So as it turns out, prepping for an ocean passage and provisioning for, oh, the next 6–9 months, is a lot of work! We had visions of cruising the rivers of the ultra-remote Darien region and of taking a road trip to the Caribbean before we set off for the Galapagos. But that darn project list was nagging at us, so instead of playing, we buckled down and got to work getting the boat ready for her next big adventure.
Vying for the top spot on our project list (along with “install watermaker”), was to locate, purchase and install two new 100-watt solar panels. Our solar capacity wasn’t quite sufficient to keep up with the fridge and laptops, and a few nights a week, you could hear our generator humming in the cockpit. But those days are over – now we’re rocking 400 watts of POWER! Between getting the panels ordered and delivered, having the support structure fabricated at an aluminum shop, finding the right electrical components, sourcing stainless steel tubing, running all the wires and hooking up a new solar controller (the old one was damaged in the lightning strike), it ended up being quite the project. But as you can see, Aaron did an awesome job. POW-POW!
While Aaron was busy wiring up the solar panels and watermaker, I managed to bring thousands of pounds of provisions aboard (I swear) and squirrel it away in every available nook and cranny. With the sheer volume of pasta we bought, I’m fairly certain we can feed a small nation. Hope they like bowtie …
I spent hours planning and making lists (and lists of my lists) about what to buy, and I’m sure I overdid it on some things (and probably skimped on others). But heaven forbid we run out of maple syrup, right? As I was hefting bags bulging with coffee and tomato sauce into the dinghy the other day, I met a guy on the dock who gave me this piece of advice about provisioning for the Pacific: “Go back to the boat and put all these groceries away,” he said. “If you still have room left, go buy more stuff! When I see you in Tonga, you’ll thank me.” Oh my.
So after 75 trips to various grocery stores, hardware stores, marine chandleries and the aluminum fabrication shop, Bella Star is as ready (and as full) as she’ll ever be. It was a hectic, stressful and expensive month spent rushing from one errand to the next, working on one project after the other. And yes, the yellow legal pad still has a list of “to-do” items on it. Judging from the way I feel right now though – peaceful, eager, happy – I know the time is right to move on.
Although saying goodbye to Panama forces us to bid farewell to our long-time friends and buddy boat, Knee Deep. They’ve been one of the constants in our cruising life, and we’re going to miss them tremendously. Have a blast in the Caribbean and the East Coast, Doolittles! And don’t forget about our grand California reunion.
So here we sit, at anchor in the Las Perlas Islands, checking the weather multiple times per day. As Aaron likes to say, “We’re on the launch pad.” The Galapagos Islands beckon, and with Bella Star ready and loaded, all we wait for now is the wind … and it looks like tomorrow is the day! Onward to Ecuador!