Surviving quarantine aboard our yacht was the next challenge. All five of us stuck aboard for a further 15 days after sailing for six days straight. Yes, no one was to step off the boat for 21 days. It’s a very small, hot space with limited water and a lot of tinned food. We had been on a COVID-free island for three months, self-isolated for nearly a week sailing to Panama but we still had to do quarantine at anchor. Daunted but optimistic we started, at least we had been allowed to arrive in the country and we are safely out of the hurricane zone now.
Russell made a swing for the boys out of the bosun’s chair and the boys took turns climbing the mast much to their glee. Hugo worked out he could run a mile by doing 65 laps of the boat! Which he proudly did and was the only time he has worn shoes, I had to go searching to find some!
School provided a good structure and distraction for the mornings although we needed to adjust to the 31+ degree temperatures and 100% humidity, we are only 9 degrees from the equator here. In the afternoons Chloe, quiz master and Minister of Fun held board game tournaments. I managed to dig out recipes sent by family and friends and tried baking with the boys most days. To say it’s hot baking on a boat is an understatement more like a sauna and steam room combined! But we managed pizza, bread, scones, biscuits, banana bread and even cake. For someone who has never been a cook, it’s an achievement! Thank you everyone for your bullet-proof galley friendly recipes.
Chloe even cooked a real quarantine treat of toad in the hole, much to the boys utter delight. I think Chloe might have melted in the process though!! It was delicious, very happy crew that night.
We let the boys loose with paint and the dinghy again…this time we inverted it so they got to paint its base only… They happily plastered it with paint much to the amusement of passing locals on a mixture of zooming pangas and gliding dugout canoes (who seem to do an equal amount of paddling to bailing).
We have started to get used to the new sounds, smells and sights in the anchorage; Howler monkeys from the trees in the morning, the warm moist air even at 10pm at night, the loud siren at 9pm for curfew on land (we suppose). At dusk a small pod of dolphins enter the bay and pass our boat enroute to their fishing grounds. They passed Felix swimming only about 15m away.
As the tides change we watch a strange assortment of items float past our boat. Coconuts and bananas frequently float past and the odd chilli. A highlight of one day was seeing a battered saucepan float past and six hours later it floated back past us the other way!
The area of the Bocas north anchorage has been nicknamed ‘refugee corner’ and ‘prisoner bay’ by the locals as there are a group of yachts all with hoisted yellow flags (which highlights we are in quarantine limbo, healthy and requesting entry to the country). There is a friendly cruisers and expat net on the VHF radio every morning at 7:45 and we have been warmly included into the fun chatter. Hugo has even been providing quiz questions to the Bocas community much to his delight.
Our time at quarantine is passing well, our pace of life is slow and we can swim around the boat to cool down and get some exercise. Although they did have a sighting of a 12ft crocodile at the south anchorage yesterday (less than a mile away) so swims are brief and fast!
We are relaxed and happy. We have haphazard and appalling WiFi but at least it’s a vague link to the outside world. Roll on day 15 at anchor, when we get a visit from the doctor and immigration and are finally allowed ashore. We can’t wait.