We are going gently mad in the heat here at Shelter Bay Marina, not helped by the ludicrous bureaucracy. In spite of clearing into Panamanian waters in Porvenir, we have to clear in with the Port Captain here (and clear out again before we cross to Balboa, still in Panama, through the Canal). The Port Captain's office is a little hut, outside which an unhappy queue of yachtsman sit in the hot sun, clutching their files of boat papers, waiting impatiently for the glacial process within. Graham has had 3 days of this fun - on the first, Friday, after only 40 minutes' wait he was told that the Port Captain had run out of forms so could not proceed. He returned on Monday and after 2 hours' wait it was decided that the Port Captain would not be coming at all. Yesterday was, finally, successful after another 2 hours in the hot sun. Stupid bloody process!
Anyway the good news is that Erick the Agent (a sort of Fixer who knows the quirks of the system) demonstrated his worth and told us he'd managed to get an earlier slot for our transit. He managed a 3-day improvement so we now go on Monday 16th and the pressure is on to find two more volunteers to come with us as line handlers (we have one, an English chap called Paul who's sailing single-handed at the moment).
The process of going through the Canal, from a yachtsman's perspective is really well explained here
So, on with the boat jobs. Yesterday we managed to give the hull a good clean and polish so Maunie is gleaming and today Dianne has been reorganising and cleaning the aft cabin as a stowage area so that all we can have the forward cabin empty for two of our line handlers (the third will sleep in the pilothouse). Graham has given Winnie the Windpilot a service, ready for action in the Pacific, and is about to tackle changing engine fuel filters. Tomorrow we're off in a French yacht as line handlers and will be back Friday afternoon. Saturday will be all about shopping for food provisions - can't wait!