Las Brisas anchorage, Panama City, Panama
Here in Las Brisas, On Delay is anchored off the public dock. This anchorage will host many more cruisers in the coming weeks, especially those coming through the Canal to the Pacific side and preparing to head further west.
The history of our little public dock / marina, as told by some, is that the area was originally a sort of marina with big plans. Financial hardship changed all of that when the property was taken back by the government because the owner failed to pay taxes.
Many years prior to our arrival, a military installation took over the original marina building and we now have guards on duty 24 hours a day. This dock serves as the main dock for workers on tug boats, pilot boats, work boats, tourist boats and cruisers. Anyone doing work on boats is required to sign-in on the clipboard that the guards maintain.
I don’t know how they know who is a regular worker and who is a new worker, but they seem to have it worked out. I know that they don’t give us a hard time unless we are bringing trash bags full of cushions, food or other, into or out of the area. For regular stuff, they seem pretty indifferent.
The guards guard a gate, and past the gate are two dumpsters (metal wire formed into rectangles and lined with plastic for trash – not oil, that goes somewhere else).
Continue walking about 150 feet and here come the stairs of death. Cement stairs lead to the water. Maybe it is a movie set, probably not. There are roughly 10-15 stairs.
During high tide, there are five-ish steps, and, during low tide, there are 15 moss covered slippery steps with which you take your life in your hands when trying to get to the bottom.
At the bottom, tied to the pilings that connect the land to the floating dock, which serves as parking for the dinghies in the neighborhood, is a line with a small orange boat connected through a pulley.
One “boards” the orange boat, careful to maintain a good center of gravity, using the line tied to the front of the orange boat; hand-over-hand gets the crew member to the floating dock; gingerly get out of the orange boat, without tipping over; and you have made it to the dinghy parking lot.
Each successful orange boat mission is a feat. We could solve the national debt, but we are busy trying not to break our coccyx on the stairs.
Early experience taught us that if we are several heading to the boat, one crew member is specially selected (typically, Tony or Pete, and we are grateful) to board the orange boat and head to the parking dock. The entire crew is well versed in the art of the crossing. This one doesn’t require any pre-prepared food or watches.
From the dinghy parking lot, Rubber Duckie (On Delay’s dinghy) is brought to the stairs of death to pick up or drop off the rest of the crew. After we all fight the steps and get into the dinghy, we head off to the boat. This same process works in reverse at the end of the day or if someone needs a ride back to shore. It also means that we try to be diligent about having all of our stuff with us, when we are coming or going from the boat since the orange boat adds around 10 wet-defying minutes to a trip to or from On Delay.
One header on the stairs is enough to create a powerful sense of respect for the stairs and their moss. They can be cruel and biting and not very nice (not to mention the barnacles that grow on the sides). The upside of the stairs of death? Cruisers, workers, and those who use the stairs have a level of respect, and we all tend to help each other during the process.