Too Long

Approximately 6 weeks we spent here; in the States.  Land of instant everything. instant News, instant Food, instant whatever you want; books, supplies, entertainment.

Out of the country you appreciate instant. It took approximately 9 weeks for us to get our Signature Finish Varnish from Florida to Panama. We used Airbox Express. Nothing like the name. Nowadays you can’t ship varnish by air. At least we can’t ask to have it shipped by air. Varnish can burn; imagine that.  Yeah, it can  maybe burn but nothing burns like Jet Fuel. So,  if the plane has any issues,  someone would worry about the Varnish on board; with all that Jet Fuel, I doubt it.

To get the varnish to Panama Airbox and I communicated 15 times – in Spanish – damn I really appreciate Google Translate! Airbox  needed an MDS sheet to ship the varnish. Tom at Signature Finishes mailed it to me (He didn’t want to fax it and didn’t have it in a PDF file)  in the States and then I had to fax it to Airbox. I couldn’t fax it to Airbox anywhere in the US (where the varnish was currently held) but had to fax it to Panama.  Cost of the Varnish was 190 bucks. Cost of shipping to Panama via slow boat was just shy of 70 bucks.  Some elements of cruising are quite reasonable, some not.

We had four pages of boat supplies to pick up in the US. We spent a good part of our first couple of weeks on the phone. Had to get a US GSM phone card and just about had to repair my sister’s walkway  to her door as the UPS man damn near wore it out. We ordered loads of smallish items that are impossible to get for the boat in the part of the Caribbean we are. Some say in Panama you can get anything. NOT.

And some say there is a recession in the states.  In Panama the GDP is growing at 10 + percent / year. Panama has initiative. The voters chose to make a larger lockage system for the Panama canal (84% support) and they’ve  been growing ever since. In the states the only initiative seems to be – Oh!  we can’t do that, we’ve no money, we’ve given it all back to the people!  Individuals; no matter how rich they are just don’t have the hutzpah to develop a grand country wide initiative like Presidents can. “War on Poverty” , “Interstate Highways”,  “Let’s go to the Moon!” . There is no grand initiative now.  Years ago when I had a small business I remember this axiom, you’re either growing or dying. There is no middle ground. But the US seems to be attempting to wallow in the middle ground.

There were four items out of about 100 that caused us problems. Now most people would say that’s a small percentage.  However;  compared to years ago  it is NOT.  Thirty years ago when we built our boat we ordered; well lets just say a 1,000 + parts, and we only had one error in the shipments.  Now we have roughly 40  times that error ratio.

W/s mask had split and was leaking water. It’s a prescription mask and I was wanting to replace the mask with the same body and then I could use the same lens.  Yeah; you can say it, Dave’s CHEAP! Obviously I couldn’t find any dive shops in the Quad Cities that carried the same mask so I looked online. I found the mask for sale at two dive shops.  Bingo, I tried to order two additional masks. It’s always nice to have a spare.  One shop was in Florida.  Their online store didn’t work. So I sent them an email (it was Sunday when I was attempting to do this) and their email bounced back – Undeliverable. So I found another email  address and it too bounced back.  Obviously they’ll think there is a recession as their sales have got to plummet since their online store is broken.  Ok, now on to the second source. Again, their online store was broken. Sent them an email. After 24 hours I had no response. So searching around their site I found a phone number and called the owner. I told him that I wanted two masks and would like to order them. He suggested I come in to the store; that would be best.  Well….. as I’m in Iowa and he’s in Ohio visiting the store won’t be possible; can I order them over the phone?  His answer, Nope- No Can Do!  WHAT? I find it  simply amazing that people are so flush with money now in the US that they just don’t want to do any business. We ended up buying a different manufacturers mask from a local dive shop in the Quad Cities, Scuba Adventures; a mask that has a different configuration for the prescription lenses.

Next we had to replace our Tilley Hat. The hat  just rotted out and Tilley has a lifetime guarantee.  Sweet. So I called Tilley and asked if I could get a different hat as I don’t think the one I had will hold up any better in the tropics the second time around. Also I wanted to order a second hat of a different style. The individual on the phone was quite pleasant and assured me that I could indeed do that. So I repeated what she had said to do; putting the info in writing in the box with the hat and sending it all  in. In 2-3 weeks  I would receive two hats.  Instead I received three hats. The one I wanted to switch to, the new one I ordered and the original replaced.  And I was charged for two hats instead of one. Phone call again and I was to return the replaced one that I didn’t want and they would refund me the cost of the hat and the shipping. What a waste. It wasted my time and their shipping expense.

On the list was to repair two ice trays from SeaFrost. The trays are cool; they’re made to expand as the water freezes and then we can have the luxury of ice out in the middle of nowhere.  So we sent two that leaked back to Seafrost and we ordered two more. We felt that then we can rotate them and get longer use out of them.  Two week later SeaFrost sent two new trays to Iowa.  I called and asked about the replacement trays we had sent back and then she remembered and said she would send those right out.  Two more weeks go by and we don’t have them so I call again to discover they were sent to Florida!  But we’re in Iowa. She apologizes and sends two more to our address in Iowa. We receive those two in time.

And finally, we like the Herculite Regatta fabrics; the Ivory / Sand colored one.  Regatta is discontinuing the Ivory / Sand and we’re not happy but life moves on.  I called Regatta and found out they have 250+ yards in their warehouse. Just try to get any of it out of there.  Fortunately Dan at Canvas Creations was persistent enough to purchase  some and make us a new foredeck awning.  But he told me that two or three of his suppliers wouldn’t even order him any of the Regatta Sand/ Ivory  because it wasn’t a full roll. I then figured I would have Marine Warehouse of Panama order me a roll of 17 yards and I could have another awning made here but they can’t seem to get the fabric either even though there is more then enough in the warehouse!  I’ve sent Dan the dimensions of our aft awning and hopefully he’ll get enough fabric for that one that I can have an aft awning made for our next trip.

Other then that our trip went smoothly. I was gluttonous.  I ate Tenderloins as often as friends and family could tolerate traveling with me to one of the eateries that sell them, I gorged on Malted Milkshakes when I could and mostly I celebrated our time in the states as the holiday season. It felt like Santa stopped by my sister’s everyday with new supplies.

A Day on the Mississippi

A Day on the Mississippi

Somewhere in the middle we (I) must have been getting narley. Family friends invited us to spend a day on the water with them.  While I miss the smell of salt water this would come close to feeding my soul. We spent an afternoon cruising on the mighty Mississippi River and shared laughs and adventures sought and adventures lived. Skip and Lurea as well as my sister and brother in law are all moving to Florida as they retire so while they spoke of all the things to do there, all the places to go, we smiled and advised them pro or con on the places they spoke of. The day ended with some great Tenderloins at the …. well….hell if I can remember; it was a place in Moline, IL on the cities edge.

But we couldn’t sit still. My stepfather is 97.9 years old and my mom 84. Since they’ve now  moved to Florida and we were in Iowa it behooved us to make a quick trip there to visit them and put some other parts of our life in order.  Our initial plans had been to alternate between family and friends in the Midwest and family and friends in Florida. This trip was to be only the Midwest; however,  time was calling upon us to make this journey. They’d just moved in; they could use us to make some things easier as we’d lived there for about 30 years and we could share more laughs and stories. We could pick up a new drivers license and then fly back to Iowa,  the home of unlimited Tenderloins and good – thick – Malted Milkshakes.

We started loading on Monday. W/ packing stuff while I was trying to stay out of her way.  Every so often W/ would run into a problem  (too much in one bag) and ask me to figure what to do. Eventually we ended up with 4 bags to check and 4 bags to carry on.  As Thursday speedily arrived we were ready. We’d hit a few Tennis balls, played copious amounts of ping pong (I was number ONE!  my brother in law Tim and W/  argued about who was number two each beating the other a number of times and my sister Sue trying to sneak a win out of someone), I  ate until I almost burst, walked some, read a lot, argued a little (remember – we were visiting family 🙂 ) and had a hell of a good time, albeit a long time, but a good time.

Too Long …..Pun Intended 🙂

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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