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Suited Up And Ready To Ride

Justin, who was supposed to be buying the motorcycle left his passport over in Bocas del Toro, so technically I sold the bike to his girlfriend, Brandy. We went over to Bugaba and worked out all the paperwork. Fortunately there was a young lady who handles titles and registration for some care dealership standing behind us and she helped us fill out the two forms we needed to complete (in Spanish, of course.) I’m sure we could have made it on our own, but the line behind us was growing longer by the minute so the lady was a great help…

Here’s Justin all suited up and ready to ride. They plan on going to spend the night in Boquete and then ride the bike over to Bocas del Toro in the morning.


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Heading over to Bugaba this morning to transfer title on the motorcycle. Got close to my asking price so I’m satisfied. Of course the money is already gone. I have some massive dental work that needs to be done. Fortunately it’s a LOT less expensive here than in the States, but it’s still a serious chunk of change.

Home Safe 3

I just never used it like I thought I was going to. There were roads I’d pass on the bus going to and from David and Bugaba and wonder what was down them. I did ride down several of them and the answer was…not much.


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Getting Ready For Christmas

‘Tis the season to be jolly and I’m getting into the groove here in Boquerón. I spent all weekend getting my Christmas tree up, but it was certainly worth the effort.



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An Honor

Back the last week in September our little community of Boquerón celebrated the feast day of its patron saint San Miguel. A little old man, Jorge Luis Ríos, who lives just up the main road from me said he was putting together a small magazine and he wanted me to write an article for it. He and I talk a couple of times a week and he knows that I was a newspaper reporter way, way, way back, and I lent him the Spanish version of my book which he said he enjoyed. He must have because every time we are on the bus together going in to David (DahVEED) he tells everyone around that I’ve written a book.. Sr. Ríos is a radio journalist reporting on farm news for Radio Chiriquí. So, I gave him about a thousand words in a little article titled “Mi Boquerón” (My Boquerón). He produced a 14-page magazine (revista in Spanish).


My story was extremely heavily edited, but parts of it were quoted…



On the facing page is a national hero here in Panama and the Pride of Boquerón, without a doubt…


It’s an honor to be in such good company and definitely an honor to appear as the only extranjero (foreigner) in this community’s celebration of their year. I think it’s called assimilation.



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Dianne’s Rose

I recently received this comment from Roy Schreyer: “Would you be interested in a write up on DIANNE’S ROSE a “Tiny” Houseboat?” As it happens this is a boat I’ve admired as I’ve roamed through the cyber world looking at shanty boats to write about and possibly build and own, so naturally I wrote back in the affirmative. This is what I received…

DIANNE’S ROSE, Shanty/Camp/Houseboat

DIANNE’S ROSE is now complete and on her second season as our “Tiny Cabin” on the water.

My wife, Dianne Roselee, was the inspiration behind this design. I loved sailing our beach cruiser, Whisper, accessing the wilds. “Roughing it”! Dianne, not so much! She encouraged me to build her a more comfortable boat, nothing tippy please! I like my wife, so decided to oblige. The result has made quite an impression on others but most importantly Dianne likes it! She is less adventurous than I and in this boat I’m able to enjoy more time on the water in the wilds, with my wife. DIANNE’S ROSE has kept us dry in rain, cool under the hot sun, safe during storms and warm when the snow was on the river banks (we havve a mini wood stove to warm the cabin, driftwood being plentiful)!

This spring took forever to arrive and our first trip out on Georgian Bay (the Great Lakes) we helped break up the ice (see You Tube)! Thanks to this unique boat I’ve had my share of adventure and Dianne has been comfortable and safe even if I’ve pushed my luck!  I did just that last fall on an overnight trip on our local Nottawasaga River. Wanting to see the river’s upper reaches where there is a large swamp, we (the boat and I) were happily boating between trees and bumping over submerged logs. The scenery was breath taking, just imagine a Louisiana Swamp but colder. Squeezing past many “pinches” to get here, I was proud of my boat handling skills. For every such moment experience tells me I will soon be humbled! Dianne was concerned generally but at one of these pinches in particular. The main stream of the river was running strong from recent rains, she questioned if we would be able to navigate it on the return trip, with the current pushing fast from our stern. I’ll admit I did scrape a few more branches than I cared to and stressed Di more than I cared as well! On the up side, we found a beautiful nook to spend the night where we fished and enjoyed hot soup from our galley (Not even a bite!). We woke relaxed with mist on the water and enjoyed a simple breakfast of toasted egg sandwiches as the sun burned the mist away. Yesterday’s mistakes also faded. I enjoyed a fresh start.

On hot days we sit in the shade with windows and doors open, funneling cool breezes to our passengers. This is a social boat with room for eight (we’ve had as many as twelve). Some boaters have passed by asking if it’s hot inside unaware how wrong they are! Yet the cold has not been a problem either with the tiny portable wood stove I mentioned. It warms the cabin up, when outside is near freezing! This has doubled the length of our boating season. There was snow on the river banks on the last outing of last season and ice still in the bay on our first outing of this season!

DIANNE’S ROSE is 17’ X 8’ beam and needs only 6” to float, making her perfect for sneaking into shallow coves (swamps) and pulling up to isolated beaches.


The boat has a refined barge hull with the sides having a slight “V”, providing the extreme shallow draw and the accommodations for our comfort. We can easily find shelter from wind and waves as we did on another trip during a severe thunderstorm. Tucked well up a creek, thanks to our shallow draw,we enjoyed the sound of the heavy rain without a care! Others anchored in a reasonably sheltered bay that our creek fed were tossed about all night. We later found out this storm spawned a small tornado (no one hurt).

This hull shape has surprised many as being quite sea worthy, not limiting our adventures to just protected waters! The next morning we were the rare boat out in choppy waters (others may have been catching up on their sleep?)! Confidence in such conditions come from a high freeboard, a cabin that can be secured tightly, a strongly built hull with divided compartments and a boat with positive buoyancy. The size of the boat and the shape of the hull also help. Smaller boats bob between waves like a duck, never dealing with two waves at once. Not being overpowered we don’t run on top of waves, slamming as we go, but ride in the water as a displacement hull does! We use a 9.8 hp outboard, which keeps fuel costs low and propels us at 6 mph (3/4 throttle). I tested her in 3-4’ breaking waves (not my wife, just the boat), she performed well, light enough to rise over large waves but heavy enough to punch through smaller chop. There was lots of spray but not one wave broke on deck! Of course using good judgement is part of good seamanship, I intend to use her mostly on good weather days but I want confidence in case the weather turns!


Another unforeseen advantage is being able to launch off less than perfect sites, as is often the case in the wilder places we enjoy.  The interior has surpassed our expectations! On our first trip we experienced the biggest advantage of this design. It rained for most of the first day but we were completely comfortable inside, opening the rear windows for just the right air flow. It was surreal to enjoy what would normally be a miserable day on the water. Later that day we navigated down a long narrow channel (Lost Channel… really!), we slipped over submerged logs and rocks, settling into a wild lagoon for our first night on board. The bugs were horrible but with screens in place, we paid little attention to our pesky neighbors and enjoyed a dry retreat. Hardly claustrophobic, with large windows we have almost a full 360 degree view. A simple supper from our modest galley was soon ready.

The 8’ X 10’ cabin has areas that perform dual function and more! Two couches, 62” long, face each other and serves as lounge, driver’s seat, dinning and sleeping areas. We have bigger than a queen-sized bed when filler boards are in place! These boards transform into dining table, additional seats, storage shelves (under the deck) and into the steps in and out of the cabin.  There is a small bathroom with full standing headroom on the left rear side. This space is also our coat closet and a change room with the composting toilet (which does not smell) slid back under the rear deck.


The kitchenette is on the opposite side and doubles as our vanity. A propane camp stove sits on a 36 X 32” counter with a sink. The stove and cooler can be taken ashore for cookouts. A curtain hung across the aisle, the back of the boat now becomes a full bathroom. Toilet, sink and bathing, camp style of course, using a basin to stand in and a pitcher to wet and rinse. Hot water is provided from a pot or solar bag! The front, 4’ X 8’, and back 28” X 8’ porches add livability. We fish off the rear deck sitting on the fuel boxes as one sits at the end of a cottage dock. The front is our main entrance and swim platform with boarding ladder. It could accommodate a small tent arranged similar to “pop-up” tent trailers. This adds space to accommodate a small family!  I design DIANNE’S ROSE to be home built so kept construction straight forward but strong, combining “stitch and glue” and “frame” construction. Most panels are built on a bench, then assembled “egg carton” style. Other parts are simply butt joined, epoxied and screwed. The curved ply skin is dry fitted, marked, cut and then easily wrapped onto the framework. The roof appears difficult but is not with the templates provided. It is broken into three manageable sections and “T&G” planks follow the shape easily, creating a strong but light structure when fiberglass is added.



About 600hrs were needed to build DIANNE’S ROSE. I personally know there are many rewards along the way. The milestones come steadily encouraging you to push on! On occasion a boat party breaks out as curious friends drop in, some even help. As time passes regardless, building this Tiny Houseboat will give years of pleasure when complete! Some unforeseen uses at home when on its trailer (saving marina costs) are; it is my “man cave”, guest house, and a second bathroom. We launched on June 15th, 2013 and are continuing to get to know her better, but thus far we are very happy! The small size has been a large part of the fun!


Plans and Study Plans are available, inquire at Check my web site (work in progress) for other interesting projects and see You Tube for recent videos (type-  royschreyer).

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I have long advocated that people should live out their dreams and it needs to be done while you’re young!

Everyone has dreams and most, nearly all, I’d bet go unfulfilled. I know my mom and dad had dreams of travel and adventure once the kids were grown up and gone. Didn’t happen. I watched my mom succumb to the most debilitating case of rheumatoid arthritis imaginable. First her hands, then her knees and she was getting around on crutches and then a walked in her 40s. And she was gone at 58.


My brother Gary faired a little better. His dream was to play golf and he became a PGA member and was a club pro for many years. He and his lovely wife, Dianne, traveled extensively, arranging golf tours for people and I know they went to Hawaii several times as well as Puerto Rico and other spots in the Caribbean. He and Dianne loved going on cruise ship vacations and they loved dancing so much that the dedicated an entire room in their house to a place they could spend their evenings dancing. He developed bladder cancer and was gone at 55.


While sitting in offices, dreaming about being somewhere on a boat I came across two passages in books that had a profound impact on my life. The first is from Sterling Hayden’s book Wanderer


“‘I’ve always wanted to sail to the South Seas, but I can’t afford it.’  What these men can’t afford is not to go.  They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of ‘security.’  And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine–and before we know it our lives are gone.

     “What does a man need–really need?  A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in–and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment.  That’s all–in the material sense. And we know it.  But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.

     “The years thunder by.  The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience.  Before we know it the tomb is sealed.”

The second is from Richard MacCullough’s book Viking’s Wake in which he said:

 “And the bright horizon calls!  Many a thing will keep till the world’s work is done, and youth is only a memory.  When the old enchanter came to my door laden with dreams, I reached out with both hands.  For I knew that he would not be lured with the gold that I might later offer, when age had come upon me.”

So I ditched the nine-to-five routine, got a job as a deckhand on a dinner cruise boat in Fort Lauderdale, put in my time there and in Chicago, got my U.S. Coast Guard license and spent the next 20+ years running other people’s boats around in the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico, up and down the east coast of the U.S., on the French Riviera, sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, and when I turned 50, I pulled into the harbor at Isla Mujeres, Mexico on my own (finally) small sailboat making a nine-month cruise to Mexico, Belize and the Rio Dulce in Guatemala and back to Fort Lauderdale. I was living out the dreams of my childhood and youth

But that was then. This is now. Last year when I went to get a letter from an internist saying I was fit to drive here in Panama, he told me that I had emphysema. Well, I knew that. I’m not dumb. A half century of inhaling licit and illicit substances into one’s lungs will tend to do that to ya. But, while he gave me a referral to a doctor specializing in pulmonary disorders I didn’t act on it. Until yesterday (Nov. 6th). I’m susceptible to pollen allergies and there’s something in the air now that has me hacking and coughing up icky stuff from my lungs which I haven’t been doing since I gave up smoking a year ago. I’ll be completely honest. Sometimes the simplest of tasks leave me wheezing. Gasping for breath. I don’t have a chipper walking gait any more. I’m not doing a Tim Conway old man shuffle, but there’s no pep in the step.

So I dug up Dr. Osario’s referral scripts and went in to Hospital Chiriqui and saw Dr. Rafael Rodriguez. Nice guy. Speaks excellent, though heavily accented English, and insisted on conducting our consultation in English “so you will know exactly what’s what without losing anything in translation.” And here’s the big difference between doctors in Panama and in the States. We were in his office for nearly an hour. He explained things clearly and pulled no punches. “You’re lungs are in really bad shape. From the breathing test you did when you came in it shows you have just 34% of the lung capacity you should have! If we don’t treat this very aggressively you will be on oxygen at home in six months. But that doesn’t have to happen. I believe part of your problem, from how you’ve described your symptoms, is due to allergies that we will tackle at the same time we go after the emphysema.” He referred me to a cardiologist since I had a heart attack six years ago and have three stents. I’ll go see him in a week of so. Dr. Rodrizuez wrote out a slew of prescriptions and ran me through a bunch of breathing exercises I have to do daily. The cost of the visit was $75, but I get an old-timer’s discount of $15 so an hour of face time with the doctor set me back $60!

I went down to Romero supermarket pharmacy and bought everything he’d written. Don’t know what happened to the receipt, but after getting the 20% jubilado discount it all came to almost $275!!! But I can’t imagine what that would have set me back in the States!

So, if I hadn’t gone out and actually “reached out with both hands” I’d STILL be in the same physical condition as I’m in today but wishing that I’d actually gone out and done all those things I did when I was young and able.

Got a dream? Don’t let it  escape you. Reach out with both hands and don’t let go. Remember, too,

plans for today





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Shanty Boat

Readers from my other blog: have been successful in building their own Shanty Boat out on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Their blog: details their philosophy behind the build and the actual construction process itself. Give it a read.

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