Tag Archives: living abroad

Advantages of a Shanty Boat vs. Sail or Powerboat

I have a very dear friend in Florida who is always trying to convince me to give up the shanty boat idea. “Come up here,” he says, “and get a REAL boat. Then you can sail it back down to Panama if you want.”

Well, there are a lot of reasons I don’t want to do that. One, I don’t really want to go back to the States even to visit. People around here often ask me if I don’t miss my family and friends up north. Well, sure. But if I travel some place I want to go to somewhere I’ve never been before. I don’t need to go visit those people up there. I KNOW what it looks like where they live. They should come down HERE and take part in the adventure of a different country and culture.

But getting back to the theme of this post. One of the big disadvantages of powerboats and sailboats as live aboards is the DRAFT. My lovely Nancy Dawson which I lived on for nearly six years drew 4′ feet.

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That meant that I needed to be in AT LEAST four and a half feet of water and also take into account the tidal range. For instance, over here around Boca Chica where I’d like to be, the tidal range is as much as 19 feet! Take a gander of these sport fishing boats at Boca Chica…(By the way, there are MANY world record catches off the shores in this area).

 

Jolie Aire-Golfe Juan

The boat I ran over in France, after we changed the old, short-weighted wing keel which made the boat dangerously unstable for a spade-type keel drew over TEN FEET!!!

 

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Because of this great tidal range (it’s only about 3′ over in the Bocas del Toro area) if you’re in a sailboat with a keel or a power boat where the props and rudders hang below the level of the keel, you have to be anchored quite a way from the beach in order to stay afloat or pay an outrageous fee for a dock at a marina.

With a shanty boat you can choose from a couple of options. You could hang around, see where the low tide line is and anchor yourself just off it and walk ashore since your boat will only have a draft of a foot or so. Of course, six hours after you left it will be high tide and you’ll either have to wait for the tide to fall or swim out to your home. OR, if you’ve built your boat sturdy enough, you can go inshore as far as possible and “take the ground” as they say if you’ve found a nice protected spot where there isn’t much wave action to bounce you around as the tide drops.

In either case you’re going to want/need to have a dinghy. I wrote this several years ago…http://onemoregoodadventure.com/2009/04/29/the-boaters-car-of-pickup-truck/

My choice for a dinghy is the Puddle Duck Racer. I’ve written about it before on this blog. http://pdracer.com

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Nutty Idea # ???

Lately my idea of building a shanty “boat” has shifted to building a shanty “raft.” As a Canadian member of my Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/427634977405622/ calls them, “Float Shacks.”  One of the main reasons for this recent focus is the building process would be a lot easier. I have also been thinking about how to keep the costs down and one way would be by using recyclable materials.

One of the very few things that disappoint me about Panama, and there are really only two, is that so many people treat this beautiful country as a trash can. Sometimes you can almost imagine dad telling the family, “Okay, everybody in the car. We’re going to drive around for a while and throw shit out the windows.” (The other thing I don’t like is the loud music all over the place. It doesn’t have to be GOOD music but it does have to be LOUD!) I got into it with a woman one time on the bus. When she finished drinking her soda she opened the window and tossed the empty out onto the Interamerican Highway. I admonished her in my horrible Spanish and a couple of nearby Panamanian riders backed me up. One of the most egregious things I’ve seen, and this is the absolute truth, one trash day the garbage truck was stopped outside my gate. One of the workers was drinking from a two liter bottle of water. When he polished it off, what do you think he did? Did he throw the empty into the truck? Of course not, the idiot threw it into the grass. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Anyway, I’m thinking about the possibility of using plastic bottles as flotation. I like the idea of 55-gal plastic drums, and I need to investigate that further. The only place I asked for pricing wanted $35/each for used barrels. In one plan good plan I saw online I’d need 14 of them which is $490! But I see a hardware company distribution yard when I take the bus into David (Dah VEED) and they always seem to have a lot of those drums. The reason it might not be able to get them cheaply here unlike in the States is that water service is often sporadic here and outages are a way of life, so many, many houses have these barrels as a reserve water supply.

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And the framing required to make something like this is made out of 2X6 and 2X10 lumber and lag bolts and it’s HEAVY. Here’s an example of what I mean…

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But as far as using bottles I saw this on my last trip over to Bocas del Toro in July… It wasn’t very big, but it’s all a matter of just working things out, right?

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There are LOTS of discarded bottles lying around down here. One thought that crossed my mind would be to approach the schools in the area and tell the kids that I’d pay them, say, 5 cents for each two liter bottle that was clean, no label and a cap. That doesn’t seem like much to gringos like us (I use the word “gringo” all the time and I use it to mean anyone here whose native language isn‘t Spanish.), but you have to realize what it is to the local people, especially the indigenous kids who live around here. The owner of the house I rent wants to have it painted and one guy that came to bid the job said he works for $15 A DAY!!! So picking up 300 bottles other people have thrown away would be a fortune to a bunch of young indian kids. But down here it’s what’s called “Summer” and school doesn’t start until March 2nd, so I need to wait a few weeks before I can make my pitch.

I could also get some free radio publicity. A nearby neighbor, and friend, is a reporter for one of the local radio stations. We’ve often talked about how awful the mind set of people is who throw trash around. I’d be willing to bet if I approached him with my idea of using discarded bottles I’d be able to get some free air-time. After all, when the town I live in, Boqueron, had their feast day celebration for their patron saint last October, they put out a small magazine and half of one page was devoted to the only gringo that lives in their pueblo…ME!

But this morning, over my morning cup of locally-grown coffee, I stumbled across THIS and I think this could be the deal. Milk crates filled with 2-liter bottles. As you can see in the video it’s sagging where the guy is sitting but that’s because the thing is held together with plastic wire ties. Certainly not designed for strength and durability. A couple of ways of overcoming that that instantly pop to mind would be to somehow through-bolt the crates together, or build a simple 2X4 frame around the top and bottom edges to keep it rigid. Another possibility might be to screw 1/4″ plywood with fiberglass sheathing to the outside, or perhaps just paint it. I’m not building a yacht here, and I’m nearly 73 years old with COPD and three stents in my arteries. How many years do I have to figure on being on the thing, anyway? There are 9 bottles per crate, so I need to go measure a crate and see how many I’ll need to put together something around 10’X24′ . I might have to double up on the crates to get enough clearance for the deck above water.

Where would I get the crates? You won’t find those along the side of the road. Not a problem. Chiriqui province is the bread basket of Panama, and on the short trip over to Bugaba, to the west of Boqueron, there are THREE dairies: Estrella, Nevada and La Chiricana. I’ll have to stop in and see if I can buy a bunch from them. I bet if I explain what I plan to do they’ll go along with it.

Anyway, this is the thing that’s got my willie tingling this morning.

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Meds in Panama

One of the things that suck about getting older is the medications you have to take. I take a mess of them which is one of the reasons I’m a strong advocate of going out and accomplishing your dreams while you’re still young and healthy.

I went to the pharmacy this week, and this is what it cost here in Panama. I don’t know what it would be in the States, but I have a feeling I’d have to take out a loan to finance the order.

To keep my blood pressure in check, and it’s absolutely perfect these days, I take two meds. One is Zestril (10mg). This is also known as Lisonopril. One caja (box) contains a two-month supply. The list price here in Panama is $58.80, so that’s $24.40/month. Then I also take Cardiotal (Atenolol) 100mg. It’s cheap with a list price of $16.80 or $8.40/month. And since I carry three stents in my arteries I take Clopidogrel which is generic Plavix which sets me back $22.25/month.

Actually none of the meds are really a two month supply. The Zestril has 56 tablets to a box and the Cardiotal has 48. The Clopidogrel comes in 24 pills to a box. It’s all sort of like how companies package 10 hot dogs in a package and the bread people sell you 8 rolls.

Now, since I have COPD I take a couple of other meds for which, unfortunately, I can find no generic equivalent and they’re expensive. Both of them are powders that are inhaled with little plastic doo dads. One is Spiriva and it sets me back $59.69 for 20 tiny little capsules. The other is called Onbrize and it costs $83.70 for 30 caps which is the closest to a month’s supply I get.

So, adding it all together, though I didn’t buy the Clopidogrel this last visit because I still had a month supply on the shelf, the bill came to $218.99! BUT WAIT!!! If you’re a “Jubilado” (old fart, I like to say) you receive a 20% discount on meds so they lopped of $43.80 and I ended up paying $175.19. That happens to be how much I pay to rent my fully-furnished, air-conditioned house.

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Dream Material

I have said before that the “Tiny House” movement has some great ideas that could easily be adapted to shanty boats. Today while looking for something else, I stumbled on this site which is certainly grist for the mill and should keep some of you dreamers from falling asleep.

The site is: http://cabinporn.com Go to the archive to find several years worth of thumbnails that are definitely inspirational. Some have already made it to the water.

How about this wonderful floating raft cabin built by Stephen Burgess on his family pond in Freshwater, California.  Contributed by Rebekah Burgess Abramovic.

Raft Cabin built by Stephen Burgess on his family pond in Freshwater, California.  Contributed by Rebekah Burgess Abramovic.

 

Tell me this one isn’t cool as all get out…

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I wouldn’t be surprised to find this way up in the Atchafalaya Basin somewhere…

 

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Rustic river shack in Lychen, Germany.  Contributed by Jessica Prescott.

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Floating cabin on the Albion River, California.

More floating cabins on the Albion River, California.#1

 

Another floating cabin on the Albion River, California.

More floating cabins on the Albion River, California.#2

Enjoy your dreams…make them come true, though.

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What Day Is It Today?

good morning

What’s it’s going to be like for Mardi Gras today? Degrees in Fahrenheit, current conditions at 7:30 Eastern Time and expected highs.

New Orleans – 36 (feels like 27) High 51
Rio de Janeiro – 84 (feels like 92) High 89
Las Tablas, Panama – 79 (feels like 83) High 90
Bocas del Toro, Panama – 73 (feels like 73) High 89
Dolega, Panama – 73 (feels like 73) High 90
Boquerón (my house) – 73 (feels like 73) High 89

The reason I listed Las Tablas is because it’s where the biggest, most elaborate Carnival celebrations in Panama are held. They rival New Orleans and Rio.

Dolega is there because it’s the closest town that goes whacko over the Carnival Weekend. It would be a two-bus ride to get there and take a bit over an hour, but it’s just too nutso.

In Las Tablas – 

Las Tablas in the day time – 

In nearby Dolega. The spraying of water here and at many of the Panamanian Carnival celebrations is because it’s HOT under the broiling sun when you’re just 8 degrees north of the equator…

It’s a bit different over in Bocas del Toro where the Antillian culture is stronger than the Latin. 

There’s a line in this song that says “throw the baby out the window” but it doesn’t mean a REAL baby.

There is a Mardi Gras tradition of having King Cake Parties during Mardi Gras Season (most people don’t realize how long that actually is. It begins on Epiphany, the 12th night after Christmas and continues until today, Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.) Hidden in the King Cake is a tiny plastic baby doll, and traditionally the person who gets the baby is supposed to throw the next party. So, some people who get the baby and don’t want to throw a party have been known to surreptitiously palm the baby out of their mouths and throw it out a window. Some, more desperate have been known to actually SWALLOW it.

Everyone loves the Mardi Gras Indians in New Orleans.

But for most of you suckers it’s just another TUESDAY!!!

 

 

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Exercise

I have to admit that until very recently I’ve avoided exercise as much as possible. I’ve lived for nearly three-quarters of a century firmly ascribing to  the belief that one should never run when they can amble, they shouldn’t amble when they can ride. A person should never stand when they can sit and they shouldn’t sit when they can lie down, preferably in the shade of a tree somewhere with a good book.

But a few months ago I was diagnosed with COPD. After some basic tests it was determined that my lungs are only operating at 34% of normal. That’s really not a big surprise considering that for more than half a century I infused my lungs with lots and lots of licit and illicit substances. I stopped smoking a bit over a year ago.

For a long time I’ve known I had emphysema. One doesn’t have to go to med school to figure that out when simple chores leave you gasping for breath. I have pollen allergies and a few months ago something around here in Boquerón was flowering and really giving me a hard time. So I went to the pulmonary doctor at Hospital Chiriquí. One of the things he insisted that I do was to get in shape. “Well,” I thought, I AM in shape. Round is a shape, isn’t it?”

One of the things he insisted that I do was to walk at least a half hour a day. Well, I tried it, but it didn’t work out well. My hips are pretty arthritic. The walk from my house to the end of the street to get the bus is only 211 yards. That’s two football fields and an end zone laid end to end. By the time I get to the caseta I’m in serious need of some heavy-duty pain killers. No kidding. But while a few months ago I was also winded to the point that I needed five minutes or so to return to normal now, with the prescriptions I take, I don’t feel like that anymore.

But I did take the doctor’s orders to heart. I went out and bought a bike because the motion of riding a bike is different than how you use your legs when walking.

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Regular readers may remember that this is the same place I took the picture of the motorcycle a few years ago.

I have to admit that I don’t ride every day. I should, but it’s really a pain in the ass and I go in to David a couple of times a week, and a trip into the city takes up three or four hours at least. Not only that, in order to go for a ride I have to “suit up.” Normally when I get up in the morning a put on a pair of shorts and walk around in flip flops. Period! That’s it! To go riding I have to put on socks, shoes, pants and a shirt.

Until a few days ago I’d been riding from my house up to the Town Hall (El Palacio Municipal).

House to town hall marked

It’s three quarters of a mile and ALL uphill. The difference in the altitude between the house and El Palacio is 77 feet. That’s the equivalent of nearly an eight-story building. I’d have to stop four or five times to catch my breath, but at least my hips didn’t hurt though my thighs felt the burn. I did, though, enjoy the glide back to the house.

Saturday I discovered something a bit easier with more level ground. And one of the bonuses is that there’s no traffic to contend with.

Marked Circle

Going from the house to the main road is slightly uphill for the first third of the street. Then, hanging a left it’s a nice coast down to where I make a right hand turn. From there to the next turn is all slightly uphill as is the short leg. Half of the long leg back to the main road is uphill. Each lap is a quarter of a mile. I can do two laps before I have to stop to catch my breath. Four laps and back to the house is a mile and a quarter with little breathers in there while gliding. Today I did just under two miles before going home. It’s the dry season which means it’s really hot when you’re in direct sunshine. When I get so I can do five or six laps without having to stop for a breather, I’ll tackle the ride up to El Palacio again.

 

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