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Discussion Starter #1
Well guys, it looks like my retirement plans are coming into focus. I've found a 38 ft. cruising sailboat in Bocas Del Toro, Panama and I will be moving aboard to retire in Central America. Only problem is I cannot take my beloved Spider or my girl's Fiat Pinnanfarina 2000. The road system in Panama won't fit well for a vehicle with 3 in. ground clearance. I'll be looking for a new home for both spiders immediately. Offered will be a 76 Alfa with 10.5 to 1 pistons, Shankle headers, 40 DCOE Webers, rust free throughout with sport seats, Panasports, IAP red springs, thouroughly sorted and driven joyfully every day. 68,000 original miles. the Fiat is a FI 2000, 1980 also rust free and very straight in black primer and ready for respray. Hate to think of life w/o an Alfa but living aboard in paradise once again is too much to miss. I've enjoyed my contact with all the folks here and I'll keep you posted from the Carribean on our progress. ( I'll probably post to brag about the lobster I catch).

Regards, Darrell
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I saw the news story about the couple on their boat who got accosted. It was a harrowing experience for them as I understand. Also you'll find that the authorities quickly found the guys and have stopped their activities. I hope that with persuasion from many years spent in customer service and sales as well as an introduction to my friends Mr. Smith & Mr. Wesson that that type of individual will prefer to be elsewhere. Thanks for the heads up however as you can never have too much info about new places.
I will post some pics soon in the classifieds when i get them together. Today a passing bird told me to go to the carwash before posting pics. I hope the members won't mind if her cousin of the Fiat persuasion joins in the fun.

Thanks and Highest Regards, Darrell
 

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I lived aboard a boat for while.

Rented it as cheap housing.
The owner rarely took it out but wanted some one aboard to check the bilge, run the pumps occasionally, and stop the boat being stripped of valuables.

Pretty sweet deal, until the night I was woken from a sound sleep and became convinced the boat was sinking.

Hull banging on the dock, water swishing loudly under the floor boards, rocking heavily, BAH!
Spent the rest of the night on shore, moved off the next day, did NOT want to do THAT again!
Boat did not sink, until a couple of months later, as no one moved onto it in my place.
Wood boats all leak.
In fact I think ALL boats leak.

Please take more crew than Mr. S&W with you, I've know people who had "Interesting" stories to tell about their time spent in that area.
Take the heaviest friend you can with you, Mr. 50BMG if possible, at least Mrs. .308.
12 ga "Trap" rig at a minimum.
 

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A buddy of mine bougth a 75' Christ Craft Romer on Margaritta Island. We tried to get it back to the states. It had an aluminum hull and still needed taking out of the water every 6 months at least to scrape the hull. The maintenance on any boat is as much or more than the original purchase price and you'll spend a fair amount of coin on just keeping her seaworthy. Anyway I met him in St. Lucia which is a really nice place but he only had one working a/c. I had a floor hatch close on my thumb whilst replacing the fresh water pump and had to have about 12 stitches put in. It cost about 50 EC which is about 28 US but could not get into the water or handle lines the rest of the trip. Between Martinique and Dominica in the middle of the friggin ocean we ran over a fishing net thick as a ski rope and wrapped it into a solid ball around one of the props. We limped into Dominica and had a couple of local divers cut it off. It took two 72 cubic foot tanks to get it done but these guys were really nice. Problem is when we took off the next morning one of the prop shafts was tearing the boat apart so we had to slow to nine knots and limped into Guadelope. I made him buy a Epurb and he wasn't happy because they are expensive but when he almost ran onto the rocks at Puerto Rico the Coast Guard pulled him away but also inspected him. The first thing they wanted to see was the Epurb. Major fine if you don't have one so he wasn't pissed at me anymore. He made it as far as the SW coast of the Dominican Republic before his mate ran him onto the rocks because they waited to long to drop anchor and it was to dark. That bent the rest of his shafts and props. He ended up selling the boat for a major loss. My Brother who is an airline Capt often quotes a pilot joke that goes something like this, if it flys, floats, or F$%*s it's cheaper to rent it.
Good luck though. If you get a chance go to Dominica. Great water, very nice people and not comercialized. Good luck!

Six of us rented a 52' Beneteau sailboat and crusied the Sea of Cortez out of La Paz for 9 days and it was a gas. Not much aircon on a sailboat especially a 32 and if you have it it costs a lot of diesel to run it and that was my biggest complaint, had to sleep on the deck because even with the little parachutes to direct wind down the hatch to the bed isn't very effecient especially when there is no wind.



 

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Please take more crew than Mr. S&W with you, I've know people who had "Interesting" stories to tell about their time spent in that area.
Take the heaviest friend you can with you, Mr. 50BMG if possible, at least Mrs. .308. 12 ga "Trap" rig at a minimum.
All you need is the S&W and a SS pump action shot gun with alternating buck-shot and deer slugs. No long guns as you can hurt someone many boats away with an errant round.

Take my word on the shot gun. It's the most effective defense you can have aboard. Don't ask how I know.
 

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My wife and I lived for two and a half years aboard a Hylas 42 sailboat -- most of the time in Mexico. Guns in Mexico and much of South America are restricted, and in most places you must surrender them when you arrive in a port -- which is where you could have trouble. And if you don't and get boarded by the military (we were stopped and boarded twice), you stand a great chance of spending time in jail. And the conditions, I understand, can be very harsh.

We never had a problem. Stay away from anchorages in very remote places and your chance of any problems will be slim. In fact, while in Mexico, we never locked our boat while away. But when we arrived in San Diego after almost two years below the border, we were warned to always lock the boat. There had been problems. And when my wife's new job took her into some very seedy neighborhoods in East Los Angeles, that's when I worried for her safety.

When you go, leave your fears in the U.S., enjoy the different cultures and eat the local foods. You'll be fine.

Oh, and our boat never leaked a drop. Well maintained fiberglass vessels don't. Wood boats -- well, I've owned them and can only say, prepare to constantly be doing maintenance.

Sorry you have to sell your cars. While we were away, I left my favorite vehicle with a friend. He started it once a month, engaged the transmission and moved it a few feet. Ran perfectly three years later when I retrieved it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Much good advice and great stories, Thanks guys. I can posess firearms with registration and a lockable cabinet in Panama so as to be legal. The Browning arms co. mfg. a 12 ga. stainless steel weapon called the Mariner and I am looking for one now. Good advice and a great sea going gun as well. This boat is 38' and steel. I lived aboard several sailboats in my 20 + yrs. in S. Florida and am very familiar with the trials involved. I spent 6 sleepless hrs. one rainy night at anchor bailing water from a Willard 8 ton cutter to keep it afloat in a storm. Later found a hose parted at the starboard deck scupper which let all the rainwater from the deck funnel straight below. On the other side of that same coin are the countless mornings I've spent having the first cup of coffee in the ****pit watching a glorious sunrise and watching dolphins and seabirds in their morning fishing duties. It's a mixed bag but life is as well.

Regards, Darrell
 

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Do be careful, high seas not so safe as they were!

Customer of mine had a 75' motor-yacht based in Florida.

One of his experiences.

The life boat with a lone woman aboard, and apparently passed out, is a decoy.
While maneuvering to rescue her another boat appears from the opposite side at high speed.
The woman in the life boat suddenly wakens, produces an AK-47 from beneath the space-blanket that was covering her and begins shouting in ?????? while pointing the gun at him!

At that same time the other ship comes nearly into firing range, they have a Browning 1919 belt-fed mounted in the bow!

His escape was that he had a 30-06 rifle, 12 Ga. Mariner, and .50AE pistol.
He put a few rounds just below the water line of the "Life-boat", so the decoy had her own problems and was out of action.
She was the nearest threat.
He took to evasive maneuvers, and sent some shots from the rifle and shotgun toward the pirates, they were apparently impressed by his "Dragons Breath" shotgun rounds.

He got away, no one hurt, but ceased going out with only himself and wife aboard.
That was his closest call, but not his only encounter.

Away from port on open water the range and power of a good rifle are only an issue to the bad guys.
 

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Darrell,

Thanks for the parts for my Spider! My windows are now fixed, the fuel gauge works, and the glovebox finally opens and closes!

Happy retirement!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Glad to hear everything worked well! Thanks for the well wishes even though I'll have to trade one passion for another at least for a bit. Living aboard a cruising boat has been one of the true joys of my life and the allure of doing it again is overpowering. The roads in Panama are better suited to a jacked up 4 wheel drive truck as opposed to my Spider with 3inch ground clearance. Computer service is a little slower in Panama but I'll still be on the forum from time to time. Wonder if there's a way to create a jacked up 4 wheel drive Alfa, LOL?
White sand, Brown girls---- Whats not to like?

Regards, Darrell
 

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Hot ****! Poor mans LM002!

So how hard are they to get?

Old enough to be easily imported?

TC engine?

Parts availability?

I've owned military vehicles before, some really do require an entire motor-pool to maintain!
 

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Now we're talking with that Alfa! Are you planning on staying in Panamainian sp? waters? If you plan on entering other waters which makes it all the more fun check the firearm regs. One thing you don't want to get caught with is a firearm in Mexico. Are you on the east or west coast. Belieze is a great place to visit. You're living the dream, congrats! Not many are as fortunate.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Gigem, thanks for the kind words. The vessel is berthed in Panama as of now and yes, firearm laws are diffferent in travels from country to country. Some of those little C/A places you sure don't want to run afoul of the law. As I understand, you can get a weapons permit in Panama without a lot of red tape but I've been advised to have a crossbow, speargun, a Taser and wasp spray on board. No permit required.I would look forward to cruising to other locales but piracy and issues with small Central and South American govts. may inhibit those opportunities. The vessel is capable of ocean crossings so my plan as of now is to enjoy Panama and subsequently transit the canal to the Pacific and return to Hawaii. As I mentioned, I'll still have access to the forum and will take y'all along electronically.

Highest regards, Darrell
 

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I'd forget the firearms and enjoy the wonderful people you'll meet in the cruising community and the great locals you'll run into in marinas and anchorages. While south of the boarder aboard our boat over a two-year period, we heard of only one ugly incident. It happened aboard a large catamaran anchored alone in a seldom-used cove in Honduras. The crew awoke to three armed men who had crept aboard in the middle of the night. They were polite but firm, and they made away with the little cash aboard and a camera. The skipper said they had good haircuts, were nicely dressed and smelled of fresh after-shave lotion. He guessed they were poorly paid police officers who saw an opportunity to gather a little cash. No one was hurt, and guns in a locker would have been of no use. Remember, you will be registering your arms with -- yep -- the police wherever you go. I'd forget it.

During the time you'll be in Panama and nearby countries, thousands of car-jackings and armed robberies will be taking place in about every large city in the U.S. Trust me, you're going to be safer south of the border than here (where guns locked in a safe would also be useless). And forget any notion that you can hide arms aboard your boat. We were boarded twice by the Mexican Navy. Both times very polite military men searched every nook and cranny -- including the bilges. They did not ask for bribes, they were aboard less than an hour, and because our papers were in order, they sent us on our way with smiles. The first time my wife was freaked. The second time, she offered them cookies.

Here's what you do need to worry about:

1. Never leave a dinghy on a painter over night. Too tempting. Some young man will quietly swim out to it, cut the painter, put it in his teeth and swim it to shore, where the outboard will be removed. (And forget the notion that locking the outboard clamps will protect it. The young fellow and his buddies or family will find a saw and cut away the transom to free the motor.) We clipped a 4:1 block and tackle to the end of our boom, swung it out over the dinghy and lifted the rubber boat a couple feet off the water every evening. No one messes with dinghies up in the air, because that would make noise.

2. Travel with a buddy-boat. Anchor in well-used anchorages if you are alone. The cruising community will communicate on a radio network every morning, warning of any anchorages where there may be problems. However, some who come up on the net daily are afraid of the water and stay in big anchorages for months. They'll warn you of terrible weather and other scary stuff. You'll quickly learn which boats to listen to, which generally are those that move a lot and come into big marinas only occasionally to re-provision over a couple days. Then they're on their way. Sail with them.

If you still insist on worrying, take along a magnet and a box of tacks. Spread the tacks on deck every night and sweep them up with the magnet in the morning. Joshua Slocum, the first solo circumnavigator, did something like that. I wouldn't bother.

So, my advice is put all fears aside, enjoy what can be some of the best months of your life and for sure do visit the San Blas islands.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Larry, thanks for your contribution to this discussion. I have been in love with living aboard and cruising for years and have lived aboard several sailing vessels over a period of many years. Absolutely, there is a difference between those who hang out on a boat and true cruisers. I've been both.. I'm encouraged hearing your opinion of the safety issues and I am inclined to discount a lot of the doom and gloomers.
I heard the same crowd warn me of everything from hurricanes, water spouts, sinkings et al when I began living aboard. Usually it's been my experience that if you have trouble you have probably brought trouble. The sailing vessel I'm looking at is a Roberts Offshore 38 with a steel hull and superstructure, cutter rigged ( my favored rig ).
It's currently berthed at Carenero Marina on Carenero Island and is near the San Blas Islands. The area is known as Bocas Del Toros and is known for the diving, fishing and it's endangered turtle population. We will be staying in touch with the forum members as we cruise.

Regards, Darrell
 
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