OS March 97

Whatever happened to those guys on the Out of Bounds? Well, we're alive and well and hanging out at the Balboa Yacht Club gazing at the beautiful, however ominous Pacific Ocean. Ah, Pacifica as our friend Mr. Balboa stated as he popped up a palm tree and poked his head over the horizon. It's always amazed me how people end up getting their heads stamped on coins and "T" shirts.

When we arrived in Panama, I took a monumental dive off of the boat in the middle of the harbor right under the Pan-American Highway. For your information, the water on the pacific side of the canal is COLD. (70 degrees). No sobbing. I survived. After grabbing hold of a mooring at the yacht club, we went into the bar for a beer. Nice enough place it seemed. A five hundred-foot dock from the bar out to the mooring area, boats pulling up to the bar with children running around and fisherman swapping stories. We left the club and headed into town for dinner and returned around 10:30pm. Whoahhhhh!!!!!! Where's the water?!! It looked like someone literally pulled the plug on the Pacific Ocean! Little did we realize that Panama has a twenty foot tidal movement every six hours or so. Cool.

Ok, just a quick clarification on the Balboa Yacht Club deal. This is not exactly blue blazers and little yellow ties with cute white hats and shiny shoes. No, no, no. Balboa, as it's called, left us years ago from a true club standpoint. It used to be a three story square building right on the water with cathedral ceilings on the second floor, big plaques and leather bar stools, maybe even a trophy or two. Today, Balboa is still three stories, however it has been condemned on the second and third floors. The only thing left is the bottom floor which has a bar right on the water with those same leather bar stools (a little bit dirtier now) and a couple of Panamanians with baseball caps serving "Soberana" beers to their exclusive clientele. So much for charm. When have you ever heard of condemning two thirds of a building? Let alone the TOP two thirds. On Thursday through Sunday nights, this little establishment takes on a whole new look. Armed guards, soldiers, bar rats, boat rats and "ladies" (ladies: for those children reading, are the ones your mother warned you about, with pink high heels, clear plastic belts, iron on jeans, beat red lipstick and wonder bra's).

The following day, Jeff and I decided to run a few errands. Off we went to Panama City! Yikes. Miami without money, Bloomingdales or retirement communities. After searching high and low for some miscellaneous parts we needed for the boat, we hobbled off in our cab to get some hamburguesas at McDonald's. EVERY store has armed guards. (Redefinition of armed guard: beige suited, cool hats, badges, army boots, dark tanned, beady eyed, fully automatic short barreled shotguns and pistols, see "GI-Joe") After the hamburguesas con-queso, we walked across the street to jump back in our cab (Toyota Corolla with tinted windows and graffiti) and saw some fans for sale in the corner appliance store. In we went. After checking out the fans, we walked back out to the street onto the corner with about a hundred or so others milling around. Bang, Bang!!!! Bang????...We look to the right and see some guy running towards us at FULL speed and the crowd splitting like a school of minnows being hunted. All this was fine except for the fact that three of those GI-Joe guys were chasing him and SHOOTING at him. And MISSING HIM!! Jeff quickly decided to examine the amperage requirements on the back panel of a washing machine while I decided to take another look INSIDE at the fans. After the tan guys tackled the thug in front of the passenger door of OUR cab, they quickly zip-locked his hands and dragged him off by his face, guards on each side and another one behind him with what appeared to be a "Louisville Slugger." I think NOW is a good time to be leaving.

Anyway, you're probably asking what's happened since St. Barths and the little history lesson on Montbar the pirate. Answer: Lots of little islands with tons of palm trees, outrageous phone bills, Club Med, sand, Tag Heuer watches diving on their own, dinghy thieves, poverty, boat boys, beautiful harbors, horrible harbors, bugs, visitors, rum and "Vodka-Yah." Yes, we flew through the Caribbean, but we had to. We intentionally dedicated the trip thus far as a preview. We can always return to the Caribbean far more easily than the South Pacific.

As I mentioned earlier, we're LEAVING for the Galapagos Islands today and wish all of the wonderful Panamanian officials and US Military personnel our very best. Our 4 X 6 American flag flies proudly off our stern rail everywhere we go (except Colombia). We now must bid adios as we sail off into the stifling heat in pursuit of…. well,  errr, whatever we're sailing off to.  This is Bill Van Wyck and the fearless crew of the Out of Bounds officially signing out.  Over Roger, over under and all that.  See you in Galapagos!

WVW- Lat. 8°56.27, Lon. 79°33.52


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