10. July 2016 · 12 comments · Categories: Panama

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3-Shelter Bay Marina

The humans have stayed busy running the Sail Loft.  But all work and no play make them boring dog owners.  Do not get me wrong, as far as my doggy life style goes, all the jungle trails and  beaches surrounding Shelter Bay Marina are all I need in life.

The humans did take a day off and joined in on the festivities surrounding the Grand Opening of the New wider Panama Canal passage that follows the older sections.


Despite having modern equipment at their disposal, these new MEGA locks took as long as the original canal to build.


But now the modern giant container and cruise ships can pass through the isthmus.  If you are interested in engineering, you should really look up information on how these new locks work.  It is really quite fascinating.

All this was fun and entertaining, but my humans really craved a little get away.  Some place with a little history and culture perhaps.  One place to find that is in Panama City.

So I sent them off on a little over night city break.

3-Panama City

Shelter Bay Marina is on the Caribbean Sea side of the Panama Canal, while Panama City is on the Pacific Ocean side.  It only takes between 11/2 to 2 hours to cross the entire country of Panama here.

3-Map of Shelter Bay marina to Panama City The humans dropped me off  with ‘willing’ neighbours and caught the Marina’s free weekly shuttle (Wednesdays) to Panama City.

The shuttle dropped them off at Albrook Mall.


Albrook Mall is not only the largest mall in both the Americas, but the transportation hub of Panama City.  You can get anywhere in Panama from here.

My humans had a ‘nose about’ and then caught the subway into the City proper.


Fast, clean and cheap (35cents) the subway beats trying to get around Panama Cities busy streets.  The humans were off to visit the Fish Market just two stops away.

3- fish market walk

Just a short walk from the subway stop you will find the bounty of the Pacific Ocean.

3- fish market hall

Looking down on only a small section of this thriving commercial market

3-fish market yfin tuna

Whole yellow finned tuna.  Yum!

3-fish market prawns

More than just fish, there is also a huge assortment of lobster, crabs, mussels, clams and, of course, prawns.  Yum, yum!

All this great sea food only wets your appetite.  You can dine at the restaurant on the top floor of the Fish Market or outside at the many kiosks that line the walkway between the market and the docks.

3-fish market boats at docks

Busy docks as fishing vessels unload their cargo.

3-fish market outdoor venders

The humans choose to sit outside and ‘people watch’.  If you choose the kiosks with the most locals seated at it, you can not go wrong.

3-cups of ceviche

You can get a full cooked meal, but the humans choose to slowly eat their way through the entire ceviche menu one cup at a time.  At $1.50 a beer and cups of ceviche starting at $1.50 it was a fun, delicious and economical way to while away the afternoon.

But then a walk was in order to work off all that food.

3-walk to view of city and docks

If you follow the waterfront Panama cities Old Town is only a 30 minute walk away.  Along the way you get great view over the water the skyscraper dominated city centre.

3-walk view to new city

On the other side of the peninsula here you also get a view over the water to the walled in Old Town.

3-walk view of old city

The humans picked a hotel right on the edge of the Old Town.

3-hotel-Casa Panama

Casa Panama is a lovely hotel, but the male human had an ulterior motive for choosing this hotel.  It is right beside a pub that brews its own fine selection of ales and stouts.  More on that later!

3-hotel tastefully decorated

Like most Spanish architecture of this era the hotel structure was dominated by a beautiful central courtyard.  But the high light of this hotel is the views from it’s roof top restaurant and bar.

3-hotel roof bar city view

From the roof you get fabulous views out towards the main city centre and also back into the old quarter.

3-hotel view to old city

So off the humans went to explore.

3-ot day rod iron balconies

Narrow streets, old buildings with rod iron balconies and little urban parks dominate this quarter of the city.  Local and tourist interest in the area has lead to major regeneration projects.

3-ot day - more balconies

Most of Old Town has been lovely restored, especially the churches.

3-ot day church exterior

3-ot day church interiors restored beautifully

The historical, cultural, religious and economical influence of the Panama Canal is evident everywhere.

3-ot day church canals role

But there is more to see than just history and architecture here.

3-ot day street art

There are lots of street art and galleries.  Restaurants and park side cafes.  Boutiques and souvenir vendors.  But where did the humans end up after their walk?  You guessed it!

3-pub interior

A little ‘parched’ they ended up at the pub trying out Panama’s version of a good pint.

3-pub with a pint

You can forgive them as it has been a few years since they had a sip of a fine ale.  They were entertained by the stories of an expat who had been based in Central America for a few years.  Lots of learn from those that had ‘been there done that’!

3-ot night streets busy

The streets of Old Town are even more ‘alive’ at night.  Even mid week.

3-ot night church lit up

Beautifully lit up, tourists and locals alike pile into this quarter of the city to enjoy the restaurants, jazz bars and cafes.

3-ot night hotels and barsThere are places to stay and eat in the Old Town to match any ones budget including a youth hostel and grocery stores.

3-ot night grocery stores

My humans returned to their little bit of luxury after feasting at an ‘all you can eat’ sushi bar.

3-ot night view hotel

No late nights on the terrace for these two.  They had an early start in the morning to catch a very special train.

3-Panama Canal Railway

3- train entrance

Welcome to the Panama Canal Railway.  A train service that runs once a day from Panama City to Colon following the entire length of the Panama Canal.


This railway has become so popular with tourists that they have built a special ‘glass topped’ carnage.  Check it out!

3- entering train

3-train dinning car

3-train Cain and I

Not the most economical way to travel at $25 a ticket.  But it does include a breakfast snack box and coffees.

3-train snack box

And, short of traversing the canal yourself, you will not get better views.

3- train canal view

The train weaves in and out of the jungle, along the canal and over the giant flood plains of Lake Gatun in the centre.

3-train seating car

3-train picture postcard

They even have an ‘intermediate’ car where you can step outside for a breath of fresh air and unobstructed views.

3-train rounding corner

3-train flood plains

And that was it.

The humans caught a taxi ($3) to the Shelter Bay Marina free shuttle bus parked outside the grocery store in Colon, and travelled back to the Marina arriving at noon.

A short and sweet break, but perfectly ‘doable’ by any visiting yacht to Shelter Bay Marina before doing their canal transit to the Pacific.

The humans got their holiday, I got spoilt by the neighbor and we are all back to work again with smiles on our faces.


More later from your roving reporter.

Did you all check out the July 2016 issue of Caribbean Compass?


There are two articles on Panama. One on the Bocas del Toro area and one on the San Blasé islands. The San Blasé article ends in Shelter Bay Marina. And if you look at the end of that article you will find a little story about the Sail Loft. The first article ever written by my female human and she got it published.
Admittedly it is rather short, and obviously a ploy for publicity for the Sail Loft.


  1. The trip to Panama City looks great. Quinn, it sounds like your yacht neighbours looked after you well. Super fresh food at the fish market restaurant. The glass topped railway carriage looks amazing. Well done to April for her first published article. The Spirit of Argo Azores wall memorial in October 2012 looks really good, and it even has Quinn’s paw prints attached. I presume you will paint an equally good one when you finally leave Shelter Bay Marina.

    • Thank you Roy. The humans thought they had a nice holiday, but my neighbor fed me roast chicken for dinner and let me sleep in a big comfy chair. I may have missed out on the train journey, but I still think I got the better deal.

  2. I thought the romantic male may have picked that hotel for a nice ‘romantic’ night but to pick it because it was beside a pub is genius.

    Love that train, as I type I am sitting on a train going to work, not the same I can assure you that.

    Hope the neighbor spoiled you a lot Quinny

    • Dear Tony,
      I thought you would agree with the ‘hotel beside a pub’ choice!
      I think glass topped trains would work in England. If they can get away with open topped busses with the rainy climate, it is only a natural extension. Perhaps it is the ‘views’ that deter the progression?

  3. Well done on the article April xx

  4. Really great read – love to the three of you

    • I am sure the humans would have had more fun if you guys had of come along. And I missed my buddies baby sitting me! The Pacific sounds great and we are very envious. Soon enough!

  5. Hello! Excellent blog and very entertaining. Lots of great information too!

    We’re thinking of heading to Panama for a longer-term sail and have a pooch at home with us. The biggest question for us is the heat. How has Quinn been able to adjust to the heat?


    • The question of us dogs and heat is a difficult one. As you are usually surrounded by cool water, that is usually the answer to being too hot.

      SHADE. Make sure you provide your ‘best friend’ with a SAFE shady area to relax and snooze the hottest part of the day away.
      VENTILATION. Better yet, make this shady area some place with a nice breeze. 12V fans can also help.
      WATER. Get a non-tip water bowl and make sure water is always available. A dehydrated poach will quickly overheat.
      HAIR CUT. If your ‘mate’ is long haired consider travelling with a super dog strimmer and you can quickly turn him into less of a sand and sea mop. Less hair means much cooler.
      STAY ABOARD. No one likes to be left behind, but it is much crueler to drag a dog through Caribbean towns, especially with the number of strays. You can cook an egg on the pavement at high noon, so consider your friends tender tootsies. A little training and preparation to make the boat a safe place will go a long way to enjoying travelling together.

      Hope that helps you out and puts your mind at ease.
      Good luck on your travels and maybe we will meet up with you.
      The Quinnster

      • Hey Quinnster – thanks for the tips, very helpful.

        When you’re hanging out solo on the boat, do you have free reign all of the boat and spend your time on top of the deck where there’s a breeze and some shade?

        Enjoy your travels, sounds like you’re having a fantastic time.


        • Dear JP,
          I spend most of my free time on the outside of the boat, especially when the humans are away.
          The top deck gives me the best view, a breeze and I am within easy barking distance if anyone approaches. It is very strange how all the ‘boat boys’ run away when I bark hello to them.
          I am perfectly happy aboard alone until it gets dark. I do not like it when the humans come home too late. They are usually good about getting back at a reasonable time. I prefer to sleep up on deck as well. I warn the humans if anyone approaches at night or if a boat is dragging near. Rainy stormy weather is the exception. Time to go in side and seek shelter. The same for passages.
          Hope this information is helpful.

  6. richard jorgensen

    Dear April and Caine,
    It was a pleasure to drop by and meet you both (as well as Quinn) last week at the Marina. After reading your blog and making plans of our own for so long, I was concerned when you suddenly went dark about a year ago. It’s a pleasure to see people living the dream that Diana and I share. Looking forward to seeing you….”out there” Best of luck in the Marquesas and beyond.
    Following seas….

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