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Thursday, February 26, 2015

What a Gas!

cruising planning cruising life
Panagas propane refill site, about halfway between
PanamaCity and Colon.  
“Propane?  Oh, that’s about a half hour’s drive, between Panama City and Colon.”

We couldn’t believe it – a city of 1.3 million or thereabouts residents who actively use propane and yet the fill facility is a long haul away.

“Why don’t you offer some of the other cruisers a refill when you get yours done?” "our" taxi driver Fred suggested.  “Split the cost.”




panama city panama cruising destination
Fred, trying to figure out the charges
from Panagas.
After our offer on the net, we found ourselves with 9 propane tanks to fill, coming from two anchorages, La Playita, where we were, and Las Brisas, the other side of the peninsula.  Right after our offer, a local business got on the net announcing laundry service and propane pickup and refills.  It was a little awkward that we happened to be at the dock the same time the service was, which ran $25 for the service plus the cost of the actual refill.  Our cost would be Fred's fare, split among us cruisers getting refills, plus the cost of the propane fill.

cruising humor, cruising life
Caged!  This was as far as the Panagas
folks let Wayne go. 
Fred, the cruiser-oriented taxi driver cheerfully helped us round up and load all the tanks, and away we went to take care of the propane, and several other errands along the way.  It was a hoof, though a pretty drive through the jungle.  Fred had to stop off and pick up long pants from one of his relatives as Panagas requires their customers wear closed shoes and long pants on their site.  Not counting the stops, Panagas was about a half hour drive, one way.

Upon arrival, "Half an hour," we were told the tanks would be ready for pickup.  

road food cruising activities
Locals line up for awesome BBQ stand a block from Panagas,
off the old highway between Panama City and Colon.
We took a little road trip to kill time, returning 45 minutes later.  We still had another 20 or so minutes to wait.

I ventured off to the BBQ place a block back down the road.  It looked tantalizing when we passed it and its smoky scent made my mouth water and my nostrils tingle.  There was a lineup of locals, a sure sign of seriously good cheap eats.  A quarter of a chicken was $4; I passed on the sides, though they looked pretty good, too.

road food cruising activities
BBQ scent? Moutwatering. Taste? Divine.
"That was good!  Where did that come from?" Fred asked as he sampled a hunk, devouring it rapidly.  I'm betting his future Panagas trips will include a stop at the stand.

cruising planning
Round 1 of Panama propane tank refills.
There was no per-tank breakout from Panagas, so we were in a bit of a conundrum on what to charge. Total cost was roughly divvied out per tanks, with more for the larger tanks and less for the smaller tanks, and as well we divvied up the cost to pay Fred for his time.

By early afternoon, everyone had their tanks back, including a few we delivered directly to their boats.

The next morning on the net, one of the cruisers complained about the cost of his refill. 

las brisas marina panama city panama
Wayne discussing reimbursement cost for the propane run
with the Panama City cruisers whose tanks we picked up,
got filled and returned.
Wayne explained how he calculated the cost, noting it cost no more than if he filled his tank himself in the states.  Allen of Nauti Nauti quickly chimed in and thanked Wayne for providing the service.  I won't deny I wish the complaining cruiser paid $25 plus the cost of his refill, or made that trek with 8 tanks besides his own.  Guess that goes into the category of no good deed goes unpunished.

Nevertheless, I'm betting there were 7 happy cruisers and I got some really excellent BBQ out of the deal.  And Fred was pleased with several cruisers asking for his assistance.

Ironically, the next day we saw a panga leave our anchorage in Taboga with about 30 propane tanks!  We couldn't help but wonder if that might've been easier.

cruising destinations
Journey awaiting diesel outside Flamingo Marina;
Panama City in the background.  
Location Location
This blog was written anchored off Isla Contadora, Las Perlas PANAMA (N08.37.393 W79.01.870) though our propane hunt occurred when we anchored in Panama City's La Playita (N08.54.519 W79.31.497). After Las Perlas, we're off to the Galapagos!  Cross your fingers for us our gear box doesn't prompt us to return to Panama City first.