Dr Who and his protective Tardis.

Amazing fresh yummy veg.

21st January 2024

Rio Sucio (East), Darien River, Panama – Las Brisas, Panama

Dr Who zips about through different worlds and time in his Tardis. The Tardis also has remarkable properties that it is small but has limitless storage capabilities, it highly functional while providing comfort for the Dr and his trusty companion and wards off the external threat of the darleks and cyberman. Ruffian has proved to be our very own Tardis.

Senang nursed their poorly engine, gearbox and thrust bearing out of the Darien river system and we stood by ready to give assistance. With Senang’s engine banging and their thrust bearing getting so hot they could cook fries in its oil, we emerged into the open ocean and were finally able to sail.

In ludicrously flat water Ruffian slid along silently without any water splashing on the deck or even spilling our tea and we were magically transported into a different world. The lights of Panama City were a stark contrast to the remote unspoilt wilderness of the Darien River and its skyscrapers seemed to jut into the sky stabbing the clouds. Thankfully Senang slid along just as well as Ruffian and under the quiet of night we both anchored among the wrecks, sandbanks and unlit moored boats of Las Brisas. Senang could now be fixed and Ruffian could start on chores.

The first of our chores didn’t feel chorelike at all. Boxes filled with spares* for Ruffian had arrived in Panama City where the postage was nearly free and taxes simply not due. The smallest of packages included our new exhaust elbow which nestled happily in bubble wrap, next up in size was a battery charger who’s box left no space for even air and then there was our tiny new boat computer. The boat computer is no bigger than a deck of cards but the box was big enough to house a small family.

The next day with everything unwrapped, and the packaging disposed of, we could start installing. The exhaust Elbow** allowed Ruffian’s engine to rev to hitherto unknown highs and with the battery charger installed and the generator running her batteries were given energy like never before (when we say never before we actually mean since the lightning in the Rio Dulce blew up 3 battery chargers) and then Iain took to the fun of MS Windows and the new boat computer.

Thinking that this would be a ‘fun’ task he battled with drivers, software updates, registry settings, hardware compatibility and was reminded time and again by his ‘friend’ Windows that ‘This could take a while’. As Fiona remained quiet Iain muttered under his breath and slowly Ruffian had yet another computer to control her systems, monitor her progress and allow her to arrive in yet more new worlds.

Ruffian was now nearly ready to cross yet another ocean but we also had to take care of our needs. We are facing 30 days at sea and months away from any proper shops as we sail through the islands of the south Pacific. Our provisioning was about to start in earnest.

Day after day we hit the supermarkets filling trolleys and making sure that we only bought enough that we could carry on the bus, transport in Brock and had space for on Ruffian. Ruffian was proving to be a real tardis as lockers simply absorbed 10’s of kilos of pasta, 10’s of kilos of powered milk, litres and litres of wine and everything else we knew we’d need for the coming months. Every time Iain would say ‘I’m worried about storage’, Fiona would be proved to be right and Ruffian would simply absorb everything.

We also had to research where the best fresh, non refrigerated long life veggies could be found in Panama City and we made our way to the wholesale market. This place was like Borough Market on steroids.

Hangers full of produce straight from the fields stretched off into the distance and we wondered around enveloped in the smells of herbs and freshly dug veg while sweet smells erupted from fruit we didn’t know the names of but knew we’d like the taste of. Our bags were full to bursting with vitamins and we now know that we’ll not be suffering from scurvy in the miles to come.

Still on the hunt for yet more spares we found ourselves in the middle of the commercial Panama city where tourists are advised to take taxis and everyone is on their guard. This is where we needed Ruffian to ward off external threats.

As we walked through a choke point JP from Senang was pushed and jostled and his hackles were raised. In the nick of time he turned to see that Iain was being subjected to the same treatment and an errant hand of a pickpocket had found it’s way into Iain’s pocket and onto Iain’s phone.

Quick as a flash we corned the pickpocket and started making a scene drawing everyone’s attention to the affront we had suffered. Cries for ‘Police. Police’ rung out and, in our loudest, most English voices, berated the man and his ‘team’ for their actions. This was clearly not the reaction anyone was expecting as the crowds parted and Iain’s phone magically reappeared on the pavement. The pickpocket and his female accomplice slunk off into the shadows*** under the glowering eyes of the 100’s that were around us. Even this far from Ruffian she seemed to be protecting us from evil.

Ruffian has once again transported us into new worlds and her protection extended far from the anchorage. Now that Ruffian is happy and her lockers nearly full (we don’t think they’ll ever be full) we can now once again cruise the islands, play in blue water and wait for yet more spares to arrive before we embark on our biggest ocean ever.

* In Panama we have the benefit of ebay in the USA with the connectivity of a big international trading hub.

** Big thanks to Colin from Riverside Marine in Lymington for giving endless free expert advice.

*** In hindsight this could have ended up much differently!

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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