Tag Archives: beaches

Sugar Shack in Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro: The Bastimentos Island

The water in the Bocas are clear, but green.  Not the beautiful blue or turquoise we found in the San Blas Islands.  There also was an unpleasant odor where we were anchored near Bocas Town so we decided to find a new place to drop the hook.  Our friends on “Wandering Rose” headed over to Bastimentos earlier so that is where we decided to go as well.

We stowed all of our tools that were out for various projects, rolled up the rain shades (as it has been raining a lot) and prepped the boat for a short 4-mile motor.  Even though it is not very far to this new island, it is along a path riddled with reefs and mangroves.  We had all of our charts up (GPS, Navionics, and Bauhaus) and made our way safely to a new, more secluded anchorage.

Isla Bastimentos is one of the larger islands in the archipelago and home to the sleepy town of Old Bank, the Salt Creek indigenous community, and the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park. It is also home to the Red Frog Beach Resort and Marina.  It is said that this island has some of the most stunning beaches of all the Bocas islands.  But they are all on the windward side facing the sea. Which makes for great surfing, but bad swimming.

Getting to the Red Frog Beach Resort and Marina was a short dinghy ride through a mangrove forest that makes you feel a bit like Indiana Jones discovering a hidden village.  We left late in the afternoon and had only planned on staying ashore for a few hours.  Upon arrival, there is a nice little dinghy dock and a resort worker asking for $5 per person to enter their establishment.  What, I have to pay money to spend money at your resort?  Well, ok, since we get wrist bands and can use them over the course of several days.

Red Frog Marina

Red Frog Marina

It is a rather large resort with several beaches, a marina, zip line, small market, and many places to eat.

Red Frog Marina and Resort.

Red Frog Marina and Resort.

Along the way they had these beautiful trees with roots that resembled mangrove roots.  Anyone know the type of tree this is?

Beautiful tree - do you know what it is?

Beautiful tree – do you know what it is?

It was a short 15-minute walk to The Point Beach Restaurant and look out point. The Point Restaurant was really nice and elevated to give you a sweeping view of the beach and ocean.  They served tasty island drinks and food, but it was a bit overpriced (beer was $2.50).

Photo on left was this pretty little palm tree growing out of the rocks.  Photo on right is The Point restaurant and photo below are the crashing waves on the beach.

The Point Beach at Red Frog

The Point Beach at Red Frog

Evidently, they are experiencing harsher weather conditions than normal as the waves were huge.

We worked on a few more projects as the rain stole our days ashore away. Our rain shades were working great but there are two small corners that are exposed.  These two open bimini corners allow the rain to come in and it makes our cockpit all wet.  It was challenging to create a pattern, but Matt was relentless.  We tried and tried and nothing seemed to work so we will have to keep at this project.

The dinghy fuel tank cover was another project Matt made early in his sewing career.  It was fine, but we wanted to add pockets and fix a few things, so we remade it in red.

Fuel Tank Creating a Pattern

Fuel Tank Creating a Pattern

We made two large pockets in the front and back that will fit two sippy cups each.  The flap on the top is where we put gasoline into the tank and the side has slight openings for the straps that lock the tank to the dinghy (see white cable at bottom of image).  Yep, we have to lock the fuel tank to the dinghy to prevent it from walking away.  Completed and on the fuel tank.

Dinghy Fuel Tank Cover

Dinghy Fuel Tank Cover

The wind instruments have been a major pain in our A$$!  We replaced the wind indicator at the top of the mast, but they still are not working properly.  Sometimes they show the wind direction, but no speed, while others they show the speed and no direction.

Matt first went up our 70′ mast to see if the wind instrument was working.  Which did not seem to be the case.  He is working on the windex which is in front of the mast just below the two wind indicators which are a top the mast.

Matt up the top of our 70' mast.

Matt up the top of our 70′ mast.

Before we spend $500 for one instrument (we will need 2), Matt wanted to see if switching them would work.  Nope!  Looks like we will order one replacement to see if it works and if it does, we will order another and replace the port side instrument.

Wind instrument repair?

Wind instrument repair?

PROJECTS WORKED IN BASTIMENTOS:

  • Sewed new dinghy fuel tank cover
  • Worked on wind instruments
    • This is a work in progress, need new instruments which Wayne is bringing
Sugar Shack in Bocas del Toro

Sugar Shack in Bocas del Toro

Archpielago Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro: Bocas Town

Matt and I spent 13 days exploring Bocas del Toro before Wayne arrived.  Several people told us that these islands were very touristy and nothing like the San Blas island chain (which we loved).  We typically prefer the isolated, quiet islands, but we thought we’d give them a try.  Our first stop, Bocas Town.

The islands that make up the Archipielago de Bocas del Toro are listed below.  We entered the island chain between Isla Colon and Bastimento, then motored around the bottom of Isla Colon to arrive in Bocas Town, the capital of the Bocas del Toro province.

Archpielago Bocas del Toro

Archpielago Bocas del Toro

Bocas Town has a friendly population of about 8k residents.  The town is divided into 8 avenidas, running east and west starting with Avenida A, then Avenida B, etc… Then the streets running north to south are numbered, Calle 1, Call 2, etc….  It is a very laid back atmosphere, with a lot of tourists and even more backpackers.

Bocas Town map

Bocas Town map

There is one main road were most of the shops and eateries can be found and they are crawling with people milling about.

Typical road in Bocas Town.

Typical road in Bocas Town.

The coasts are peppered with bars and restaurants which makes it fun to explore.  Who has the best wifi and happy hour?  So, far El Pirata has smokin hot wifi, great view, and friendly staff.  Buena Vista also had good internet, food, and friendly staff.

Places to eat and drink line the water's edge.

Places to eat and drink line the water’s edge.

Of course Matt sniffed out a local pub that offered beer on tap – the Bocas Brewery.

Bocas Brewery offering beer on tap.

Bocas Brewery offering beer on tap.

We found the local fire station and they had restored a beautiful American France fire truck that was acquired in 1926.  This truck was made between 1914-1916.  This is a car water bomb, not a tanker, its bronze pump is special to work with sea water. The last time it worked was in 1981.

1900 Fire truck.

1900 Fire truck.

A fun little photo op at La Buga – Matt does have his head inside the dive mask but it is hard to see it – you can only see this arm and hat sticking out the side of the statue.

Surfer and diver at La Buga.

Surfer and diver at La Buga.

Matt took a moment out to rest at Hotel Olas as he had a taxing day walking from bar to bar.

Matt's happy spot at Hotel Olas.

Matt’s happy spot at Hotel Olas.

Another cool map of the Archipielago Bocas del Toro:

Map of Bocas del Toro.

Map of Bocas del Toro.

We took some of the down time (while it rained) to work on more projects.  A few months ago, I replaced the helm seat back covers with a tan sunbrella that did not match the rest of the cockpit sunbrella.  Long story short we ordered 15 yards of the wrong “tan” back in St. Maarten.  We used the majority of this fabric for new rain shades to cover our phifertex sun shades.  Anyway, I had wanted to change them out to blue to match the rest of the boat. Yes, a total frilly, girly thing, I know!

We also needed to do some paperwork with the government of Panama.  You are supposed to get a “zarpe” each time you leave a port in Panama.  Our Zarpe had us going to Linton Bay/Portobello so technically we should have gotten a new Zarpe to San Blas, then another one to Bocas del Toro.  We sort of missed those steps.  So, we went into Port Authority to get a new Zarpe to Panama City so our agent can clear us out of the country once we transit the canal.

The port authority agent was off over the weekend, then they took Monday-Wednesday off for Carnival so we had to wait 5 days before making the visit.  The first man was a little put out that we did not follow the rules and told us we had to go back to Portobello to get a new Zarpe (that is well over 200 miles away) – yikes that sucks!  But he then said that this was not his department and we had to go to another department down the hall.  So, we did.

This lady could not have been nicer!  She was all ready to give us our new Zarpe until we told her we would not be leavinft, drat.  Well that is a Sunday and they are not open and if we came on Saturday it would cost us overtime.  So, we changed our departure date to 2/24 and told her we would see her on 2/23.  Done!

Next, we needed to go to the airport to see an Immigration officer.  We entered the country on a Panamanian Mariners Visa which was good for 90 days.  That visa is set to expire on 6 March, the same day that we will be transiting the canal.  You are only allowed to renew the visa the day before or the day of.  If you come after your expiration date it is $50 per person late fee.

We can’t go the day before as we have guests and are supposed to be staging for the transit.  And we can’t go the day of as we will be in transit.  The immigration offices are in Colon or Panama City which is a taxi ride so it looks like we will have to pay the late fee.  Bummer!g the Bocas until 2/26.  She said we had to come back the day before we left.

It was raining a lot here, so we got productive and started working on multiple projects.

One of Matt’s first sewing projects was a cover for our man overboard horse shoe.  He did a great job considering he had no pattern.  In addition, he made it while at home and the horse shoe was on the boat.  But, it was in grey fabric and needed an update so I replaced it with a red cover.

In the photo below you will see the pattern for the man overboard horse shoe, and the new helm seat rail covers.

Two new projects complete.

Two new projects complete.

The boat came with hoakie screens for the salon hatches but they are difficult to put in and didn’t stay up well.  They are very useful to keep the bugs and no see-ums out of the boat – especially since these two hatches are always open.

Top image is Matt building a new frame for the screens using the pvc we bought for the ceiling.  The bottom image shows the old ugly screens.

Window hatch screens.

Window hatch screens.

New screens complete.  The problem is that the no see-um screens don’t let much air in so now Matt wants to make two more sets with normal screens.

No see-um window screen

No see-um window screen

Projects completed and or 75% done in Bocas Town:

  • Make new helm seat back covers – blue sunbrella, done.
  • Sew new man overboard ring cover – red sunbrella (see note below). done.
  • Build new salon hatch screens (in progress)