Shelter Bay
Besides shopping we had serious work to do. The night before we left Bocas our installed air conditioner broke. So when we arrived at Shelter Bay we worked through the marina to get an air conditioner technician who after working on it for about a week repaired it so that it is running better than it has since we bought the boat.A couple of Capuchin monkeys from one of the troops we always saw.
There were many smaller tasks we accomplished but the other major task (I didn't think it was a major task) was to improve the anchor chain by simply turning it around and putting the lesser used part out that required resplicing the line to the chain. Working with the marina service manager he presented the options of having the chain regalvanized or a cold cleaning and spraying process. We never got a price for a hot-dip process which I would have preferred so I went with the alternative hoping it would provide some help. The chain came back looking good and it didn't scrape off when I laid out on the concrete pad. But, after use the coating flaked off revealing rust. Apparently, the cleaner reversed the ends so when I reversed it we now have the old end out instead of the back end. The worst part is it took much longer than we had planned to get the work done.Ruins of Battery Mower on Fort Sheridan. One of the major batteries of the Coastal Defense.
While we were waiting for work to get done we enjoyed walking through the jungle. Shelter Bay Marina is on the site of the old US Army post, Fort Sherman. Fort Sherman was originally built to guard the eastern end of the Panama Canal from invasion. When it was built the US Army still maintained shore batteries to protect harbors. A function that was abandoned after World War II as newer technologies rendered them obsolete. Fort Sherman became the home of the Army's Jungle Warfare Training Center offering many training courses for all the services and was especially vital during the Viet Nam War.A Yellow-headed Caracara that is a type of falcon that we saw on our walks.
During our stay we explored several of the old batteries that are still in place and walked the grounds often seeing troops of monkeys and Cotimundi. Walking the post and looking at the skeleton of what remained of a formerly important US Army post that was operational during much of the time I was on active duty made much of my career seem like ancient history. How quickly the jungle overtakes what we do. How quickly our past fades into the jungle of life.One of the many megayachts that stopped in Shelter Bay while were there. This was a supply boat to support an even bigger megayacht.
Laying out my newly reefinished anchor chain to paint distance markings before loading back onto the boat.
After all our work was done our departure was delayed on two occasions because of weather. Finally, we had a good day to depart and we did. As is often the case when we can go there is no wind to sail so we took off on a short 5 hour motor to Linton Bay Marina.This is the weather system that delayed our departure as it was heading our way. About an hour after I took this shot of radar and made the decision to stay the system dissipated.
At Linton Bay we met up with one of our old friends, Claudette on ProfASea. Robert had gone back to the States but we rendezvoused with Claudette to go to the San Blas. ProfASea was our dockmate in the Rio and was in our convoy that sailed from Guanaja to Providencia. After some final provisioning, topping off with fuel and water we were finally set to go to the San Blas.
Pictures of Linton Bay Marina
So early Saturday Morning, 10 April we took off to the San Blas. A year later than planned but we were finally off 2 the San Blas Islands.