Monthly Archives: August 2009

Sometimes Life Sucks

Not only am I having trouble selling my Boston Whaler, now, this Saturday afternoon, there are two tropical storms headed towards south Florida: Ana and Bill.

Ana’s projected path looks like this:


I live just above the T in Thursday. What this picture shows, to those of you who have never had the privilege of dealing with these things, is that the dark green circle with tits represent the center of the storm. The larger green circle represents the area where the center of the storm could be at the times shown. The strength of the storm’s winds diminishes the further away from the center but those green circles are pretty good at determining where you can expect to get a lot of rain. The picture above is a guess drawn from computer models that are shown in drawings like this one:

Ana model 1

Each of those lines are guesses to where the center of the storm might be as time progresses. As you can see right now the computer guesses show the eye of the storm passing well south of us, but, like reports of traffic on the Interstate during rush hour, it’s subject to change at any moment. One thing for sure is that when a storm tracks south of the Florida peninsula it enters the Gulf of Mexico and someone is going to get creamed for certain.

Bill looks like this right now:


The change in color of the dark ball with tits represents the current guess as to what the strength of the storm is expected to be. As you can see it changes from green (37 to 73 mph) tropical storm force winds to yellow (74-95 mph) on Wednesday which is a Category 1 Hurricane and to Orange (96 to 110 mph) or Category 2 on Thursday.

Bill’s computer model at this time looks like this:

Bill model

So while Bill seems to possibly be the more threatening storm at this moment most of the models show a strong possibility of it swinging northward except for that pesky white line.

My friends are hoping that one of the storms hits us since storms mean damage and damage = repair work and the state of the construction industry has really been in the dumper for the last year and a half and headed nowhere.

The panic at the stores hasn’t hit yet. That’s when people decide at the last minute to buy hurricane supplies. My roommate and I are in pretty good shape. We already have a pantry full of food. We would have to lay in some bottled water and top off a couple of gas cans for the car and the generator. A tropical storm can have the electricity shut off for a day or two. After Hurricane Wilma we didn’t have electricity here at the house for almost a week, and the water was off for two days. But with the generator we don’t have to worry. We’ll have refrigeration, television and fans. There won’t be any air conditioning and the stove is electric. However prior to Wilma I bought a two-burner RV stove that connects to a 20 lb propane bottle so we’ll be able to have hot meals.

People rarely think about their water supply for anything other than drinking and cooking.¬† Growing up on Cape Cod where winter Nor’easters and the occasional hurricane would shut the electricity off regularly one precaution my mom would take was to fill the bathtub to the brim. Back then we didn’t have Town Water. Every home had its own well and when the electricity went out so did the water supply. Once the water supply is cut off you only get to flush the toilet ONCE! Then what are you going to do? That’s where the bathtub full of water comes in. You also have to wash up after cooking and since it’s hot here you also need to take a shower.

We have two solar showers like this:

preparednesscenter_2064_77677223You fill it with water and lay it out in the sun. In a couple of hours the water is extremely hot, but at least you’re not taking sponge baths or using up propane to heat water to wash yourself with.

That’s how it stands at the moment. I’ll keep you posted.

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Gaffers and Smacks

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted anything of Dylan Winter’s vids of his travels around England in his 19′ sailboat. What I’ve found especially fascinating in his series are the classic and work boats he’s documented. This is his episode 26…

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Traffic in Panama City, Panama

In all of the guide books and web sites on Panama they all advise the readers not to rent a car at the airport. There’s a very good reason for that…you probably won’t make it to your hotel or hostel alive. Nothing in your driving background has prepared you for the experience of driving in Panama City. New York City? Paris, France? Rome, Italy? Pussies one and all.

I took the following video one afternoon at about 2 o’clock on Via Argentina a couple of blocks away from my hostel. Cars coming in from the right and left have a stop sign, but it’s only a suggestion.

One of the main drags in the city is Via Espana and there is only one safe place to cross the street and that’s a bridge that crosses over the road. During my second visit to Panama a gringo tourist was killed trying to cross Via Espana and the stupid thing was he was only a couple of blocks away from the bridge.

One of the major hazards to traffic in Panama City are the “Diabos Rojos,” Red Devils, old school buses that were¬† deemed unsafe to carry American kiddies to school are exported to Central American countries and either become “chicken buses” or Diablos Rojos. The Diablo Rojos are garishly painted but only cost 25 cents to ride.

Taxis are the way to travel in the city. They’re everywhere and they’re cheap. Cost is determined by how many “zones” you travel through but, in general, most rides are no more than a buck or two. Just make sure you confirm the cost before settling your butt inside. And DON’T TIP! It’s not expected and the natives hate it when gringo tourists tip because it makes it tough for them.

In spite of everything transportation throughout the country is quite good and accessible through an expensive bus system, and they aren’t chicken buses, either. Riding from the huge Albrook Terminal in Panama City to David (da veed) is done on large Mercedes Benz buses that put anything Greyhound offers ti shame. These buses are air-conditioned, super clean, and have t.v. screens where they show movies during the trip. With my Pensionado discount the six hour ride from PC to David costs $8.80. It’s $12 and change if you don’t get the discount, and there’s a half-hour stop for food in Santiago at the half-way point.

The further into the countryside you travel the buses get smaller. When I went from Santiago to Chitre it was on a nice, new, mid-size bus with regular seating for 30. The buses pick up and drop off passengers on the roadside along the route and until the regular seating filled up I didn’t notice there are “jump seats” that fold up into the aisle for the overflow.

When I decided to visit Pedasi the buses became 12 seat Toyota vans. The cost is reasonable. The nearly two hour jaunt from Las Tablas to Pedasi was $1.75 and the driver would leave the main road to drop passengers off in small towns along the way.

In all my bussing around Panama the only chicken I saw was this young man with his fighting cock at the bus station in Santiago.

Gallo Pelea

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Watch What You Eat

On my most recent trip to Panama I went to a supermarket with my friend Frank. While he was taking care of what he needed I wandered around comparing prices there to equivalent items in the States. In the meat department I came across a vacuum-sealed package simply labelled “Marinated Meat.” Bit of a risky purchase if you ask me. On the other hand, I missed this one:


Is this how Mexico handles it’s problems with undocumented immigrants?

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This is CRAZY!

Slip and Fly video…you won’t believe this happened.

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The State of the Economy

Okay…Okay…I’m very aware I have been remiss in posting the last few days but it all has to do with the state of the economy and trying to sell my Boston Whaler Revenge.

Whaler 1

There are ads in the Boat Trader. Cost $99.00 for six weeks online and in their weekly magazine. Results so far…three inquiries. Returned replies, sent extra photos. No follow up from the tire kickers. Ad in eBay for the third time. Several inquiries mostly scammers as noted in previous posts.

Run ads twice a week on Craigslist. This has brought the biggest response but only one person actually showed up to look at the boat which equals the number of people who have stopped in off the street because the noticed the For Sale sign. The boat is on its trailer in the driveway and clearly visible from the road. Yesterday I got a girl (for the second time) wanting to know if I’d trade for a ’66 Mustang. NO, I WANT THE CASH!

Then I got a call from someone in Miami who wanted to know if I’d trade for a dump truck they have in Panama. NO, I WANT THE CASH!

Today I got a letter from a retired Navy guy who lives in Panama looking for a boat to fish with. It would be funny if that’s who actually ended up buying the thing.

It’s pitiful that the big economic news yesterday was that there were only a quarter of a million jobs lost in July and that’s supposed to be good news since it wasn’t as many as had been feared. Gee-Zuss!

The state of the economy right now is so bad I don’t think you could sell one hundred dollar bills for sixty bucks!


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I Love The Offbeat

I’ve always loved the offbeat and the eccentric. I’ve had a lot of unachieved weird adventure ideas. For instance instead of riding a bicycle across the country from the Atlantic to the Pacific, why not do it on a moped? Back in 1975 when I was bringing a 51′ sailboat down the Mississippi river we ran across a couple of young guys who had bought a Sears & Roebuck aluminum john boat in Minneapolis and were rowing down to New Orleans. We caught up with their adventure at a marina in Arkansas. The pair were pushing on hard every day trying to catch up with a mythical pair of women who were supposed to only be a couple of days ahead of them in a canoe. There were no girls, of course, but it was a thousand mile long running joke on the lads kept alive by people who were able to out pace them. Everywhere they went people told them “Oh yes, the girls were here a couple of days ago. You should be catching up with them any time now. But you have to admire their adventure.

Today I came across this item in Tiny Home Journal. It’s the story about Bernie Harbarts who has spent the last 13 months in his second trans-continental trek across America in a mule drawn tiny house.

Mule Wagon

I lived on a small sailboat for over five years, and this wagon is much smaller, but you have to admire the man’s sense of adventure.

Read the whole story here:


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