(La Playita Anchorage, Panama City, Panama)
As a final goodbye we met up with Stephen and Nicole for supper tonight. They had spent the day touring Panama City and taking in the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal. We had begun boat provisioning and had taken in a Pacific Puddle Jump party. An event that deserves a little of its own description.
The Pacific Puddle Jump (PPJ) is a term coined 20 years ago by the monthly sailing publication Latitude 38. It defines “the annual migration of cruising sailors from the West Coast of the Americas to French Polynesia.” Any cruising boat can register with Latitude 38 and enjoy the wonderful support and reporting that they have to offer. All free of charge of course – oh how they know their audience! We had certainly heard of the PPJ and even talked about registering, but just never got around to it. Today, it got around to us. Fellow cruisers on the morning bus ride filled us in on the Pacific Puddle Jump event going on today at Balboa yacht club. One of only three send-off parties put on by Latitude 38 each year. There was the promise of invaluable crossing information, meeting other sailors heading out, and free rum punch. I was in!
When we arrived we were met by the kindest ladies at reception, name tags, and free drink tokens. Andy, the Managing Editor of Latitude 38, was there to greet everyone, offer his best for the crossing, and make us all feel like celebrities as he interviewed each boat for the magazine. There was a representative from Tahiti who gave an informative presentation of French Polynesia making everyone rethink their schedules and just how long they could remain in her beautiful homeland. To go with all the in-house counsel there was a myriad of take-home knowledge too. Including Latitude 38‘s most recent edition, pamphlets on upcoming sailing events in the South Pacific, a brand new cruising guide to French Polynesia, and endless links to online resources. An overly helpful and enjoyable way to spend an afternoon and I haven’t even mentioned the free raffle prizes!
The real bonus though, was meeting up with friends we’ve met along the way. CB and Tawn who we’d last seen in Costa Rica were there. Roger and Sasha who we’d enjoyed a many sundowners with in the San Blas with were there. And Dave and Wes from the good old days of Wilmington Marine Center were there too! A sweet little reunion and planning of adventures to come.
Properly buzzed on our free booze we took off to meet Stephen and Nicole. Note, we stayed as long as possible in hopes of winning the raffle draw grand prize, no luck. After a self-guided walking tour of El Cangrejo area due to proper directions and subsequent denial of said correct directions, we enjoyed an amazing Greek meal.
Thanks to Stephen and Nicole for their awesome visit. I will not soon forget the sight of Stephen’s cut ass or the undeniable bond of brothers that Steve and Greg share regardless of the miles between them. And as far as Nicole, they broke the mold when they made her. Her genuine kindness and positive outlook are infectious. I’ll miss our talks and have no idea how I’ll get through a day without her amazing, yet no doubt reaching, daily praise she flatteringly bestowed upon me.