Storming in Bocas del Toro

Part of the nearly eleven and a half feet of water that falls in the Bocas del Toro area each year is coming down right now. It’s been raining for at least the last three hours and there’s little sign that it’s going to let up any time soon. The wind is blowing a steady 20 knots probably gusting up to 30 on occasions. A work boat, like a large cayuco motors past the back porch of  my hotel. The skipper hunched over with his back to the wind has no foul weather gear and is chilled by the rain as he morosely bails his boat. With wind like this the rain drops feel like needles when they hit exposed flesh. I know. I’ve been there many times when I was running a crew boat in the Kerr-McGee production field in Breton Sound, Louisiana.

The rain is almost horizontal now and the boats on the hook and over at the marina are just vague shadows. Lightning streaks across the sky and almost instantly cracks and rumbles so close it shakes the building a bit.

One of my contacts who lives out on Bastimientos Island and owns and operated the Tranquilo Bay Eco-adventures resort  http://www.tranquilobay.com/ probably aren’t having a very good time at the moment but I’m sure that for them it’s an Eco-adventure from hell. I am supposed to meet him over at the Starfish Cafe but having no protection from the rain, myself, I’m not so sure it’s going to happen.

A rather large ketch is dragging anchor and it appears there is no one aboard, and no one seems to be going out to render any assistance. I know that the water taxi drivers aren’t about to do anything to help. They’re sitting ashore watching it drift towards the reef or an island to be wrecked. Then, like the ship-wreckers of yesteryear they will go out and strip the remains clean.

Finally, after the boat has made it at least a half mile from the anchorage a small dinghy wet out from one of the other boats in the anchorage and headed out to try and do something. I can’t tell what since the buildings on that side of my hotel are blocking the view.

Around 7:15 the rain has slacked off to a slight drizzle and I’m going off to meet with my one contact Jim at the Starfish. He wasn’t there though his boat was tied up behind, so I assume he’s still with his clients out at the airport.

As I was waiting for Jim to show up a young couple I had met yesterday pulled up to the dock in their little dinghy, soaking wet. They were the ones who went out to the boat. It had been sitting on a mooring for the last six months with no one aboard. The mooring had parted in the storm. They contacted the manager of the marina. I met him yesterday and he was a typical cruising doofus blown up with his own self-importance and cruising “knowledge” which totally turned me off. The young couple, she an American and he a South African (white) have been down here on their boat for the last four months. They said the manager purports to be “friends” of the owner of the imperiled boat but refused to to anything about it. So much for the cruising “community” and how they supposedly look out for one another. I guess since that boat wasn’t in the marina and leaving money there he was just as happy to see it destroyed.

The young couple caught up with it and went aboard. There was an anchor on deck which they attached to the remaining rode and tossed it over the side and at least securing the boat in the short term. The attitude of the marina manager, coupled with meeting him yesterday, reminded me of why I hate “cruisers” who travel from one marina to another and seem incapable of living without the yellow umbilicus of a shore cord. I’m supposed to be having lunch with the owners of the marina and though they are long time friends of my friend Frank, it remains to be seen how I’ll like them.

One the other hand, when I finally met Jim, he turned out to be the kind of person I could really relate to. He’s been in the Bocas are for 10 years. Before it became the “in” place with the backpacker crowd and touristas. He and his family live about a half hour boat ride away only coming in to deal with Bocas Town when absolutely necessary. I enjoyed my meeting with him very much. What he had to say about the area in general has given me pause to think of altering my view of whether the area might not deserve a second and longer look, especially if there are more people around here like himself. And the area is beautiful without a doubt. Quien Sabe?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Storming in Bocas del Toro

  1. Your story sounds familiar. I just returned from a 3.5 month trip in Bocas. I own a small piece of property on Carenero Island and am very glad to be able to get away from the noise, dust and annoyances of Bocas town.

    Like you, I’ve found that there are many people in Bocas that are not really interested in being part of the community of expats down there. Then again, I’ve also found a good solid group of core folks that I would call friends and believe would help me in a pinch if necessary.

    I’m not a cruiser, so I don’t know much about that lifestyle, but I think if you stick around Bocas for a while, you’ll find your niche.

    • oldsalt1942

      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and leave a comment. I appreciate it.

      Not to be contentious, but I doubt that I will be interested in being part of the community of expats down there, either. I mean, if I wanted to hang around a bunch of gringos all the time I’d just stay here in Fort Lauderdale.

      Having said that, though, I am happy to have contacts down in the Bocas area, and they happen to be gringos like us and have intentions to get to know them a lot better as time goes on. But to become an active part of the wider expat community isn’t one of my goals.

      Perhaps we’ll meet up down there one of these days.