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I arrived I Colon, Panama quite alone. Jim flew back to the states, Morton & Piers left to backpack up Central America and I had a broken boat. The autopilot was shot yet again, one battery was bad and the Pacific was all downwind without the proper sails.
I ran up a $600 AT&T bill looking for an autopilot and settled on a Coursemaster. That's one decision I don't regret. They are a great company with bullet-proof products.
My sister and brother-in-law used their home equity line to buy me a sail (gotta love family), a battery was shipped from Miami and Shimoda was ready.

I found 4 great backpackers to help me through the canal; Julia from Argentina, June from Vancouver, Dan from England and Christian from Austria. We blew the stereo up dancing during the overnight layover while throwing an impromptu party. At one point the crews from 3 other boats swam over to Shimoda and 1 mystery girl from a French boat. That totaled 16 people and a lot of empty beer cans the next day. Fortunately one of the boats was crewed by the US Air force and they know logistics. A truck honked along the bank, a dinghy was launched and the cases of beer magically appeared.

Esther
Esther at dinner
Esther's smile

Esther's Good Bye pose

Esther's first date aboard Shimoda

Esther's "Picture to remember my smile"

Panama City, on the Pacific side, is a bit of a blur. I worked hard getting Shimoda ready, went nuts trying to find crew and drank a lot of beer at the Balboa Yacht Club.
The most notable event was a toothache. That's how I met Esther, the dental hygienist. She felt terrible for delaying my departure because the dentist wasn't available until the next day. When she said she wished there was something she could do, I asked her to dinner and the rest, they say, is history.

Panama City from the Sea when departing for the Galapagos

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The infamous Police Headquarters of Manual Noriega complete with bullet pock-marks from the invasion.

While at the Balboa Yacht Club I met a wayward Kiwi named Dave. He departed New Zealand three years earlier for a 2-week delivery. He ended up staying on the boat until its arrival in Greece. From there he made his way across the Mediterranean, up the French Canals, across the English Channel, flew down to the Caribbean, crewed for another Kiwi to the Canal and got his wallet stolen in a Panamanian bar.
Dave needed a ride home; his fellow Kiwi departed without him. The skippers only advice was: "You know the route. Find a fast boat and catch up." Shimoda is a fast boat and I needed crew; there is a God and she answers prayers. The only problem was my route. I was headed to Australia. Dave ignored that bit of news and jumped aboard. Somewhere along the line, Australia became New Zealand and Dave assured me I would be "mightily rewarded" for bringing him home.

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